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How to connect with the deceased through dreams

When I was a hospice grief counselor, I often met clients who dreamed of their deceased loved ones.

For most of them, the experience had a healing effect on their lives and gave them comfort.

For others, though, the dreams were nightmarish. These people had witnessed the decline of their loved one and consequently had unfinished business that left them feeling hopeless and depressed.

Dreams like this are called Visitation Dreams.

They are a universal phenomenon and when you know how to work with them, they have the potential to completely heal grief and restore hope.

So in this post I’m going to show you how to invite your deceased loved ones to visit you in dreams.

And then how to work with those dreams so you can move through the darkness and into peace.

Dreams are a road map for healing

Witnessing the death of a loved one is one of the most profound, and sometimes tragic, human experiences.

For those of you who have lost a loved one, you probably know what this means. It is an experience you had not asked for and it is certainly life changing.

Sometimes there is a lot of guilt, shame and even rage tied to a person’s death, often in the form of “unfinished business.”

When I work with hospice clients they often share stories about the trauma of bearing witness to their loved one’s physical, emotional and mental decline. Perhaps the illness, like cancer, spread to the brain, or because of medications, change the moods and personality.

As a result, loved ones might get hostile, scream and curse at the family. Other times it’s a dramatic physical decline when the patient can no longer walk, talk or engage with the family and the family feels helpless.

Sometimes there are suicides or ‘deathbed confessions,’ leaving the loved one confused, upset and betrayed with many more questions that are left unanswered.

Even just bearing witness to a “peaceful” or “ideal” transitioning can be difficult because we don’t want to let the person go.

Because the bereaved are often trying to cope with the reality of the death, their dreams often reflect this. Dreams of this nature might not always be comforting. They might even come in the form of a night terror in which the bereaved wakes up in a cold sweat and panic, with no memory of the dream. Or dreams may come in the form of nightmares, recollecting the time of the illness and death or just the emotional intensity of the loss.

But here’s something most people don’t know:

All dreams, even scary dreams, are part of the healing process. tweet this

Knowing how to work with them can be the difference between suffering through nightmares or travelling through the darkness and finding light at the end of the tunnel.

In other words, dreams are a map that can lead a grieving person through their journey toward healing, helping them explore all of their complex feelings and experiences in a safe and empowering way.

Dreams give people something to hold onto in the face of the Unknown.

And that’s good dream medicine.

What are visitation dreams?

A visitation dream is the experience of the dead visiting us in our dreams. This could be in the form of an in person visitation, a verbal message (simply hearing someone say “Hello”), a sensation or even through an animal or another form.

This experience also includes dreaming of those who are in the ‘transitory state’ between life and death and the dreams and/or visions of the dying themselves. Reverend Patricia Bulkeley and Kelly Bulkeley collaborated on an extraordinary book in Dreaming Beyond Death: A Guide to Pre-Death Dreams and Visions citing cases during Patricia’s time working in hospice. In many reports, the dying patient not only dreamed of dead relatives but actually saw them in the room in a form of lucid visions, welcoming them to another realm.

Overall, many people have reported healing effects after having a visitation dream, especially if the dreamer needs comfort and/or is questioning faith.

Dreams of making sense of the reality of the loss

Most often dreams are a reflection of how the bereaved felt about their loss and are trying to make sense of it. Here are some examples:

I see my husband but he is talking and smiling and laughing with friends. I call to him but he doesn’t hear or pay attention to me. I wake up angry at him.

I see my mother suffering as she was in the hospital. She has a plastic bag over her face and she is struggling to breathe. I try to remove the bag but then I wake up.

I am being chased by zombies. One of the zombies is my brother. I am terrified , confused and sad that he has turned into one of them.

Dreams can bring messages

Many of my clients have shared that they had wished they had spent more time with their loved ones or had said goodbye, which is why ‘Message dreams’ can be especially potent and healing.

