Dream Gates

Dream Gates

William James and the psychic dreamer on the bridge

posted by Robert Moss

- Shaker bridge Enfield NHBertha Huse, a teenage mill girl, goes out for a walk in the cool morning mist of a New Hampshire fall. This is her habit, but her family worries when she does not return for breakfast and does not show up for work. A few hours later, a full-scale search is in progress. She likes to walk a Shaker bridge across Lake Mascoma, and it is feared she may have fallen into the water and drowned. The mill owner sends for a diver. There is no sign of Bertha above or below water.

In another New Hampshire village, five miles away, Nellie Titus has been following reports of the search and grieves for the family. A couple of nights later, she screams in her sleep and her husband shakes her awake. She rebukes him for waking her before she had seen where the missing girl was. She tells him firmly that he must never interrupt her sleep, whatever she seems to be doing.

A reputation for dreaming true runs in Nellie’s family. Her grandmother had the gift. It is not  clear whether Nellie is dreaming of the missing girl or dreaming as her. On another night, she makes it her focused intention to solve the mystery. She emerges from the new dream complaining that she is “oh so cold.” It seems she has joined the girl in the lake, in the place of her drowned body. Nellie is certain she knows exactly where the body is located.

She persuades her husband to get out the buggy and drive to the Shaker bridge. She makes him stop half-way across, gets out and to the edge. She points down at the dark water around the bridge supports. “She is there.”

They go to George Whitney, the manager of the mill where Bertha work, and insist he should get a diver to search again, under the bridge. Whitney is a decent master, but he is also a man of reason and science – these are the 1890s, after all! But the village has been stricken by Bertha’s disappearance, and he agrees to give it a try. The diver, a wiry, skeptical Irishman named Brian Sullivan, is reluctant to go down. But when Nellie gives an exact account of where the body is located, jammed in the structure of the bridge, with a leg protruding, it is agreed that one dive will be made, at the place she points out.

That is exactly where Bertha’s body is found. It was invisible to the diver, as he groped underwater. Almost certainly, he would have missed it, except that he had received exact directions from a psychic dreamer in contact with the spirit, or at least the situation, of the dead girl.

The case attracted tremendous public interest, and led William James, the towering pioneer of both psychology and psychic research in the United States, to lead a full investigation. James’ wrote a report, based on extensive interviews, in 1898 for the American Society of Psychical Research, titled “A Case of Clairvoyance”.* Sullivan, the diver, said that he was far less scared of a cadaver in the water than of the psychic “woman on the bridge” who knew just where the body was to be found. William James used his  the case of Nellie Titus in his campaign to link science to spirit, and build a body of evidence to crack open the closed minds of those he called “orthodoxers”. He declared that the case of the woman on the bridge was “a decidedly solid document in favor of the admission of a supernormal faculty of seership.”

 

Shaker bridge, Enfield N.H., 1908. Public domain.

 

What science tells us – and does not tell us – about dreams

posted by Robert Moss

- Dali sleepWhat does science have to tell us about dreaming?

One of the most important discoveries is that in modern urban society, few people sleep the way most humans did for all of our evolution before the introduction of artificial lighting. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans thought that what the pushers of sleep meds promise — an uninterrupted night of seven or eight hours’ sleep — was an unnatural and undesirable thing.

Experiments by a team led by Dr Thomas Wehr at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda have supplied compelling evidence of how our technology has ripped us from our natural cycle. Deprived of artificial lighting for several weeks, the typical subject evolved the following pattern: lying awake in bed for an hour or two, then four hours sleep, then 2-3 hours of “non-anxious wakefulness” followed by a second sleep before waking for the day’s activities.

One of the most exciting findings in Wehr’s study involved the endocrinology of the night watch. The interval between first sleep and second sleep is characterized by elevated levels of prolactin, a pituitary hormone best-known for helping hens to brood contentedly above their eggs for long periods. Wehr concluded that the night watch can produce benign states of altered consciousness not unlike meditation.

Wehr and his team put their subjects on the Paleolithic plan, without alternatives to electrical light such as candles or fire or oil lamps. The Paleolithic two-sleeps cycle wasn’t only a stone age phenomenon; it was characteristic of how people spent their nights until gas lighting and then electricity became widespread.

A seventeenth century Scottish legal deposition describes a weaver as “haveing gotten his first sleip and awaiking furth thairof.” Sleep historian Roger Ekirch says that “until the modern era, up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness midway through the night interrupted the rest of most Western Europeans” – and presumably most other people – so that “consolidated sleep, such as we today experience, is unnatural.”

