Dreaming with Dolores J. Nurss, USA

Dolores, when in your life and how did you discover that dreams are important to you? What kind of impact did this discovery have on your life?

It just gradually increased over the years.  My first Novatierran dream happened at age three.  I know because I lived with my Grandparents by then, and we had just moved into the house on Onondaga Avenue, so recently that Buddy got lost trying to drive us home and had to stop by the road to ask a helpful stranger, studying a map together.  They did this next to a cliff, and that night the cliff got into my dream, except at a slightly different angle.  In my dream it had mechanical shops built right into the cliff itself, glowing with lamps in the night and open to the air for ventilation, while people built and repaired machines.  With the assistance of a small device on which I knelt, I could fly up there to work.  In my dream I was in my late teens.  Later, over the years, other dreams fit in with this one and became part of an overall matrix, my dreams of Novatierre and the Tili`an.

My family loved dreams as storytelling, and especially enjoyed sharing "weird" ones.  Grandma especially loved them because she used to mutual-dream a lot with her sister Mame when they were kids.

In late childhood my brother and I compared notes and both discovered that we were dreaming another world.  He soon lost this in his teens, due (I think) to the drug revolution.  But I spent my adolescent rebellion rebelling against him and so escaped, abstaining from drugs.  I don't suppose he even remembers, now, having sparked my interest.

Anyway, in my teens I started writing down all of those dreams that fit in Novatierre, both ones I had at the time and ones I remembered from childhood.  I didn't write other dreams down at first, just the Novatierran ones.  I wrote them more with story in mind than dream research or any other use, so I gave more attention to things like plot, character, and setting than in strict accuracy, to be honest.  But I didn't actually start writing stories based on them until the verge of adulthood, and even then I considered it a side-interest to my attempts at mainstream science fiction.

I developed narcolepsy in my twenties, probably from an automotive accident that gave me whiplash, which went untreated.  I didn't think much of it at the time, just a very bad, very prolonged stiff neck.  But I started falling asleep at unpredictable times after that.  I first noticed the oddity of it when I woke up at the table with my hair in the butter.  I couldn't bicycle anymore because of falling asleep randomly.  I rearranged a kneecap on that bike and that was the last straw.  So I thought, "Why waste the down time?"  and I started reading up everything I could grab on dreams.

Then came the nervous breakdown.  I had been fooling around in junior college for years--five years for a two year college!  I wanted to go to a real four-year college, but every time I tried to fill out the forms for a scholarship I would have to stop in the middle, crying, because at some point they always expected me to say something in praise of myself, and I was strictly taught to never blow my own horn; this is not an uncommon problem for the working-class.  I had piles of half-filled scholarship applications cluttering up my room.  Previously I had walked a careful tightrope in high school--get too many A's and adults regarded me as a scary freak, inappropriate for my station in life; get too many C's and they jumped all over me for being an underachiever; but if I kept it at a fairly steady B average they'd only feel mildly disgusted and not at all uncomfortable.  But in response to my not going to a full college, in consideration of my supposed intelligence, the disgust started to turn into outrage.  I couldn't win!

So I decided to test my limits.  I used trickery to get many more classes than the official limit at the local junior college, just to see how much I could learn at once.  I also used trickery to get into advanced classes without the prerequisites.  The college had just started using computers, and the counselors didn't really know how to use them, and they were frazzled and easily distracted.  So the upshot was that I took classes nine hours a day and then came home to do homework for all of them  They were in all sorts of different disciplines, too, so I had to run across the campus between classes to get to all sorts of different departments far apart from each other, which often made me late--especially when sometimes I'd fall asleep on the way!  It didn't help that I was also falling asleep a lot in class.  But I did manage to get an A- average anyway, before the outer fingers of my left hand picked up a craft knife in an art class and tried to slit my wrist with it.  (I later dreamed that Merrill, one of my recurring dream people, admitted to doing this in order to shock me out of self-destruction by threatening me with its logical end.)  I called my grandparents in hysterics, they came and got me, and I dropped out.  I never did find a mental limit on how much I could learn, but I discovered that I had a physical and psychological limit on how much I could sacrifice to all but learning.  Contrary to popular opinion, "potential" entails a whole lot more than IQ, and in some ways I've got a V-8 engine without tires.  I don't have a stable psychological platform on which intelligence can build reliably.

In my subsequent life as the family basket-case (in a bedroom filled and protected with concentric circles of trash piled up on top of those scholarship forms) I did nothing, all day except write story-fragments based on dreams, and catalogue them into their internal timeline, and eventually start stringing some of these constellations of dreams together into the raw material for novels yet to come--all day, every day.  I used to think of those as my lost years, but now I see that they prepared me for the rest of my life.  Basically, that was my college--endless practice at writing and studying my dreams, now both for literary purposes and for clues as to how to get out of this mess.  People like my way with words now, and my insights into dreaming, but that was the price of it.

Sometimes I would ask for therapy, but my family always said that it would be too expensive.  When I overheard my Grandmother and my Father making arrangements for who would take care of me after Grandma's death, I realized that continuing in the status quo would be more shameful than getting therapy through charity, so I started asking friends in therapy for tips on how to find sliding-scale.  I knew that whoever I found had to be a Jungian--someone who could work with my mystical side instead of trying to cure me of it.  I found it hard to search, because by then I had become so atrophied that I couldn't stand for very long, but if I was too sick to work, then my job was to get well.

After being turned away several times (in one case brutally!) I found Joan Winchell.  She considered gently turning me away, too, feeling out of her league with my degree of illness as she later told me, but she asked for my latest dream, and it completely changed her mind.

In that dream I had infections in my eyes.  One I couldn't see out of at all, as it had swollen shut except for one thin slit completely filled with pus, and the other I could just barely open, but it had infections nearly closing it.  I showed my eyes to my Grandparents and begged to go to a doctor, but they said they couldn't afford it.  So I fashioned a bone needle to use as a surgical instrument, and made some homemade ointment, and went into the bathroom to try and operate on my own eyes.  I was just about to nerve myself to touch the needle to my eye, while desperately trying to figure out the backwards perspective of the mirror, when I woke up.  Joan said that the dream showed that I had gone without help for too long, and that she had never heard such courage and resolve to get well anyway, so she embraced the risk and took me on as her client for twenty-five cents a session (she later raised this to six dollars when I married, because that's how much my husband made an hour.)  We worked quite a bit with dreams, and that finalized and expanded my lifelong love of dreams, extending a lot further than my initial storytelling interest.

Do you record you dreams every day? If so, do you record them as raw images translated into words or do you, being the prolific writer that you are, turn them into stories as you go?

I write dreams down every morning if I remember even a fragment.  I have gotten very good results from fragments, which others have observed seem to distill the very heart of the dream.  As to how I write them, it depends on how sleepy I am when I write them down!  Sometimes I apparently write stuff down while still asleep, which (if legible at all!) makes absolutely no sense on waking.  Sometimes I write a few key words to trigger my memory of the dream for when I get a chance to write more.  And sometimes it just naturally flows in a storylike fashion.  The best example of a dream that I wrote half asleep that turned out to have already taken story form when I read it while fully awake is here:


What role do dreams generally play in your writing? 

Raw material.  I think of it as kind of like archaeology, with dreams as shards.  It's my task to figure out what fits with what, and speculate on what fills in the gaps, and piece it all together, prepared to throw my speculations out the window and completely revise my idea of how it all fits if I get a new dream that changes the context completely.

In fact I had to do that recently, right in the midst of posting a series of novels online chapter by weekly chapter, when I realized that what I had thought of as three distinct dream-clusters, meant for three separate stories, in fact intersected inextricably.  Thus "In the Mountains of Fire" (Deirdre's longterm mission in The Charadoc) merged with "A Snag in a Mothhole" (Jake, Randy, and Don working in Toulin) and an unnamed protonovel about Zanne's mission in Vanikke.

