Dream Gates

Dream Gates

As Lady Sarashina crossed a bridge of dreams

posted by Robert Moss

“Reflected moon on paddy fields at Sarashina”, woodblock by Ando Hiroshige

From a thousand years ago, in a slim autobiographical novel gusting with moonlight and desire, we have a dozen dreams of an anonymous Japanese woman who was born in Kyoto in 1008. The book itself is untitled; sometimes it is called the Sarashina Nikki (literally, “The Day-Record of Sarashina”). The translator of the Penguin edition, Ivan Morris, decided to import a title from an even older work, a poem titled, “As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams.”

The author, whose name is unknown, belonged to a remarkable group of Japanese women writers of the tenth and eleventh centuries. We know almost nothing of their lives, not even their names. A modern editor suggests that their extraordinary accomplishments “produced an unconscious resentment among male scholars, with the result that these talented ladies were permanently condemned to anonymity.” One of them was this author’s aunt, who wrote a searing tale of jealousy, Kagero Nikki (“Gossamer Years”).

By convention, the anonymous author of Bridge of Dreams is called Lady Sarashina,  a name borrowed from a mountainous area she probably never visited. The daughter of a minor provincial governor who resented being posted outside the capital, she led a secluded life, mostly behind garden walls inKyoto, until she became a lady-in-waiting to a princess at thirty-one. Her court connection may have helped her to marry at thirty-six, very late in her day; she had children. Her prose style was lovely; the poems that punctuate her recollections (an epistolary mode of the time) are mostly forgettable.

She told no one her dreams, and failed to take actions suggested by the early dreams in the series. She later regrets failing to act on her dreams, realizing that they could have steered her life on a better course.

She loved stories and romances, and the first dreams she records – one features a “handsome priest” – came in the midst of her binge reading of women’s writing like the  Tales of Genji. Some dreams were experienced at temples, to which she journeyed on pilgrimages that were sometimes cherry-blossom tours, sometimes belated efforts to honor dream directions. Japanese classical scholar Ikeda Kikan says: “The author of Sarashina Nikki can be regarded as the first person in Japanese literature to have discovered dreams…Her dreams are not fortuitous interludes but are consciously grasped as having a definite, inevitable meaning.”  This is the first Japanese book in which dreams play a central role. Life itself has the quality of dream, a flimsy bridge between different shores.

Her book resembles the modern Japanese genre known as the sh-shosetsu, the “I-novel”, in which the author weaves facts of his life together with imagination.

The first Valentine, from the captive prince

posted by Robert Moss

- Charles_Ier_dOrléans-238x300Why the day of Saint Valentine is associated with romantic love is a mystery. A couple of sainted Valentines, both martyred, are known to the early church but what little is known of them has nothing to do with romance. They are so obscure that the feast of St.Valentine was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969. The church that sustains it is the Grand Archdiocese of Florists, Chocolatiers and Greetings Card Makers.

Chaucer is credited with making the first literary association between Valentine’s Day and romantic love in a verse he wrote (in Parliament of the Foules) in 1382, to celebrate the marriage of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia.

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day
when every bird comes there to choose his mate.”

So perhaps we can thank Chaucer for the lovebirds.

A generation later, the poet-prince Charles d’Orléans (in whose name Joan of Arc went to war) wrote the first recognized Valentine greeting. This appears  in a sad and strange rondeau addressed to his wife from the Tower of London, where he was being held by the English after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The Duke’s poem begins:

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée
Car pour moi fustes trop tart née,
Et moy pour vous fus trop tost né.

“I am already worn out with love
my very sweet Valentine
since for me you were born too late
and for you I was born too soon”

Whatever our current relations with partners, lovers and family, we probably all know someone who deserves a Valentine’s kiss or a hug, oArt:r even a few rhyming couplets. This is also a very good time to think about how dreams can lead us into loving relationships, or out of those that have gone cold and dead.

A chapter in my memoir The Boy Who Died and Came Back is devoted to my dream archaeology expeditions into life and times of Charles d’Orleans and Joan of Arc (who went to war in his name). These began when I rose from sleep with just one mysterious word of medieval French that proved to be a key to trans-temporal discoveries and adventures.

 

Art: medieval likeness of Charles d’Orleans

The best way to understand a dream

posted by Robert Moss

- RM Can I fly By MyselfThe best way to grasp the meaning of a dream, and to determine what action the dream requires, is to go back inside the dream and recover more of the story. We should never confuse a dream report – what we remember and can say about a dream – with the full experience of the dream itself. Even a very copious and detailed dream report is missing much of what went on during the night, including deeper levels of dreaming in which the dream self may have traveled not only through different loactions, but through different orders of reality.

