Make a Dream Medicine Pillow to Activate Healing Dreams

As we have learned from the posts here at the DreamTribe, there are many dimensions of dream medicine.

One aspect entails dreams that bring us healing.

In today’s post, I’m going to share a fun and creative method I use to activate healing dreams.

But first, what are healing dreams?

Various Forms of Healing Dreams

Healing may come in the form of a prescription for wellness.  For example, we may dream of a food that we need to eat to improve our diet.  Or we may dream of an herb that is the remedy for the ailment we are hoping to cure.

Dreams can also be directly healing.  In the dream state, one may receive direct healing from our Ancestors, Spirit Guides or other unknown forces.

In lucid dream state, the dreamer may use their lucidity to send healing energy to themselves or to another person.  I wrote about my experience with lucid dream healing in my post “Lucid Dreaming:  How Visiting Hogwarts Can Help You Heal.

We can also incorporate certain allies into our sleeping state to help enhance and activate our dream lives.

I have written a lot about dreaming with plants.  Oneirogen plants are a category of plants that are used to activate dream states.  Some of the best known oneirogens are artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) and silene capensis (Xhosa Dream Plant).

Plants can also be used to help activate healing dreams.   Some plants are good for relieving nightmares, working through grief, releasing trauma, or helping to bring healing, restorative sleep.

How to Make a Dream Pillow

A simple way to build your dream medicine toolkit is to make a dream pillow.

Dream pillows are normally filled with dry herbs and placed under the pillow.  Herbs have different qualities that you can blend together to make a customized dream pillow for your purposes (herb references below).

To sew your own dream pillow, use a clean piece of fabric or cloth.   Cotton or natural fibers are best.  Square or rectangular shapes are most common for dream pillows, but you can design them in any shape you want.

To make your own dream pillow, cut two squares or rectangles of the same size.  Place the cloth together with the right (front) side facing in.  Sew three sides of the fabric together.  When you’re finished, turn the fabric inside out, so that the right side is now facing out.

Stuff your herbal mix into the remaining open side of the fabric.  When you have finished filling up the pillow, sew the remaining edge of the fabric shut.

To make a dream pillow  that doesn’t involve sewing, you can place the herbs in a fabric pouch or muslin bag.  Or, use a piece of fabric that is tied together with yarn or string to make a dream bundle.

When your dream pillow is ready, place it next to your head or in your pillowcase as you sleep.  Many of these herbs are have pleasant aromas that are good to smell throughout the night.

Herbs for Dream Medicine Pillows

Mugwort: Used to activate dreams.  Good for people who have a hard time remembering their dreams.  Can bring colorful, wild, Alice-in-Wonderland types of dreams.

Be careful, because for some people, mugwort can be too stimulating. Mugwort can bring overwhelming dream activity and I’ve heard many reports from people who say they felt like their night with mugwort was too busy and they didn’t get enough rest.

Chamomile:  Brings calm, peaceful sleep.  Chamomile can also help relieve nightmares in both children and adults.

Chamomile has a sweet, apple-like aroma and is good for releasing fear, anxiety, and agitation in both waking and dream states.  Can also be used for insomnia.

Lemon Balm:  Is both calming and uplifting.  Lemon Balm can be useful for dreamers who suffer from stress, depression and/or anxiety.

Lemon balm brings healing to trauma in both waking and sleeping states.  It has a particular affinity for healing sexual trauma.  In this way, I have used it for women who have suffered from sexual assault, miscarriage or abortion.

My own personal experience with lemon balm was that it brought me dreams that made me aware of some of my unresolved grief.  Unresolved emotions are often at the root of depression and anxiety.

Lavender:  Depending on the amount, lavender can be either calming or stimulating.   A pinch of lavender in your dream pillow can relieve stress, tension and headaches.

In larger amounts, lavender helps to open our third eye and crown chakras and activates our powers of intuition.  Lavender can also be used for divinatory dreams.

Rosemary:  An old saying is “Rosemary for remembrance.”  Rosemary helps us to remember our dreams.  It also connects us to memories that may have been lost or forgotten.  When dreaming with rosemary, these memories may surface in the dream state.