You can read the nuts and bolts details of my process in writing from dreams here, in my transcript of a presentation on the subject that I gave at a PsiberDreaming Conference:


Your website where you publish your writing is called Dreamdeer's Archives  (dreamdeer.grailmedia.com). Where does the ‘Dreamdeer’ name come from?

It started as an online handle.  I had been amused, when originally I went online as DNurss, at how many people assumed that I was a white male college graduate with a late model car, owning property stolen from the Indians (those exact same words repeatedly--did these guys have a script or something?) and that therefore my liberalism was all a sham, when in fact I am a mixed-blood Indian who never went to a full college, who can't drive, has never owned land, and why would I steal land from myself?  But I didn't really feel like DNurss, and I wanted something more original, yet still ambiguous enough that people would not make assumptions about me based upon my name.

As it so happens, I have often dreamed about deer.  When other little girls fell in love with horses, I feel in love with deer, and it showed up in my sleep.  You know how lots of kids have imaginary friends?  I had a muse instead (not surprising, since with Grandma's encouragement I started writing fiction and poetry at age six)  I played with him by day and he visited my dreams by night.  His name is Shalyra, and he appears sometimes as a white deer with silver antlers, and sometimes shapeshifts into a silver-haired fairy man, and sometimes he's something in between, a fairy man with silver antlers.  He would give me all kinds of strange assignments to make a better writer out of me.

For instance,  I was totally completely overwhelmed by Tolkien!  I read "The Hobbit" in third grade and "The Lord of the Rings" in fourth and it completely hijacked my brain and heart.  So Shalyra told me to write a fairytale with fairies as antithetical to Tolkien's elves as I could possibly manage, and yet still recognizable as fairies.  I didn't want to do it!  But he was right, it was good practice, and it enabled me to recapture my own style again.

The strangest assignment he gave me was in junior high.  By then I no longer played with him in the waking world, but I did dream of him (and sometimes I still do) and he still gave me lessons.  He decided that my descriptions relied too much on sight alone.  So he told me to find my way through one entire school day with my eyes closed.  I was allowed to open them in class to read what the teacher wrote on the chalk board, etc., but I had to keep them closed in navigating from classroom to classroom.

Well, I did it.  I was already such a weird kid that I couldn't do my reputation any more harm than it had already sustained.  To my surprise smell helped me out quite a bit.  A fragrant flowering bush lined a number of the paths, a magnolia bloomed next to the library, I could smell the cafeteria, the gym, the science labs, and the shop classes.  I knew where the bad kids smoked tobacco and the badder kids smoked pot, and those corners told me where to turn to reach the bungalows beyond the flowering hedges.  With such clues, body memory filled in the gaps.  I also listened to hear the footsteps of kids ahead and behind, and I noticed how far or near the sound of traffic was.  Anyway, after that my descriptions filled out to more than one sense.

But I had other dreams of Deer more directly, especially in adulthood, and still do.  Early in my marriage I dreamed that I hadn't fallen asleep, laying in my bed, but when I seemed to open my eyes the bed stood in a beautiful forest glade.  I sat up and watched a stag, a doe, and a faun approach me.  Enchanted, I held out my hand, and they bit me!  Then they leaped upon me and devoured me!  I was not prepared for that!  I woke up with my heart pounding.  Though I had prior dreams of deer in general, this was the first of many leading to becoming one with Deer.

These dreams climaxed towards the end of the 20th century, when I worked at medical transcription.  I had a narcoleptic seizure and my head fell to the desk, between the computer and the keyboard, except that I didn't feel that I had fallen asleep at all, just fallen helpless.  I could look right through the desk at my legs, and saw them all bandaged up, all the way up.  The next day I again fell asleep at my desk, and again seemed to see right through the desk to my legs, except that this time the bandages had fallen away, and I now had deer's legs.

These in turn led to the most important deer dream of all, when I dreamed that Jesus consecrated me to Deer.  He told me that 1) I must never eat venison again, although I may drink the broth.  2) I may participate in the ritual of any religion so long as those present allow me to worship only Him, and 3)  I must break open a stone that I had in waking life, and see what I could find inside of it.

I busted open the rock as soon as I woke up, though it took some doing.  Inside I found it dotted with tiny specks of a purply-rose mineral.  This had huge significance for me in relation to my dreams of a purply-rose psigenic mineral in Novatierre called magentine.

So naturally, when it came time to pick a name for myself for online interactions, Dreamdeer seemed appropriate!  And my Dreamdeer identity meant more to me as time went on.

A few years later I finally made it to Arizona and reconnected with my tribe.  As it turns out, both dreams and Deer hold exceptional importance for them.  Among many other things, Deer bridges the Old Ways and the New Ways.

On your mother’s side, you are of Native American background, specifically the Yaqui tribe. I believe you connected with your roots when you were already an adult. Did dreams play a role in this? What does being a Yaqui (Yoeme) mean to you? 

I should first make clear that I am not a registered member of the tribe.  Fortunately, Yaquis understand about cultural recognition, which is not the same as legal recognition.  Only one band of Yaquis, the Pascua Yaquis, have government registration.  I do not want or feel entitled to the material advantages of a registered member of the tribe, because my ancestors did not help build the infrastructure of the Pascua Yaqui community.  Only the culture matters to me.  It is treasure enough!

I moved to Arizona because of what you might call a vision, or a narcoleptic dream.  All I know is that one moment I'm sitting at my desk under my loft bed and the next minute I'm standing on the brink of the Grand Canyon with my toes right over the edge, hearing God's voice loudly saying, "Go where I send you!" and then back to my desk again in a flash.

I did manage to make a trip that we really couldn't afford to the Grand Canyon in waking life after that (almost hysterically insisting that it couldn't wait till the weekend after Labor Day when it would be cheaper--which demand, as it turned out, dodged the 9/11-induced shutdown of plane travel)  But I knew that the vision/dream meant more than that, that we were supposed to move to the Grand Canyon State.

My husband reasoned with me that, with our skills, we could only get out of debt at a decent pace through the kinds of jobs available only in the Bay Area where we already lived, and that this move would have to wait until we could afford it.  I gave in to his practicality, and so we got caught in the Dot Com Crash and went bankrupt.  My health also crashed, knocking me out of the workforce.  Thanks to the kindness of friends, we wound up in San Diego where I have family.  There followed what my husband calls "The Three Years of Hell" with no home of our own.  We encountered much cruelty but also much generosity--sometimes from the same people.

David did well in every job he got, and every company he worked for folded before we could get enough money to get our of our situation.  Finally I said to him, "We've tried everything else; let's try my vision.  What have we got to lose?"

So he agreed that he'd leave me with my grandmother (who suddenly became much more kindly disposed towards me) and he took off for Arizona to find us a place to live.  On his very first night on that road he stayed in a motel where the guy in the room next to his turned out to be a mechanic who fixed his car for free, enabling him to continue the journey (we weren't sure how far he could get before this happened.)  Every door opened for us after that, often remarkably, and we wound up in Tucson, where most of the United States Yaquis live.

I discovered that much about me that seemed eccentric to the Dominant Paradigm was normal and acceptable among my mother's tribe.  My love of ritual, my tuning in to the natural world etc., and my passion for dreams, all fit right in here.  I received kindness and good people taught me some things about my heritage.

Not all or even most of my heritage, I should make plain.  It was not from any miserly spirit on their part!  It's just that I lived in Tucson for seven years, so I am seven years old in the culture.  There's only so much anyone can absorb in that short a time.  But even the little bit I glimpsed rises up so much taller than what the Dominant Culture had to offer!  I felt like I feasted on one seven-course meal off the vast menu in a gourmet restaurant, after a lifetime of having no access to anything except what I could buy at a convenience store--and furthermore learning from the chefs the basic tools to forage for myself after, in the city's neglected back alleys and vacant lots where good things grew as underestimated weeds, to at least get a healthier selection of nourishment for the rest of my life.  What I have is not as rich, not as consummately developed, as what those who have spent their whole lives in the Yaqui community have, but I have received, permanently, what I need for the improved health and happiness of my soul.