Why would we want to go back inside a dream? Our motive might be simply to have more fun and adventure. We were with a dream lover in a tropical paradise, but were roused by the alarm clock or the kids jumping on the bed. We’d like to revisit that delicious scene, and enjoy it for longer.

We may want to talk more with a dream visitor. A deceased grandparent, or a friend on the other side of the world, or a famous writer of the past we admire turned up in a dream, as if they sat down in the living room or leaned over the bed, and we’d like to know why they came and what we need to share. By putting ourselves back inside the dream scene, we can initiate a conversation.

Maybe we’ve been running away from something in dreams, or trying to hide from it. This is an urgent reason for learning to reenetr a dream. When a fear or a challenge arises in dreams, we want to learn to confront it on its own ground. If we keep running away from something in our dreams, chances are that the underlying issue will pursue us in waking life.

What we are hiding from in dreams may be our own power. I learned this early in my time in North America, when I dreamed, repeatedly, that an enormous bear was in my space. I made it my intention to go back inside the most recent version of the dream, confront the bear, and understand why it was showing up in my house. I closed the blinds, turned off the phone, slouched back in an easy chair and used the edge of fear as power to take me back inside the dream scene.

I was there right away: the bear was in front of me, huge and wild, showing its claws. It took a real effort of will to brave up and approach it as it towered over me on its hind legs. When the bear wrapped its great arms around me, I feared it would crush my ribs. Instead, I found myself inside a warm and loving hug. Later the bear wanted me to look at my heart. I looked, and was amazed to see their was a thick cord between my heart and that of the bear, something like a thick umbilical, pumping life juice. I understood, in that moment, that the bear and I were joined at the heart. Bear’s message, moving through my senses and slowly translating into human speech, was Call on me, and I will show you what people need to be healed. Since then, whenever I open a healing circle, we call in the Bear through song and dance.

You may find, as I do, that an aspect of your own power and healing is waiting for you behind a dream foor, if you will reopen it. There are further reasons for learning the technique of dream reentry, which is explained in depth in several of my books, including Active Dreaming and The Three “Only” Things. I have become convinced, through long experience, that any image that belongs to us – even the most terrifying – can be worked with in the direction of healing and resolution. Our dreams, if we will use them, are factories of fresh and spontaneous images that the body believes because it belongs to us and comes hand-crafted from our personal dream producers.

Then, too, a dream may be an invitation to become whole by reclaiming aspects of ourselves that went missing when life became too cruel or too complex. Dreams show us parts of ourselves that go unrecognized by the daily mind, and may have been absent for years or decades through the conditions that shamans call soul-loss. When we learn to go back inside a certain kind of dream – the dream of the childhood place, for example, or of a childhood self – we are on our way to a soul reunion with a younger self that can bring fresh vitality, joy and imagination into our present lives.

- Wings for the JourneyDream reentry is the royal road to becoming a conscious or lucid dreamer. In my workshops, we use shamanic drumming to fuel and focus our adventures in dream reentry and tracking – which means entering someone else’s dream space, with permission, to get information for them or support them. For home use,  Wings for the Journey, my CD of shamanic drumming for dream travelers, is available from Psyche Productions.

 

Drawing (c) Robert Moss from a dream reentry journey that led to soul recovery.

The Underground Railroad of Dreams

posted by Robert Moss

- harriet tubman-lawrenceHarriet Tubman dreamed of flying to freedom, over landscapes she subsequently crossed on foot when she made her escape from slavery in the South. Later she was guided by specific precognitive or clairvoyant dreams to safe houses, river crossings and friendly helpers she had never encountered in waking reality. In this way, she escorted 300 escaping slaves to freedom, without ever losing one of her “packages”.

What a powerful example of how we can “dream our dream” in entirely practical ways! As we recover the true history of dreaming – which may be a secret history of the world – we will gain courage and confidence for the urgent and creative task of building a dreaming culture for the 21st century. A dreaming culture is one in which dreams are shared and celebrated in every environment – at the workplace, at the clinic, in schools and in families. In a dreaming culture, our lives and our interactions would be different, and magical. Here are some of the ways:

Community Dreamwork

By creating a safe space for each other to share and work with our dreams, we move quickly beyond barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding, and build deeper relationships. In our dreaming culture, families and larger communities will share and explore dreams in order to move beyond taboos, tell their troubles, achieve healing and resolution – and as wonderful entertainment, generating song and story, dance and theatre, as well as strategies for bringing the energy and insight of dreams into manifestation.

