Initiation dreams: meeting the keeper of the records

As heroes and heroines across the ages embarked on the archetypal journey of initiation, they often encountered a sea monster or other creature as they entered the Underworld or the underbelly of Mother Earth.

This perilous journey is clearly not for everyone.

Of course, there are those who actively seek out the mysteries of the universe. For others it is not a choice, rather it is a calling they must heed out of responsibility for the tribe, or one that comes to them unbidden in dreams.

Animals in Initiation Myths

In his book Rites and Symbols of Initiation, anthropologist and scholar, Mircea Eliade discusses the role of animals in terms of initiation and rites of passage. One such common motif is the act of being swallowed by a sea monster, digested fully, and then appearing out the other side. This act is one of rebirth and the hero emerges newly born and fully transformed.

Eliade writes: “(We) need only remember the situation of the novices shut up in initiatory cabins in the shape of some marine monster, they are supposed to have been swallowed by the monster and be in its belly, hence they are “dead,” digested and in process of being reborn. One day the monster will disgorge them-that is, they will be born again.” This “beyond is also a place of knowledge and of wisdom…and is imagined as entry into the body of a fish or a sea monster…”

The act of being swallowed was sometimes played out in rituals, often practiced in caves. Other times, the initiate received a vision or dream with a similar motif, like being dismembered and put together again, reborn or digested by a monster and then later emerging anew, often with ‘supernatural’ abilities.

The Big Dream as Modern Rite of Passage

In our modern times, we are sadly removed from the indigenous practices of our ancestors and it is the dream, the last frontier that bestows us access to esoteric knowledge: namely in the form of the ‘Big Dream.’

Many of us experience the Big Dream or exceptional human experiences (EHE) (a term coined by researcher Rhea A. White) for a greater purpose than we realize. With these experiences comes new knowledge that may alter us in a profound way. These dreams are often spiritual awakenings or initiations and may lead to a dramatic transformation in the dreamer.

But how does this dream stand out from others and what is its purpose in our lives?

I believe the most important aspect of “Big Dream” is its emotional impact on the dreamer. The feelings of pure joy and love, even to the point of ecstasy rarely experienced in waking life, are an indication that you may have had a spiritual awakening or initiation. I’ve woken in such a state of mind, and find that I can return to it for weeks if I put myself back into the dream state.

As far as content is concerned, there are certain common elements to these “big dreams” such as apocalyptic scenes, encounters with guides or otherworldly beings, alchemical death and rebirth motifs and of course being confronted by a whale.

When these dreams occur, the dreamer may transcend into a higher awareness or higher reality that can be directly reached in the sleeping state.

Whale Knowledge

There have been many recordings of whale dreams, both archaic and modern. The Dream Tribe has been paying attention to such recordings on our site and each dream or waking vision carries that feeling of awe and a sense of ‘largeness’ than its creator.

Here is one of a series of whale dreams I recorded:

I am on a boat or barge that is docked. The waves are rough and stormy, pushing hard against the boat. People are afraid all around me but I’m not. I want to stay.

Suddenly I hear this loud wail-like moan that makes the boat vibrate. I look out into the water and see a beautiful but fierce orca whale, shining a brilliant black and white. He is the one calling and I watch and listen with awe and fascination.

In this particular dream, an orca whale is vibrating the entire boat with its moan-like wails, calling to me. Later I awoke feeling ecstatic, as if initiated into the deeper mysteries of life.

I also noticed during this time a strange sensation near the bottom of my ear and that I could pick up ‘higher frequencies’ during the hypnagogic state.

Whale as Keeper of the Records

In many cultures, whales have been given the role as the ‘keeper of records” or holder of what Carl Jung called “the collective unconscious.” It is not surprising since whales been around for millions of years and like their dolphin friends, they are mammals that had to adapt to the sea. Interestingly, they can communicate using high frequencies through sonar and echolocation, just like in my dream.

Perhaps the whale dreams offer us a special gift, a way to receive this ancient knowledge with new “ears” and with reverence to preserve these awesome creatures.

Have you ever been swallowed by a dream creature?