I continued to receive guidance from dreams, in particular about how to participate in the Lenten/Easter Ceremonies, where they allowed me to become one of the women who carry the biers of saints in the processions.  Although they had always been kind to me, and didn't exclude me from participating despite my disabilities, I felt ashamed that I could not keep up with the Ceremonies completely, and often had to drop out early.

Until one Christmas Eve when I dreamed that the Surem (the magical little people of the desert, ancestors and kin to the Yaquis) were exchanging presents with full-sized human beings.  The Surem gave me a big, gold-gilt purse, and I tried to be gracious about accepting, but I thought, "Where on earth can I go with something as gaudy as this?  It just doesn't suit me!"  Then a Yaqui man came up and said, "Don't worry about that--the gilding is just pahkowa'me.  The real gift is what's inside the purse."  And I woke up.

I went all over asking people what pahkowa'me meant.  Some thought it might be a word in another Native language.  Some saw that it bore some relation to pahko, which they told me meant "ceremony", but couldn't figure out more than that.  Finally I found an old Yoeme/English dictionary (Yoeme is the proper name for Yaqui, though nobody seems to mind being called Yaqui) that listed Pahkowa'me, apparently no longer in use.  It means "ceremoniousness"--the quality of ceremony.  So this dream taught me that the value of the Ceremonies was not in its outward qualities--whether or not I could physically finish a ritual, stay up for days on end in Easter Week, or stay on my knees for the duration of a long prayer--but in what the ritual contained, in the same way that a purse contains money.  Thereafter I concentrated on immersing myself in the spirit of the rituals, regardless of my physical ability to participate.

Still, I reached an end of my service through dreaming.  I had spent three years in the kitchens, first, and then three years serving in the processions, and that would make up a proper manda cycle.  When I tried to participate for a fourth year (starting a longer cycle) I kept having narcoleptic seizures during the procession!  I would not fall down, but I would sleepwalk, sometimes in the wrong direction, skewing all the other ladies trying to carry the same bier, and I would also start to tip my corner, threatening to spill the statue of Mary!

That's how it looked from the outside.  From the inside, I kept finding myself repeatedly thrust into a dream that seemed to me far more than a dream, where I would stand in the presence of Jesus as this incredible glow that I could only stand to partially see, overflowing me with happiness.  I would find myself repeating, ecstatically, "I love you!  I worship you!  You are so beautiful!"  But this did not make it any easier to carry that statue!

So, gently, shyly, the other ladies said that they would support me so long as I felt called to participate, but could I please ask God for a dream to see if I still belonged in the procession?  I wanted so badly to continue--cried my eyes out! 

But then I did as recommended, and prayed for a dream to guide me about where I fit in the Ceremonies.  Here is the dream I got:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Composting in the Community Kitchen at the Ceremonial Grounds

        I work at the kitchens, at the Ceremonial Grounds, but larger, and with different landscaping and architecture.  Beautiful Spanish sculpted pillars and arches adorn everything.  Trees surround the Ceremonial Grounds, and flowering vines climb up the pillars all around.  The kitchen has arched windows looking out on its beauty on one side, and on the other a small open courtyard also lined with trees and flowering vines, where we sometimes do our work.  We also do some work at a long table in an arcade just below the kitchen, between the Ceremonial Grounds and gardens just below the courtyard.  Across from us, on the other side of the Ceremonial Grounds, is a regular closed church, in addition to the open Yaqui chapel at the head of the Grounds.  The arcade leads to the Pascola's Ramada, and at the foot of the Ceremonial Grounds stand some other buildings, including the low-roofed building with the viga ceiling that I have dreamed of before, a place where elders meet.  And everywhere I see bright flowers!

        Some have done work before me. They have discarded all manner of vegetable matter in with the regular trash.  A rude woman doesn't want to bother separating compostables or recyclables from the rest.  So I take the garbage bags out and go through a lot of it.  I gain a bunch of useful compostables, such as old, rotten broccoli and an old, withered bouquet of flowers with rotted stems.  I think, “This is disgusting now, but it'll make good compost.  Doesn't that woman see that this is what the flowers come from?”  Seeing what I'm doing, some of the men who handle garbage bring me more.

        Once I finish doing that, I go back into the kitchen.  The cooks distribute potatoes to peel, but I find no seats left, and no potatoes left.  So I think, “Well, I'll just be out on the garbage detail.  I'll collect up the peels.”  I feel kind of guilty, keeping all of this useful compost material to myself, when I think there ought to be compost for the community.  How can we do that?  EOD

Gift:  Guidance as to what to do next at the Ceremonies—work the kitchen, and go ahead and collect the compost.  Also, compost the bitter experience of being unable to continue in the processions, and make from it the foundation for new and fertile blessings. (End of journal entry.)

As it turned out, the closed-walled church (a traditional church, not like the open-style favored by Yaquis) also foretold that I would be leaving the community soon, and must worship in other churches, but I should always remember that they're just across the way and share much territory.

I told this dream to an elder and he smiled warmly and said that in seeing the Ceremonial Grounds flowering (which in the waking world is bare adobe ground) I saw it "as it really is", and that he has seen this in dreams as well.  (Flowers have rich symbolic meaning for Yaquis--I could fill a whole book with it and I only know a part.  But among many other things it can mean the flowering of the soul, the blood of Christ, the mystical other realities, grace and love and enchantment and renewal and all kinds of wonders.)  This reassured me.  So I spent my last year of the Ceremonies working in the kitchen again, quite happily.

Ultimately, I had many dreams that eventually told me to move to the Pacific Northwest after this--too many to tell in detail here.  In one the Maestro of the Ceremonies performed a ritual for me, and then handed me a backpack and a walking-stick and pointed to the Northwest.  Another left me in a kind of station, like one for trains or airlines, as a woman told me that I now had the missing piece of me and the time had come to leave and put it to good use.  Another dream showed people in the Yaqui community nurturing seeds that I had given them in a curtain full of little plastic pockets, working to help them grow in a desert climate when they weren't desert seeds, and the elder (to whom I had told my other dream in waking life) saying gently that they would try and keep these alive as long as I remained here, but it would be better for me to go where they should be planted.

And then I had many dreams about the Pacific Northwest, including mention that I should seek Columbia (I understood that the Columbia River represented the Pacific Northwest in the same way that the Grand Canyon represented Arizona) and many places and features of places that I have since lived in up here that I had no way of knowing about at the time.  (I thought, for instance, that it was purely fanciful to dream of a whole forest inside of a major city and must therefore be symbolic--before I knew that Portland, Oregon contains Forest Park right in its heart--a forest so large that it hosts, among other creatures, two full-sized herds of elks!)  So this time my husband and I packed up and left when the dreams told us to, and we have prospered.

I know you as an awesome host of the Outer Inn with a great sense of humour and as a very active and sharp participant of the online PsiberDreaming Conference.  What brings you to this conference?

Thank you very much for the compliment!  I want to support this conference first of all because it does such valuable work, bringing news of those aspects of dream research that don't fit neatly into the kind of medical studies that predominate.  Those are absolutely essential, and I don't mean to denigrate them one bit!  But if doctors had discovered agriculture, we'd see miles and miles of fields growing medicinal herbs and still be foraging for supper.  As it turned out, a handful of psychiatrists rediscovered dreamwork for the modern era, and so a misconception has spread around the world that dreams serve psychiatry alone.  But they have a lot more to offer in addition!  And that includes the commonly excluded study of dream psi.

