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.