Dream Blog

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!

Egyptian Dream Travels, Part 4 (the final installment of this theme – for now!)


Following our time in Luxor, the Valley of the Queens and Kings, we boarded our Nile cruise and set off onto my favorite part of the quest. The sites along the Nile and in Southern Egypt have a special quality that, for me at least, has to do with the remote nature of the destinations; they feel less frequented and are a bit wilder and more cloaked in the veil of desert solitude. The time on the Nile begins to engender a very meditative quality with the sensation of big, yet slow movement and the humming of ships engines. One can sit atop the cruise deck with open sky above and watch the shifting borders of the shores on either side of one of the longest rivers in the world. Because the cruise we take goes Southward and the flow of the river is actually to the North, there’s also a strong sense of cosmic time and balance, with the sun rising and setting on both sides, East and West of the ship during the journey. It’s a great pleasure to watch the Moon float through the sky at night and allow ones imagination to wander and play while heading towards Aswan.

It was during this leg of our journey that the young man who was with us started having enormous difficulties. The parallel with the water and the waves in the dream I saw while in New York and being on the river were not lost to me. The situation really came to a head. While we were preparing to go out for a temple excursion, he had a really strong reaction that I can only call a kind of breakdown, or psycho-spiritual crisis. After the episode with the Doctor, it appeared to me that there was an effort on his part to make it look like everything was all right, when it actually wasn’t, which concerned me. I struggled with this, but in a sense there was nothing to be done. At the moment this new emergency came about, I decided that I needed to be clear about my own impressions with the tour leader. Here was a young person who was clearly going through a certain sort of serious meltdown. He was acting a bit paranoid and it seemed that he was worried that we would call in another Doctor. If I were him, I would have been scared too – what a strange feeling to be in a foreign country for the first time and to be reliant on physicians there and on people that one hardly knows. I think part of his stress also stemmed from all the talk of “danger in the Middle East” that gets constantly broadcast on the news, particularly in the wake of the Revolution.

For eleven years I worked in Community Mental Health in San Francisco, so I’ve seen folks in a pretty wide variety of mental, physical and spiritual states that would look highly unusual as well as frightful to a large number of people. This poor guy was really going through something painful and intense, and I suspect it had to do with a variety of factors, including the non-consumption of adequate amounts of water and proper (diet-correct for his condition) food, as well as the effects of withdrawal from marijuana and just plain old homesickness. Nobody else in our group really seemed to know how to relate with this crisis or with the individual undergoing it. Which drives home a few more layers of the meaning of the dreams I’ve shared. The dreams and their experiences prepared me on many levels for dealing with this event in waking life.  The dream of the toxic hotel and relocation, in a metaphoric and actual sense ‘came true’.

Through several conversations and truthful interactions, this young fellow eventually decided, with our encouragement, to catch an early flight back to the States. I deeply enjoyed and appreciated our talks as I felt I could see a side of myself in this person who I had the unique opportunity of feeling close and even helpful to. I do regret that he had a struggle as he did and was worried enough myself at times for his well-being, that I suffered some small amount of stress. No less, we were clearly meant to share this adventure together. This conclusion of the crisis fit my own sense of both dreams as they described several elements alongside the unfurling of the trip on a wide variety of levels. Not the least of which accounted for the interpersonal interactions and my own emotional responses to events. I also feel that the dreams addressed an important aspect of my relationship with this youth that describe the spiritual longing and search that compose the backdrop for the experiences as they played out. The mountain image holds within it the challenges of a quest for spirit – who ever said it was easy to make that ascent to the dance floor where earth and sky conjoin? There are several mythic tales that involve the wildness of mountains amid the initiatory quests of seekers no different than our selves on many key levels. In this way we were offered an opportunity to go through something meaningful together.