But I also specifically want to support the format of this kind of online conference.  I am sorry that after this once-a-year binge I don't have energy left for the newer mainstream online conference as well, but I hope that it goes splendidly and gets the support it needs, too.

The particular beauty of this kind of online conference comes from the timelessness and egalitarian quality of social media, on which it's patterned. In your typical face-to-face conference, presenters give their presentation, and then have ten to fifteen minutes afterwards to answer questions, before the next presenter takes over the room.  So you sit in the audience, waving your hand desperately in the air, hoping to be one of the chosen few who gets to ask a question.  If you're lucky and you get picked, you only have time for one short question or comment, and no matter how much the presenter may want to answer in detail, he can't; he's got to make room for as many questions as possible in a painfully short period of time.  Once he answers, nobody gets a chance for any follow-up or further discussion of the point.

In contrast, at the PsiberDreaming Conference, the presentation goes up for all to read any time thereafter, and for the rest of the conference anyone who wishes can ask questions or make comments on it, as often and in as much detail as they please.  The presenter (barring emergencies) will periodically check in for at least three days (usually a lot more than that) to answer or discuss the topics that the presentation stirred up.  Other presenters chime in as well as participants, and lively discussions always ensue, bringing out much richer, more synergistic material than could happen in any other format short of everybody moving in together for an extended vacation.  And the discussion takes place worldwide, with just about every kind of perspective you could find, without the constraint of travel considerations, enriching the experience even further.  The PDC, like dreams, takes place outside the normal boundaries of time and space.

What drives you to put so much valuable energy into these events?

First of all, selfishly, it's my one big brain-orgy of the year.  I'm not an academic and don't live with this sort of heady socializing around intellectual topics normally.  I can read books, of course, but every so often one needs to leap into some more active engagement, just completely abandon oneself to the passions of the mind, and this is just so much fun!  Exhausting, but what festival isn't?

Second, I believe in my mission, one of many aspects of the PsiberDreaming Conference contributing to the whole.  My particular role, as you mentioned, is in helping to host the Outer Inn.

The idea for this originally came from noticing the one thing that the online conference didn't have--besides physical contact--that a face-to-face conference did:  schmooze time.  Face-to-face conferences include not only lecture halls where one hears presentations, but also social spaces--a cafeteria, coffee-shop, bar, lobby, garden, lawn, anywhere that people can sit down together and talk.  A lot of vital synergy takes place outside of the presentations, where ideas bubble up from combining all of the different things learned with personal experience of one's own and that of other people.  Also, people need somewhere to go off-topic, blow off steam, get goofy, or deal with emotions too volatile for the presentations themselves.  I wanted to provide that space.  That's how it started, anyway.

It turned out that the Outer Inn had much more to offer than that, with a little development.  We start by creating a room for each person who comes to us--a unique room, tailored to that specific person as much as we can manage, and as over-the-top fanciful as the magic of dreams can offer.  This matters, because having something made just for oneself alone, with all effort made to discern that person's tastes (at least as much as possible) says "You, specifically, are welcome here!" like nothing else.  I want each person to feel that we're not just welcoming them as part of a batch, but as one distinct individual.

We need this because modern society makes it hard to discuss dreams, even harder to discuss psi, and hardest of all to discuss both combined.  So we've got to uninhibit people as much as possible without chemical intoxicants, which would blunt the intellects of people trying to engage in something centrally intellectual.  The best thing to uninhibit people, better than booze or drugs, is making them feel utterly welcome--not generically but as who they are.  People can then relax and feel safe enough to participate, more than they might otherwise.

This especially matters with psi involved.  The more people bond the better the psi--there's a reason, I think, why spontaneous incidents of psi among people who previously did not believe in it happens more among close relatives, lovers, and other intimates than among strangers.  If we can make people feel cherished and special, I think that it increases the odds of success in the psi experiments and workshops.

Each having their own room also gives people an anchor in a potentially disorienting experience.  As I said, this online kind of conference does weird things with space and time, practically erasing it, and focusing one's attention on psi dreams can further dislodge people from the obvious-seeming realities in which they normally spread their roots.  If you invite people to fly, you'd better give them somewhere to land!

Anyway, everybody's got something to contribute at the PsiberDreaming Conference.  My contribution is doing what I can to free others up to give theirs.

What does the dreaming community mean to you?

People who have a clue about a vitally important and far-reaching resource that the Dominant Society has mostly forgotten about, and these same people not only use it to their own benefit but trying to spread it to others.  There isn't a positive human activity imaginable that dreams can't aid, nor a negative situation that they cannot help with or at least palliate--from the neonatal dreams that first exercise our neural net in preparation for life, to the final dreams that prepare us to die in peace.

Aside from the importance of the work they do, the dreaming community is a fun bunch--on the creative level, the intellectual level, and the emotional level--and just plain nice folks overall.  We're all flawed human beings, but when you pay attention to dreams, whenever you get too out of line dreams will smack you back to where you belong--in precisely the best way to get the message across.  So dreamers make pleasant company, humble yet confident, considerate and alert.

One thing I personally like is how the Dreaming Community is the least classist gathering of academically-inclined individuals that I have ever encountered!  They don't care about the lack of diplomas on my wall so long as I can keep up with them.  They always address my ideas on their own merits or lack thereof, without ad hominem issues interfering.  For me that's heaven!  Similarly I encounter no racism, sexism, or religious discrimination.  Again, I think this is because paying attention to dreams give a great boost to correcting one's course.

Would you like to share a dream and a story that you find important right now?

I think I've already shared more than enough.  Thank you for the honor!

In Memoriam: Jeremy Taylor

This video conversation / interview was recorded by Christine Anderson and features Jeremy Taylor and Billie Ortiz, who co-facilitated over 26 dream retreats and workshops together.

For more information about Jeremy Taylor  and his passing please visit the IASD web page created to commemorate his life and death.

Dreaming with Elaine Kennis, Australia

When did you start taking serious notice of your dreams and why?

I started really taking notice in year 2001. I was 50 years old and it was shortly after my mother died from a prolonged battle with breast cancer.

I had a vivid and distressing nightmare which demanded attention. In my search for answers I came across a little book which changed my life; called  “The Book of Dreaming” by Sally Gillespie, published in 2000. I tracked down the author and began working with dreams as part of an in-person dream group.

This experience was entirely new to me and gradually I became very tuned to listening with great care and focus to the wisdom and guidance provided by the dreams. My life took a new direction and opened up in a remarkable way.

What do dreams mean to you now?

16 years later, I continue to be guided by my dreams. Sometimes I follow the faintest of golden threads, they have lead me around the world to meet remarkable people and to spend time in sacred landscapes. Dreams help me in my relationships with people, my work as a counsellor, and serve as an inspiration in my life. I feel such gratitude to have dreams as a reliable and trustworthy entry point into my mysterious inner world.

You work as a grief counsellor. Do you make dreams part of your counselling process. If so, in what way?

Yes, I find dreams a valuable tool in my work at the hospital. I work in the cancer support service with clients suffering cancer, their carers and family members, including young children. I also run bereavement groups and lead discussions on end of life, death and dying. It is an extraordinary privilege.

In counselling, it is an organic process. Clients often disclose vivid and confusing dreams in the course of the session. I will then invite them to explore the dream, and together we tease out the themes and symbolic suggestions presented by the dreaming voice.

Often the dreaming voice is suggesting certain steps for the client to complete before they die. Or loved ones appear to support the client forward. Old emotional patterns are revealed, extraordinary spiritual experiences are shared.

I find myself constantly surprised and encouraged by clients willingness to step into their dreams. They can sense the support from within themselves and sometimes feel less alone and less afraid of end of life.

A few years ago at a dream conference in Sydney, I attended a dream group led by you and was very impressed by the way you approached dreams. I believe you also run an in-person dream group that has been meeting regularly for many years. Can you share the principles that guide you in your group dream work?

