Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Fifty-Ninth Swan

I seem to be much with Swan People of late, drifting and winging between dream and myth. Yesterday I flew and swam, as swan and man, along a wild shore to high stony cliffs where a great swan's nest had been laid. I am going through my journals and books, gathering reports, turning some into drawings and drafts for a possible new book. I found a few paragraphs I published in a story titled "The Fifty-Ninth Swan" in Mysterious Realities. It evokes the sadness and the longing of the poet Yeats after his repeated rejection by Maud Gonne.

He is walking in the Seven Woods, at Coole Park. He comes to the lake, and sees that the swans have left sky and water and settled in a green meadow. Across the distance, they look like tufts of sheep’s wool. He can get near to them, perhaps, by crossing a field of cows. As he hoists myself over the stile, a red bull appears and challenges him, head down, steaming and potent, warning him away from his harem. Then the bull gets his scent and turns from him, shaking his rump, as if to say, You are no competition.
     He knows already what the count will reveal. There are fifty-nine swans on the grass, as there were fifty-nine on the water yesterday. He could not identify the solitary swan until now. He watched a mated couple drive the lone swan away with sounds like muffled bugles. He sees the solitary swan struggle through the wet grass. Clumsily, working pinions, he tries to lift off the ground. Perhaps his feathers are wet. It seems so hard for him to get airborne. Finally he wings his way above the lake towards the fairy hills, graceless and unloved.
    The poet flies with him, sharing his pain. Swans are not meant to live alone. They mate for life. I know the mate I would have if she would have me. In the stories I have gathered from the peasantry, and from old books, gods and heroes alike may turn into swans, or be forced to take their shapes under a curse. The love god Aengus, no less, must shapeshift into a swan to find and win the lady he desires, when she flies at Samhain in the company of swans, in their form, to be recognized by the golden chain round her neck.
    He wills myself, climbing higher, into the clouds, to find her spirit in a place of brightness. He couples with her in midair. He falls on her as Zeus comes to Leda. He will make this more than fantasy by carrying the lovely spirit he makes his above the clouds down to the body she has given to a red brute of a man, so she make wake from his spell and leave his cattle field and come to the poet in the green meadow.

Text adapted from Mysterious Realities; Adventures of a Dream Traveler in the Imaginal Realm by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library. 

Art: "Swan and Shadow" from the Swan People cycle of drawings by Robert Moss

Rilke’s Swan Song


A swan moves on the water,
 surrounded by itself, like a sliding picture.
 So at certain times the one you love

 is a moving space.

Your lover draws near, doubled

like the swan that swims on your troubled soul...


 adding to this being the trembling image

 of  joy and of doubt.


My free translation of one of Rilke's poems in French (Vergers No. 40)


Un cygne avance sur l'eau tout entouré

de lui-même, comme un glissant tableau;


ainsi à certains instants

un être que l'on aime est tout un espace mouvant.


Il se rapproche, doublé, comme ce cygne qui nage

sur notre âme troublée...


qui à cet être ajoute la tremblante image

de bonheur et de doute.

Photo by Romy Needham

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Tapped by the Hoopoe


At my workshop at the Hameau de l'Etoile in April, 2016 , a hoopoe tapped five times on the window behind my head. We don’t see hoopoes where I live, in North America, but I know the bird well from mythology.The hoopoe, with its crown of feathers, is a royal and magical bird in its normal plumage, with a grand role in the folklore and sacred stories of the East. Hoopoes were messengers between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. In The Conference of the Birds, a great Persian tale of mystical ascent by the poet Farid ud-din Attar, it is the hoopoe that calls the birds together to embark on the quest for the King. In the quest, the birds who survive the journey fuse together as the Simurgh, the bird of heaven. In our meeting room in southern France, I knew I was fluttering on the mythic edge.

My workshop was titled Becoming a Kairomancer. I invented the word “kairomancer” to describe a master of special moments, an everyday magician forever poised to recognize special Kairos moments of synchronicity and celebrate than and act on the opportunities they present. In such moments, we sometimes feel that powers from a deeper reality are tapping on the windows of our ordinary perception to encourage us to open to a larger life and the play of forces beyond our consensual hallucinations. I felt this as the hoopoe tapped, and tapped again and again, as I told the group about its role in bringing the birds together to make the heaven bird.

Chansons, I concluded my tale. Let's sing.

Flights of the Simurgh

There are mythic beings that roost in the mind, ready to seize your imagination and carry you off on wild adventures: dragons, griffins and other fantastic beasts. Some may stay with you for a whole lifetime, and may remind you of other lifetimes. I can’t remember when I first heard the name of the  Simurgh, but I know I have heard its cry and felt the wind of its wings long before naming.  

Jorge Luis Borges was also fascinated by the mystical bird of Persian mythology. He wrote an essay reflecting on the mystery of how, in The Conference of the Birds, thirty birds become one bird, while the one bird is still thirty. He quotes these astonishing lines by his fellow-Argentine poet, Silvina Ocampo: 

Era Dios ese pájaro como un enorme espejo:
los contenía a todos; no era un mero reflejo.
En sus plumas hallaron cada uno sus plumas
en los ojos, los ojos con memorias de plumas

This bird was God, like an enormous mirror
that contained them all, and not a mere reflection.
In his feathers each one found his own feathers,
in his eyes, their eyes with the memories of feathers.[1]

When I found this, my memories stirred of one of the big dreams of my life. In the dream, back in 1988, I found myself in a house on a canal, perhaps in Amsterdam. The house belonged to a magician. I sampled the rich library. On a large table in another room, under glass, I found an elaborate machine signed by Israel Regardie, who disclosed the secret rituals and "flying rolls" of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Upstairs, in the master bedroom, I found a Persian rug, lying on the bed. Still rolled and tied with strings, it seemed to have been recently delivered, and still unused, at least in this house. While I contemplated the rug, a shamanic teacher with whom I had studied entered the room behind me. He was immensely excited by the rug, wanting to know when it had been delivered and when and how I planned to use it.

I woke excited, with many questions. The first was: who is the owner of this house? Instead of speculating on this theme, I reentered the dream, with the aid of shamanic drumming, to make a full tour. I discovered what you might have guessed, had you heard my initial report. The house on the canal was my own, a place where I could explore my connections with many traditions of inner work and practical magic with which I appear to have connections across space and time. I went carefully through several volumes in the library. I examined the Golden Dawn machine. It was antiquated, with unnecessary Heath Robinson features, but still in fine working order.

Then I went up the stairs to the bedroom and unrolled the Persian rug. I marveled at the beauty of the design. It was woven in colors of blue and silver. At the center was the form of a great bird I knew to be the Simurgh. When I spread out the rug, the Simurgh rose and spread its great wings. I found myself instantly on its back. We made a wild ride across space and time. I was drawn into the world and the visions of the Magi, and saw Bethlehem as they visioned it. I found myself chanting ancient names in Farsi. My mind opened to memories of the Fravarti, the Choosers, spiritual knights of Persian tradition who make the choice to leave a higher world to come into this one to fight a good fight. 