Rosemary can also be used to connect us to our loved ones who have died, and may bring dreams of our beloved dead.

Rose:  Brings a feeling of love to our dreams.  Rose has been traditionally used to bring prophetic dreams of one’s beloved.

Rose can also be used to help heal the heart from grief and heartbreak.  It can be added to dream pillows to bring a feeling of love and warmth to the dreamer and the dreams.

Essential Oils

Many essential oils can be added to dream pillows to add fragrance and potency.  To do this, simply add a few drops of the essential oil into the dream pillow herb mix.

Many of the herbs I described above are also available as essential oils.  My favorite essential oil for both sleep and dreams is called Jatamansi.

Jatamansi Essential Oil

Jatamansi is an Ayurvedic herb that is related to Valerian.  It’s musky, earthy scent is extremely calming and relaxing and is an excellent remedy for insomnia.

Jatamansi is indicated for the type of insomnia that comes from extreme states of stress and/or trauma.  Jatamansi helps to calm the mind and relax the nervous system and bring about deep, restorative, sleep.

Jatamansi is an excellent dream healer as well.  For people who have suffered from PTSD or other types of trauma, Jatamansi helps the dreamer to work out the trauma in their dream state.

I view Jatamansi as the quintessential dream therapist.  It helps us to heal our waking life trauma in our dream state.  Better yet, it does so in a gentle, compassionate way so that we wake up feeling peaceful and refreshed.

To work with Jatamansi Essential oil, you may add a few drops to your dream pillow.  Traditionally, a few drops are rubbed into the soles of the feet and the crown of the head before going to bed.  I have also place a few drops of Jatamansi on a kleenex and placed this under my pillow to help with sleep.


To find these herbs, I first recommend that you visit your local, neighborhood herb store.  A great resource online is Mountain Rose Botanicals.*

For Jatamansi and other high-quality essential oils, I recommend Floracopeia.*

Have fun creating your own special dream medicine pillows!  Let me know what you create and how it works for you.

*These are affiliate links.

About the Author:

Inspired and guided by her ancestors, Atava has been studying and practicing healing arts for over 20 years. Atava teaches across the country and sees clients in her healing practice Ancestral Apothecary in Oakland, CA. She also has a unique line of herbal products infused with prayer and magic. Her website is www.ancestralapothecary.com

Waking Dreams and Healing

Healing dreams don’t only happen at night. They happen in broad daylight as well.

I call these experiences waking dreams.

In waking dreams, just as in night dreams, we access our inner wisdom. We may see wild and uncanny imagery. We may experience synchronicity, deja vu, and serendipity. Sometimes characters that normally populate our night dreams begin appearing in waking life.

For instance, let’s say that last night you dreamed of an elephant.

This morning on the way to work you see a woman with an elephant pin on her bag. In your inbox is a picture of an elephant your friend sent you. And while you’re choosing wine at the store tonight, you reach for a bottle of zinfandel without even realizing it has an elephant on the label.

Elephant is trying to get your attention.

And it will behoove you to take notice, especially if the synchronicities come in threes (or more). Waking dreams have strong medicine, just like night dreams.

Obvious examples of waking dreaming are daydreaming and spontaneous visions. Other examples are creative reveries, meditative visions, and the various states shamans enter during healings.

Shamanic Healings as Waking Dreams

It’s this last example I’d like to focus on. After all, our theme this month is on rebirth and renewal, and shamanic healings can certainly rejuvenate us.

During healings, shamans, and sometimes even the healing recipient, receive dream-like visions that guide them throughout the healing. The shaman might see blocked energy, ancestral guides, damage to the chakras or aura, or they may be drawn back to a past life of the client that unfolds like a dream.

The shaman enters an altered state, sometimes through the use of a psychotropic, rhythmic drumming, breathing techniques, or meditation.

It is in these trance states that the shaman can travel to other worlds, see deep within a person’s energy field, and use the waking dream imagery found there to figure out the appropriate healing method needed.

Nature-supported Healing

In my own work, I’ve discovered that doing shamanic healings outdoors adds exponentially to the work’s transformative potential. When we’re not separated from nature by walls, massage tables, and traffic noise, amazing things happen.

