“Get Lost!”… Guest Blog with Susanne van Doorn, Midlife Dreams Part 3


Susanne van Doorn is a Dutch psychologist and blogger on http://mindfunda.com .  A blog about psychology, spirituality and mythology.  Aimed to make your life easier.


Each month, Mindfunda interviews authors of groundbreaking books at its YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5_vx1eoXghIzKjIlc_-llA so be sure to sign up.
Member of the International Association of the Study of Dreams, presenter at international conferences about dreams and spirituality, she is author of A dreamers guide through the land of the deceased, a book based on her own research that distinguishes different types of dreams one can have while mourning. She translated A theory of dreams from Vasily Kasatkin, the world’ s only longitudinal research into the effects of dreams and health from Russian into English.



“Let’s get lost together. I know where to go”… by Susanne van Doorn

“We must go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us

– Joseph Campbell

My father was struggling for life. His temperature was so high that the juices of life dried up, except for that little tear that rolled down his cheek when he took his last breath.
My mother had not lived alone since she married my father 58 years earlier. One day she told me this dream: “I am walking with your father in the forest. It is just like the old days: we where talking, laughing and I feel so happy. But all of a sudden he chooses a different path, one that is closed off by a gate. I am left behind, feeling lost and incredibly angry. I start yelling, screaming and crying. I am so mad that he just leaves me behind. It drives me crazy that I am not able to go behind this fence in the forest. A fence that was not there before… A woman comes walking towards me, and as she approaches I see that it is his mother. She puts her arms around me and comforts me. Then I wake up…”

 Getting lost is an important part of life. Waking or dreaming, I am used to getting lost. And I am not the only one. Getting lost is one of the most common dream themes. And almost all of us know its meaning: we have to change something. But always when a meaning of a dream is that obvious I get into my Peggy Lee “Is that all there is? Then let’s keep dancing” mood. I have too much respect for dreams. I do not expect them to tell me something obvious. I want them to tell me something else, to inspire me to creativity, or at least have me look at a situation from a different perspective.

When I have one of those “Is that all there is? Then let’s keep dancingdreams I turn to mythology. It was Joseph Campbell who said: “Not all who hesitate are lost. The psyche has many secrets in reserve. And these are not disclosed unless required.”

So join me to find the the magic of getting lost. I know where to go.
Getting lost is a vital part in the hero’s journey. It is the onset of a transformation of ordinary people into heros and heroines. Remember how Odysseus spent years trying to find his way home?

King Odysseus gets his call to fight for the battle at Troy. He refuses the call. He wants to be with his wife Penelope and his newborn son Telemachus. He uses a trick to try to escape his destiny, because an oracle once told him if he went into battle, he would be away for twenty years and return a beggar.

King Odysseus became a professional in getting lost. He roamed the world for twenty years. So let’s consider him our ‘getting lost’ expert. Let’s look at my mother’s dream and see where she gets the call and refuses it, like Odysseus did.

I am walking with your father in the forest. It is just like the old days: we where talking, laughing and I feel so happy. But all of a sudden he chooses a different path, one that is closed off by a gate. I am left behind, feeling lost and incredibly angry”.

 Often we are the heroes of our own life without knowing it. The call to adventure can be something you crave for, being stuck in a dead end career, or in a relationship that has lost its glow. My mother gets this call to adventure to take a different path. And she refuses.

Odysseus is one of the few heros that is allowed to go behind the fence. Behind the gates of immortality. My mother is not allowed to do that. She is not allowed to pass through the gate to follow my father on the path he has taken. She knows it. She feels it. This is also a common theme in dreams. In “A dreamers guide through the land of the deceased” a dreamer shares her dream about guiding her grandfather through several windows:

I reach to my grandfather who lies on a bed and all of sudden a big window appears. Behind it are several other windows, all in a straight line. I know my grandfather is supposed to climb through these windows. And even though my grandfather is still afraid, he holds my hand and climbs with me through the first window. We climb several more windows and my grandfather becomes more confident. Then we approach the window that I am not allowed to pass. This feeling that I am not allowed is very, very strong. I tell my grandfather he has to go on his journey alone. He gives me a little pinch in the hand and climbs through. At that moment I wake up
A Dreamers guide through the Land of the deceased p. 26).

Odysseus, being the clever con-artist he is, manages to travel into the realm of death using the blood of a sacrificed animal to feed the death. He needs to be in the realm of death to find his way back home. He has to meet Tiresias, the blind seer. Tiresias was famous for his accurate foresight even though, or maybe because he was blind. He is the only one who can give Odysseus directions home.

If we offer our life energy to a worthy cause like finding our way home we are going to get help. Help from the blind seer, our intuition that often acts like Tiresias. The heart knows. A dream usually tells about that knowledge.

Remember how in my mother’s dream, help came in the form of my father’s mother? A woman comes walking towards me, and as she approaches I see that it is his mother. She puts her arms around me and comforts me. Then I wake up…”

This is her travel into the underworld. Her helper, my fathers’ mother Sophia has been gone for many years. Before he died, my father was convinced Sophia was visiting him. And now she came back to comfort my mother. To guide her on a new path. Like a hero, my mother was reluctant to answer the call to adventure. But she managed to build a new live. She started traveling again, she started to take long walks again, she became more extraverted. She made friends with neighbors and especially with the children next door. They loved to visit her, make her drawings and play while she was watching them.

Getting lost is a common dream theme. It does not mean that your current life is wrong. Or that you have been too ignorant or lazy to make a change. It is a gentle invitation to become the hero in the story of your own life. Let’s go and get lost together. Our dreams will tell us where to go.


