Dream Gates

Dream Gates

In praise of dream fragments: tale of a red blob

Many of us in our society are undergoing a prolonged dream drought. Losing connection with night dreams is a serious malady of soul, in the eyes of indigenous elders. If you have lost your dreams, it may be because you have lost a vital part of your soul, the part that is the dreamer.

Still, when I hear someone say, “I don’t dream,” I decline to despair. I remind them that all they are saying is, “I don’t remember.” If they insist thay they have no dreams, I encourage them to consider carefully whether this is entirely correct. Maybe they recall a dream from many years ago, say from early childhood. This could be a portal for very rewarding exploration, It could even put someone who has lost their dreams back in contact with the child dreamer in their soul.

Before you bind yourself to the statement that you don’t remember your dreams, think carefully about whether you are telling yourself and others the truth. Even the most dream-deprived among us often retain something from the night, a wisp, a fragment, a word, a sense of color, a snatch of song. I have found it can be remarkably productive to play with the tiniest leftover from an otherwise lost banquet. This can even break a dream drought.

Take the case of the red blob. A woman who attended a week-long retreat with me that began with morning dream sharing and creative writing and storytelling from dreams became more and more frustrated as the week went along. She was in a very difficult life passage; she had recently lost her job and had a host of other worries. Here she was at a retreat where people were having fun with their dreams, and she had none to share. She had been suffering from a very protracted dream drought, she told us, and by day three, though attempting my homeplay assignments in dream incubation (asking for dreams) she still had none to share.

“Are you sure?” I challenged her. “I bet, if you think about it, you have something from last night.”

She shook her head.

I encouraged her to think again. “Okay,” she almost spat, “I got a blob. Just a blob. How do you like that?”

“A blob? I think that’s very interesting. What color was it?”


“Like a blob of red paint? Like house paint?”

“Like oil paint.”

“What comes to mind when you picture a blob of red oil paint?”

“My mother’s palette.” Memory started streaming through. She was suddenly back in a scene from childhood. Her mother was a professional artist. The dreamer (as she was now becoming) was about nine years old, and something terrible had happened, and she was desperate for her mother’s love and attention. But when she burst through the door of her mother’s studio, weeping, her mother yelled at her to get out, reminding the little girl that she was under strict instructions never to disturb her mother when she was working.

We were at a place of deep emotion, and potentially deep healing. From the vague memory of a blob, we had come to the place where the soul of the dreamer and the energy and imagination of a lovely young girl could be reclaimed, and a frightened nine-year-old could be supported and counseled in her own time of need, since as active dreamers we can reach across time.


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    I suppose our dismissive attitude to dream fragments is just one aspect of present situation in society in which everybody is dissatisfied and everybody grumbles more that it´s healthy.
    Recently I´ve heard again that old truth that the only way of getting more in life is to appreciate what we have. It has always made a lot of sense to me. How could we possibly receive more if we are not able to value what we have on hand now?
    It´s like in an old tale of two brothers; one is very rich and one is very poor. The poor brother finally gets fed up with his utmost misery and seeks out his Destiny to ask her for as much money as his brother has. His Destiny begins her first offer with almost the same sum of money as he requires for himself. Suprisingly, the poor man isn´t satisfied and so and she gives him a new offer, now a bit lower. This play continues until he gets where he was at the outset. His obvious inability to appreciate what he is granted so generously, makes him the same miserable, embittered person again. I recall this fairy-tale from the childhood and ever since it has had a lasting impression on me. Probably because sometimes I can easily recognize myself in that discontent brother.
    P.S.: I noticed there are more people following your blogs who are into shamanic practices relating to prehistoric cave art. I don´t know how accesible it is to everybody but just for sure: on Monday, 8 August, 3:40 a.m. of the Europian time, Arte TV station broadcasts a documentary called Astronomers from Lascaux: It looks rather interesting, the French ethnologist and astronomer Chantal Jegues-Wolkiewiez derives the beginnings of a prehistoric astronomy from wall paintings in Lascaux. She maintains that a cave man painted his knowledge of stars and the whole universe in the form of animals on walls. I can´t watch it because I´ll be “out of civilization” for a while but it would be a pity if somebody seriously interested in cave art and shamanism would miss it. For further information go to
    Thank you very much for advocacy of dream fragments and all that matters in life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment diane bonds

    Thank you for championing wispsand stray images. My dreams have led me to believe they are worth more than many an epic sequence of actions. Over the last 6 weeks or so I have often awoken with a sense of having dreamed such epics, only to have most memory of the action unravel. An image or single action, however, remains and it is almost always in some way resonant or numinous, full of possibility or suggestiveness–finding a key thought lost, having two pots of green paint in front of me on table, two wheels spinning like bicycle wheels. Rather than feel cheated, I feel gift-ed. It is almost as if my psyche is not only producing the dreams but separating the wheat from the chaff for me.

    • Robert Moss

      Diane – That is exactly the right attitude to adopt towards dream fragments. They, too, are gifts. By accepting them, those who think they are bereft of dreams can begin to open to the treasure house of the night, while those who are sometimes encumbered by such a mass of dream detail that they can’t see through it can be guided to clear direction and action.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mike

    This supportive attitude toward dream fragments is one of the most helpful and practical tips I’ve picked up from my Robert Moss bookshelf.

    I used to be disappointed by fragments without “plot” but now the fleeting image fragments are like I-Ching hexagrams, resonant with meaning and are fulfilling as a source of meditation. The fragment can become an emblem of value with its own fullness of feeling.

    Thanks, Robert!

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