Thank you Metka, for your kind remarks. My approach to group work is largely informed by the early and original work I shared with Sally Gillespie. At that time she was the president of the Sydney Jung Society. So it was a Jungian approach. She gave us simple, yet strict guidelines around confidentiality, possible opening responses to a dream shared, basically non interpretive... we were taught to allow and encourage the dreamer to draw forth... this allows the dreamer to trust their own instincts, own associations and feelings. The dreamer learns to trust and tease out the symbolic language presented by the dream.

 Also, importantly, Sally kept it light and transparent… sometimes we are completely left with unfathomable mystery!! Not everything can be explained !!!!!

What has kept your dream group together for such a long time?

Our dream group currently has two members from the original group 15 years ago, the other four members about 8- 6 years. The group has fluctuated with members moving interstate, work commitments, family arrangements and recommendations from friends… so it has been an organic and regenerative group of seekers.

The binding qualities of the group would be consistency (meet once a month) at the same venue, trusting and non-judgmental, profound respect for the process and the deepening of a spiritual awareness for all members. All of the members have done extensive personal research into other forms of dream work, we share and expand our work with workshops, conferences and online study. We all access the rich international dreaming communities.

You live in Sydney, Australia, and are the Vice-President of Dream Network Australia which offers four dream workshops per year. What is the aim of these workshops, how many people attend them, what can interested dreamers expect to get from them?

The aim of these four workshops is educative and experiential. We promote discussion and open dialogue about the value of dreams in Australian culture. It is about building a face-to-face dreaming community and a resource for people to explore. It is an experimental, creative and learned community.

It is important for me to embrace the knowledge we are bedded in the land of indigenous aboriginal culture which evolved from the great Dreamtime.

Attendance to the workshops in North Sydney varies, we have had as many as twenty people and as little as eight. 

Attendance to the bi-annual conferences is well over a hundred.

The committee suggest topics which may be of interest, seek out presenters within special areas, explore and teach various methods to work with dreams, share new research and learnings from international conferences. Some topics we have covered would be leadership in dreams, fairy tales, methods of mapping and recording dreams, animal totems, dialoguing with the elementals, symbolic language, latest scientific research, dreams from famous people, dreams in tribal culture, dreams about place and belonging within Australia. Sometimes we hold dream group sessions to model various processes, do creative processes with printmaking, clay modelling, collage and journaling. We always have yummy food and refreshments… dream work can make you hungry for more!!!
Early this year we kicked off with a beautiful three day residential retreat on the North Coast and totally immersed ourselves in dreams. 16 people attended.

 Next year in October 25th to 28th   2018  we will be running a major international  dream conference in Sydney called “deep listening to the patterns of our time”. This is spearheaded by Susannah Benson the president. Please keep an eye on the Dream Network Australia site to get more information, as this event unfolds.

My feeling is that Australians are very hesitant about sharing dreams. Would you agree?

I disagree with you Metka on this point. I think given the opportunity, most people love to have someone listen to their dream.

I believe you are raising a broader cultural issue where generally the everyday Australian has never been taught to value or respect their dreams. Dreams are generally dismissed as confused gibberish and not understood as a personal resource to be tapped. Occasionally a terrifying nightmare will grab attention as it did for me.

We can start to change these attitudes quite simply by introducing the topic of dreams around the dinner table with family and friends, or over coffee with an open minded friend. I believe a more groundswell movement from bottom up is the way to go.

You also attended and presented at a recent dream conference in Auckland, New Zealand. What was your impression of the dreaming community in New Zealand?

The dream community in New Zealand is vibrant and growing. This is largely due to the efforts of one woman; Margaret Bowater. Margaret has developed a certified training program for dream work. Her students are forging networks throughout both islands. She is the president of Dream Network Aotearoa and has recently published a book called ‘Healing the Nightmare - Freeing the Soul”.  A practical guide to dream work.

This conference held in October 2017 was called ‘Dreams, Imagination and Healing’; it attracted a very diverse group of presenters and attendees. A large number of therapists, nurses, artists, mental health practitioners, doctors and poets were present.

I was invited to give one of the keynotes, where I presented eight case studies of dreams and visions around death and dying. I also ran two workshops on dreams and healing, based on a new process I learnt in the Netherlands at the international ISAD conference in 2016.  I love the New Zealanders for their almost ruthless honesty, self-enquiry and practicality. They show great willingness to give things a go.

I would encourage everyone to join the NZ Network and gain access to the wonderful newsletters and discussions. A broad sharing with our neighbours is really healthy.

You like to combine dream work with visual expressions. Why do you find creating artwork on the basis of your dreams important?

Creative artwork and expression has always been close to my heart. When I left school, I trained as an art teacher at the national art school and teachers college.

I taught in high schools for 10 years, retrained in early childhood and became a director of a community preschool for 20 years, retrained in holistic counselling and worked in private practice/hospital for 10... still going!!!

Creative expression in all its forms has been a constant companion during my working life. It enhances, guides and explains my inner world. Things become clearer for me and I gain rich insights from the visual or the felt expression from dance and movement. Recently I have been using clay in my women groups and dream groups as a way of expressing a feeling, a symbol, a story… a wonderful and unknown process unfolds before my eyes as people allow the clay to form itself without criticism. Art helps us to access another part of the brain, it opens doorways and windows into the soul.

Would you like to share a dream and related artwork?

Recently I did a body of inner personal work with Kahuna Kalei (a Hawaian priestess) on the big island, HawaiĆ­. A dream led me to her. I didn’t really know why… but I have learnt to trust these fragile threads.

She took me to a deep place of personal healing, supported by the intense and extraordinary landscape of the smouldering volcano and the goddess Pele.

Here is some artwork I did around that experience on the island . This artwork was done at one of the Dream Network workshops in Sydney. We were working with the theme of archetypes.

Dreaming with Laurel Fuller Clark, USA

Laurel, you are well known in the dreaming community as an author of an impressive number of books, former IASD President and current Chair of the Board of Directors, regular presenter at IASD conferences, intuitive dreamer and more. When in your life and how did you discover that dreams are important to you?

I have always been intrigued by dreams.  I can remember as a young child sometimes becoming aware of sliding through a kind of tunnel into sleep and dreams.  It was enjoyable and now I would say that those were lucid dreams.  I seemed to lose (or forget?) that ability as I grew older but still was fascinated by dreams.

When I was in college, a friend and classmate in a creative writing class told me that the beautiful imagery in her poetry came from dreams.  She suggested I start writing them down and taught me how to remember my dreams by setting the desire and intention before bed, keeping a journal at my bedside.  She was right!  I soon was able to remember many more dreams.  At that time many of the dreams I remembered were nightmares.  This changed as I learned to interpret my dreams and made changes in my waking life.

Lots of dream explorers that I know realised early in life that dreams were meaningful but then turned to other things and came back to them only later in life. You, on the other hand, discovered the School of Metaphysics and were able to include dreams in your work fairly early in your career. Why did you join the School of Metaphysics and how are dreams incorporated in your work there?  

I received a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan (USA).  As an undergraduate, I was searching for a “calling,” expecting that somehow by being in college and taking a variety of liberal arts classes I would discover what I was meant to do with my life.  After a great education and many interesting classes, I graduated with no more idea of what I wanted to do with my life than when I started!

That’s when I discovered the School of Metaphysics, a program in self-development.  I enrolled to learn about myself, how to fulfill my potential, how to concentrate, meditate, understand my dreams, align my daily choices with my ideals, develop intuition, live a more spiritual existence, and more.  When I began my studies I had no idea where it would lead or that it would become my career.  I learned how to understand my dreams from the beginning of my SOM education and have been pursuing dream study ever since (that was in 1979.)