After all, the outer landscape is often a reflection of our inner state and it has tremendous gifts to offer. It is not unusal for my clients to be drawn to a particular spot outside where they feel the most comfortable. Often it is because that location has special medicine for them: it’s a dream unfolding.

Some choose to lie in the sun with no shade for miles. Others prefer dappled sunlight. One person might want to lie next to a creek, while another might ask to be next to a flowering bush. The bright sun, the shade, the water, or the flower may have an energy the client is craving, something essential to their healing.

When they’re listening to the dream, they pick up on these subtle cues. They may not even know why they chose that location, but during the healing I almost always get a sense of what the landscape has to offer. Many times the local nature spirits and elements have a role to play in the healing.

For example, during one healing I noticed two huge trees sending streams of energy to my client as we cleared a deep ancestral wound. Another time, in the same field, a different tree sent healing energy to a woman as I cleaned out her fifth chakra, helping her reclaim her voice.

Additionally, I’ve witnessed energy flowing up from the earth and streaming down from the sky. On a few occassions, I’ve noticed nature spirits assisting me with a healing.

It’s all part of the waking dream, the imagery and messages coming forth to help the client.

Working a Waking Dream

When you discover you’re in a waking dream, whether as the result of a healing, a string of synchronicities, or a serious bout of deja vu, you can work with the imagery and energy just as you would with a dream.

Think about the characters showing up (the flowering bush, the elephant) and ask yourself what they mean to you.

Check in with your body. Is there any stiffness, pain, or discomfort? Focus on it and ask it what it has to say.

Pay attention to the setting. Look for details you might normally overlook. Just as in a dream, all the elements are coming together like puzzle pieces to create a larger image, an overarching message.

Write the situation out as you might write down a dream upon waking. See if telling the story of the waking dream helps you unlock its meaning.

Looking at waking dreams adds to the potency of dreamwork because it provides twice as much information to work with as you discern the messages coming from your unconscious and Spirit.

Have you experienced a waking dream? Please share your experience with us in the comments!

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

Dreaming Your Diet for Optimal Health

Happy 2011!  As we commence the New Year, many of us are taking time to reflect upon what we would like to change or improve in our lives.

A common New Year’s resolution is to go on a diet.  Some people choose to do so to lose weight, while others choose to go on a diet to improve their overall health.  As a result, many people embark upon some new-fangled diet that is in fashion at the moment, from the Atkins diet to the popular “Cookie” diet.

Diets Don’t Work

As a holistic health care practitioner, I can say that most weight loss diets don’t work.  Almost 95% of people who go on a diet to lose weight end up gaining back the lost the weight plus some extra pounds.

Furthermore, there is not a single nutritional diet that works for all people.  People have different body types and so the optimal eating plan will vary from person to person depending on their constitution.

In fact, if you follow the tenets of Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine, one’s optimal diet will change from season to season.  For example, in the hot summer months it is good to eat cooling watery foods like watermelon; but the same watermelon will be too cold to consume in the chilly winter months.

What I recommend most to my clients is to learn how what they eat affects their mood, their energy level, their mental functioning, and their overall health.  This means each person must learn to pay attention to the subtle signals from their body.  One of the best ways to discover the optimal healing eating plan for you is to pay attention to the clues in your dreams.

The Dreamatarian Diet

In 2008, while attending the IASD’s PsiberDreaming Conference, I became acquainted with the work of Ed Kellog, PhD.  In his workshop entitled “Mind-Body Healing through Dreamwork” Ed shared the story about his discovery of the “Dreamatarian Diet”.

In the late 1970’s Ed started paying attention to how foods appeared in his dreams.  He also decided to act upon the dietary advice given to him by the dream.  When a food appeared in his dream in a positive context, he would eat this food; if the food appeared in a negative context in the dream, he would avoid this food.[1]

Positive examples of food in dreams:

  • A glowing persimmon
  • A cauldron of mouth-watering mushroom soup
  • A magical walnut

Negative examples of food in dreams:

  • Cheese infested with worms
  • Chocolate covered in filth
  • A piece of pizza lying near the trash can

Ed’s next step was to divide the foods that showed up in his dreams into five categories:  “Super,” “Good,” “Fair,” “Poor,” and “Poisonous.”  [2]