 Over the years that followed my discovery of the Persian rug in the house on the canal, I received visitations in the twilight zone between sleep and awake that prompted me to deepen my study of Persian mystical traditions. A name that was mentioned again and again was that of Suhrawardi, the great medieval mystical philosopher. On a night that opened like a flower, I felt a radiant presence in my room.

 Rise from your body, and I will descend to you

I loosened physical focus without separating from the body. I had the impression of a handsome young man of Persian appearance, wearing modern clothes, a suit and a shirt with banded collar. He said that his name was Shams. He told me, “Suhrawardi is the key to your understanding of the dream cosmos,” and that I should use his geographies of the Imaginal Realm. “Go to Mount Qaf.” 

I read translations of Suhrawardi’s works, and books about him by the French scholar Henry Corbin. I read about a mystical journey through the realm of the moon to a tree bearing all fruits on a high peak of the world mountain, Mount Qaf. In that tree is the nest of the Simurgh. 

I stretched out on my bed, in an early dawn, and was transported into this scene: 

I am in a palace that is open to the winds, a place of soaring arches. It does not seem to stand on earth, but among the stars. It is roofless, open to the night sky, which is dark yet light at the same time, shimmering in every particle. There are twelve spacious rooms in the palace. Each contains marvelous musical instruments, shaped like butterfly wings. Some have multiple wings or leaves. They resembled stringed harps, yet the “strings” are so fine as to be invisible. Cosmic winds blow celestial harmonies through these wings of sound. I marvel at the beauty of these harmonies.[2]

In one of Suhrawardi’s visionary treatises, I found the Simurgh with its wind and music: 

“This Simurgh flies without moving, and he soars without wings. He approaches without traversing space. All colors are from him, but he himself has no color. His nest is in the orient, but the occident is not void of him. All are occupied with him, but he is free of all. All are full of him, but he is empty of all, All knowledge emanates and is derived from his shrill cry, and marvelous instruments such as the organ have been made from his thrilling voice….His food is fire, and whoever finds one of his feathers to his right side and passes through the fire will be safe from burning. The zephyr is from his breath, hence lovers speak their hearts’ secrets and innermost thoughts with him.” [3]  

 I went on a quest to find an image of the Simurgh as it appeared on the magic carpet in my dream of the house on the canal. I found many pictures over the years, but failed to find the silver and blue heaven bird that took flight in my dream.

 I have Peter Sis' beautiful illustrated and simplified version of The Conference of the Birds. There is a lovely picture of thirty birds joined in the form of a giant bird in full flight, but not the colors from my dream. [3] 

I mounted yet another online search and hit gold, or rather, silver. The mosaic in the photograph shows the Simurgh in the colors of my dream. The mosaic is on the wall of Nadir Divan-Beghi madrassah, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

As I was writing this blog, the hoopoe tapped me again, in the pages of a novel I picked up for now particular reason except that I like the word oracle and was teaching Istanbul in that period. In Michael David Lukas’s novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, the very young protagonist (a child savant from Constanta, Romania) is accompanied everywhere by a flock of hoopoe birds distinguished by their unusual color. They are light purple rather than brown. I learned that hoopoes are are renowned in Turkey today for the ability to see the unseen, for example, to locate underground sources of water. Hard to miss messages when storied birds come so gorgeously arrayed, literally tapping at the window or circling around your head.  In The Oracle of Stamboul, the hoopoes help to give a little girl the ear of a Sultan, no less.

When synchronicity strikes, the universe becomes personal and we may sense a hidden hand, reaching through the veils of ordinary perception to tickle or tap us awake. For me, this sequence, playing in dreams of the night and dreams of the day over decades, is confirmation that we are called beyond our current identities to traditions and lineages that may be part of our larger, multidimensional story.  


1.  "The Simurgh and the Eagle" by Jorge Luis Borges is one of his "Nine Dantesque Essays" reprinted in Selected Non-Fictions, edited by Eliot Weinberger (New York: Penguin, 2000). The Silvina Ocampo poem is Espacios métricos, 12.

2.  For more on own adventures in these realms, please see The Boy Who Died and Came Back chapter 38, "Flights of the Simurgh"

3.  Peter Sis, The Conference of the Birds (New York: Penguin Books, 2013)

4.  Shihabuddin Yahya Suhrawardi, “The Shrill Cry of the Simurgh” in W.M.Thackson, Jr. (trans) The Mystical and Visionary Treatises of Suhrawardi (London: Octagon Press, 1982) p.88

Journal drawing: "Tap of the Hoopoe" by Robert Moss


Saturday, February 25, 2023

Time and Madeleine L'Engle

Time and Madeleine L'Engle

I have lost and found myself many times in in the wonderful worlds created by Madeleine L'Engle. Her literary biography confirms things I know to be profoundly important in a writing life: to survive rejection, to be ready for inspiration and opportunity o come in unexpected ways and to journal, journal, journal.  She failed to find her audience as a writer, while her family struggled with its finances, and so decided to stop writing on her 40th birthday, in 1958. 

However, she had kept a journal since she was eight, and the habit was impossible to erase. She went on a long camping trip and conceived, on the road, the idea for A Winkle in Time. She shopped it around to publishers and was rejected more than thirty times before this extraordinary sci fantasy novel was acquired by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; it was published in 1962.

  We see how in her story the obstacle may prove to be the way, in two senses: it can prompt you to try a different way, and then to develop the grit and persistence to win through when you are on the right path. Through it all, you must journal, journal, journal. I don't how anyone can become a writer - or lead an examined life - without keeping a journal.

Digital art by RM

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Godspace, between sleep and awake


Preparing new classes, I am rereading the 3rd century classic "On the Mysteries", by the Syrian Platonist and theurgist Iamblichus. He surveyed all major forms of divination known in his times and assigned highest importance to what the soul learns in dreams and in liminal states between sleep and awake. Writing about visionary experience in twilight states, he makes it sound like Godspace, prime time for divine encounters:

"Either when sleep departs, just as we are awakening, it is possible to hear a sudden voice guiding us about things to be done, or the voices are heard between waking and going to sleep, or even when wholly awake. And sometimes an intangible and incorporeal spirit encircles those lying down, so that there is no visual perception of it, but some other awareness and self-consciousness.

"When entering, it makes a whooshing sound, and diffuses itself in all directions without any contact, and it does wondrous works by way of freeing both soul and body from their sufferings. At other times, however, when a light shines brightly and peacefully, not only is the sight of the eye possessed, but closed up after previously being quite open. And the other senses are awake and consciously aware of how the gods shine forth in the light, and with a clear understanding they both hear what they say, and know what they do."

