Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Indigenous Dreaming.

For most people dreaming is simply about “living or witnessing vivid and emotional stories while they sleep.”  If they are lucky some of these dreamers have “lucid experiences while they dream and can report having a life in some other dimension or reality.”  It’s rare to meet the kind of Dreamer who has a strong understanding that what he or she dreams is not only a mental or symbolic expression of their daily concerns or curiosities; but is also a powerful tool.

When I introduce myself as a “traditional Dreamer” I’m not using a “title;” which I eventually hope my students will exploit.  No. I’m using as little words as possible to speak of myself, of my journey, and of the story or dream that I’ve been living for the last 53 years.  Every elder or Dreamer that has dreamt like I dream will use a word that best describes them and their journey and story / or dream.  In the 1800’s people used the word “Dream Walker” to describe the kind of dreaming that I often refer to as “Indigenous Dreaming” today.

In general people don’t give too much thought to dreaming.  It’s a natural phenomenon; which occurs when we are sleeping and in most cases, dreams have little connection to what we are living on a daily basis.  The individuals who search for people like me are usually having a difficult time wrapping their minds around what we call “dream phenomenon.” 

Here are some examples:

1.     After loosing a loved one a good number of people will dream of the decease.  Often these dreams are lucid, intensely emotional and leave a lasting impression.  A good number of individuals will search for understanding after receiving such dreams. 
2.     I often receive emails from people who are troubled by dreams; which have manifested in the following week.   Whether dreams are warning us of death, accidents or illness; or predicting a trip, a new relationship or the sale of a house – having dream realities become material can often be freaky and scary.   It certainly rattles our linear mind …
3.     We are taught that dreaming is a symbolic language; which speaks of subconscious issues or lost memories.  It surprises most people when they touch aspects of the dreaming; which is unrelated to their “ego”.  For example I often meet people who have dreamt of seismic tragedies in other countries like a flood, an earthquake, a tornado or volcano.  Some of these dreams were so real that these dreamers felt like they were one of the victims. 

Once you touch dreaming phenomenon, dreaming becomes limitless. 

Scientists or inventors like Alexander G. Bell and Benjamin Franklin used dreaming to dive into an ocean of creativity; which seemed untouchable from their waking perspective. They didn’t need or take hallucinogens to reach this level of dreaming.  Small exercises and a lot of patience helped them tap into areas of the “cell and brain;” which allowed them to pick up on dream realities asking to be manifested.  I love it when artists approach me with a vision to explore “dreaming” in such a way as to enhance their potential of creativity.  Musicians, painters or writers often approach dreaming for inspiration. Some scientists believe that it is impossible to dream of people, places or things that you have never seen before.  Through my personal experience it couldn’t be further from the truth since dreaming has given me access countless times to the unknown or the World of Mystery.

Close to a decade ago, I received a call from a young woman who lost her sister in a car accident.  Not only was this woman grieving; but she was also struggling with unresolved issues with her sister.  She begged for me to teach her how to reach the World of the Dead.  She wanted to sit down with her sister and make peace.  She didn’t trust her sleeping dreams where her sister would appear and tell her “all was good.”  She wanted a lucid voice in the dreaming and she wanted the kind of experience that she couldn’t refute.  She had lots of expectations and wasn’t ready to give them up…

I figured that with time and patience I could bring her exactly to where she needed to be.  Dreaming is a tool but it’s also a skill.  It’s not easy to teach people who are brainwashed by the fast pace of today’s life experience to slow down. 

“If you want to be pro-active in your dreams” I often say, “you need to be able to capture details and direct your movements.  In order to accomplish this task you have to develop the ability to focus, to observe, and to archive what I call: The obvious details.”

It took us almost two years to finally reach our goal.  During this time, she dreamt of her sister often but was never able to participate in the dreaming scene or dialogue.  She wasn’t interested in “symbolic interpretation.” 

Like she often repeated: “I am very much aware that my subconscious is struggling with some childhood issues and personal worries and fears.” 

Many of her dreams validated the fact that she was working through personal inner conflicts.  Even if these dreams frustrated her, they were still crucial to the process.  They were helping her get closer and closer to that dream experience / dream phenomenon that she so desperately needed to move on. 