If so, what type of creature and what happened in the dream?

How did this transform you?

Share below and leave a comment.

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


  1. Valley Reed July 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Linda;

    I had not thought about this theme of entering the mouth of a creature as a form of initiation and rebirth. Thank you for the introduction to this discussion. It is timely for me.

    Entering the mouth of the Dragon 7-13-11
    I recently had a conscious dream where I was tracking flames of fire as I was flying through the sky and I tracked the flame back to its source, which I found was the open mouth of a huge dragon. I saw the seemingly never ending body extending down from the sky toward the earth in continuous spirals. I entered the mouth of the dragon, but wondered how I would come out of such a creature which seemed to have a body spiraling without end.


    • Linda Mastrangelo August 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

      Incredible dream, Valley. It reminds me of the dragon as “Yang” force in Buddhist cultures (the Tiger as “yin”) also representing life and the Universe as well as the ouraboros (also serpent) in alchemy (also Universe, lifeforce (and source!), DNA, etc…). Form from chaos.

      Entering the dragon’s mouth also reminds me of a ‘wormhole’ or portal as a means of astral traveling to many worlds, attaining new knowledge (altered states of consciousness). I have had similar experiences often in lucidity (and in hypnagogia) of entering “wormholes” or dream gates.

      You might find this article interesting.

      Thank you for sharing such a remarkable vision!

  2. claudio July 28, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    hi linda
    Thanks for this post…
    I always imagined that being devoured by a monster as a means disruggere’s ego and then be transported to where you want to go …. as for Jonah, the whale was removed through one’s own ego and then do the will of God
    have a nice day

    • Linda Mastrangelo August 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

      Thanks for the comment, Claudio. I am certainly not a religious scholar but can appreciate the idea of Jonah’s “comfortable life” being being challenged by something bigger than himself. This reminds me of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and going into the Underworld, confronting our shadow and meeting the Divine within us all. Also reminds me of the Rubedo process in alchemy often associated with “Christ Consciousness” (i.e. Jonah also in the whale for three days).

    • Kierra December 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm

      Your answer lifts the intelligence of the detabe.

  3. Solveig Strand August 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    This is very interesting. I had a dream recently that had really an impact on me. Me and my friend was on a ship at sea. It was stormy and a tsunami. We thought this was the end, but suddenly a really large whale came up under the boat and carried the boat on land, up on top of a large building. He said this place was the only building that was large enough to hold the ship. I also got a “warning” or a signal before the whale came out of the sea-it was raining just in that square where the whale came up. This should be my sign. They also said that this whale was me and my friends child (?), so I shouldn’t be afraid. Strange and very powerful dream for me. Sorry for the simpel english. Norwegian is my native language :-)

  4. Linda Mastrangelo August 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing, Solveig. I am really touched by your dream and it speaks beautifully to ‘the collective’ and the whale dreams we have been receiving here on this site: The whale as carrier or keeper of the records. The dream also feels precognitive. I couldn’t help but connect it to the recent tragedy in your country. Dr. Lee Irwin often speaks about people as “lightning rods” in that there are certain people who receive visions and dreams of a more global nature. It could also be very personal, as well. I wonder if there is a major shift going on in your life, a call to something larger than yourself. Thanks again for sharing such a remarkable dream. With deep healing and prayers to your country.

  5. Claudia December 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Several years ago I had just completed buying & moving into a new home which for me was a gigantic & complex process. Not long after, I dreamt that I walked to the end of a pier & looked into the green, murky water of the Atlantic Ocean & felt drawn to dive in & become a manatee. I hestitated briefly at the end of the pier then dove into the dark water filled with brown seaweed which seemed oddly inviting. I was happy to be there in the cold, dark, wet world swimming as a manatee. I awoke from this dream absolutely stunned that I could swim away from all that I held dear & from my family for a life in the deep.