This may help to explain the extent to which so many of us in our urbanized society are out of nature and out of touch with dreaming. “Segmented sleep” was the norm for our ancestors until quite recently, as it remains for some indigenous peoples today. Like Virgil and Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Tiv of central Nigeria speak of “first sleep” and “second sleep”. They wake at any time during the night and will talk to anyone in the hut who is also awake – often about their dreams.

Most interesting, the intermediate state the French called dorveille was widely regarded as an excellent time to birth new ideas. In 1769, the artful London tradesman Christopher Pinchbeck advertised a device called a “Nocturnal Remembrancer”, a parchment tablet inside a box with a slit to guide the writing hand in the dark to enable “philosophers, statesmen, poets, divines and every person of genius, business or reflection” to secure the “flights and thoughts which so frequently occur in the course of a meditating, wakeful night.”

It is possible that in our modern culture, through our suppression of ancient and natural circadian cycles, we have rendered ourselves (to quote Thomas Middleton) “disanulled of our first sleep, and cheated of our dreams and fantasies.”

While our modern sleep patterns may interfere with our awareness of night dreams and our ability to share them, new technologies for imaging brain activity tell us we are dreaming at night nonetheless — maybe dreaming all night long — and that some of the brain’s behaviors during sleep dreams are curiously similar to those associated with creative flow in other states of consciousness. The new science of dreaming suggests the following:

  • Almost everyone dreams, every night — even someone who has suffered massive brain injury.
  • Humans who conform to the modern sleep pattern average six dreams (or dream sequences) every night, whether or not they remember.
  • While many researchers continue to associate dreaming with the rapid-eye movement (REM) state of sleep discovered in a Chicago laboratory in 1953, there is growing scientific evidence that dreaming — or at least some form of “mentation” — is going on all through the night.
  • The behavior of the waking brain is quite similar to that of the dreaming brain during creative states, as when jazz performers enter a riff of improvisation.
  • Dreaming plays a critical role in growing learning skills and consolidating memory. There is hard evidence, for example, that dreaming about newly learned material enhances subsequent recall of that material.

While brain science tells us important things about the quality of our reception, it no more tells us how our dreams are made than pulling apart a television monitor can show you how and where a movie produced and how it travels from a network to your screen.  A true science of dreaming requires us to gather data outside the sleep labs, inside the dreamworld itself.

Adapted from The Secret History of Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

 

Graphic: Salvador Dali “Sleep”

Dreaming with the deceased

posted by Robert Moss

- Boat of Ra 1Many 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 departed. We can have direct communication with our departed, in timely and helpful ways, if we are willing to pay attention to our dreams. We meet our departed loved ones in our dreams. Sometimes 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.

Dreams of the departed help us gain 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. For once, Hollywood got this right. 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 departed 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, 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 real estate broker 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”.

I have been dreaming of departed people all my life, and have worked with thousands of dreams of the departed shared with me by others. While the departed 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.

There are three main reasons why dreams of the dead (and other forms of interaction with them) are entirely natural experiences:

1. The deceased are still with us because they have not yet moved on.
2. The deceased come visiting.
3. In dreams, we travel to the Other Side.

 

For much more on this subject, please consult my books Dreamgates and The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead.

photo (c) Robert Moss

The dream path to healing

posted by Robert Moss

- flower gate 2In our dreams, we have access to a personal doctor who makes house calls, provides an impeccable diagnosis of our physical, emotional and spiritual condition, and doesn’t charge a cent. If we are not in touch with our dreams, we are missing out on a tremendous resource for self-healing. Here’s why:

  • The body talks to us in dreams. It shows us what it needs to stay well and previews possible symptoms long before they manifest. If we recognize these messages from the body, and act on them, we may be able to avoid painful and costly medical intervention further down the trail.
  • Dreams are also experiences of the soul, and show us the spiritual sources of wellness and illness. The Iroquois say that dreams reveal the “secret wishes of the soul” – as opposed to the narrow agendas of the ego. If we honor the soul’s purpose, as revealed in dreams, we move towards health and balance. In traditional Iroquois practice, it is the duty of the community to listen to dreams in order to help the dreamer to identify and honor the wishes of the soul.
  • Our dreams provide us with fresh imagery and energy for self-healing.
  • By going back inside our dreams and consciously reshaping our inner dramas, we may be able to help shift the body in the direction of health.
  • Dreams invite us to reclaim vital soul energy lost through pain or grief or addiction. Absence of dream recall is sometimes a symptom of soul loss. Dreams in which we encounter a younger version of ourselves or return again and again to earlier scenes from our lives may be invitations to bring home parts of our energy and identity that went missing.
  • We can bring through dream guidance for others as well as ourselves.
  • Dreams give us a direct line to sacred sources of guidance and healing. In sacred sleep, the ancients not only sought diagnosis and healing images; they sought a direct encounter with the Divine Healer. We can ask for dream healing in the same way.