In our next advent – Travis will share some ideas and thoughts around being “lost”… “Stay tuned” 😉

Dreaming into the New Year, Janus, the Snakes of Yesteryear and the Horses to Come

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dreamers over time have attributed many characteristics to the dreams that inform us as we sleep, vision and imagine what is possible for our lives and our world. There are as many kinds of dreams as we can “dream up” and more. We speak of “Big Dreams”, “Little Dreams”, “Dreams of a Lifetime”, and “Dreams of Hope”. All sorts of people and cultures over time have recognized that there appears to be an actual yet mysterious source that is responsible for supporting, fashioning and delivering our dreams. Across the planet, diverse folks have identified a wise intelligence that is much more encompassing than we humans mostly experience our selves and our lives to be. Call it the Divine, the Dreaming, God, Goddess, Morpheus, Source, the Friend or by any name that works for you. Despite what we cal it, it is what it is and its diversity seems quite clear.

Aboriginal and ancient cultures, and even some contemporary folk of a certain bent, have also spoken of the dreams of the earth, the ancestors, the animals and the weather spirits. In my own experience, Nature itself does appear to dream and embody spiritual-soul energies, which also possess, maintain and display forms of consciousness.

Amid the shortened days and the lengthened nights, as the Old Year ends, and a New Year begins, we might turn to asking the question of what “The Dream of the New Year” will be for us as individuals, as well as for the collective cultures we find ourselves crafting a life around and within.  As we pause to reflect and look back, what has “The Dream of the Old Year” presented and how have we engaged it, shaped it and informed it through the waking hopes and visions we’ve held, in addition to the sleep dreams we may have paid close attention to as the year unfolded. How has this recent time also shaped us? What dreams have formed the vital hopes and desires that feed the fire in the furnaces of our souls? How close are we to the depth of longing to be found in the visions we hold for our lives? In the many pools of inner reflection in which it is possible to gaze, what are the images of being that come floating back that give us a true sense of how loyal we’ve been to forming the connections between what is known and what has been discovered in our unique quests for meaning, fulfillment and wholeness? And what might this future time be asking of us as we now start to look ahead to the next unknown horizon?

One of the favorable qualities of sleep dreams is the way they surprise us with their unexpected messages and gifts of experience. Perhaps this New Year will also surprise us with unexpected visitations of unanticipated twists and turns of experience, challenge, renewed vision and grace.

Mythically and symbolically, it can be useful to consult astrology to seek to honor the dream of the seasons as they shift. In Chinese Astrology, we are now passing from a year of the Snake into a year of the Horse.

From this view, we are now witnessing the tail end of the serpent energy as it makes its last pass through our lives on its cyclical passage through cosmic and temporal time. Snake is an archetypal energy of a very ancient shade, which embodies mystery as well as instinctual qualities that can be understood to describe layers of raw physical being. Spiritual aspects of snake energy also abound. Serpent is a lowly creature, close to the earth, cold, calculated, shrewd and focused on predatory survival issues. As a reptilian character, snake evokes a reality of physical existence based on a precision of predation and instinct. Snake’s is an energy that travels into the earth to create its home out of fellow creatures burrows. In alchemy and a multitude of mythological traditions, snake reminds us that cycles of birth and death are part of the rounds of life and that the shedding of former skins during times of inner and outer quietude are symbolic of our own deep natures. Snake speaks to the ability to die and rebirth while also evoking a respect for fears, physical strength and the ability to manifest power in order to feed oneself and be fed by the available sources of nourishment to be found in nature.

Transitioning into a horse year, we are invited to shift from the predatory natural tone of snake to that of a prey animal power. Horse is a creature energy that lives upon yet above the earth, and which involves aspects of freedom, independence in relationship to the herd and a wandering wild spirit as well as a slightly elevated essence, contrasted with that of the serpent. Long revered for their wild souls and enormous physical prowess, horses also hold a strong representation of workforce and patience, which demand respect and admiration. Horses sense danger instinctively and won’t put up with behavior or situations that don’t suit their natural inclinations, needs and desires. When attacked or hassled, horses flee with a wildness to the nearest safe and vital haven. These hoofed beasts spend much time feeding on the simple fruits of the field and the reward for their lengthy attention to nourishment is long life, strength and vitality.


In the Roman calendar, the New Year in the West is marked by the turning of the month of December into January. Janus is the double-faced God for which the first month of the year is named. With his two faces, one looking forward and one gazing behind, Janus is the spirit of marking the past and anticipating the future from a present standpoint. This archetypical energy reminds us that we may benefit from momentary glimpses into what has been and what is becoming, so that we might situate our efforts in favorable ways in relationship to what we have learned and what we have yet to encounter.  At least a little dose of Janus energy is always to be found in our dreams, in the sense that dreams embody all times at once. This is what is meant by the Aboriginal Australian word “Dreamtime”, all times happening now, all-at-once. Dreaming, we are invited to review the past, exist in this present and be aware of the potentials of the unfolding future before us.

By seeking to honor the essence of the yearly divinities as embodied in these astrological-mythological energies, we might find a way to work with their tones and vibrancies. To do so, we may ask ourselves, what is our instinctual nature in relation to the character of the animal power or mythic flavor that is now understood to be present. As always is the case, we may also pay close attention to our dreams and reflect upon them alone and with one another to seek to further notice if these energies are showing up in clear ways in our dreaming adventures and to locate ways to act and create on the basis of their messages of import and immediate experience in our lives.

As this time unfolds, may the truest and most favorable dreams of our lives open to us and open us to the deep well of fulfillment within and without! Joyous New Year, Travis Wernet

What Have Dreams Done for You Lately?

073.jpgWhat have dreams done for you lately?

When I talk with most folks about dreams, it seems that almost everyone has had at least one experience of great meaning and value as a result of a nighttime vision. Certain researchers have even explored the folk notion that about 50% of people, in general, have had dreams of future events that came true and swear by the helpfulness of such occurrences.

In online groups, individual consultations and in person meetings, I see the vast array of benefits of working with dreams on a regular basis.

