Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Art of Memory

Dreaming, waking or in between
in any part of the multiverse
in any body, in any life
you are invited to play
a memory game.

Whatever world you are in

the trick is to remember
the other worlds you inhabit
where you are dead and more alive

and the self that is dreaming you.

Drawing: "Return from Earth Mountain" by R.M. Oil crayons.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Heard by fairies, followed by Freud, transported to Van Diemen's Land

Mosswood Hollow is my favorite place to lead retreats in North America. Think a cross between Hogwarts and Wind in the Willows. I knew the name was propitious when a friend first brought me here ten years ago. Before that, the owners had never heard of me, nor I of them. Yet my surname is in the name they invented for their retreat center, inspired by the mossy woods all around us, in the foothills of the Cascade mountains of Washington State.
    I have been at Mosswood for two weeks, leading trainings. I am not surprised that i have new evidence that (as the Chinese say) "there are things that like to happen together", though I was amazed with delight by the incidents I will now report:

1. Fairy dust gets around

We had fairy voices in my Level One training for teachers of Active Dreaming at Mosswood last week. They included the achingly beautiful voice of inspired singer-songwriter Kai Altair. During our graduation ceremony on Friday, she sang "The Calling", a song of the heart's yearning that stirred every heart in our circle. Later she gave us a song that was born in a workshop I led on "Making Death Your Ally". Both songs are on her marvelous dream-charged album Dreamwalker.
    Faerie magic continued into Friday evening, when we gathered round a fire in the field between the lodge and the beaver pond. Joined by two other wonderful singers, a flute player and drummers, Kai sang again, improvising, riffing, playing with the spirits of the land and with visitors from the world-behind-the-world.
    When I went up to the porch, I found the owner of the lodge relaxing with a glass of wine and the glow of Faerie fire. I remarked, "We don't need a conference on fairies with so much fairy magic going on in my programs."
    He told me there is actually a conference on fairies that meets in Washington State, not at Mosswood Hollow but at another wildly beautiful location. He named some of our mutual friends, including prominent Celtic scholars, who have been presenters there.
    When I opened my email in the morning, I was amazed and delighted to find an invitation to lead keynote workshops at the 18th Congress on Human and Fairy Relations in June 2016. The invitation was charming, and since it came over the transom edged with Fairie fire, it did not take me long to clarify the details and say Yes.

2. Freud is following me

At the breakfast table yesterday, I share a brief report of a dream in which I am teaching a group to recognize the signs that gods and fairies are at play among humans. The discussion that follows leads me to recall that Sigmund Freud amassed a huge collection of statuettes of gods from the ancient world. He hated to be separated and seemed to commune with them. He jokingly referred to them as his "old and grubby gods". I was able to view 2,000 (of the original 3,000) when I visited Freud's last home in London. Later, while leading a writing retreat here at Mosswood Hollow, I wrote 4,000 words of a story about Freud's relationship with his gods, which were regarded by their makers as living vessels for the powers that had been called into their forms.
    Dreams require action. I announced that my action plan, after discussion of my dream, would be to pull out my Freud story, edit it, and see if it wants to become part of a new book.
    When I opened my laptop upstairs, I saw a message that read:

Sigmund Freud is Following You on Twitter!

     I checked and found that my new follower on Twitter is sigmund freud@freudfreaks, a site that posts daily quotes from Freud. I rushed downstairs to tell my group that Sigmund Freud is now following me. "It's about time," I quipped.
     I stepped out onto the porch to spread the word to dreamers sipping coffee in the morning sun. When I opened the door, the first phrase I heard - from a man sharing his own dream at an outdoor table was "an erect penis."
     I am not sure whether this is confirmation that Freud is following me, or Freud's revenge.