Our friend made his return flight and also landed in one piece back in the States, without serious incident (in large part thanks to the Egyptian crew at Guardian Travel). He and I are still in contact to this day. I’m grateful for the time we shared and for our struggle together and on our own during that trip. I don’t feel that he took away at all from my experience – rather, I feel I’ve learned much about what matters to me and also how crucial it is to be able to share in the lives of Youth. My young friend taught me many important lessons about the helpfulness and mystery of dreams as well as the usefulness of their application to extra-ordinary everyday encounters under unusual yet familiar circumstances.

There are a few loose ends in all of this, but as I said before – in Egypt, one solution leads to at least one more mystery, and isn’t that how the Song of Life tends to play out, after all is said and done? Besides, the Old Ones say that that’s what the end is all bout – without some loose ends, how could it all begin again and who would care enough to pick them up to start telling another lively story?

*Look for future blog entries exploring other aspects of my three years experience traveling to Egypt to do dreamwork and ceremony alone and with others in that marvelous and beguiling ancient place…
All Blessings, Travis Wernet


Egyptian Dream Blog Part 3, the adventure continues!


When we arrived in Luxor, now deeper into the trip and following a fairly grueling days worth of travel on buses, planes and thru airports, another layer became apparent. My roommate became disoriented one night and fell physically ill, complaining of feeling strange, and unable to stand or get out of bed. A doctor was called after much deliberation on everyone’s part. It was initially decided that he had become dehydrated, but beyond this it came out that he was a kidney transplant patient, was taking medication for this and that lack of water plus eating in unhelpful ways was likely contributing to some very dangerous health concerns.

My new friend agreed to do his best to drink and eat according to suggestions and my colleague, the trip coordinator, apologized to me for the situation, which truly felt like an unwanted circumstance – and interestingly was quite similar to the ‘pain in the back’ of my dream, at the very least in its feeling tone. We anxiously waited it out to see if his health and the situation might improve.

A few more days passed during which I saw a second sleep dream. In it I’m visited by my old friend Gabriel who is from Argentina and was living in Italy at the time of our trip to Egypt. To date, I’ve had three very important Gabriels in my life. I’ve learned that on some important level these friends have tended to partially embody (at least in my dreaming) the ancient figure of the Angel Gabriel, who is a key deliverer of dreams  – in fact, Gabriel was the messenger who brought Muhammad to the Koran through his prophetic visionary journey in roughly the same part of the world I now found myself.  Gabriel, in my dreams, seems to be this kind of divine figure at times. In this instance, he comes and warns me that the large hotel I’m staying in – in the dream – is becoming toxic and that it is necessary to relocate ASAP. This time I connected the dream metaphor with my feelings of not knowing whether this individual was truly safe or not, the visit by the Doctor in the Hotel and with the idea that this young mans body could be understood as a toxic structure due to the kidney issues (the unsafe Hotel), himself in need of relocation, back to the United States where he could be physically, psychologically and emotionally well-cared for and feel safe at a foundational level of his being.

Perhaps surprisingly, things went fairly smooth for the next couple of days. Then another aspect of the first dream revealed itself with a calm wildness. The day we went to visit the Valley of the Kings and entered the visitor center, our little band gathered around the mock-up of the valley. At this site, there is a wonderfully vivid and accurate visual creation in miniature of the geo-physical lay of the land showing the inside of the tombs underneath the surface as well as the hills, trails and peaks above ground.  I realized that there, near the middle of the model was my “Mountain of the Ancestors”, almost exactly as it had appeared in the first dream and looking very ‘pyramidal’.

The so-called Valley of the Kings is a fascinating locale out in the desert a fair distance from the Nile River and Luxor. It’s a place where the ancient Egyptians are understood to have fled, in the sense that they were looking for places to bury their sacred representatives of the Divine where they could not be found or disturbed by grave robbers who had become active at that time in ancient history. I was deeply struck by the recognition of the mountain from my dream. But, as before, wasn’t quite sure precisely what to make of this, so I simply opened my awareness and thought through recent events, seeking to weave together any threads that might speak to why the image appeared in both my dreaming and now my waking consciousness. I find I have more speculations than answers as I continue to reflect upon this event. Egypt starts to work on a person in this fashion after awhile, if not at the very get-go. As any good Egyptologist will tell you, the more one learns about the ancients of this land and their ways, the more mystery opens up around each new corner, and the less one seems to know.