As you read this, perhaps you can think of an example of a dream that visited you, which offered some key level of information or insight and possibly even forecasted a future event? I’d love to hear about it, if you feel like sharing.

A big part of how I got involved in devoting myself to community work with  dreams has had to do with the way dreaming clearly helps uncover hidden pieces of the puzzle towards being-becoming who we truly are. I deeply value how I have benefitted from what the dreams offer me, and the folks I get to adventure with, as they consistently depict wise yet practical messages and embodiments of fulfilled vital paths towards wholeness.

The projective-style dream work model myself, and others use is both self and other-empowering. It operates on the notion that in sitting with and sharing the dreams, we will all see and feel within them what is most true and meaningful for each of us as individuals. Often times, there are many layers of meaning that resonate with several, if not all, of the group participants.

When worked with respectfully, our dreams and visions can be honored as unique forms of authentic inner guidance. In my experience, I’ve seen how dreaming represents a wellspring of deep wisdom that accurately reflects what’s important now and how the dreamer can locate what is most meaningful and pragmatic to waking life at any given time. It helps immensely to have the assistance of others to see what is difficult to see for our selves, however.

Why don’t we talk more about our dreams with each other? Time and again, when witnessing folks who may be new to or familiar with this work, I have the pleasure of seeing how apparently mistaken notions of dreams being meaningless, harmful or nonsensical break down and give way to increased understanding about the vast potential within dreaming experiences. We’ve inherited a lot of ideas about dreams being useless fantasies. And yet, we also often talk of having special, big dreams for our lives.  I sense and witness how folks sometimes feel their dreams are too troubling, disgusting or just plain weird to share with others. All the seemingly small and strange dreams along the way are like holographic portions of the larger total vision we carry within, through our own original yet universal quest in this lifetime.

In the kind of work I do, we say, “there is no such thing as a bad dream, only dreams that sometimes take a dramatically negative form in order to grab our attention”. Paradoxically, and quite wonderfully, when I’ve had the privilege of imagining such dreams for myself, and with others, these are the very dreams, which hold the greatest potential for energetic release and power of insight. Our negative views of disturbing dreams hold hostage the very energies asking to be released and acknowledged within them. If only we can work with and share our deeply personal, yet surprisingly pan-human (universally shared) dreaming adventures and honor their imaginative counsel for our lives, we find that it is so.

If the response of the numerous individuals I’ve worked with for many years is any indication, and it ought to be the most reliable signpost of success, all dreams are wildly potent and do offer reliable and immediate gifts supporting the dreamer and the folks sharing the dream.

To find out more or to respond please leave a comment and visit the Dream Work and Sound Healing Page here at Word Press. All Blessings, Travis W

Online Community Dream Work, “Across Space and Time”

MirrorWolf-2Image Credit – by www.thisiscolossal.com

When I started participating in and leading dream groups, about twenty years ago, the World Wide Web had just barely begun to be a venue for many of the activities it is used for presently. Today it’s possible for dreamers to meet from the comfort of our own homes and to call in over video to do this deeply intimate and fun work together online. There are a number of folks doing dream work in this fashion currently around the world.

Not much of a “techie” over the course of my life, the thought of doing group work with dreams over the Internet did not appeal to me very strongly at first. Having done a hefty amount of various types of group work in a wide variety of venues, I thought that it would be crucial to be in the same physical space, in order to read body language and the like. Thankfully, I was persuaded by a host of friends and colleagues to try it out, and I have to say my mind and heart have been changed on the matter.

The way myself and several of my colleagues work with dreams supposes, on the tested basis of experience, that all we can really do, honestly, is imagine another person’s dream for ourselves – the fairly well-known “if it were my dream” approach credited to both Jeremy Taylor and Montague Ullman.  It turns out that working online appears to support a further invitation to use, involve and honor our living imaginations: yet one more opportunity to also own our unconscious projections.

Online work affords many advantages: we save time, resources and money by not driving someplace physical to meet, there’s a “come as you are” element involved, it’s possible to refer to typed written records and helpful pertinent images while working and folks can even look up further info, via Google, to seek to expand the available connections of meaning while engaging with one another during a meeting. It’s as if, symbolically, we are extending the dream into a whole new arena, while we are awake, as well, dreaming the dream further and more expansively.

The experience of being online itself involves a symbolic attention to the imagination that also includes a sense of paradox; even though we are far away, we are and can be close together, intimate across space and time. On the deeper levels of the dreams themselves, to my awareness, we do seem to be connected at a distance and dream motifs of collective synergy often reveal themselves in clear synchronicities during this work. So, the two experiences are uniquely related and encourage the fostering of a deeper kind of connection, albeit perhaps ironically, at a relative distance which fosters a vital closeness of connection, nonetheless.

Participating in and hosting online dream groups appears to be one way that we may avail ourselves of the current technology, in a quality fashion, to support evermore deepening levels of authenticity and rich inner wisdom to come  more clearly into action in the waking world.

My current online group meeting takes place every other Tuesday from 10am to Noon PST, U.S. and we’re accepting new members. Please go to the groups page here to get more information and contact me to register.

Dreaming On, Travis Wernet

Dreaming Spirals, Dreams and Dreaming as they relate to the Personal and the Collective

grass-vw-bugDreams are experiences and messages sent to us by Nature. They go beyond the theoretical categories we assign to them in order to understand them. It turns out that our Dreaming Nature is also Nature Dreaming, through us and within us. We’re also, in a sense, akin to ancient ideas about dreams and dreaming, being dreamt up at the same time. Although we may perceive that we are having the dreams, there’s also the possibility that they are having us, that ultimately we are part of an observable matrix of life that goes beyond but includes our individual sense of identities and living dramas.

