Many of us take our dreams for granted, not realizing that the dream state is actually an expanded state of consciousness. Due to the fact that the ego lets go of a lot of the control it normally exercises during the day, we become more open to healing forces that help us to regain balance mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually as we dream.
There are many different schools of thought regarding the meaning and use of dreams – I call the dreamwork I teach the Esoteric Dream School since I believe that humans are spiritual beings, here on an evolutionary journey. I believe we have a higher self, that part of ourselves which is more enlightened and is the one constant at the core of our different lifetimes.
Our higher selves often work with us through our dreams – healing, advising, encouraging, and sometimes warning us of coming dangers. It is also possible to receive great spiritual gifts and knowledge in the form of visionary dreams. In the shamanic tradition for example, it is known that a developing healer can be initated as a shaman and given specific healing powers in the dream state. Such dreams are life transforming.
Anyone who desires to derive spiritual guidance and more conscious benefit from their dreams can achieve that goal. When I started in 1986, I could not remember much…an occasional clearer dream, otherwise just nonsensical fragments. Once I made the decision to start keeping track of them new insights about consciousness appeared from the very start. Today, I remember my dreams most nights and am able to apply the information they give me to my everyday life. I am also able to assist others, not only as a dream interpreter, but as a dream traveler, searching out and gaining information for various problems they request help with.
There are 3 basic steps to becoming a proficient dreamer if you consider yourself inexperienced.
1) REMEMBER YOUR DREAMS
Start to record your dreams. Have a journal – for that purpose only – by your bedside and write down the very first dream fragment you experience. It does not matter whether or not it seems important. By getting the journal and devoting time to this activity, you are sending a message to your consciousness that you are more interested in your dreams. This will automatically increase your ability to remember.
Write page numbers in your journal so you can make your own index of content. Don’t forget the date, make a few short notes about what you were doing that day, and whether or not there were any other influences, such as a full or new moon. As time goes by, you will observe certain patterns to your dreaming that will assist you in understanding their meaning.
If you are still having difficulty remembering your dreams, give yourself positive suggestions mentally a few times just before falling asleep. Examples of such suggestions are “When I wake up in the morning, I will remember my dreams.” or “Tonight I will take a photo of the most important part of my dreams and remember it when I wake up.” In the morning I will often use the following suggestion before arising if I am having trouble with recall: “I can and I will remember my dreams.”
Another important aspect of writing down your dreams is that often you will understand the meaning spontaneously as you write. The same effect can be achieved by sharing your dream with a friend or dreamwork partner who is willing to listen.
2) LEARN DREAM SYMBOLS
In order to be able to start interpreting the symbols your mind is using to communicate with you, you can start by using a symbol lexicon or even a dictionary. There are various dream interpretation books on the market. Some are excellent.
But a word of caution here: I have found many dream lists that are superficial and superstitious…written on a “parlor room” level if you will. Be selective. In the end, a symbol has the meaning that your consciousness applies to it and there is most certainly a cultural influence to be accounted for.
However, there are many universal themes in our dreams that are common to all humans on the planet, and these themes can be discussed and further explored during dreamwork classes. Other topics to be covered in class are the different types of dreams such as nightmares, clairvoyance, teaching, healing, mirror, etc.
3) PROGRAM YOUR DREAMTIME
As you become a more proficient dreamer, you can eventually learn to program your dreamtime to get advice on a particular question, to visit other places*, or to enter a state of lucid dreaming, which means that you are aware of the fact that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. This is achieved by giving yourself appropriate suggestions before falling asleep.
(*In the dream state the ordinary rules of physics do not apply…our spirit can actually leave the body and visit other places, other dimensions, other ages since we step out of the time/space zone in dreams. The dream state also allows us to communicate with those closest to us who have passed over.)
One of mankind’s greatest fears is that he is alone in the universe, abandoned to fateful forces of destruction. My dreams have time and time again totally and irrevocably convinced me that just the opposite is true. We are watched over, guided and supported through all of life’s trials and tribulations. Dream miracles have become a part of my daily life! I encourage and invite you to start your dream journal today and to become more acquainted with how your dream consciousness is speaking with you so that you can experience your own dream miracles!
Article by: Judith Bourque
One of the greatest gifts of dreaming is that it puts us in touch with soul. It takes us beyond the limited understanding of the everyday self and shows us who we are, what our soul’s purpose is in this life experience and what our heart truly yearns for. There is a word for this vital function of dreams in the language of the Huron, a dreaming people of North America. The word is ondinnonk, and it means a “secret wish of the soul”, especially as revealed in dreams. This expression takes us to the heart of healing.
