Ecodreaming and Finding Home: the Case of the Bedrock Mortar
Of course it can be hard to get past our cultural and personal blinders, that ever-present cognitive domestication of 21st century life.
With attention and patience, we can learn to recognize invitations and warnings from our nightly dreams so we can live more in tune with the natural forces that subtly form the container of our waking lives.
As a result, we are more intuitive, emotionally grounded and likely to survive a zombie apocalypse.
When we attend to our dreams, we are building bridges between the waking world and the dreaming world. It’s slow work at first, but then it gets easier, and the results more obvious. Psychic dreams, health warning dreams, and creative insights begin to spill out from one realm to the next.
It’s a feedback loop that gets stronger with each passing night.
Spending time in nature, and reflecting on dreams about nature, brings us closer to the evolutionary conditions from which we originated. In these conditions, intuition and dream-thinking comes in handy in ways that make sense from an ancient but perennial standpoint: to find safety, innovation, and balance in our lives.
And as in the case I’m going to describe here, to find belonging and acceptance.
A few years ago, my fiancé and I left Florida after a series of unfortunate circumstances involving her schooling and my work. We came back to the San Francisco Bay Area to lick our wounds. It was 2008, and finances were tight, especially after I lost most of my clients when the recession hit. I was not certain we had made a good choice coming back to California, and was often demoralized.
One night, two months after moving back, I had the following dream:
I walk out into a wooded yard and onto a pile of rocks. I look up and can see beyond the horizon of trees to hills beyond. I see Panola Mountain in the distance, as from the vantage of Mt Arabia. [granite outcroppings in Georgia, where I grew up]. Delighted, I say hello to them and then the horizon spins and new mountain is there – it is Mt Diablo [mountain near where I currently lived in California]. “Diablo!” I say. It is huge, majestic, and lit golden. It [the horizon] spins again and it looks like a wooded hill, green, East coast. Then again: Diablo. Then again: another California hill, and then another. (8/13/2008)
The next day upon awakening I knew immediately what to do: visit Mt Diablo, which was only a 20 minute drive away, and greet it with a personal offering. I had not been there since coming back to CA.
I drove halfway up the mountain, and then got on a hiking trail that my fiancé and I once hiked when we were first dating.
At one point, the trail passes a steep seasonal drainage that cuts down from the embankment above. I felt a sudden—and unmistakable—tugging in my chest to leave the trail and follow up the drainage.
So I parted the veil of the thick foliage of scrub oak and climbed up over the rocks, long out of view of the trail below. I felt like I was in last night’s dream. I emerged onto a large flat rock with an expansive view to the West.
Instantly I knew this was the place to make my offering to Mt Diablo. As soon as I had that thought, I noticed the prehistoric bedrock mortar on the stone. A bedrock mortar is a depression in stone that is made by native people to grind plant materials—such as acorns—into meal. I flood of joy washed over me. I intuitively felt that the mountain had called me with last night’s dream, and now trusted me enough to reveal this artifact of the ancient past on Diablo.
The mortar was the first artifact I had ever seen on Mt Diablo, and believe me, I had been looking for years, having logged in hundreds of hours on and off trail.
I wrote in my journal the next day:
“I think it not a coincidence that as I begin to steep myself in men’s psychology, with all its emphasis on yang, drive, and seeking, that Diablo presented me with the receptacle, the woman’s seat, an acorn processing spot from ages ago. Perhaps there is a truth here, that what men are so actively seeking is our own receptacle of surrender. Thank you Diablo for welcoming me here.” [8/14/2008]
Present Day Reverberations
I have been planning to explore this dream for some weeks now. But coincidentally—or synchronistically as Katrina would remind us—I actually found my first bedrock mortars on a hike in Pennsylvania today.
It’s too weird not to mention, as the idea to go hiking—on Indigenous People’s Day no less—was a spontaneous decision. Just a few hours later, I was running my fingers along the smooth inner walls of the mortar, imagining the clanging of a river cobble pestle reverberating through the forest.
I’ve been in Pennsylvania for 2 years now, on many hikes and explorations for bedrock mortars and other signs of prehistoric living, so this is indeed an uncanny experience. More importantly, I felt the same kind of belonging from that day on Mt Diablo warm me from the inside out.
Welcome home. You belong here.
When I look back at the dream, I am further struck at the progression of spinning horizons: starting with Panola Mountain (my boyhood home), then Mt. Diablo (my home in 2008), and then an unknown wooded hill that I described as “a wooded hill, green, East coast.”
Could this be the Pennsylvania woods I visited today?
Or am I just making this stuff up? There are surely moments that I shake my head out how coincidences pile up when doing dreamwork.
This is ecodreaming—there are no sure answers, but if you follow the intuitive pulls from the landscape, you will be rewarded with resounding blessings that ripple backwards and forward in time.
To practice ecodreaming yourself, check out the article I wrote a while back about rock art and dreams. And I invite you to share your own waking/dreaming experiences of nature below. What did you learn? How did it affect your life?