Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Approaching Halloween: when the veil between the world thins

posted by Robert Moss

The hair salon on the corner advertises, “Halloween Makeup Done Here.” There are spooks and scarecrows at the doors of the houses on my block. As we approach Halloween, I am thinking of the many meanings of the festival, from trick-or-treat to the turning of the year.

This is the most magical, crazy, shivery night of the year. It is the topsy-turvy, inside-out, upside-down time, when the past lies ahead of you and the future walks behind you, breathing on your neck. It is a night when the doors between the worlds swing open, when the dead walk among the living and the living move among the dead.

The last night of October is the start of Samhain (which is pronounced “sow-in”), the great Celtic festival when the dead walk among the living, the fires are extinguished and rekindled, the god and the goddess come together in sacred union, and as the year turns from light to dark, the seeded earth prepares to give birth again. It’s a time, when the Celts knew what they were doing, to watch yourself and watch comings and goings from the barrows and mounds that are peopled by ghosts and faeries. It’s a time to honor the friendly dead, and the lordly ones of the Sidhe, and to propitiate the restless dead and remember to send them off and to set or re-set very clear boundaries between the living and the hungry ghosts. It’s a time to look into the future, if you dare, because linear time is stopped when the hollow hills are opened.

As Celtic scholar Marie-Louise Sjoestedt wrote, “This night belongs neither to one year or the other and is, as it were, free from temporal restraint. It seems that the whole supernatural force is attracted by the seam thus left at the point where the two years join, and gathers to invade the world of men.”

If you have never learned to dream or see visions or to feel the presence of the spirits who are always about – if you have never traveled beyond the gates of death or looked into the many realms of the Otherworld – this is the time when you’ll see beyond the veil all the same, because the Otherworld is going to break down the walls of the little box you call a world, and its residents are coming to call on you.

It’s a time for dressing up, especially if you are going out at night. You might want to put on a fright mask to scare away restless spirits before they scare you. You might want to carry a torch to light your way, and especially to guide the dead back to where they came from when the party is over. Before Europeans discovered pumpkins in America, they carried lit candles in hollowed-out niches in turnips.

All of this was so important, and such wild, sexy, shiverish fun that the church had to do something about it. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III decided to steal the old magic by making November 1 All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows Day; so the night of Samhain became All Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween for short. A century before, an earlier pope had borrowed the date of the old Roman festival to propitiate the dead – the Festival of the Lemures, or Lemuralia – and renamed that All Saints’ Day. But since Roman paganism had been largely suppressed, the church fathers decided to grab the glamour of the Celts, among whom the old ways are forever smoldering, like fire under peat.

Few people who celebrate or suffer Halloween today seem to know much about its history. For storekeepers and the greetings card business, it’s a commercial opportunity. For TV programmers, it’s a cue to schedule horror movie marathons. For kids, it’s time to dress up as vampires or witches and extort candy from neighbors. My preferred way to spend Halloween is to rest quietly at home, with candles lit for my dead loved ones, and a basket of apples and hazelnuts beside them, tokens of the old festival that renews the world and cleanses the relations between the living and the dead.

Text adapted from The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead by Robert Moss (Destiny Books)

 

Divination at Halloween: By tradition, Samhain is also a time for divination, since the departed can see across time and at this turning of the year we may share in their powers – and anyway, at New Year who doesn’t think about what the year ahead may hold? The 1904 postcard in the illustration above shows a young woman looking in a mirror in hopes of spotting her husband-to be, a survival of an ancient rite.

 

Dreamwork, the antidote to the League of Fear and Contempt

posted by Robert Moss

- dream sharing Mosswood May 2014Why do so many adults in Western society deny that they dream or insist that dreams do not matter?

These attitudes are partly the work of societal pressures, and of the authority we have assigned to two kinds of authority: those who have aspired to control our inner lives and those who have suggested that we have no inner lives that matter. I am speaking about the strange alliance between forms of established religion that fear direct personal experience of the sacred, and scientific reductionists who deny both the sacred and the validity of such experience.

For centuries, the church applied crushing weight to deny the validity of personal experience in the worlds of spirit. Personal revelation is always perceived as a threat by religious monopolies. Carl Jung, the son of a Protestant minister who had lost his faith, observed that organized religion exists to protect people from a personal experience of the divine. Hopefully, we and our churches will evolve beyond the need for such defenses. In these things, there is simply no substitute for personal experience.

If fear of dreams breeds witchfinders, it also spawns reductionists, who are perhaps more deadly (or at least more deadening) because they invoke scientific jargon in a society where “science” is widely presumed to have all the answers. Turn a certain kind of scientist loose on the dreaming mind and you will soon be informed that dreams are hallucinations spawned by the wash of chemicals, or nonsensical clutter triggered by random neural firing. Such findings are usually reported without a single reference to the researcher’s personal experience of dreaming, which speaks eloquently about their value.

There is all the difference in the world between a genuinely scientific approach and scientism, the dull ideology that denies the authenticity of what cannot be quantified and replicated under laboratory conditions. It is scientism, not science, that is the enemy of dreaming. True science is hungry for fresh data and new experiments, ready to jettison theories that our understanding has outgrown, ever alive to the possibility that the universe (like the dream source) is putting bigger questions to us than our best brains can put to it. It is no accident that the pathfinders of modern science – Einstein and Pauli, Kekule and Bohr, even Sir Isaac Newton is his day – have been dreamers and practical mystics.

