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Of tattoos and tribes: Dreaming of Snake

The lore of the snake. What is it about this creature that’s both attractive and yet so terrifying? And, even more importantly, why do we dream of snake?

Our relationship to snakes is as old as we are and just as rich and complex as the myths that revere them. But those myths have long disappeared and lay dormant in our daily subconsciousness.

Yet snake uncoils when we least expect it, coming out to play in our nightly adventures.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere buried in what Jung calls our collective unconscious.

That Snake is calling her tribe! 

Are you from my tribe?

In June, I gave a talk on dreams of the bereaved at the annual IASD conference in Berkeley. Little did I realize Snake would be joining me there. The conference started with a reunion with JFKU dream students gathering together. I greeted one woman and fellow DTer Judith McEnroe who had a most fascinating tattoo on her wrist…it was a snake.

I was dumbstruck because only a week before I had dreamed of snakes, and Judith’s snake tattoo and my dream snakes had the exact intricate pattern!

I begged her to share the meaning of her tattoo which I later learned came from a dream.

This was Judith’s dream:

I was sitting across the table from an elderly Native American man. A fairly large snake was curled up on my lap. As I pushed away from the table to give the snake more room it began to slowly unfold and wrap itself around my body. Is it dangerous?, I ask the man. No, he says and tells me to raise my left arm above my head.

The snake coils itself around my arm and rests it’s head on the back of my hand. It has a wide red band around its neck that is at the level of my wrist. The snake has wide black and yellow bands on the rest of its body. I wake up hearing a voice (my own voice) telling me that I must get a tattoo of the snake so that my tribe will recognize me. ….I now have a tattoo of snake around my wrist.

I smiled, shook her hand and said. “I believe I am member of your tribe.”

Snake is awakening

Dreaming of snakes is a regular occurrence, but what made this encounter special was not only the shared dream with Judith but the continued snake encounters throughout the conference of people who were also asking…why am I dreaming of Snake?

It seemed my shared dream with Judith was shedding light on the mystery of these encounters.

I am walking in a forest and come across a natural enclosure. I suddenly see one very long snake resting in a tree, at first camouflaged. I see the body, the markings and head-it rises up becoming “awake.”

Then all the tree branches come alive with snakes, awakening! It’s like now that I “see” one, I can see them all. It’s also understood that the seasons were turning (weather warming) so the snakes were more animated, more visible.

I am then startled by a giant snakeskin dropped at my feet from a high branch. I look up and notice a Leopard in the trees. We lock eyes. I realize she has dropped it there and is a mother with two cubs. In the dream, I am telling this story to someone—it is liked I’ve walked this path many times-now the animals have awakened…were always here but now were becoming visible.

Like the snakes in my dreams, I was beginning to find others who were ‘snake people,’ too, at least drawn to its essence.

The snakes were becoming more visible. It was like finding my tribe.

Snake as Divine Feminine

During my presentation titled “When Orpheus Looked Back: Dreams of the Bereaved” I used the myth of Orpheus as a template for the stages of initiation for those who experience the death of a loved one. Orpheus who mourned the death of Eurydice, (who was bitten by a snake!) grieved her so profoundly that he followed her into the Underworld to get her back.

Because of his music and clear dedication to Eurydice, he was able to tame the three headed Cerberus and melt the heart of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. Orpheus’ only task was to lead Eurydice out of the Underworld and not look back.

But Orpheus looked back.

One woman in the audience asked “Why isn’t there much information on Eurydice? And why was she bitten by a snake?”

Why indeed.

Talking with Jungian oriented psychoanalyst and professor, Lynne Ehlers after the presentation (who also happened to give her presentation on the archetype of Snake!), we both agreed that Snake’s connection to the Divine Feminine (Eurydice bitten by a snake) ‘went underground’ or “into the Underworld” as more patriarchal religions and politics took over and Snake has lay dormant ever since…until now.