Patricia Garfield writes beautifully of this in her book Dream Messengers:

You can also expect a “Goodbye” dream message to be delivered when you have been deprived of a chance to say goodbye in person. Sometimes people claim this message arrives in a waking state, with the deceased appearing at the foot, head, or side of the survivor’s bed. This dream message is often thought to involve extrasensory perception, as the dream may occur simultaneously with the death. In parapsychological writings, it is the most commonly reported telepathic experience and is referred to as a “crisis apparition.”

Here are some reports of “goodbye” dreams:

He looked just like he was before he got sick. He was smiling and told me he loved me. That smile! I nearly melted. I woke up feeling wonderful but missing him. I was afraid I would only remember him when he was sick. It was a comforting dream.

It was like she was in the room with me. I could literally feel her presence. I told her everything I wanted to tell her when she was alive and it was like a weight had been lifted. I knew she had heard me and that she loved me no matter what. All the hurt and betrayal washed away.

Ways to connect with deceased loved ones

In The Dream Messenger: How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts, Patricia Garfield, PhD. writes, “Regardless of your beliefs about whether there is an afterlife or not, one thing is certain: you will dream about the person who has recently died.”

It’s important to know that you may not always remember these dreams. If you want to remember or encourage such dreams, you can try dream incubation (mentioned below).

How we grieve is as unique as a fingerprint, so finding ways to connect with deceased loved ones can take time. Here are a few suggestions to help with your practice:

First, engage the process. In my experience as a grief counselor, I have noticed that the more engaged a person is in the healing work, the deeper the healing can take place.

This includes getting support from family and friends as well as professionals who specialize in the field of grief. If you or someone you know is grieving, I suggest finding your local hospice/palliative care or community counseling services that offer individual and group counseling or a local dream counselor to work with dreams.

Because we are a society that has difficulty with death and dying, it is important to be educated about it. But also be gentle with the process. It can be a raw , vulnerable and terrifying place often described as a dark forest, a black hole, or a wilderness.

Dreamwork can help the bereaved move beyond this place. Here is what I suggest:

  • Incubate a dream.  This can be done in a few ways. Before bedtime, set an intention like “I wish to see my mother in my dreams tonight” or even pose a specific question that you wish answered by the deceased. You can write it on a piece of paper and place under your pillow or repeat the intention while adding strong emotion to it before falling asleep. Be sure to write the dream down when you awaken by keeping a pen and pad by your bed. NOTE: Be mindful before inviting in energies like asking for guidance and protection.  Robert Moss in his book, The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead: A Soul Traveler’s Guide to Death, Dying, and the Other Side, gives excellent advice on how to incubate dreams safely and effectively.
  • Hold a photograph or a memento that carries lots of energy and memory and allow whatever experience to arise. This practice is especially helpful if you have trouble sleeping and can’t recall dreams.
  • Look for signs. It could be a person that looks like your loved one, a song on the radio or even smells! I once was cooking a meal my grandmother made for me as a child. All of a sudden, I could smell her scent wafting in the room as if she was cooking right next to me.
  • Research ancestral practices. You might be surprised to find that many cultures honor their dead with specific rituals. For example, in the fascinating book, Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination, Professor Amira Mittermaier explores dream incubation as practiced in Egypt today.

Overall, be patient.

Visitation Dreams might not appear right away. It may take days, even weeks. They may also come in ways you might not expect.

I’ve heard many stories of animals visiting clients both in dreams and waking life. One client shared that she kept seeing a bluebird come to her window every morning for weeks. It was her mother’s favorite bird and she felt comforted by these visits as if she was being held and watched over by her mother.

You never know how a loved one might visit you in your dream. Trust your feelings and your experience, and remember to ask for help if you need it.

Now it’s your turn…have you had a visitation dream? How did it impact your life? Please share your experience with us in the comments!

