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Dream Gates

Dream Gates

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.

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Dreaming like an Egyptian

posted by Robert Moss

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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What’s in your dream mirror?

posted by Robert Moss

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Have you ever dreamed that you looked at yourself in a mirror and noticed you were quite different from the way you think of yourself in waking life? 

While we look in a mirror in some of our dreams, the dream is also looking at us. The whole of a dream may function as a mirror in a larger sense, showing us sides of ourselves and our behavior that we may prefer not to see or that we have simply shut out, in ordinary reality.

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A great game to play with many dreams is to compare the behavior of our dream self with our waking self. If you are wimping out of situations in your dreams, passively following courses others set for you, or tending to remain an observer when action might be desirable, then you’ll want to ask yourself where, in your waking life, you have a tendency to behave that way. If you dream that you are forever catching a bus (a collective vehicle that runs according to other people’s schedules and makes lots of stops that have no interest for you), you may want to ask yourself how often in waking life you submit to agendas that are not of your making and which don’t allow you to give your best.

Alternatively, if you find you have strength and magical powers in your dreams that you generally do not exhibit in waking life, you’ll want to try to reach into the dreamspace and bring those powers through, to work for you in your physical life.

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If what we see in the mirror of dreams sometimes seems like a carnival freak show or the work of a Hollywood special-effects crew, it’s because we’ve failed to look at something we need to see. The drama and the magnification in our dreams ensure that we pay closer attention.

Magnifying-mirror dreams often show us strong emotions moving with the power of natural forces — rage or grief may erupt like a volcano, tear up the neighborhood like a twister, or drown the whole scene like a tsunami. Working with such dreams, we want to remember that they may relate both to a literal phenomenon and to an emotional or symbolic condition. Indeed, sometimes a dream previews a literal event that will also have great symbolic resonance for the dreamer. We need to take dreams more literally and the events of waking life more symbolically.

Adapted from The Three Only Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination (New World Library) by Robert Moss. 

18th century Miroir de toilette made for the Princesse de Deux-Ponts

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When the daimon loves us best

posted by Robert Moss
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When we give the best of ourselves to a creative project – accepting the risks that creativity involves – we draw the interest and engagement of supporting intelligences from beyond our ordinary field of connection. There is a passage in Yeats’s essay Per Amica Silentia Lunae (“The Friendly Silence of the Moon” , included in his book Mythologies) that may explain how we can develop a co-creative relationship with minds operating in other times or other dimensions. When Yeats refers (in the first line below) to “fellow-scholars” he is not thinking about people of his own time, but minds that are working and reaching out from beyond time and space:
 
 I had fellow-scholars, and now it was I and now they who made some discovery. Before the mind’s eye, whether in sleep or waking, came images that one was to discover presently in some book one had never read, and after looking in vain for explanation to the current theory of forgotten personal memory, I came to believe in a Great Memory passing on from generation to generation. But that was not enough, for these images showed intention and choice. They had a relation to what one knew and yet were an extension of one’s knowledge. If no mind was there, why should I suddenly come upon salt and antimony, upon the liquefaction of gold, as they were understood by the alchemists, or upon some detail of cabbalistic symbolism verified at last by a learned scholar from his never-published manuscripts, and who can have put it together so ingeniously?…The thought was again and again before me that this study had created a contact or mingling with minds who had followed a like study in some other age, and that these minds still saw and thought and chose.
 
When I was writing my Dreamer’s Book of the Dead I often felt the intimate presence of a personality that seemed to be connected with Yeats, and a play of energy and circumstance that was best explained by the notion of a mingling of minds of the kind he described. I also felt – then and in the midst of similarly consuming creative projects – the force of that goading and guiding energetic self that Yeats called the daimon, usually with a capital D.
When the daimon is engaged, I can work round the clock without fatigue, to find after an all-nighter that there is a great ship’s engine thrumming away, somewhere deep in my being, driving the vessel across wide waters. There is the sense of a larger entity that does not permit the ordinary self to slumber when great things are afoot.
 
Yeats approached the idea of the daimon again and again in his work, and it means different things in different writings. At one point, he used the word “daimon” to describe something like Jung’s shadow, as a composite of characteristics most antithetical to the personality, as an energy drawn to its opposite. Sometimes he used the term to mean “spirit” or “spirit of the dead” as the ancients did, and practiced techniques – inside the Golden Dawn and improvised in his own experiments – for evoking and contacting these spirits. He also seized on the idea (from Heraclitus) that the daimon is the bearer of a personal destiny, with what man is often at odds and yet at the same time at odds.
 
The Greeks, a certain scholar has told me, considered that myths are the activities of the Daimons, and that the Daimons shape our characters and our lives. I have often had the fancy that there is some one myth for every man, which, if we but knew it, would make us understand all he did and thought 
 
The Yeatsian daimon I understand best is the one he evokes in these words from Per Amica Silentia Lunae:
 
When I think of life as a struggle with the Daimon who would ever set us to the hardest work among those not impossible, I understand why there is a deep enmity between a man and his destiny, and why a man loves nothing but his destiny.
 
When we are passionately engaged in a creative venture – love, art or something else that is really worthwhile – we draw support from other minds and other beings, seen and unseen. – According to the direction of our will and desire, and the depth of our work, those minds may include masters from other times and other beings.
 
We draw greater support the greater the challenges involved in our venture. Great spirits love great challenges. Whether we are aware of it or not, all our life choices are witnessed by the larger self. The daimon lends or withholds its immense energy from our lives according to whether we choose the big agenda or the little one. The daimon is bored by our everyday vacillations and compromises and detests us when we choose against the grand passion and the Life Work, the soul’s purpose. – The daimon loves us best when we choose to attempt “the hardest thing among those not impossible.”
Adapted from The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead by Robert Moss (Destiny Books)
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