For almost twenty years I’ve been paying attention to my own and others dreams. It’s been the case for this period, especially when working in groups to explore dreams, that there are always multiple layers of meaning and archetypal, symbolic contents present. It’s crucial to look at the dreams from the perspective that they are reflecting meaning and experience through metaphorical as well as potentially literal language. Even when they don’t seem to be, the harder we look, the more clear it becomes how even the dreams that seem to be presenting literal situations offer potent metaphors of meaning and insight as well.

As an example, consider a recent dream in which my car breaks down and the mechanics come to haul it off to their garage, not an uncommon motif, which I trust many folks are able to relate to.

In my work with this dream I have entertained several possible meanings. Because we moderns are so involved with motor vehicles as a form of transportation, it’s true that any dream of a car is likely to be speaking to the dreamer, and potentially others, about a multitude of important issues.

It’s easy to recognize that a dream automobile could represent a mode of life direction for the dreamer. In the case of a breakdown, perhaps the current trajectory is not working out. The physical quality of being in a car is also symbolically akin to what it’s like to be in a body. It’s also true that cars in dreams often point to health concerns for the dreamer. A broken down car could represent a physical or mental malfunction, or both. The dream might also be a warning about a future breakdown in waking life, of an actual waking world vehicle.

On a collective level, cars and their effects appear to be central to the impact of the environmental conditions of global warming on the planet at this time. So, in the event of my dream car, what might the dream be saying about the universal layer of meaning by posing the breakdown of the auto? I myself, as the dreamer, resonate with the notion of my dream car breakdown as a further implication of the experience around how it feels to be alive at this time. It evokes a sense of what it’s like to hold such a variety of concerns for the ecological welfare of the earth and its’ inhabitants as related to my daily activities such as driving a motorized vehicle and all that this entails.

Perhaps the dream car breakdown also suggests looking for creative alternatives to conventional or common ways of dealing with present-day crises. Maybe it spells out the all-too-human predicament of breakdowns in the true efficacy of our current technology and of mechanical modes for trying to make it through one’s life, as related to collective concerns about the impacts of automobiles characterized here by the dream car no longer able to provide conveyance, or to support movement. By touching on this level of concern, the dream has begun to invite understandings and themes that involve, not just the individual dreamer, not just humanity as a whole, but all of life on earth and the planet itself.

This is a very brief example, which nonetheless may serve to illustrate that even such a simple and common scenario in dreams can be found to be depicting a long list of pertinent meanings which are best represented when applied on as many levels as possible, including the personal and the collective.

Egyptian Dream Balloons and Flying Dreams


*Well aware of the fairly recent tragedy involving and affecting the victims, family and friends of a group of balloon travelers in Luxor, Egypt, I respectfully offer this piece along with on-going prayers for liberation, healing, true solace, peace and wisdom. In the words of the poet, “death is not the end”… TW *

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve attended to a series of evolving dream experiences featuring flight. In these sleep dreams a commonly reported and therefore universally archetypal motif has popped up time and again: power lines appear, seemingly “out of nowhere”, as I find myself rising up into the Great Beyond. This phenomenon has bled over into conscious waking life in such a fashion that it has even illuminated my actual purpose in this lifetime. As pay-offs for remembering and recording one’s dreams go, this particular benefit is what I would call “not-too-shabby”!

As fate would have it, I was invited to travel with a group of soul-seekers to Egypt for three years running, starting back in 2010 to lead ceremonies and offer dream work sessions. The first year I traveled there, I was graciously invited by our kind guide Raafat Fergani to accompany a group who had signed up for an early morning balloon ride over the Nile River in Luxor. How could I say no?

On this day, the enchanting sound of morning prayers drifted through the dawn as the muezzin sang their haunting calls. Our group gathered, and was shuttled over the river in a passenger skiff, with ever-courteous pleasures of tea, coffee and cookies on offer while we reverently witnessed the rebirth of the sun on the eastern horizon.  Upon arriving at the take-off point, a great stir of small buses, people and gatherings greeted us as the rhythmic pulse of blasting fire belched from the engines of wicker cockpits giving buoyancy to what appeared as giant lop-sided jellyfish, in a golden field of grass amid rapidly disappearing dawn shadows. We booted it across the plain to our balloon, jovial in anticipation towards the promise of adventure.

Piling into the enormous basket, we received brief yet thorough instruction on the “do’s and don’ts” of how to hold our bodies during the flight and upon eventual landing. Preparations complete, our charismatic pilot delighted us with repartee and we lifted up silently, leaving the ground behind. A stark presence of elements punctuated that delicious moment, the slowly departing terra firma, the precise, powerful sounding flames responding to the captains occasional pull on the heating element filling the delicate yet strong tissue of intricately rainbowed fabric above our heads, the nearby ancient river majestically flowing North through eddies and currents whispering of ancient truths and mysteries in the intensifying light of the new day. The pilot informed us that because of the direction of the gentle gusts on this specific morning we would easily blow across the river as well as part of the Queen’s Valley, wending further North where we would eventually be drawn back down to the earth.


But at that moment, landing was not on my mind. A spirit of lucidity and the remarkably present sensation of alighting towards the heavens wonderfully filled my awareness and elevated my body. Flying took on a whole new, full-blooded, flavor as we gracefully raced through the air. Companion balloons drifted nearby, and we rose ever upward while also heading for some power lines in the near distance. This novel experience felt like the most accurate sense one could have of what it is like to be airborne, as birds do, as butterflies and other winged beasts who know this sensation of weightlessness must.

Yes, it’s true, I did mention power lines in the above paragraph, and this does tie in with those previously mentioned moments regarding my own oneirautical sleeping dreams. This is something I realized, in actual point of fact, as we took off in that hot air balloon in Egypt, over the tops of modest brick and mortar homes belonging to native Egyptians who were spirited enough to wave and smile at us as we peered down into the uncovered privacy of their chicken and goat-laden living quarters. In a place where it hardly ever rains, and only does so in such miniscule amounts that some houses don’t even have roofs, we soared through the ethers, nearing the sacred famous river, sky-walking observers of the everyday rituals of people who live alongside this drama each morning as they awaken to their own earth-bound existences.