Having been tapped on the shoulder by these parallel layers of dreaming and waking events, I’ve felt out the symbolic resonances related to people and mountains, peaks and ancestors. The mountain imago from my dream, as it intersects with its day-world counterpart of the scaled model, evokes strong feelings of archetypal import: the narrowed peak as a metaphorical and literal point of connection with the heavens, a precarious meeting place between heaven and earth, sky and ground, and a place of initiation as such. It’s commonly held and well known that the source of inspiration for the famous pyramids in Giza springs from the creative ground of human imagination as imbued by the natural landscape of the earth; in fact – the pyramidal quality of several mountains in Egypt and their proximity to tombs attest to such a reality. This touches into universal aspects too, wherein the mythos of people throughout time and across the world finds relevance in human awareness and activity as evoked by aspiring stone pinnacles, mountainous crags and summits as embodiments of our earth-bound longing to connect with Spirits, Goddesses and Gods.  Something about this energy speaks to the very impetus behind our diverse motivations for journeying to Egypt in the first place. During my time there I made the move to spend some personal quiet time as close to the pyramidal rock mountain as I could get. Amid throngs of tourists I made my way there, no small trick during our limited two-hour visit among the ancient burial sites of the Pharaohs in this old, old land, where the remnants of a sacred technology bespeak the import of ceremonially embodied funeral rites as an intended guarantee for spiritual existence and completion in the afterlife. Once arrived at the base, having gotten as close as I could, I felt a deep sense of the call to my own transformation. I also perceived a reminder to forever seek the beauty of life and soul, spirit and body with the reality of human nature and Nature’s nature in heart and mind. I also wondered if our little group had perhaps lost a crucial focal point for journeying in this place and made an offering to the ancestors to ask them to show us and teach us ways to recall them and to honor the curiosity, wisdom, challenge and wonder that seems to have gone into the creation of life-ways in the Egypt of ages past which still seems able to affect the present.


End of Part 3, the Conclusion will follow shortly, in the final Part 4,

All Blessings, thanks for reading! TW

Egyptian Dream Travels Part 2

As the 2012 trip unfolded, I kept coming back to this first dream of the journey, checking the experience against current events in waking life, sitting with the energy of it – the metaphors and memories of the dream narrative. One of the things I love about being in Egypt is waking up quite early, sitting and having my coffee in the Arabic-style cafes and allowing the dream world to ferry its voice over through the thin fabric between worlds. The first week of the trip I’ve done three times over now is usually spent adjusting and adventuring around Cairo. It’s also a time for getting to know one’s fellow travelers.

Folks from all around the world still travel to Egypt to explore the amazingly in tact architectural and cultural marvels of a high past spiritual civilization, which hints at vast wealth on much more than simply a material level. The people I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and do ceremony with have come from as far away as China and from several places across the U.S. and Canada. This time, my roommate happened to be a young man in his early 20’s from my home state, Colorado. We made a quick connection on a variety of levels, including a deep interest in mystical traditions and practices.  As the days unfolded, it appeared that the trip was more than a bit overwhelming for him and despite clear requests for the group to stay together and to be attentive to one’s surroundings, my new friend began to trail off at odd and inconvenient moments. He also got himself into engagements with locals that left him bewildered and confused, despite our attempts to suggest he do otherwise.

The other folks on the trip made every effort to support this youth and certain of our group expressed paternal levels of care and concern, myself included. The leader of the trip, a woman who has been taking groups to Egypt for over 10 years, and myself, as the experienced hands on deck, noted that our young compatriot seemed to need a little extra support and prompting to remain focused. We both began to wonder if something else might have been going on. My approach differed from the woman leading the journey, in that her feeling was to leave him to his own devices and to hope that he would ‘get it’. She even remarked to me that she didn’t want my enjoyment to be weighed down or affected by any sense of needing to look after this young man. Yet, I felt happy to relate with him and sought to offer some helpful direction and support.

