Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Synchronicity magnets and Turkish Delight

posted by Robert Moss

Suleiman.jpgI had lunch in a pretty good area restaurant for the first time this week, and was surprised when the wait staff brought out birthday cakes and songs for three separate tables over a twenty-minute period. Three very grown-up birthday luncheons at the same restaurant in the middle of the week seemed unlikely. It made me ask: who do I know who was born today?

An online search turned up a number of writers and creators I admire who were born on July 28, ranging from Beatrix Potter and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Ibn ‘Arabi, the great medieval Sufi explorer of the Imaginal Realm whose work I discuss in my Secret History of Dreaming.

Then something clicked and I remembered that July 28 is also the birthday of a dear friend who has coordinated my Active Dreaming programs in the San Francisco Bay area for several years. The universe tipped me a wink in time for me to send her a birthday message just before the calendar page turned.

Sometimes a synchronicity signal feels even more personal and direct and feeds right into a current project. I find that when I am giving focused attention to a certain line of study, or a creative project, coincidence comes to support me, sometimes through the agency of that benign spirit Arthur Koestler called the Library Angel, a shelf elf who makes books and documents turn up (or disappear) in highly unlikely ways. This works through the internet too.

On an earlier night this month, I was trying to document a story about shared dreaming and war magic from the time of Suleiman the Magnificent. The story involves a “dream master” who supposedly had twelve people enter lucid dreaming together on a huge round bed to provide energy for an astral operation in which he entered the mind of a European prince and altered the fortunes of a battle.

I first came upon this intriguing account in The Understanding of Dreams, an old anthology of cross-cultural dream narratives,edited by Raymond de Becker, an elusive and somewhat murky character. He gave his source as an earlier book by one N. de Helva titled La Science impériale des songes, published in Paris in 1935. After much hunting, I was unable to locate a copy of this book anywhere, or even identify the publisher. When I compared the de Becker version with the historical records of the campaigns and household of Suleiman, I became more and more suspicious that someone had constructed a tall tale. But I realized that my investigation would not be complete until I had probed documentary sources available only in the Turkish language.

I said to myself in the wee hours of the morning, I really need help from a Turk.
The next instant, an email arrived in my inbox from a Turkish doctor in Istanbul, wanting to know about a retreat I am leading this fall. I seized the opportunity to ask her whether she could check out the story of the Ottoman “dream master” for me. Within hours, she started sending me documents and original translations from Turkish sources that not only confirmed my suspicions about de Becker’s cavalier use of materials but vastly expanded my understanding of the practice of dreaming and imagination in the Ottoman empire.

People ask why some of us seem to have more frequent and more exciting experiences of synchronicity (or meaningful coincidence) than others. I think one of the facts of life is that there are periods when any of us can become a synchronicity magnet, attracting events and encounters in rich profusion according to the energy and intentions that travel with us.

We observe synchronicity at work in the world more often when we are open to seeing it, and ready to play with the signs and symbolic pop-ups of everyday life.
But there is more to it than just our willingness to pay attention. Like calls to like, and the call is stronger when our passions or curiosity are most actively engaged in a life passage or a course of study or exploration. Yeats spoke, with poetic clarity, about the “mingling of minds” that can take place when we are giving our best to a certain line of study; he noted that we draw the support like minds, including intelligences from beyond our ken and beyond our world, who share our interests.

Oh yes, the Turkish doctor is flying to the United States for my fall retreat.

I recount the story of Suleiman and the Dream Master in The Three “Only” Things. Though I now believe the story is not historical, one may say of it, with the Italians, si non e vero, e ben trovato. (“If it’s not true, it’s well found”.)

Portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent in his later years by Nigari, in the Topkapi palace.

Scientists dream together on the Farallones

posted by Robert Moss

View_from_Mirounga_Bay Farallon islands.jpgIn the biologist’s dream, a sea bird has been banded too tight and is in trouble in the water, thrashing around to try to get rid of the constraining tag. She jumps into the ocean, braving hungry sharks to try to rescue the bird, and follows it all the way to the Golden Gate bridge, where things get confused as lots of people enter the scene.

In another scientist’s dream, something strange is going on in the vast colony of murrs on one of the islands. He goes to investigate and discovers that some people have infiltrated the colony, disguised as murrs, with the aim of stealing the birds’ eggs.

In yet another scientist’s dream, his team of observers are playing hockey against a team of cormorants, with drunken elephant seals for a rowdy audience.

These are samples from a group dream log maintained by members of the scientific observation team on the Farallon Islands over the past 20 years. The sampling was made public in a most interesting article by Carolyn Jones (“Farallones biologists record similar dreams”) in the San Francisco Chronicle today.