- Iamblichus, De mysteriis trans. Emma C. Clarke John M. Dillon and Jackson P. Hershbell (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003)

Graphic: First-century helmet from Emesa (modern Homs) in Syria. Iamblichus was descended from priest-kings of Emesa and kept the non-Hellenic form of his name. Iamblichus (Ἰάμβλιχος)  is the Greek transliteration of Syriac or Aramaic ya-mlku, meaning “He is king”), 

A Dreamer's Notes: Myths and Pronouns


"When Kevin Costner wanted to learn an Indian dialect for his film Dances with Wolves, he didn't realize that there were different grammatical forms for men and women; he learned the language from a woman, and hence, apparently unknowingly, throughout the film referred to himself as 'she' and 'her'."

- Wendy Doniger, The Implied Spider: Politics &Theology in Myth 

This delightful anecdote reminded me of my first attempts to learn the Mohawk language on and off reservations. In Mohawk the primary nouns and pronouns are feminine. So Okwari is Bear but in English it is also she-bear. If you want to specify you are talking about a male bear you must add a prefix and say Rokwari.

Doniger's Kostner anecdote comes in a discussion of how women's voices have been suppressed in the literature of many cultures. Throughout Doniger displays the fruits of her omnivorous reading and proves herself a worthy successor to Mircea Eliade as professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago.

Myths are her passion but she declines to give any fixed definition of the word "myth". You can catch her on the fly, however, saying things like this:

"A myth is a story that is sacred to and shared by a group of people who find their most important meanings in it."

And this:

"Myths from other people's cultures often provide us with useful metaphors that are more refreshing than our own."

I strongly endorse the last statement. It is one reason why I weave so many myths into my courses, refreshing old stories as they refresh us because to touch our lives a myth must come vitally alive in our imaginations and our experience of the world.

Art: "She-Bear of Old Engand" by James Uxcell, Used with permission.


Monday, February 20, 2023

A Dreamer's Notes: The Mystery of the Unused Hotel Rooms


February 20, 2023

The Mystery of the Unused Hotel Rooms

Do you track recurring themes in your dreams? Last night my dreams presented, yet again, the Mystery of the Unused Hotel Rooms.
I travel far more in my dreams than in physical reality and often stay in hotels or upscale apartments. Last night I talked with a deceased friend (very much alive in the dream) at a hacienda-style resort on a private beach. As checkout time approached, I was very conscious I needed to get over to a nearby hotel and settle my bill there. I had rented a room at the hotel for the three nights of my stay but had not used it, as far as I was aware.
Since I didn't get over there before I returned from my dream excursion, I don't know whether I had luggage in the hotel room. I checked my journals for comparable dream reports, tracking the theme.
The hotels and the cities are different in each dream but there are some generic similarities. The hotels are always at least 3 or 4 star, corporate rather than boutique, located in downtown business districts with conference centers and upscale chain restaurants. The rooms I don't use are spacious, sometimes suites. Paying for them doesn't bother me. However I often have trouble remembering the name and address of the hotel and am in a hurry to get there, pick up my bag (if I left one) and settle the bill in time to catch a plane.
What is going on in each of these dreams is a specific situation with its own lineaments. Yet when I survey the possible overarching theme, I suspect that these unused hotel rooms where I have been running a tab may be clues to the wanderings of one or more of my dream doubles. Dream Roberts do seem to show up all over the Many Worlds. Maybe if I can get a look at the hotel bills I can find out more of what they are doing.

"Twin Hotels" digital play by RM

Reading the handwriting of the gods


Our early ancestors knew the magic of writing. In ancient Mesopotamia, to depict something or to say its name is to give existence to that fish, that ox, that measure of grain. “The scribe made or produced what he wrote down.” [1]

The gods write on this world through things they create or move around. “Creating things was the writing of the gods, for they made objects the bearers of a definite meaning, of a message they wanted to communicate to humans...They called the starry sky 'celestial writing'”. [2] Before cutting open a sacrificial animal, the haruspex asks Shamash, god of divination, to be present in its entrails. 

“Through deductive divination the future was not pronounced by the gods themselves talking to a human medium, it was inscribed in things that they created. Humans had only to read the future in them, to decipher it, to deduce it, like any written message.” [3]

In Akkadian, diviners were called baru, “examiners". They scrutinized signs and noted what followed the appearance of a certain sign, developing an experience-based registry of what you needed to prepare for if, for example, a liver was striated in a certain way. They developed the idea that “the second event was not only forecast by the first but in a certain sense was in some way included in the first by the gods and was thus announced in it.” [4]


1. Jean Bottéro. Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia trans Teresa Lavender Fagan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004) p. 178. 

2. ibid

3. ibid, p.179

4. ibid, pp. 179-80

Graphic: "Shamash Is Golden" digital play by RM

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Borges, the Double and Dreams Deferred


I return again and again to the works of Jorge Luis Borges, my favorite essayist and short story writer and one of my favorite poets. I share his fascination with the theme of the double. Like Borges, I am intrigued by the possibility that we can encounter our past, future and parallel selves. For me, based on my social life in dreaming, this is a certainty. I and once published a story ("The Other Again") which borrows the structure of Borges" story "The Other", just as he borrowed the ideas and form of a story by Kurd Lasswitz ( which he reviewed in an essay titled "The Total Library") in order to to craft his celebrated "Library of Babel".*

Borges attributed his fascination with the double to his love of R.L.Stevenson. In one Borges story (“Borges and I”), he feels empty and abandoned, while watching a second self write his stories and claim his fame. In another (“August 25, 1983”), as a man already 70, he walks from a station to a hotel at night to find he has already checked in, to room 19, a number with great significance. The clerk recognizes him with difficulty. 

He goes up to the room and finds his older self, now blind and 84, staring up at the ceiling, with an empty bottle nearby. His older self tells him he has come here to die – he says to commit suicide – and tells Borges things he will do before he arrives at the same situation. When Borges denies that this is what his future holds, his older self insists that things will proceed as he says, but that when the younger Borges reaches this point, he will remember the encounter, if at all, only as a faded dream.

In stories like this, Borges is dreaming on paper. He gives us his opinions about dreams in an essay misleadingly titles "Nightmares" (since nightmares are not the main content). Here he teases us with the thought that life itself is a dream, La vida es sueño:

"For the savage and for the child, dreams are episodes of the waking life; for poets and mystics, it is not impossible for all of the waking life to be a dream. This was said, in a dry and laconic fashion, by Calderón: 'Life is a dream.' It was said, with an image, by Shakespeare: 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on.' And splendidly by the Austrian poet Walter von der Vogelweide, who asked, 'Ist mein Leben geträumt oder ist es wahr?' – have I dreamed my life or is it real?"

Yet as far as I am aware we don't have Borges' dream journal, perhaps because he did not keep one. I read Edwin Williamson’s long biography of Borges and found that the dreams are mostly missing. There’s mention of an early and recurring nightmare, in which Borges does not know where he is or who he is, a dream that may have anticipated his blindness but extends to his existential condition. There are a couple of references to nightmares in his later years – of being terrified by a dream that oppressed him in a book-lined basement in a professor’s house in East Lansing, so he had to be moved to a hotel; of a terrible dream in which he is crucified and glimpses a she-wolf as his oppressor. But nothing, really, about the dreams that may have inspired and fueled the poems and stories. 

