Here are the open secrets of the Dreamtime, insights shared by many dreaming traditions and indigenous peoples that challenge the ruling paradigms of a culture that confuses the real with the physical.
1. Dreams are real experiences.
There are big dreams and little dreams. “Bottom-line
it for me,” bulled a radio host over the
phone from North Dakota. “Aren’t dreamed caused by spicy pizza?” Well, yes, some dreams are. But we will not expend
much space here on the surface bubbles of the dozing brain and belly.
In big dreams - in what Sri Aurobindo
called “the sleep of experiences" - we are dealing with events, encounters, and challenges that are entirely real
on their own level of reality. Our dream memories may be garbled or muddy, but
the dream is a real experience whose meaning lies within the dreamscape itself.
The dream experience, fully remembered, is its own interpretation. But we must
do more than interpret dreams; we must manifest their energy and insight in our
Shamanic dreamers tend to be quite literal-minded about dreams.
If you dreamed you fell off a rock-face, you’d
better remember to check your safety harness if there is any chance you might
go rock climbing. If you flew with the eagle, you discovered a powerful
spiritual ally — and your own ability
to transcend the limitations of your physical body. If you dreamed of your dead
uncle, before you start asking yourself what part of you he might represent,
you should consider the possibility that you had a visit with him. Is he
bothering you — maybe trying to cadge
a drink or a smoke — or offering you help?
If you dreamed you received instruction at a mountain shrine, you should be
open to twin possibilities: that you may go there someday, in physical reality;
and that you may have been called in
your dreams to one of the many “invisible
schools” where training and initiation
on the higher planes are conducted.
2. Dreams are flights of the soul.
During one of the final presentations at a hectic conference in
Berkeley, I regretted that I had not taken that Saturday morning off to explore
the Bay area. I closed my eyes, slipped free from my physical focus, and felt
myself gliding over the Bay on the wings of an eagle. It was a wholly tactile
sensation. I was drawn to a wild, lightly wooded area with intriguing stone
formations that looked from the air like volcanic rock. As I dipped into a fold
in the hills to examine the area more closely, I saw another interesting
formation, shaped by human hands: a circular labyrinth, or spiral, at the edge
of a pond.
At lunch, I casually described the scene I had explored. “It could be the Sibley Volcanic Preserve,” one of the local conferees piped up. “I can take you out there this afternoon if you have
time.” She did not know about the
spiral path, but we found it fairly easily, at the edge of a swampy pond.
From a shamanic perspective, there was nothing extraordinary
about my experience. It was just a routine scout —
a Middle World journey — in which I moved
beyond the range of my physical senses to check out my environment. I was
traveling beyond my body, but I kept a firm connection with it, maintaining
awareness of the activity in the lecture room even as I flew across the Bay.
Shamanic dreamers say that in real
dreams (waking or sleeping) one of two things is happening. Either you are
journeying beyond your body, released from the limits of space-time and the
physical senses; or you receive a visitation from a being — god, spirit, or fellow dreamer — who does not suffer from these limitations. In the
language of the Makiritare, a dreaming people of Venezuela, the word for dream,
adekato, means literally a “flight of the soul.”
The open secret is that consciousness if never confined to the body and brain. We discover this in
spontaneous night dreams and intuitive flashes, when our left-brain inhibitions
are down. As we become active dreamers, we can hone the ability to make
intentional journeys beyond the body at any time of day or night.
3. You have a dreambody as well as a physical body.
I am leading one of my Active Dreaming circles. We are squatting
around a centerspread with a white candle. Someone asks whether there is any
way to prove that we are not dreaming. I pick up the candle and pour hot wax
onto my hand. I feel a sting of pain as the wax sears the web of skin between
my thumb and forefinger, and I tell the group, “I
guess that proves I’m
not dreaming.” Then I wake up.
What is this dream telling me? That I am a nitwit because I can’t tell whether I’m dreaming? If so, I will take solace from the fact that in most sleep dreams, most people are completely unaware that they are dreaming. Actually, I think this dream has a more interesting and specific message, related to the theme that dreams are real experiences. In my dreambody, I can know pleasure and pain just as vividly as in my physical body. I have more than one body, or vehicle of consciousness, and when I go into the dreamworld and other worlds, I go embodied. And so do you.
4. Dreams may be memories of the future.
I dreamed of a silly little dog decked out with fake antlers for
some kind of Christmas pageant. The dog ran out on the road and was killed, but
was magically revived by a dubious, utterly amoral character who seemed remote
from the normal range of human emotions.
