Monday, October 12, 2015

The Ancestors

The Ancestors

Dream: I am in a glass tank and it begins to fill up with water. I am terrified I don’t want to drown. I water keeps coming I am struggling trying to break the glass, trying to get out. I can get out and the water rising over me. I start sinking to the bottom of the tank experiencing the water filling my lungs and I can’t stop it.

As we enter the month of October in New England the crisp fall air reminds me it is time for the dying. Not in the literal sense for me but in a more spiritual and seasonal understanding. The trees turn color with their last moment of brilliance before they turn brown and drop from the safety of their limbs dying so they can nourish the soil as fertilizer. The last harvest of the year is taken in and stored and the land prepares in this hemisphere for the blankets of winter. All beings do what they must to prepare for death or hibernation. Some beings going into that time of silence, rest, reflection, preparing, and waiting for the new sun to rise in January. Looking to build the energy so a new seed can be planted in the spring as another cycle begins again.

For me I love the cool crisp air and the settling in that comes with this season and preparing for the cold months ahead. And what I am also coming to honor and respect is the traditions and meaning of the Celtic holiday of Samhain. 

There are various aspects to the meaning around Samhain and the one that has been standing out deeply for me is the tradition of acknowledging our ancestors. And not just the ancestors of our blood line but all beings. The beings that offer their lives so I may be nurtured through food and warmth such as the plants and animals and the gas and wood used to heat the home I live in. The beings that give so I may be dressed warmly. The human ancestors that learned to plant seeds and complete the harvest that gave us food and found fire that gives us warmth. All those who have come before us who have offered guidance through their goodwill and the hurts towards others or us. And yes it is often very hard to acknowledge those who have caused hurt. Yet some of my deepest knowing and openings has come from those experiences. To acknowledge this in a ceremony of ancestors around Samhain assists me in letting the hurt die away. This leaves an opening for the wisdom to be embodied and the love for myself returned. It assists me in claiming my power back and in result opening to the essence of my soul, which is calling me back.

Recently I have begun to explore a deeper meaning for the ancestors and that is the acknowledgment of the ancestors of my own being. The selves that I have let die in me so I may become whole again. The dying of the old story so the new one can be seeded and grow anew in the spring. We can forget the details of the old stories but I believe the wisdom harvested from those stories will live on me. This time of year I am reminded to acknowledge the journey and the death that needed to happen in order for all that has transformed in me to be blossomed.

The dreams convey to me many stories about who I am and very often they will show me the ways I have engaged the world that are what I call dysfunctional. Some of these ways have left me, isolated, afraid, sad, distrustful and self denigrating. This has caused me to act in ways that keep me hidden from the world and my soul. And what is beautiful here is that my dreams show me all of this and the path through.  As in cultures and traditions the act of dying to the old self is critical to healing. The dream story is the same, it gives us that same opportunity to die if we are willing to work the story and feel into it.

My dream story and practice has offered this opportunity many times within my dreams.  And the kinship I cultivate with the natural assist in the process of dying as a midwife. Recently in reflecting on past practices with my dream stories I have noticed that air, earth, water and fire have played an important role in assisting me in dying.

Dream: I am in a plane several thousand feet in the air. I am standing by the open door without a parachute on. There is a man behind me and I can tell he is smiling. I jump out the open door and fall. At some point I realize what I have done and panic but there is no going back. I am going to die.

My practice is to let myself fall, to feel the letting go and when I go to the panic to feel what I am afraid to let go off. Letting go of the safety of isolation for me is a big one. The old story of you have to do it alone because no one will be there for you has carry me through my adulthood. In the dream the man is standing at the door not pushing me out but supporting me in my decision to jump. And the air takes me holds me in her embrace as I go down. She also doesn’t let me stop. Gravity is there and the deed is done. Death is not always without the struggle or pain just like birth can be painful.

And in the practice of feeling the death of that old story I begin if slowly to see the energy change in me and at the same time a new seed of a story begins to arise.

