Many of us yearn for contact with departed loved ones. We miss them; we ache for forgiveness or closure; we yearn for confirmation that there is life beyond physical death. This is one of the main reasons why people go to psychic readers.
Here’s an open secret: we don’t need a go-between to talk to the deceased. We can have direct communication with our departed, in timely and helpful ways, especially if we are willing to pay attention to our dreams and learn the arts of active and conscious dreaming.
Sometimes we sense the presence of a deceased person we have loved. Sometimes this is accompanied by physical signs, little anomalies that suggest that something is moving through the veil of our routine perception and our consensual reality. Full-fledged visitations often take place in the spacious reality of dreams and liminal states of consciousness, quite often in the hypnagogic zone. In whatever ways they can find to get through to us, our departed come to visit for all sorts of reasons. They come to offer us guidance or assurance of life beyond death; sometimes they need help from us because they are lost or confused, or need forgiveness and closure. Encounters with the deceased are generally our best way of gaining first-hand knowledge of what happens after physical death.
One of the cruelest things that mainstream Western culture has done is to suggest that communication with the departed is either impossible or unnatural. There is nothing spooky or “supernatural” involved, though these experiences take us into realms beyond physical reality.
The easiest way for the departed to communicate with the living is through dreams -though sometimes the departed, as well as the living, fail to realize this. In the movie The Sixth Sense a psychically gifted young boy can see and speak with the departed. He plays counselor to a man who has died, is initially confused about his situation, and then dismayed that he cannot talk to his wife. The boy instructs the dead man, “Speak to her in her dreams, only then will she hear you”.
In most dreams, the departed appear to be living, and very often the dreamer is unaware that the person he or she encounters is “dead” until after waking. The reason is that the departed are indeed alive, though no longer in the physical realm.
The deceased may appear as the dreamer remembers them from their last days of physical life, especially in the first dream encounters. But over time, it is quite common for the departed to alter their appearance, to shrug off signs of age and bodily ailments, and to present themselves as healthy and attractive. People who died in later years frequently reappear looking around 30 years old.
After my father’s death in 1987, he appeared repeatedly in my dreams to offer counsel to the family, bringing specific and practical information to which I did not have access in waking life. For example, he gave me the name of the realtor on the other side of the Pacific – someone otherwise unknown to me – who moved with great speed and humanity (once we contacted him because of the dream) to help my mother sell her home and resettle in a community where she spent some of the happiest years of her life. My father also made a happy dream visit to one of my daughters, who bitterly regretted never having known him in physical life; he showed himself as a handsome horseman, about 30 years old, and took her riding. Through many dream encounters with my father, I was vividly reminded that a departed loved one can truly play “family angel”.
After his death, my favorite professor from my undergraduate days in Australiabegan to appear in my dreams as a different kind of history teacher, instructing me that each of us belongs to a family of personalities in different times and dimensions whose dramas are being played out now.
From my early childhood, when I gained first-hand knowledge of the other side when I died and came back (in what are now described as near-death experiences) I have had had frequent contact with people who are living on the other side.I have worked with thousands of dreams and other experiences of encounters with the departed that have been shared with me by others. While the deceased person in some of these dreams may be an aspect of the dreamer’s own personality or genetic inheritance – or a mask for a messenger from the deeper Self – the great majority of these dreams appear to involve transpersonal encounters.
For anyone who is familiar with my shamanic approach to these things, it goes without saying that we do not have to go to sleep in order to dream and that we may step between the worlds, or receive wide-awake visitations from those who are at home on the other side, any time we are willing to shift our attention and inhabit the greater reality.
Chapter 7, “Dreaming with the Departed”, in my book Conscious Dreaming.
Part III, “A Little Manual for the Psychopomp” in Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death