Indigenous cultures worldwide use ceremony and ritual to mark rites of passage, celebrate the changing of seasons and fill life with meaning.
The rituals are challenging, too, often taking people to the brink of death so they are reborn a new person with a sense of belonging and greater purpose.
These practices are pure magic in that they open gateways to the dream-time or imaginal realm. In indigenous cultures, this is the place where true healing begins.
Considering this I wonder: As Westerners, how different would our lives be if we had more time for life-transforming, dream-time ritual?
According to Malidoma somé, author of Ritual: Power, Healing and Community,
The indigenous archetype within the modern soul is an archetype that is in serious need of acknowledgement within the person. A different set of priorities dwells there, a set of priorities long forgotten in higher cultures. People in touch with this archetype are in search of caring, for their spirit seeks to transcend the stress placed on the body of the mind by the rapid motion of everyday life around them. Such people would not be ashamed to express their hunger for transcendence – these are the kind of people in need of ritual.
I’ve often felt a longing to recreate such ceremonies and rituals, to weave together ancient ways with modern day wisdom. Yet like most Westerners, my indigenous ancestral traditions are long forgotten. What’s left are shadows of what used to be.
But if Malidoma Somé is right, our welfare is at stake, so how do we begin to reclaim and recreate dream-time ceremonies and rituals?
Tune into Your Dreams to Create New Ceremonies and Rituals
Dreams hold clues about ancient traditions that are still relevant in our modern world. For instance, the other day I completed a ceremonial artifact inspired by a dream I had in 2007. In my dream, a group of rainbow colored condors flew through the sky. Eventually they all turned into rainbow colored kites.
When I told DreamTribe member Linda about the imagery she immediately connected it to the Rainbow Bridge, an archetypal image shamans and healers throughout the world use to travel between worlds. Some shamans used kites to fly to the upper world. Others climbed rainbows or rainbow serpents. Somehow my dream self tapped into an ancient lineage my conscious mind knew nothing about.
Inspired, I decided to create a ceremonial artifact based on the dream. You might call it a medicine wheel. You might also call it a robe, or even a quilt. I call it my Rainbow Bridge.
Even though I just finished it last week I’ve already used it as a container for soul retrievals and journeys to far off places, and I love it. It’s become an integral part of my work, an altar where I can drum, do my sessions and feel more connected to the lineage of healers who have walked before me.
But it’s also wholly new, inspired by something that comes from the wellspring of my inner images, and this feels oh-so-good!
How to Create Your Own Dream Inspired Artifacts
If you’re a crafty person, making your own artifacts is fun. But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy this process.
For instance, in one of my dreams I was given a bowl of cornmeal and invited to make an offering during a ceremony.
To create an artifact based on this dream I could simply get a bowl and use it exclusively for holding cornmeal. I wouldn’t have to make anything.
Of course, if you like to make things you can create original pieces, too. And remember, they don’t have to be literal representations of dream imagery. My Rainbow Bridge quilt, for instance, looks nothing like condors or kites, but was still inspired by my dream.
Our fast paced world makes entering the dream-time feel like an unnecessary luxury, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ceremony and ritual are conduits for connecting to the realm of ancestors where deep healing can take place. They are also pathways for feeling a deeper connection to ourselves and our community. Making your own dream-inspired artifacts is just one way you can reclaim these ancient, yet relevant and necessary practices.
What dreams have you had that could inspire a waking life artifact?
How might you create a meaningful, dream-inspired ritual or ceremony you can use in daily life or share with your community?