Did Borges really dream only on paper? If so, this might account for his uncertainty about whether there is an afterlife, something that weighed on him into his final days. His father – who went blind long before him – sometimes spoke of his longing for death in the sense of being totally “extinguished”. Borges, bitterly and recurringly rejected by women and disappointed in love, and tied to the clumsy body of a failing, eventually sightless animal, also yearned for this, and often thought of suicide. Feeling close to his own death, three years after the death of his boyhood friend from Geneva, Maurice Abramowicz, Borges wrote 

I cannot tell whether you are still someone
I cannot tell whether you can hear me  [2]

Yet the next year in a Greek taverna in Geneva, when a certain song was playing, Borges experienced an epiphany. The song declared that while the music played, you could enjoy the love of Helen of Troy; while the music played, Ulysses could go home to Ithaca. In this moment, Borges knew that Maurice was alive and present, and raised his glass in a toast to his friend. “Tonight I can weep like a man,” he wrote that same night, “ because I know there is not a single thing on this earth which is mortal and which does not project its shadow. Tonight you have told me without words, Abramowicz, that we should enter death as we might enter a fiesta.” [3] 

Borges was now released to imagine – in a burst of visionary optimism after all the black despair – a world created by dreamers. In his prose poem “Someone Shall Dream” (“Alguien sonará”) the future “shall dream dreams more vivid than our waking life today. It shall dream that we can work miracles, and that we won’t carry them out because it will be more real to imagine them. It shall dream worlds so intense that the voice of a single bird could kill us.” 


1. Jorge Luis Borges, "Nightmares" in Seven Nights trans. Eliot Weinberger (New York: New Directions, 2009)

2. "Elegy" quoted in Edwin Williamson, Borges: A Life (New York: Viking 2004) p.468

3.“Abramowicz” in Los Conjurados. Quoted in Williamson p. 470

My story "The Other Again" is published in Here, Everything is Dreaming: Poems and Stories by Robert Moss (Excelsior Editions). 

"Borges Twinned": Digital play by RM

What is Active Dreaming?


Active Dreaming? The phrase is a provocation, designed to shake us free from the assumption that dreaming is a passive activity.  I am grateful for the gift of spontaneous sleep dreams, the ones we don’t ask for and often don’t want. They hold up a magic mirror in which we can see ourselves as we truly are. They serve as a voice of conscience. They preview challenges and opportunities that lie in our future. Sleep dreams show us what is going on inside the body, diagnose developing complaints before medical symptoms present themselves, and show us what the body needs to stay well. We solve problems in our sleep. And, as the First Peoples of my native Australia teach, our personal dreams may be a passport to the Dreamtime, the larger reality in which we can meet the ancestors and our authentic spiritual teachers.

I work with sleep dreams in all these varieties, and many more, and welcome them to work on me. But Active Dreaming is far more than a method for decoding sleep dreams. While the techniques involved are fresh and original, they are also very ancient. They involve ways of seeing and knowing and healing that were known to our early ancestors, kept them alive on a dangerous planet, and enabled them to communicate with each other and with other forms of life in the speaking land around them.

Active Dreaming is a way of being fully of this world while maintaining constant contact with another world, the world-behind-the-world, where the deeper logic and purpose of our lives are to be found.

Active Dreaming is a discipline, as is yoga or archeology or particle physics. This is to say that there are ascending levels of practice. In any field, the key to mastery is always the same: practice, practice, practice.



First, Active Dreaming is a way of talking and walking our dreams, of bringing energy and guidance from the dreamworld into everyday life. We learn how to create a safe space where we can share dreams of the night and dreams of life with others, receive helpful feedback, and encourage each other to move towards creative and healing action. We discover that each of us can play guide for others, and that by sharing in the right way we claim our voice, grow our power as storytellers and communicators, build stronger friendships and lay foundations for a new kind of community. Above all, we learn to take action to embody the energy and guidance of our dreams in everyday life.

Second, Active Dreaming is a method of shamanic lucid dreaming.  It starts with simple everyday practice and extends to profound group experiences of time travel, soul recovery and the exploration of multidimensional reality. It is founded on the understanding that we don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. The easiest way to become a conscious or lucid dreamer is to start out lucid and stay that way. As a method of conscious dream navigation, Active Dreaming is not to be confused with approaches that purport to “control” or manipulate dreams; it is utterly misguided to seek to put the control freak in the ego in charge of something immeasurably wiser and deeper than itself.

Third, Active Dreaming is a way of conscious living. This requires us to reclaim our inner child, and the child’s gift of spontaneity, play and imagination. It requires us to claim the power of naming and define our life project. It invites us to discover and follow the natural path of our energies. It calls us to remember and tell and live our bigger story in such a way that it can be heard and received by others. It is about navigating by synchronicity and receiving the chance events and symbolic pop-ups on our daily roads as clues to a deeper order. Beyond this, it is about grasping that the energy we carry and the attitudes we choose have magnetic effect on the world around us, drawing or repelling encounters and circumstances.

To live consciously is to accept the challenge to create, which is to move beyond scripts and bring something new into the world.

This approach is not only for individuals and friends and families, but for communities and for our deeper attunement to the cause of the Earth.  Active dreamers become Speakers for the Earth, and rise to full awareness of the truth of the indigenous wisdom that we must be mindful of the consequences of our actions down to the seventh generation beyond ourselves. Active dream groups can offer a model of intentional community, and can foster a new mode of leadership that empowers each member to claim her voice and play guide to others as they learn to speak and embody their own truth.

 Drawing: "Levels of Dreaming"  by Robert Moss

Friday, February 17, 2023

Creation begins when illusion is bound by the thread of a dream


Listen up. Leave your chores and worries. You need to know where we are.

    First there is Nainema. He is illusion. He is called “Father with an Illusion”. He is all there is.
    The illusion that is Nainema affects itself deeply.
    Nainema takes the illusion that is himself into himself. He holds the illusion by the thread of a dream and looks into it. He is searching, but finds nothing.
    He looks again. He breathes. He holds the phantasm and binds it to the dream thread with a magical glue that comes from inside himself.. Then he takes the phantasm and tramples the bottom of it, He goes on stamping until he has made an earth that is big enough for him to sit on.
    Seated on the earth he has made, holding onto the dream, he spits out a stream of saliva. The forests are born from  this and begin to grow.
    He stretches himself out on the earth and dreams a sky above it. He pulls blue and white out of the earth. Now there is sky.
    Gazing at himself, he – the one who is the story itself – creates this story to tell us how it is.
    Now do you understand? 