About the Author:

Linda believes dreams can transform individuals & bring communities together. Her research, art & therapeutic work run the gamut from spiritual alchemy to ancestral knowledge to altered states of consciousness. SF Dream Research Examiner SF Examiner and Empact Institute

9 Ways to Work with Waking Dreams as Intuitive Dream Medicine

Waking dreams are just as important as sleeping dreams when creating a dream practice.

Looking for synchronicities, dreamlike circumstances, and other signs while awake adds another dimension to dreamwork that hones your intuitive skills.

Here’s an example that happened to me this weekend.

Before going on a hike, I stepped into a Porta Potty. On the floor was a very small, purple feather. Since it was a Porta Potty, I wasn’t eager to pick the feather up, but I wondered if there was any way the feather came from a hummingbird (it was about the size of my index finger from the tip to the first joint).

I quickly dismissed this idea: I didn’t know of any local hummingbirds, let alone other local birds, with purple feathers. It looked natural; not like something someone would have in a boa. But I decided it couldn’t be a hummingbird feather.

Later that day, while sitting on a friend’s porch, a hummingbird came and hovered about a foot away from me.

Two nights later, I had this dream:

I am in the backyard of my childhood home. I see a hummingbird flying. Then I see someone holding a small purple feather (like the one I saw in the Porta Potty). I make the connection: I did see a hummingbird feather in there! Later in the dream I am given a hummingbird feather.

When I awoke from the dream, I felt certain that hummingbird medicine is coming into my life, especially because I was gifted a hummingbird feather in the dream.

My story shows how the waking life circumstances combined with dream work to give me more detailed and rich information about the energy coming into my life right now.

So what is a waking dream?

It is a combination of unusual circumstances, synchronicities, coincidences, overheard conversations, encounters with people or animals, messages on billboards or license plates, and things you read in books or magazines or your friend’s Facebook post that stand out.

When three or more of these things combine, that is something to really pay attention to. It’s a rule Carl Jung created when he first coined the term synchronicity to describe the occurrence of meaningful , but seemingly unrelated, events.

Another way waking dreams happen is to see a vision while you’re awake. This can happen in hypnagogia (the state you’re in as you fall asleep), hypnapompia (the state you’re in as you wake up), or in a shamanic trance.

You can also have spontaneous visions that occur without being in an altered state. This is what happened to Amy when she met Blue Elk in the woods, a waking dream she mentioned in last week’s post.

A waking dream can also be an unusual occurrence.

Once, after a powerful dream featuring a cat-hawk chimera, I took a walk in the woods at dusk and saw a screech owl. Although I often hike at dusk, it was the first time I’d seen a wild owl. The owl let me walk within two feet of it and we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Then it flew off silently into the darkening woods.

I came home and looked up owls in Ted Andrews’ Animal Speak. I nearly dropped the book when I read that owls are often called “cats with wings.” The screech owl was a waking-life representation of my dream animal.

How can you create a waking dream practice?

    1) Start by asking a question you’d like answered. Much like incubating a dream, think about information you’d like to get, and ask to receive guidance. You can imagine asking your inner wisdom, your Higher Self, Spirit, the Universe, your power animal … whatever feels right.
    2) Let go of the idea that there is a barrier between waking and sleeping. In truth, waking life events bleed into the dream and vice versa. Allow this flow to happen. This will prompt the waking dream.
    3) Look for a pattern or things in threes, like the hummingbird example above.
    4) Watch for the messages that are all around you. Pay close attention to signs and billboards you see, things you’re reading, what catches your attention when you’re out in the world.
    5) Leave the house. Although you can still have waking dreams when you’re cooped up inside, there is the potential for a lot more to happen when you engage with the world.
    6) Take time for quiet centering or meditation as much as possible. This helps you get into the flow.
    7) Relax and be patient. It may take a while for your question to be answered. Don’t force anything; just allow the information to come in its own time.
    8) Once a waking dream comes, look at it like it is a dream. See what information you can glean. Do any dreamwork technique you like to decipher the message.
    9) Take action on what the dream is telling you to do.

