“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 Thresholds, Dreaming Crosstroads

Artwork by Vladimir Kush http://vladimirkush.com/
Artwork by Vladimir Kush

Just as the seeds of new life deep down in the soiled memories of the earth are being darkly and secretly dreamed anew, so too, our lives are stirring once more as we launch yet again upon the unknown journey of the New Year.

The period of time, which we now call “the Holidays”, once known as and referred to as “the Holy Days” has seemingly passed and many of us will now return to the actions and duties of daily life and work. Some have rested, many have supped, gifted, socialized and still others have withdrawn or retreated. Many have also been dreaming and remembering, day and night, paying attention to the surrendered visions of experience that form behind the eyelids as we sleep and restore ourselves during long winter nights, the darkest nights that are even now once more shortened and brightening, following a full yet perhaps briefly held moment of stark depths.

No less, as we go now, the call to reflect can still be heard upon the silvern wafts of moonlight sailing upon the winter winds in the oceans of sky just outside our doors and on the other side of the windowpanes knowingly navigating through the ethers of night and early mornings.

Symbolically and mythically, naturally and cosmically, this time of seasonality evokes the living energy of the threshold. Threshold gateways appear in dreams as doors, bridges, windows and portals, and more, among other deeply cloaked situations and scenarios that bespell the energy of ‘the crossroads’.

This is the archetypal resonance of a needed rite of passage in the human and the world soul. Ancient and traditional as well as contemporary cultures have marked the turning of the New Year in various ways at specific calendrical moments for ages. What lies behind is, on some level, let go of and finished, when what has passed is no longer vital or needed. What lies ahead is very likley unknown and uncertain. It’s as if the darkness itself mirrors the rich potentiality of that which falls away into the void and the stirring possibilities for what may yet emerge.

Threshold times can be times of great tension, as the craving for some sense of what is and what is to be done grips us in the midst of a great turning towards and through an invitation for emptiness, solitude and renewal.

In the dreams of many individuals, death, dying and darkness appear as echoes of this energy at this and other times. In the metaphoric and symbolic language of dreams, the people we have been, and whom we may have relied upon, are shown to “pass away” in the dreaming, as energetic and actual experiential events showing that the psyche, and the soul of individuals and the collective are in need of transformative and resuscitating movements.

The word “threshold” itself hails from the old farming practice of separating the “chaff” from the “wheat” – the valuable from the less-than-necessary portions of the harvest. To stand upon the threshold is to exist within the quality of this form of separation, and to trust that what has gone before is now falling away, while that which will come is still yet to arrive. On the threshold gateway, it may be felt that the only thing we can know is that we are “betwixt and between”. The need for certainty may be asking to be sacrificed at this time and in this place, that is to say, to be made sacred.

The tendency in modern times may be to rush ahead or back into comforting activities of the daily world, the routine of what is known, the familiar. However, we might pause once more before re-engaging our lives and projects and seek to honor this passage over the threshold of time-bound reality amid the palpable wisp of the eternal passing over the lips of the Old and New Year, to feel into the dream of our lives, the earth, the animals, the elementals and the stars for creating some vital, true spaces for the new dream to be fashioned by the divine forces that act deeply within us and speak to us through the unexpected voices and occurrences in our waking visions and sleep dreams.

As we move into the cadence of life “as we know it” we might renew our awareness around the depths of our soul’s desires by simply seeking to reflect once more upon the energy and meaning of how it feels to make the crossing yet again, from the past year into the renewing times ahead. As we do so, the wise energies in our dreams and our imaginings will be seen and felt to offer surprising and rich forms of guidance and mystery that can and will betoken the winds of change that lie just ahead on the pathways of our individual and shared lives, blessing body, spirit and soul.

The IASD Conference in Berkeley Ca


            Symbolically and otherwise, the San Francisco Bay is a magnanimous locale for holding an international conference on dreaming. The International Association for the Study of Dreams will once again be holding their “Pow-Wow” for Dreamers, Dream Artists, Dream Work Practitioners and Dream Researchers in 2014 at the Double Tree Hotel in Berkeley CA.

            Viewed from the lens of dreaming awareness, the gathering brings together a cornucopia of supportive elements, drawing on the soul of place as a spirit-fuel of deep and expansive exploration. The “Dream of the Conference” takes place on the edge of the place Indigenous People have called Turtle Island, aka North America. ‘Berkeley by the Bay’ is the land of the setting sun, the furthest reach of land describing the vision of the western horizon, a kind of waking portal into ‘the World Beneath the World’.

            Across the calm waters of the Bay lie the legendary Gates of Gold, also known as the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridges stretch between disparate locales and connect them, born out of a spirit of vast creativity and an inclination to bring together formerly split apart geographies. People have gathered here in multitudes, magnetically pulled towards the vast beauty of this place near the water, at the edge, where the sun forges its occasional mighty announcements of glory and splendor mere moments prior to descending into the eternity of night. In Buddhism, as I understand it, “the golden gate” is a symbolic, actual, and metaphoric name for an experience, a moment and an illuminatory passage towards enlightenment. What better images and realities to accompany us as we dreamers and conference-goers coalesce to share, learn, dream, teach and enter the realms of the great unknown together?

            One of the many aspects I have come to love and appreciate about the IASD Conference, and the organization itself, is the way that multitudinous aspects of dreaming are highlighted and explored. When I attended and presented at the conference in 2012, I was witness to the diversity of topics, presenters and subjects on offer. At the conference one can easily meet and learn from neuro-scientists, sleep researchers, therapists, poets, painters, sculptors, writers, ministers, business-people, and dream-fans.