  6. Linda Mastrangelo January 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I love this post and dream share, Claudia. I also appreciate the connection to waking life material via “new house” with the whale call. I find that being ‘in the deep’ via our dreams we can certainly connect to the deeper wisdom in us all and in this case for you, a new life somewhere else as ‘giant and complex’ as it was, was the right call. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Cherie February 25, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I had a whale dream a few weeks ago. I was in a bay on boat with man who appeared to be my father (his back was to me the whole time). We were on a canoe in the middle of the bay admiring a large family of orcas playing. They kept getting closer and closer to the boat. In the dream I thought, ” If they get any closer they’re going to push me out of the boat.” Sure enough they came and gently rocked the boat and I fell out. At first I was at ease in the water with the orcas, then I became a little afraid because I was swimming with them. So I decided to get back in the boat. The dream definitely left me in awe. It was so vivid. I awoke feeling kind of sad because I hadn’t taken full advantage of the opportunity to swim with the group. Felt like I had let fear get the best of me.

  8. Linda Mastrangelo February 27, 2012 at 9:43 am

    What a beautiful share, Cherie! I wonder what it would be like to try a dream reentry and see where this dream goes…I can totally relate to facing the fear and letting go. You should check out Ryans’ latest article on Dragon’s

  9. Angela Davies April 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Linda, Just came upon this post, and it reminded me of when I was doing a Violet flame workshop last year and during the meditation we did for the whales & dolphins I found myself in a whales tear duct. He spoke to me and told me to practice astral travel whilst awake to enable me to travel to the Akashic records whilst doing healing treatments on my clients. I was very interested when I read that whales are known to be the keepers of the records…… Thank you for your wonderful blogs blessings to the whole dream tribe Angie Xx

    • Keli J. December 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

      I had a strange dream last night. The part that I recall is that I was in a jungle with several other people. They felt familiar to me but no one was a specific person I know in waking life. In the dream, I was physically bigger & more independent than they were & I felt confident & protective of them. I was, however, making my way through at my own pace, a little separate from them, while they were clumped together in a group. Suddenly they started to look behind us

    • Keli J. December 24, 2012 at 1:00 am

      I had a strange dream last night. The part that I recall is that I was in a jungle with several other people. They felt familiar to me but no one was a specific person I know in waking life. In the dream, I was physically bigger & more independent than they were & I felt confident & protective of them. I was, however, making my way through at my own pace, a little separate from them, while they were clumped together in a group. Suddenly they started to look at the path behind us in fear, then they scattered & ran ahead. A huge snake/dragon thrashed the jungle behind us, then quickly retreated. For some reason, I felt no fear. I told them that there was a way to act/be/vibe so that it wouldn’t hurt them. We arrived at a tiny cove where they pointed to a dead-seeming man floating in the water. He’d been eaten then disgorged by the snake, they said. He was face-down, intact, partially wrapped in a husk like a corn cob. I looked at him & “got” their fear, but struggled to find a way to express what I felt, even to myself. It had. .something to do with the significance of his “death”. It felt like I knew that either it wasn’t what it APPEARED to be, or that once one was disgorged, the problem was solved. I am sorry if this seems non-sensical; I am still not clear about what this means. Especially because I have been sick, weak, and VERY fearful in my life over the past two years. Any insight I would greatly appreciate. Thank you.

      • Linda Mastrangelo December 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

        Thanks for this powerful share, Keli. What an incredible dream, especially in the context of waking life experiences. I imagine if this were my dream, I am being initiated into a new way of being; more confidant, “bigger” and independent with no fear. Its clear you (that wise part) know exactly what to do. Fantastic! Perhaps the familiar people in the dream represent the “old ways of being” —that there’s a shift happening. I would recommend reading other DT articles on Snakes on this site. It might shed some more light (pun intended!) onto the death/rebirth motif and what power you are stepping into. I imagine snake/dragon energy (often healers)! Please keep us posted on these shifts and thanks again for sharing!

  10. Linda Mastrangelo April 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for the share, Angela! I have deep resonance with your experience. A few years ago during a drumming session I met with whale presence that centered near my ear and back of the skull…my mentor shared that whale’s are the keeper of the Akashic records and that it was possible I was receiving “whale knowledge!” The tear duct is an intriguing gateway and what a powerful message and gift to bestow on your clients. Glad you like the site!