Online Community Dream Work, “Across Space and Time”

MirrorWolf-2Image Credit – by

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 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


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