By connecting with our dreams, and celebrating and acting on the information they gift to us, we bring the energy and magic of soul into our daily lives. As we allow our big dreams to take root in this world, we become whole and well, and start living our deeper story. As we help others to honor and celebrate their soul guidance, as revealed in dreams, we become healers and dreambringers.
Ancient dream healers understood that we are often out of touch, in our surface minds, with our deepest truths and our heart’s desires. Not knowing who we are, forgetting our soul’s purpose, we do terrible harm to ourselves and others. Dreams invite us to get back on the right track, the soul’s track. I learned about this many years ago when I asked for dream guidance in support of a narrow, ego-driven agenda. I wanted inspiration for a commercial potboiler, a thriller that would follow the formula of a successful previous novel I had published.
In my dream, I found myself in a banquet hall where a lavish feast for hundreds of people was being prepared in my honor. But there was a problem. In the dream restaurant, the master chef had walked out in disgust because he was bored with my menu. The message, on waking, was clear. If I persisted in repeating myself – in using my creative gifts for a limited purpose – my deepest creative energy (the “master chef” of the dream) would bow out; the soul and its magic would be missing. I abandoned a major book project because that dream showed me it wasn’t “major” in the ways that serve the soul.
Dreaming not only renews our understanding of the soul’s purpose; it can literally bring the soul back home. From the shaman’s perspective, soul loss is the root cause of much illness and affliction in our lives. We suffer deep grief, heartbreak or abuse or trauma – and maybe then succumb to negative habits and addictions – and a part of our vital soul energy goes away. Chronic depression, lethargy, memory gaps, low resistance to illness and emotional numbness are among the most frequent symptoms of soul loss.
Our dreams can tell us which parts of ourselves may be missing, and when it is timely to bring them home. Recurring dreams in which we go back to a scene from our earlier lives may indicate that a part of us has remained there.
Dreams in which we perceive a younger self as a separate individual may be nudging us to recognize and recover a part of ourselves we lost at that age. Sometimes we do not know who that beautiful child is – until we take a closer look. There is a marvelous story in my book Dreamgates about what happened when a woman went back into a dream of a beautiful five-year-old in a red coat, and found herself fusing at the heart, in a blaze of light, with the part of herself she had lost at age five through family trauma.
Unfortunately, a common effect of soul loss is dream loss. Indeed the absence of dream recall is often a primary symptom of soul loss – as if the part of the sufferer that knows how to dream and travel in deeper reality has gone away, out of pain or disgust. It is fascinating and deeply rewarding to observe what can happen when people who have forgotten how to dream start dreaming again. This can amount to spontaneous soul recovery.
A middle-aged woman approached me for help. She told me, “I feel I have lost the part of me that can give trust and know joy.” As preparation for our meeting, I asked her to start a dream journal, although she had told me she had not remembered her dreams for many years. When she came to see me, she had succeeded in capturing just one tiny fragment from a dream.
She remembered that she was standing over a table, looking at three large-size “post-it” notes. Each had a typed message. But the ink had faded and she could not read the messages.
Slowly and carefully, I helped her to relax and encouraged her to try to go back inside her dream. Quite quickly, she found herself inside a room in the house where she had lived with her ex-husband prior to their divorce, almost twenty years before. Now she could read the typed messages. The first read in bold capitals, “YOU CAN DO IT.” They were all about living with heart, and trusting life.
She realized that she had left her ability to love and to trust in that room for nearly twenty years. I asked her what she needed to do. She told me, “I need to bring my heart out of that room and put it back in my body.” She gathered up the messages and made the motion of bringing them into her heart. As her hands crossed over the place of her heart, we both saw a sweet and gentle light shine out from her heart center. She trembled, eyes shining, and told me, “Something just came back. Something that was missing for twenty years.”
In the most literal sense, dreaming can make us whole. It not only connects us with lost or buried aspects of ourselves. It connects us with our larger identity – our Higher Self – and our larger purpose.
Honoring the secret wishes of the soul, as involved in dreams, requires us to learn some simple and powerful strategies that are central to my dream workshops:
Opening to dream guidance
Start a dream journal, if you are not keeping one already, and resolve to catch your dreams and write up your dream reports, giving each dream a title. You’ll find it very rewarding to dream with intention.
Before going to sleep, write down a question or issue on which you would like some guidance. This can be specific (“Should I change my job?”) or general and open-hearted (“I open myself to the power of healing”). If you remember dreams from the night, see how they might relate back to your intention.