The dream had a movielike quality. I had no idea what was going
on here, but because I had no particular feelings about it, I was content to
record it in my journal before rushing off to the airport to catch a plane to
I missed my connection and later found myself on a different
flight form the one schedules. Whenever my travel planes come unstuck, I am
alert for the play of the Trickster. On the “wrong” plane, I found myself seated next to a woman who
turned out to be best friends with a person in publishing to whom I had been
introduced only the day before, and I was able to glean some useful insights.
Our conversation was interrupted by the screening of the in-flight movie. I
looked up to see a silly little dog decked out in fake antlers for a Christmas
pageant. Later in the movie, the dog is killed on the road and magically
revived — by a low-flying angel
portrayed by John Travolta. The title of the movie is Michael, and I highly recommend it. What interested me most was
that I seemed to have attended an advance screening in my dream the night
We dream things before they happen in waking life. If you work with your dreams and scan them for precognitive content, you can develop a superb personal radar system that will help you to navigate in waking life. You can also learn to fold time and travel into the possible future by the methods explained in this book. For even the most active dreamers, however, the meaning of many dreams of the future may be veiled until waking events catch up with the dream.
If dreams are memories of the future, is much of waking like the
experiencing in the physical body what we have already lived in the dreambody?
What would we become if we participated more consciously in this process? There
is an Iroquois story of a great hunter who always scouted ahead, in conscious
dream journeys, to locate the game and rehearse the kill. In one of his dream
scouts, he located an elk and sought its permission to take its life to feed
his extended family. He killed the elk in his dream and noted the red mark on
its chest where the arrow had gone in. The following day, he walked to the
place he had visited in dreaming and identified his elk by the red mark on its chest. He then replayed an event
that had already taken place, by killing the elk again with a physical
5. Dreaming, we choose the events that will be manifested
in our waking lives.
The fact that we dream things before they happen does not mean
everything is predetermined. People who are not active dreamers can get quite
confused about what is going on when they wake up to the fact that we are
dreaming future events, both large and small, all the time. I think it’s like this. If you do not remember your dreams, you
are condemned to live them. (If you don’t
know where you’re going, you will
likely end up where you are headed.) If you remember some of your dreams and
screen them for messages about the future, you will find yourself able to make
wiser choices. You will discover that by taking appropriate action you can
often avoid the enactment of a “bad” dream or bring about the fulfillment of a happy
one. As you become a conscious
dreamer, you will find yourself increasingly able to choose inside the dreaming the events that will
be manifested in your waking life.
It’s not about
predestination. It’s about the spiritual
secrets of manifestation — and your ability to
become cocreator of your life.
Meister Eckhart tells us how it is the razor-sharp clarity of the
practical mystic who has seen and experienced for himself: “When the soul wishes to experience something, she
throws an image of the experience out before her and enters her own image.”
Indigenous peoples tell a recurring story of how the material
world is spun from the dream of a deity. For the Guajiro, the
physical universe is the product of conscious dreaming. The Guajiro say that
the Creator-god made this world after the divine Dreamgiver, Apusanai, made him
aware that he was dreaming and he began to experiment with molding and
solidifying the fluid forms he perceived endlessly aborning and transforming on
another plane of reality.
It is not merely that we dream things (maybe everything) before
they happen; dreams make them happen.
6. The path of the soul after death is the path of the
soul in dreams.
Your dreambody does not die when your physical body loses it
vital signs. You will live on in your dreambody for a shorter or greater time,
according to your ruling passions and personal evolution. You will find
yourself, as you do each night in dreams, in a realm where thoughts are things,
and imagination, the great faculty of soul, can create whole worlds.
You come from the Dreaming, and you are released into the
Dreaming when you drop your sack of meat and bones.
In a dream, I found myself walking in a pleasant
cemetery. A voice said, "You must prepare your Houses of Death". I looked
and saw brightly painted cabins. I chose one - blue with yellow trim - and
stepped through the door that opened for me. There was no wall on the far side.
The view was of a lovely cove with a white sand beach, A beautiful dark-skinned
woman in a sarong was in the water beckoning to me.
I waded out to join her. She handed me a conch shell. When I held it to my ear, I received instructions for making a crossing an island that now appeared shimmering on the horizon. I understood that I had been given a departure point for a voyage to the Other Side. I have returned to that scene often, in lucid dreaming. I would not be surprised to find myself there again when it is time to leave the body behind.
Dreaming with growing consciousness is excellent preparation, not only for the
challenges that lie before you on the roads in this life, but for the
challenges of the journey you will make after physical death. How do you know
for sure? By doing it.
Text adapted from Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library
Art by Robert Moss: "You Must Prepare Your Houses of Death"