Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Sunday, January 29, 2023
You have direct access to sacred knowledge, in your dreams. Your dreams are a personal oracle that reveals the future and helps you prepare for it. Don’t let anyone tell you what your dreams mean; get rid of dream dictionaries. Pay attention to signs from the world around you; know that everything in the universe is interconnected and constantly interweaving. Use your imagination. What you grow there will be stamped on your world and on your soul – on the energy body in which you will travel to another life after death. 
insights come from a fifth-century bishop of the church. His name was Synesius
of Cyrene, and his treatise On Dreams,
composed around 405, is one of the wisest books ever written on dreams,
coincidence and imagination. Synesius was a most unusual bishop. In his life
and work we find – alas, only briefly – a confluence between the best of the
ancient practice of philosophy and
the new religion of the
Synesius was a
Greco-Roman aristocrat who could trace his pedigree back to the founders of
He had the best
education possible in his time, in
It was in
It was in
He makes it clear that his discussion of dreams is grounded in personal experience. Dreams have guided him in the hunt, showing him how and where to find the game. Dreams have led him to “swarms of wild beasts that have fallen to our spears”.
He was guided by
dreams when his city sent him to
The dream oracle “helped me in the management of public office in the best interest of the cities, and finally placed me on terms of intimacy with the Emperor.”
His dreams contributed to his success as a writer and orator. The dream source “frequently helped me to write books”, correcting his style, and helping him to prune archaic Attic expressions – products of his love of old books - from his essays and poems.
Synesius explains that dreams are “personal oracles”. We want to claim authority over our own dreams and reject anything and anyone who tries to come between us and the dream source. “We ought to seek this branch of knowledge before all else; for it comes from us, is within us, and is the special possession of the soul of each one of us.
The dream oracle speaks to us wherever we go. “We can’t abandon this oracle even if we try. It is with us at home and abroad, on the field of battle, in the city and in the marketplace.”
Dreams are our common birthright. They belong to rich and poor, to kings and to slaves. The dream oracle turns no one down because of race or age, status or calling.
Even the worst tyrant is powerless to separate us from our dreams – which may hold the key to his overthrow – “unless he could banish sleep from his kingdom”.
“Dream divination is available to all, the good genius to everyone.”
It is no wonder that dreams show us the future, because dreams are experiences of soul and “the soul holds the forms of things that come into being”
Synesius dismisses dream dictionaries – popular in his time, as in ours – with admirable vigor. “I laugh at all those books and think them of little use”. General definitions don’t work because each dreamer is a different mirror for dream images – some are funhouse mirrors, some are made of varied materials. Big dreams do not require interpretation; their meaning is in the experience of the dream itself. Dreams that are “more divine” are “quite clear and obvious, or nearly so”, but come only to those who live “according to virtue”.
Steeped in Homer, he can’t avoid mentioning the scene in the Odyssey where the Gates of Horn and Ivory are described. In his view, both Homer’s Penelope and legions of commentators and borrowers failed to understand that dreams, in themselves, are never false. Penelope assumes that there are true dreams and deceptive dreams “because she was not instructed in the matter.” Deception arises through false interpretations, not false dreams. If Penelope had understood the nature of dreaming better, “she would have made all dreams pass out through the Gate of Horn…We should not confuse the weakness of the interpreter with the nature of the visions themselves.”
Synesius recommends setting an intention for the night. “We shall pray for a dream, even as Homer prayed. And if you are worthy, the god far away is present with you…He comes to your side when you sleep, and this is the whole system of the initiation.”
Synesius also stresses the value of keeping a dream journal, and of writing and creating from dreams. “It is no mean achievement to pass on to another something of a strange nature that has stirred in one’s own soul”.
Synesius urges us to keep a “day book” for our observations of signs and synchronicities as well as a “night book” for dreams. “All things are signs appearing through all things…they are brothers in a single living creature, the cosmos…they are written in characters of every kind”. The deepest scholarship lies in reading the sign language of the world; the true sage is a person “who understands the relationship of the parts of the universe”.
