I have been privileged to lead dream workshops in Lithuania three times, at the invitation of my friend Rita Baniene, and each visit has been a grand adventure and a deepening encounter with the spirits of the land.
When I first came to Rain Country, in 2004, 40 Lithuanians joined me at Nida to reclaim the arts of dreaming. We made a conscious dream journey together through the gateway of an ancient oak, and I found myself in direct contact with a priestess of Žemyna from an earlier time. She instructed me in methods of healing and visioning involving the use of amber, and gave me symbols and words in old Lithuanian – a language previously unknown to me – that others in the workshop helped me translate. From this moment, I found myself engaged in Baltic dream archaeology. The practice of dream archaeology involves reclaiming authentic knowledge of ancestral traditions, including those that may have been buried or suppressed in the course of history, through a combination of careful research and experiential journeying across time and between dimensions. The dream archaeologist combines the skills of the shaman, the scholar and the detective.
I returned to Lithuania in October 2009 to lead a workshop in Vilnius, and found myself drawn deeper into the mythic traditions and ancient practices of the Baltic. In our group journeys, powered by shamanic drumming, I saw a great crowned water-serpent rising from the sea. I saw a great golden beehive dripping with honey, with wild bees buzzing around that were also – on closer inspection – winged priestesses; and knew I was in a Goddess realm. I saw a great amber, and the priestess of Žemyna appeared again to continue my tutorials. She instructed me that the egg-shaped amber is a see-stone that can be used like a crystal ball. She showed me how burning amber is a valid sacrifice, offering a gift of the Goddess to the Goddess herself, and also how the smoke becomes a window into the world-behind-the-world. In the smoke of amber, I saw into the realm of Sleeping Kings – in this case the Grand Dukes of medieval Lithuania who fought invaders and would-be oppressors and wait (like the Arthur of British legend) to be recalled to fight for their land again, on the psychospiritual plane, in the event of a new threat to its survival.
I returned to Lithuania in March 2010, to lead a new workshop in the beautiful old city of Kaunas. Before driving to Kaunas, we sought out the artist Arvydas Každailis at his studio in the Old Town in Vilnius. I wanted to talk to Každailis about the collective dreams of the Baltic peoples, those that were crushed or interrupted by a brutal history that he has been helping, through the power of his artistic vision, to requicken. In his etchings, Každailis gives us images of the old Baltic tribes and their gods and rituals that look like pages from the lost books of these peoples. He gives us Žemyna as an immense mothering figure who holds a whole communal banquet within her embrace. Každailis and I spoke of callings – of how dreams and synchronicity can call a creative mind to a path of connections with traditions that were previously lost or unknown. He recalled that when he was three and four, he spoke a coherent language that no one could recognize or interpret, though he was completely at home within it. As we conversed, songs in the old Prussian language, gusted through the studio, evoking the blossoming gifts of Earth and the hammer of thunder around the oak of Perkunas, who speaks in storm and lightning.
In Kaunas, my dreams were again suffused with amber light. The ancient priestess reminded me “You belong to the People of Amber. Your duty – and that of those you train here – is to build bridges and wooden pathways so people can get across the mud safely. You must remember to call on the power of Light Amber to heal and to guide, and on the power of Dark Amber to remove the darkness.”
In Lithuania, I have been reminded again and again that one of the gifts of dreaming is that it opens authentic connections to the ancestors, offering us the chance to heal the wounds of the past and to perform cultural soul retrieval.
In my Lithuanian workshops, we also learned the many practical ways in which dreaming supports our lives, giving us extraordinary sources of guidance and healing in the midst of everyday life. We learned how dreams can preview possible illness, showing us what the body needs to stay well and how, when we are sick, dreams give us personal imagery for self-healing that the body can believe and respond to. We practiced reading the future from dreams and learning how, by reading dream information carefully and taking appropriate action, we can reshape the future for the better. We saw how dreams hold up a “magic mirror” to our everyday selves, helping us to see ourselves from a witness perspective and take a clearer look at our current actions and behaviors and see where they might lead. We learned how to read the synchronicities and symbolic popups of ordinary life as a Book of Signs.
Most important, we learned that by listening to our dreams and learning to tell our dreams well – and to listen to the dreams of others with respect – we reclaim the powers of the storyteller and begin to access the deeper stories of our lives. Humans need meaning, just as they need food and water, air and sex. Dreaming is the royal road to remembering – and drawing strength and courage from – your life’s purpose.
– Preface to Tik Trys Dalykai, the Lithuanian translation of The Three “Only” Things. I am returning to Lithuania in May to lead new adventures in shamanic dreaming and cultural soul recovery in Vilnius and in Kaunas.