Intuition is my strength. It’s the way I’ve navigated through the world and led my life for forty-one years. When my hunches start to ‘tingle’, I have learned to pay attention – of course, I do sometimes miss the boat as well. As the soup of our journey together thickened and our outings became ever more stimulating, I was reminded of the dream. But I also had an increasing sense of something not adding up, yet also adding up in a direction that smelled as if a surprise of some sort was on the wind. The other travelers approached me more than once, worriedly asking about my roommate. In our down time, he and I had conversations that began to paint a picture of more than a little concern. I learned that he had been using medical marijuana back in the States, but had suddenly quit just prior to our journey due to the obvious dangers of trying to take this across foreign and domestic borders. He was asking me if I thought it might be safe to buy some here and smoke to cut down on the feelings of craving he had begun to have and which seemed to be getting quite acute. That didn’t seem like a great idea to me. One of the other folks – a woman who came on the trip by herself had also begun to cause some concerns, in the sense that she also was deciding, at times, to carry out her own agenda and return to the group on her own schedule which was truly in conflict with our initial agreements and a real pain in the neck. When traveling together in an unfamiliar land, certain consensual arrangements support the ability of every individual to enjoy the various delights on offer. Well into the first week, things were starting to feel more than a bit tense with these two individuals acting out varying degrees of ‘drift’ away from the overall cohesion of our little band of travelers.

I continued to review my “Swimming Beach Below the Mountain of the Ancestors” dream. In this exploration, I began to notice a connection between the ocean waves speaking to the sense and reality of feeling knocked over by forces stronger than my self in certain ways. As Rilke has said, “This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings”. In my own personal mythology at least, when waves appear in the dream, coming with a force upon the beach, as they do while I am swimming in the ocean in this one, some unexpected and potentially overpowering event is likely to reveal itself in the near future. At the same time, I began recognizing that the leader of the trip could be seen and experienced as my ‘boss’ – the one ultimately in charge and to whom, like it or not, I felt I had to give sway to. My dream seemed to be showing me that there would be a kind of conflict ‘at the back of things’ (just like the sore on my old boss’s back) and that aspects of the trip had quickly taken on a ‘pain in the butt’ flavor. I also saw that this new arrangement in waking life Egypt resembled important aspects of my former waking work relationship with the boss in my dream. The feeling of needing to go for nourishment (the food invite from friends) described the tension over confronting the ‘sore’, trying to get ‘to the bottom of things’ and dealing with the ‘annoying boss’ versus going for a relaxing and delicious meal.  It also matched the feeling over certain dinners, which we often share while on this trip, where everyone comes together and imbibes food and conversation after some private time at the Hotels and a days worth of adventures. Such occasions on this journey became increasingly tense at times due to the dynamic of the group and folks within it.

End of Part 2 – More dream exploration and travel tid-bits to follow!

Egyptian Dream Travels, Part 1

For the last three years, I’ve traveled to Egypt as a ceremonial guide, sound healer and dream worker. My role in this has been to offer music, poetics and support for groups of individuals taking a soul-journey to an ancient land of rich, surviving spiritual wonder. Over the course of my sojourns, I have been mindful of paying attention to my dreams and learned much about the ancient world. Through this course of trips, I have also found inspiration at home and abroad to learn as much as possible about the various connections between music and dreams – both in ancient and contemporary times. Various threads of curiosity have tickled my attention as they’ve woven across the loom of my adventures. I find them still, composing a wild and unfinished garment of experiences I have been about discovering on my travels in this fertile, surprising land.