I think the “end dream” literally took her by surprise.  She had given up on the idea that it would ever happen and since she was feeling less and less desperate over time she was no longer attached to the outcome.  I remember actually dreaming the dream along with her.  It was almost as if her sister was allowing me to “peek in” because I had guided her through the whole process and brought her to her.   Or maybe it was yet another gift for a Dreamer (her sister) -“evidence” that dreaming is a skill we can develop over time and it’s so much more than we can ever imagine. 

I feel blessed to be in the life of so many Dreamers and to have the privilege to share their story of awakening.  For some Dreamers, dreaming brings healing to deep wounds and issues or illness. For others it becomes a life long exploration and study.  Dreaming can teach us incredible life lessons and open our minds, our hearts and our soul to teachings beyond our reach. For other Dreamers, the phenomenon is a validation that they aren’t crazy, and that there’s a whole Universe out there waiting to be explored.  Everyone comes out of the experience with a unique perspective; which directs us to make great changes and choices in our life.

If you are an avid reader of my blog entries you know that I met my teacher through a dream; which lead us to later meet in person.  It is not easy to meet a “traditional teacher”.  They don’t usually advertise in newspaper or magazines.  I chuckled tonight when I was told that my event page on my web page wasn’t very informative.  I’m often criticized for not having a book or for not being easily accessible. 

Most times I reply: “If you are looking for me then, I am waiting for you….” 

Teachings, workshops, classes, forums and dream experiences are all available; but you have to dream and step into the dreaming for it to materialize.  I'm always looking forward to meeting new Dreamers and working through their unique stories along with them.  Sometimes all it takes is a question, a comment, a story or a dream!  

Dream of ME tonight and I'll no doubt dream of YOU!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Moon of Breaking the Masks 2017

In our tradition, the 9th Moon (starting count at the Blue Moon) of every year is called: Breaking the Masks.  When we first encounter this Moon we are 9 years old.  On the Wheel, the 9th Moon is found in the West and it’s when most children learn that there’s a difference between the fairy tales they were told or the television movies they adore, and reality.  Despite all the books that have been written on childhood development I have never come across anything that is as beautiful and as thorough as indigenous wisdom.  My first encounter with the Sacred Circle traditions left me feeling full…

There’s a long list of fascinating facts about the Moons of the Medicine Wheel.  One of them is that the word “moon” can refer to “time.”  The cycle of the Moon is present through our daily living.  We often use the word “moon” to speak of a month or a particular moment during a month (menstruation).   A moon can also mean “a year”.  Every birthday speaks of “a moon” we are adding to our personal story and finally, the presence of the moon in our lives speaks of maturity and development.  As you can see the moon and the sun are both instrumental in understanding different attributes relating to time. 

What is time?

In philosophy time is but an illusion; but when you explore time through physiology you see that it’s very much a reality.  Time takes a toll on our physical body.  Time is said to “heal all wounds” and when you explore time through attitudes, you begin to notice that we have the ability to increase or decrease the rhythm of time by the way we perceive and feel about the experience in our life story.   Some of us give time way too much power or credit; while others should maybe give it more attention. 

What makes the moons important is not only the fact that they speak of time and personal development; but they also speak of  “the collective” since they come together as one.   There are 13 moons on a Sacred Circle.  Eleven moons come together to reach Metamorphosis; which is 12th moon.  The 13th moon is the expression or form of this transformation.   Moons basically give us an understanding of what it means to be “sisters” or “brothers”. 

To initiates of the Sacred Circle we often say: “It takes working on your inner community to be able to finally be helpful in your families, your communities, and as a members of a Nation.” 

When I started learning the Medicine Wheel I was in my late teens /early 20’s.  I was happy to have some idea of the Moons by the time I had my babies.  I had my first child at the age of 24.  Four years of Wheel teachings was certainly not enough to heal my own illusions, programs and wounded moons; but it was extremely helpful when it came to being present to my children.  I didn’t want to be the kind of parent “who decides how a child grows up.”  I wanted to witness my children’s personal stories and to guide them to grow into them, true to their own nature.  It’s incredible how time flies because soon both my children were in their late teens / early 20’s and choosing to walk their own Wheels on their own terms.  I glanced back in time realizing that along with my children, I had spiralled a new loop to my Wheel and was growing into a deeper sense of my own personal tale and basic nature.  