This is the creation story as told by the Huitoto (or Uitoto) a people of the Colombian rainforest who live by slash-and-burn agriculture, fishing, and their deep connection with the life of the jungle around them. They move through the forest at night using luminous fungi as flashlights.

   Their cosmogony is no more strange than the discovery, in quantum physics, that the act of observation plucks events into manifestation from a cosmic noodle soup of potentialities. Reality begins with illusion. A cosmic illusion becomes self-aware, looks into itself. The act of observation begins to collapse a formless wave into form. But nothing is definite until the process is tied down with the thread of a dream, and juiced by divine acts of emission.
    As in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the place of creation is a state of conscious dreaming. In this Upanishad, whose title means The Great Forest Book, the 
state of conscious dreaming is described as a state of "emitting" [srj], a word that can also mean the ejaculation of semen. The dreamer "emits" [srjate] or projects from himself "joys, happinesses and delights...ponds, lotus pools and flowing streams, for he is the Maker." The word srj is also used to describe the way a turtle projects its head and paws from under its shell.
     In both stories from the forest, we learn that ancient wisdom traditions have taught for millennia that quantum effects observed at the smallest levels of the universe may be at work in the largest: that microcosm is macrocosm. Nainema's story tells us that reality starts with illusion. Quantum physics suggests that the universe is made of dream stuff. Go dream on it.

Sources: I have based my retelling of the Huitoto creation story on two texts. The older is in Paul Radin, Monotheism among Primitive Peoples (Basel: Ethnographical Museum 1954) pp 13-14; paraphrasing and summarizing K. T.Preuss, Religion und Mythologie der Uitoto (Gottingen, 1921). The more recent is in David  Leeming and Jake Page, God: Myths of the Male Divine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) 157-158

Digital art by RM

Saturday, February 11, 2023





I am in many forms before I am bound.

I am the starwalker who won't come down.

I am the pond dweller who won't come up.

I am a hawk on a hill.

I am a bear in a berry wood.


I am the giant of the deep

who walked the Earth for ten thousand years

before he went back to the sea.

I am the sleeping king

who mated with the Earth

and dropped his horns in due season

and grew them back


I am the blasted oak that drew the lightning

I am the man in the Moon

I am the Hanged Man, and the Emperor, and the Fool.

I am medicine and I am poison.

I am the springing tiger and the quaking goat.

I am the one who makes a prison of the world

I am the one who makes the world his playground.

I am the death lord on his dark throne

I am a humming bird courting a flower.


I am the heaven bird in the World Tree

and the dragon coiled at its roots

and the squirrel that makes mischief between them.

I am a shard from a mirror

that was broken in transit from a blue star.


To release me, you must tie me down.

Published in Here, Everything is Dreaming: Poems and Stories by Robert Moss

Photo by RM


Friday, February 10, 2023

The Books for Magical Dreaming

Real magic is the art of bringing gifts from another world into this world. We do this when we go dreaming and when we remember to bring something back. In dreaming, we go to other realities, that may include places of guidance, initiation, challenge, adventure, healing. When we bring something back from these excursions, and take action in ordinary life to embody guidance and energy, that is a practice of real magic.

    Dreaming, as I teach and practice it, is not fundamentally about what happens in sleep; it’s about waking up to a deeper order of reality. We can dream wide awake in everyday life, by paying attention the play of signs and symbols all around us. Navigating by synchronicity is the dreamer’s way of operating 24/7. Through the weaving of synchronicity, we are brought awake and alive to a hidden order of events, to the understory of our world and our lives.
    I have published many books that are relevant to the understanding and practice of magical dreaming, and it is time to introduce the whole family.

Conscious Dreaming

First published in 1996, Conscious Dreaming remains in many ways my foundation book, offering my original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism.  Its toolkit includes the Nine Keys to Understanding Your Dreams. Important chapters explain how we can develop our intuitive dream radar to see across time and space, engage in helpful and healing communication with the departed, encounter inner and transpersonal guides, and harvest energy and inspiration for self-healing and creativity. 

In Conscious Dreaming I make this statement about the magic of dreams in my own life:

"To me, dreams are an inner authority, a creative touchstone in all things, uniting seemingly disparate matters: from career choice to the most basic economic and financial decisions that life requires of us, from the most mundane questions of being and doing, getting and spending - which they enliven and invest with new significance - to the most spiritual questions of higher purpose and self-understanding. They have brought vitality and excitement to my inner and outer life, forging the two spheres into the truth of a path with heart, the only path to walk."


First published in 1998 and now available in a beautiful 2010 second edition Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death is a lively manual for frequent flyers ready to travel far and wide in the multidimensional universe. You are encouraged to make the twilight state between sleep and awake your departure lounge for lucid dream adventures. You are offered a working anatomy of subtle energy bodies and a working geography of astral and other realities. You are invited to visit places of healing, initiation and advanced education in the Imaginal Realm and to follow the phosphorescent trails of previous voyagers. 

Dreamgates contains practical guidance on flight security for dream travelers:

"It is always appropriate to ask for help, and help is always available. You are going on a journey, but in all likelihood you are also responding to a call — a call from a deeper aspect of your Self, a call from a spiritual teacher (perhaps even a Master) who has been watching over you and waiting for you to reawaken to the deeper dimensions of reality in which your life and your soul’s purpose have their source. Aslan says to the children in The Silver Chair, 'You would not have called to me unless I had first called to you.' You are reaching inward — or upward — to something that has been reaching to you, perhaps unnoticed by your everyday mind. Call for help to that unseen agency that supports your life, or to guides and allies with familiar names, and help will be given."

Dreaming True

 Dreaming True is my fullest guide to how, as conscious dreamers, we can not only see the future but shape the possible future for the better. It defines and explores seven levels of dreaming: dream recycling; dream moviemaking; dreaming with the body; psychic dreaming; transpersonal dreaming; sacred dreaming; and dreambringing, which is what we do when we learn to bring a dream - a healing image, a vision of possibility, even a map to the next world - to someone in need of a dream.

Dreaming True provides keys to manifestation through the exercise of creative imagination. And it offers this solace and encouragement for our soul odysseys:

"Let's be real about this: There will be days when the contrast between your vision and the clutter and letdowns and bruises of everyday life seems so jarringly huge that you give up hope. But this is not about hope. It's about vision, which is more substantial than hope. Hold the vision in your mind, however rough the seas turn out to be. If you can dream it, you can do it." 

Dreamways of the Iroquois

Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul follows the trail that opened for me when an ancient Huron/Mohawk arendiwanen ("woman of power") called me in dreams when I moved to a farm on the edge of traditional Mohawk country. Her voice resonates through the book. We learn from the shamanic dreaming traditions of First Peoples of the Northeast that dreaming is about soul and survival. Dreams reveal the ondinnonk, the "secret wish of the soul" and it is the duty of decent people in a decent society to gather round the dreamer and help them to recognize and manifest what soul wants in their life. Dreams also rehearse us for the future, showing us challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. This can benefit whole communities.