This time of year as we acknowledge those who have died I am reminded of my own dying to self. How the ancestors of my old story no matter how difficult to be with have given me wisdom in their living and dying so that I may grow whole again. How my dreams cradle the stories in a way I can handle, a way of living and dying myself awake again. I honor that deeply.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dreaming Back to Earth

Dreaming Back to the Earth
Thoughts on how our dreams can awaken our earth soul

“Stepping into the room I am enveloped in darkness. As my eyes strain to adjust to this new environment I notice the floor seems to be moving. I reach for the light switch and tap it on. To my surprise and horror the surface below me is covered with rattlesnakes slithering and undulating, pushing off one another like a moving blanket. They seem uninhibited by the announcement of my presence. Terrified I search the room for some escape. Finding none I stand there paralyzed, rigid in form waiting for help. And then a snake begins to spiral up my leg.”

Our dreams are a gateway to the story of who we are; where we travel; how we engage the world, and what keeps us from embodying our true selves. They assist us in facing our traumas and offer a remedy for the pain. Dreams show us our greatest gifts and our deepest fears. They are the primordial juice of our universal knowing unencumbered by the ego and therefore rich in personal and universal mythology. And through these stories we are offered guidance that if taken will begin to shift our consciousness and open us up to the healing and wholeness we yearn for.

And if we observe the dream with a wide-angle lens, we discover the dream also speaks to the collective experience that is the earth’s dream, dreaming us awake to her.

Journalist & environmental designer David Tracey, talks about how we cannot solve the environmental crisis from the same ego based trauma driven approach that we have been using that created this crisis in the first place. To understand this we must come to terms with the reality that the human species has contributed to the ecological crisis we are facing in this century. This impact has been driven by a trauma based in fear and manifested through a consumer driven survivalist at all cost mentality. What we don’t realize is that this universal trauma coupled with the impact of our own trauma has separated us from not only our deeper soul self but has also created a profound separation from the more than human world.

This separation expresses itself in depression, isolation, unfulfilled desires, spiritual numbness, and reckless behaviors to name a few. And on a universal level it is manifested through a fear of the natural world, a deep denial of the ecological crisis, or an overwhelming grief for our role in this crisis. At the core a deep longing can arise along with a primal panic over the powerlessness of the earth’s current condition.

All of this intensifies our own separation from self and impacts our ability to experience wholeness and walk a path in conscious relationship with the earth. In response, we spend a lifetime searching for guidance and healing. It is clear that we cannot heal the earth or ourselves in isolation. In order to transform the earth we must transform ourselves and this involves a journey to re-remembering our ecological self, one forgotten centuries ago.

Dreamwork modalities such as Integrative and Archetypal have shown that our nightly dreams hold an approach to awakening to the soul self that brings wholeness. Could it also be possible to engage our dreams as a path to re-remembering our connection to the earth community? How the dreams sketch a picture of our relationship with the earth showing us the places where we are separate or connected. And in so doing open to a deeper of healing ecologically that bestows us a gift of knowing that we have an integral role in the survival of the earth.

It is in recognizing the fullness of the dream’s offerings that we can take the journey back to our soul self and the earth. We can acknowledge the kinships waiting to be healed and experienced within these stories.

If we work our dreams as the embodiment of our own life story without interpretations and generalized symbols, but instead from an integrative and archetypal perspective we will tap into a profound wisdom. To embark on this path the focus of working the dream centers on the associations and feelings that arise from the dreamer’s unique story. And each dream when worked guides us deeper and deeper into a meaningful awareness of our life’s story. The dream challenges us to face the blocks that keep us separate/hidden and the openings that will release us to incredible longings that have laid dormant waiting to be felt into. As a result we discover a way to embody a new story of awareness to self and the earth.

