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!