Sunday, January 8, 2023

A Dreamer's Notes: Can You Remember a Dream in Which You Die?

January 7, 2023

Place of Leaping
This memory only surfaced hours after the sleep dream in which it took place:.
I am on a cliff hundreds of feet above the sea. It's a beautiful sunny day. I jump. I am dropping feet first, head up, in standing position. As I fall I am thinking I may have ended my life: that I won't be able to come back from this. I feel a twinge of fear and regret. I tell myself to relax into the fall and enjoy the beauty of the scene.
I splash down and am going deep. I have no trouble breathing under water. I feel no pain. I don't know what's coming next. Will I touch the sea bottom and bounce back up, as I did in another recent dream? Will I find myself in another world, as I have often done after a sea crossing and sometimes by plunging very very deep? I haven't touched bottom when I leave the dream - and forget it until later.
When the dream returns later, I feel a little chill, and thrill. I think this might be a splendid check-out at the end of physical life. I think of the traditional Maori itinerary for departing for the afterlife from a Place of Leaping, a high point of land above the sea, and of group shamanic journeys I have led from certain versions of this departure lounge. People have asked me: Can you die in a dream? My frequent response has been: what better way to leave? As the Lakota say, the path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams - except that you don't come back to your physical body.

If my dream can be tagged as "lucid", it is in a larger sense than the way that term is often used. I'm not telling myself, "It's a dream! It's a dream!" and certainly not that what is happening is anything less than entirely real. I am fully aware that I am traveling between different worlds and I'm not sure I can return to the one I just left. I don't delude myself that I am in control here. However I am ready to choose my actions and my direction according to what now unfolds in a reality that is no les real than my ordinary world and may be more so. If I am about to enter the afterlife, I am doing so consciously.
It seems I'm not quite gone yet, though I'm checking. A rehearsal for the Big Journey, early or late, is surely a good idea. I close my eyes, stretch out, and return to my own Place of Leaping in memory and imagination. I picture myself plunging to the bottom of the sea. I rise up like a sea bird. I am flying now, skimming the waves, to an island that is not on any ordinary map.

Journal drawing by Robert Moss: "Place of Leaping"

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