After years of examining his Dreamatarian Diet research, Ed discovered that his dream diet recommendations were consistently confirmed by the latest nutritional and scientific research.  In fact, often his dreams were informing him about healthy food choices years or even decades before that particular food was “discovered” and promoted by science and the media.[3]

Nutritional Advice from Dreams

After learning about the Dreamatarian Diet, I began to track my own food dreams.  One night, I had two contrasting food dreams.  In the first, I am looking in a refrigerator and find a pack of rotten hot dogs:

Someone finds the hot dogs & cooks them up.  I take one bite and realize they are really old & spoiled.  I find the package of hot dogs on the counter and notice they are all rotten.  Clearly we shouldn’t be eating them.

Later in the night, I have a dream of being at a raw foods cafeteria:

I arrive at the cafeteria very hungry.  Food is laid out decoratively on silver platters.  Everything is raw.  I find a salad bar and think to myself that it would be a good thing to eat and I start to assemble a salad for myself.

The contrast between these two dreams is striking.  The imagery in the first dream (“old”, “spoiled”, “rotten”) was strongly advising me what food to avoid (hotdogs, or perhaps all processed meat in general).  In the second dream, the food imagery was illuminated positively (“laid out decoratively on silver platters”), clearly suggesting which foods would be healthier for me to consume (salad and perhaps raw foods in general).

These dreams both occurred early in the month of May 2010.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season of that corresponds to the Wood element and to the Liver and Gall Bladder meridians.  In this healing tradition, during springtime as the weather warms up it is the natural time for a gentle cleansing of our physical bodies.  A simple way to do this is to eat less heavy & fatty foods like meat and to start eating more cleansing foods like fruit and raw vegetables.

As a dream duet, these two food dreams helped me to pay closer attention to which foods I was consuming in waking life.  Both dreams were reminding me to adjust my eating patterns to help my body be better attuned to the seasonal shift and to also assist my body in its natural detoxification processes.

Healing Advice from Moldy Bread

Last year in the DreamTribe dream forum, a participant dreamed about being in a grocery store:

I start bagging up my groceries (not sure why they weren’t bagged in the store) and pick up the bread.  I look at the bread and notice the end is moldy.  I look up at the other women and ask them if they have ever had troubles with moldy bread at this store.  They shake their heads and say they have. “(Dream excerpt)

My first impression about this dream was that it was a message about the dreamer’s health.  I responded to this dream by first describing the basis of the Dreamatarian Diet.  Next, I advised:

If it were my dream, I would pay attention to how bread makes me feel when I eat it. As a heath care practitioner, I have seen many cases where people need to reduce or eliminate their consumption of bread due to a gluten allergy or intolerance.  Also, many people need to avoid bread because the yeast (mold) in bread can exacerbate a candida (yeast) infection.

So I am wondering about your health, and in particular your digestion, energy level and degree of pain in your physical body.  Poor digestion, low energy & chronic pain can all be signs of candida or undiagnosed food allergies.

The dreamer responded:

Wow Atava, before I fell asleep I asked for my dreams to tell me what is making me crabby and mildly depressed (which I equate to low energy).  It didn’t even occur to me to think that I should take the moldy bread literally.  I was told a couple of years ago by my OB/GYN to eat more protein, less carbohydrates and exercise.  She felt this would give me more energy and help with my mild depression.  Although, I try to be careful I haven’t been doing a good job lately.  I guess I should start listening better!

Unbeknownst to me, the dreamer had actually been asking her dreams a question about her health when she had this dream.  Her symptoms of being crabby, mildly depressed and having low energy are all common symptoms of a candida infection, which is yeast (mold) overgrowth in the body.  The dietary protocol to rid the body of candida is to eliminate from one’s diet the foods that feed the yeast, including all sugars, processed foods, and bread.

Along with the other comments from people on the forum, the dreamer was able to work with her dream both symbolically and literally and was able to reap a lot of healing benefit from the dream.