Working with waking dreams is exciting because it opens up so many more possibilities! It is not only your sleeping dreams that are sending you guidance; the world around you is also giving you information.

This practice can help you feel less isolated and alone because it helps you open to the idea that everything is truly connected.

It is also a great way to develop your intuition. The more you work with waking dreams (and sleeping dreams) the sharper your intuitive skills will become.

After a few experiences with the waking dream, I have a feeling you’ll be hooked.

Have you had an interesting or life-changing waking dream experience? Share it with us!

About the Author:

Katrina's work involves illuminating the soul and reconnecting with nature through her artistry with a camera, talent with words, expertise in dreamwork, compassionate teaching style, and ability as a clairvoyant. Visit her here: KatrinaDreamer.com

Activate Your Dreams to Connect More Deeply with Spirit Guidance

Many years ago, I was hanging out with active dreamer Robert Moss at Esalen when I noticed that his sleeping dreams, shamanic journeys, and waking life experiences all seemed to work together as one big dream.

I also noticed that he was in a constant, creative flow and deeply connected to life around him.

Witnessing his day-to-day “dream” state helped me realize something about myself: I had a disjointed dream life.

Sure, I had powerful sleeping dreams …

I did shamanic journeys …

And I had unusual waking life experiences …

But until I met Robert, I’d never consciously integrated these three ways of “dreaming” into one big living dream.

The prospects intrigued me, though, and I knew I had to try it out.

I also knew I couldn’t force it to happen. Instead, I was going to follow what I call the “Dream Medicine” path.

Dream Medicine integrates various dreaming states to evoke guidance for life direction and healing.

The results of my experiment were exciting and life changing. I met a man named Blue Elk in three different realms, experiencing the dream realm like I’d never experienced it before.

Meeting Blue Elk in the Woods

One afternoon, while on a hike through the woods, a man jumped out from behind the trees and startled me. I took an involuntary step backward before I realized he wasn’t physical; he was a spirit.

As I adjusted to this experience, I noticed he had dark, long hair and wore a few blue feathers and beads. He was clearly American Indian.

His demeanor was serious and I felt a bit nervous around him. Even so, he beckoned me into the woods and I followed.

A second later, I stepped into a clearing and found a field full of deer. This was a relevant and significant experience for me, especially during that period in my life.

A few weeks later, this spirit came to me in a vivid shamanic journey. He told me his name was Blue Elk. During the journey he taught me a powerful healing technique I later used to remove stagnant energy from a client. The process was so potent, my client felt a dramatic shift in her energy after the clearing.

I continued to meet Blue Elk in shamanic journeys and on the hill where I first met him, but several years later, something even more magical happened. Blue Elk visited me yet again, but this time in a sleeping dream. In the dream, Blue Elk took me on a vision quest, sat me down in the fog, and gave me instructions. The results were a powerful vision.

After this dream, I realized I had successfully integrated my waking, shamanic and sleeping dreams into one big dream experience.

I used several distinct steps to help me connect more deeply with the dream realm.

3 Powerful Ways to Access Your Dream Medicine

When you want to access your own Dream Medicine, the most important thing to remember that you can use this process to gather insight into any situation in life: health, wealth, relationships, and life in general. Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Open your inner and outer senses

This is the most important step, and for many Westerners, it is completely foreign. As a result, it’s easy to invalidate or dismiss the significance.

Part of the challenge is that this step involves invisible, subjective information and we Westerners like our facts.

But Dream Medicine is way beyond facts. It’s not a linear approach to life. It’s holistic, symbolic and multi-dimensional. And in order to access this way of gathering information, you need to be aware of more than your physical senses. You need to access your inner senses.

So to be clear, your outer or physical senses are, of course, seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling.