I hope the full log of these dream reports will be made public. They may constitute fascinating raw data on how members of a close-knit community can share a life in dreams as well as in waking reality. Common themes recur in these reports: the threat of human intrusion on the fragile environment of sea birds and aquatic mammals, danger in the water in shark season, close encounters between humans and other life forms. It would be interesting to know whether the dreams of two or more biologists on a given night match up even more closely, for example in scouting a particular development that could threaten a bird colony, or warn of danger at sea for a member of the scientific team.

On a given day, there are only six or seven biologists on the Faralllones, meeting for dinner each night at one of the two Victorian houses at the base of the pyramid hill, with its lighthouse, on the southeast island. Only 27 miles from San Francisco, they are nonetheless quite remote from the modern world, and much closer to the elemental powers of wind and water than most city-dwellers can imagine. Perhaps, under these circumstances, they have slipped into a kind of mutual dream “entrainment” that is in no way exotic to indigenous peoples, or to many of our ancestors, or to circles of active dreamers today.

Communal dreaming can be developed, consciously, as a means of scanning the environment that goes beyond scientific instruments, and can be life-supporting and even life-preserving. In The Secret History of Dreaming, I describe how the Andaman islanders have a practice of conscious mutual dreaming that enabled them to receive early warning of the Asian tsunami of December 2004 and get out of its way, abandoning their coastal fishing settlements for the uplands while tourists on nearby shores were swept away.

In my own Active Dreaming circles, we have kept group logs of some of our dream expeditions, and I quote from these in the epilogue to my Dreamways of the Iroquois. While the group dream log of the biologists in the Farallones is thus by no means unique, it is a wonderful initiative that may inspire many to think more about the possibilities for dreaming as a social, as well as an individual, experience.

Southeast Farallon island from Mirounga Bay. Farallon means “steep rock” or “cliff” in Spanish.

When it’s time to jump

posted by Robert Moss

Kairos.jpg
In Greek, there are two kinds of time. Chronos time is what we observe when we look at a clock and measure out our days. Kairos time doesn’t operate at a tick-tock pace. It is the “appointed time”, when powers and movements of a deeper world irrupt into our regular lives, when the Greater Trumps are in play.

It is a risky time, offering both opportunity and danger and the excitement of living on the edge.
Jean Houston calls it Jump Time. Lyanda Lynn Haupt says beautifully (in Crow Planet) “It is a time brimming with meaning, a time more potent than ‘normal’ time.”

I sense that Kairos is the spirit of our time. The celebrated Greek sculptor Lysippos carved his image, showing a winged figure with a razor and hair hanging down over his face. As explained by Poseidippos, the razor is “a sign to men that I am sharper than any sharp edge.” His hair hangs over his face because “he who meets me must take me by the forelock.” The back of his head is bald because “once I have sped by none can seize me from behind.”
It is Jump Time in our world, as well as in our lives.

To quote Lyanda Haupt again, we live in a time “when our collective actions over the next several years will decide whether earthly life will continue its descent into ecological ruin and death or flourish in beauty and diversity.”

Quotes from Lyanda Lynn Haupt are from her new book Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom for the Urban Wilderness (Little, Brown)

The dossier on Shared Dreaming

posted by Robert Moss
mosswood breakfast 3.JPGIn Manhattan this morning, in the breakfast room of my hotel prior to opening the second of my workshops at the NY Open Cenetr, I watched a long interview with a psychologist I know and like on the Today Show, inspired by the movie “Inception”. The interviewer wanted to know whether “shared dreaming” – a central premise of the film – is possible. All the psychologist could say is “the jury is still out on that” while briefly referring to accounts of married couples having overlapping (non-intentional) dreams.
 
For a fuller answer, take another look at the series of articels on Shared Dreaming, before and after “Inception”, that I have posted on this blog. These articles are filled with both practical techniques,  fresh and inspiring stories, guidance on how to dream with others for fun and helpful purposes (as opposed to Hollywood’s Dark Side version), and some necessary cautions abound maintaining good boundaries and preventing psychic intrusoion.
 
For convenience, and because it’s easy to lose track of what’s gone on at a blog after a week or two, here are the links.
 
Shared Dreaming in the sense of lucid or conscious dreaming between two or more partners is defined and discussed as a mode of social dreaming here: 
http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/2010/07/shared-dreaming-before-and-after-inception.html
 
This article explains how to set up shared dreaming with a consenting partner for adventure, romance, healing or guidance:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/2010/07/shared-dreaming-as-home-entertainment.html
 
This article describes an experience of conscious shared dreaming by a corporate executive and his wife in one of my Active Dreaming workshops that literally saved the man’s job (Note to Hollywood: shared dreaming and other techniques of Active Dreaming can be used to support good causes)
 
http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/2010/07/how-shared-dreaming-saved-georges-job.html
 
And here is my review of “Inception”
 
http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/2010/07/inception-better-in-conception-than-delivery.html

 

The photo shows some of my active dreamers sharing dreams at the berakfast table and selectinng which ones will be used as portals for conscious adventured in shared dreaming during the recent training I led at Mosswood Hollow in the foothills of the Cascades.

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