Here is the voice of Island Woman, dream shaman and Mother of the Wolf Clan, from Dreamways of the Iroquois:

"Through dreaming, we recover the knowledge of our sacred purpose that belonged to us before we came into our present bodies. Then we can begin to live from our sacred purpose and unite ourselves to the powers of creation. We can also begin to get in touch with other members of our soul families who live in other places and times.
     "Unless you dream, you’ll never be fully awake. In the Shadow World, we go around like sleepwalkers. In big dreams, we wake up."

The Dreamer's Book of the Dead

I wrote The Dreamer's Book of the Dead because what happens after death is far too important for us to rely on hand-me-down beliefs and second-hand accounts. We need first-hand knowledge. We get that by visiting places where the dead are alive, and by receiving visitations from those who have departed this world. Both ways of knowing are opened, easily and naturally, in dreams.
    The Dreamer's Book of the Dead helps you confirm that healing and forgiveness are always available across the apparent barrier of death and that departed loved ones and ancestors can become family guides and counselors. It offers practical guidance on how we can help the deceased  when they are stuck or confused and how we can assist the dying to prepare for death by opening to their dreams. You'll learn how to call in spiritual guidance and protection and embark on a journey to the Other Side for helpful and timely communication with someone who resides there.

The central message of The Dreamer's Book of the Dead:

"It is never too early or too late for us to brave up to death and discover what happens on the Other Side. As Montaigne said, 'We do not know where death will meet us, so we must be ready to meet death everywhere.' When we are willing to meet death as an ally instead of a dread, we find we have superabundant energy for life and can approach our life choices with the courage and clarity that a close encounter with death may bring."

The Three "Only" Things

The Three "Only" Things  celebrates three powerful sources of guidance and energy for life that we too readily dismiss as "only" this or than:  dreams, coincidence and imagination. It contains instructions for the Lightning Dreamwork Game, an original fun, fast four-step technique for sharing dreams and life stories in a safe, mutually supportive way that leads to positive action. It also contains the Nine Rules of Coincidence - guidance for navigating life passages through synchronicity. The book is easily accessible and a good one to recommend or gift to someone who is just putting their toes in these waters.

Here's a tip from The Three "Only" Things on how to deal with blocks:

"The blocks we encounter on our roads - whether they are in ourselves, in our circumstances, or both - may be teachers and helpers, as well as part of life's cycles. A block can drive us to discover a new direction, spur us to develop new skills and courage and stamina, or lead us to look again at what really matters in life.

   ‎"I've come to believe that some of the blocks and setbacks we encounter in life are placed on our paths but our Gatekeeper to save us from compounding mistakes, to make us take a longer view of our issues - and encourage us to shift direction and notice better options." 

The Secret History of Dreaming

The Secret History ofDreaming restores a missing dimension to our understanding of what drives the human adventure: the vital role of dreams and imagination in science and literature, war and religion, medicine and the survival of our kind. History without the inner side is as shallow as history without economics, and as boring as history without sex.
   This is not another book about dreams. It is a history of dreaming, a term I use in an expansive sense to encompass not only night dreams but also waking visions, the interplay of mind and matter that is sometimes called synchronicity, and experiences in a creative “solution state”.
    We learn how a dream led directly to one of the biggest oil finds in history, how Mark Twain’s life was guided by coincidence and how Harriet Tubman was able to guide escaping slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad because in dreams she could fly like a bird. We follow the amazing dream-infused creative collaboration between Carl Jung and quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli as they track the interweaving of mind and matter revealed by synchronicity.     

In The Secret History of Dreaming I introduce the new discipline of dream archaeology:

"While archaeology is often understood to be the science of unearthing and studying antiquities, the root meaning is more profound: it is the study of the arche, the first and essential things. The practice of dream archaeology requires mastery of a panoply of sources, and the ability to read between the lines and make connections that have gone unnoticed by specialists who were looking for something else. It requires the ability to locate dreaming in its context - physical, social and cultural. And it demands the ability to enter a different time or culture, through the exercise of active imagination, and experience it from the inside as it may have been. These are the skills we need to excavate the inner dimension of the human adventure."

Dreaming the Soul Back Home

The essence of the shaman’s power to travel and to heal is the ability to dream strong. In our everyday modern lives, we stand at the edge of such power when we dream and remember to do something with our dreams. If you want to be a shaman, start at the breakfast table, by sharing dreams the right way with your family and friends.
    I wrote Dreaming the Soul Back Home to offer ways we can become shamans of our own souls and healers of our own lives.
   The greatest contribution of the ancient shamans to our medicine and healing today is the understanding that in the course of any life we are liable to suffer soul loss - the loss of parts of our vital energy and identity – and that in order to be whole and well, we must find the means of soul recovery.  Our dreams give us maps we can use to travel to where soul that was lost or stolen can be found and brought home. The ancestors come seeking us through dreams and how, through conscious engagement, we can heal ancestral wounds and open the way for cultural soul recovery.    
     An audio version of Dreaming the Soul Back Home, narrated by me, is now available.

Dreaming the Soul Back Home also offers guidance for trans-temporal healing:

"As dreamers, we can move outside time. As a time traveler, you can journey to a younger self in her own Now time. As a voice in her mind, you can provide the encouragement and counsel she may need at a time of unbearable pain or challenge. You can be the friend and protector she lacked when her need was great. From this can flow tremendous healing for both of you — for you in your present time and for her in her own time."

Now also available in an audio edition narrated by Robert

Active Dreaming

Active Dreaming is a way of being fully of this world while maintaining constant contact with another world, the world-behind-the-world, where the deeper logic and purpose of our lives are to be found. Active Dreaming is a discipline, as is yoga or archaeology or particle physics. This is to say that there are ascending levels of practice. In any field, the key to mastery is always the same: practice, practice, practice.

My book Active Dreaming offers three core areas of practice: 

* a way of talking and walking our dreams, of bringing energy and guidance from the dreamworld into everyday life

* a method of shamanic lucid dreaming founded on the understanding that we don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. The easiest way to become a conscious or lucid dreamer is to start out lucid and stay that way. 

*a way of conscious living that encourages  us to reclaim our inner child, and the child’s gift of spontaneity, play and imagination. It is about navigating by synchronicity and receiving the chance events and symbolic pop-ups on our daily roads as clues to a deeper order. 

Active Dreaming contains guidance on supporting the dreams and imagination of children as well as recovering the Magical Child in each of us: 

"To understand dreams and reclaim the practice of imagination, we must look to the master teachers: our inner children and the children around us. When very young, children know how to go to magic kingdoms without paying for tickets, because they are at home in the imagination and live close to their dreams. When we listen, truly listen, to very young children, we start to remember that the distance between us and the magic kingdoms is no wider than the edge of a sleep mask."