Tips for Beginning your own Dreamatarian Diet

  1. Pay attention to which foods show up in your dream and in what context.
  2. Rate the foods according to Kellogg’s five categories:  Super, Good, Fair, Poor and Poisonous.
  3. Evaluate your state of health at the time of your food dreams and note it down in your dream journal.  Some questions to ask yourself are:  How is my overall health?  What is my daily energy level?  How am I feeling emotionally?  Do I have pain or discomfort anywhere in my body?  Do I have any symptoms of poor health?  Have I been diagnosed with any disease?
  4. Incorporate positive dream food suggestions into your diet and eliminate the negative ones.
  5. After you have incorporated & eliminated dream foods from your diet for a few weeks, reevaluate the state of your health.  Has anything changed or improved?
  6. If you have specific health related questions, work with one of these questions to incubate a dream for guidance about your health.  Pay special attention to any foods that appear in these dreams.

Note: Dream “diet” suggestions can also come in the form of herbs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, exercise or other healing practices.  Make note of how these items appear in your dreams as well.

References:  Mind-Body Healing through Dreamwork by Ed Kellogg, Ph.D.; http://www.asdreams.org/psi2007/papers/edkellogg.htm.

[1] Kellog, Ed.  Mind-Body Healing through Dreamwork. http://www.asdreams.org/psi2007/papers/edkellogg.htm. 2.


[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid

About the Author:

Inspired and guided by her ancestors, Atava has been studying and practicing healing arts for over 20 years. Atava teaches across the country and sees clients in her healing practice Ancestral Apothecary in Oakland, CA. She also has a unique line of herbal products infused with prayer and magic. Her website is www.ancestralapothecary.com

How Plants Heal Us in Dreams

I am an herbalist and a dreamer.  It has been thrilling to discover the ways in which the world of plants and the world of dreams intersect.  I have trained myself and my students and clients to pay close attention to a plant that shows up in a dream.   Plants that appear in dreams can be prescriptive, instructive or even direct transmitters of healing energy.

Our ancestors, the plants

From a perspective of evolution, we literally evolved not just out from apes, but also from plants.

Indigenous people know this.  According to Hopi legend, plants were the original ancestors.  Yet our plant ancestors were lonely and wanted some company on earth.  They wished to hear laugher and other sounds of happiness.  In this way, our plant ancestors created human beings by calling them forth into existence.

Plant communication

The language of plants is quiet and subtle, hard to hear over the roar of technological noise that bombards us in today’s modern world.

A major way that plants communicate with us is through dreams.  Perhaps it is because in the sleeping state we are quiet and receptive to hearing their voices.  When a plant shows up in a dream, it is important to listen to its message.  Its presence in a dream may be symbolic but it may also be instructive or healing.

Prescriptive messages from plant dreams

Sometimes when a medicinal plant appears in our dream it is a signal for us to take this herbal remedy.  Last fall I had a series of dreams about elderberry.  Elderberry is a medicinal herb I know well.  It grows where I live and I love to harvest the ripe blue berries in the fall to make elderberry cordial.

As an herb, elderberry is strongly anti-viral.  It helps protect our cell walls against viral attack.  That means it is a great remedy for preventing the common cold and a host of other common respiratory infections.

When I had my elderberry dreams last fall I noticed them with curiosity, but I did not heed the prescriptive advice of the dream.  Due to my own blind spot, I didn’t take any elderberry cordial.  I didn’t feel sick and it didn’t occur to me to take it.

A few days later I came down with a cold.  The dream elderberries and the wisdom of my own body had detected the subtle signs of imbalance in my health and sent me advice.  If I had started to take the elderberry cordial when I had the first elderberry dream, chances are I would have given my immune system the boost I needed to stave off the cold.

Plants and dreams know when we don’t

An herbal remedy can beckon you in your dream even if you don’t have a waking knowledge about the herb.  A friend of mine from dream group once told the group that one morning she had simply awaken with a word in her mind.  When she had this dream she had been struggling with chronic allergies & asthma and was getting sick a lot.

My friend is a woman of Chinese descent, and recognized the word to be in the Chinese language.  As she did further research on this word, she discovered it was the name for a Chinese medicinal herb.  After talking to her acupuncturist, she realized that this herb was the perfect remedy for her current respiratory condition.  In this way, the wisdom of the plant, and possibly her own ancestors, guided her to the remedy that would help her regain her physical health.

