Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mosswood directions

Mosswood directions

Go to the core of the squeaky avocado
to know why the mermaid keeps tripping
down slimy steps on her fish tail.
Sort out the dad who can't smash a piñata
to help the lost child in the woods come home.
Don't listen to talking heads on any wave.
Join the makeover crew who get people ready
to party by the light of the Moon. 

Place your hands over prints of the ancestors
on the cave wall that yields to your pressure 
and lets you into a world behind the world
or releases into your world, through your touch,
beasts with wings, goddesses with hooves,
the obdurate seed of the soft green earth. 

Stand with the great stump that nurses new life
and say from your belly, “I grow back.”
Remember the spirits love you and will keep
changing their skins until you join their embrace.

- May 20, 2019

In my writing retreats we play a version of my Coincidence Card Game in which we swap stories and images as starter dough. giving each other permission to borrow and adapt whatever we want to play with. This little poem is a hybrid of images shared in the first round of the game in my current retreat at Mosswood Hollow.

Photo of Great Stump by RM

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The people beyond the garden gate

Though mostly skeptical of reported sightings of the Little People, I’ve had some personal encounters – wide awake and dreaming in the animate world of nature – that have quelled my inner naysayer. Here’s a brief account of one such episode, when I stepped through a garden gate in Gloucestershire, into the greenwood:

I walk by the redwood - a newcomer to this English landscape,
 and a link to a place of my heart - above the cow pastures, and past an ancient sycamore that leans over a softly bubbling spring. I am drawn to a path that leads up to the kitchen garden on a rise behind the stone manor house. The far end of the garden is aglow with pink and peachy roses, rambling and climbing over trellises, forming a bower.
   Beyond the roses is a gate in the high, old brick wall that separates the garden from the woods beyond. In the arch is a weathered gray door, secured by a simple wooden latch. The woods are bottle green, dark as an inkpot above the top of the door. I open the gate and step through, onto a trail part covered by ground ivy.
  As I walk the path, a breeze picks up, and soon the woods are alive with whispers. The stir is most active beneath and around me, where the wind does not reach. I have the vivid sense of small creatures running and hiding. I am amazed by the thought that they are trying to hide from me. I can't see them, not yet. But I sense them quite distinctly. They are Little Ones.
   There's no need to be afraid, I tell them. I'm not going to hurt you.
   For a moment, the woods seem very still.
   Then a small country voice says, from among the roots of a tree, We thought you were one of the Lords.
   Oh, I don't think so. Who are the Lords? Do you mean the Normans? Or the Courts of the Fairies?
   Sshhhh. We don't talk about Them.
   This leaves me quite uncertain about the identity of the Lords they fear.
   Wait, they tell me. We'll get the Centaur.
   It seems that this creature is the Big Man in the society of the Little Ones. I am tremendously excited by the prospect of meeting a centaur. When he gallops up, I am amazed. He is certainly a Big Man, in this company, with a massive torso, a curling black beard, two stumpy horns - and a phallus like a club. But he is about six inches in length, from his chin to his tail. And his body below the waist is that of a billy goat, not a horse, although he does indeed stand on four legs rather than two.
-----The Goat-man tries to act bold in front of the Little Ones, but is plainly terrified. From his perspective, I am a giant, and of entirely unknown intentions.
-----I can see the whole company more distinctly now. The Little Ones are the size of elm leaves. I have no wish to disturb their society, or make their centaur lose face. I bid them good day, and follow the track deeper into the woods.
-----It does not surprise me that when I stroke the smooth bark of a beech, the tree responds. I absorb a deep knowing from within the beech, and have the impression of a feminine figure whose eyes are leaf-green, without pupil or irises. She instructs me on natural remedies for various bodily complaints; when I check them out later, they work brilliantly.

This is an excerpt from the travel journal I kept while leading a five-day summer adventure in “Reclaiming the Ancient Dreamways” at Hawkwood College in Gloucestershire, at the invitation of Celtic scholar and shaman Caitlin Matthews.