In 2012, I had a bevy of dreaming and waking serendipities, which I feel  illuminate the way that creative and attentive work with dreams benefits both the dreamer and his/her community on many multiple layers of meaning and experience. While on a short layover in Jamaica New York on my way to Egypt this time around, I had the following dream:

“Beach Swim below the Mountain of the Ancestors”

“I find myself at the beach, with others, including my waking life partner. We’re playing in the waves, and I sense this is a place somewhat like Hawai’i and/or Mexico – somehow a combination of both. We’ve been to the nearby mountain. This high peak reminds me of a place I often visit in dreams and which I connect, on one important level, with the energy of the Ancestors. It rises up into the sky just above a wave-lapped wall up from the surf where we are swimming in the ocean. It’s time to go for a bite to eat. As I have this thought/realization in the dream, my former boss from many years ago (also a good friend in waking life to this day) shows up along with one of my former work-mates – they are both women. Their names, I discover later, mean ‘the forest’, and ‘of noble birth’. I see the mountain up beyond the beach where these two individuals have suddenly appeared. There is a ring of cloud around the top, a ways below the summit. It seems like bad timing, as the woman who was my boss has a sore on her lower back and is asking me to help her with this, or is complaining about it to me. She’s uncharacteristically ‘trashy’ and seems ‘needy’. My attention is distracted away from my friends, by her unexpected presence along with the other woman. At this moment, I get taken under by a big wave, eventually come up and look at the whole scene as before. The beach, the wall and the mountain behind the other figures are stil there; my friends are irritated with me for dilly-dallying and paying attention to this woman, rather than going with them to get some food.”  End of Dream

At the time of this recollection, I paid special attention to record it in my journal, ponder it and turn it over in my mind and heart. I had very little idea of what to make of the experience (something we’re all prone to, when working dreams alone, due to a phenomenon known as ‘unique blindness’ which says that it’s often difficult for us to ‘get’ the meanings and messages spun through our own dreams, because it’s hard for us to see ourselves – as if we’re looking from within and seeking a clear view from without). No less, I spent time with this dream reality and came back to it as my Egyptian advent unfolded. This begins to describe the way that ‘Dream Catchers’ – folks who work and play with our own and others dreams – seek to make a healthy habit of tending a nest for the strange and wonderful, sometimes confusing productions of the psyche. With dreams, it’s as if one has been given the charge to look after a burgeoning garden. Even after the starters have been planted in the soil, much care and attention is needed for the growth of a healthy and diverse harvest. The vital living forces of the dream garden are to be watched, felt, watered, fertilized and nourished along the way to any crop that might be taken in when what is grown and greened becomes ‘ripe’. Over the years I’ve learned not to put away images and events that enliven my nights during sleep just because I don’t at first understand their meaning or import to my life. As Carl Jung has said, the more we turn such energies around in our waking awareness, “something almost always comes of it”.

The story of my 2012 Egypt trip continues in Part 2, “coming soon” All Blessings, 13 Thank Yous! Travis W

So Why Work with Dreams?


A Personal and Cultural Community Quest

Persephone’s Shadow, Gifts from the Underworld:

Living, Sleeping and Dreaming in times of Endarkenment

 As a variety of storms brew and land across the world, here in the Northern Hemisphere the energies follow their ancient path down into the depths of  ‘terra firma’. Any number of  ‘real-life’ dramas play themselves out across the daily and nightly screens of existence. In the U.S. we’re up for the next Presidential Election and folks in several places (if not everywhere) struggle with the daily routines and challenges of our human, practical bound duties and enigmas. Winter is in the wings, but the weather is unusual and strange in several locales and along with the economic crunch of the past few years, it’s clear that there’s a lot on the collective plate for us all to be considering and responding to, especially, but not exclusively on the East Coast in the wake of Sandy.

Given all this, how might we take care of ourselves and find a healing center within during this time of rife polarizations and the fraying at the edges of culture and community and massive challenges to our relationship with nature ? As one of my favorite archetypalist authors James Hollis puts it,

“It is insufficient to understand our time in merely political or economic terms. To understand what it means to be human obliges a growing awareness of the deepest designs of the soul.”

The warp and weave of such threads are to be found, surely, if not elsewhere, in our dreams. The soul is said to be the playground and the workshop of dreaming, as well as a great source of solace, purpose and mystery.