Learn simple steps to clarify dream messages
The all-important keys are:
- Trust your feelings
- Run a reality check and
- Go back inside your dream to get more information.
Your feelings, on first waking up, are an instant and usually impeccable guide to the general quality and urgency of the dream. Running a reality check means checking how elements in the dream relate to your waking life and – especially – checking to see whether the dream may be giving you a window into possible future events in waking reality.
We dream future events quite often, though few of us pay attention and fewer still are alive to the interesting possibility that if you can see the (possible) future you may be able to take action to change the future for the better.
Finally, the best way to understand the full meaning of a dream is to learn to go back inside it, as you might step back into a room, take a good look around (while fully alert and conscious), and maybe talk to someone in the scene or dream the dream onward to healing or resolution.
Open a safe space to share and celebrate dreams with others
When we know that dreams show the wishes of the soul, we will surely want to support each other in honoring this guidance. Start sharing dreams with a friend, by email if necessary. Never presume to tell the other person what his or her dreams mean.
Start by encouraging your partner to tell the dream as simply and clearly as possible, give it a title. Ask what the dreamer felt when she first woke up. Ask her to run a reality check to see whether there are messages about current situations in waking life, or possible future events. Then offer your own thoughts and associations in a gentle way by always saying “if it were my dream” rather than laying down the law.
Finally, ask your partner what she can now do – in a practical, positive way – to honor the dream and act on its guidance. With a little practice, you’ll find safe ways to bring dream-sharing to larger groups and start building a dream community. An office that starts the day with dream-sharing is a vastly more lively and creative space!
Always do something with your dreams!
Real dreamwork is about energy – about bringing vital energy from a deeper reality into the daylight world. In my workshops, we turn our dreams into stories, drawings and songs; we stage spontaneous dream theatre; and we agree on action plans to work with the guidance of our dreams and the powers that speak to us in dreams. Sharing a dream with another person is already a step towards action.
Writing yourself a personal motto inspired by a dream – a bumper sticker – is a further step. Buy the red shoes, make the phone call, plant those flowers, study the transformations of the Goddess or the Bear in myth and art, as your dreams may guide you, and you are taking a longer step on the road of soul, the only road to walk.
Author: Robert Moss
The False Face Society is the best known of many medicinal societies among the Iroquois. The society is best known for its dramatic wooden masks, the “false faces.” The masks are used in healing rituals which invoke spirits and a dream world. Those cured by the society become members. Also, echoing the significance of dreams to the Iroquois, anyone who dreams that they should be a member of the society may join.
The masks are considered to be living and breathing. They are fed with cornmeal ‘Mush’ and they accept gifts of tobacco as payment for rituals. The design of the masks is somewhat variable, but most share certain features. The masks have long, black, reddish brown, brown, grey or white horse hair. Before the introduction of horses by the Europeans, corn husks and buffalo hair were used. The eyes are deep-set and accented by metal. The noses are bent and crooked. The other facial features are variable. The masks are painted red and black. Most often carry pouches of tobacco on their foreheads and/or nostrils. Basswood is usually used for the masks although other types of wood are sometimes used.
When making a mask, an Iroquois man walks through the woods until he is moved by a spirit to carve a mask from the tree. The spirit inspires the unique elements of the mask’s design and the resulting product represents the spirit itself. The masks are carved directly on the tree and only removed when completed. Masks are painted red if they were begun in the morning or black if they were begun in the afternoon. Red masks are thought to be more powerful. Masks with both colors represent spirits with “divided bodies.
A story about False Face can be found here: The Story of False Face
From the Sacred Path Cards, we have this Dreamtime Smoke Signal story by Jamie Sams.
On a night years ago, I was floating in a natural hot spring looking up into the fullness of Grandmother Moon high above me in the starry night. I had built a Fire twenty feet in front of me where the ravine was flat and treeless. I had gone to this special place alone to seek some answers for my hungry heart.
The tears of frustration rolled from my eyes and sent silver circles into the effervescent waters of the pool. I sought the answers of how to return to the city and deal with the lack of substance I found in those who were trying to be “somebody” instead of being who and what they were.
Then, I saw an ancient Medicine Man walk to my Fire and lift an old red trade blanket. He walked toward me and dipped the blanket into the pool, wrung it out, and moved back toward the Fire. As he turned toward the Fire and began to sing, I recognized Grandfather Taquitz, who is one of the Ancestors who guides my path. Grandfather Taquitz beseeched the spirits of the Four Directions. The energy began to build as he sang the chant in which he called to the Great Star Nation to hear my prayers and speak to my heart.
