Oneiromancy and Dream MirroringWhether they are epic narratives or jumbled images from the day before, dreams offer us an extraordinary opportunity to continue our studies - even in our sleep! There have been volumes written on dreaming and dreams from every angle possible; from the psycho-therapeutic to the mythic with many a winding path in between. I encourage you to make a practice of writing your dreams down every morning. The sooner you do this upon waking the more likely you are to remember them.
Dreams offer us an opportunity to learn both from our own unconscious and from The Spirits. Within the dream, as within a Shamanic Journey, we can transcend time and space and all the laws of physics and receive wisdom not necessarily available to our conscious mind. Unpicking a dream is much like unpicking a journey - they don't always make sense in a linear way, they can be packed full of elusive metaphors or contain a clear and simple message. The symbols and metaphors held within the dream are clearest to the dreamer and have been created with their metaphorical and symbolic language. However, unlike the journey, where the intention is conscious, the dream rises from the unconscious mind and so can be a potent opportunity for the subconscious or The Spirits to ask us to attend to those matters to which the conscious mind (for whatever reason) is not attending. Having said that dreams can also be invited in; in the same way that we would set the intention for a journey we can set an intention/question and 'dream on it'. The question is asked and held in our mind as we enter into sleep and the dream is the answer.
Just as there are different types of journey - typically in response to different types of question - so there can be different types of dream. Those ones full of the clutter of the day are often simply 'releasing dreams', allowing us to revisit and clear unexpressed emotions, or re-consider unexplored options or points of view. Then there can be epic, or even very brief, 'teaching dreams', and we can wake up already half knowing what it is we need to understand from what took place in the dream. There can be 'premonition dreams' and 'divinatory dreams' - paying attention to our dreams will soon show us these and the more you spot them in retrospect the more you are able to spot them in the moment. Each of these is valuable in it's own way - and the more you write down your dreams the more you will be able to see which is which and attend to what they ask of you.
Dreams are another gateway to wisdom - to connection with the Spirits, another opportunity to listen and learn. The practice of Oneiromancy is ancient the world over and was definitely practised by our celtic ancestors, as was the practice of Dream Sharing or Dream Mirroring. This is working with one or more other people to find the wisdom in our dreams. The practice is as follows: A dream is shared and if there was an intention set before dreaming that is shared too. The listeners listen to the dream with every shred of their attention, but not really with their mind (hopefully this rather elusive statement will become clearer in a moment). While they listen they allow images or words to arise within them in response to the dream. When the dreamer has finished narrating the dream these images and words are shared - they are not 'dream analysis' they are coming from a totally different way of listening: It is not the analytical mind that is responding to the dream but the dream body - it is with our soul that we are listening, not our mind. The images and words are offered without interpretation, they are there to bring light to understanding the dream for the dreamer. It is my experience that sharing a dream and having it mirrored in this way can bring extraordinary clarity and wisdom where there was none!
I suggest that dream sharing be undertaken as a sacred practice - so call to The Spirits, to Allies, to The Ancient ones and to Wisdom and Power before you begin. Light a candle, say a prayer. Set a clear intention of clarity and non-judgement. Banish 'dream analysis'. Be prepared to be entranced and educated.
The Seven Directions
A Daily Practice That Could Change Your World.
This is the 7 Directions article approximately as it appeared in Sacred Hoop (Issue 85)
“Above me, below me, before me, behind me, to my right, to my left, within.”
Every day – like most people in the West I imagine – I am subject to an onslaught of information and images from around the world that alternately break my heart and make me furious. Our Earth, our precious one and only home, is being subjected to a battering the like of which she has never before experienced. So are her animals and so are her peoples. Signing and sharing petitions and disseminating information are all well and good, they are certainly time better spent than ‘liking’ videos of idiot (disconnected, heartsick, uninitiated, quite possibly hopeless) teenagers drinking pints and pints of spirits, but they don’t feel like anything near enough to me. I am not in a position to go out and join anti-fracking protests far from home, or go to sea on a Greenpeace ship – so I’ve been wondering – “what can I do?”
Every religion and spiritual tradition throughout time has offered instruction on what to do with the self - the ego - with all its jabbering wants, needs and opinions. Some tell us to punish the self which they see as inherently wicked - others ask that we work on improving ourselves through study. Shamanism, like Buddhism, asks us to see that our notion of self is an illusion; we can experience ourselves as individual, but in truth we are part of a bigger whole. One of the primary teachings of Shamanism, as it has been handed down from mouth to ear all across the globe and throughout time, is to know that we are not alone but a tiny part of a huge interconnected web of life encompassing our planet and everything on it. Just as there are many Bees in one hive, still each individual Bee is unable to survive at-all without the others, without the whole of the hive. We are part of this one and only Earth-home, we are the cause of her problems and can hopefully be the solution.
The practice of the Seven Directions begins with an awareness of yourself in your body (this is rare enough by itself – in this distracting, heady time we live in). As you slowly speak the words “Above me, below me, before me, behind me, to my right, to my left, within” you send your awareness to each one of these directions. It can help to move your arms into these directions. Then you can expand your awareness to your immediate environment, just a few feet around you – repeat the directions; expand over yards, miles, counties, countries. The imagination is a muscle that can be strengthened like any other with exercise. Traditionally – and this practice exists in varying forms in many shamanic cultures around the world – you would repeat the words and the shift in expanding awareness three times.
I would heartily recommend to you that you undertake this practice first thing in the morning and outside. Make it part of a daily salutation to ‘all that is’ and allow it to fill your heart with gratitude for all that you are part of. At first your attention might be directed to getting to know your immediate environment through your senses; which animals live to my right, which trees, which birds sing? Then perhaps a sensing of the greater geography of your surroundings; below me – what are the rocks beneath the streets I know so well? Which constellations arrange themselves above me? As you practice you can learn to expand the circle of awareness so wide that the body of the earth becomes your body; the rivers your veins, the rain your tears, the trees your lungs. When you can experience yourself as this greater whole what follows is yet more capacity to truly love – yourself and everything else that both is and is not you.
Openheartedness leads inexorably to gratitude; gratitude for everything we are and everything we have until gratitude becomes satisfaction and when we are finally satisfied, we have enough. Suddenly we are not subject to the endless demands of the 21st century tutored ego that constantly whines that it’s craving for more be met. We are free – our concerns are for far more than our tiny separate self and our whole hearts can start to unravel the terrible mess that each one of us subscribes to every single day as a planetary way of being.
We can and will change the world.This we Know:
The Earth does not belong to man,
Man belongs to the Earth.
All things are connected like the
Blood that unites one family.
Man did not weave the web of life;
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does unto himself.”
- Chief Seattle, 1852