Five years after writing his essay On Dreams, Synesius was persuaded by Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, to accept the bishopric of Ptolemais. It seems that he was baptized at the same time, rather late in the day according to our common understanding of what is involved in becoming a bishop of the church.
Synesius’ entry into
the episcopate was a political, rather than a spiritual, event. The influence
of his wife – who he loved deeply – may have been important; she was presumably
Christian, since Theophilus was at their wedding in 403. Winning an
aristocratic philosopher to the church was a coup for the Patriarch; though
Christianity had become the religion of the empire, the old houses were still
keeping their distance. For Synesius, assuming the rank and responsibilities of
a bishop was both a case of noblesse
oblige and an accommodation to the movement of history. In 399, the
Serapeum – the great temple complex of Serapis at
In theological language, Synesius joined the Christians through adhesion rather than through the transformative experience of a full conversion.  But we can trace some possible lines of convergence between his philosophy and the Christian message. He believed in One divinity, behind the many forms of the divine. He wrote of the “fall” of the soul from a state of knowledge and truth. He believed that in times of darkness, a saving power may be sent to rescue humanity from itself and its deceivers. His essay On Providence depicts a world dominated by dark forces whose purpose is to drag humans down and destroy them if they reach for the light. Behind the surface events of history is the struggle between the higher instincts of humanity and the darkness within and around it. The power of light in humanity runs down, and must be restored periodically, at the end of the great cycles of history. But sometimes, when humans are in extremis, divine intervention may take place before the end of a cycle, to keep the game in play. 
If Synesius lived long enough to
learn the end of his mentor, Hypatia, he would have been left in no doubt that
the darkness was rising. Though Hypatia’s students included Christians, the
fanatical Cyril, who became bishop of
In such a world, Synesius offered the means of communicating with a higher realm, and bringing gifts from it into everyday life. He taught that the realm of imagination is “the hollow gulf of the universe” where the soul is at home. Imagination is “the halfway house between spirit and matter, which makes communication between the two possible”. [Bregman 148] The soul travels in this realm in dreams.
For Bishop Synesius, dreaming is everyday church. It is also a way of entry into the real world. According to Synesius, dreamer do not return to reality when they awaken; dreaming, they are already there.
1. JayBregman, Synesius of
3. ibid 26, 32-3,citing Letter 137.
4. All quotes from De
insomniis (On Dreams) unless otherwise noted are from Augustine FitzGerald (ed) The Essays and Hymns of Synesius of
5. See A.A.
5. See A.A.Nock, Conversion. (
6. Synesius, De providentia quoted in Bregman,op.cit., 66-72
7. Socrates Scholasticus, “The Murder of Hypatia” in Anne
Fremantle (ed) A Treasury of Early
Lion at the Templeof Apollo in Cyrene
Lion at the Templeof Apollo in Cyrene
"Eye in the Sky" Journal Drawing by Robert Moss
"Eye in the Sky" Journal Drawing by Robert Moss
Saturday, January 28, 2023
My favorite activity first thing in the morning is to make a drawing from a dream. This delights the small boy and the artist in me, who are pretty much the same. I don't worry about technical execution, and use whatever I pull from my boxes of colored pencils and markers and oil or gel crayons and Neocolors.
Here are three recent productions:
January 17, 2023
Sometimes I combine this exercise with bibiomancy by opening an old journal at random and seeing what pops us. Here are three drawings I made recently from "old" dreams I recorded more than twenty years ago that still convey terrific energy.
[Date of drawing: January 26, 2023]
Journal report dated January 25, 1992
“Had” to lie down at 9:30 p.m. Immediately, I had the sense of being drawn up out of my body, of my whole second body lifting up. I saw a glow around my second body. I felt strong vibrations and heard a humming sound. I realized that a swarm of bees had massed around me, especially around my arms and shoulders, lifting me, helping me to fly.
I flew inside the swarm of bees, over an ocean, towards a temple on a rocky height. Greek words were streaming through my mind. Kyriacos. Epopteia.