Recently we were invited to speak at Concordia University to a classroom of counsellors (psychology).  After explaining that that every 12/13 moons (a year) brought us to a new cycle of 12/13 moons (another year) as student asked:  Are we condemned to always repeat our moons?” 

“We spiral the Wheel,” I explained, “we don’t walk the same trail over and over again until we’ve created a groove we can’t possibly escape.” 

It was through observing my children that I best learnt about the Wheel.  One day, at the park, I remember drawing a circle in the sand.   Here were the rules of the game: My son stood in the East with a red piece of ribbon in his back pocket while my daughter stood in the West also with a ribbon in her back pocket. 

“On the mark of 3” I told them, “you need to run around the Wheel until one of you pulls the ribbon away from his or her opponent.” 

They giggled and laughed side-stepping each other while running as fast as they could to finally get the ribbon.  They loved the game and eventually, it attracted other children who wanted to participate.  Even as the Wheel grew children all behaved the same: Wiggling, side-stepping and dashing around the circle. 

It’s the way any of us approach the Moons and the cycle or process they offer.  

·      We wiggle through the sudden challenges, emotions, and drama:  Uncomfortable, awkward, complaining and frustrated.
·      We sidestep our opponents in hope to get away: Stepping into the past, relating it to the present, and attempting to push through the future.
·      And then, we run as fast as we can learning, healing and developing the skills necessary to be stronger than the influences on the Wheel.

Sometimes we are the winner and other times, we are not; but it isn’t so much about winning as it is about “how we spiral around the Wheel.”  Ironically, we always side-step near the end, as our opponent is about to defeat us.  On the Wheel this occurs in the “heyoke wind or  initiator” (NW); in the same space as the Moon of Metamorphosis. 

What does that mean?  

It means that even though we are not always aware of the lessons we’ve learnt and integrated during a year (moon) we still instinctively side-step our opponents (challenges, issues, illusions, difficulties, tragedies etc..) and whether we win or not, we still grow and develop new skills, new insights, new wisdom and transform into something new!  This process actually happens at smaller levels every day, every month, every year and at every season (childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age).

My teachers and elders taught me to “watch and listen.” 
“You don’t learn through talking” they would say. 

So I take moment every day and breath in the Moons.  What are they telling us?  This Moon of Breaking the Masks is telling us to "look in the mirror" and observe what we see.  

What do you see in the mirror?  Beyond all the veils of illusion there exists reality...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Authentic Shamanism

I brought up the topic of “authentic Shamanism” at one of my classes / circles this week. I’ve noticed especially in the last three to four years that when people speak to me about Shamanism, they often make a distinction between what they are doing and what “is out there.”  These days if you are not into Ayahuasca you are not authentically into Shamanism.  So what is “Shamanism” if it changes its appearance every decade?  Is it about altered states of consciousness through hallucinogens? Is it about ceremonies and rituals; or about soul retrieval, dreaming and healing?  Since Shamanism isn’t a Religion and doesn’t have set doctrines, then how can you anyone be clear on what makes it “authentic?”

When I brought up the question this week, I received a few interesting comments.  Many of the individuals in our circles have struggled with addictions and it’s because of the Medicine Wheel teachings that their lives are full and healthy again.  The idea of defining Shamanism as a journey with hallucinogens is offensive to these people.  They feel that they’ve gained more clarity in body, mind and soul by exploring attitudes and disciplines; which connects them to nature and the stars. 

“To say that Shamanism doesn’t exist without Ayahuasca is preposterous” said JT who has been studying Shamanism for over a decade.”  According to JT there are several other ways to reach altered states of consciousness outside of taking drugs.  Fasting, dancing to the point of exhaustion, fighting an infection and being sleep deprived are also as efficient.  Both JT and I agreed during our conversation that the notion of “altered states of consciousness” does relate to Shamanism but it is a topic; which has become way too linear in the 21 century.  

How important is the subject of “altered states of consciousness” when trying to define or understand Shamanism?

I’ve often wondered it’s the lack of non-fictional stories relating to shamanic initiations or the lack of knowledge concerning the lengthily or life long education into natural and cosmological law or reality that gives permission to anyone and everyone to self-proclaim themselves as shamanic Holy People (Shamans, healers, dreamers, warriors, ceremonialists etc..).  Perhaps it’s the “power” of the religious institution behind church or mosque leaders; which protects priests, ministers, pastors, bishops, rabbi, imams etc… from having imposters take up their roles? Is it really important in the end to be able to tell the difference between the “authentic Holy People” and the pretenders?

