Out of Exile: A Dream Traveler Finds Her Way Home
For many years, I have felt like Richard Dreyfuss’ character in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind when he sees Devil‘s Tower on television for the first time. He knows that seeing the tower means something–but what?
I know I’m not alone in feeling like this.
For us Big Dreamers, it’s like we have a piece of the puzzle: a piece that, alone, has no meaning. But if we put our pieces together, we can see the whole picture. It all falls into place.
I believe by sharing our dream stories, we are sharing the story of the Universe, something that is certainly much larger than ourselves.
Childhood in Borderland
My dream story begins in childhood. Ironically my dream life as a child was horrible! (And I write this with deep reverence because these experiences shaped who I am today.)
I spent most of my childhood in the hypnagogic or “borderland state.” These experiences were amplified when I was eight-years old and my family moved into a one hundred year old house.
Though I had my own room for the first time, I soon learned I was not alone. Often at night I saw, heard, or felt energies or presences in the room. Other times I experienced a type of “stretching” as if my body was elongating or I was trying to come out of my body like in an out-of-body experience.
These encounters were terrifying because I had no reference or guidance to explain why they were happening.
Years later, through researching my town, I discovered deep trauma tied to the house: a little girl died there. The land itself held trauma as well as a result of a series of massacres between the colonists and indigenous tribes. I was clearly picking up on the residual energies there.
Though this period in my life was extremely isolating, I also have strong memories of benevolent beings in my room watching over me. It’s hard to explain, but I felt that all through this frightening process I was being held in some way by wise teachers.
Finding my dream tribe
Sadly this “period of exile” lasted for years. I kept these experiences a secret from family and friends while privately reading voraciously about esoteric subjects. I wrote down my dreams for many years, knowing they were important but not knowing why. These big dreams informed the trajectory of my life.
I experienced a most curious and cryptic dream in 2003. In the dream, I was an exiled monk in the 1500’s shunned from my village and later welcomed at a sanctuary of alchemists. They assured me I was one of them and I had just “forgotten the ways.”
I named this community of mystics “The Dreamers.”
Two years later, I met Justina Lasley, director of the Institute for Dream Studies, and I later attended my first IASD conference. Then I moved to the Bay Area, where I got a dream certificate and an MA in Transpersonal Psychology from JFKU.
It felt like a homecoming and I have never looked back.
Dreaming Ancestors in Italy
Another turning point was more personal. It came as a result of learning for the first time about the mystical vocation of my great aunt. According to my father, my Zia was a dream worker and healer in her village in the region of Puglia, Italy. People came from all over to discuss their dreams and she, in turn, gave them practical and spiritual advice.
I was flabbergasted. Yet it was so right.
The trajectory of my life finally made sense to me. No one in my family had talked about the ancestors, let alone dreams, before, and knowing about my Zia gave me the validation I needed to continue my work.
Lucidity and traveling between worlds
Along with this validation, I now had a community of wise mentors and fellow dreamers who not only normalized these experiences, but instilled knowledge and a sense of purpose in me. And my dream life took off! Particularly with lucidity. My first lucid dream happened with Kermit the Frog (a childhood favorite!) who greeted me from the trunk of a car. I later tested my abilities in the dream by bounding miles from one place to another. I felt giddy and an immense freedom!
But this was only the beginning.
After learning about my Zia, I began researching my indigenous ancestors. While reading the myths of my ancestors, I was struck by the parallels in my nightly journeys with Odin, Freya, and the nine realms or dreamgates of the World Tree or Yggdrassil, which represents other worlds or universes.
I also learned the term “oneironaut,” which means dream traveler, because I realized I could travel between worlds using portals, wormholes, and membranes. I visited the Underworld, flew into the eeriness of the Void, and played in the Imaginal Realm, the place of my imagination. I met friends and mentors from parallel universes and visited relatives “from the other side.”
I soon became enchanted with fellow oneironauts from the past like Rudolf Steiner, P.D. Ouspensky, and Emanuel Swedenborg who, like Dante, regularly voyaged to heaven and hell, communicating with beings that resided there.
Meeting the psychopomp
I have had many dreams where I am healing the dead or helping families with their recently departed, especially if there was trauma involved. In other dreams, I am helping medicine elders with psychopomp work. It often feels like I have a second career at night!
It isn’t surprising that I chose to engage in hospice work in waking life; in that role I help families experiencing their own initiations through grieving lost loved ones.
This has a tie to my ancestry as well: Odin, Freya, and the Valkyries were psychopomps who escorted the Dead into the Underworld. The word psychopomp comes from the Greek psuchopompos, meaning the “guide of souls.”
Stigma and healing in the Dreamtime
Unfortunately, there is stigma attached to dreams and the transpersonal, but there need not be. A part of me will always wonder what my childhood would have been like if I had the knowledge about my ancestors sooner.
I am so grateful for the dreaming communities in the Bay Area like the IASD and the DreamTribe. And because of my experience, I feel it’s one of my missions to reach out to others.
My hope is that sharing my story will prompt other Big Dreamers to do the same, so we can bring these gifts to the world. I am in awe of the stories already being shared on this site and feel the tide is turning.
Let the gathering of the Dream Clan begin!