Dreaming with Fiona Reynolds, UK
When did you start taking your dreams seriously and why?
I had my first big dream when I was 16 years old. This was my first introduction to ‘the other world’, which was an incredibly beautiful place. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do with the dream, but I was really amazed by this wonderful place.
In my twenties, I began studying psychology, so I started a dream diary with an aim to unravel the hidden parts of my psyche. I used my dreams to guide my understandings and decisions in waking life and really enjoyed decoding all the symbols in my dreams. After a few years, I could decode my dreams quite quickly. Randomly, I would have big dreams, which just left me puzzled, they were difficult to share, so I just kept them to myself.
In my thirties I developed M.E. / chronic fatigue. My dreams during this period were mostly of a spiritual nature. They were incredibly vivid and immensely beautiful, I dreamed with many different senses and was always surrounded by a strong feeling of unconditional love. These dreams were very difficult to explain or translate into words, so I didn’t write any of them down. I became increasingly confused as to why I was having these dreams and what they meant.
In 2011, after eleven years of these dreams, I woke up one day and said to myself, “This place (the dreaming) is a REAL PLACE! It’s not my imagination, this place actually exists.” I also understood that the places that I visited in my dreams and the things I learned there, went far beyond my experience and knowledge in my waking life.
What do dreams mean to you?
I believe that there are two distinct realms of the dreaming and they have different purposes.
The first realm is the psychological realm, which was what Freud focused on in his work with psychoanalysis. I think that when we have dreams here, we are trying to balance our hopes, fears and anxieties, things that we haven’t been able to solve or achieve in our waking reality. Dreams in this realm can offer us fresh insights, an opportunity to solve a situation or to gain a different perspective on a problem. It is here that nightmares present themselves but I’ve also noticed that our dreams can provide us with a comfortable and peaceful place, when life is tumultuous.
The other realm is the spiritual realm, which was what Jung explored with his work on the collective unconscious. Here we tap into universal truths, we can encounter the world of pure forms and we also have the opportunity to experience connective states of being.
I feel that the psychological realm helps us manage our lives as human beings and the spiritual realm reminds us that we extend far beyond our human selves.
In the dreaming community lots of people feel that lucid dreams are a very special kind of dreaming. Since when have you had lucid dreams? My lucid dreams are mostly about flying - what kind of lucid dreams do you mostly have?
After I had my epiphany about the dreaming being a real place in 2011, I found Robert Waggoner’s book called Lucid Dreaming. I’d never heard of lucid dreaming before and was delighted to have a technique to practise and wondered what it would feel like to be fully aware within the dream landscape. I was also very inspired to read about the experiments that people had been trying in their own lucid dreams, particularly meeting people from waking life, in the dream state.
I have only managed to become fully lucid about six times, so I haven’t had enough lucid dreams to notice any particular patterns.
In my first lucid dream, I was sitting on a boat, watching the water, in a beautiful pastel landscape, surrounded by desert sands. Suddenly I saw a periscope in the water and realised that I was in a dream. I had practised what to do as soon as I became lucid, so I suddenly dived into the water, which was lovely. I then flew up into the sky, but when I looked down, the landscape was ‘running out’, I couldn’t think of what to do next and then I woke up. It was a lovely first lucid dream, since the landscape was so beautiful and it was great to swim and fly!
In another dream, I stepped outside my London flat, to find myself in ancient Egypt. The Nile was a silky black colour and I stepped onto a gondola, which was being rowed by a silhouetted man. We sailed past incredible Egyptian palaces, full of black marble pillars adorned with golden hieroglyphics. Eventually the boat came to a stop at a grassy bank. When I stepped off the boat, a man greeted me. He told me to look up. As I did, I saw a huge grid in the sky, I exclaimed, “Is that the grid of knowledge?” With that, the whole grid lit up, with yellow light. I reached up to grab some knowledge, but as I did the light went out and the man said, “Not yet, but you know now, that it is there!”
It is definitely incredible to be in the dream landscape and to be fully aware that I am in a dream. It comes with a strong sense of wonder and there is something extraordinary about seeing and experiencing things with these heightened senses.