Each time I spoke an internal prayer, Grandfather Taquitz would move the trade blanket over the Fire and then raise it, allowing the Smoke Signal that represented my prayer to rise in the indigo night. At first, a stray Cloud Person or two drifted by and then others came to see which Two-legged and which Ancestor spirit had called them.
The Chief Cloud Person was to the right of Grandmother Moon and began changing form as the Smoke touched his face, producing the faces of Buffalo, Wolf, Eagle, and Bear. My Allies had come to greet me and give me answers! I was overjoyed and nearly missed the exit of Grandfather Taquitz, who held a gleam in his eyes and a knowing smile traced across his mouth.
I floated in the warm waters of my Earth Mother’s womb and heard the messages of my Medicine Helpers with my heart. Buffalo told me that Two-leggeds who hurt one another were those deluded by the fear of scarcity. These humans had lost their trust in Great Mystery and the Field of Plenty. Their need to be important was based upon the fear that their talents were not equal to those of others.
Wolf spoke and told me that the Pathfinders of my world would never need to boast about who they were or where they were headed. Those who broke new ground for others to follow were to busy to be hurt by another person who claimed, out of envy, to be who they were not.
Eagle spoke to me and said that true freedom was only to be found by those that found illumination through the truth that lived inside their hearts.
Bear then appeared and spoke of the strength I needed to find inside of myself in order to Walk My Talk in the city, away from the womb of my Earth Mother. Bear said that the tomorrows are met when each person seeks strength in the truth of today.
Knowing that my intent had reached the Sky Nation through Grandfather Taquitz’s Smoke Signals and songs gave me new inspiration and purpose. I was ready to hold my truth high and to use my intent to touch the hearts of my fellow Two-leggeds. I no longer needed to be hurt by lies or to take on the pain of those that “talked their walk” instead of being the beauty that Great Mystery had created them to be.
From the Sacred Path Cards, we have this Dreamtime Medicine story by Jamie Sams which helps to bring understanding of the Shield of the West in the Medicine Wheel.
The Bear came to me in a Dreamtime waking state several years ago and lumbered through my awareness to take me on a Dreamtime Medicine Walk. I found myself in a forest high in the Rocky Mountains by the old burial ground near Creede, Colorado.
The Bear wandered up to the spring above Moonshine Mesa and drank deeply of the cold, pure water coming from the Earth Mother’s breast. Then Bear turned to me and spoke.
“We used to use words like you Two-leggeds,” she said. “we retreated into our silence at the end of the Second World. When the Earth was cleansed by the great ice mountains your people had finally come together in clans and families. They had heard the tundra Wolf’s song and started to use words of their own.”
“We knew that you humans would not be alone and that humans would survive if they could communicate with one another. We Creature-beings had to leave the Two-leggeds alone so they could learn their own sounds and how to use communication.”
“Unfortunately, that was also the time that Two-leggeds shared so many of the opinions of others that they started to judge their personal truths. They began to worry about what others thought and failed to find their own answers within their hearts.”
I understood that Bear was trying to show me how we Two-leggeds sought approval, entangling ourselves with the fear of being different. If new ideas presented a threat, it could be hard for individuals to follow their personal truths.
Bear continued, “It was during those days of the ensuing cold that humankind learned to eat meat. In the first world, the Two-leggeds had been vegetarian. Fruits, berries, roots, and wild vegetables were plentiful until the cleansing of the First World.”
“When the great ice mountains moved across Mother Earth’s face, the plants, which had sustained all creatures, vanished. The Two-leggeds were starving until they learned to eat meat. The Creature-beings, who understood the need for balance and sharing, offered their bodies as food to the Two-leggeds. My Creature Ancestors gave the warmth of their bodies’ fur and the instinct of survival to the Two-leggeds. Then through consuming the meat of Bear, the West Shield’s lessens were learned.”
“I have a memory of the way our gift was received by a female Two-legged.” Bear said. “She was called Alona. Alona ate of the meat of Bear and sank into a fulfilling, deep sleep. She saw the memories of our Bear Clan and learned the three paths of the West Shield.”
I listened as Bear continued. “In the dream, Alona watched Grizzly as she ate all that she could find in the way of berries, honey, and fish from the stream. This giantess was filling up for hibernation time when she would have to live off her stored fat.
