Dream Gates

Dream Gates


Synchronicity magnets and Turkish Delight

posted by Robert Moss

Suleiman.jpgI had lunch in a pretty good area restaurant for the first time this week, and was surprised when the wait staff brought out birthday cakes and songs for three separate tables over a twenty-minute period. Three very grown-up birthday luncheons at the same restaurant in the middle of the week seemed unlikely. It made me ask: who do I know who was born today?

An online search turned up a number of writers and creators I admire who were born on July 28, ranging from Beatrix Potter and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Ibn ‘Arabi, the great medieval Sufi explorer of the Imaginal Realm whose work I discuss in my Secret History of Dreaming.

Then something clicked and I remembered that July 28 is also the birthday of a dear friend who has coordinated my Active Dreaming programs in the San Francisco Bay area for several years. The universe tipped me a wink in time for me to send her a birthday message just before the calendar page turned.

Sometimes a synchronicity signal feels even more personal and direct and feeds right into a current project. I find that when I am giving focused attention to a certain line of study, or a creative project, coincidence comes to support me, sometimes through the agency of that benign spirit Arthur Koestler called the Library Angel, a shelf elf who makes books and documents turn up (or disappear) in highly unlikely ways. This works through the internet too.

On an earlier night this month, I was trying to document a story about shared dreaming and war magic from the time of Suleiman the Magnificent. The story involves a “dream master” who supposedly had twelve people enter lucid dreaming together on a huge round bed to provide energy for an astral operation in which he entered the mind of a European prince and altered the fortunes of a battle.

I first came upon this intriguing account in The Understanding of Dreams, an old anthology of cross-cultural dream narratives,edited by Raymond de Becker, an elusive and somewhat murky character. He gave his source as an earlier book by one N. de Helva titled La Science impériale des songes, published in Paris in 1935. After much hunting, I was unable to locate a copy of this book anywhere, or even identify the publisher. When I compared the de Becker version with the historical records of the campaigns and household of Suleiman, I became more and more suspicious that someone had constructed a tall tale. But I realized that my investigation would not be complete until I had probed documentary sources available only in the Turkish language.

I said to myself in the wee hours of the morning, I really need help from a Turk.
The next instant, an email arrived in my inbox from a Turkish doctor in Istanbul, wanting to know about a retreat I am leading this fall. I seized the opportunity to ask her whether she could check out the story of the Ottoman “dream master” for me. Within hours, she started sending me documents and original translations from Turkish sources that not only confirmed my suspicions about de Becker’s cavalier use of materials but vastly expanded my understanding of the practice of dreaming and imagination in the Ottoman empire.

People ask why some of us seem to have more frequent and more exciting experiences of synchronicity (or meaningful coincidence) than others. I think one of the facts of life is that there are periods when any of us can become a synchronicity magnet, attracting events and encounters in rich profusion according to the energy and intentions that travel with us.

We observe synchronicity at work in the world more often when we are open to seeing it, and ready to play with the signs and symbolic pop-ups of everyday life.
But there is more to it than just our willingness to pay attention. Like calls to like, and the call is stronger when our passions or curiosity are most actively engaged in a life passage or a course of study or exploration. Yeats spoke, with poetic clarity, about the “mingling of minds” that can take place when we are giving our best to a certain line of study; he noted that we draw the support like minds, including intelligences from beyond our ken and beyond our world, who share our interests.

Oh yes, the Turkish doctor is flying to the United States for my fall retreat.

I recount the story of Suleiman and the Dream Master in The Three “Only” Things. Though I now believe the story is not historical, one may say of it, with the Italians, si non e vero, e ben trovato. (“If it’s not true, it’s well found”.)

Portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent in his later years by Nigari, in the Topkapi palace.



  • Krista

    And reading the title of this post on Facebook reminded me of my dream of a Turk last night. I think I’d have forgotten it otherwise. I just wish I could remember his name and his explanation of how to pronounce it. I tried three times in the dream to pronounce it correctly.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Krista – Unusual words in languages I don’t know or know very imperfectly have been very important clues for me in dreams that have guided me into fresh areas of research and/or prepared me for future events and encounters. So if I were you, I’d be open to that Turk reappearing and telling me more. Maybe you can even stick your head back inside the dream – through the technique I call Dream Reentry and explain in depth in CONSCIOUS DREAMING and THE THREE “ONLY” THINGS – and initiate further conversation.

  • Krista

    Yes, thanks! It occurred to me after I posted that you’d suggest dream reentry. Your Three Only Things really opened me a few years ago to paying attention to synchronicity, and I go back to the book when I venture away from paying attention. So your post today really was a “marker” for me. It fascinates me that the author of books that I’ve read more than once can continue to give guidance in internet forums. I’m wondering, did dreams/synchronicities lead you to to using the various internet networking sources? You seem to make use of them much more than most other writers.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Krista – What brought me to more internet activity was the fun of sharing dreams and life stories by methods that deliver helpful feedback and guidance for action in my online forums at Spirituality & Health. We can go into depth there and sustain discussions over time in a way that is hard to manage in a blog comments thread, let along in FB posts. Unlike some writers I know I find that this activity doesn’t rib me of energy or time for my books. On the contrary, the activity cross-pollinates and sometimes brings me, through the speed of posting, to crisper and more concise expressions of important things than I had previously accomplished. Plus there’s a delightful sense of a community of questing minds.

  • http://www.chrysalishealingarts.org Valley Reed

    I just had a delightful synchronicity of posting a birthday greeting to a dear friend when this blog post popped up immediately afterwards on FB! I have been interested in researching my ancestral roots of of my maternal grandmother, Larabee which I have traced back to the French Hughenouts who fled persecution in Pau, France in the 1600′s to come to America. I found the Americanized spelling of Larabee traced back to be spelled in French as L’Arabie or Spanish el Arabie, which means The Arab. It made me wonder if there could be a connection to the great sufi known as Ibn Arabi “The Arab” who lived in Spain during the 1300s I believe. Just playing on the energy of research, sychronicity and birthdays here. Perhaps a birthday greeting is in order to a possible sufi ancestor, Ibn Arabi. Allah Huuuuuu!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Chokran, Valley!

  • http://www.practicingonpurpose.com Gretchen

    I have a dear friend who has the “super power” of unexpectedly running into people she hasn’t seen in quite a while. I always tell her I admire how open she is to these messengers from the Universe!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Gretchen – Do you – or does she – have any notion of what makes her such a powerful synchronicity magnet? This is a fascinating line of inquiry!

  • Sherry Puricelli

    The most exciting element of this story is your recognition of the birthdays as an indication to pay attention and ask “who do I know who was born today?” Also, when you said to yourself, “I really need help from a Turk,” fully expecting to receive that help.
    I believe we notice synchronicity at work when it becomes a Way of Life- not something that just happens to some people some of the time. Your descriptions show us, very precisely, how we too can be synchronicity magnets…which makes you a “dream master” teacher!
    I can’t imagine life without synchronicities to remind me of birthdays, help me with research, or simply be reminded by the ducks that I have some emotions that I can float around on, dive deep into, or fly above to gain perspective… thanks for the reminder…

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