Dream Teachings from Plants

In many traditional cultures, healers would receive healing knowledge in the dream state.    In fact, nearby where I live in Northern California is a great tradition of Pomo dream healers.  One of these dream healers was a Pomo medicine woman named Mable MacKay.  During her childhood, Mable started receiving instruction from a spirit in her dreams.  The dream spirit taught Mable how to heal with plants, ceremonies and songs.

As an herbalist, I pay close attention to the teachings I receive from plants in my dreams.   Last January I had this dream:

I am standing with a friend and holding a mullein plant that we dug up.  The root is exposed and it looks just like a spine.  As I hold the plant, it starts to writhe and wiggle.  It looks very human.  I understand that the root of mullein is used to treat the spine because of its similarity to it.

Mullein (verbascum thapsus) is a plant with many different uses in herbal medicine.  The leaves of mullein are an excellent tonic for the tissue of the respiratory tract.  Mullein leaf tea or tincture can be useful for dry, irritated mucous membranes (that annoying tickle in the back of your throat) or a dry cough.

The flowers of mullein are used to help ear aches.  The bright yellow flowers are infused into olive oil and used as ear drops.  Mullein flowers oil work best for ear aches when combined with garlic oil.

The root of mullein is less commonly used and I have less personal experience with it.  However, I do have an herbal colleague who uses mullein to help spinal alignment.  In this way, mullein root can be like the herbal chiropractor.  However, this use of mullein is not common and less likely to be found written about in herb books.

In herbal medicine there is something called the Doctrine of Signatures.  This means a plant often looks like the particular body part that it is meant to treat.  For example, red raspberries are womb-like in color and shape and red raspberry leaf is an excellent herbal tonic for the uterus.

My mullein dream was a good illustration of the Doctrine of Signatures.  The mullein root looked clearly like a human spine.  In addition, the plant spirit in the dream conveyed to me a knowing that the root would be useful to treat the spine.

This dream reinforces the folk knowledge about mullein root that was passed on to me by my friend.  I will continue to experiment with mullein root and observe the results.  I value this dream teaching enough to give it serious thought.

Plants Heal Us in Dreams

A few months ago I was experiencing a lot of tension and discomfort in the area of my stomach/solar plexus.   Around the same time I had recently made a big batch of chamomile tincture for my herbal apothecary.

One night I had this dream:

I am lying down and someone has placed a chamomile flower over my solar plexus.  It is there to help push the blocked energy out.  There is anger stuck in my stomach and the chamomile is helping to move it.  I also need to yell to release the tension stored in my solar plexus.  I know also that chamomile would be a good thing for me to take.

In this dream, I received a direct healing from the chamomile.  As it was positioned on my solar plexus, it was helping to move stuck energy.  Also, the chamomile spirit was giving me a two part healing prescription.   First was to do some deep belly yelling to release the stored tension in my stomach.  Second was to start taking the chamomile tincture in waking life.

This time, I had the wisdom to heed the advice of this dream. I took some time to yell into my pillows that morning and it felt great.  I could feel the released energy buzzing in my solar plexus.

I also began to take the chamomile tincture. Chamomile is a great herbal ally for both the nervous and digestive systems.  It helps to release stress and tension in the body and has a particular affinity for relaxing tension stored in the solar plexus. I loved the flavor and the feeling it gave me.  For at least a month it was my favorite herbal ally.  I carried it around and felt comforted to have it with me.

In time, thanks to the healing and prescription from chamomile, my stomach began to feel better.

Research and consult first

Many plants are medicinal and also many plants can be poisonous.  Please always do your research first before deciding to ingest a plant that comes to you in a dream. Make sure it is safe and non-toxic.  I’d also recommend that you consult with an herbalist, who will have a deeper understanding of the herb, its healing properties and its proper dosage.

However, you don’t need to ingest a plant to receive its healing.  I often recommend to my clients and students to spend time with the plants they dream about.  If you dream of an oak tree, go outside and find an oak tree to sit and meditate with.  You can also simply put a piece of the plant on your altar or carry a bit of it in a pouch or medicine bag that you wear on your body.

