Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Writer's Second Heaven:The Dream Time

In 1988 I graduated from McGill University in English Literature and Religious Studies. In the span of three years I literally read over 3,000 books. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. Yet, from the moment I could write my dream was to become a writer. I have always loved stories. Once an elder told me, that when traditional dreamers are called to the path they dream about the old Creation stories, which are shared with them by the ancestors. When it’s time for them to start their dreamer initiation they are given one particular story, which is said to hold all of what they need for their life’s path and purpose.

For me this was certainly true!

After I graduated from school I got married and became a full time mom. Often just this sentence turns off people because it gives an illusion that I spend a decade being bored and busy with diapers, feedings and day cares. Yet for me this was in no way my experience. For the first decade of my children’s life I concentrated on learning about the Medicine Wheel, Indigenous Dreaming and Shamanism. I searched for new perspectives, attitudes and solutions to all kinds of social, medical and personal questions and issues. Life brought me to experience first hand First Nation tradition, elders, medicine people and shamanism. It was actually illness and dysfunctional family issues, which brought me to change my life and to make choices that I would have never considered otherwise.

During those early years I did a lot of traveling while I home schooled my children. I did a lot of workshops and conferences all over Canada, Europe and the States. It was an interesting time in my life. It was like waking up every morning and facing the unknown. I had the impression that I was giving birth to ME. Aside from the books the kids and I read together; and books that synchronically fell in my lap to support and confirm our learning and healing as a family I barely read during this time.

By the time my kids started high school I decided to return to writing and reading again. I took classes in children’s literature and went back to University in creative writing. My dreams during over two decades had been literally filled with strange stories about flesh eating monsters, tricksters and talking insects as well as blood drinking Goddesses and flying fish; which children loved to hear about on our tours through elementary schools. It made sense while figuring out what to do with my life, that I write these stories down. Then, one night in 2000 I had a dream where a man gave me a book about vampires and said: “Read and learn.”

At the time I knew nothing about vampires and werewolves. I had never heard of urban fantasy. As soon as I started reading I fell in love with this genre of literature and noticed that many of these stories weren’t unlike the stories of Creation shared with us by the elders. They weren’t any different than the dreams I had night after night as I learnt about my personal Medicine Wheel.

Have you ever heard of Tlalteuctli? She’s an Aztech Goddess who is often depicted as a flesh eating monster. According to the myth, Tlalteuctli is defeated by being thorn apart: Dismembered. Her body becomes the Earth while some of other limbs become the mountains, valleys, rivers, deserts and heavens etc… While reading stories about ghouls and vampires I often noticed synchronicities between the old traditional stories of Creation and today’s said “fantasy”. Perhaps some people would think that my analogy is somewhat disrespectful or blasphemous; but what I’m trying to convey through this statement is that we still have access to the ancestral stories through our dreams even in modern times. 75% of writers will admit having dreamt the stories they’ve written.

I once asked EC why stories were so important to humans. In ancient times stories were told to children to teach them lessons about life; to scare them; and to guide them. It’s no different today. To show you how important stories have become we find them everywhere these days: In books, magazines, within commercials, movies, plays and even songs. We continue to share with each other our daily personal stories and many will even invent some to entertain themselves and to create drama, excitement in areas of their lives where they feel empty and lost. Stories seem to be the reason why we are on Earth. Our life is a story and some Religions will say that “we come back life time after life time to experience all kinds of different stories.”

When we explore our ancestral fragments, our moons, our totems and our roles on the Medicine Wheel we basically attempt to find the stories, which depict who we are and why we are. Every time I do a dreamtime chart for someone I’m always impressed with the stories that I’m shown in the dreaming. I’m even more impressed when people get back to me with incredible confirmations and the missing details. For example many years ago I did a chart for a woman where I saw her dance with a man. This man was much older than her. In the dream, they danced to old tunes from the 1950’s. In the end of the story, the man cried her name and apologized for not having danced with her sooner. I later heard that this man was her father and that all she remembered of him was how they danced together when she was little (in the 1950’s). Her father left her mother and her one evening when she was almost 8 years old, and they never saw him again. After some research later on in adulthood, she heard that he had passed away and it troubled her that she never got to say goodbye. She cried on the phone as she told me the story.

“I never talked to anyone about this,” she said in awe.
“I never thought I could ever heal this wound,” she explained between whimpers “but to have him appear in the dream and look remorseful helped so very much. I truly saw myself dance with him again and heard him say goodbye. It was just plain incredible.”

For years I resented having the gift of dreaming. It truly caused havoc in my life but since 1989, since I chose to learn more about dreaming and follow the initiation of a traditional dreamer my life has become a story I enjoy. I have yet to write a book about it but I do make a living as a writer. I’ve done more than a few thousand dreamtime charts in the last two decades. Every story is different and I never tire to meet the countless characters we all harbor in our dreamtime spaces.

The stories that live in our personal space speak about where we’ve been; where we are going; what we need to learn and heal; what troubles us and why; and who are the people in our lives as well as what they are bringing or taking from our story. Certainly dreamers have an easier access to these stories. Yet we can all learn to become more aware of the stories, which manifest in our lives. It’s just a matter of paying attention. For example recently, I was listening to a friend of mine who’s a real-estate agent. She talked about a lady who thanked her recently because she gave her a job with an office with access to sunlight. KM found it strange that this woman passed years working in an environment with no windows and no access to the outdoors.

I laughed and told her: “It looks like you’ve met a vampire servant.” We both giggled at the thought. Yet after some digging there was so many synchronicities showing how easily fantasy can match reality. In the end, KM realized how much her relationship with this woman is a healing process that is all about “blood”: Womanhood, fertility, sisterhood, kinship and the idea of friendship.