I did try controlling things in my lucid dreams, but the dream seems to tease me by not giving me quite what I asked for. For instance, once I demanded that a gondola appear before me and the dream gave me a child’s paddling boat, which I had to wade into the water to retrieve. In another dream, I demanded that a lake appear, but the dream gave me a muddy puddle instead.
Is there a procedure that you follow to induce lucid dreams or do they come to you spontaneously?
I tried a few techniques, but the one which worked for me was from Andrew Holecek’s book, ‘Dream Yoga’. In this technique, you ask yourself several times a day, “Am I dreaming, or am I awake?” He recommends that you do this every time something happens during the day, which makes you temporarily look up and pay attention for a few seconds. This can be anything from a dog suddenly barking, or a flock of birds suddenly appearing overhead or something falling off a shelf. I found this technique really effective and it required no effort to do it during the day.
The idea is that we become so used to doing this throughout the day that we eventually do it in our dreams as well. Whenever there is a scene change or something that catches our attention in the dream, we find ourselves asking, “Am I dreaming or am I awake?” Suddenly, we are lucid!
How often do you have lucid dreams?
In the first couple of months, I had about three lucid dreams. Since then, I’ve had about three more. It was a practice that I put on the backburner, because I got quite mixed results. When I am fully lucid, I become a very restricted, or very young dream character, who becomes distracted and overwhelmed and often makes inappropriate and rude comments out loud. After becoming fully lucid a few times, I started having very intriguing semi lucid dreams, so full lucidity didn’t seem so important at that time.
I noticed over the years that I very often had ‘semi-lucidity’ in all of my beautiful dreams. I wasn’t explicitly aware that I was ‘in a dream’, but I was aware that I was not ‘in real life’. In most of my dreams I experience a feeling of unconditional love and heightened or other senses, this is my trigger to signal that I am in ‘the other place’. I’ve always just sat back and enjoyed the dream in a passive way, allowing the dream to unfold before me.
Would you like to have more? Why? Why not?
Whilst I prefer semi lucidity, I would like to keep trying with the full lucid dreaming techniques and experiments, in the hope that my lucid dreaming character will evolve into someone less abrasive. I think that there are so many wonderful possibilities for lucid dreaming, it would be a shame to ignore the opportunity to experience the dreaming in this way, just because it didn’t go so smoothly the first few times.
Some people meet their gurus in their dreams and receive teachings. There was recently a report that one man was taught three different languages in this dreams. Have you ever received any teachings in your dreams? If so, what did you learn?
I absolutely love this idea of meeting gurus or wiser beings in dreams. The dream world is so mysterious and baffling, I think it’s only natural that we all yearn to find people who will sit down and explain it all to us.
Sadly, most of the characters who appear in my dreams are peripheral characters. However, occasionally over the years there have been characters who seem to be slightly different, ones who focus solely on me and make a point of getting my attention.
In my early twenties I had a dream where I met an old man on a mountain who explained that I was not who I thought I was. He said that my identity went far beyond my name, my gender, my family and my nationality. He showed me many things about the universe, how we are all connected through a golden thread of love. He used coloured light to show me some of the concepts. I was very baffled in the dream and struggled to keep up with what he was saying. Twenty five years later, I realised that the mountains in the dream were the Himalayas and that his teachings were from the Eastern tradition, which at the time, I had never heard of.
In the second part of the dream, I flew to South America, to a cave and met a man who was wearing an animal head, perhaps a buffalo. He had sea shell bracelets and anklets. He was singing and dancing, but it was in a different language, so I couldn’t understand the words. When I asked him what he was doing, he said that he was teaching me something that I needed to know for the future. When I asked what, he told me that I needed to learn how to go places and bring things back and that he was teaching me how to get to those places. Again, twenty five years later, I realised that he was a Shaman and he seemed to be teaching me the process of Soul Retrieval.
About a year ago, I had another dream, where I was on an island. An Indigenous man appeared, he was wearing Western clothes. He had a bird of prey (golden eagle) in one hand. He approached me and turned the bird upside down. On the underside of the bird were scales, which were falling away towards the ground. He kept nodding slowly, as if asking if I understood the message. I giggled and said that I didn’t understand. He then silently pulled out a line drawing of what he was showing me, pointed to the line drawing and then pointed to the bird.