From my perspective and based on the teachings that I’ve received “we trust Spirit” to bring each and every one of us to the teachers, healers, and guides that were meant for us.  Before any of us are born, our stories have been written and contracts have been signed with others.  These contracts are based on “learning, healing, growth and change.”  We commit to one another and we bring to each other the experiences necessary to move through a spiralling process of progress.  Whether it takes seasons, a life time or many life times to reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves – the journey we undertake impacts a whole collective.  To think that I’m the ultimate teacher, healer or dreamer for everyone is no doubt arrogant and even limiting. 

In all honesty I’ve learnt great lessons from educated experts, self-taught experts and total imposters. 

Last night during supper we were discussing the topic of “using Beagles (dogs) for experimentation and practice in veterinarian schools.” We all unanimously agreed that it was unacceptable.  Yet at the same time we all understood that students need “animals” to learn.  30 years ago you could be an initiate to a senior vet, and work at their clinic while going to school.  This way you could practice on animals; which needed the care and assistance.  Hairdressers, carpenters, teachers and many more trades and professions offered mentoring opportunities.  You couldn’t be recognized without the seal approval of an elder within the field.  These days “elders” are treated as “old timers” and pushed out of their jobs so that that the younger crowd could come in and take over.  Schools, tests and diplomas have replaced the “old school” mentoring methods. 

It seems that year after year; century after century well-intentioned individuals attempt to find the “perfect way” to teach and to legitimize skills and practices. For example when discussing “healing and massage” with practitioners I often come across a kind of social wound; which is about “a lack of recognition or legitimacy”. 

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want the permission to be who they are and be recognized and respected as such with no discrimination.

Seriously separating our working life from our personal, home life is ridiculous to me.  It should all come together as one.  The quest towards legitimacy is not only about the roles we play in the work force; but also about the roles we play in relationships and in the World.  One of the greatest issues today is that people don’t feel they have any kind of  “power” to bring forth changes in the environment; in their work and family settings or on the Planet.  It seems only people in politics or with money can be catalysts for change… 

When I started learning about Sacred Circle traditions with First Nation traditionalist 30+ years ago what I appreciated the most was how it was completely removed from the linear, Western World I came from.  I could breathe free without social programs and expectations.  I could open my heart and my eyes to what I was enthusiastic and curious about.  I could step into the circle and hear “my own story echo back to me.”  I was told at that moment that “authenticity” wasn’t so much about how the World or people perceived me; but about “how I chose to express myself in words, actions, choices and attitudes.” 
At the age of 19 years old I didn’t ask myself the question: “What is authentic Shamanism?”  It never actually crossed my mind.  I was looking for adventure and experience; and I was seeking out people and places; which resonated with me.  I was testing my gut and seeing where it would take me.  

It my experience it never took me to hallucinogens and yet, I still managed to reach heights of altered states of consciousness that a very small fraction of humanity are capable of.  I understand that it can be frustrating, disappointing and just plain annoying at times to watch people in their labyrinths / realities; but at the end of the day when I go back to silence – “I find me at the centre of my circle not them.” 

By making sure “I’m authentic” and true to myself in walk and talk I can emanate a sacred or holy vibe that can have an impact on others and the World around me.  It’s the only true medicine / power that we have… 

What is Shamanism about generally?  It’s about being intimately related to the Earth (nature) and the Stars.  If you want to find “authentic Shamanism” you need to first commit and devote your life to natural and cosmological reality.  You need to be authentic in this journey and quest.  Then, you need to trust and have faith in your own personal story.  You need to believe and respect the people who are on your path and the contracts you’ve made.

SO said something quite inspiring on Wednesday,  she said “I’ve known people who are great leaders; people who are great teachers; people who are great healers and dreamers etc…  I have good example of authenticity, now all I have to do is follow in their footsteps.” 


Monday, June 27, 2016

Dreaming Muscle

It was raining this morning when Gérard and me decided to take the dogs out for a walk.  Summer time is the only season where I enjoy being outdoors when it rains.  I think even the dogs appreciated the scene despite the fact that they were dripping wet by the time we returned home.  They played for a while in the backyard and we were able to towel them down before heading into house.  Suddenly a rainy morning became a moment of perfection where all of our senses were wide open and savoring.