Tlalteuctli and Inanna are Goddesses and characters characters who have visited me in dreams under other names of course to teach me about the way of the Shaman. There’s no dream story that doesn’t come with a teaching or sometimes a personal kick in the butt. Tlalteuctli stayed with me for a few years to teach me about the whole concept of dismemberment whereas Inanna taught me about the 7 gates of the Shaman’s initiation. Gloosecap is also another incredible character who visited me in dreams to teach me about the path of the warrior. Since each of these characters came to me before I ever knew of them I can’t help but be impressed by the way of the dreaming. These characters showed me that in many ways we have no understanding of fantasy and reality.

Who are your guides? What are your dreams telling you? Do you have stories that guide your life? What types of stories do you like and why? Sometimes I wish I could share with someone all of the stories I come across in the dreaming or how these tales came to trigger phenomenal stories in my life; and let them write the book… You’d be surprised to hear about all of the creatures who literally crawl through the dreaming and what they bring to each of us on a daily basis.


P.S. If you're asking yourself the question -- what's the relationship between this blog entry and the picture, I'd like to remind you that images inspire. No matter where you find a castle in Ireland, Russia or Ontario, Canada --- it always inspires stories of magic, love and darkness. A dream is often about sight or senses. Let your senses bring you stories. You'll be surprised at how many stories given to you by the senses actually give you answers to your questions and your issues. Dreaming isn't only when we sleep. We are never alone and we are never without solutions. Remember that.

P.P.S If you get curious about dreamtime charts and would like to know more please write to me at All dream time charts are done by correspondence only.


Emily said...

I really enjoyed this topic. It is something I have been thinking about lately in fact.. the idea of bringing characters from the dreaming into the waking..
I wondered if there are stories that need to be told, characters that need to be heard and seen.
For a long time Ive wanted to concentrate on painting my dreams, painting the stories, and now even write them.
I have so many characters I've dreamt of that I'd love to create on paper, even stories to show how we walk through a dream, how we are guided, the various ways in which we are guided, the signs along the way, the journey, the importance of the journey.
I can see it developing, I gather bits of dreams as I go along.. I have gathered characters, so far that are just in my memory.
The dreaming is a never-ending source of inspiration and learning, a never-ending adventure.
I really need to bridge the gap.
I would love to invest my creative energy in something like this..

Emily said...

And of course dream charts.
I am a Dreamer and I love to travel through different spaces gathering stories as you know.
I want to invest my energy in dream charts also.
I cant express enough how magical and wonderful a dream chart can be. I want to help spread the word on this gift, and show what we can do, and what others can learn to access themselves also.

Michelle said...

I know when I have read my dream chart it gives me another level to look at with my life. I find it helps me to do just as you wrote "Dreaming isn't only when we sleep. We are never alone and we are never without solutions. Remember that." I am learning to see more and am amazed how it all falls into place.
I have heard that authors dream their stories one author I finished reading awhile ago was interviewed on where she recieved her inspration and she laughed and said "I dreamed this whole series in one night and it took me months to finaly trust it and write the five books."

Wapeyit Malsom said...

To everyone,

Please share with me, with us --- your favorite dream character.


Bootie said...

I think I have three favorite Dream Characters. The first is a White Doe I shapeshifted into. She could walk on the sea and land would form in her footsteps. The second is an Owl Headed Dragon I shapeshifted into. She was huge, powerful and could command the ocean and storms for destruction on a Tsunami sized scale. The third character I can only describe as a large wooly beast that seamed part spider, bear and buffalo. I met him in a crystal shaft between worlds where he slept in a web. I accidently landed on him as I fell from one world to another. Luckily for me he wasn't aggressive. lol

Emily said...

I dont think I have a favourite really. There are so many characters that intrigue me..
Recently there has been the Archivist, I know Lisa has also met him. He is fascinating, a living moving library,containing books, his skin covered in letters.
A clan of blue Felines, a clan of Butterflies with massive wings, the wings containing stories in pictures.. a slug/fish creature that moves on land blowing bubbles and balloons out of its mouth..
I've dreamt of those plant/Spider creatures in the movie Avatar, yanno the ones from the Sacred Tree? They were pink/red in colour, thousands of them landed on Jake.
In my dream they were more Spider-like in colour. They moved the exact same way..
I can see how many characters from fantasy movies have been created from dreams..

WampumBlueRaven said...

Currently, I am actually reading the book called Story by Robert McKee.
Just this morning as I was walking through the park this morning on my way to work I would not help but ask myself How do communicate these stories (message)- to the outside world, basically for me this is dealing with an age old question which has been the Story of my life. No pun intended
Example I followed the dreaming to Halifax and it lead me to meet this character – he was a teenage boy who live underwater cave, by a fire he sat. Then he shape shifted into a water dragon swam out of the bay into the sunset. I can say he is necessary my favorite but has definitely been a strong present, who has been close to my heart and a good teacher.
But try to explain that to the people around you…
At the time, I would explain my moving to Halifax because of the work- (which in a way it was true I was moving here because I knew this is where I needed to be to do my (dream) work) but having only a 10 hrs per week job teaching French- and packing up my bags to move to a city where I knew no one - seem crazy to the people around me. But it all worked out-the dreaming never fails–I just needed to follow the story – even if at times I can not really communicate it to the outside world. It tricky!
Kind regards,
PS: Lisa I love the picture of the castle it seem familiar –but I am clueless. Could you tell us more about this castle story and where it is located

Wapeyit Malsom said...

The castle is found near Kingston, Ontario.


annie jackson said...

* very cool