Later, I grabbed relevant books from my shelves. Kyriacos means Lord or Ruler. The epopteia is the “full vision” or “full revelation" of the highest stage of the Mysteries, when the initiate is brought face-to-face with the deity. Of course I found many pages about bees as the companions of the Goddess and recalled that "honey bee" (melissa) is an ancient title of the priestess.
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
I was attending a conference in the Boston area when I was approached by a pleasant-looking couple who might have been in their early forties. The husband, David, introduced himself as a medical equipment salesman from Connecticut; his wife as a registered nurse. They seemed intelligent, articulate, and well-grounded; they had brought a cooler full of provisions they offered to share over lunch. The only oddity was that they seemed unusually deferential to someone who was simply another conference attendee.
“We want to thank you for that workshop we attended last fall,” David said. “You changed our lives.”
“Which workshop do you mean?”
“The weekend workshop in upstate New York.”
“What was I teaching?”
David looked puzzled as he told me how my workshop had brought shamanism and dreamwork together. “You showed us how to journey through the images from our sleep dreams.”
I was flabbergasted. I had been thinking about going public with the approach I now call Active Dreaming. I had dreamed on several nights of leading workshops in shamanic dreaming. But I had not yet held one in physical reality — at least, not in my physical reality.
I told David, “You must have confused me with someone else.”
David looked at his wife, who knitted her eyebrows.
“That’s impossible,” she protested. “Your voice, your white hair, your whole way of being — ”
“You’re a pretty hard guy to mistake for someone else.”
“And we spent the whole weekend with you,” his wife came back.
“I’ll never forget it.”
“That’s very interesting,” I told them. “I’ve dreamed of holding a workshop like the one you describe. But I haven’t done it yet, not in this reality.”
I shook my head. David looked at his wife, who made a face and tugged at his arm. As they walked away, she scowled back at me, obviously convinced that I was toying with them. Later in the day, when David passed me on the way to the cooler, he gave me a conspiratorial wink and said in a stage whisper, “Shamans are tricky characters.”
What was going on here? Did my dream reality somehow become waking reality for that earnest couple from Connecticut? Dreaming, could I have projected a double who seemed solid enough — un hombre de carne y hueso — to students at a holistic center? Were we caught up in some kind of time loop, so that in their reality the Connecticut couple went to a workshop that I gave two years later in my physical reality (in which they were not present — at least, not yet). Did they meet my parallel self on a different timeline that had now converged with my current trajectory? Or were the three of us somehow caught up in a collective, confusing hallucination?
If I had been quicker off the mark, I suppose I might have asked the Connecticut couple if they had a receipt for the workshop they attended. Maybe the center where it was held owes me money!
There are doubles and doubles. St. Augustine left us the intriguing story of a philosopher who urgently wanted to consult a colleague living several hundred miles away. To his great delight, his friend called on him that night, and they had a long conversation in which the philosopher was able to clarify his thinking in areas critical to his work. He wrote to his colleague afterward to thank him for his providential visit — and was astonished to receive a letter back in which his friend told him that he had never left his hometown, but remembered conversing with the philosopher in a dream.
The Capuchin monk Padre Pio rarely left his cloister but reportedly turned up on scores of occasions at other locations in a second body to preach sermons or counsel those in need. He attributed these feats to what he called “prolongation of the personality.”
St. Anthony of Padua was credited with similar gifts. As he lay on his deathbed, he appeared to a friend hundreds of miles away, in seemingly corporeal form, and informed him that he had left his “donkey” — his physical body — in Padua.
In her remarkable book, Dancing in the Shadows of the Moon, Machaelle Small Wright describes her experience of a “split molecular process” resulting in bilocation in two separate orders of reality. “My soul operates out of two separate, but related physical bodies.” One is her own; the other belongs to a servicewoman who was killed in World War II and now lives with a group headed by “Eisenhower” in an (astral?) locale called the Cottage. Machaelle says the Cottage is situated in the “England equivalent” of “a planet that exists in a sister dimension of reality…within a band of form identical to our own.” She travels there by picturing the locale and willing herself to go. She insists that this is something distinct from a dream or an “out-of-body” experience, because “real” time elapses, she eats “real” food, and she is subject to “real” pleasure and pain.