Here’s how to bring the energy and magic of dreams into daily life, in four easy steps:

  1. Make a date with your dreams

Before you go to sleep, write down an intention for your dreams. Make this a juicy intention – eg “I would like to be healed” or “I want to meet my soulmate” or simply “I want to have fun in my dreams and remember.” Have pen and paper ready so you can record something whenever you wake up. Write your dream in a journal later, give it a title and see if you can come up with a personal motto or “bumper sticker” distilling the message or quality of the dream.

  1. Share dreams with a partner

Regular dream sharing is wonderful fun, builds heart-centered relationships, brings us fresh perspectives on our issues and helps to nudge us towards taking appropriate action to honor our dreams. You’ll want to begin by creating a safe space where you and your partner will give each other undivided attention. Whoever is sharing a dream should tell it as simply and clearly as possible, giving the dream a title. The partner then asks a few simple questions. Start by asking how the dreamer felt when she first woke up – the first feelings are usually an excellent guide to the general character and urgency of the dream. Ask the dreamer whether she recognizes any of the elements in the dream in waking life, and whether any parts of the dream might possibly be played out in the future.

You are not going to tell each other what your dreams mean. You don’t want to steal the dreamer’s power, or to lose the energy of the dream in verbal analysis. You can offer helpful, non-intrusive feedback by saying to each other, “If it were my dream, I would think about such-and-such.” Finally, you’ll want to ask the dreamer, “What are you going to do to honor this dream?”

  1. Act on your dreams

Dreams require action! If we do not do something with our dreams in waking life, we miss out on the magic. Real magic consists of bringing something through from a deeper reality into our physical lives, which is why active dreaming is a way of natural magic – but only if we take the necessary action to bring the magic through. Keeping a dream journal and sharing dreams on a regular basis are important ways of honoring dreams and the powers that speak through dreams. Here are some more suggestions:

  • create from a dream: turn the dream into a story or poem. Draw from it, paint from it, turn it into a comic strip
  • take a physical action to celebrate an element in the dream, such as wearing the color that was featured in the dream, traveling to a place from the dream, making a phone call to an old friend who showed up in the dream
  • use an object or create a dream talisman to hold the energy of the dream: A stone or crystal may be a good place to hold the energy of a dream, and return to it.
  • use the dream as a travel advisory: If the dream appears to contain guidance on a future situation, carry it with you as a personal travel advisory. Summarize the dream information on a cue card or hold it in an image you can physically carry.
  • go back into the dream to clarify details, dialogue with a dream character, explore  the larger reality – and have marvelous fun! 
  1. Go back inside your dreams

Our dreams may offer us gifts of power and healing that we can only claim by going back into the dreamspace and moving beyond fear or irresolution. We may need to go back inside a dream to overcome nightmare terrors, to clarify whether the dream is about a literal or symbolic car crash, to talk to someone who appeared in a dream, to reclaim our own lost children, to use a personal image as a portal to multidimensional reality – or simply to have more fun!

Dream reentry is one of the core techniques that I teach and practice. If you would like to experiment, start by picking a dream that has some real energy for you. It doesn’t matter whether it is a dream from last night or from 20 years ago, as long as it has juice. Get yourself settled in a comfortable, relaxed position in a quiet space and minimize external light. Focus on a specific scene from your dream. Let it become vivid on your mental screen. See if you can let all your senses become engaged, so you can touch it, smell it, hear it, taste it. Ask yourself what you need to know, and what you intend to do inside the dream. And let yourself start flowing back into the dreamspace…

In my Active Dreaming workshops, we use shamanic drumming – a steady beat on a simple frame drum, typically in the range of four to seven beats per second –to help shift consciousness and facilitate travel into the dreamspace. The steady beat helps to override mental clutter and focus energy and intention on the journey. If you are doing dream reentry at home, you may wish to experiment with the drumming CD I have made specifically for dream travelers.

photo: Path of Flowers (c) Robert Moss

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