Your inner senses are similar, but they are part of your psychic, intuitive system, not your physical system. They are intricately connected to the dream realm. They are:

  • clairvoyance (clear seeing)
  • clairaudience (clear hearing)
  • clairsentience (clear feeling and empathy)
  • claircognizance (clear knowing)
  • clairalience (clear smelling)
  • clairgustance (clear tasting)

By the way, I’m not suggesting you need to learn how to predict the future.

I am suggesting that you already have these senses and that developing them can help you navigate your life. These senses go way beyond your five physical senses, and when you know how to work with them, life changes in a big way.

Some people’s inner senses are so acute, the information they perceive – images, smells, sounds, feeling type sensations – seem to come from an external source.

When I saw Blue Elk, for instance, I thought he was a physical human. He appeared that solid to me.

Once I realized he wasn’t solid, though, he started to fade. From that moment on I could only see him when I looked with my third eye or inner sight.  This type of seeing is sort of like dreaming with your eyes wide open.

If you haven’t already developed your inner senses, here’s an exercise to help you get started:

Find a friend and go for a walk.

Look at everything around you, but use your inner senses. Remember, this can be like dreaming with your eyes open. Look beyond the obvious.

Notice the power lines and trees. What is surrounding them? Are there any colors? Sounds? Textures? Can you feel the electricity?

Do not try to see things with your physical eyes. Use your imagination.

Give yourself time to observe, then share your inner images with your friend.

Do you see the same thing? Different things?

Seeing the same thing can be a great confirmation that you’re using your inner senses.

But seeing different things doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t using your inner senses.

Since your inner senses are part of your psychic senses you may receive symbolic imagery instead of literal information. You may perceive different symbols (e.g. colors, textures) than your friend. If this happens, compare notes and explore the possible meaning of the information you receive.

Using your inner senses is “day dreaming” at its best. It can provide useful information in and of itself. When you walk into a room full of people, for instance, you can observe with your inner senses and determine what’s going on behind the obvious. As you do, you might start to experience a whole different world.

Of course, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Before you know it, spirit beings might be jumping out at you from behind trees. (However, if you have too much fear, you will not perceive them, so don’t worry!)

Step 2: Set intentions, let go of expectations and pay attention

In order to reap the benefits of Dream Medicine, it’s necessary to set clear intentions. You also need to let go of expectations.

If you wait anxiously for information to come, it won’t. The more anxious you feel, the more you become closed off from your inner senses.

Instead, set a clear intention, open your senses and wait patiently for your waking and sleeping dreams to reveal information and give you guidance.

To set an intention, first determine the exact outcome you want, then create an intention that is a positive reflection of that outcome. Do not say, “My intention is to not get lost on my way home.” If you do that, you’re still focusing on getting lost! Instead, say, “My intention is to easily find my way home.”

Here’s another examples:

If your intention is to connect with spirit guides, you might say, “My intention is to meet a spirit guide who has my highest interest at heart.”

Once you have your intention, you’re set for the next step.

Step 3: Work consistently with all forms of dreaming

Waking “Dreams”

Set an intention during the day and tune in with your inner and outer senses. Then reflect on waking life as though it is a dream.

It’s easier to notice your outer senses, so start there. Pay attention to song lyrics, unexpected encounters with people, and books that cross your path. See if you can find insight and information related to your intention.

Use your inner senses. Pay attention to the images and thoughts that spontaneously appear in your mind. You receive these messages all the time, but you may be used to ignoring them. If that’s the case, they can be slippery and difficult to grasp, just like a dream fragment that slips away in the morning.

To grasp these flashes of insight, you have to pay attention and notice. When you get a sudden image or knowing, tune in to it. Tell the image to amplify itself. (Just say, “Amplify yourself.”)

Then practice, practice, practice.

Sleeping Dreams

Before you go to sleep, use your intention to incubate a dream. Simply say, “In my dream tonight, I will ____ (state your intention.)