Understanding dreams is fundamental to the School of Metaphysics education, because dreams are used as a means of self-discovery.  We teach students how to remember and record dreams, and how to interpret them as messages from the inner self or soul of the dreamer to the outer, waking self.  A variety of dream practices evolve over the course of the study.  I have incorporated dream-work in my own life for self-awareness and to aid others as a teacher, counselor, and interfaith minister.

In the dreaming community, there are many different schools of thought and they are not all compatible. What are your core beliefs about dreams?

That’s a big question!  I view dreams as “inner level” experiences.  We exist, in my belief, in multiple levels of consciousness.  At some level, every dream is about the dreamer.  I have learned to interpret dreams symbolically as messages that tell us about our own state of awareness.  Many dreams have other dimensions, too, such as group dreaming, visitations from and with those who are deceased, precognition, dream telepathy, and creative inspiration. 

One of the reasons I love IASD is that I continue to explore new ways of understanding dreams, new approaches to working with dreams, and different cultural ideas.

I’ve known you as a regular presenter at the online PsiberDreaming Conference and you also regularly present at annual in-person conferences organised by the International Association for the Study of Dreams. What brings you to these conferences? What does the dreaming community mean to you?

I love connecting with people who recognize the value of dreams.  It seems that people who explore their own dreams tend to be open, authentic, soul-centered, curious, and creative.  I love developing relationships with people like that!  I also love learning, and the IASD community is so diverse I always discover something new about myself, about ways to work with dreams, and about ways to reach out to the world to spread the word about the value and importance of dreams.

You regularly hold workshops for dreamers. Is there anything specific that most participants in your workshops expect to learn from you? Is there one specific message you always try to bring to them?  

Most participants want to know what their dreams mean.  Sometimes they have a specific focus, like wanting to know how to tell if and when a dream is precognitive or when it is purely symbolic.  Sometimes they more generally want to know why they have a particular type of dream or more specifically what one dream means, either because it inspired them, or it scared them, or otherwise stimulated some distress.

The one message I want people to know is that dreams are real, that they have great value for our own development, and to reap the most benefit from dreams, a dreamer should keep a dream journal to record them.  It’s so easy to forget a dream, even the ones that seem so profound upon awakening.  A dream journal can help us now and also by looking back over a series of dreams to understand patterns in our thinking and our lives.

I have given many workshops on dream incubation to teach people a step-by-step approach for incubating dreams for specific purposes.  People come to those workshops because they want dream guidance for health, relationship counsel, creative or entrepreneurial ideas, to develop dream skills like lucidity or flying, and other purposes.

In recent years you’ve also become very interested in painting. Is your artwork related to your dreamwork?

I’m exploring this connection!  Sometimes, when I have been painting for an extended period of time, I go to bed with images in my mind of the colors I’ve been playing with.  I may then have dreams that have no content other than the swirling colors.  Those seem to go on all night!  My artwork is intuitive and abstract. I may have a general idea when I start but once I pour the paint or alcohol inks or melted wax, I allow the colors to move and flow as they will, and it seems that I am following their direction rather than me giving direction.  In that way, the process seems similar to dreams which have a kind of life of their own.

I know you as a very intuitive dreamer. Would you like to share an intuitive dream that made a difference in your waking life?

I became aware of the strong intuitive nature of dreaming when I was married to a man who had juvenile diabetes and related health problems.  I discovered that when he was in trouble medically (like going into an insulin shock reaction), he could communicate with me in dreams when he was unable to do so consciously.  By responding to one such dream, I may have saved his life. Other dreams like that helped prepare me for medical emergencies that would otherwise have been completely shocking to my conscious self.

The most profound intuitive dream is one that I have shared at IASD conferences, in a book I wrote entitled Intuitive Dreaming, and in the IASD book Dreams that Changed Our Lives.  For your readers who have not heard it, I’ll share it again here.

My husband John died on September 10, 2000.  A year after his death, I decided to commemorate the anniversary by spending a day in meditation, contemplation and prayer.  September 10, 2001 was a Monday which was a day of classes that I taught, so I decided to take the Tuesday off work for my day of contemplation.

That morning, September 11, 2001, I got up early, meditated, and then got in my car to drive to a local church for some prayers.  I turned the radio on and heard the announcer shout, “The second tower has been hit!”  As I drove into town, I heard the unfolding story on the news of the Twin Towers and devastation in New York City.

I grew up in a suburb of New York City and have friends and relatives who live in the city.  John’s sister and her son who was 11 years old at the time lived in Manhattan.  I was worried about all of my loved ones in New York but because all of the cell phone towers were down, there was no communication.  I had no idea if they were dead or alive, if they were hurt or were safe.

All day long, all I could do was pray and broadcast thoughts of light and love to everyone in New York and in the world.

That night, I had this dream,

John is in New York, helping those who have died in the World Trade Center.  I look at him and ask in alarm, “Are they okay?”  He beams a beautiful smile and lights up with a celestial radiance, saying joyfully and emphatically, “Yes!  They’re fine!  Once they’re out, they’re fine!”

As he said, “once they’re out,” I felt a whoosh! of exhilaration, like the euphoria of leaving the body and experiencing spirit.

The dream was healing on many levels.  Personally it was healing because John looked healthy and vibrant, full of life and kindness.  He was a person who loved helping others and had he been in the flesh, he probably would have driven from Missouri (where we lived) to help the people who needed him in New York.  I knew he was in his element, doing what he was supposed to be doing in his “new life.”

Universally it was healing because I believe that his message applies to anyone who grieves a loved one or who is approaching his or her own death.  Once we are out of the body and released into spirit, we are fine.  I could tell from John’s message that the people who were not fine on September 11, 2001 were those of us who remained, who were hurt, angry, afraid or otherwise distressed about the sudden events.

That dream has stayed with me and the message has continued to help me in my work as a counselor, interfaith minister, and teacher to aid people understand the process of transition from life to death.

Laurel Clark's webpage: laurelclark.com

Dreaming with Delia Puiatti, Australia

Delia, when did you realise that dreams are important to you? What do they mean to you?

For as long as I can remember, dreams have felt like the most central, real aspect of my life. They’ve always felt like an actual world to me, one I’ve always taken for granted as real. After a recurring dream at age 5, most of my dreams involved embarking on explorations of this dream world, and I loved the strangeness of it all. I sensed there was some meaning, but more so an inherent significance by dint of its mere existence.

Dreams, to me, are a foundation to this waking reality. They’re my happy place, my oracle, my temple, the love of my life, my inspiration, everything. For me, dreams are one of the most direct connections to God, and my devotion and love towards God naturally encompass this sphere in which I can connect to the divine.

Another aspect of dreams is the sense of place - I generally experience strong ‘place-attachment’ and I love exploring places even in waking life, but in dreams this treasured pastime is entirely more meaningful, because the places themselves are charged with such psychic energy or magic, and present ever-unfolding mysteries. Beyond the aspect of place, the way that dreams are a consistent meeting point where I can encounter unheard-of things, things my waking mind could not conceive of, and deeper meaning - elements from beyond this world.

You have been very active in the dreaming community. When and how did you discover
that there are many other people interested in dreams around the world?

As soon as I discovered what a search engine was, way back in perhaps ‘97, the first thing I searched for was ‘dreams’ - I had never discussed my dreaming life with anyone up until then, so seeing whole communities based on dreaming was mind-blowing! IASD was what opened my eyes to dreaming communities, and I’m fervently involved out of such love for a life based on dreams, for the community of wonderful dreamers in it, as well as a strong gratitude and a desire to give something back. It’s no understatement when I say that dream communities are like family.

You are particularly notable as one of the excellent Outer Inn hosts at the PsiberDreaming Conference and you regularly attend annual live conferences organised by the International Association for the Study of Dreams. What brings you to these conferences year after year? What does the dreaming community mean to you?