I see the snake as very ancient and wise with its power held closely to the Great Mother. Perhaps the reemergence of Snake in our dreams is this energy awakening within us and leaving her mark so we may recognize our tribe.

The mark of Snake

 United States public domainAlso like Judith, I have had dreams of being marked by snake, namely from a bite or tattoo.

In one dream I was sitting with a mysterious elder woman who was tattooing a Giant Snake that wrapped around my entire body.  The intention of this ceremony was for my initiation and a healing for a woman who was raped. After the ritual, I looked at my reflection and was both terrified and in awe…I had completely transformed and somehow knew there was no turning back to ‘the old ways.’

I explored this dream over the years and found snake symbols associated with ancient mystery cults like the Orphic Egg and the Mithraic figure: That of a half human half lion with a snake wrapped around its body.

And Like Judith, other DT’ers in the article “Snake Dreams and Initiation” have shared similar snake dreams of being marked in some way that felt both initiatory and healing.

What might Snake mean as dream medicine?

  • Snakes and healing have been considered synonymous since ancient times, especially in exploring the caduceus, Pythian priestesses of Delphi and its connection to Aesculapian temples. Perhaps those who are drawn to Snake are natural healers.
  • Another characteristic is intuition. Many snake people sense things that others might not. They are literally tuned into the subtle worlds and energies around them.
  • Snake may be calling those who are drawn to the mysteries and secret knowledge as illustrated in many esoteric teachings and symbolism. Repelled by the injustices and inconsistencies in the world and being drawn to inner wisdom that can be found in dreams.
  • I also see Snake as consciousness and mindfulness of the Now. The snake’s steady gaze reminds me of being fully in the present moment and grounded in the earth. This awareness means carrying incredible focus and passion and when the moment is right, you strike!

What can Snake tell us of our true Natures?

Is she something to fear like we learned from western biblical teachings or should we look deeper beyond our limited view of what she represents for us?

Considering the history of the many deaths and persecutions of those who are on the Snake path, it is understanding that there is fear tied to these practices. From witch burnings to ethnic cleansing of indigenous cultures to our own politics today that control certain populations, namely women’s bodies: Snake has a lot to be afraid of.

But paradoxically, those who try to control or repress Snake are the ones who are truly afraid.

Snake is not only divine she is the divine power in us all. This is what is feared the most. Snake is the gateway to healing and awakening ourselves to possibilities if we can face it with courage.

Let’s continue sharing Snake together, let’s find our tribe!

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

When Dreams Become Your Mentor

My interactions with the dream world started as psychic experiences.

As a very small child I had two “imaginary friends”: Puff the Magic Dragon and Billy from the TV show Shazam! (which is a whole other post). I saw them all the time before my brother was born when I was four. My parents entertained my imaginary friends as guests at our dinner table, thinking it was cute.

But they didn’t encourage or help explain any of my other experiences.

For instance, one evening around the age of seven, I had an intense hypnopompic experience in which I saw the Incredible Hulk come right out of the wall and lunge at me. I screamed for my dad, who came running. I told him that the Hulk had run toward me, and that he was there as plain as the day. But since my dad couldn’t see anything, he told me it was just my imagination. I felt deflated, scared, and alone.

So I started to believe that what I saw wasn’t real. And my abilities went underground for many years.

Spiritual Crisis and Resurgence of Dreams

In my late twenties I went through a crisis that renewed my interest in spirituality, intuition, and the occult as I searched for answers. I went to holistic fairs and got readings from intuitives, astrologers, and a palm analyst. I idolized these women, believing that they knew much more than me. But they all told me I had the same gifts as they did.

It was exciting, but hard for me to believe. I didn’t know what to do with that information.

I didn’t get much clarity until my partner was in an accident. One evening he decided to drive some files to the office. I had a horrible feeling in my stomach and I didn’t want him to go. I tried to stall him, but he finally went out the door. I felt terrible after he left, but didn’t know why.