I looked over at our pilot, a mischievous smile on his face and a glint in his eye. Already others in our group were commenting on the apparent likelihood that we were about to collide with said power lines, attached to mighty poles and strung high up here in the spacious domain of seemingly random hot-air balloon travel arcs. In the true spirit of our voyage, I didn’t want to hear that we would or would not clear the lines themselves. My strong intuition told me not to be overly concerned. It was all happening just like in my life-long dreams, first the stirring pleasure of defying gravity, then the impending danger of the approaching thick electrical conduits. For a moment, I wondered if maybe I had dreamed this scenario so many times previously as a kind of warning about a future impending disaster. Had I dreamed this future? With each deft adjustment, the commander of this airy craft seemed to anticipate well ahead of time what exact operation would be required so that our quest would succeed unhindered.

In this way, we cleared those lines of power adroitly, gracefully, and began to cross the river to the other side. The feeling-sense I have most often witnessed in the dreams, as well, has been to doubt for at least one brief instant as I ascend higher and higher, barely able to believe I am flying, that I would really clear the lines without entanglement or tragedy. This apparent dream obstacle has shown up at just that juncture of having the thought, “Can I actually do this? Am I really flying? Is it safe?” This is not an isolated dreaming experience. Dream literature discusses this crossing of paths between the flying dreamer and power lines as a universal confrontation, within the psyche, with one’s own deep creative powers and abilities, at the very least. One clear symbolic metaphor applicable here is one of approaching and embodying the deep layers of uniquely personal and collectively transpersonal power within. These dream power lines are like cords that transmit the juice of psychic and actual electricity from one place to the next in the vast network of the subjective and objective psyche, the subtle yet real domain of consciousness.

As we continued to glide onward in waking life, a feeling of accomplishment and relief came upon not only myself, but based on the remarks of my fellows, several others in our merry band.

To make such a connection to my own dreaming and the reported experiences of so many others, while awake, has gifted me with a great level of meaning in my dreaming and waking life. One of the boons of flight is that of being able to view matters from above, to get a bird’s eye view. In the midst of this synchronistic moment, I was literally and symbolically living a dream come true. Along with so many other realizations that grew out of this highly condensed event, came the vital understanding and felt confirmation that I was in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing. Evidently, yet mysteriously, I’ve been shown by some force greater than the “me” which I normally identify with, that agreeing to go places, at home or abroad, and share dream work, sound healing and ceremony with others is to accept my apparent role as a facilitator of these practices, which are clearly connected to my own personal power. It is a way that I can actualize the flow of my own deep potential and purpose in this lifetime. Doing this is my way of flying, creating and accessing a network of “electrical energy” that puts me in touch with others. At the same time, it also became what we can call a grounding activity. The old axiom of physics and flight rings true here also, “what goes up must come down”.

Our enlivening early morning flight went on for a time and was glorious. “Oohs” and “Aahs” were had by one and all. The stunning colors of the desert were revealed to our senses as we gazed upon ancient burial tombs of Queens and Kings of antiquity and were given to reflecting on the ancient mythology of a culture and a people who understood that each day is a resurrection, each night another embarking into the darkness of the underworld. For a moment, at least, I imagine we felt ourselves as an integral part of the larger-than-life inhale and exhale of the breath of the cosmos.

Following this reverie, an invitation to recognize some portion of the presence of eternity within our own time-bound earthly frames of reference, we kissed the earth with our vessel once more as the mighty balloon descended in what is known as “the Egyptian landing”, smooth, with no bumps and no hassles. And like with so many adventures in Egypt, the magic of the moment came, offered its’ gifts and then disappeared again around the next wind-blown desert vista, leaving us with stories to tell and reflections to ponder.

Why Our Worst Dreams May Be Our Best


The dreams we have that wake us up are some of the most important experiences of our lives. Just speaking of dreams that come to us while we’re asleep, we spend a minimum of six years of our lives engaged in this mysterious activity. Too often we find ourselves explaining and pushing away “bad dreams”, in large part due to the fact that difficult or disturbing dreams can truly feel awful. Especially when we don’t have the helpful perspectives in our “bag of tricks” to help us understand them.

The English word for dream, which apparently originated between the 12th & 13th centuries, seems to reflect an inability to see the dream as other than an unhelpful visitation by troubling energies. Early roots of the word carry meanings like phantasm or illusion, both akin to the word we all still use to describe our frightening dreams, “nightmare”. This word itself calls up images of wild, out of control steeds, running powerfully and dangerously through the night. It’s no coincidence, then, that at this past time in history, Christian theology had ruled that visions of the night were not to be trusted, and were, in fact, equal to deceptive temptations sent by the Devil himself.

The ancient ancestors of Western and European peoples must have, nonetheless, far before such terms were coined, depended upon dreams as instructive warnings and guiding messages. It’s not hard to imagine people in the days of old seeing dreams of powerful wild animals attacking the village, receiving dream messages about where to find food or prophesying enormous storms threatening the survival of the clans. Even conservative contemporary sleep researchers today tend to agree that one of the main functions of dreams is to provide us with rehearsals and practice for upcoming waking experiences and events. Since a time before the development of a complex spoken or written language, it’s highly likely that men and women have dreamt about the most important energies and circumstances in our lives, as a means of coping with the multiple vicissitudes of earthly existence. In Europe, in particular in France, there are a number of archaic cave paintings depicting the hunt, which suggest such an imaginative activity was also engaged in while awake as a tool for becoming more effective in attempting to secure physical survival. It’s not a far stretch to conclude that these beautiful imagistic endeavors were the basis of a practice of visionary prayer enacted to seek success in acquiring the food and supplies necessary for the basic nourishment of everyday life. Such visions could be said to be parallels of our modern experience of dreams, in which we recall activities such as hunting down that new income stream as well as waking projects involving vision planning and meditations aimed at manifestation.