The snake comes in the dream as a reflection of our waking journey. How we relate to snake is a mirror to our perception of self and the earth. Snake comes as a mythological and archetypal creature engaging us in an alchemical experience. Snake comes as a living-breathing reptile offering the experience of relationship with us on a very personal level.  Snake comes as a mirrored reflection of us struggling to gain access to our wholeness. We come as snake opening to the consciousness and vitality of this incredible creature. Snake may come as teacher, initiator or guide. Snake invites us to know ourselves just as tree, tornado, ocean, mountain, bear, or human, etc. does in our dreams. 

In working the dream we feel into the experience of being with snake by opening to the associations that snake represents in our waking lives and archetypally. We dive into the feelings that snake elicits and weave the dream story encounters within. We work the dream as a combination of the individual and collective story of ourselves and snake. This provides the substance to creating a daily practice, which incorporates feeling into a unique relationship and new story with the snake.

Done daily this practice triggers an alchemical reaction on a conscious and unconscious level that opens us up to experiencing the awareness (connection/love) of other on a profound level and heals the fear and grief that fuels our separation from life. We discover that in this opening our fear of the snake may also be the fear of knowing our wild primal self. This awakens us in a way that we cannot ignore and changes the choices we make about our responsibility to our own and the earth’s healing.

If we are receptive to the guidance of the dream, risking the pain of trauma or the joy of desire we can re-remember and awaken to deep healing on a personal, spiritual and ecological level. We can heal the split in our relationship with nature and re-remember our place in the more than human world.

There is an interlacing braid here that weaves an opening to all the love the universe has to give. Our dreams activate the spiral motion between awakening to our soul and the soul of the earth No matter where we are in life’s journey if we are receptive to stepping into the dream, risking the pain of our lost ecological self, we can awaken to and heal that self. If we let ourselves feel the grief and pain of our impact on the earth as Joanna Macy speaks to, our relationship with the earth will evolved. We will once again feel her love and take a path to reclaiming our role in acting on her behalf.

If the dreamer stands in the feelings that the story of the snake offers they can reimagine a more profound relationship with snake and our primal wild self. In doing this we have begun our journey back home to self and the earth.

I stand in the presence of a room full of snakes, one spiraling up my leg. I am terrified I will be bitten, I will feel pain, I will die, I will be transformed. I will discover who I really am.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dream Altar

The foundation of Druidry for me is reverence for the natural world in all its forms. This is accomplished through a regular practice of being in contact with the earth as experienced in the landscape and in me. This contact, which I call awareness/relationship, is about becoming present to the energies of the earth and our own energetic capacities to be in relationship and to heal. A relationship of spirit-to-spirit enfolds and the ability to give and receive within deepens. I have learned that if I open my hands and heart to receive and my ears and eyes to the wisdom of the earth I have the opportunity to open to a profound source of inspiration and the essence that is my true self.

During my tenure as a pagan I have search for and practiced various forms of creating sacred space and initiating a process of being in relationship with the spirit of the land and the spirit essence of me. To create the space I have drawn a circle in the sand, built a fire, called out to the spirits along a hillside or created an altar on a small table in my living room. For practices I have used meditation, gazing, dancing, visualizations, praying, journeying, singing, ritual and ceremony to name a few. These practices if done regularly with a desire and commitment to be in relationship have begun to open me to the energies of spirit and the land.

In my practice of working with my dreams and the dreams of others as a practitioner I am discovering that the same methods can be used to open to the dreams guidance.

To start I want to say that nothing is necessary to engage in relationship with the dream, the land or the spirit/divine except a willingness to listen and feel. Actually this is where you start to have desire, to create an environment that provides the space and then practicing a form of opening as mentioned above.

For each one of us there is a unique way of listening and feeling into the dream’s guidance as it manifests in us. For some it is through visualization, others might be smell, sound, feeling through the body and thoughts that arise while in process, etc. These are all ways of being in communication and there is no right way only your way. For me when I practice being with my dream the expression of that communication comes by visualizations and words that evidentially evolve into feelings and insights.

A Dream: I am in a room with two other people. One who is a man in his fifties, gray long hair and dirt/worn clothes comes up to me. He looks me in the eyes and touches me on the head with both hands palms open. As he does he tells me I now have the knowledge of the trees. I fall to the ground feeling light headed. When I rise I notice I feel awake in a way I have not felt before. I feel light in my body and free of worry.