Drawig: "Gate to the Little People" by RM

Tales of the Delog: Those Who Die and Come Back in Tibet

Who knows what happens after death?
    Those who live there, those who have visited, those who have died and come back.
    The Tibetan language has a word for those who have died and come back. The word is delog (“day-loak, with the stress on the first syllable). There is also the term nyin log, for one who dies and returns in one day.
    Delog Dawa Drolma [d. 1941] recorded a detailed account of her travels in “realms of pure appearance” under the guidance of White Tara while her teen body lay seemingly lifeless for five days. These higher realms, like the lower ones, are understood to be “the display of mind”. The pure realms are the display of enlightened awareness, while the bardo state and the six directions of rebirth are “the display of delusion and the projection of mind’s poisons.”
    In the presence of the Death lord Yama Dharmaraja, she sings (with Tara) a song:

            If there is recognition, there is just this – one’s own mind.
            If there is no recognition, there is the great wrathful lord of death 

Sogyal Rinpoche discussed the delog phenomenon in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. He reported that “In Tibet this was an accepted occurrence, and elaborate methods were devised for detecting whether d´eloks were fraudulent or not”.
    The Tibetan Library of Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India,  houses at least a dozen accounts of delogs
    French anthropologist Françoise Pommaret did pioneer work in this field,  published as  Les revenants de l' au-delà dans le monde Tibetain. She traveled often to the Himalayan highlands and  discovered historical records of ten delogs from the 11th to the 20th century. She interviewed a delog in a village in Nepal and three in Bhutan. Pommaret’s studies of  texts include a marvelously detailed story of a delog whose biography is based on a 17th-century manuscript.
    Pommaret observes that "at first, the delogs may not realize that they are dead, when the spirit separates from the body, leaving it seeming like an animal in the delog’s clothing. As the disembodied spirit roams about the home, the delog may not understand why the rest of the family is acting so strangely and unresponsive to the delog’s efforts at communication."
     A delog named Gling Bza’chos skyid reported that she did not recognize her own body when she saw the family gathered round it in mourning:

When I saw my own bed, there was the cadaver of a big pig covered with my clothing. My husband and my children and all the neighbors of the village arrived and began to cry. They began to prepare for a religious ceremony and I thought, “What are you doing?” But they did not see me and I felt abandoned. I did not think that I was dead.

When another delog met her spiritual guardian (yi dam), he said:

“Don’t you know that you are dead? Don’t show attachment to your body of illusion; lift your spirit towards the essence of things. Come where I will lead you”

Then she met terrifying minions of Yama shouting, “Execute!” but was protected by her yi dam and her mantra.


Lee W. Bailey,  “A ‘Little Death’: The Near-Death Experience and Tibetan Delogs”  in Journal of Near-Death Studies, 19(3) Spring 2001

Delog Drolma, Delog: Journey to realms beyond death trans. Richard Patterson.  Junction City, CA: Padma Publishing, 1995

Françoise Pommaret, Les revenants de l’au-delà dans le monde Tibetain: Sources litteraires et tradition vivante  Paris: Editions du Centre National de le Recherche Scientifique, 1989