“Then Alona saw Grizzly go into her cave to sleep through winter’s white robe. In her dream Alona followed Grizzly and slept at her side. In the Spring when Grizzly awoke, Alona followed her into the deep green forest. Grizzly seemed very intent on rediscovering the forest and noting the changes in her favorite hollow logs. The deep winter sleep had propelled Grizzly into a new state of awareness.”
“Mama Grizzly had left Alona to her thoughts and had gone to forage through the forest continuing her routine,” Bear said. “It was only when Alona was left to her own devices that a tiny, still voice spoke to her silent heart, and showed her the value of Grizzly’s lessons. Alona saw that in tasting the fruits of all ideas, you could expand one’s outlook on life, just as Grizzly had done by eating all manner of foods.”
“Then Alona remembered the retreat into the cave. Grizzly had taught her to go into the silence of her own Sacred Space to digest her ideas. The ideas that did not sustain her could be eliminated and the others would nurture her during the time of looking within. Alona realized that she could best meet her goals when she acted on the ideas that were most nurturing to her.”
I looked at Bear’s big brown eyes and smiled. I was beginning to understand the West Shield in a new way.
“So the three pathways to understanding how to look within and reach our goals are like the actions of Grizzly in Alona’s dream, right?” I asked.
“Right,” Bear replied. “Now you tell me how you see those paths.”
I thought for a moment and then spoke. “The first path is to enter the stillness of our Sacred Space. Basically, it is being willing to receive the answers made available to us through the experience of daily life. That is, allowing our female receptive side to come forward to magnetize or receive in the silence. So it is Entering The Silence.”
“Correct,” said Bear. “And the second path?”
“Well, I suppose the next step is digesting the answers that come and learning to feel which ones apply. So the second pathway is integrating the information and discerning what our personal truth is,” I replied.
“Right again,” said Bear. “It is on the second step, which nurtures the answers received, that the third path becomes evident.”
“Oh, I understand,” I said. “It is because the third path is structure based on personal truth. If we have a knowing about our digested ideas, we may then formulate a plan on how to attain our goals, that’s the structure. If our goals are based on our personal truth and desire, they will be approached with joy. They will be goals we want to nurture because they are truly our own, not ones that others have expected of us. That’s right, isn’t it?”
Bear chuckled and rolled over scratching her back on the boulder next to the spring. “You have the idea,” she mused. “All the actions of Grizzly will allow each person to tap their inner-knowing and like Alona of long ago, my Clan can give the strength necessary to meet each tomorrow with joy. There is no need to fear the unknown that future holds if you follow Grandmother Grizzly and digest the knowing of your personal truth.”
I thanked Bear for the lessons and began the journey of understanding my personal West Shield. May this sharing also aid you in your joy-filled sojourn to the land of the Bear and the lessons of the West.
Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.
Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces
of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.
Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.
If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,
you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.
And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language.
~ Geneen Marie Haugen
Learning to listen means distinguishing real Vision from your own dream voices of fear and memory and desire. Belief in the inevitability of nuclear destruction is a dream of this type, felt by people who can sense that the world they have known is no longer working, but who have not turned far enough to seek a vision beyond war.
Even when you get beyond your fears, sometimes your expectations will get in the way. Somehow you expect your Vision to be spelled in lightning across the sky. But while you watch the sky, you may miss the tiny drama of butterfly upon leaf happening at your feet.
The Vision itself can come in many forms, through a clear visual impression or visitation of spirit, physical contact and communication from an animal, a song or a dream.
Very often in completely unexpected fashion, out of the darkness of a Vision Quest will come an awareness of a Guardian Spirit, a force or energy that provides a clear channel for greater wisdom. Many cultures have believed that such guardians, like saints or angels, protect and guide us even when we are unaware of them. Conscious acknowledgment of a Guardian Spirit offers the possibility of communication and a ready source of strength and counsel.
Awareness of the guardian could come when you see a hawk fly and are uplifted by a sense of strength and freedom, when an oak tree drops its leaves at your feet, when the Northern Lights dance overhead, when you hear words whispered by the wind. Or a guardian might communicate itself as an intellectual concept, a particular energy that is understood to be a source of strength and direction, such as innocence or bravery, or love.
From: A Voice From The Earth
Then I had a dream, and in my dream one of these small round stones appeared to me and told me that the Maker of All was WakanTanka and that in order to honor Him I must honor His works in nature. The stone said that by my search I had shown myself worthy of supernatural help. It said that if I were curing a sick person I might ask its assistance, and that all the forces of nature would help me work a cure.”
- Khetani Machangana: Learn To See