In 1996 when I started doing dream time charts and dream interpretations I didn’t expect my efforts to actually reach the most remote corners of the Planet. At the time, I was deepening my understanding of dreaming, and learning with the help of a teacher the discipline of a traditional, indigenous dreamer. I was following a dream. Then, my focus wasn’t so much on who I was going to meet and how big of an impact my journey was going to make; I was more preoccupied with surviving ME: my journey, my growth, my skills, my thoughts, my emotions etc…..
I don’t think anyone ever considers how their personal story can be valuable to others. In fact most people have the impression that nobody knows and nobody cares about them, --- particularly teenagers. As children our world is entertaining, scrutinized, applauded, reprimanded, and supervised by the adults in our lives. We reach adolescence and suddenly, we are asked to prove we are trustworthy, autonomous, capable of knowing what is right and wrong, independent, and responsible ---- skills, behaviours and attitudes; which seem to transpire isolation, solitude, anonymity and a sense of slowly fading away. By adulthood we are what we’ve created: Individuals of our own making or a by product of our indoctrination, our emotional reactions, our social programming, and our traumas.
Who are we?
This particular question fuels long, intense and deeply fascinating discussions in my circles and most definitely, in my household. When my kids were teenagers and living through crisis; which in adolescence can be a daily occurrence, they would often speak of themselves as if they were “whole” and as if they had a good grasp over who they were.
“I know me and you don’t,” is obviously a popular and common statement amongst teenagers simply because it’s during adolescence that we grow into a personal identity.
I remember as a teenager hating to be patronized. If my parents, my teachers or adults in general expected me to act grown up I expected them to treat me as such no matter what. What would most often trigger or incite conflicts was always related to inconsistency. I didn’t want to be a child one minute and a teenager / adult the next. So, when CT and KT reached adolescence I remembered being extra vigilant with consistency. I also depended on the Sacred Circle teachings rather then Western conditioning to approach them and their experiences. I quickly learnt how our perspectives can vary according to countless factors.
I had no idea in 1996 that a simple exploration of dreams would take me to intricately study human behaviour and develop skills beyond my realm of belief (at the time). Today, the first thing I tell beginner dreamers is: “Open yourself up to the notion that whatever you believe you are is a limited perception of yourself. Don’t stay attached to the attitude / defensive reaction / or behaviour of defining yourself to others. Believe you are more and believe you are capable of unlocking the mystery you call: ME!”
What is most challenging when exploring dreams and interpreting dreams is the work behind the scenes. When I was studying with LD (my teacher in the ‘90’s) I felt a bit like the Karate Kid. I was eager to dream and to learn how to interpret my dreams. I had read lots of books on dream phenomenon especially when related to Native Spirituality or Shamanism. I was seeking out these kinds of experiences and was quite eager about it. When LD suggested observation and taking “useless” notes on mundane living, I considered more then once giving up on him and his teachings. I didn’t understand why it was so important to be aware of emotional reactions; personal triggers or issues; social indoctrination; and expectations, illusions and fantasies. Some of it was embarrassing. It took a little over 2 years before we finally reached what I considered “relevant material.”
Remember that in Shamanic Circles the word “dreaming” applies to pretty much any kind of experience life offers. For those who keep track of my blog entries remember the story I told this summer when KM and I went walking with the dogs and Murfle (our eldest beagle) was accused of biting a cyclist. In this blog I tell the story detail by detail in the same way I would recount a dream.
Experience / Dream:
KM and I walked the dogs in late afternoon as we always do. The sun was setting and there was lots of activity in the park. We were coming through the alley way when out of nowhere a cyclist came zipping through. The sun was in our eyes and both KM and I were completely caught by surprise when someone rushed passed us. KM was holding Murfle’s leash and she didn’t feel the dog pull. I was holding Bella and she was walking by my side as usual. The man stopped half way through the alley way and started yelling at us. He was throwing general insults at dogs and dog owners. And finally after raving like a mad man he accused Murfle of biting him. I tried to get close to him to see if there was a bite mark on his leg; but he was already gone by the time I reached his side. He literally disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Again, KM and I were totally surprised. We didn’t even get the chance to speak.
Barely 5 mins after the incident the same man came at us again. And again he surprised us by appearing completely out of nowhere. We didn’t even see or hear him. One more time he was screaming and venting uncontrollably; swearing at us; and pointing at his calf. I tried to get close to look at the wound; but the man wasn’t standing still. All I was able to see was a red circle. At this point though, KM noticed his pupils were dilated and he seemed under the influence of something. Still under the shock all we were able to do is return home for the evening somewhat disturbed by the situation.
With indigenous dreaming every dream (waking or sleeping) calls for exploration and this effort may last a day, a week, a month, or even a year / several years. If you commit to the interpretation of a dream – it’s expected as a traditional dreamer to participate in the exploration of the dream along with the initial dreamer. Even the interpretation is understood as empirical and because of this fact, it’s not always necessary or possible to devote to every dream we come across.
It’s understood that every dream is unique. It’s a story where details and characters come together in a very particular fashion to convey a message (teaching or awakening of consciousness) to a very specific person. Unlike psychoanalysis indigenous dreaming doesn’t stick to symbology.
· The way we dream the dream;
· The way we recount the dream;
· The way the dream connects synchronically to the world around us;
says a lot about the dream. The imagery, the story, the characters and how they come together expresses the genius of dreaming. Even these details help us understand the dream and the dreamer. Dreaming is incredibly precise, intricate and intelligent.
It’s so much more then about cliché messages that too many dreamers content themselves with.
The dream of Murfle who bite a cyclist this summer was hugely instrumental in my personal journey of growth and healing; and interestingly enough it also had an impact on the life of several related and unrelated people. I promise to come back in my next blog entry – and share with you the “interpretation” of this dream and what I mean by “an empirical exploration.”
All this to say that our dreams are experiences; which reveal layers of realities with messages and teachings that are crucial to our consciousness and our growth. Our dreams show natural and cosmological influences; and although seemingly related to the personal they are also profound connections to something bigger: Community and cosmic relations. Through personal experience I believe that it’s so important to learn how to dream and how to understand our dreams better because they can be tools; which believe or not were once equivalent to our modern day technology. Humans lived thousands of years without cell phones and computers; and still capable of long distance communications through their dreams.
We may be a little rusty when it comes to using “dream skills;” but nothing stops us from practicing these skills and mastering them.”