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: HarperCollins,1992

Image: Yama Dharmaraja

Encounters with a Higher Self

As we go through a process of spiritual evolution, we may grow to the point where we can fuse our current personality with that a slightly higher self and progress to a relationship with a self on yet a higher level, and so on up the scale. Through successive transformations, we may reach a level where we are able to survey — on a continuing or even constant basis — our relations with many aspects of our multidimensional self, including personalities living in other places and times, without losing our ability to navigate in our present bodies.
    “Take heart. I am with you always. I know you better than you know yourself.” This was the opening of communication with an inner teacher that I recorded on the night before Halloween in 1993.
     "Now we are one but may still talk as two.
     This was the essence of communication from the same inner voice, as I received it on March 13, 1995. Over many months, I had come to know and trust that inner speaker. He had given me a wealth of information I was able to test and verify, and apply in ordinary reality. That night, I had stretched out on my bed after applying myself to several hours of reading and reflection on our relations with inner teachers. What was coming through now was direct knowledge.
     “Your mind on my purpose.
      That was familiar language, the way this inner voice encouraged me to give my full attention to what was coming through. The best communication of this kind, I had learned, comes in a state of relaxed attention, or attentive relaxation. I don’t think of this as channeling, because I am fully conscious throughout, able to ask questions and to engage in a full dialogue when that seems appropriate. On that night, a self that was no stranger gave me some very clear information on how we may ascend to communication and even fusion with success aspects of the Higher Self:
    "When fusion takes place between a focus personality and the Higher Self - that is to say, the control personality on the plane directly above the focus personality -the result is a step forward in personal evolution that will revise the scales of the contacts. The Higher Self now becomes an entity on a higher level than before.
    "This progression has taken humans from the conditions of the group soul — comparable to animals or even insects — to higher individuation. It can take the species as a whole to a new plane. Indeed, from this point of view, you are attending the emergence of a new species.Your physical equipment imposes limitations on both consciousness and memory. The three-tiered brain joins you to the crocodile and the horse as well as the emerging human. New structures in the brain are being evolved. Rising on the planes brings a process of physiological change — in the metabolism, in the composition and replacement of cells, and, naturally, in the chemistry and electrical engineering of the brain.
     "Now we are one but may still talk as two. Beyond us, a higher, clearer, purer intelligence is seeking to manifest and contact you as you rise on the planes."
       This came from an inner voice of the kind we come to know and trust. As I recorded hundreds of pages of communications from this source over the years, I reassured myself that if I was going crazy, I was in good company. Socrates knew such a voice, and Plutarch wrote an essay about it. The truest guide is no stranger. As Rumi put it: “The one who knows everything is with you now, closer than your jugular vein.”

Text adapted from "The Double on the Balcony", chapter 31 of The Boy Who Died and Came Back: Adventures of a DreamArchaeologist in the Multiverse by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

My second shadow

3:00 a.m. 

A malleable time, when I am often wandering between the worlds. As I walk into a neighborhood park, my shadow walks before me. A second shadow walks right behind. Who is there? I turn, and recognize the second shadow is also my own. 
    A deliciously shiverish moment, especially since I had been thinking about Egyptian forms of the the double and the multiple self.   
    I look up at the moon, and the street lamp behind me, and my rational mind concludes that their twin effect produced my twin shadows. Still, I wonder where my energy double may have been traveling in the borderlands tonight.

photo by RM

Monday, May 13, 2019

Liminal Complaints, the Hag and the Goddess

I'm fourteen years old and I've never been kissed. In the middle of the night, I feel a presence in my room. It's a woman, and she's coming towards me. She's little more than a dark cloud to begin with, but when she reaches my bed she is fully defined. She is a hideous, black-skinned hag, with multiple arms. Jouncing against her withered dugs is a necklace composed of rotting human heads.
     I want to flee from this apparition, but I can't move. My body is completely paralyzed, except for my eyes, which are taking in everything. 

The memory of this episode came flooding back while I was reading a lucid and helpful book on Sleep Paralysis by Ryan Hurd, Ryan writes from first-hand experience, and he makes a careful study of the varying explanations for this phenomenon, in which the sufferer lies dormant, unable to move, while ghosts and demons may appear to menace him, pressing down on his chest.  This condition is by no means unusual. At least half the population are estimated to have suffered from sleep paralysis at some point in their lives.

Ryan identifies high-risk communities (workers on night shift, insomniacs, the jet-lagged, college kids) . He offers clear, commonsensical guidance on how to minimize your risk of finding yourself in this state, basically: keep regular hours, get enough sleep, stay grounded, don’t forget to breathe. I confess that some of this was lost on me since I have never kept regular hours, fly constantly, sleep in two or three short bursts in a 24-hour cycle, and have been accused of having “no body clock whatsoever”.

We are coming to the most exciting part of Ryan’s book, in which he distinguishes himself from much of the literature by asking: What if sleep paralysis is not a curse, but an opportunity? What if this state is “a gateway for lucid dreaming”, even a spiritual initiation? What if the demon or the night hag is actually a guide who can take us on an amazing astral journey if we can go beyond our fear – and stop worrying about the body? Ryan knows that all these things are possible, and more, because he’s been there. So have I, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

A word about words. “Sleep paralysis” is actually a major misnomer. Why? Because everyone who has experienced this condition knows that they were awake at the time.

It resembles sleep in two respects. First, in the muscular atopia – paralysis – which is a benign and indeed necessary state during sleep because it prevents us from acting out our dreams at the expense of the furniture and the family. Second, shapes from dream or nightmare may fill the space. We might add that “sleep paralysis” is most commonly experienced near sleep, coming or going. Still, it is not a state of sleep.