With this dream I had decided to create an altar because I felt there was so much waiting to be felt into and known on many levels. The man I would describe in my dreamwork as the animus, teacher and guide of ancient and woody origin is offering me a way to my soul, an opening through the enlightenment of knowing the trees wisdom and I accepted it. His appearance reflects my own long journey. My practice is to feel that acceptance and what I felt upon rising, the wakefulness, lightness and sense of freedom from worry. Most of my life I have struggled with a heavy tiredness that is manifested in constant worry about daily matters and decisions. In letting him touch my head I have accepted the freedom that would come from letting go of the worry. I must say the feeling was delightful and releasing. When I also step into being the man I can feel the energy of his knowing in offering me the gift. I am offering myself the gift of knowing and releasing from my old story.  Opening to a new story of waking up to my true self.

On a mythological level the dream offers a story of my journey as a Druid and mystic. As a Druid trees are a powerful and potent source of wisdom. In the celtic tradition there was said to be 2 powerful source energies that came to earth by the rays of the sun. These were called Celi and Cerridwen, male and female energies which held the laws of the universe and the laws of the natural world. They spread this knowledge through spirits called dyads. These spirits found their home in the trees of earth and are said to be the keepers of the original creators teachings. The animus could also be offering me a path to explore in my own Druid practice. Know the trees as they know you. Study them and feel into their guidance in your life. Open to the original wisdom of my own soul self.

There is so much here for me to feel into as I reflect on this dream. And so much more to know.
I decided an altar was the perfect way to create a symbol of my dream homework, providing a visual practice of gazing upon it with daily intentions. Not only would I remember the dream and my dream practice but I could also sit with this altar, light a candle and focus on receiving the trees wisdom and opening to feeling into a deeper intention of the dream. 
  • An altar is an expression of the creative nature of awareness of spirit/land/self/dream coming alive.
  • It is a physical form of my commitment to the dream and my journey.
  • It is the body willing, the mind focused and the vision of the dream guided to spirit form.
  • My altar is a manifestation of the dream’s vision that I can reflect.
  • It is a place where the dance is imagined and the dream story can be invited into my very being.
  • It is a space where I can view my dream journey, sit and meditate on it and build the story from it.
  • My altar is a reminder of that journey that I can stand with everyday.
  • It is a way of creating sacred space in a living, moving temple that is the dream.
  • It is a place to remember me in all my forms, a place where I can celebrate the journey of the dream in my heart.
An altar can be dedicated to an aspect of the dream work, a dream itself, the practice of our dreamwork or even the desire to remember our dreams upon waking.

To create an altar an intention is held in the selection of the altar location and the makeup of the altar. It could be located on the top of a dresser, windowsill, the stump of a tree, in a garden, on top of a stone, etc. What is needed on the altar is up to you. On an altar the items have two purposes. One is to assist you in bringing focus and presence to the moment of reflection such as a candle, bell, or incense.  The other items are reflective of your desires and guidance of the dream. These can be a picture, stone, feather, flowers, and/or personal item, etc. The important point is to remember that the altar is an aid to focusing on the feeling processes or associations that arise from the items you discover and use on the altar. Everything placed on the altar has some meaning and must be held in sacred consideration. An item that carries a negative or distracting energy will not work. You don’t want to put anything on the altar that you want to increase energy around, so those items that are reflective of your shadow/pathology must be considered with great care and ideally not used at all.

When you have your altar set up the way you are feeling into you are ready to ask for the intention of the dream to be recognized by spirit. This is a way of opening the process of the altar. There are several ways to do this but the bottom line is that again the intention is set by what you feel called to do. This could be as simple as a prayer, smudging the altar with some type of incense or herb or as elaborate as a ceremony.

An altar can be an oasis of silent and peace, a place of connecting with the dream/spirit/the land, comfort and inspiration. It can be a place where we can stop, look and listen each day.