It seems that the words we use to describe these dreams of ours, which appear to take such a negative tone and dramatic form, may further instruct us about their deeper levels of meaning. What if we could imagine the term “nightmare” as the awesome power to be related with in the challenging visions we see as we sleep, a “night” “mare” the mighty, wild, feminine force embodied as life’s great advneture? The word “awful” can also be turned on its ear, to be understood and perceived differently, as awe-full, a state full of awe. Perhaps there is a thin line between the emotions of terror, passion and excitement, and perhaps we confuse our experience of the two. Equally as possible, perhaps our dreams scare us into paying attention to the very areas of our existence that we need to look at in order to progress and find meaning amidst the often paradoxical and complex situations eventually to be encountered along the byways of a fully lived life.

Take, for example, the story of the well-known rock and roll band Lynyrd Skynyrd who are still renowned today for popular classic tunes like “Sweet Home Alabama”. While preparing to fly to Baton Rouge for a show, Jojo Billinglsley, a backup singer for a band that was traveling with Skynyrd, recalled a nightmare wherein she see saw a plane crashing, in which people died and several more got hurt. Upon waking from the dream, she was so upset that she was screaming uncontrollably and was quite shaken by the memory of the crash in her dream. She decided to tell the band about it, feeling a great deal of concern. The guys took a vote and decided to go ahead and fly to Baton Rouge and change planes afterwards. The flight went down and members of the band were killed, while numerous other passengers were badly hurt. Had the individuals involved in this accident heeded the warning presented by the dream, a great deal of pain and loss might have been avoided. Fair play to Jojo for having faith and confidence in her dream despite the fact that the tragedy was not averted. There are many such tales that could be told, some with happier endings than others, and some more plain and everyday than this one.

To my mind and heart, the takeaway message here is how important it is not to ignore the messages to be found in the dreams, and to do our utmost to follow up on them and by all means, not to sweep them under the rug as we are often wont to do. The above example is fairly dramatic. At the same time, by being willing to receive this dramatic parable, it’s possible that we could begin or continue to allow our worst dreams to offer us their best messages.

In my personal and community dream practice, we follow a time-tested notion that “there is no such thing as a bad dream, only dreams that sometimes take a dramatically negative form in order to grab the dreamer’s attention”, a practical tool for working with dreams offered for over forty years by Jeremy Taylor, Author, well-known Dream Worker and Teacher. I’ve tested this idea, over and over again, in my work with my own and other people’s dreams. Ultimately, this attitude and perspective towards the dreaming allows us to understand that there is a wise inner source, which we can relate with, especially through recalling our visionary experiences. By widening our view to include for terrifying as well as pleasing images, experiences and scenarios, we allow ourselves to open to a vast potential for honoring and seeking to integrate the totality of our human nature, within the larger domain of  a Cosmic Nature, a diverse cornucopia of existence that challenges our very ideas of what we consider to be “good” and “bad”.

Projective Dream Work and “You language”, Part 2

This post continues a theme from a previous one about projection… The image pictured here is from Surrealist Painter Magritte, and is titled “The False Mirror”


Why is it that we so often speak in what I call “You language”? When discussing situations with others, we often attempt to tell friends, colleagues and other folks what we think is true or right for them. We even do this when trying to describe our own individual unique experience of life, and make seemingly all-encompassing statements about people we may know very little about. For example, when somebody close dies, we say things like, “When death visits, you feel the limits of your own mortality and you begin to question the very meaning of existence”.  This might be true, in a general sense, for all of us, but it can be harder to hear when it’s put like this. And for some, it might not be like that at all. For instance, one might simply feel sad and miss the person who’s passed away. If I were having a conversation with someone about death and dying, and felt a sense of my own mortality, why wouldn’t I acknowledge that by saying, instead, something like, “When someone dies, it makes me question the meaning of my own life.” Wouldn’t it be more honest, helpful and appropriate to say what it brings out in me versus trying to speak for others? How can we honestly do anything but speak from and about our own experience? It’s not as though it even makes sense to pretend I can know for certain what another person is thinking or feeling, let alone what she or he has gone through in the past, or will face in the future. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own memories, thoughts and feelings from moment to moment and day to day!

Experience has been said to be one of the greatest teachers. Over time, and in my own life, I can recall several defensive arguments that took place because of people using “you language” with each other. I’ve done it many times myself. I know that when I do, part of the reason I am even tempted to do so, is that it seems it would be so much easier to be able to assign my difficult feelings and shadowy actions, the positive and negative potentials of my own existence, onto someone else, rather than face up to the challenging forces that exist within my own being. If I can cast my problems or potentials onto the neighbors, my friends or intimate partners, then I don’t have to clean up my own mess, or confront and take responsibility for aspects of my life that are anxiety producing or seem unattractive or difficult to respond to.

The obstacle to realizing this lies in an inborn capacity to be unaware of what we’re unaware of. How can we know what we don’t know, if we don’t know it? That guiding essence within each of us, what Psychology or Buddhism might call the ego, would much rather be seen as a champion with all the right stuff, than to be experienced as a perfectly flawed and complicated bundle of competing wishes, desires and qualities. This is one reason I find it so useful to work with dreams. Such visions, in my experience, provide a unique access to “the magic mirror that never lies”. Dreaming, we enter realms of the unknown where we’re given accurate depictions of previously unconsidered difficulties, and find solutions for the struggles we come up against in relation to others. It might not be easy to look at the images and situations that are reflected by dreams, but doing so allows a recognition of the unique challenges, gifts and tendencies which can be honored in seeking to discover and fulfill the souls’ deepest and dearest longings.