Example: In my dream tonight, I will meet a new spirit guide.

When you wake up, record your dreams. You may not actually remember meeting a spirit guide, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t. (And a spirit guide can show up as an animal, person, mineral or plant.)

Sometimes it takes weeks for these dreams to unfold. Set your intention and keep the same intention for several nights. Track your dreams and look for patterns.

Hint: If you use your intention to incubate dreams, still pay attention to your waking life experiences. Your spirit guide may appear in your inner vision instead of your sleeping dreams.

Shamanic Dream Journeys

You can also do a shamanic dream journey to find information about your intention. Since this process is complex, I will not go into details in this post. If you’d like to try it out, I recommend Sandra Ingerman’s book, “Shamanic Journeying.”

But basically, you state your intention, close your eyes and go on a journey — in your imagination — to find information.

Remember to record what you discover.

Now here’s what I want you to do.

If you found this article helpful, share it with your friends.

I want to help as many people as I can with free content, and I need you to help me spread the word. So, thank you!

Now onto the details of how to put this work together for you:

First you’ll need to decide what you most want to learn or experience right now and turn that into an intention.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Keep your intention simple, but clear. Focus on the positive outcome you want to receive.

2. Start small, with one step. If your ultimate intention is to create a spiritual community that teaches a variety of programs, break this larger intention into small intentions.

3. Ask some friends to do this process with you. You can help each other develop your inner senses, explore your dreams and look for patterns.

Then start with step one above and go through all three steps. Before you know it, you’ll be integrating your Dream Medicine into your life and dreaming like a seasoned dreamer.

About the Author:

Amy Brucker helps people heal their ancestral wounds so they can free their purpose, passion, and inner power. She offers a one-on-one, private healing/mentoring program Healing the Ancestral Wound. See link "Work with Me" on main menu for details.

Lucid dreamwork: Healing the Snake Axis

This is the last article in a series about snake dreams. By now, the DreamTribe has explored the meaning of snake dreams from many perspectives: historical, archetypal, snakes as initiation, snakes as earth wisdom, and even how to cultivate your own snakey powers through flower essences.

Today I want to continue the theme of cultivating snakey wisdom through the lens of lucid dreamwork, a method of exploring themes of power and choice in lucid dreams for personal development.

Like most people, my snake dreams have mostly been marked by fear, recoil, and panic. Snakes hold an alien kind of presence—their very existence brings uncertainty and threatens our mortality.

I hold that snake energy is autonomous: it’s not a part of “me.” Rather, snake energy is real, vital, and has its own agenda when it comes in relationship with the dream ego. That is the depth perspective, and it comes with millennia of traditions for snake symbolism as the giver of life and death, and as the ultimate transformer.

But while there are many connections to be made with snake power, the most visible connections to my life have been to creativity, authenticity, and connection to the primal life force.

In my repetitive snake dreams, a large snake is discovered (sometimes red and yellow banded, sometimes green, sometimes black), and invariably turns towards me to attack.  What follows is the predictable dream drama of scrambling for higher ground, and lashing out with whatever defenses I can muster.  I usually awaken panicked and with a sour feel in my belly.

As a lucid dreamer, I began to encounter the snake in my self-aware dreams too. Having conscious choice in these dreams has been transformative of my relationship with snake, although it’s been an ongoing process of many years, not something that happened overnight. And it’s far from over! Like Carl Jung suggested years ago1, repetitive dream series are really more enlightening to work with than solitary dreams, as each dream in the series adds new dimensions to a theme that stretches across the lifespan.

In a memorable and powerful dream encounter eight years ago, I mustered up the courage to stand still and a huge snake crawled up my leg, and wrapped itself around my neck and chest. I held still in its strong embrace and the scene dissolved without further incident. This dream actually stopped my occassional scary snake dreams for quite some time, leading me to believe I had “accepted” my snake power. Not exactly!  Like all worthy adversaries, it came back and presented more difficult challenges.