While the sight of one’s energy double, or doppelgänger, arouses fear in many cultures — especially the fear of impending death — the double may be something more. In Charles Williams' novel, Descent into Hell, Pauline goes in fear of her “double” all her life — so terrified she avoids walking alone — only to discover it is no horror, but her spiritual self, her “unfallen self” as originally conceived in heaven. When the two come together, she can begin to live her true destiny, which includes helping to release earthbound souls.
Text adapted from DREAMGATES: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and Life Beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library
Illustration: "City Double" by RM with AI assistance
Illustration: "City Double" by RM with AI assistance
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
The greatest crisis of our lives is a crisis of imagination. We come to a dead stop because there is a barrier in front of us and we can’t imagine a way to get around or over it. Our work space feels like it is walled with cement blocks that are closing in tighter every day, but we can’t imagine where we would go if we quit. We can’t breathe in an airless relationship but can’t imagine how to take off. We look in the mirror, when we dare, and see the age lines, the skin blemishes, maybe the thinning hair, not the beauty that we may carry inside.
We go on repeating to ourselves the tired old stories, strapped on to us by family or past histories of defeat and disappointment. Or we cling to past memories of brighter days, or that win on the high school sports field, or that sweet summer romance, or that medal for valor or that early success that was never repeated. Either way, by nursing grief or guilt or nostalgia, we manage to go through life looking in the rear vision mirror, stuck in the past, never fully available to the present moment.
Or we miss the moment by carrying anxiety about the future, playing scenarios for what could go wrong. We give ourselves a hundred reasons not to take the risk of doing something new, something that would take us beyond the gated communities of the mind into the wilds of creative adventure.
Conscious of it or not, we go around playing our negative mantras. I’m too old. I’m not pretty enough. I don’t have the money. People always let you down. People don’t change. I’m so tired. You don’t think you do this? Pause for a moment. Take off the headphones. Listen to what’s playing on your inner soundtrack. It may be a song. Am I blue?
I confess there are days, especially between snowstorms in a Northeastern winter, when my mood can slump and go the color of the dirty grey ramparts of ice on the curb in my small gritty city. And more days like these in the shut-up times of pandemic I don’t want to get out of bed even to walk the dog, who is waiting for me patiently. I may be stirred back to life by a dream or a cheering message from a loved one or a plan for an ocean beach vacation or a foreign adventure. But when I find it is still hard to rise above a low, lethargic mood and dump those negative mantras – My legs hurt, I’m played out, I can’t walk on the ice – I call in one of the greatest life coaches I know.
I know him from his most famous
book. Maybe you do too. His book is titled Man’s Search for Meaning. His
name is Viktor Frankl. He was an Existentialist – which is to say, someone who
believes that we must be authors of meaning for our own lives – and a
successful psychiatrist in Vienna before Nazi Germany swallowed Austria in
1938. He was a Jew and a free-thinking intellectual, two reasons for the Nazis
to send him to a concentration camp. For several years he was in Auschwitz, the
most notorious of the Nazi death camps.
In the camp, every vestige of humanity was taken from him, except what he could sustain in his mind and his heart. He was in constant pain, reduced to a near-skeleton with a tattooed number on his arm, liable to be beaten or killed at any moment on the whim of a guard. He was there to be worked to death. He watched those around him shot or beaten or carted off to the gas chambers every day.
He made an astonishing choice. He decided that, utterly deprived of freedom in the nightmare world around him, he would tend one precious candle of light within. He would exercise the freedom to choose his attitude. It sounds preposterous, if you don’t know the story of what unfolded. When people tell us we have a bad attitude in ordinary circumstances, we are usually not grateful. The suggestion that we can choose our attitude when the world around us seems cold and bleak, or we have suffered a major setback, even heartbreak, sounds cruel, and maybe preposterous. But let’s stay with Viktor Frankl.
