By Monica Wilcox
Hello, my name is Monica and I’m a chronic dreamer. Progressive, repetitive, prophetic, lucid, healing: I do them all. Many mornings I wake up exhausted because I spent all night partying in dreamland. I wake longing for a dream-free nap. Most of the time I can remember, some in great detail, three to five of the dreams I’ve had the previous night.
When someone dreams like I do you have to wonder if there’s a point to all this cerebral activity. Last week I dreamed that a male lion became an uninvited guest in our house. I fed him a frozen steak to appease him. The dream progressed the next night; the lion had taken over my beagle’s dog bed and he was hungry for another steak. The night after that my beagle remembered she was the mortal enemy of all cats and started hiding the lion’s steak bones under our deck. I’d ran out of steak by that night and had to give him frozen hamburger. All of this was great entertainment but my brain needed rest. How much processing can a mere slip of a girl need?
After years of this I began to suspect (and hope) there was more going in my dreams than my unconscious working out its fears and emotions. I started a dream journal and found that some of the traditional dream interpretations (falling = lack of control) did fit. It became clear that some of my dreams were the normal, everynight, processing kind but then there were the others: so clear, so symbolic, so stirring, that I could only conclude, on some level, I was doing spiritual work in my sleep. What I didn’t know was how I could begin to gather the deeper meaning from them.
Then I was asked to review Robert Moss’s newest book, Dreaming The Soul Back Home: Shamanic Dreaming for Healing and Becoming Whole, and my life changed.
Along Came A Shaman
If you’d have asked me to describe a shaman a month ago I’d have imagined a man living a simple lifestyle as a spiritual leader practicing ancient traditions. I’d have pictured him as wiry, wiley and wise. The kind of man tourists ride donkeys deep into the mountains to visit. Turns out that shamans are found throughout the world and although each possesses distinctive beliefs they all have one common trait: “First and last, the shaman is a dreamer.” This means, quite simply, that “Everyone who dreams is a little bit shaman.”
Dreaming The Soul Back Home is based on the belief that “A dream is not only a journey; but a place.” and that we can, through a process called “Active Dreaming,” heal ourselves and others through our dreams. Mr. Moss goes into great detail and describes specific cases of people who have experienced what psychologists call disassociation and shamans call “soul loss.” This means a portion of our whole has been lost in a past experience. If you’ve ever made the comment “I wish I’d died that year” or “I wanted to fall asleep until it was over” or “I want to curl up and hide,” Mr. Moss believes a part of you actually did die, fell asleep, or hid. One of the tasks and the intention of this book is to locate these lost pieces so that we may become whole. Anyone who has experienced trauma or abuse in their past, especially their childhood, may find this book to be an extremely useful tool for healing.
There is so much insight and spiritual wisdom in this book it is difficult to cover it all in one review but here are a few of my favorites:
- “Whatever comes to us in dreams, even when the dreams are terrifying, we know that this is our personal material and that it is time to deal with it.”
- “We lose soul when we make the choice to give up on our big dreams, when we refuse to make that creative leap of faith or to trust ourselves to love.”
- “The state of the dream house may reflect the state of body or soul.”
- “Forming a strong connection with a dream animal is already soul recovery, restoring vital energy and clarifying the natural path of that energy.”
- “My favorite fuel for dream flight is a song, the kind of song that shamans call a wind song. Best of all songs is one that comes to you fresh and original, maybe delivered by a dream.”
- “You can’t be truly brave unless you know fear. Courage is fear conquered by something stronger, something you find in the heart – whether it is love, or loyalty, or a cause.”
The Tree Gate Exercise
If you meditate regularly you’ll love the numerous exercises Mr. Moss outlines in this book. Because I have an affinity for trees I was immediately drawn to try an exercise called “Opening the Tree Gate.” The intention is to deepen your connection with your own soul.
This exercise begins by connecting with a tree. It can be one you know or a random one that comes into your imagination. This is the lucid dream that resulted when I did this exercise:
I was in front of an older home with some other people. There was a huge tree stump in the front yard. I remembered that I was supposed to connect to a tree and climbed onto the trunk. I raised my hands into the air, turned my face to the sun and imagined what the rest of this tree had once been. I felt the heat of the sun on my palms. I imagined my energy flowing down through its expansive roots. And then I jumped, flying into the air and out of the neighborhood. I came to an expansive, yet shallow, lake. I landed in the mud. There was a pile of worms circling down into the mud. I consciously remembered that I was supposed to travel down into the ground but this frightened me. I withdrew and awoke.
Mr. Moss would suggest I return to this dream to discover and overcome my fear of following the worms into the ground and to do so, taking on my fear.
I highly recommend Dreaming the Soul Back Home if you’ve experienced trauma or an abusive situation, if you suspect that spirit is attempting to communicate with you through dreams, you’re a chronic dreamer, or you love learning about and are open to different spiritual methods.
Dreaming The Soul Back Home has completely changed the way I look at my incessant dreaming. I’m no longer confused and frustrated as to why there’s a lion waiting in my dream living room every night. I understand that he’s here to help, he brings a powerful message and he prefers steak to hamburger.
Authors Note: If you’d like to read more about the spiritual life lessons I’ve learned from a few of my dreams you can find them here and here on my personal website Femme Tales and at Muse In the Valley.