Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Tarot cards from the world

posted by Robert Moss

red fox.jpgA frisky breeze is tossing fall leaves into the air in front of my windshield when I turn on the car radio. The commentator on a classical music station is introducing a recording of Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio. He explains that “Kegelstatt” is the German word for a place where you play skittles, and that Mozart came up with this chamber music for viola, clarinet and piano while playing skittles with friends. 

I like the idea that composition can emerge from pure play, in this case in some 18th century version of a bowling alley.[1] This gave me my first message for the day: create through play.
I love the sense that the world is sometimes slipping us a Tarot card, from an infinite deck. On the literal roads of everyday life, I’m often struck by how the first thing that comes on the car radio, or the first vanity plate or bumper sticker I spot on a car, may contain a clue to the quality of the day. Yesterday the first vanity plate I noticed while walking my dogs read WAT U WISH. This got me thinking long and deep about the nature of wishcraft. What we encounter in life has a great deal to do with what we wish – or fail to wish – and whether our wishes come from the head or the heart, from the little self of the big Self.
A friend reported that the first bumper sticker she saw read “I Won the Time War”. That feels to me like an nod of approval from the universe, whether you read it in the mundane sense of managing to get things done in allotted tick-tock time, of in the larger sense of inhabiting a more spacious time in the multiverse (which my friend had been discussing at the moment she spotted the bumper sticker).
The behavior of birds and animals sometimes has the quality of a Greater Trump coming into play. Once when I was speaking about the character of the Trickster in mythology, a red fox appeared on a grassy knoll behind my head, visible to everyone in the group except me. Every time I turned my head, he would vanish, only to reappear when I wasn’t looking, until that session was done. Hard to miss the fact that the Trickster card was in play that day – as proved to be the case, richly, beyond that workshop session.
[1] Due diligence: the history professor in me always needs to check the provenance of stories like this. It turns out there is no evidence that Mozart came up with the Kegelstatt Trio while playing skittles; the title of the piece was added by publishers many years later, However, by his own account a week before writing this piece he was inspired to write 1212 duos for basset-horns (K. 487) while playing skittles; he noted on the first page of that autograph: “Vienna, 27 July 1786 while playing skittles” (“Wien, den 27ten Jullius 1786 untern Kegelscheiben”) So the message on the car radio – create through play – holds good.

Dreaming into Egyptian blue

posted by Robert Moss

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ankh9.jpg

After a murky sequence in my dreams last night, when I needed to avoid various dangers and distractions, I found myself lying at the edge of the ocean in marvelous gleaming morning sunlight. With my legs in the water, I enjoyed the waves lapping over my lower chest, and the warmth of the early sun, turning the whitecaps of the blue sea into gold.

As I surfaced from this dream, I thought, What a perfectly simple and lovely image to linger in, for relaxation, cleansing and healing. So I stayed in bed, putting myself back into that gentle feast of color and rhythm. As I drifted in my conscious dream, a blue form separated from the blues of sea and sky. It moved like the finest silk and seemed to extend from shoulder-height into the sky. It seemed to me that it was some kind of pathway. I let myself join this blue light, and soon found myself enjoying wonderful kinesthetic sensations of flight. Soon I was winging over greenwoods, swooping low to enjoy the sights and smells close up. I was drawn to a town I did not recognize, where no one noticed me until a swarthy old man stared at me, his eyes fierce as a hawk. He beckoned me to a doorway where a beautiful younger woman – his daughter? – was waiting. Over the doorway hovered the energy form of an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life. A new adventure was beckoning….

This is a simple example of how Active Dreaming works in everyday practice. You pick an image from a dream you would like to explore, or simply stay with, and allow a new cycle of conscious dreaming to unfold. The blue of the energy path that appeared spontaneously and led me to the Egyptian door was very like the distinctive “Egyptian blue” – whose blue derived from copper oxides like malachite – that you see on scarabs, and hippo sculptures, and fertility statues, and on the painted skins of gods and New Dynasty pharaohs, and on the djed pillar of Osiris. And on ankhs. I have seen ankhs that were used as water vessels painted this color. The idea was as you drank from them – whether plain water or a potion infused with crushed petals of the blue lotus, an oneirogen – you would take vital life force into your body.

In their dry country, the Egyptians dreamed the whole spectrum of blues. They prized lapis lazuli and azurite. They sought the origin of human life and purpose in a blue star from which gods descended (in some versions of the cosmogony) to Earth via the the Moon. In the Egyptian mind, blue (irtiu, khesbodj)
is the color of heaven, of the primeval flood, life, rebirth, fertility and of the inundation that renews the land. A good color to dream on.

Ancient ankh amulet made of lapis lazuli via touregypt

Martyrdom of a woman philosopher

posted by Robert Moss

Agora Spanish Poster.jpgWhen I posted my recent essay on Synesius – the “bishop of dreams” and student of Hypatia -on this blog, I had no idea that writer-director Alejandro Amenábar had made a movie in Spain (“Agora”) with Rachel Weisz as Hypatia and Rupert Evans as her admiring student Synesius. Still less that it opened at the end of last week at a local arts cinema. That kind of nod from the universe can’t be ignored. I went to see the film today and here are some brief notes.