Dreaming is a path of direct experience of the greater reality, whether we call that the sacred, or nature, or the multiverse. Dreamwork – sharing dreams in the right way and helping each other unfold their messages and take appropriate action to embody their energy and guidance – is everyday church. Let’s step from under the sway of the League of Fear and Contempt. Let’s break the mental padlocks installed by those who have tried to get us to keep our dreams sealed in a locked basement.

 

Dream sharing at Mosswood Hollow. Photo by Robert Moss.

Adapted from Conscious Dreaming: A Spiritual Path for Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by Three Rivers Press.

Traveling dream souls of indigenous peoples

posted by Robert Moss

- ChiquitosIndigenous peoples recognize multiple aspects of soul, with different destinies after death and different degrees of mobility during life.

Thus the Chiquitano believe a human has three souls, called the shadow soul, the blood soul and the breath soul. During dreams the blood soul (otor) can wander a little, but must stay close to the body.

The shadow soul (ausipis) can make longer journeys, leaving the body and the blood soul far behind. In the morning, it returns and give the other two souls an account of its adventures. It’s these long journeys of the shadow souls that account for big dreams in which the dreamer enters other realms and other times; they may visit the future, or go to the plane where souls that have not yet been born gather and prepare for their descent into bodies.

There is danger in these long journeys, because hostile non-human beings called obois try to catch the shadow soul in invisible threads and coax or force it to consume a drink that will trap it in another domain. The light and smoke of a cigar are believed to be helpful in defeating these attackers.

“Chiquitano” – derived from Chiquitos, Little Ones  – was a name imposed by the Conquistadores on a number of peoples of eastern Bolivia and Mato Grosso amalgamated by the Jesuit missions in the seventeenth century.

Source: JürgenRiester, “Curanderos y brujois de los indios chiquitanos” in Revista de la Universidad Boliviana “Gabriel René Moreno” vol, 16, nos 31-32 (1972).

Image: Alcides d’Orbigny (1831). Public Domain.

Rumi-nation

posted by Robert Moss

- Rumi angelA quick way of getting a message for any day is to open a book at random and see what is in front of you. The fancy name for this process is bibliomancy. The favorite book that has been used for such purposes in the West, for as long as we have had printed books, is the Bible. Abraham Lincoln used his family Bible – the one on which Barack Obama took his oath of office – to get messages in this way, including second opinions on his dreams.

On the Connecticut shore, leading a training for teachers of Active Dreaming, and enjoying the gentle waters of Long Island Sound, one of my travel companions was Coleman Barks’ exquisite edition of The Essential Rumi. The poems here are not literal or near-literal translations. They are versions of translations by scholars from the great 13th century Persian poet of visionary experience and direct encounter with the Beloved of the soul. I was looking to Rumi, as mediated by Coleman Barks, for my morning messages.

When I opened the book at random, I got Rumi’s parable poem of “The Three Fish”.

Your real country is where you’re heading, not where you are.

There’s also this excellent counsel for the spiritual road traveler:

When you’re traveling, ask a traveler for advice,
not someone whose lameness keeps him stuck in one place

The next morning, I turned to Rumi again, and was thrilled by his evocation of the nearness of the Guide, the one who is never hidden from us except by the many ways in which we hide ourselves from him.

We’ve come to the presence of the one who was never apart from us

Then we begin to feel the afflux of a greater power. We are more than we are, in our little everyday selves, stuck in the grooves of habit and self-limiting beliefs:

When the water-bag is filling, you know the water carrier’s here.

Encouragement for any day to open to the presence of  a greater power and to take the creative risks that draw the Greater Self closer.

 

Art: Seated Angel, Iran, 1575-1600, Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. From the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Lent by the Art and History Trust LTS1995.2.72

Previous Posts

Approaching Halloween: when the veil between the world thins
The hair salon on the corner advertises, "Halloween Makeup Done Here." There are spooks and scarecrows at the doors of the houses on my block. As we approach Halloween, I am thinking of the many meanings of the festival, from trick-or-treat to the turning of the year. This is the most magical, cr

posted 9:42:07am Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Dreamwork, the antidote to the League of Fear and Contempt
Why do so many adults in Western society deny that they dream or insist that dreams do not matter? These attitudes are partly the work of societal pressures, and of the authority we have assigned to two kinds of authority: those who have aspired to control our inner lives and those who have sugge

posted 6:10:51pm Sep. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Traveling dream souls of indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples recognize multiple aspects of soul, with different destinies after death and different degrees of mobility during life. Thus the Chiquitano believe a human has three souls, called the shadow soul, the blood soul and the breath soul. During dreams the blood soul (otor) can wande

posted 4:16:01am Sep. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Rumi-nation
A quick way of getting a message for any day is to open a book at random and see what is in front of you. The fancy name for this process is bibliomancy. The favorite book that has been used for such purposes in the West, for as long as we have had printed books, is the Bible. Abraham Lincoln used h

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