Thank you for your kind acknowledgements! I can’t overstate the fact that there is nothing like these conferences: apart from the obvious joy of being exposed to such a vast amount of information, research, engaging conversations, and the chance to connect with dreamers from around the world, there is also the rare, precious experience of inhabiting, for that short amount of time, what I see as the future of humanity: a benevolent community abounding with joy, love, creativity, playfulness, inquisitiveness, a yearning and encouragement for continual evolution, openness and inclusion, reverence for the sacred, and a whole lot more that would make me sound like I’m exaggerating, even though I’m not.

Apart from the community being an excellent avenue for learning, networking, personal growth, and incredible friendships, it’s also a haven for those of us who love to delve deep, deep into subjects that explore the outer reaches of the mind, the cosmos, our spirit, and of course to explore and enjoy dreaming. Since so much about dreaming and psi is dismissed or frowned upon in general, it’s great to have a community and friends that are open, non-judgemental, and willing to explore, listen, and teach in these regards.

You live in Sydney, Australia. Are there any dream groups you can attend locally? Do you know many other dreamers in Australia? Do you find that Australians are generally interested in dreams?

To my knowledge, there doesn’t seem to be many in-person groups in Sydney, although I’ve been a little out of the loop due to work commitments; however, The Dream Network has events every so often including conferences, workshops, and talks - in fact, it was founded by my Transpersonal Counselling classmate, Susannah Benson, who was also President of IASD recently.  I’ve also connected with an awesome online dream-sharing site, Sealife Dreams, spearheaded by a gifted dreamer in Melbourne, Nick Cumbo. And there’s also Eilatan, my wonderful fellow Outer Inn host, who’s also from Sydney but I’d only discovered through Psiberdreaming! Outside of that, it’s not often I encounter people here who are actively involved in dreamwork -  but that’s one great thing about IASD and the conferences, it helps connect near and far!

Some people have mostly symbolic dreams, some are frequent lucid dreamers, others have lots of precognitive dreams. How would you describe your own dreams?

I’ve had a bit of everything, and I find the predominant types of dreams shift and evolve as I move through phases. I often have psi dreams, mostly with precognitive content or else information needed to guide me through life situations, which isn’t otherwise available via the 5 senses. In some dreams, I seem to encounter actual people, although I have no present method of verifying this empirically beyond my own tangible experience. For a while, pure colour and form were predominant experiences in dreams - which inspired my 2016 Psiberdreaming presentation, ‘Colour & Geometry in Dreams’ - however even that has morphed into new symbolic expression. I have also had spiritual experiences within dreams, especially my more recent lucid dreams in which I prayed and encountered some intriguing results!

Most impacting, however are two types: healing and place-related dreams. I’ve had innumerable healing dream experiences over the years, ones with tangible after-effects, sometimes unfolding over longer phases. It is through these healing dreams, in their widely varied forms, that I feel a solid connection to the divine that feels most like receiving care from a friend or family member.

The place-related dreams affect me so strongly that I’ve started creating a map of them all - they seem to reflect an evolving terrain or inner world, linking physical places and dream locales with certain times, mindsets, and feelings. I feel some discoveries are within reach, if I keep exploring.

Do you think that your work life as an artist and fashion designer influences your interest in colours and geometric shapes and patterns in dreams?

Absolutely! To some degree, it seems that dreams utilise familiar elements I work with to convey information symbolically; however, there also seems to be an mystifying aspect, beyond symbol, which I have yet to grasp.

Do you integrate your dreaming life in your work? If so, in what ways?

Definitely! I frequently incubate for guidance and inspiration, or I might sometimes receive symbols or concepts that seem perfect to integrate into my work - a design, a system or approach, sometimes even an entire change of course. My business tagline for Unknown Quantity was received in a dream - ‘Merging Form and Idea’ - and even showed me what the gist of my work is about. Some dream images have made their way into my illustrated Psi-Fi series, and dreams have also suggested clever ideas for clothing designs and ways of supporting my business. Most of all, I feel there is a greater story or principle, a vibe on a whole other level, revealing itself to me through not just individual dreams, but the growing collection/series of dreams unfolding alongside my vocational journey.

Would you like to share one of your dreams?

Just ONE!? :) Always!

I’m with Bob Van De Castle; we go to visit an old wise man, Viktor, for some specific reason. When we arrive at the man’s home, we find his wife sweeping busily and paying us no mind; we ask to see her husband, having to repeat our request three times until she obliges without saying a word - it’s almost like a test of our willingness to see him.  The home seems European, from a century or two ago.

We enter the next room, finding Viktor is sitting up in a bed in the center of an otherwise mostly empty, light-filled room; he appears and acts youthful, despite his advanced age. As we sit by the bed, I admire the breathtaking bedspread: a print featuring a plethora of orange sunsets and hand-painted, blazing phoenixes. Seeing this, I realise now that I have seen or dreamed this before. Now Bob is also partly my pastor, Neil.

After some small talk, during which I clutch a pair of tailored grey and black striped pants, we eventually reach the moment where I must ask the question I was brought here to ask.

“So,” I ask, “it really doesn’t matter that I don’t know why I’m here?”
Viktor and Bob laugh reassuringly and answer that yes, it’s perfectly okay. Immediately I hear the jangling of unseen keys in a corner. Hearing this, Bob says it’s now time when captive animals are allowed to turn over or move each hour, for proper circulation. 

Dreaming with Lidia Tremblay, Canada

Lidia, when did you start taking notice of your dreams and why?

My first memorable dream came to me in the winter off 1968. Yes, that was a long time ago wasn’t it? It was so clear and remarkable, I’ve never forgotten it, even though it was another couple of decades before I began to keep a journal.

Do you record your dreams every morning? Why do you find it important to keep a dream journal?

Yes, I record my dream every morning. It’s exciting to live through the dream adventures. It’s the other side of my life – why should it be ignored? Someone asked  me once why I keep a journal and here was my reply:

Dreams are intensely personal and unique experiences. What you dream only happens to you and then only once. By writing this down, I keep that experience alive forever.

Dreams that are shared, according to Native tradition, benefit others. I discovered that at times my dreams had more meaning to others than they did to me.

Over time, my dreams have shown me patterns my life has been undergoing. If I hadn't written them down I would have lost important life lessons.

Dreams take me on nightly journeys and vacations which I enjoy hugely even if I don't remember them all.

In writing these experiences down, I exercise my power of recall, which I hope will stand me in good stead in my later life.

I enjoy writing, and dreams provide me with unique material.

In learning how to interpret the landscape of dreams, I find myself more equipped to deal with "real" life.

I find that writing down what I can helps me remember more details, and subsequently, more dreams.

Finally, dreams are fun, and I like to remember that whenever I can. 

As a child you moved with your family from Europe to Venezuela to finally settle in Canada. How did these upheavals at such an early age affect your waking and dreaming life?

I’m not quite sure how to answer this question. I was a child, and went wherever my parents did, no questions asked. By the time I came to Canada in 1953, I was old enough to recognize how difficult this was on my parents, going from one culture to another, each one being so different from the one they were so accustomed to. As for my own views, I would say they were first coloured by my parents’ views, and as stability became more of a reality, I began to develop my own personality. I suppose that would have happened anyways as I grew up.

I don’t recall my parents talking much about dreams. My mother once mentioned that whenever she dreamed about losing a tooth, it signified a major move in her life. Her words didn’t mean anything to me at that time, because I didn’t really know what ‘dreams’ were. Only after I began paying attention to my own did I recall her sharing.

It was my daughter who got me interested in starting a dream journal. She shared some of her dreams with me and it was suddenly as though a lightbulb went off in my mind. Oh yes, of course! Why have I been ignoring this for so long!? And that’s when I began to write dreams down.

You now live in a mid-sized Canadian city of Hamilton. Is there a dreaming community in your city? Do you participate in it? In what ways? Do you think that people in Canada and in Hamilton are interested in dreams? 