I noticed recently that Gérard and I often share our dreams during our dog walk in early morning.  I think part of it is because “our dreams are still fresh in our minds” and we are still trying to figure out their meaning.  My teacher on the other hand, probably would have pointed out “how nature gives us better access to dream imprints” – explaining why we always start our conversations as we reach the park.  As traditional Dreamers, Gérard and I were taught to remember “impressions” rather than countless dream details. 

I was telling a student of mine recently how much times have changed.  Honestly I never thought the day would come where I would actually utter these words especially when it comes to Spirituality, Shamanism, and Dreaming.  In most cases people still explore dreaming from Jung and Freud’s perspectives.  When you look at dreaming and psychology or psychoanalysis it seems nothing has moved since the 20th century.  Yet, people have changed and so have their dreams.

Indigenous Dreaming explores dreaming as a connection between man and nature / man and the stars.  Details like over population, urbanism, and technology influences human nature and human behavior.  So much so that it eventually affects the way we dream about “our World and our environment.” 

Lately Gérard and I often start our dream discussions with the statement: “I had a strange dream last night.” 

More and more we notice that our dreams carry details and impressions; which are unfamiliar or “new to us.”  Last night’s dream for example was about a man who was trying to break into my home.  In the dream I recognized the man even though he was a total stranger to me.  I knew the man wanted me harm; and I took every precaution to lock every window and every door to keep him out.  I could hear him from outside shouting threats. 

He was warning me: “Your actions are futile.  I will be coming in.”

I woke up somewhat baffled and with a series of questions:

·      Why didn’t she call on neighbors or loved ones?
·      Why didn’t she call on the police?

The impression was that “I was looking into someone else’s reality”.  After sharing the dream with Gérard he informed me that before our dog walk, he had driven his mother to the courthouse; where she was a witness in a trial against a man who had broken into their apartment a year ago.  The man had violently broken down their door. 

Gérard wondered:

·      Why dream about my mother?
·      How does the dream connect to you?

The answers seemed so obvious and clear to me:

·      I dreamt of her because I was meeting with him in the morning and he was worried he would have to cancel.
·      The dream connects to me in a circular way – through my connection with him.

“That simple?” he asked trying to find another perspective. 

Honestly I was quite happy with the fact that I we managed to identify the character in my dream as his mother.  It seemed to answer all my questions.  G’s mom is not someone who readily asks for assistance.   She’s also not the kind of person who would jump to the conclusion that “someone would take advantage of their age and want them harm.”  The attitude of the dream character was so unlike me that it puzzled me.

I find I’m often able to let go of dreams after I identify the characters and identify the meaning behind the dream.  In this case this dream was informative:

·      It informed me about an event; which occurred last year and the lasting effects of it. 
·      It informed me that Gérard was helping his parents: Driving them to the courthouse.
·      And finally, it spoke of his mother and her issues with depending on others.

For hundreds of thousands of years humans have dreamt about the weather; their environment; territory; and journeying.  It’s always been a blessing for a hunter to dream about a herd of caribou for example, and to be able to identify where its hiding in a valley.  In ancient times some dreams allowed family members to visit while territories apart.  It’s only recent that dreaming has become about “subconscious issues”.  By changing our “focus” when it comes to survival we’ve also changed the purpose of our dreams.

I often tend to dream similarly to my ancestors.  People often laugh at me because I seem to be only person they know who refuses to depend on a cell phone. 

Yet, like I often explain:  “It’s this life choice; which allows me to dream of others and their reality.”

I don’t consider myself “a psychic” and yet, the information I receive on others through my dreams is always very accurate.  I tend to use my “dreaming skill” as a technology that was used for millenniums by my ancestors.  Unlike many people in my life, I can tell you 48 hours in advance whether we should leave earlier for the airport because of traffic; or cancel a supper downtown because of a snowstorm; or expect car trouble on the way to a workshop… 

If you don’t use a muscle it often looses it’s strength, and the same applies to dreaming!


P.S. I plan to write a few blogs on dreaming because next week we are launching a two year POWER HUNT.  Many of the participants will inevitably search for ways to be stronger dreamers!