The Boy Who Died and Came Back

The title of my spiritual memoir The Boy Who Died and Came Back derives from what a doctor said when I first died in this lifetime. I was three years old and was pronounced clinically dead from pneumonia. When I revived the doctor told my parents, "Your boy died and came back".At nine, I died again during emergency appendectomy in a Melbourne hospital. This time I seemed to live a whole life somewhere else, among a beautiful people who raised me as their own. I came back remembering that other life and that other world. 
    The gift of these experiences included an ability to move between states of consciousness and reality at will. My dreams of ancient cultures led me to my first job, as lecturer in ancient history. My dreams of possible future events enabled me to avoid death on the road, quite literally, on three occasions. 
    In the mid-1980s, I moved to a farm in upstate New York, thanks to a hawk and a white oak. I found myself drawn into trans-temporal dramas and the spirit world of a Native American people. I became deeply engaged in issues and dramas from the life of an 18th century Irishman who knew the Mohawk very well. My engagement with him opened a link to a woman of his time, an extraordinary dream shaman who tried to influence him and most certainly succeeded in influencing me.I learned what it means to be so deeply involved with a personality from another time that your lives turn together. I was eventually required to undergo death and rebirth in the mode of a shaman. I see now that, as with the years Jung recorded in his Red Book, all the important work of my subsequent life has flowed from this stormy period of spiritual emergence.
     The Boy Who Died and Came Back offers nine keys to living consciously in the multidimensional universe forged by my experiences, including the following:

"To live well, we must practice death. We bring courage and clarity to life choices when we are aware that death is always with us, and that we should be ready to meet it any day.

"We have a guide for our lives who is no stranger. He is always with us and does not judge us. This is the Self on a higher level. When we rise to the perspective of the Greater Self, we are able to make peace between different personality aspects, including our counterparts in other times and parallel realities.

"We are at the center of all times. The dramas of lives being lived in other times and in parallel realities may be intensely relevant to understanding and navigating our current relationships and life issues. We can learn to reach into those other lives to share gifts and lessons. We can dialog with our own older and younger selves within our present lifetimes.

"We must entertain the spirits, starting with our very own – the child self, the inner artist, the passionate teen, the animal spirits, the creative daimon."

Sidewalk Oracles

Navigating by synchronicity is the dreamer's way of operating 24/7. I invented the word kairomancy to define the art of divination by special Kairos moments when the universe gets personal. Sidewalk Oracles is a book of games and stories designed to prepare you to approach life as a kairomancer, poised to find the extraordinary in the ordinary and to seize on special moments of opportunity.
     You'll learn to play Sidewalk Tarot.Walk your environment with the right kind of awareness, and you’ll notice that the world is constantly giving you messages in the form of signs and symbols. You can play fun games any day by receiving these messages – the vanity plate on that car, that overheard snatch of conversation from a stranger, that chance encounter – as tarot cards being dealt to you by the world. A tarot deck has 78 cards; in Sidewalk Tarot, the number is unlimited. You’ll learn:

·         How to put your question to the world and receive guidance on a life theme

·         How to let the world put its questions to you, by scheduling unscheduled time to pay attention as you walk in “the forest of living symbols that are looking at you”
·         How to listen for your daily kledon, a favorite oracle of the ancient Greeks that works well on any day
·        How meaningful coincidence multiplies when you are in motion, traveling outside your familiar rounds or going through a major life transition
     We need to be more literal about dreams and more symbolist about everyday life. Living by synchronicity isn't merely about getting messages. It is about growing the poetic consciousness that allows us to taste and touch what rhymes and resonates in the world we inhabit, and how the world-behind-the-world reveals itself by fluttering the veils of our consensual reality. This is a path of natural magic, and when we follow it we'll find that we move beyond self-limiting beliefs into a world filled with juice and possibility. 

Mysterious Realities

The traveler’s tales in Mysterious Realities are "just-so" stories in the sense that they spring from direct experience in the Many Worlds, my own and that of other dream travelers who have shared their adventures with me. This territory is more familiar to you than you may currently realize. You are a traveler in your dreams, whether or not you remember them. 
    You visit realms where the dead are alive. You travel into the possible future, scouting the roads that lie ahead. You travel into the past, into scenes from your present life, and other lives that are part of your story. You slip into parallel lives, where your parallel selves are moving on different event tracks because they made different choices.
    What is going on in your dreams doesn't necessarily stop when you wake up or switch to a different screen. The action may play on, like episodes in a television series that continue to run after you turn off the set.
    In dreams, you may check in to a parallel life you are leading somewhere else. When you exit a scene in a life you are leading somewhere else, you may or may not remember where you were and who you are in that other world. When you do remember, you tag what lingers in your mind as a dream.
    When you exit a dream that is also a visit to a parallel life, your parallel self continues on its way. While you go about your day, your other self may dream of you.
     In Mysterious Realities, you’ll confirm that the doors to the Otherworld open from wherever you are. You’ll see what it means to live on a mythic edge. At any moment, you may fall, like the author, into the lap of a goddess or the jaws of an archetype. Are you ready? A survival tip: don’t go to any world without your sense of humor.

Growing Big Dreams: Manifesting Your Heart's Desire through Twelve Secrets of the Imagination

The great trick in life is to do what you love and let the universe support it. To get to that sweet spot, you need to know what you truly desire, not just in your head but in your heart and your gut, and win the endorsement of a Greater Self.
     Your dreams will guide you, if you will listen, because dreams reveal the secret wishes of the soul and provide course correction for the delusions of the day. The world around you will guide you, in the play of symbols and synchronicity, if you are willing to pay attention. And over all the time you have spent stuck in old personal histories, your Big Story has been stalking you, wanting to carry you into a life of wild freedom and delight.
     Growing Big Dreams will help you to grow a vision your body believes and your Greater Self endorses, so vivid it wants to take root in your world. When you move in the energy field of that vision, the world responds to you, because you are magnetic. 

The Twelve Secrets of the Imagination: 

1.      Dreams Show You the Secret Wishes of Your Soul

Your Great Imagineer is Your Magical Child

What Is In Your Way May be Your Way

You Have Treasures in the Twilight Zone

Your Body Believes in Images

Your Big Story Is Hunting You

You Are Magnetic

There Is a World of Imagination, and It Is Entirely Real

If You Can See Your Destination You Are Halfway There

You Can Grow a Dream for Someone Who Needs a Dream

You Don't Have to Drive Used Karma

The Stronger the Imagination, the Less Imaginary the Results

Growing Big Dreams is also available in an audio edition narrated by me.    


Fire Along the Sky

Dearest Shane, I dream you as the leopard. Last night you came to me in his skin.

So, in the voice of one of his lovers, we first encounter Shane Hardacre, the narrator and protagonist of Fire Along the Sky. An eloquent Anglo-Irish rake and fictional kinsman of Sir William Johnson, the King's Superintendent of Indians, Shane comes to the New World from London because of a doubtful wager. "I laid money on whether a man would take his own life," as Shane informs us. That man was Robert Davers, a Norfolk baronet who sought to escape melancholia and learn the nature of the soul among the dream-catchers of North America. He ignored Johnson's caution that "if you go looking for the spirit world of Indians, you will find you are already inside it" and found savage death during the Pontiac revolt.