I would like to see us develop the verbal imagination to call it something more exact. If we are going to focus on the physiology, we could speak of muscular dyschrony, which would be to say that the muscles are out of kilter with time. A better term for the larger phenomenon would be liminal paralysis, which would feature its identity at a threshold state, on the border (for example) of being in and out of the body.

Let’s return to Ryan Hurd’s proposition – which will be shocking to many – that we can learn to love what I will now call liminal paralysis.

My terrified fourteen-year-old self can attest to this. His experience with the night hag did not end with the scene above. When she approached his bed and mounted him, he discovered that not every part of his body below the eyes was paralyzed. His story continues:
The black hag is on my bed, stamping on my chest. She lowers herself on her haunches. Despite my disgust, I am erect and now she is riding me. Her teeth are like daggers. My chest is spattered by blood and foulness from the rotting heads.
     There is nothing for me to do but stay with this. I tell myself I will survive.
      At last, the act is done.
     Satisfied, the nightmare hag transforms into a beautiful young woman. She smells like jasmine, like sandalwood. She takes me by the hand to a forest shrine. I forget about the body I have left frozen in the wood.
      She tells me, I am Time, and I give you power to step in and out of time. You can call me Kali Ma.
      When I return, I am different. 

In the days that follow, I write a cycle of poems that I title "Creatures of Kali". More than half a century later, I remember the first stanza of my adolescent verse:

In the darkness, a dark woman comes to me
softly, as the ticking of a clock.
I, in panic, cry out, "Go! I have no head for horror!"

But she smiles and wraps her four black arms around me
beating her bleeding necklace of skulls around my neck
and holds me captive through the night.

If we are willing to face our night terrors, we may find that the alien in the room is what is truly most alien to us, our own greater power. If we can endure the night hag, we may earn an encounter with the Goddess.
The book discussed is Ryan Hurd, Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night (Hye

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My little dog guides me to Sirius

This is a story about everyday practice, the kind of practice essential for active dreamers. It involves the importance of keeping a journal and of going back into old journals and seeing what "old" dream reports may tell us about what we need to know now. It involves precognition. It concerns how dreams rehearse us for death, in this case the death of a beloved animal companion. Most important, it reminds us that dogs love us no matter what, in every world.
    I reopened a travel journal I was keeping in 2012. I regretted that I had failed to transcribe many of the reports, since my handwriting is almost indecipherable, even to me. Fortunately, the journal contained many sketches, and these helped to guide me to what might be most interesting for me today.
    I smiled at a little drawing I made on March 5, 2012. It shows me following my little dog Pepper through an underground concourse. We are somewhere near Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. There is a sign that reads "Avenue of the Americas", indicating a staircase leading up to Sixth Avenue. This is an area I used to frequent in my earlier life as a bestselling thriller writer. One of my publishers had offices in that area, and I was on NBC's Today show in the studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza several times.
    In the drawing, I am dressed for wet, blustery weather in hat and long coat. The remarkable thing is that my little dog is trotting ahead of me. He clearly knows where he is going. He seems to have taken the lead and may even be playing the guide.
    I noted in the brief dream report that accompanied the sketch that I was "moved" by the dream that it left me with a sense of "wonder". My feelings stemmed from the contrast between the condition of my miniature Schnauzer in the dream and his situation in regular life. Pepper was very old. His senses were failing. He was nearly blind, could hear very little, and even his sense of smell was attenuated. He had trouble walking and controlling his bowels. Yet in the dream, he is in his prime, and even better than that.
    I wrote these questions in my journal: Who is Pepper in the dream? What are we doing in NYC?
    On the night of the dream, I was in Hawaii, leading a workshop on the Big Island. I wondered when I might next be at Rockefeller Center. I checked my events calendar and saw I was scheduled to lead a weekend workshop at the NY Open Center at the end of June, but the venue was downtown and would not ordinarily bring me to Rockefeller Center.
     I ended my journal report with this motto, or bumper sticker:

Keep your senses in NYC

     Three months later, Pepper died. Then I received an invitation to do an interview for Sirius XM. As I made my way to the radio network offices in Rockefeller Center, I remembered that Pepper had guided me through these passages months before. Confused at a certain point in the underground concourse, I turned the way Pepper had led me. When I entered the right lobby, they gave me a badge at reception.  It read "Sirius Visitor", which delighted me because I have often felt I was dropped on this Earth from a distant star. I drew my own version with Pepper in the headshot. I found this, too, in that old travel journal from 2012.
     Pepper has appeared many times since his death, in my dreams and in those of family members, always in fine form, sometimes clearly acting as a guide and night watchdog. Most recently he led me on a globetrotting expedition across Europe, en route to Benares. The holy city in India (also known as Varanasi) is not in my current travel plans, but Pepper may know something I don't. If I am in doubt which was to turn in an underground concourse, or on any other path, I hope my little dog will be looking out for me. I am glad to know that he is also with me, and those I love, on the roads of the Otherworld.

Notes for practice:
1. Keep a dream journal and review old entries.
2. Pay special attention to dream locations.
3. Recognize that dreams may be rehearsals for coming events, including death.
4. Be prepared to meet guides in many forms.

5. Remember that dogs love you no matter what, in all worlds.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Soul Tree

We can’t lose our way if we go to the root of things, to the roots of a tree. By finding the right tree — a tree you know that also knows you — you can reconnect with the soul of nature. You can find grounding for soul in this world, and a shaman’s ladder to travel between the worlds.
I once moved to a place in the country because of a tree, an old white oak behind the house that had survived the lightning. I knew it for a guardian of the land and a wise ancient. Sitting with that tree, I would have impressions of all the seasons it had lived. When I walked the farm road toward it, I would sometimes feel its silent greeting. Sometimes I watched the moon rise over the hills from up in its branches. The oak became a tree of my dreaming and a portal to the ancestors. Rooted deep in American earth, the oak also joined me to the ways of oak-seers of my bloodlines in the Old World, to the druids “grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed" (as Yeats sang) to the sacred oak at Dodona where the Greeks listened for the voice of a god in the creak and rustle of the branches. After the first snows, when the cold stung my eyes, I saw that the oak still hung on to its leaves, longer than any other shedding trees on that land. Oaks hang on.
Spending good time with a tree that welcomes us is a great way to repair and renew our connection with the soul of nature. Trees have personalities, as individuals and as types, and sometimes we find they have a second personality that was not originally arboreal, a spirit from a different kinship group. In front of the farmhouse that I purchased because of the white oak was a great sugar maple. The patterns of the bark around the place where its broad trunk divided made the vivid likeness of an ancient Native shaman with a storm of gray hair and a long, twisted body. I learned later that there are legends in the Native traditions of Northeast America of shamans who have, in one of their soul bodies taken up residence in trees after physical death.

South of the farmhouse was an elderly apple tree that no longer gave fruit but still put out a few leaves in the spring time, and that let a few branches fall, which I burned in the hearth of the family room. The sweetness of apple, through pine and spruce and hickory, provided a kind of olfactory portal, and I would slip into conscious dreaming of ancestors for whom the apple branch was the passport between the worlds. North of the house was another great old tree, a shagbark hickory, that shed limbs as well as leaves profusely, as the deer sheds its antlers. I would often find antlers in the hickory hollow, dropped by bucks in the great herds of red-tailed deer that made their home in our woods, from which hunters were banned.
What trees call to you on country walks or from memory or dream? Any tree may be your soul tree, and it may also be your sole tree, the One Tree through which the three worlds of the shaman’s cosmos are joined, and which may become your ladder between them.

Text adapted from Dreaming the Soul Back Home by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: "World Tree" by Annick Bougerolle

Friday, May 10, 2019

On Leaving a Dream

When I leave a dream, I often feel that I step from one room into another. It's a "just so" feeling. I was there, and now I am here. When I exit a dream, I avoid saying "I woke up." That is such a boring way to end a dream narrative. And it's entirely possible that when I open my eyes in one reality, I have fallen asleep in another world that is no less real. When I finish recounting a dream adventure, I may say. "then I left that scene" or, “then I came back to my bedroom”. Sometimes, of course, the exit is less gentle. I return to the dormant body in the bed with a thump, feeling that I just fell to Earth or was dragged out of my dream life in chains. Sometimes the dream stays with me, and I am in both locations - the bedroom and that other room - in a state of dual consciousness after I come back to my body. I am often aware that, when I step out of a dream, the dream and its players may go on without me, leading autonomous life. I have the impression I am not wholly absent from these scenes. A second self has assumed my role - or reclaimed the role I took on for the time of the dream.
Photo: Jean-Robert Ipoustéguy, "Man Passing through Door" in Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Look for the hidden hand behind synchronicity

