Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Back to Basics (2) How to Become a More Active Dreamer

posted by Robert Moss

ActiveDreaming2_cvr.inddLet’s start with baby steps. Many of us in the contemporary world have been suffering a prolonged dream drought. You want to end the drought and renew your connection with your dreams. So you set a juicy intention for the night – “I want to have fun in my dreams and remember” or “I open myself to healing” – and make sure you are ready to record something whenever you wake. Be kind to fragments. Even a wisp from a dream, a sense of color, a snatch of a song, can be a great beginning.

Next, recognize that you don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. Through the play of synchronicity and pop-up symbols, the world around you will speak to you in the manner of dreams if you pay attention. And there are treasures in in-between states of consciousness, especially in the hypnagogic zone, “the Place Between Sleep and Awake” as Tinkerbell calls it in the Disney version of Peter Pan.

To get active with your dreams, you need to keep a journal and you need to develop the practice of sharing your dreams with others in the right way, and of taking action to bring energy and guidance from the dream world into everyday life. I have invented a powerful technique for dream sharing that we call Lightning Dreamwork. It’s quick, it’s safe and it’s fun. It provides a way for us to hear each other’s stories, provided helpful feedback and guide each other to take action to honor our dreams. We can learn to do it in minutes with a complete stranger or the intimate stranger who shares our bed and may be the hardest person to talk to about sensitive things.

Next, we want to develop the practice of conscious or lucid dreaming. The easiest way to become a lucid dreamer is to start our conscious and stay that way. I teach people to travel, wide awake and conscious, through the doorway of a remembered dream to explore the dreamscape more fully, resolve terrors, solve mysteries and foillow roads of adventure in the multiverse. Dream reentry, as I call this, is another of the core techniques of Active Dreaming, my original synthesis of shamanism and dreamwork. In the workshops, we use shamanic drumming to fuel and focus the journeys, and we learn that dreaming does not have to be a solitary activity. We can travel with one or more partners and our shared experiences become first-hand data on the reality of other dimensions.

Dreaming is a discipline. It’s fun and you get to do a lot of the work in your sleep but to get good at it – as with anything else – requires practice, practice.

 

Back to Basics (1) Why Dreaming Is Important

posted by Robert Moss

- otomi-charms 2A dream is a wake-up call. It takes us beyond what we already know. Dreams are the language of the soul, and they are experiences of the soul.

There are “big” dreams and “little” dreams, of course. In big dreams, we go traveling and we may receive visitations. We travel across time – into the future and the past – and we travel to other dimensions of reality. This is reflected in the words for “dream” that are used by indigenous people who have retained strong dreaming traditions and respect for dreamers. Among the Makiritare, a shamanic dreaming people of Venezuela, for example, the word for dream is “adekato,” which means “a journey of the soul”.

Most societies, across most of human history, have valued dreams and dreamers for three main reasons. First, they have looked to dreams for contact with a wiser source than the everyday mind – call that God, or Nature, or the Self with a great big Jungian S. Second, they have looked to dreams as part of our survival kit, giving us clues to possible future events we may want to avoid or enact. Third, they have known that dreaming is medicine, in several important senses. Dreams show us what is going on inside the body, often before physical symptoms present. When we do get sick, dreams are a factory of images we can use for self-healing.

In indigenous cultures, dreaming is central to diagnosis and healing. From the Otomi Indians of the state of Puebla in Mexico, we have this marvelous account of a shaman named Don Antonio who used dreams as a medical text

“When I became a shaman, I began to see how to cast out illness my dreams. It was like looking at a printed page. The shaman receives knowledge, what sorts of illness one person has, what sort another has, in his dreams…Learning how to cure from dreams is like being taught to read as a child, You ask your teacher, ‘What is this or that called?’ and your teacher tells you…In this way you receive knowledge about illnesses. These things are revealed to you in your dreams…As you’re curing the patient your dreams tell you what the problem is and who are the enemies who caused the illness. Your dreams tell you what is needed for the cure.”

Source for Don Antonio quote:  James Dow, The Shaman’s Touch: Otomi Indian Symbolic Healing. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986. 51-52.

Photo: Otomi protective figure made with amate paper (bark cloth) in Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma

 

 

 

Here’s to the Sun of God

posted by Robert Moss

- Christmas HebeIn my neighborhood, Hebe, cupbearer to the Olympian gods, is now decked out in Christmas trimmings. Though she would probably prefer to be wearing vine leaves, she may be relaxed because she will remember that Christmas decorations – especially anything involving a tree – were borrowed from the followers of the old gods. Even the date of Christmas, which is almost certainly not the literal birthday of Jesus, is taken from the old religions

Nobody knows for sure when Jesus was born, but it is rather unlikely that it was on December 25th. The famous early bishop, Clement of Alexandria, who died in 215, wrote that many Christians in his day believed that Jesus was born in April. December 25 was only recognized as the birthday of Jesus by the Church in Rome in the mid-fourth century, and it took centuries for the date to be adopted by Christian congregations elsewhere. The church in Jerusalem only adopted the date in the 7th century. It took England a century longer.