I sat down in bed to start reading a book. Then, clairaudiently, I heard an enormous crash and someone crying out. I knew immediately my partner had been in an accident. A moment later the phone rang: it was him, telling me he’d been in a car crash. He was okay and so was the other driver, but the car was totaled.

I knew without a doubt that I’d had a psychic experience. I started to read anything I could find on developing intuition, and I even tried searching for a mentor (with no luck).

Then Came My Big Dream

Later that year, I found my first mentor, and it was not what I was expecting. My dreams became my mentor.

On Samhain morning, I had a Big Dream in which my ancestors told me, through a gypsy psychic girl with a horse, that I had the gift. I knew upon waking that it meant I was psychic and that my dreams had major messages for me.

I started working in earnest with my dreams, and they became my main guides in my spiritual development. I developed a relationship with Owl and Bear as a result, and I started asking these dream animals questions to be answered in my dreams. I often got answers.

The next spring, I discovered a local psychic training center where I learned how to read the aura and chakras as well as energy patterns. I began doing readings, healings, and dreamwork for people.

Then my shamanic initiation dreams began. Dismemberment, encounters with numinous animals, and shamans bringing me messages. Although I knew something intense was happening, again I wasn’t sure what to do with the dreams.

Eventually I discovered a waking-life mentor steeped in dreams and shamanic studies. Thankfully, she helped me through two of the most challenging years of my life by helping me work with my dreams.

I was relieved to have this combination: the powerful messages sent to me in my dreams and a gentle waking-life mentor who could help me understand these messages. This work ushered me into the next phase of my intuitive development.

You’re Not Alone

I share my story with you to let you know that, if you’re having similar experiences, you’re not alone. There are many others out there like you.

I know it’s difficult being a Big Dreamer in our culture, because it can be hard to find those who understand what it means to be a Big Dreamer.

Many times these people are not in our families, our schools, or even our communities. We often have to throw a wider net and seek for guides in places we don’t think to look. But I’m here to say that they’re out there. Keep looking.

And even though you may be searching for a physical, waking-life mentor, consider that your dreams just might be the mentor you’re looking for.

If you’re a Big Dreamer, I hope that the DreamTribe is a place where you can find kindred souls, and perhaps some answers.

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

Answering the Call to be a Big Dreamer

When you realize you’re an intuitive, Big (Shamanic) Dreamer, it’s not uncommon to feel a bit alone in the world.

That’s because Western culture is not set up to help people who have strange experiences and see invisible things.

We’re often labeled as weird or woo-woo or any number of pejorative terms.

But I’ve met countless people who have crazy dreams and unusual waking life experiences who are quite sane and grounded, yet who have no idea how to work with these gifts.

I know what it’s like. I was one of them.

Called to be a Big Dreamer (also known as a Shaman)

My dreams have called me to a magical, mystical path, but for most of my life, I didn’t know what was happening.

My initiation into dreaming was hypnopompic. When I was five, I woke to find an animated farm scene on my bedroom wall. Horses were neighing. Cows were mooing. I was afraid, yet the imagery stayed locked in my mind, drawing me deeper into a life spent living in two worlds.

Walking and Waking Between Worlds

The more I dreamed, the more my dream life took center stage. But when I was 22 something strange started happening to me.

I started doing shamanic journeys without knowing that’s what they were, and received verifiable information during my quests.

I received psychic information in my dreams and in waking life.

I had spontaneous OBEs (out-of-body experiences) while asleep. I’d wake up in a liminal realm, where the world was blue and I was neither awake nor asleep. While in that space, I heard alien voices that asked me who I was. I told them I didn’t know.

I was confused. I felt alone. I had no idea what was going on. And the only people I could think of to ask for help didn’t know either.

Finally, I met a friend who suggested I read Robert Monroe’s books on OBEs. It helped tremendously, but still, I didn’t know why this was happening to me and I definitely didn’t know what to do about it.