Dream Navigation

In our dreaming culture, it is generally understood – as most traditional dreaming peoples know – that we dream the future, maybe all the time. The futures we perceive in dreams are possible futures. By clarifying messages and taking appropriate action, we can change the odds that any particular scenario will be enacted. In our dreaming culture, we will check our dreams for guidance on the probable outcome of the choices we are making. As dream scouts, we will bring through dream guidance on the possible future for the benefit of others, and for the community as a whole.

Dreamwork in Medicine and Healing

In dreams our bodies show us what is going on inside them and what they need to stay well. Early warning dreams forecast conditions that may develop, often years before physical symptoms appear – and often counsel on prevention and alternative approaches. When we do become ill, dreams give us fresh and powerful imagery for healing and recovery. Because the body does not appear to distinguish between a physical event and a mental or emotional event that carries real energy, these images can help us reshape the physical blueprint. Some leading-edge research suggests that in this way we may even be able to change the cellular memory of the body. Above all, dreaming puts us in touch with the hidden sources of illness and wellness, and opens paths to recovering soul.

Dreaming in Schools

Keeping a dream journal is excellent writing practice, and constantly opens up exciting avenues for research. Telling dreams builds powerful communications skills and brings the gift of story. Dream rehearsal prepares us for tests – perhaps literal school tests – while dream incubation helps us to tap into a deeper source and bring through creative solutions. These are some of the reasons why dreaming and dreamwork deserve a central place in our schools, starting in pre-K. In our dreaming culture, schoolkids will gain credits for keeping dream journals. They will do projects on Einstein’s dreams, dreams in art and literature, dreams in social evolution and world cultures.

Dreams to Help the Dying

In our dreaming culture, the practice of dreaming is recognized as vital preparation for the transition to life beyond life. The Plains Indians say that the path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams. Dreaming, we learn to move smoothly and naturally into other dimensions. Conscious dreaming, like meditation, familiarizes us with paths and landscapes beyond physical reality. For those who do not have a dream and cannot meditate, the “dream transfer” technique offers caregivers wonderful ways to help open doors and clear the paths.

Dreaming and Future Science

Dreaming is central to the emerging science of consciousness, which is likely to be the most important science of the 21st century. Active dreamers and long-term dream journalists provide direct, experiential data that is crucial to new lines of scientific discovery and research. Research inside dreams – through conscious dreaming techniques – provides immediate access to multidimensional reality and a means of testing scientific speculation about parallel universes, the holographic model, and the possibility of travel across time.

The challenge before us is to marry the best of our science and scholarship to the ancient arts of dreaming that recognize dreams as both wishes and experiences of soul and offer a path for evolving consciousness that can help us build more compassionate and creative communities. We can dream our dream and we can dream our world if we remember, like Harriet Tubman, that we can fly.

 

Art: Harriet Tubman pointing to the North Star, and freedom. Painting by Jacob Lawrence

Previous Posts

As Lady Sarashina crossed a bridge of dreams
From a thousand years ago, in a slim autobiographical novel gusting with moonlight and desire, we have a dozen dreams of an anonymous Japanese woman wh

posted 10:40:02am Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

The first Valentine, from the captive prince
Why the day of Saint Valentine is associated with romantic love is a mystery. A couple of sainted Valentines, both martyred, are known to the early church but what little is known of them has nothing to do with romance. They are so obscure that the feast of St.Valentine was removed from the General

posted 2:17:39am Feb. 14, 2015 | read full post »

The best way to understand a dream
The best way to grasp the meaning of a dream, and to determine what action the dream requires, is to go back inside the dream and recover more of the story. We should never confuse a dream report - what we remember and can say about a dream - with the full experience of the dream itself. Even a very

posted 10:59:39am Jan. 22, 2015 | read full post »

The Underground Railroad of Dreams
Harriet Tubman dreamed of flying to freedom, over landscapes she subsequently crossed on foot when she made her escape from slavery in the South. Later she was guided by specific precognitive or clairvoyant dreams to safe houses, river crossings and friendly helpers she had never encountered in waki

posted 9:22:16am Jan. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Back to Basics (4) We Dream the Future, All the Time
Our dreams are constantly coaching us for challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us on the roads of life. It’s possible that we rehearse everything that will take place in the future in our dreams, though we forget most of it. Across human evolution, dreaming has been a vital survival mech

posted 2:17:41am Dec. 27, 2014 | read full post »


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