Here’s an example of one of my own night-world adventures, which I believe shows of how the unknown appears in dreams, as well as how projections relate to and within them.

“The Shrunken and Broken Protection Door, I’m a Woman Leading the Youth”

*Dream from May 2013:

I am vaguely aware of a structure that I find myself in. I know I’m leading a group of young people and that I’m a woman, my current age of forty-two, or slightly older. I feel a protective sense and see a doorway. The door seems to shrink just off the frame and its’ hinges as I look at it and my awareness becomes involved with somehow keeping the door closed. I also know that there’s a group outside that are waiting to get us, or attack us and I find myself concerned with fixing the door, but also with how to proceed out of the structure to get to the outside. I don’t feel it’s safe to do so with the attackers/mob out there waiting for and planning to attack us.

As the dreamer of this dream, I’m bound to find it tricky to see what’s in it for myself, because, like any dreamer, I am uniquely blind to the messages and meanings in my own material. No less, right off the bat, experiencing myself as a woman in the dream is an intriguing way for it to put me in a position that is opposite to my day-world, physical experience as a man. No matter how hard I try to imagine what it’s like to be female, while I’m awake, all I can do is make the effort to do so. On one level, the dream takes this experience a step further, and gives me a brief but real experience in the dream of feeling like and existing as a woman.

Although there’s much more that could be said about the above narrative, it relates to the earlier stated ideas in that the imagination here gives a directly felt-sense of being something that I don’t appear to be in the waking world. As I look at the dream from my conscious perspective, despite being a woman in the dream, I naturally, unconsciously, begin to project onto the dream all my ideas about what it means to be a woman, leading a group of youth, feeling protective and as if I need to insure the success of our quest. It would be easy to conclude, at least on one level, that a way I hold my inner idea of “woman” is to assume that she is motherly, protective, and is invested in taking care of her young.

The only reliable way to be sure what the dream is coming to say is to ask whether it inspires any sort of “A-Ha” response. I definitely do resonate with this possibility that the experience of being a woman in my dream is inviting me to look deeper into my own hidden layers of thought and feeling around what it means to be a woman, and that I may be expecting a kind of stereotypical role from her.

This is a very brief exploration, given the topic, but I do feel it begins to give a genuine sense of the way that dreams point out how we project, at the least, while we’re awake. I also want to emphasize that in looking back at the dream, it becomes possible to become aware of unconscious ideas, thoughts and feelings as they appear, while receiving, reading or listening to the dream. Working with the dreams in this way begins to create and honor a perceptive reality in which many of us may realize that what exists in the psyche, the inner imaginal world of each person, suggests that there are any number of unconscious ideas, feelings and attitudes which we’re not fully aware of. This phenomenon also demonstrates that it’s very likely we project such unknowns on each other, and that using an “I language” in our conversations can afford us the opportunity to realize what is true for each of us, and offers a different level of respect for each persons’ own version of reality and truth.

Projective Dreaming: Authentic Path of Discovery


This is the first in an on-going series of thoughts, reflections and the culling of experiences based on the ideas of the phenomenon of psycho-spiritual projection and dreams… Enjoy! TW

In our dreams we are shown, time and time again, how who we really are is so much more than we think we are. We dream of monsters, angels and demons, animals, landscapes and elements, a wide variety of people – even aliens; we find ourselves in sexual situations which would make us blush to even think upon while awake, let alone share with one another. In my eighteen years of working with dreams and paying attention to my own and others journeys in the dreamworld, I’ve clearly been shown that the dreaming informs us about how we seek to project all our own unwanted qualities onto others, somewhere ‘over there’, and that we even do this in our dreams. This includes the skills and talents that we possess and which we’d rather not look at, because to acknowledge such talents and abilities would mean that we’d have to do something about expressing and embodying them and all that entails. This would mean taking credit for our achievements, and our failures, which may be trickier than we first imagine it to be!

It’s been and continues to be my experience that we all project, all the time – as Jeremy Taylor, renowned Projective Dream Worker, Teacher and Author has shown quite well – it’s all about projection,
“… projection is a ubiquitous (existing everywhere) unconscious process much like digesting food or having a wound heal; it is not something that we do on purpose. This process of projection causes us to perceive aspects and energies of our own being as though they existed exclusively outside ourselves and were the ‘property’ and responsibility of others” To begin to recollect the potent energies inside and out, both positive and negative, is to begin to recognize that in dreams and in actual/waking life, we are given multi-layered and super-packed experiential occasions of rich learning and wisdom from which to base our efforts at withdrawing and owning our projections. By working with and looking at the dreams, we start to see how events play out metaphorically, if not also sometimes, literally. Dreaming is a personal and collective, shared vista that is ever-changing and transforming, which fosters and invites a stand-point in relation to the complicated and momentous occasions of a life and our deepest, truest dreams.

In doing Projective-style Group or One to One Dream Work, we agree to practice this original approach to life by discussing our experience of one anothers dreams and by sharing comments in language such as, “If it were my dream, the lost baggage in the airport that I want to recover might be showing me that I have lost track of my own issues and that I would benefit from figuring out where I can address that in waking life”. There’s no reason for the practice to stop when we’re not discussing dreams. The beauty of this approach is that we all get to project meaning onto a given dream or waking experience, and while we do so, we get to witness how we ourselves easily, naturally project, but also, we get to see vital layers of what’s true for us at any given moment while doing the work. The dreamer almost always benefits too, by having the choice to recognize any resonance and universality with the projections that are being shared. What tends to happen, then, is that the dreamers and the group participants start applying the “if it were my dream” idea to waking life and we say things like, “Well, if it were my decision to make, I would want to think about thus and such…”

On a very real level, projections are a useful thing – it turns out that making them is our effort to learn and become more aware. Anything that exists has something to show and teach us. Without an understanding of projection, we wander, lost and unsure of why we experience such intense opinions and emotions. With a modicum of understanding about the phenomenon of projection, we suddenly open ourselves to a vast storehouse of understanding that was not available to us before. Each time a projection is made, it’s an opportunity to bring into conscious memory some fragment of ones own lost or forgotten wholeness, at the very least, which has collective, social benefits as well. Doing so has the effect of encouraging others to do the same, and it also creates the kind of respectful group milieu where people can feel ‘seen’ and are able to seek to be themselves, not who others say we are or should be.

