“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Online Community Dream Work, “Across Space and Time”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreaming On, Travis Wernet

Why Our Worst Dreams May Be Our Best


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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