In the ‘90’s the trend of telling our children “not to talk to strangers” had just started. My husband and I actually questioned it for years before cautioning our kids and even then, it was always with a big story attached and a reminder that we weren’t born on this planet just to hide in a hole.
“Keep your wits about yourself,” we’d say, “and listen to the dreaming, listen to your gut.”
At our house, we have often had these kinds of conversations. The kind that starts with “wait a minute” and “is it absolutely necessary.” With time you notice things change, and the factors are never the same. We don’t live in my parents’ world anymore where families lived in the neighbourhood for generations and it was OK to treat the neighbour’s kids as your own. Today, most people move every 3 to 5 years and you never know if the nice man next door won’t be the kind to make a move on your daughter after she’s babysat his kids all night. Where my parents taught us their ways and their grand-parent’s ways, my husband and I now stop and sigh – knowing that time moves too fast now and nothing about the way we used to do it still applies.
Where am I going with this?
Well, recently I was asked to speak about the dreaming ways of our ancestors and share some stories on how Traditional Dreamers used to dream for the community and for others.
From my perspective before we can even speak of “communal dreaming” we need to consider how people construct reality. A Traditional Dreamer doesn’t just “pick up on community dreams” – he or she has to be part of the community and connect deeply to the simple structures of behaviour, emotion, thoughts and beliefs.
I was educated at a Catholic convent and for years I jotted down dreams people shared with me connecting with Christian imagery. It fascinated me that people could dream of the Eucharist for example, or being a witness to a crucifixion. I never dreamt of such things and a part of me felt cheated. Since I was brought up in Christianity, I assumed such dreams implied being “chosen by God.” They were in my opinion at the time: Holy Dreams.
It was only after I reached my early 20’s and started learning about traditional dreaming that I realized these dreams spoke of personal interests and a deep sense of commitment to the Christian ideology. If I didn’t dream these kinds of dreams it was because I didn’t belong to the collective frame of thought.
Just the way I went about exploring these dreams and attempting to understand them showed more of a shamanic perspective. It explained many of the kind of dreams I had from birth. For example, even before knowing what a Sweat Lodge was – I had dreamt of it a few dozen times.
As I’ve said repeatedly through my blog entries dreaming isn’t just about the images and scenarios we come across while sleeping. It’s about the way we think, the way we feel, the way we behave and the way we present ourselves to the World. Bellow the surface it is about blood, genes, and cells. In many ways I define dreaming as the “communication we have with the Life within us and around us.”
There’s no doubt that dreaming translates to us how we relate to the World around us. It basically awakens this notion of “collective consciousness.” Through my blog entries I have often explored hypersensitivity. As described countless times – hypersensitivity is basically a “hyper-sense of our environment.” Example, I once met a woman who bought a whole wardrobe based on what she hyper sensitively picked up from another woman she was shopping with. When she came home and looked at the clothes she disliked every single piece. None of it spoke to her. It was as if she had picked up someone else’s bag.
We see the same kind of phenomenon amongst children between the age of 7 and 15 years old. You sometimes get the impression your kids are possessed by their friends. They speak similarly and even adopt the same maneurism. I had to continuously remind my children that I loved them the way they were and that they didn’t need to imitate others. As soon as they discovered compatibility, or took notice of an attraction to certain behaviours or certain people – they let go. I always managed to get them back (so to speak) in their natural, original forms J.
Understanding hypersensitivity and learning to be disciplined with it has an impact on the way we dream. Rather then finding ourselves magnetized to all kinds of strange dream spaces, we wake up in dreams; and participate in them. We contribute to “our fate.”
The notion of collective consciousness isn’t so much about hyper sensing as it is about hyper knowing. Yet before we can move to hyper knowing it is crucial to have knowledge and know how when it comes to hyper sensing. I always tell my students that even though hypersensitivity may seem like a curse at first, it is incredibly important to remember that in ancestral times it was instrumental in survival. Hunters for example often allowed their hyper sensing to bring them exactly to herds of caribou. Sensing, dreaming the exact place or site as well as waking up with a clear knowing of where it was made a difference between life and death.
Today dreaming hasn’t changed.
What has changed in our social conduct. We still construct our reality in very much the same way as our ancestors; but it now takes new forms.
A few years ago I moved to a new city. Previously, I was used to a more rural setting with a few acres of land dividing homes. For eight years I dreamt the land we lived on and was used to dreaming about raccoons, skunks and deers. As soon as I found myself in a suburban area where people enjoy barely 8,000 square feet of land – I began to dream about people and their culture. Suddenly, I was dreaming of people from India, Japan, Africa and Europe. After a summer of observing the activity in my neighbourhood I was able to place each dream on a grid.
· Two house down from ours: An Indian family.
· Right behind us: A Japanese family.
· Four houses down from ours: African couple
· And three houses on the right of us: A Scandinavian family.
We dream what surrounds us. Sometimes it’s about details we’ve intentionally noticed; but other times it’s subconscious or even intuitive. Through collective dreaming we become aware of how many layers of consciousness we’ve picked up on in one scenario. For example I once visited a friend in the Hospital. She was being investigated for colon cancer. The doctor had found a tumour on her intestinal wall. It was surgically removed.
According to all medical personnel my friend had cancer. There was no doubts about it.
When I arrived on the scene a therapist was discussing with my friend, some of her options concerning “cancer.” Our visit was short and uneventful. Yet my dreams the following night seemed to be saying otherwise. According to these dreams, not only was she being misdiagnosed; but the whole story was somewhat attached to her father and his colon cancer. Once I shared the dream my friend asked for a second opinion and discovered she did not have cancer at all. In the following days after questioning her parents she also uncovered that her father struggled with cancer for years without sharing it with anyone. This collective dreaming triggered a number of outcomes. For starters, she renew relationships with family members, healed some ancestral issues / stories, and took care of herself better.
I have a long list of examples of collective dreaming. It seems that as soon as you connect collectively with people and under a wide umbrella of ideas, emotions, and behaviours you also begin to dream about them. The wider the umbrella (so to speak) the more potential of dreaming consciousness.
For our ancestors dreaming wasn't so much a luxury or fascination as it was about survival. If you could dream about herds of elk, caribou or deer and lead scouts to them you were an incredible asset. Traditional dreamers also helped in understanding the roots of certain ailments and even find the plants to heal them. Everything dreams: Animals, people, plants, rivers, mountains etc.... If you can dream the environment you can communicate to its different parts and bring back the most incredible sacred knowledge.
Learning to develop, practice and discipline the skill of dreaming is a life long journey.
One that literally gave meaning to my life!
P.S. Looking forward to your feedback and questions.