Dream Gates

Dream Gates

The dog park oracle

posted by Robert Moss

Doggie_games.jpg“This isn’t a game.” I turn from my puppy, who is straining his leash to dark at squirrels and falling leaves, to see the speaker. He’s on a rise in the park, above the service road. His words are the first human speech I’ve heard since I left my house this morning, so they could qualify as a kledon, an oracle prized by the ancient Greeks that delivers its message through a chance phrase coming out of silence or white noise. Yesterday, I found the oracle at work at a breakfast buffet. Today, perhaps, at the dog park.

What does it mean, to say that something isn’t a game? Generally, when we say that, we mean that we regard an issue as very serious. Yet ironically, game players get very serious about the games they play, whether the game is Second Life or golf or serial dating or rehearsing in a bunker for World War III. Games typically involve an edge of competition. As Stephen Nachmanovitch argues elegantly in his book Free Play, approaching something as a rule-bound contest in which there are winners and losers can be antithetical to the spirit of playing for the sake of play that is both the magic of childhood and the condition for the creative act.
I drift closer to the dog park speaker to see if I can glean more about what he means. “You gotta do what you gotta do,” he is now insisting. “See, when I was very young I learned to see myself as a theme or an animal, instead of the slave of some ideology or concept. I need water and food. I guess I don’t need the vodka.”
I notice the burr in his voice and the stubble on his chin, and decide that this is hangover philosophy and I probably don’t need to linger for any more, though I recall that a bishop of Rome (Ambrose) told an Emperor (Theodosius) that God may speak even through drunkards, especially in dreams.
I walk on with my dogs, beside the lake. The puppy, who is not yet five months old, is bounding ahead. The old guy, who is nearly fourteen and arthritic, is dragging behind, taking four times longer to sniff everything than he used to need, because his sense of smell is failing. “A dawdler and a frisky one,” comments a smiling fellow out for his morning constitutional. Looking at the moving cameo we make through his eyes, I am reminded of Plato’s metaphor of the charioteer of the soul, who is forever trying to manage two horses, one of which seeks the heights, while the other wants to plunge down into lower places. I think, too, of how the dawdler and the frisky guy in me contend when it comes to getting just about anything done. 
I tug on the leashes to repoint my dogs towards the humped footbridge over the lake. There is a MISSING sign glued to a post. Dante is missing. There’s a picture of a cute husky puppy lying on his side, his tongue lolling. My mind goes to the original Dante, who went missing for a long time, after he found himself lost in a dark wood in mid-life, and then had to traverse all the cycles of hell before he earned the right to meet his radiant guide inside the mountain of Purgatory. In the Purgatorio, when Dante meets the beloved of his soul in the guise of the beautiful woman he loved and lost – but with the savage splendor of the griffin shining in her eyes – she rebukes him for having gone missing for so many years before he was definitively lost. “For so many years I sought you in dreams,” she tells him, “and you would not listen or remember.”
We cross the bridge. There are ducks on the water, and a lone man fishing. As we turn homeward, the sun is in my eyes. It is white-gold in a heron-blue sky. Below the sun, stratus clouds lie across the rim of the world like immense white quills. Time to write.
Doggie games photo by Elsie esq via flickr


The Dream Show LIVE on Tuesday October 12

posted by Robert Moss

microphone (1).jpgCalling all dreamers: My next “Way of the Dreamer” radio show on will be LIVE with call-ins next TUESDAY, October 12th. Please call in with dreams and questions to share. We’ll play the Lightning Dreamwork game and explore the many ways in which we can use the arts of Active Dreaming to live more consciously and creatively. 

The show airs from 9-10 AM Pacific time, which is 12 noon-1 PM Eastern, on Tuesday, October 12th.
The toll-free number for callers is (800) 555-5453. If you can’t get through right away, try, try again. 
If you are calling from outside North America (or need a backup number because the 800 line is busy) alternative numbers are (310) 371-5459 and (310) 371-5444.
You can access the archive and listen to previous shows at the archive.


The breakfast buffet oracle

posted by Robert Moss

hermes-stamp.jpg“Sometimes you find the universe has a different plan.” These words give me pause, as I transfer pieces of cut melon to my plate at the breakfast buffet at the Omega Institute, where I am leading a workshop this weekend. The hood over the long buffet table makes it hard to see the speaker’s face. I drop down a little, trying not to be obvious, and see a young woman wearing a rainbow-striped watch cap. I wonder if she’ll say more to her companion. I am not disappointed.

She goes on, ?”The things that change my life come in at me from the side, when I think I’m doing something else.” 

These are the first words of human speech I have heard today, and they seem to me to contain an amazing lesson, one I’ll want to remember and carry with me. I recall that at the close of my opening workshop session, the previous night, I gave my group the assignment of tagging the first unusual or striking thing that caught their attention – between then and the session I’ll open this morning – as a possible message from the universe.