We enter the extraordinary world created by William Johnson in the Mohawk Valley in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, in the time when America was forged. We meet extraordinary historical figures: the warrior chief Pontiac and the Delaware Prophet who inspired his revolt; Angelique, the "Pompadour of Detroit"; Molly Brant and her brother Joseph; and Patience Wright, the "wax sybil," an American spy in London who rivaled Madame Tussaud. The action races from the notorious Hell-Fire Club in England to the murder of Pontiac near St. Louis, from Mesmer's performance for Ben Franklin in a Paris salon to bigamy and intrigue in New Orleans when an Irish captain-general held the city in the name of the Spanish king.

Fire Along the Sky is grand entertainment that carries lightly a wealth of original research summarized in the copious notes "from the editor." Through the narrator's worldly skepticism, we are given a window into the shamanic dream practices of early Native Americans. The voice of Valerie D'Arcy, in the correspondence interwoven with Shane's narrative, provides a knowing woman's counterpoint to Shane's phallocratic assumptions.

The Firekeeper

This is the big historical novel I was able to produce when I had integrated enough of my wild convergence with the dramas of another life on the colonial New York frontier. I read all the documents relating to the life of Sir William Johnson, King's Superintendent of Indians - and before that, an adopted Mohawk war chief - and walked the landscapes of his boyhood in County Meath and his fields of battle in the time of the French and Indian War. I dreamed with the Mohawk clan mother who tried to influence him, and with her granddaughter, the only woman who came close to taming Billy Johnson. 

The Firekeeper brings alive the world in which America was born, when the clash of empires produced the first worldwide war and Albany, New York, was the Casablanca of the age. Filled with great men--George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the Mohawk Hendrick Tehayanoken--and the battles that opened the way for the American Revolution, The Firekeeper follows the exploits of Sir William Johnson, an Irish adventurer with a rage for life, who created a tribal kingdom on the New York frontier.

Johnson defended the First Peoples against white men who were bent on genocide and led the Mohawks into battle on the English side in the French and Indian War. His story is interwoven with those of three extraordinary women: Catherine Weissenberg, the Palatine German girl who fled the wars of the Old World to make a life with Johnson in the Mohawk Valley; Island Woman, a Mohawk shaman and mother of the Wolf Clan; and her granddaughter, known to history as Molly Brant, the only woman who managed to tame Johnson. With Island Woman, we journey deep into the dream practices and ways of healing of the Onkwehonwe, the Real People, and through her The Firekeeper also becomes the indelible story of a native people's struggle for survival, and of how dreaming can bring the soul back home.

From some of those who enjoyed The Firekeeper:

"Some rare novels defy labels. The Firekeeper is such a book. An intricately detailed historical novel, a mystical journey, a breathtaking adventure tale, and a passionate exploration of the human heart. This is a book to savor when you truly want to lose yourself in another world." -- Morgan Llywelyn

"Robert Moss is a writer of considerable skill. In The Firekeeper, he shows a talent for accurate historical detail and an ability to recreate the past, both as it was and as it might have been. To read The Firekeeper is to be transported to another time and place, and leave it measurably enlightened." -- James A. Michener

"The Firekeeper by Robert Moss depicts with accurate and exciting detail the time of the French and Indian War. Through the fictionalized lives of historical individuals, Sir William Johnson and Catherine Weissenberg, and memorable, almost mythical characters such as the Iroquois shaman Island Woman and Ade, a former slave, the narrative springs to life. The characters, even the minor ones, are clearly drawn in this fast-paced tale, and the pages keep turning as we learn about the lives of the original inhabitants of this land, and of the early European settlers. This fascinating historical novel offers just the right mix: an involving story which imparts a deeper understanding." -- Jean M. Auel, author of The Clan of the Cave Bear

The Interpreter

In The Interpreter we follow the initiation of a dream shaman among the Mohawk people in the time of the first mass migration to North America - the flight of Palatine Germans from wars in Europe. There are extraordinary scenes of the visit of the so-called Four Indian Kings to London as guests of Queen Anne in 1710. My journal records the vision that was the genesis of one of these scenes:

"I am in London, in the time of Queen Anne. I smell the stench of the streets. I am with the Mohawks now. They are being taken to another entertainment, an evening of bear-baiting at Hockley-in-the-Hole. Vanishing Smoke is Bear Clan. I feel his deepening grief and rage as he watches the sport the Englishmen have devised. The handlers have chained a brown bear to a pole in the center of the ring. Attack dogs are released to snap and tear at him. As the bear tries to bat them away, people are placing bets on which dogs will survive. The bear is old and tired, and bleeding. He wants to leave this life of torment.
     As he watches, the Mohawk’s hands tense, his fingers curl like raking claws. He makes that little coughing sound that bears make when they are getting really mad. The crowd is going wild because the bear has found the strength to pull the great pole out of the ground. It bangs behind him as he swats the dogs away. The Mohawk steps into the ring. He takes his knife from his waist band and stares into the anguished eyes in the dish-round face. He addresses the bear as Grandfather. “Grandfather, I ask your permission to free you from this life.” He reads the bear’s consent, and sinks his knife into the bear’s heart. He tells his court escorts that the bear must be buried facing the east, so he will be reborn in the right way."

Here, Everything Is Dreaming

The poems and stories in Here, Everything Is Dreaming stream directly from dreams and shamanic adventures in the world-behind-the-world.
    Our earliest poets were shamans. Today as in the earliest times, true shamans are poets of consciousness who know the power of song and story to teach and to heal. They understand that the right words open pathways between the worlds and draw closer the gods and goddesses who wish to live through us.
     I hope to transport you into a reality where everything is alive and conscious, where tigers and bears can lend you their forms and raven and hawk can give you their sight, where the ancestors are talking, talking, and the gates to the Otherworld open from wherever you are.
     You may awaken, through these pages, to how shamans use poetic speech to call the soul back home, into the bodies of those who have lost vital energy through pain or trauma or heartbreak. You'll travel to the Island of No Pain where lost boys and girls are kept safe. And you'll learn to make the return journey, and sing the lost soul back into the body where it belongs.

"Each of these poems is a dream song and a leaping-off place, from one body to another, one song to another, from one realm into another, to gain knowledge, to be closer to the gods. We are all dreaming. We are all the dream. Robert Moss communicates across the boundaries between worlds, across time, as do the dreamers who have awakened to find that they are in a dream, within a dream, within a dream. 'that you are a star that came down because/you wanted a messier kind of love,' Moss reminds us. We need these songs to illuminate the dreaming." -- Joy Harjo, author of How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001

Thanks to Meredith Eastwood for the group portrait of the family of books introduced here.