Opening to Dreams, Inviting the Soul

I lay in the darkness, combing through the images of a dream from which I have just awakened, the swirl of emotions inside as if I were walking through my daylight hours. Intense. Real. 

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Quiet arrival of dawn

Reluctantly, I rise from the warmth of our canopied bed, pull on some loose but cozy clothes, and make my way to the front room of the cottage where, alongside the front windows, I generally greet the day. Still wrapped in the dreamworld’s softly textured shawl, I strike a match and am met by its familiar sulfurous hiss, and then light the two beeswax tapers on the table, welcoming their warm circles of illumination against the shadows outside. In the kitchen I place the kettle atop a blue flame, then return to the table with pen and notebook in hand. 

As with the soul, the subconscious has its own consciousness, and it surfaces in dreams.

For years, a dream journal has rested next to my bed, replaced by a new one when its final page is scribbled upon. Often when I wake in the early morning, or perhaps in the middle of the night and writing by the light of a headlamp, I record in detail what I bring back from the Dreamtime. Sometime later, usually as I sit with a cup of tea, I review the dream: reading it aloud, narrating it slowly in first person and present tense—as if I am experiencing it now—and then again, gradually adding in images, feelings and associations as they appear.

Each time I tell it aloud, more of the dream emerges from my depths, along with some surprising connections and intriguing associations. Avoiding immediate interpretations (and steering well clear of any of those damned dream dictionaries), I let the images continue to work on me throughout the day; I summon them again to my mind’s eye whenever I can, permitting myself to float and drift with them. Rather than attempting to ‘figure it out’, I allow the dream to reveal its deeper layers to me through repeated waking encounters. It’s a slow simmer rather than a rapid boil.

I’ve not been regularly recording my Dreamtime wanderings in the journal lately but I do continue to work with them, especially when I feel a noticeable emotional charge, or when episodes and scenarios repeat themselves—clear signs that something important seeks my attention.

You’ll find me decidedly in the camp that values dreams as something far more than simply a neural mishmash of images, or the brain sorting through the day’s events and/or unfinished business. The Dreamtime is a primary aperture to the soul, beckoning to every one of us, even if we don’t consciously remember our rambles and adventures when we return each morning. Most ‘depth therapy’ approaches hold that every aspect of the dream—each character, object, and image—represents an element of ourselves (albeit cleverly disguised), even objects like an apple, a broken window, a skeleton, or a naked friend.

Dreams are powerful, cryptic invitations to slip into the currents of subconscious longing—often more an abduction than solicitation. The Aborigines, as well as other native First Peoples and wisdom traditions, know that beyond the nightly initiation of the soul, the Dreamtime offers a portal to other dimensions and parallel realities. In my own experience, I more than concur; their ancient knowing hums with truth, for at night I cross over into realms that I simply cannot access during the day, even in heightened states of awareness.

Everything is real.

I trust the Dreammaker and her messages to me, seated gracefully erect with her long-handled paintbrushes at a table, each smooth stroke bridging realities and destiny. And somehow I can discern when something is deeply relevant and worth heeding, as if it speaks louder somehow, triggering a knowing in the bodymind. Yes … trust this.

Over and over I say (and write) that each of us has something essential to offer the world, for such is the journey of the soul. Stepping even further into realms of mystery, what if the Earth and the Cosmos are dreaming us, nudging us towards our gifts and conspiring to bring humanity awake as part of the great evolutionary arc and spiral …?

Call it what you will—Source, One, Mystery, Great Spirit, Gaia—but the Other communicates in a myriad of ways: via nature and people; curious signs, situations, and intersections of fate; dreams, both nighttime and waking; eros and our longing; places on the Earth that allure and evoke a resonance within us; mysterious synchronicity; wild animals or images that repeatedly present themselves; our creativity and imagination; and the somatic impulses of longing that serve as the soul’s compass.

On the hamster wheel of modern life, the majority of people are not listening or paying attention. We either trudge along or race through a technologically tranced-out world, wondering what we’re missing, wired to our phones and ignoring the signs all around. Or we’ve discarded the soul’s longing as too farfetched and idealistic, risky, or impossible. The covers are pulled over our heads and we’re not remembering—or even considering—the dream.

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Northern lights

Here in the northern world, winter has descended, ushering us into a time of long, dark incubation and quiet magic. Now is the time to become the bear who enters his den to rest and dream … while being dreamed in return. Something grows within; it gestates and slowly takes form, a living thing. Hope. Visions. Creativity. And always the soul, summoning us to be in communion with something larger. 

Repeatedly I ask myself, to what am I listening and paying attention to in life … and what am I overlooking or not acknowledging that perhaps I ought to be? Where, and towards what, are my dreams and soul steering me, and am I veering away?

This morning in the January darkness and hush of the cottage, aided by the soft illumination of flickering candles, I sit and write in a ‘stream of conscious’ manner about the dream from which I just woke, allowing it to flow forward in a jumble of images, connections, emotions scrawled onto a page. Acknowledging and appreciating it as a valuable message, even if one that seems largely unintelligible on first consideration.  

The Larger Story reaches out to us in the Dreamtime, issuing an imaginative, enigmatic summons. As surely as we are dreaming, we are also dreamed—invited to step into growth and expansion rather than fear and constriction, to offer our unique gifts and talents to the more-than-human world.

When the Dreamtime retreats and we move blearily and busily into our daylight hours, we either carry the messages forward or lose and forget them in the mists. So, too, with the waking dream of our precious lives. Each day we have the opportunity to work towards embodying a life of authentic and soulful meaning, of creating and sharing beauty, or we may set the challenge aside amid the noise, distractions, and well-spun illusions of society.

Don’t go back to sleep. 

Dance. Sing. Write. Build. Create. Dream. Do. Risk the thing you’ve always longed to try or been terrified of. You have but one wild and precious life, so what will you do with it?

And I say that if you’re still looking for what is yours to bring, the Dreammaker will help you find the winding path.


 

Featured image: Dream of the Black Bird (Flickr)

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