Interview with Fiona A. Bell, dream worker from Northern Ireland
This is the first in a series of interviews that will be conducted with dreamers and dream workers around the world. Fiona A. Bell is my friend and former partner in Dream Owls. She works and lives in Northern Ireland.
Fiona, what do dreams mean to you personally?
Fiona, what do dreams mean to you personally?
Dreams are precious to me. They are like a map for my life. Helping me to navigate my way, understand myself better, and providing encouragement for me to try and live as authentic a life as possible. I find them a rich source of valuable information and creative inspiration. I often draw on the ‘possibilities’ within dreams to give me courage in stepping forward in life. If my dreams can do it - then so can I! I often find this brings new creative energy into my life.
When did you start your dream journal, how often do you record your dreams and what do you do with your old records?
I remember a series of childhood dreams and was intrigued by them but didn’t do anything with them. I began reading about dreams and similar subjects when I was around 20 years. This deepened in my mid-twenties and I started keeping a dream journal. I knew they were significant, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. I also began painting daily, in an intuitive way, and dream symbols were often a feature. I remember making little talismans from my dreams at this time, and keeping them on my wall. This daily process was very healing. It helped me to deal with the sudden death of my father, and other significant griefs that happened in the space of a very short time. I understood that dream work and image making was an important therapeutic tool for myself.
I kept dreams journals on and off for many years. In 2010, my dream work deepened again through some extraordinary dream experiences. I had my first dream group experiences whilst I lived in Melbourne, Australia, whilst studying there. That was profound for me and had me hooked!
After moving back to N. Ireland, I longed to be part of a dream group, but there wasn’t much local interest it seemed to me, and I didn’t have the confidence to start one myself. Then in a random online search in 2014, I discovered the IASD and the psiber conference. That was a major life changing experience for me, and shifted my world view perspective on dream work. I realised the inter-connectedness of dreams, and how we are all connected in that dream web. For many years now, I keep a daily dream journal in a (large!) series of handwritten notebooks, sometimes with quick sketches. I treasure these notebooks and review them from time to time. I prefer handwritten books to electronic records, although I do miss the ‘search’ function of the latter.
It seems to me that different dreamers have very different dream styles. For example, some people are frequent lucid dreamers; some people feel they have lots of precognitive dreams; there are some who have lots of very vivid and magical dreams, etc. How would you describe your dreaming style?
I have a whole mix of dreams. I discovered that I have regular precognitive dreams, so I always pay attention to these. Sometimes I ‘know’ it is precognitive, other times I only discover this in a review of my journal. Sometimes these dreams are very literal, and not couched in symbolism.
I don’t have many stable lucid dreams. Interestingly, I have had dreams of a child who is a prolific lucid dreamer. More recently, I discovered that a recurrent nightmare I had as a child was most likely sleep paralysis, and this insight felt like it unblocked my access to lucid dreaming. Since then, I have started having many semi-lucid dreams, false awakenings etc. However, I only have a small handful of short stable lucid dreams.
|Shaman. Acrylic painting by Fiona A. Bell|
I have a mix of ‘ordinary’ dreams - whatever that means?! It doesn’t feel like there is anything ordinary about dreams! But yes, I have some ‘magical’ dreams too that feel like they belong to another realm or place, and these are among my most treasured dreams. I find myself trying to ‘find’ and re-experience that extraordinary sense of wellness and completeness that these dreams bring. The ‘memory’ of that feeling keeps me moving forward in life.
You live in Northern Ireland. Are there any professional dream workers in your area? Do you attend a local dream group? Are there any other opportunities for dreamers to meet and discuss dreams locally?
No, I haven’t found a local dream worker, although there are some dream workers in Dublin and other areas in Ireland. I started delivering some local Dream Workshops and Dream Groups (inspired by my dreams) and whilst small, the interest seems to be growing and feedback is positive. I facilitate some local dream groups, both in person, and I recently facilitated a closed online group as a follow-up to a local workshop. Each time, I find myself very impressed with the ease which newcomers to dreaming have to symbolic language and intuitive insights. It feels to me like there is a readiness.
My preference is to attend dream groups in person, as there is so much wisdom in the body; in the gestures etc. that a dreamer uses to tell their dream. However, online groups come a close second in my opinion, and I have benefited immensely from global dream groups. This was especially important before I began local work, as I felt quite lonely for a long time, before I discovered online dream groups. I haven’t met most of the people in my online dream groups, yet I feel our relationships and sharing are rich and supportive. It really surprised me the extent to which online dream work could offer intimacy, safety, deep sharing and support.
Do you feel it is important to share dreams with others? If yes, why? In your experience, what is the best way to do this?
If I talk from my own experience, then yes, sharing dreams is very valuable. I find that in established groups especially, the quality of projections offered by others, seems to intuitively touch the essence of my dreams. There have been times when I thought I understood the dream, only to have a projection shared by a close group member, that radically shifted by view. I felt they had really tuned into the dream, I felt it resonate in me, and this helped to free my thinking.
I also think that Dreaming has a social dimension. It connects us as people and communities. My wish is for a dreaming world, where we all connect with our dreams. I think we might be more peaceful if we shared our dreams.
Of course, dream work is inherently mysterious and infinitely deep. Therefore, my absolute golden rule is safety. Everyone must feel safe. So I try and walk gently around dreams, and work gently with others. Like the W.B. Yeats line ‘tread softly because you tread on my dreams’.
Do you think that being a dream worker is a career option? In ideal circumstances, what would this mean to you? Would would be your goals?
That probably depends on lots of factors. I used to have a dilemma about this, feeling my dreams were calling me in this direction, and wondering what that meant. Now, I start simply. I offer this work on a part-time basis. If people are interested, then that is wonderful. If not, then I just trust that too. I realise that the most important thing for me is helping people to reconnect with their dreams and intuition, and seeing them shine! Dream work must be accessible to everyone in my eyes, regardless of means. Either way, dream work is a vocation for me. I suppose only time will tell if it will be a career too.