On the other hand, the significance of December 25 in the pagan calendar had long been established. Under The Julian calendar, instituted by command of Julius Caesar in 45 BCE, December 25 was made the date of Bruma, the “shortest” day, meaning the winter solstice. Early European peoples honored the winter solstice as the day of the re-birth of the sun, personified as a god by some, a goddess by others.

In 274, the soldier-emperor Aurelian proclaimed that December 25 was the birthday of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun. This was a composite deity he hoped would be acceptable to believers of all persuasions, including the old worshippers of Helios-Apollo and the Roman legionaries who had adopted the cult of Mithras, a god from the East whose birth from a cave was already celebrated on December 25. So the day we now celebrate as Christmas became Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the Day of the Unconquered Son.

Against this backdrop, it seems more likely than not that intelligent leaders of the early Church were inspired to move Jesus’ birthday to December 25 to claim the glamor of the old winter solstice festivals and to match the religious calendar to the celestial calendar in the way that early peoples had always done, making the coming of the Christos coincide with the re-birth of the sun. This, at any rate, was the opinion of a learned Syriac scholiast, Jacob Bar-Salibi,  who wrote in the 12th century:

It was a custom of the pagans to celebrate on the same 25 December the birthday of the sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day.

Syncretism – the bringing together of different strands of belief and custom – was characteristic of the old Roman religions; in the mid-4th century, when the Christian leaders chose to make December 25 the birthday of Jesus, it became an act of Church policy. In a ceiling mosaic in the tomb of the Julii, in the necropolis under St Peter’s, we have an arresting visual image of the convergence of the old solar cult with the new religion. It shows the figure of Sol-Helios, the sun god, riding his chariot. Around 250, his image was touched up, to make the rays around his head resemble a cross.

When we look at the customs and symbols of Christmas that are most loved in our families today, we find that many of them are of pagan origin: the Christmas tree, for starters, but also the holy and the ivy, the mistletoe, the yule log, the giving of gifts, the reindeer that fly through the sky. An early Christian grinch in Britain, Polydor Virgil, thundered that “dancing, masques, mummeries, stageplays, and other such Christmas disorders now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalian and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them.”

The happy news is that the grinches will never win (though I’m not so sure about the retailers). The sun returns, and at Christmas all peoples of good heart will share gifts of light and love.

 

Photo of Christmas Hebe (c) Robert Moss

Advice from a dead movie star created the star of “I Love Lucy”

posted by Robert Moss

- Lucille Ball and Desi
On the day the Obama administration announced that it intended to seek to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba, a friend reported dreaming of Lucille Ball, the star of “I Love Lucy.” She wanted to know why she was dreaming of the star of “I Love Lucy”. I commented that the dream seemed to me to be timely in view of the detente with Cuba, since Lucille’s husband and co-star, Desi Arnaz, was a Cuban bandleader.

Then I remembered that Lucille was a world-class dreamer and that it was dream guidance from a deceased friend that convinced her that she was making the right decision by “going for broke” in the then new and untested medium of television.

In her own words, “Everyone warned Desi and me that we were committing career suicide, by giving up highly paid movie and band commitments to go for broke on TV. But it was either working together or good-bye marriage!  Ever try being married seven years out of ten by long-distance call and wire? Then I dreamed about Carole Lombard.  She was wearing a very smart suit Carole always dressed very beautifully–and she said, `Take a chance, honey.  Give it a whirl!’   After that, I knew for certain that we were doing the right thing.”

Lucille Ball had been devastated when her good friend Carole Lombard died in a plane crash in January 1942. But their friendship continued after Carole’s death and – as Lucille explains in the quote – Carole gave her friend the confidence to take the risk and shine as TV’s “Lucy.”

Carole was not the only dead celebrity who showed up in Lucille’s dreams to offer advice. At  a party, she told Clark Gable that his long-deceased wife kept turning up in her dreams to offer very helpful advice.  Lucille recalled that the actor “stared, gulped, and plowed off in a daze.”

Source: Warren G. Harris, Lucy and Desi, the Legendary Love Story of Television’s Most Famous Couple.  (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991)

Photo: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1957. Public domain

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Back to Basics (2) How to Become a More Active Dreamer
Let’s start with baby steps. Many of us in the contemporary world have been suffering a prolonged dream drought. You want to end the drought and renew your connection with your dreams. So you set a juicy intention for the night – “I want to have fun in my dreams and remember” or “I open my

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