Jung described the pairing or clustering of events through meaningful coincidence as an “acausal” phenomenon. Certainly, we do not observe causation in the play of coincidence in the way that we can say the kettle boiled because we turned on the burner. A characteristic of coincidence is that it does not have a visible cause.
But this does not mean that there is no cause for coincidence. "Beyond the accidental surface effects of this world sit - as of yore - the gods," Joseph Campbell declared.
Most human cultures, across most of recorded history, have believed that there is indeed a hidden hand at work in coincidence: that it is through the play of unusual or unexpected conjunctions, and natural phenomena, that gods or angels or animate forces of nature or other dimensions send messages to humans or actively intervene in our world. Let’s not shrug this off as a “primitive” idea it has worked, and continues to work, in highly practical ways. And let’s not classify this idea as a “metaphysical” belief.
The forces that cause meaningful coincidence may be quite physical. We miss this because we cannot observe their workings with our ordinary senses and our regular assumptions. These forces include our own thoughts and feelings, and those of others connected to us. They may include the powers that Jung called “archetypes” as long as we remember that in Jung’s mature thought the archetypes are not structures but “habitual currents of psychic energy” and “systems of readiness for action,” and that they are as much physical as psychic. The physical forces that play with us through coincidence may include our parallel selves in parallel universes, interacting with our world in constant and complex weavings through what quantum physics has taught us to call “interference” patterns, forever shifting the balance of probabilities for any specific outcome.
 Quantum physics shows us the universe as a dynamic web of connection. Subatomic particles are not separate “things”; they have meaning and identity only through their connections with everything else. Those connections do not depend on physical proximity or causation. Particles that have once been in contact with each other remain connected through all space and time.
 Quantum physics also confirms that when we go to the heart of physical reality, there is no separation between mind and matter. Subatomic particles exist in all possible states until they are observed at which point something definite emerges from the soup of possibilities.
 Inner and outer, subjective and objective, interweave and move together at quantum levels, on a human scale, and no doubt everywhere in the universe. We live in an energy field where everything resonates to a greater or lesser degree with everything else. The world we inhabit mirrors our thoughts and feelings, and vice versa.
 In the hidden order of reality, there is no distinction between mind and matter. The split between inner and outer subjective and objective that we experience in ordinary life is unknown in the deeper reality.
Richard Wilhelm’s account of  the Chinese rainmaker contains the essence of a worldview in which the human mind and the external world form a whole. A village has been without rain for weeks. The desperate villagers send for a rainmaker. When the old man arrives, he shuts himself up in the house provided for him, performing no ceremonies until the rains come. When asked how he brought the rain, he explains that when he arrived he noted a state of disharmony in himself, so he retired to compose himself. When he restored his own equilibrium, the rain came according to its natural pattern.
As we become more awake to what is going on, we may become personal magnets for coincidence, “strange attractors” that draw more and more interesting and unexpected encounters and events toward us. The brilliant analyst and classicist Marie-Louise von Franz, who knew both Jung and Pauli well, alluded to this: “The larger our consciousness is, and the more it develops, the more we get hold of certain aspects of the spirit of the unconscious, draw it into our own subjective sphere, and then call it our own psychic activity or our own spirit.”

Text adapted from The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination by Robert Moss.Published by New World Library

"The Houses Are Watching". Photo of house in Sibiu, Romania by Robert Moss

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Open Secrets of the Dreamtime

Here are the open secrets of the Dreamtime, insights shared by many dreaming traditions and indigenous peoples that challenge the ruling paradigms of a culture that confuses the real with the physical.