When the light went out in his world, he managed to light that inner candle of vision. Despite the pain in his body and the screams and groans around him, he made an inner movie, a film of a possible life in a world where the Nazis had been defeated and Hitler was a memory. It was an impossible vision of course, an escapist fantasy. There was no way he was going to survive Auschwitz.
But he kept working on his inner movie, night after night, as director, scriptwriter, and star. He produced a scene in which he was giving a lecture in a well-filled auditorium.. His body had filled out, and he was wearing a good suit. The people in the audience were intelligent and enthusiastic. The theme of his lecture was “The Psychology of the Concentration Camps.” In his movie, not only were the death camps a thing of the past; he had retained the sanity and academic objectivity to speak about what went on during the Holocaust from a professional psychiatric perspective.
This exercise in inner vision, conducted under almost unimaginably difficult circumstances, got Viktor Frankl through. One year after the war, in a good suit, he gave that lecture as he had seen himself doing in his inner movies.
What do we take away from this?
First, that however tough our situation may seem to be, we always have the freedom to choose our attitude, and this can change everything. Let’s allow William James to chime in: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Second, that our problems, however bad, are unlikely to be quite as bad as the situation of someone who has been sent to a Nazi death camp. That thought may help us to gain perspective, and to stand back from a welter of grief and self-pity and rise to a place where we can start to dream up something better.
Third, we can make inner movies, and if they are good enough it is possible that they will play in the theater of the world.
Would you like to make your own life movies, in which you enjoy the satisfaction of your deepest desires? Are you willing to grow a vision of bright possibility so rich and alive that it wants to take root in the world?
Here are some secrets of the imagination that will get you on your way.
Dreams Show You the Secret Wishes of Your Soul
Every night, if you make the effort
to catch some of what is going on, you will find that your dreams take you
beyond what you already know. You already have a personal film production
company, behind the curtain of the world, that is making dreams exclusively for
you. That comedy or horror flick, that romance or action adventure, may be
screened in the night to help you see where you are and how you are, or to give
you a glimpse of other life possibilities. In other dreams, you get out and
about, you socialize, you make visits and receive visitations.
Dreaming, you travel without leaving home and can be as social as you like. You are also a time traveler. You travel to past times, parallel times and into the possible future. You scout out challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Beyond seeing the future, it is possible that, dreaming, the observer effect noted in physics comes into play and you take part in the selection of events that will manifest from a quantum soup of possibilities.
There is even more going on in your nights. Indigenous wisdom teaches that through dreams we learn the secret wishes of the soul.. There is even a word for this in the Huron/Iroquois language: ondinnonk. We are called to follow our heart’s desires, as opposed to the calculations of the ego and other people’s agendas and expectations. We are recalled to our deeper life purpose, and given sources and resources in a deeper reality that will help us to follow our path with heart.
Your Great Imagineer Is Your
Don’t doubt for a moment that you have the imagination required to grow a vision of manifesting your heart’s desires that can carry you beyond the stuck places and the dark dreary times. Your inner child is a master of dreams and imagination. She knows the magic of making things up. She engages effortlessly in the deep play that generates creative ideas without regard for consequences. Maybe you lost contact with her as you started to grow up and the adult world trod on her dreams. Maybe there was a time when her world seemed so cold and cruel that she wanted to run away, and may actually have succeeded in running away, so a safe space in Granma’s house or a garden behind the Moon. Maybe this is why you have been in a dream drought for so long; when she went away, you lost the beautiful bright dreamer in you. In chapter 2, you are going to learn how to reclaim that Magical Child, how to convince her that you are safe and you are fun so that you can bring her energy and joy and imagination into your current life.
What Is in Your Way May Be Your Way
The philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius came to accept, as a rule for his own life, that the obstacle may be the way. When you find yourself blocked or challenged on your life road, that may be a prompt for you to look for a better way, or develop needed skill or the pluck and perseverance to see something through. you’ll want to look again at what you feel is blocking or opposing you on your life road. Sometimes a block is a pause button, indicating, Not right now. Try later. You may discover that a block has been placed in your way to induce you to find a better way. For every door that won’t open or slams shut in your face, look for one that maybe opening. For every setback, search for opportunity. Look for a gift in every wound or challenge though this can be hard and may require hindsight from some distance away.