Maybe these experiences are common, but I don’t think so. Rather, they may be an indication of a calling to become what we at the DreamTribe call a Big Dreamer – someone who has an innate ability to dream for information and healing purposes. In this context, I am not referring only to sleeping dreams, but waking dreams (visions) and shamanic dream journeys.

Perhaps if I had been born into another culture, to people who lived close to the earth, my abilities would have been recognized by my elders, signifying something meaningful. I will never know.

What I do know is that the shamanic path is the only one that has ever felt authentic to me, but as a white Westerner I didn’t know how to pursue this path with integrity.

In my late twenties, I dabbled in Lakota pipe ceremonies and sweat lodges, but it felt wrong, even though I participated with reverence and initiated Lakota leaders.

I missed my own indigenous heritage. I wanted to know what my Nordic-Germanic ancestors would have done. What my Jewish ancestors would have said. How my Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ancestors would have initiated me.

So I started dreaming about them.

Dreaming of my Ancestors

They came to me and showed me drums and ceremonies. Nordic ritual drums. Jewish mystical dances. Welsh ceremonies to help pass down power from generation to generation.

But I also had sleeping dreams of American Indian medicine people. They taught me, protected me and led me on vision quests. I dreamed of Sun Dances and ceremonies and wondered what it meant.

I even had a series of dreams about Huichol shamans, even though I know nothing about them. The curious thing about these dreams was that the shamans weren’t actually Huichol. One was a red-haired Scot and the other was Japanese. This juxtaposition seemed to be a message: we are people of the earth, and although our cultural heritage can shape and inform us, more important is the willingness to heed the call, regardless of cultural inheritance.

So after many years of fighting it, of denying it, of pretending like I didn’t know, I answered the call. I am a Big Dreamer. A soul healer. Or what some cultures might call a shaman.

What does it mean to be a Soul Healer in modern times?

In my work, I travel between worlds to gather information. In the process I help my clients retrieve lost soul parts, confront their demons and clear energetic blocks that prevent them from living in alignment with their soul’s purpose.

Many of my clients are healers in their own right, who like me were at one point (or still are) confused about how to navigate this tricky calling.

That’s because people called to this path have little context for it. Our culture doesn’t recognize this role. There is no obvious training, so many people end up following other cultures’ traditions, which can lead to feelings of resentment and appropriation, while other people choose a path of denial and end up ignoring their soul’s callings.

But then there are those who attempt to walk an authentic path, even though they have no teachers or guides to help them. It can be a solitary journey, in many ways, and sometimes quite lonely.

One of the reasons I founded the DreamTribe was to help usher in a new era of dream healers; to provide sanctuary for those who do not understand their initiation experiences, or their wild and crazy dreams. To create an authentic pathway that is not steeped in other cultures traditions, yet honors the old ways.

All of us on the DreamCouncil have our own version of this story. We — Atava, Katrina, Linda, Ryan and I — are committed to helping people like you explore your own path toward becoming a full-fledged Big Dreamer.

That’s why we’re sharing our dream stories with you. It’s our way of calling together a new tribe: a global group of healers, of dreamers, of conscious people who are ready to step more fully into the role of Big Dreamer.

It’s time. And we’re here to help.

What do you think? What is the role of the Big Dreamer in today’s society?

Share your thoughts below.

And, remember to share your own dream story here.

*Photo collage by Amy E. Brucker using Flickr.com images by Drown (butterfly), Chez Sugi (woman statue).

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.

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

Dream Travel: How to Ride the Rainbow Bridge

“I look to the sky and see five condors flying overhead.

At first they are shiny black silhouettes, but soon they change into a beautiful array of rainbow colors. As each bird becomes a solid hue like red, orange and purple, they also turn into kites, all the while retaining their condor shape.”

This dream is from 2007, the year I had a series of dreams about Condors and Eagles. Little did I know then that the playful images are really archetypal and shamanic.