1. Dreams are real experiences.

There are big dreams and little dreams. In big dreams we are dealing with events, encounters, and challenges that are entirely real on their own level of reality. Our dream memories may be garbled or muddy, but the dream is a real experience whose meaning lies within the dreamscape itself. The dream experience, fully remembered, is its own interpretation. But we must do more than interpret dreams; we must manifest their energy and insight in our waking lives.
    Shamanic dreamers tend to be quite literal-minded about dreams. If you dreamed you fell off a rock-face, you’d better remember to check your safety harness if there is any chance you might go rock climbing. If you flew with the eagle, you discovered a powerful spiritual ally — and your own ability to transcend the limitations of your physical body. If you dreamed of your dead uncle, before you start asking yourself what part of you he might represent, you should consider the possibility that you had a visit with him. Is he bothering you — maybe trying to cadge a drink or a smoke — or offering you help? If you dreamed you received instruction at a mountain shrine, you should be open to twin possibilities: that you may go there someday, in physical reality; and that you may have been called in your dreams to one of the many “invisible schools” where training and initiation on the higher planes are conducted.

2. Dreams are flights of the soul.

Shamans say that in real dreams (waking or sleeping) one of two things is happening. Either you are journeying beyond your body, released from the limits of space-time and the physical senses; or you receive a visitation from a being — god, spirit, or fellow dreamer — who does not suffer from these limitations. In the language of the Makiritare, a dreaming people of Venezuela, the word for dream, adekato, means literally a “flight of the soul.”
    The open secret is that consciousness if never confined to the body and brain. We discover this in spontaneous night dreams and intuitive flashes, when our left-brain inhibitions are down. As we become active dreamers, we can hone the ability to make intentional journeys beyond the body at any time of day or night.

3. You have a dreambody as well as a physical body.

In dreams, we usually travel in a subtle energy body of greater or lesser density. If we travel great distances - especially if the journey is over water - in a relatively heavy energy body, we may come back feeling jet-lagged. In our dreambody, we know pleasure and pain. Just as it can travel beyond the physical body in dreams and astral excursions, the dreambody survives physical death.
    Czech artist František Kupka depicted the adventures of the dreambody brilliantly in his painting "Dream", in which we see lovers rising above their physical bodies in second bodies that are joined in a luminous space above them. The floating dreambodies are suffused with light rather than reflecting it; they are made to seem solid by shadows.

4. Dreams may be memories of the future.

We dream things before they happen in waking life. If you work with your dreams and scan them for precognitive content, you can develop a superb personal radar system that will help you to navigate in waking life. You can also learn to fold time and travel into the possible future by the methods explained in this book. For even the most active dreamers, however, the meaning of many dreams of the future may be veiled until waking events catch up with the dream.
    If dreams are memories of the future, is much of waking like the experiencing in the physical body what we have already lived in the dreambody? What would we become if we participated more consciously in this process? There is an Iroquois story of a great hunter who always scouted ahead, in conscious dream journeys, to locate the game and rehearse the kill. In one of his dream scouts, he located an elk and sought its permission to take its life to feed his extended family. He killed the elk in his dream and noted the red mark on its chest where the arrow had gone in. The following day, he walked to the place he had visited in dreaming and identified his elk by the red mark on its chest. He then replayed an event that had already taken place, by killing the elk again with a physical arrow.

5. Dreaming, we choose the events that will be manifested in our waking lives.

The fact that we dream things before they happen does not mean everything is predetermined. People who are not active dreamers can get quite confused about what is going on when they wake up to the fact that we are dreaming future events, both large and small, all the time. I think it’s like this. If you do not remember your dreams, you are condemned to live them. (If you don’t know where you’re going, you will likely end up where you are headed.) If you remember some of your dreams and screen them for messages about the future, you will find yourself able to make wiser choices. You will discover that by taking appropriate action you can often avoid the enactment of a “bad” dream or bring about the fulfillment of a happy one. As you become a conscious dreamer, you will find yourself increasingly able to choose inside the dreaming the events that will be manifested in your waking life.
     It’s not about predestination. It’s about the spiritual secrets of manifestation — and your ability to become cocreator of your life. Meister Eckhart tells us how it is the razor-sharp clarity of the practical mystic who has seen and experienced for himself: “When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters her own image.”
     It is not merely that we dream things (maybe everything) before they happen; dreams make them happen.