Your Big story is hunting you
Australian Aborigines say that the
Big stories are hunting the right people to tell them, like predators stalking
in the bush. The trick is to put ourselves in a place where the Big stories can
find us. We do that when we attend to our dreams and the dreamlike play of
symbols and synchronicity in the world around us. We want to learn to step out
of the tired old stories we have inherited from family, from other people
telling us who we are, from personal histories of failure and defeat. When we
are seized by the Big story, we step beyond limiting definitions and beliefs.
Great healing becomes available because we can now draw on the immense energy
that is generated by the sense of serving a larger purpose and living a mythic
life. The muse, or creative genius, and the intelligences of the
world-behind-the-world come to support our life projects, because we are
following a deeper call.
Your world is as rich or poor, as alluring or dull, as you can imagine. Listen to your dreams, let your inner child out to play, put yourself in a place where you bigger story can grab you. When you move in the energy field of a big dream of life, the world responds to you, because you are magnetic. You generate events and encounters that open new doors, and your days sparkle with a champagne fizz of magic. Your dreams speak louder and brighter and the extraordinary comes to meet you on any street corner.
On days when you feel down and defeated, remember Viktor Frankl, dreaming his way out of the nightmare of the death camps. On any day, you have the freedom to choose your attitude, and this is an exercise in creative imagination that can change everything.
Adapted from Growing Big Dreams: Manifesting Your Heart’s Desires through Twelve Secrets of the Imagination by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.
Photo (c) Robert Moss
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Dream Naming among the Plains Cree, or Nehiyanak
Alanson Skinner, who traveled with the Plains Cree in 1913, reported:
"When a child is still young it is customary for the parents to call upon four old men to ask them to give it a name. This is done when the child is about one year old the parents gather a quantity of clothing and other presents and a lot of food. Then four old men whom the parents have selected because of their fame for powerful dreams and for their war exploits are invited by a runner who bears them tobacco and a pipe. Each tries to dream from then on, and when the appointed day arrives, the four men appear at the spot designated where the parents have prepared a feast and where the other guests are assembled.
"When all is in readiness a pipe is filled and given to the spokesman of the elders who rises and addresses the people. He tells them of whom or what he has been dreaming and gives the infant a name that has some reference to his visions or to one of his adventures in war. He then turns to his three assistants and afterward to the people in general asking each to repeat the name aloud and to call upon the namer’s dream guardian to bless the child. After this there is a feast…
"Sometimes a child was sickly and the doctor on investigation would dream that it was wrongly named and prescribe a change if the diagnosis was correct the child would recover in from a day to four days."
- Alanson Skinner, “Notes on the Plains Cree” in American Anthropologist New Series, Vol. 16, No. 1 (1914), pp. 68-69.
1899 photo of Native American Girl with bone breastplate in the Library of Congress
" The significance of dreams as a means of communication with the spirits was underscored by the emphasis placed on remembering the content of one's dreams in exact detail. The Cree said that if a man could no longer remember his dreams upon awakening, he could no longer hunt.”
The animals of earth, water and sky were al said to have their Caretaker. The Chief or Caretaker of all the "clawe3d ones" on earth was said to be MemekweSiw's, literally "Little Dog", the great Bear spirit. An old Cree man said "I can't hunt any more because though I dream I don't remember them when I get up in the morning/" However, he told in fine detail how Bear came as his powatakan (dream visitor) and showed him where a young bear would be waiting for him to take its life on his first solo hunt. He put on his best clothes, making his best appearance, killed the bear with respect and, with the help of his father, hosted an eat-all meal in which the bear was thanked and prepared to be reborn.
- Regina Flannery and Mary Elizabeth Chambers , “Each Man Has His Own Friends: The Role of Dream Visitors in Traditional East Cree Belief and Practice” in Arctic Anthropology Vol.22, No. 1 (1985), p.3
Illustration: Bear Visitor by RM with AI assistance