A woman in one of my on-going dream group gatherings recently shared a story about the way dreams can have a very practical, guiding and helping quality to them. She described her present difficulties with finances at one of the meetings, during which several heads nodded in understanding about the current air of our own challenges around material survival. In her quest to keep a roof over her head, she relayed how she didn’t know how her current months rent would be covered. Amid a morning of the stress and anxiety accompanying such obstacles, she searched for solutions and was not getting very far. The way she describes it, she stepped back for a moment, slowed down and decided to ask for help from her sources of spiritual guidance. At this moment, a previously unrecalled dream fragment (a short and seemingly ‘insignificant’ remembered portion of a sleep dream) popped into mind. In the dream, she sees herself finding a man’s wallet and opens it, where she then finds $100 that she ‘forgot she had’. Upon recovery of the dream, it suddenly occurred to her to reach out to her father and ask for much needed and formerly unprovided monetary assistance. She called him up and much to her surprise he said that he’d be happy to help out. Despite the dreamers past experience of her father as unresponsive to such requests, and in the face of fears of being told “No”, the dreamer found a temporary solution to her pressing financial problem.

Dreams have the potential to move us in exactly these unexpected ways and many more. From my view, this dreamer honored her own sense of deep inner guidance as a result of  her long-held practice studying, trusting and working with her dreams in community and on her own. In the groups over the last 3 months, we’ve been highlighting this aspect of the dreams to address and point the way towards practical, everyday guidance and wisdom. I love this example for several reasons – it shows me (once again) that, among other things, there is a strong link between dreams as creative prompters and a persons overall health and wholeness. In a moment when all else failed, the dreamer turned to her soul to ask for guidance and was met by the exact symbolic and metaphorical experience needed to inspire her to reach out in a way that stretched her own limits as well as those she described belonging to her father. In this instance, it can be seen how dreams may meet our needs on a variety of levels at once. It might seem that this example is stuck in the economic layer, which Hollis has said is more on the surface where concerns of soul are immanent. In actuality, this story shows how soul has been made while also addressing the energy and concern of physical well-being. Through a personal economic crisis, the dreamer and her father have connected in a whole new way and an experience of emotional-psychological risk has expanded the possible horizons of two family members amid the intentional honoring of a dream memory as well as a waking life need. These types of interactions also send out ripples and effect/affect the other people in our lives.

Good work with dreams ought to support this experience. Working in groups (or one to one) from a “Projective-style Approach” with the understanding that as we share our dreams and others listen, all we can do is imagine the dreamers own experience of his or her dream leads to a long list of exciting and previously unaccounted for imaginative alternatives for responding to the tasks of ordinary life. It also turns out to be self-empowering (for everyone!) as a result.

The helpful tone of the groups and individual sessions as I seek to present them, is in large part forged from the further understanding that only the dreamer knows what meaning the dreams might hold – even though we all have our own “A-Ha’s!” of insight around the dreams being shared. In the particular example of the ‘forgotten $100 in the mans wallet’, the deeper layers of meaning for me are around ‘value’ and ‘worth’ in general, and my version of the dream as well as the wonderful day-world parallel of how this little fragment inspired creative action and support show the way dreams speak on multiple levels of meaning and come in the service of health and wholeness. By taking a chance, the dreamer has honored the dream, and in my imagined version of her described experience, at the very least, the potential for increased feelings of self and other-worth have both expanded. In essence, the message I get is that ‘its worth asking for help, I’m worth being supported, and can honor these elemental truths by asking for what I need and want’. If I can imagine being the dreamers father, I also feel ‘worthy’ as my daughter has valued me enough to ask for help and I have chosen to recognize that I am willing to do so, which has the effect of showing me my own self-worth in a whole different way than I had conceived of it before.

This is just one of several examples I could offer, and yet it stands out as a timely highlight of the various ways dreams and paying attention to them can be of immediate, deep, practical, emotional and psycho-spiritual service to dreamers and those who are close to them.

In up-coming blogs I will be sharing more examples about practical help from dreams and discussing my own dreams and experiences in Egypt over the last few years and we’ll be furthering the discussion around many-layered dream assistance and exploration from a projective dreamwork perspective.

Dream On! All Blessings, Travis W