            This feels “true” to me. A diversity of ideas and theories, practices and teachings about dreams reflects the actual multiplicity of dreaming itself. No one theory or experience is necessarily more valid than any other. Like dreams themselves, the conference operates on the experiential and philosophical premise that dreaming and waking reality mirror to us each day and every night showing us how varied, full and expansive life really is and can be.

            In my experience working with and tending dreams over the past twenty years, dreams are physical, spiritual, emotional, creative, nonsensical, deeply instructive, soulful, mythic, biological, time-specific, quizzical and eternal – “all of the above” and so much more.

            This year at the conference I will be presenting on my own work with sound and dreams, from a projective-style standpoint. My presentation will illustrate how my work with dreams and dreamers focuses on how the imagination – a very real, and most vital creative ability which even scientists draw upon – is at the root of our experience of dreaming. Through the invoking of sound and music, it’s possible to enter the energy of dreams and the imagination via the universal resonance that felt frequencies vocalize. Using a variety of instruments that are made from organic and wild materials, such as Didjeridu, Native American Flute, Tibetan Singing Bowls, Shamanic Drums and Rattles, I will present on ways to incubate dreams while we’re awake and invite a depth of dreaming while we’re asleep. We’ll also practice the group model for sharing dreams that I teach in on-going group meetings and individual work with folks that Jeremy Taylor has written about (in his “The Wisdom of Your Dreams”) and taught throughout the world for the past fifty years – “Projective-style Dream Work”.

            For anyone interested in learning more about dreams, the conference this year will not fail to deliver. There are a bevy of great discussions, networking opportunities and presentations on a wide variety of topics from clinical to poetic views and practices for working with dreams. There’s even a Dream Art Display and a Dreamer’s Ball!

To find out more, please check out the IASD website:

May Your Dreams Find You and Gift You with a True Inner Gold!

All Blessings, Many Thank Yous, Travis Wernet

Creativity and Dreaming, “The Genie in the Bottle”…


Dreams arouse creativity by simply being dreams. By their very nature, the experiences we have when we’re dreaming show us unexpected, innovative ways of representing and engaging with reality.

            Reflecting on and paying attention to our dreams is, itself, a creatively inspiring and supportive act. Witnessing dream energies opens us to the imaginative domain of a consciousness that says, by example, that we can do things like fly, shape change and breathe underwater in the dream world.

            Because dreams appear to us the way they do, revealing previously not thought of or seemingly impossible scenarios and combinations, they provide a rich source for influencing and informing our creative lives while we’re awake.

            By apprenticing ourselves to the spirit of our dreams, we connect with perceptions, energies and feelings that can easily spark off ideas for how to cast similarly vibrant states of being, images, writing and forms of music in the waking world.

            One way to invite the energy of the dreams to inform our creative endeavors is to look into the dreams to see if they are addressing our waking life creative projects and desires naturally. Dreams will often spontaneously offer up experiences that readily weave into the efforts we’re making while awake. This happened for me when I was recording my meditation and dream incubation album, “Yoro Yoro”.

The night before going into the studio to record tracks for the album, I had a dream that allowed me to inhabit a spirit of the feeling that we wanted to express with the music. The more one is engaged in creativity in waking life, the more the dreams will stir in their own unexpected products, experiences and images related to that endeavor.

            Perhaps you are looking to the dreams to motivate and unlock creative juices that aren’t currently running freely. In this case, it can be helpful to incubate dreams that can assist in the movement of creative energy within and without. To incubate a dream is simply to ask for a guiding and helpful experience in the dream state, before going to sleep at night that can help point out ways to liberate the creative energy flow. In this case, the dream might show an inner obstacle that is in the way of making forward progress and provide a hint or clear example of the next step.

For instance, if I’m experiencing “writer’s block”, the dreams will (at the very least) show my various inner attitudes or waking impediments to allowing the muse to come forward. Maybe the dream will show that I have an old judgment about the worth of my abilities or the value of writing itself. The dreams may also reveal how I might not be fashioning the best environment for my writing in waking life. Is the space I’m writing in supportive enough for my process? Are there distractions that myself, or others are placing across the path of my development? These themes could apply to any creator finding him, or her self stuck on the trail to expressivity. How can I dance with those roadblocks? The dreams will evoke multi-leveled and symbolic means for freeing up the energy. Sometimes we may have to go deeper into the blocks themselves before we can move on.

On a related wavelength, the dreams tend to offer up direct, metaphorically clothed solutions, examples and ideas for addressing a specific creative enterprise. Many artists and creators go to dreams, and look for appealing expressions within them, to draw out potential motivations and material for waking life creative outlets.

The more we give time and energy to our creative quests while awake, the more likely the dreams are to comment on them and to provide clear answers or solutions. This is especially true with the effort to incubate, hatch or grow dreams that speak to our waking life questions. It helps to form clear and direct, simple queries to present to our dreams. Just before going to sleep at night and as often as possible throughout the day, it also helps to establish these inquiries and to repeat them in one’s mind while gently intending to receive help from the dreaming source.

Examples you might like to play with in this undertaking include the following (feel free to craft your own questions along these lines – the more you put the questions in your own words, the more likely the dreams will be to respond in clearly understandable forms. I recommend keeping them simple and short):

  • What’s blocking my ability to create?
  • How can I be more creative?
  • What’s the solution to my creative project?
  • What does the spirit of my own creativity look like?
  • How do my dreams inspire creativity?

May your dreams and creativity be sparked and supported by the ideas presented here! The more we give time and reflection to both our dreams and creative endeavors, the more each will provide helpful and gratifying outcomes for the unfoldment of our rich and vital human and interconnected soul potentials.