“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” 😉

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.

Projective Dream Work and “You language”, Part 2

This post continues a theme from a previous one about projection… The image pictured here is from Surrealist Painter Magritte, and is titled “The False Mirror”


Why is it that we so often speak in what I call “You language”? When discussing situations with others, we often attempt to tell friends, colleagues and other folks what we think is true or right for them. We even do this when trying to describe our own individual unique experience of life, and make seemingly all-encompassing statements about people we may know very little about. For example, when somebody close dies, we say things like, “When death visits, you feel the limits of your own mortality and you begin to question the very meaning of existence”.  This might be true, in a general sense, for all of us, but it can be harder to hear when it’s put like this. And for some, it might not be like that at all. For instance, one might simply feel sad and miss the person who’s passed away. If I were having a conversation with someone about death and dying, and felt a sense of my own mortality, why wouldn’t I acknowledge that by saying, instead, something like, “When someone dies, it makes me question the meaning of my own life.” Wouldn’t it be more honest, helpful and appropriate to say what it brings out in me versus trying to speak for others? How can we honestly do anything but speak from and about our own experience? It’s not as though it even makes sense to pretend I can know for certain what another person is thinking or feeling, let alone what she or he has gone through in the past, or will face in the future. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own memories, thoughts and feelings from moment to moment and day to day!

Experience has been said to be one of the greatest teachers. Over time, and in my own life, I can recall several defensive arguments that took place because of people using “you language” with each other. I’ve done it many times myself. I know that when I do, part of the reason I am even tempted to do so, is that it seems it would be so much easier to be able to assign my difficult feelings and shadowy actions, the positive and negative potentials of my own existence, onto someone else, rather than face up to the challenging forces that exist within my own being. If I can cast my problems or potentials onto the neighbors, my friends or intimate partners, then I don’t have to clean up my own mess, or confront and take responsibility for aspects of my life that are anxiety producing or seem unattractive or difficult to respond to.

The obstacle to realizing this lies in an inborn capacity to be unaware of what we’re unaware of. How can we know what we don’t know, if we don’t know it? That guiding essence within each of us, what Psychology or Buddhism might call the ego, would much rather be seen as a champion with all the right stuff, than to be experienced as a perfectly flawed and complicated bundle of competing wishes, desires and qualities. This is one reason I find it so useful to work with dreams. Such visions, in my experience, provide a unique access to “the magic mirror that never lies”. Dreaming, we enter realms of the unknown where we’re given accurate depictions of previously unconsidered difficulties, and find solutions for the struggles we come up against in relation to others. It might not be easy to look at the images and situations that are reflected by dreams, but doing so allows a recognition of the unique challenges, gifts and tendencies which can be honored in seeking to discover and fulfill the souls’ deepest and dearest longings.

Here’s an example of one of my own night-world adventures, which I believe shows of how the unknown appears in dreams, as well as how projections relate to and within them.

“The Shrunken and Broken Protection Door, I’m a Woman Leading the Youth”

*Dream from May 2013:

I am vaguely aware of a structure that I find myself in. I know I’m leading a group of young people and that I’m a woman, my current age of forty-two, or slightly older. I feel a protective sense and see a doorway. The door seems to shrink just off the frame and its’ hinges as I look at it and my awareness becomes involved with somehow keeping the door closed. I also know that there’s a group outside that are waiting to get us, or attack us and I find myself concerned with fixing the door, but also with how to proceed out of the structure to get to the outside. I don’t feel it’s safe to do so with the attackers/mob out there waiting for and planning to attack us.

As the dreamer of this dream, I’m bound to find it tricky to see what’s in it for myself, because, like any dreamer, I am uniquely blind to the messages and meanings in my own material. No less, right off the bat, experiencing myself as a woman in the dream is an intriguing way for it to put me in a position that is opposite to my day-world, physical experience as a man. No matter how hard I try to imagine what it’s like to be female, while I’m awake, all I can do is make the effort to do so. On one level, the dream takes this experience a step further, and gives me a brief but real experience in the dream of feeling like and existing as a woman.

Although there’s much more that could be said about the above narrative, it relates to the earlier stated ideas in that the imagination here gives a directly felt-sense of being something that I don’t appear to be in the waking world. As I look at the dream from my conscious perspective, despite being a woman in the dream, I naturally, unconsciously, begin to project onto the dream all my ideas about what it means to be a woman, leading a group of youth, feeling protective and as if I need to insure the success of our quest. It would be easy to conclude, at least on one level, that a way I hold my inner idea of “woman” is to assume that she is motherly, protective, and is invested in taking care of her young.

The only reliable way to be sure what the dream is coming to say is to ask whether it inspires any sort of “A-Ha” response. I definitely do resonate with this possibility that the experience of being a woman in my dream is inviting me to look deeper into my own hidden layers of thought and feeling around what it means to be a woman, and that I may be expecting a kind of stereotypical role from her.

This is a very brief exploration, given the topic, but I do feel it begins to give a genuine sense of the way that dreams point out how we project, at the least, while we’re awake. I also want to emphasize that in looking back at the dream, it becomes possible to become aware of unconscious ideas, thoughts and feelings as they appear, while receiving, reading or listening to the dream. Working with the dreams in this way begins to create and honor a perceptive reality in which many of us may realize that what exists in the psyche, the inner imaginal world of each person, suggests that there are any number of unconscious ideas, feelings and attitudes which we’re not fully aware of. This phenomenon also demonstrates that it’s very likely we project such unknowns on each other, and that using an “I language” in our conversations can afford us the opportunity to realize what is true for each of us, and offers a different level of respect for each persons’ own version of reality and truth.