It was the kite that threw me off. In the Western world where I live kites are toys and not to be taken too seriously.

In truth, I was slightly embarrassed by the Condor dream. Instead of feeling like a magical metamorphous had taken place, I felt like the dream was poking fun of my spiritual interests.

So imagine my surprise last week when I shared my dream with fellow Dream Team member Linda Mastrangelo and she said, “You are familiar with the Rainbow Bridge, right?”

prisma color drawing by Amy E. Brucker August 2007

I wasn’t, at least not consciously. I’d actually heard of it before but I’d forgotten all about it. Since my memory was foggy I decided to do some research. What I found made me laugh.

According to Mircea Eliade, shamans, demi-gods and supernatural beings, “…regularly visit the upper regions by climbing the rainbow or by means of a kite, to deliver the souls of the dead or to meet their spirit wives.” from “Shamanism”, page 133

Rainbows and kites. Hmmm. It seems my dream was more than a fanciful exploration of color and childlike curiosity.

Eliade goes on to say that, “these myths refer to a time when communication between heaven and earth was possible; in consequence of a certain event or a ritual fault, the communication was broken off; but heroes and medicine men are nevertheless able to reestablish it.” ibid

So who are these heroes and medicine men?

Perhaps you’ve heard of the rainbow serpent. This is the means by which the Australian medicine men ascend to the celestial realm. In their tradition this is part of a shamanic initiation. (Eliade)

But they aren’t the only ones who use the rainbow as a gateway between worlds. In Polynesian and Hawaiian mythology two hero-gods regularly visit the upper regions via rainbow or kite. (Eliade)

In Norse Mythology, the stories of my ancestors, Bilröst is a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard, the world, and Asgard, the realm of the gods. (Wikipedia)

Japan, Mesopotamia, India, Tibet, and Judaism have all incorporated the rainbow colors into their version of the celestial realm. (Eliade)

Perhaps this dream is an invitation to ride the rainbow once again.

How to Travel to the Celestial Realm with Colorful Condors and Kites

The dream Colorful Condors Flying is a gentle reminder of an ancient and universal method for traveling to the celestial realm, the place where shamans and dreamers traverse in order to visit teachers and healers who live in the upper word.

You can use my dream, and any dream that inspires you, as a launching point for traveling into the upper realm (or lower realm, depending on the dream). Here’s what I do and what you can do too (feel free to imagine your own colorful condor kites!)

  • Sit or recline in a darkened room (I wear an eye covering during the day time.)
  • Play calming music or a shamanic drumming CD. Alternatively, if you have a drum or shaker you can create your own music. Sometimes I drum for myself, but lately I’ve been journeying to Sirena Squires Where Hawks Fly played with the Native American Flute. It’s delightful.
  • After getting comfortable and closing your eyes imagine you are sitting on a hill that overlooks a lush green valley. There are mountains in the distance, soft, ancient mounds covered in mist.
  • Once you feel connected to the place, imagine the condors coming to get you. They can be condor kites or bright, colorful condors. It’s up to you, or them, who will show up. Free your imagination and have fun.
  • Then let them take you on a journey. When you are done be sure to return to the point of origin and give thanks to the condors for their assistance.

Journeying for Information

Journeys are fun adventures, but they’re often more meaningful when you have a question in mind. In other words, use the journey to help you find information.  But do not ask “yes” or “no” questions. Formulating intentions like these may work best: “Show me how I can heal my cough.” Or, “Show me how to feel more connected to my work.” Or, “Show me my ancestral home.”

When I journey for information I often find verifiable facts and practical insights. I’ve even furthered genealogical research using this method.

Go ahead and give it a try. Journey with the condors and see what you find. Leave a comment below and share what transpires from this journey.

Or share what you’ve discovered from other dream journeys you’ve taken. I’d love to hear and learn.

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.