The ancient history professor who still lives in me remembers that the Greeks thought that one of the most reliable oracles was a chance phrase, coming out of silence or a field of undifferentiated babble, or overheard in a stranger’s conversation. They called this a kledon, which means a “report” or a “rumor.” 

Hermes, the messenger of the gods, was always suspected of being involved in incidents of this kind. When silence falls amidst a company, the first words to be spoken were examined as a possible hermeion – an act of Hermes, the god who operates through synchronicity. At the marketplace oracle at Pharai, after a seeker whispered a question to a statue of the god, he was instructed to walk back to the gate of the walled market with his hands over his ears, and then – when he freed his hearing – to accept the firsts sounds that came to him as a direct message from the god.

Glad to get a pretty rich message about life at the breakfast buffet, along with some really good organic peanut butter.


Dreaming like an Egyptian

posted by Robert Moss


The ancient Egyptians understood that in dreams, our eyes are opened. Their word for dream, rswt, is etymologically connected to the root meaning “to be awake”. It was written with a symbol representing an open eye.

The Egyptians believed that the gods speak to us in dreams. As the Bible story of Joseph and Pharaoh reminds us, they paid close attention to dream messages about the possible future. They practiced dream incubation for guidance and healing at temples and sacred sites. They understood that by recalling and working with dreams, we develop the art of memory, tapping into knowledge that belonged to us before we entered this life journey, and awakening to our connection with other life experiences.


The Egyptians also developed an advanced practice of conscious dream travel. Trained dreamers operated as seers, remote viewers and telepaths, advising on affairs of state and military strategy and providing a mental communications network between far-flung temples and administrative centers. They practiced shapeshifting, crossing time and space in the dreambodies of birds and animals.

Through conscious dream travel, ancient Egypt’s “frequent flyers” explored the roads of the afterlife and the multidimensional universe. It was understood that true initiation and transformation takes place in a deeper reality accessible through the dream journey beyond the body. A rightful king must be able to travel between the worlds.


In early times, in the heb sed festival, conducted in pharaoh’s thirtieth year, the king was required to journey beyond the body, and beyond death, to prove his worthiness to continue on the throne. Led by Anubis, pharaoh descended to the Underworld. He was directed to enter death, “touch the four sides of the land”, become Osiris, and return in new garments – the robe and the spiritual body of transformation.

Jeremy Naydler’s Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts makes a convincing case that the palace tombs and pyramid texts of Egypt are about much, much more than funerary arrangements; that the Egyptians traveled beyond the gates of death while very much alive, not only to bring back first-hand knowledge of the afterlife, but to enter into sacred union with the gods and enthrone their power in the body, and so acquire the spiritual and sexual potency to marry the worlds.


The dream guides of ancient Egypt knew that the dream journey may take the traveler to the stars – specifically to Sothis or Sirius, the “moist land” believed by Egyptian initiates to be the source of higher consciousness, the destination of advanced souls after death, and the home of higher beings who take a close interest in Earth matters.

When we look for ancient sources on all of this, we are challenged to decode fragmentary texts, some collated over many centuries by pious scribes who jumbled together material from different traditions and rival pantheons.  Wallis Budge complained (in Osiris) that “the Egyptian appears never to have relinquished any belief which he once had”. We won’t find what we need on the practice of ancient Egyptian dreaming in the fragmentary “dream books” that survive, any more than we’ll grasp what dreaming can be from the kind of dream dictionary you can buy in drugstores today.


We gaze in wonder at the Egyptian picture-books displaying the soul’s journeys and ordeals after death – and the many different aspects of soul energy that survive death – and quickly realize that to understand the source of such visions, and the accuracy of such maps, we must go into a deeper space. We must go to the Magic Library.

In Hellenistic times – the age of Cleopatra – dream schools flourished in the temples of Serapis, a god who melds the qualities of Osiris and Apis, the divine bull. From the 2nd century BCE we have papyri recording the dream diaries of Ptolemaios, who lived for many years in katoche, or sacred retreat, in the temple of Serapis at Memphis. A short biography of the dreamer has been published by the French scholar Michel Chauveau in his book Egypt in the Age of Cleopatra. Ptolemaios was the son of Macedonian colonists, but like ancient Egyptians he was called to the temple by a dream in which the god appeared to him. He seems to have lived for years as a full-time dreamer, whose dreams guided him not only in his spiritual practice but in handling family and business matters beyond the temple walls.


In this later period, the Egyptian priests who specialized in dreaming were called the Learned Ones of the Magic Library. What marvelous promise is in that phrase! What profound recognition of the magic and wisdom that is available to us through dreaming!


Horemheb in the company of the gods – image via flickr


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