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.

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!