I enjoyed this film after I adjusted to the fact that Synesius is used as a fictional character. The historical Synesius was not a Christian in 391; he was not with Hypatia in the period before her murder; he was bishop of Ptolemais, not Cyrene (though that was his home city); and his attitudes to the new religion were not those of a convert but of a thoughtful and pragmatic man who saw the need to make an accommodation between the old and the new. However, for scripting purposes the continuity of the Synesius character, as one of Hypatia’s trio of student admirers who remain central to her drama, works well.
Clearly the writer-director wants us to see the resemblance between the Christian militants of this time and the Islamist fundamentalists of today, and he succeeds. Walk into a middle scene from this movie without any knowledge of context, and you might think you are looking at Taliban fanatics at play among the ruins of an ancient site – except that they are wearing crosses. Their contempt for women, and the rights of women, is identical.
The horrific martyrdom of a great woman philosopher and scientist at the hands of “Christian” thugs is in no way hyped in the movie; in the only two surviving accounts, Hypatia was actually skinned alive, an option considered by the mob leaders in the movie but not carried out by them. 
The disparity of class and education between the Christians and the pagan establishment at this time is delineated very well, and we have no doubt that we are inside the agora of ancient Alexandria – and inside the Serapeum – as the action swirls between these locales.
The cast is excellent. Rachel Weisz is wonderful, pursuing her inquiries into the “crazy” theory that the Earth revolves around the sun in the midst of all the violence and religious hatred. The cinematography is sometimes breathtaking, especially when we are treated to aerial footage in which the book-burning Christian thugs are reduced to scuttling black beetles. 
If you have ever heard Gibbon’s notorious pronouncement that the fall of Rome marked “the triumph of barbarism and of Christianity” (but have never read his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) this film will give you a few ideas about what he had in mind. The cameras take us there: to 391, when the remains of the great Library of Alexandria were all but destroyed, and to 415, when the greatest philosopher of her age was butchered. At the same time, the film speaks to us now, in our confused and divided world, about the cost of substituting religious authority and claims of exclusive revelation for rational inquiry and tolerance for the many paths to the sacred. This is an important movie with a timely agenda.

Waking up to a different dream self

posted by Robert Moss

quantum_leap-300x222.jpgIt happened again last night. I was rushing around between cities and airports in Europe, and realized I did not have directions for a house where I had an appointment. I decided to call the people I was visiting, and found that the cell phone in my pocket was not my regular one. It had very different features, and I could not initially figure out how to make the call. When I finally reached my destination, I glanced in a mirror and saw a different face looking back of me – that of a handsome young man in his twenties with lustrous curling black hair.

The face in the mirror woke me up to the fact that I was dreaming and not in Kansas any more. I stayed lucid for a while inside the dream scene, then got out of bed to make sure I did not lose a mass of details, place names and personal names that are only dimly familiar to me in waking life, when familiar at all. I’ll be doing some detective work with these clues in the effort to understand why I assumed this young man’s identity and body form in the dream.
For many dreamers, it’s a classic moment of dawning lucidity and self-awareness: to look in a mirror and see a different self. I’ve been doing this, off and on, for as long as I can remember. Glancing through old journals just now, I notice a series of dreams I recorded over a period of nine months some twenty years ago in which I seemed to be in the body of a vigorous black man with dreadlocks. Again, I first noticed that I was in a different dream body when I glanced in a mirror.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the life situations and apparently the bodies of people living in other times, past or future. We may have entered the experience of our ancestors, or may be inside a “past” life or “future” life. 

I once dreamed I was in a Hall of Mirrors where I was able to look at the features of fourteen different selves, living in different times. These fourteen selves were revealed in mirrors of different types, arranged around a a great stone bowl containing water whose mirror-bright surface, illuminated by light from above, showed me a central identity.

I’ve had “body-hopping” dreams in which I’ve found myself briefly jumping from one personality to another. I remember a very vivid and sensory night of lucid dreaming in which I slipped into the body of a black basketball player (fun but edgy), then into that of a prosperous Midwest golfer (boring!) and at last into that of an eccentric independent scholar who appeared to be an older version of my present self (delightful, but I felt the pain or his aging joints).
Dreams in which we enter the situation of someone very different can expand our humanity. 
Body-hopping is a common feature of psychic dreaming. The most gifted psychic dreamer routinely finds herself inside heads, and looking through the eyes, of a wide variety of characters, some of whom turn out to be principals in news stories and crime dramas that become public knowledge only after her dreams.
Slipping into another person’s perspective in this way is very common among siblings and other relatives in close-knit families. There’s a need here to pause and ask both  (1) what part of me is like my sister/daughter/nephew and (2) have I entered the situation of that relative so I’m seeing something – maybe of the future – that they may need to know? Let’s never forget that because dreams are multi-layered and because our dream memories reflect experience in realities that have different physics from our everyday world, several orders of explanation may be relevant and are not mutually exclusive.
Sometimes there is the sense, as in the old TV series “Quantum Leap,” that we have been catapulted into the life of another person at a moment of crisis, on assignment to help that individual make the right choice and “put right what once went wrong” (in the words of the scriptwriters). I once dreamed that in order to save a young woman from being raped, I needed to enter the mind of a strong man in her town who could put her would-be attacker to flight.
Experiences of this kind may lead us to speculate about our relations with counterparts in different places and times within our soul families. Joan Grant and others who knew what they were talking about have suggested that some of us may have several soul siblings living in our current world. These are aspects of a shared identity that fragmented somewhere in our previous history, so that we are reborn not just as one person, but as several. I’m an agnostic on this theory, keen to study as much data as possible from the only source that counts: first-hand experience.
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