Dreams of Music and the Music of Dreaming – Songs for Life, the story of Krishna and Sudama


Music can be a waking dream that we cultivate for engaging with the Divine. There truly is some quality that both dreams and music share, as if they’re weaving and being woven from a similar fabric upon a related loom. Both are real, yet bear a mysterious palpability of presence, the one thru images and the other via sound. Both seemingly spring from an invisible, nearly intangible source which nonetheless becomes more tangible the more we place our attention towards perceiving and receiving each one. Some dreams speak to and inhabit the dreamer in the form of music during the night, while some forms of music inspire imagistic flights of vision and take the listener on dream-like journeys while awake.

Joseph Campbell, scholar and mythologist, said that “Dreams are private myths, and myths are public dreams”. In India, there’s an ancient understanding of the way music, dreams and stories all weave together in a remembrance of the way the fabric of our humanity is woven by the deep relationships between private myths and public dreams. This flows from an experience of music and sound as a means for celebrating and connecting with the Divine.

In one of the old stories about Krishna called “The Million Steps” is a tale about the ways that music and dreams, human and divine, inter-relate to lose and find one another again in a rich parlance of longing for the fulfillment of a lifetime of searching.

Young Sudama grows up in the same village as Krishna where they roam about and make music together as children, Krishna on his flute and Sudama on his ek tar – a stringed instrument attached to a gourd at one end. As best friends, they make trouble, play and find songs together which inspires Sudama deeply. Over time, Krishna’s divine nature is slowly revealed and as the two enter adulthood, the truth of this takes the flute player far afield to a palace where he becomes the Lord of the Universe.

Staying on in the village with his wife Padmini and the family they raise, Sudama and his partner live the life of EveryMan and EveryWoman. In a very real sense, any one of us are like this couple who live out the full embodiment of the human experience. The family is poor and over time Sudama is given to yearnings for the rich magnificence of his time spent making music and being with Krishna. The two have separated and Sudama, in his spare poverty, begins to choose the practicalities of life over his music-making and drifts further away from the sense he had as a youth of being held by the delicious aura of his time spent with Krishna.

Throughout the days and nights of his life, Sudama swings back and forth between remembrance of his dear childhood and increasing doubts about the worth of life itself, as well as his own role within it. He goes to sleep and dreams of Krishna, telling himself upon awakening, that ‘it was only a dream’. This goes on until his wife, Padmini encourages him to go find Krishna and ask him to help their poor little struggling family. Sudama resists, but finally agrees to set off to look for his friend, who is now famous and beloved and sought after across the whole land as the one and only Lord of Everything.

Because of his small feelings for feeling small, Sudama ponders turning back many times on his voyage. No less, he has a dream while on the outskirts of Krishnas palace, and like any one of us who can have a dream at a time when we most need it, he allows himself to put aside his doubts, if only long enough to travel within the walls of the palace, where the most incredible musicians are making songs of praise for Lord Krishna. This compounds his feelings of inferiority and he almost convinces himself that his old friend will not recognize him, until at last Krishna appears and surprises his childhood playmate by welcoming him into his presence. Not only is Sudama welcomed, he is also honored by Krishna as he disperses every other musician and takes up his flute, inviting Sudama to play his ek tar along with him as they had done as children. This is why it said, “Take one step towards the Divine, and the Divine will take a million steps towards you”.

The two spend a reverie of days together, until Sudama returns to his family, transformed deeply by his time with ‘the Friend’.  On the way back he discovers a small hut and feels a deep longing to remain there, but doesn’t, as he wishes to see his wife and children. Upon his return home he discovers that his family has been transformed and that all there have been made healthy and rich. He asks his wife to forsake these material blessings and return to the small hut in the forest with him to make music, but she wishes to stay in their new/old home, for she wants to know how it is to live without lack for things. The blessed couple do so until it becomes clear that true joy is not to be found only in having plenty. In the end they decide to give it all up to their children and retreat to the hut in the forest, where they rejoin their previous practice and live simply, making music and chanting the names of the Divine for the rest of their earthly days.

How like Sudama and Padmini we can be! This public dream from ages past still rings true in its reminders of the tendency we express to forget and forego the songs of our youths, the rich loam of discovery and the imaginative ways we have allowed ourselves to connect with our own divine natures in days and night gone past wherein we had no reason to question whether we had the right to be the playmates of the divine, holy energies of life and spirit. As we grow older and learn things and struggle to make our way, it can be easy to lose sight of “the love within loving” and our birthright towards adding our own humble, unique voice to the mystical chorus of creation and the music of life within and beyond life.

Because it’s easy to forget, and to convince ourselves of our own unworthiness, it’s important, like it is in the story, to recall and honor the dreams of our lives that seek to remind us, perhaps in mystifying ways, as we seek to forget and ‘go back to sleep’, that we too are invited to make music – in whatever form that may be for each of us  – which takes into account the deep dreams of our richest and wildest longings that spring up from some place early in our lives out of a time when we knew better than to know better, as the developed voice of our growing doubts have tried to strip of us of the confidence in our true inheritance to be who we actually are – friends and cohorts of the Divine.

Here is a song which I created together with Ben Leinbach and which features the beautiful flute playing of Manose, who very much seems to invoke and invite the divine energies of krishna with his flute playing. I play the Didjeridu on this track – another wind instrument but one that hails from the sacred precincts of Australia and the sacred musical traditions of that land. Enjoy!