Two years later, I was invited deeper.

Spiral Snake Staircase

I enter a spiral stairwell and walk down the steps. I am aware I’m dreaming, nervous and excited. The banister is also a snake, winding its way down. I feel a sudden surge of humility as I walk down, knowing I am close to a source of power. The staircase becomes a round tunnel and I slide down quickly, enclosed but not restricted, emerging on a platform.

I look down and am horrified to see that I am bleeding profusely from my chest and abdomen. Blood splatters the floor and I am simultaneously holding a box in front of me that is also bleeding. I feel I am close to something powerful. I hurriedly make one more downward turn, where the axis of the staircase winds tightly into a standing column of blood and light. It is alive, transparent, and pulsing with energy.

I hold up my box and it fits into the column at about chest level. Suddenly, I feel relieved, and am no longer bleeding. Still lucid, but unsure how to proceed, I am struck with a pang of humility again. I fall to my hands and knees, prostrating myself in front of “the source.” I thank it for this opportunity and feel very emotional, both ecstatic and sorrowful. I feel a compassion for myself (in my own thoughts) and I know that I am safe. (recorded in 20062)

I’ve been working with this powerful dream for six years now, and there’s a lot I could say beyond the scope of the conversation today. The dream came at the beginning of a creative surge in my writing career, as I was writing a MA thesis on lucid dreams and becoming more comfortable with my ability to dance with the strong energies from doing intensive dreamwork. That’s the dayworld parallel to this dream.

But for now, I want to draw attention to how the snake in this dream takes on the form of a banister, an architectural feature that literally provides guidance and support for moving deeper to lower levels.

This snake-banister then spirals into a raw energetic source: alive and bristling with power, yet needing something from me –my own contribution. My action completed the circuit, relieving pressure and stopping the leak of life force (blood) from my dreambody. By healing the snake-energy column, my own dreambody is healed.

Towards a Lucid Dreamwork

Lucid dreamwork, as I practice it today, is not only about exploring dream images and symbols, but also the choices we make in our dreams3. Our choices are often hidden in waking life, but in dreams the decision point behind what happens to us (and what we allow not to happen) is easier to spot, as well as the consequences to our thoughts, beliefs and actions. In this dream, I made the choice to follow the staircase down in spite of my fear: that is lucidity at its best, going against the grain. Conscious action to complete the snake column was also integral to the dream, as was the spontaneous decision to enact a posture of surrender.

When do we know we have made good choices?

It’s always debatable, of course, but if you awaken from a dream with increased vitality or energy, that’s a good first sign. Waking up with a feeling of dread, or a sick feeling in the stomach, on the other hand, is a sign that we have worked against ourselves in some way, or that we may have bitten off more than we can chew. Over days and weeks, a transformative snake dream will continue to reverberate, and affect waking life attitudes and choices.

I’m always careful to not use lucid dreamwork to chide myself for not acting this way or that way in the dream– that’s key. It’s not about blame, but about noticing our patterns, and knowing there will be another opportunity to make a different choice the next time we lay down to sleep. In this way, repetitive dreams serve as a living record of how we are balancing our mortal, daily lives with the inner path of soul that slowly unfolds in the dreamworld.

Notes

1 The best introduction to Carl Jung’s work with dreams is his autobiography Memories, dreams and reflections.

2 This dream was first publicly shared in Ancestral knowledge in lucid dreams, Electric Dreams, 13(4), with an emphasis on Celtic ancestry and the theme of reverence.

3 My own evolving practice of lucid dreamwork is heavily influenced by the continuity theory of dreaming, and also the clinical work of G. Scott Sparrow.

First Image: Pachacuteq Monument staircase by mcgmatt (CC)

About the Author:

Ryan's recent dream research focuses on lucid dreaming, sacred sites, the anthropology of dreaming, and sleep paralysis. DreamStudies.org