Oh yes, there is a dreaming community here. We don’t meet in person all that often – my current medical issues make it difficult for me to get out. However, we often share our dreams through a Facebook Group, and share our comments there. Of course, the International Association for the Study of Dreams has a large contingent of followers in the area, and I do make an effort to attend the seminars, workshops and conventions whenever I can. I cannot speak for the rest of Canada, but I do know that in the region where I live, many people are deeply interested in dreams.

Do you think it is important to share dreams with others? Do you share dreams in your family? Why?

Absolutely, yes, it’s important to share dreams with others! Long before I learned the meaning of the words, ‘if it were my dream’ I shared and encouraged my friends and family to share dreams even as I shared mine with them. I still am surprised that when I share a dream, totally unconnected people would say that the dream speaks to them, that I had dreamed it for their benefit.

I would like to share one such experience here – a few years ago, I started sharing my dreams with my father. He was in his late 90’s then, and at first scoffed at my interest. Then, as the visits went on over time, he began to share his dreams with me. They were intensely personal, and always involved people, relatives that have passed on – his parents, my brother who has lost his life at age 18, and finally, only about a month or so ago, he told me a dream involving my mother. They led a very turbulent marriage, and this dream brought new-found peace to him. In this dream, they talked, and reconciled. It was beautiful to hear, beautiful to experience. I’ll never forget it.

I believe people have different dreaming styles: some have frequent lucid dreams, others have many precognitive dreams, I know a few who have very magical dreams. How would you describe your dreams? 

In a word, overwhelming! It’s a seldom day that I don’t recall a dream from the night before. I have had many lucid dreams where I fly, many magical dreams, but very few precognitive ones. With the dreams being there so often, it’s all I can do to record them, never mind analyze or work through them on individual basis.

However, I can detect patterns in the dreams, and they seem to be like a map. For instance, I would say that in 2012, it was The Year of Flight, with so many dreams introducing me to this wonderous freedom. 2015 was The Year of Festivals, and last year, The Year of Magic. 2017 so far is The Year of Children, since the majority of dreams involved me being with children. Lately, it’s been Children and Teachers where I’m either teaching or learning.

It’s only in retrospect that I can see these patterns.

Your dreams read like beautiful stories with lots of amazing details. Have your dreams always been like that or have they evolved over the years? Would you like to share one?

Thank you! I can see a slow development and evolution over the years. At first, I could remember little, but the more I wrote, the more details would become clear; the more I wrote, the more I became capable of remembering. I took this on as a discipline, setting intentions, doing dream incubations, and in doing so was able to bring back clearer memories of dreams. It’s almost as though I’m in two different places while dreaming – I’m interacting with the characters, but part of me is standing off to one side, observing all that is going on, taking note of the colours, the textures of emotions, etc. It’s that part of me that brings back the dreams to the morning, enabling me to write my adventures down.

Here’s one of my recent dreams:

October 23, 2017

Last night’s dreams, I’m quite sure, were all over the place. They seemed rather fractured with bits here, and other parts there, so what I’m writing down here is the sum of all parts put into a somewhat coherent story-line:

I am attending a political campaign for Trump, no less. My stomach is clenched as I hear him, and I try to walk away. The campaign is held on a rooftop of a skyscraper, and I know I’ll have to walk the stairs down because the elevators are locked during his speech. Nor can I get away from his words by simply going into the stairwells, because loudspeakers are set up everywhere. No one can get away until he’s done. No one, not even him, knows when that will happen. I stand in the glaring sunlight, blinded by the blaze, deafened by the pomp of his words and am at the point of passing out. Ah, but that would be sweet relief! To simply fall into myself, see nothing but darkness and hear nothing but silence!

Instead, my blurred vision catches sight of a little girl. She is dressed all in pink and white, but no amount of dressing up can hide her illness eating away at her bones and flesh. She is forced to stand, even as we all are standing, and I can see that she’s tottering her feet. I rush to her and take her into my arms before either of us collapses, then I walk boldly up to Trump and raise an old-fashioned pen at him. He stares at me in amazement as I press the button on the pen and release the ink all over his face. He looks ridiculous with the dark blue streaks dripping along his florid face, features opened in perpetual rage, anger and hatred.

I should expect to be arrested now, but no one comes my way. I now see that everyone here is paralyzed with shock, indecision, so I simply walk away with the child in my arms. As I make my way to the staircase, I hear the people come to awareness. Shouts, scuffles, even laughter of derision – all these I hear, as well as the indignation of the Naked Emperor, The Man Who Would be King. I continue going down the stairs, the little child in my arms, knowing full well it won’t be long before I’ll be caught and arrested. She looks at me, and I suddenly feel as though I’m breathing in the sweet scent of the Lily of the Valley.

But I’m not arrested. No one catches up with me. The building changes with each step into an old majestic stone castle. Below me, the walls open into a large hall lit by candles and lanterns, a huge fireplace along one wall. The hall is full of people celebrating Yule. I recognize the Scadians there, my old friends and many new ones. Even before I reach the floor, arms are already reaching out to me, to take the little girl and place her on a comfortable small couch and give her a cool drink. A goblet is placed in my hands too, and it’s only then that I realize just how far I had come. My legs give out on me and I too am placed on a cushioned chair.

After a while, I begin to wander around, greet everyone, and nibble on some dainties set out on large trays. Thus I find a small room which are very much at odds with the Medieval flare of the hall. Here I find two flat-screen monitors that are emitting a soft tangerine glow. Computers? Of course, computers! What Medieval setting wold be complete without the magic crystals there? I smile and sit down in front of the screens.  Instantly, I’m drawn into a world of high magic. The story is like a blending of Berwolfe, Lord of the Rings, and The Land! Wizards and Elves, lords of light and dark, fae and other folk inhabit these worlds made up of words. I see the story unfolding as though the characters are like jewel-toned illuminations on parchment. And behind this high magic story is a different story – a subtle, plainly written prophecy that is directed only to me.

I move back in astonishment, then start reading the screens again. It’s as though the words find their way into the deepest part of my being and are etched there, without my conscious mind remembering the words. At the same time, every word that is read disappears from the screen.

In a way I am deeply disturbed. How will I remember this prophecy? How will I be able to work on fulfilling it? The soft tangerine glow fades and the screens go dark. I sit there for a few moments until I feel ready to join the merry-makers in the great hall again, but as I go in, things again change. I am now outside, walking toward my house (the same old house I dreamed about yesterday!). There is a nearby park full of children at play and I am happy to see the little girl there, engaged in games. They all freeze as if in stasis as I approach my garden, but my attention is riveted on a patch of flowers growing right on the corner of the house – a combination of daffodils, tiger-lilies and sunflowers, all entwining around each other.

That’s strange, I think, since the flowers all grow at different seasons. I look at the sunflowers and know that they will give me tons of seeds. I caress the other flowers gently, thanking them for their beauty. Already, the powerful sensation of the prophecies is settling into me, and are taking deep roots. I know I am to simply leave them there and all will come to fruition in its own time. A call from the neighbour’s house gets my attention now.  A middle-aged woman is on a third-floor balcony closed in only by an insect screen. She loves to sit there in the sun, and does so without any clothing. She gets up in her full nude glory to wave to me and says something about the campaign, feast, prophecy and the child. Her speech seems plain, but contains all these levels of meanings. This too confuses me, and I am about to question her when she adds, ‘it won’t be long now,’ before heading back to her chair.

My head is spinning with implications of all that’s happened. I need time to think about it all and so head into the house. Fate doesn’t let me off so easily, however. Just one more thing happens before I cross the threshold – I see a silver ring with an emerald inset right by the door. I recognize the ring – it’s one I have, and it’s not emerald, but colored glass to resemble the deep green gem. The glass is broken.  I pick it up, and wonder why it’s not coming apart out of the setting – yet another mystery to add to the list of mysteries I have experienced this night.

I carry the ring, finally going into my home, and gently waking up…