References:  Mabel Mckay: Weaving the Dream, Greg Sarris, Berkeley: University of California, 1994

About the Author:

Inspired and guided by her ancestors, Atava has been studying and practicing healing arts for over 20 years. Atava teaches across the country and sees clients in her healing practice Ancestral Apothecary in Oakland, CA. She also has a unique line of herbal products infused with prayer and magic. Her website is www.ancestralapothecary.com

Integrating Dream Medicine

In waking life, I recoil from scorpions. Their shiny, segmented bodies and barbed tails quickly instill fear in me. But this year, I befriended a scorpion, one that came to me in the Dreamtime.

This past February I had surgery to remove a cyst from my left ovary, the second such surgery I’d had in six months. It was the optimal time to include dreams in my healing and, luckily, I’d gotten Dream Tending by Stephen Aizenstat, which includes a chapter on dreams and healing. Within his book I discovered a technique that helped me foster a new relationship with Scorpion.

The Dream Tending technique draws from Jungian dreamwork. One of Aizenstat’s main tenants is to see dream characters as alive and having their own agency. This means using active imagination, a Jungian technique for bringing forth images and characters from the unconscious.

The important piece of the Dream Tending technique is to imagine the dream character and allow it to do what it will. If it wants to sit and stare at you, allow that. If it has something to say, listen. If it wants to dance around the room, watch. The dreamer’s role is to be a passive and receptive audience to what the dream figure wants to convey.

The point is cultivating a relationship rather than taking something from the character. So often in dreamwork practitioners only see dream images as one-dimensional representations of metaphor. Aizenstat’s method recognizes that the dream image is a vital, living force of the unconscious that one can have live interaction with.

To bring about healing, Aizenstat adds a step to active imagination. He asks dreamers to create an imagined, or dream-time elixir, salve, or other healing medium to apply to the character and themselves, an act which spreads the healing throughout the psyche.

During my recovery from surgery, I decided to work with a particularly vile character from a recent dream I’d had, a character I called spider-scorpion.


I’m in a house that belongs to a woman. The front door and entryway, which is somehow both inside and outside, is covered with sticky yellow cobwebs. On the cobwebs are bats and creatures that look like a cross between spiders and scorpions. The spider-scorpions have purple-black bodies and pale yellow legs.

I am horrified and grossed out by them, but I don’t run away or hide. I ask the woman if they are spiders or scorpions, but she doesn’t answer. It seems like they’re there to scare away any men that might come calling. I go into the kitchen to get food. When I walk back into the living room, I see a giant web sack and in it are a mother spider-scorpion and many babies. I yell to the woman that she has to get rid of it and take care of it now.

To work with the dream, I got into a meditative state and asked the spider-scorpion to come forward. I saw it in all its alien glory. It sat before me and I focused on allowing it to be there with me. After getting more comfortable with the character, I gradually attempted more contact with it over several days, and I created a healing elixir to apply to it.

Following Aizenstat’s recommendation, while in meditation I put the elixir on the spider-scorpion and then on myself. After a few days, the spider-scorpion morphed into what looked like a waking-world scorpion. It wanted to crawl into my lap. I let it, and I continued to apply the elixir.

After a time, the scorpion grew larger and eventually became the same size as myself. I watched as it stepped into me, our energies merging. I’d integrated the scorpion and its medicine.

And, you’re asking, what exactly is Scorpion medicine? Darkness, sex, death, rebirth, passion, and transformation, according to Ted Andrews in his book Animal-Wise. He sums up the medicine by saying it is “dynamic transformation through secret passions and desires.”

Without bearing too much of my soul here, I’ll say that I’ve definitely harbored several secret desires and passions for much of my life. As soon as Scorpion merged with me it became more difficult to hide and suppress them until eventually many of them burst out of me.

I went through one of the most challenging periods in my life between April and October, only weeks after integrating the Scorpion medicine. Structures and ideas I’d held tightly collapsed, and I was left with an immense amount of space. Scorpion gave me the tools to navigate with grace both the collapse and the void left behind In fact, she told me her name was Mother of Grace, a fitting title.

Now I am in an active period of exploration and I’m allowing my desires and passions to come forth in a healthy way. I’m grateful for the role Aizenstat’s method had in facilitating my healing.

photo by mikebaird

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