I really struggled to understand the meaning of this dream, until one day, I stumbled upon the feathered serpent, the Quetzalcoatl, which is from the Mesoamerican cultures. It is described on Wikipedia as, ‘The double symbolism is considered allegoric to the dual nature of the deity, where being feathered represents its divine nature or ability to fly to reach the skies and being a serpent represents its human nature or ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth.’ I still don’t fully understand the message, but it seems like it was a message of moving away from earth towards the skies and closer to divinity. That’s the best explanation I have come up with so far! Dreams are often a work in progress, sometimes you have to wait for other pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to turn up.
Probably, my most profound message came through a meeting with a Yogi. In the dream I was ushered into a completely black room, where I sat alone on the floor. In front of me sat a Yogi man, behind him was a screen which had the cosmos on it. The Yogi man was naked, but was sitting on orange robes. I sat up straight and prepared myself to receive his teaching.
He said nothing. I sat for a very long time. He still said nothing. Eventually, the man who had shown me into the room came back and told me that my time was up and I had to leave. I stood outside the room, quite baffled. I had sat for about half an hour, but the Yogi man had said nothing at all. The man just shrugged and told me, “Well, yes, sometimes it happens like that, I can only apologize.”
I struggled for a whole week to even begin to understand the dream. Eventually, I realized that the teaching was all about language. There were many teachings that unfolded from this dream, but perhaps the quickest and simplest one to explain here was, that the way to experience the inner universe / cosmos was by stilling the language centers. An extra lovely detail about this dream was that later I learned about ‘Body-less Yogis’. These are very advanced Yogis, who have transcended their identification with the body. Therefore they have no need to wear clothes, because they are not associated with their bodies. I realized that the man in the dream was a body-less Yogi. At first I tried to ignore the fact that he was naked and didn’t write it in my diary. Later I realized that it was an important detail.
All the dreams that you have shared so far have been very beautiful. Would you like to finish this interview with another of your beautiful dream stories with our readers?
My first dream was very lovely. I called it ‘My Mind is a Gallery’.
In the dream I entered a quiet gallery, paintings hung on every wall. Each paining represented a memory from my childhood. As I stepped into each painting I relieved each memory. When the memory came to an end, I would find myself back in the gallery, free to choose another painting. In the dream my senses were very heightened, there was an incredible sense of love and I felt at one with nature.
One memory was walking home in winter, after dark, with my Mum and brother, I was about 5 years old. The red, blue and yellow coloured lights from the houses were reflected in the puddles on the pavement. Fascinated by these colourful glassy scenes, I suddenly slipped and fell and cut my leg. The blood sketched a straight line from my knee to my ankle, it was a gash so long that I thought I would die. My mum picked me up and carried me home. When she put me in the warm bath, the blood washed away, to reveal only a very small cut on my knee. I was so thankful, I would live another day, I lay back in the bath sunk below the water and soaked up the warmth and happiness into my bones.
The dream had various scenes, as the dream progressed, it was clear that the whole dream was a memory of an older lady, looking back on her life, remembering love and loss and long forgotten memories.
In the last scene, I was still a child, perhaps 10 years old. I was walking alone along a Welsh country lane towards my auntie’s farm. Night was drawing in, the cool night air began to gently pinch my face. I was surrounded by the deepest green, I knew every plant and every plant knew me. I could read the language of the wind. I was surrounded by my culture, my ancestors and magic of ancient times. I knew that when I arrived at the farm, there would be a fire and food, a warm bed and love.
The old lady hovered above the dream and just smiled at her younger self. She reflected that life was many things, splintered across time and space but at the centre was connection and enduring love.
One of the most beautiful things about this dream was that a few years ago, I read about a woman who had the same dream portal. She too, entered a gallery, where each painting represented a memory from her life. As she stepped into each painting, she also re-experienced each memory. I was really moved by this, it felt like finding the collective unconscious in waking reality.