6. The path of the soul after death is the path of the soul in dreams.

Your dreambody does not die when your physical body loses it vital signs. You will live on in your dreambody for a shorter or greater time, according to your ruling passions and personal evolution. You will find yourself, as you do each night in dreams, in a realm where thoughts are things, and imagination, the great faculty of soul, can create whole worlds.
    You come from the Dreaming, and you are released into the Dreaming when you drop your sack of meat and bones.
     Conscious dreaming is excellent preparation, not only for the challenges that lie before you on the roads in this life, but for the challenges of the journey you will make after physical death. How do you know for sure? By doing it.

Text adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Art: František Kupka,"Dream" (1909)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Celtic metamophoses

Your gatekeeper is a horned god
who stands back to back with a second self. 
You enter a field of metamorphoses.
You may turn into the curl of a wave
or a waterbird in flight or a wild bull.
You may sprout leaves or tusks or antlers.

Fish becomes man, dog becomes dragon.
You reach for a flagon of unmixed wine.
When your hand closes on the handle,
it becomes the hound that is chasing a duck
that swims into your mouth on a red river. 

Long-beaked bird-headed men spring from a cross.
Gold and silver and bronze glint at the throats
and on the forearms of queens and heroes.
verything is in connected, everything in flux,
vital energies change form and surge beyond form. 

Here art is a technology of enchantment;
it can seize your mind and bind it like ivy.
Obscure shapes 
become tendrils, endlessly looping,
making knots without end or beginning,
with no strings you could pull. 

The boar runs before you and around you.
Be careful. You pause to hear the hot howl of war
from the throat of a boar-headed carnyx.
Swords and shields, iron and oak, ash and bronze.
Shields with hidden powers, serpents coiled at the grip.
You find your end in the great silver cauldron from the bog,
when you brave the stare of all those gods you cannot name.
You swim in bull's blood down to the mystery at the base,
where a naked woman warrior exults, sword in hand,
over the body of a dying bull. His potency will be transferred,
with the rush of his blood, to those who willed this ritual.

Image: Base of the Gundestrup cauldron. This richly decorated silver vessel, thought to date from the 2nd or 1st century bce, was found in a bog near Gundestrup in Denmark.

Friday, April 26, 2019

How did I get here?

You set off from home and find yourself on a high mountain top, or another country, with no idea how you got here.

You close your eyes in a dream and wake up somewhere else.

You're in one place and then suddenly in another, without any recollection of how you got from A to B.

These are common experiences in dreams.

If we are too quick, on waking, to flatten our adventures into a single linear narrative, without pausing to reflect on the unexplained transits, we can miss a very important opportunity to learn more about what goes on in dreaming - and about the nature of reality itself.

When you jump from one scene to another, you may have stepped from one dream into another, as you might step from an outer to an inner courtyard.

Make it your game to ask, while dreaming, "How did I get here?" when a sudden scene shift takes place. This may cause you to wake up to the fact that you are dreaming.

Stay with your experience, and you may find yourself embarked on a full-fledged lucid dream adventure.

Look deeper, and you may find you are traveling between different realities, no less real than the one where your body is lying dormant in bed. You have not only switched dreams; you have changed worlds.

Drawing: "In the Dream Cinema" (c) Robert Moss


It's 3 in the morning. I don't feel like sleep so I go to the Dream Cinema. Lion is with me. I'm not surprised; I felt him stirring beside me in bed. Like the neighborhood the cinema is dark but the lights come on as we approach
"You can't bring a lion in here," says the ticket person.
"Nonsense. This is MY cinema."
We take comfortable seats in the screening room but no movie comes on. Maybe this is punishment for bringing the lion. I feel relaxed and close my eyes
When I open them I see an amazing complex of stone arches and structures, some natural and some shaped by hand, in a desert landscape. There is hidden danger here. An adventure is about to unfold
A man in bush clothes steps into the middle of the screen. He is dressed like Indiana Jones. No wait. He is wearing a leather hat with a crocodile skin band, one I brought back from Australia a quarter century ago. I am looking at a screen version of myself
The lion pads ahead of him, ready for trouble. So the Dream Cinema is screening a movie for me after all.
I step into the screen, with the lion, and we take on our starring roles
- the opening scene in a thrilling series of cinematic dream adventures between 3 am and 7 am on April 25th.