3. The she-oak lizard of Van Diemen's Land

One of the great delights of the residential retreats I lead at Mosswood Hollow is the chance to sit out on the porch under the stars in the evening and share stories, poems and songs.
    Yesterday evening, we were graced by the flute playing of a Huron/Wendat dreamer who has come to me - as she announced - t learn how to bring back the dreamways of her ancestors. Were thrilled by the soaring voice of a singer who once formed a band called The Sidhe. Then an Irishman in the group was persuaded to give us a favorite Irish ballad from another time, "The Black Velvet Band", in which a Belfast man laments that he was deceived by a lovely woman and transported as a convict to Van Diemen's Land, known today as Tasmania.
    I sat down today to write this note on synchronicity, with the tickling feeling that the two cases above needed to be  joined by a third, since three times makes the charm and is also in the title of my book The Three "Only" Things, which explains how we may notice a hidden hand in the play of synchronicity, which thins the veils between the worlds as forces of the deeper world probe and push through the curtains of our consensual hallucinations about reality.
    I paused to check email, and found this message from a man in northern England who was previously unknown to me:

"I dreamed last night I was standing in a shallow part of the sea. Out of a small hole in the shale on the sea floor, a very long black lizard popped its head out and swam towards a group of others. When I woke up I thought this was just some strange dream creature, but then decided to Goggle it, and came across an image that was very similar, which described the animal as a She-oak skink (Cyclodomorphus casuarinae) which is found only in Tasmania.
     "A few hours later, while having lunch, I looked for a book to read and my eyes fell on Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss on my bookshelf, which a friend lent me a couple of years ago, and which I must confess I’d never previously got round to reading. Just four pages in, my jaw dropped a little when I read; 'They were as real as the thrilling walk I once took through the Queensland bush, under a sunshower, when I heard the she-oaks sing.'
     "I had to drop you a line about this because I’d never seen any type of long lizard before this dream, and didn’t even know such things existed. I’ll have to wait and see now if there is a deeper meaning to this synchronicity!"

Fairy wings are beating, and playful spirits work are in the wires, and the wireless.

Coming soon: Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity inEveryday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library. Pub date: October 3. Available now for pre-order.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Message board

The words on the eraser board
vanish faster than I can get them down.
If I can catch them I will have the code
to free the prisoner in the border jail
and remember what the divine wants of me.

While I worry about this
a fish is slipping through the yard
and the lion in my living room

tells me that she is the part of me
that is on fire with love for the world.

Mornings are all like this.
I return from a room next door
with messages from another world

that slip through my fingers like slippery fish.
I see what the art of memory requires.

I train myself to step through the door
between the worlds. In my second body
I write on the message board
while my ordinary hand scratches on a pad.
This is my writer's way.

- Robert Moss, Mosswood Hollow, July 23, 2015.

Tree Dreaming at Mosswood Hollow. Photo by Robert Moss.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Dreamer at the Helm of the Starship Enterprise

As part of the graduation ceremony for teachers of Active Dreaming, I ask each graduate to make a short statement about the importance of dreams and dreamwork in front of the circle. I was deeply impressed by the clear and powerful remarks offered on Friday at Mosswood Hollow by the graduates from my most recent training.
    Of all their calls to the dreamer in each of us, this is my favorite.

by Theresa Matthews

When recently asked why dreams matter, I was reminded of Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.  We learn in the opening of one movie that of all the Federation officers past or present, he was the only cadet to have survived the Kobayashi Maru simulation.  In one dire moment, but with a gleam in his eye, he confesses to a young cadet that he doesn’t like to lose and that he snuck in and changed the rules of the game.  

Dreams are game changers.  They bring us secret weapons in the form of hints, allies, insight, and sometimes very direct information that allow us to navigate the unknown territories of our lives with no small measure of bravery and distinction.  They allow us to masterfully captain our own ships.

Dream Teacher Training Level One, Class of 2015

USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A)

Friday, July 17, 2015

When a kid is afraid of the dark, YOU can be the flashlight

This guest blog by dream teacher Jane Carleton is a lovely reminder that the first thing kids need from us when they talk about what goes on in the night is for someone to LISTEN UP - and then, if necessary, to help make a decisive move to deal with the scary stuff.

Guest blog by Jane Carleton

I was once at a friend’s house and met a young girl, about seven years old, visiting with her family from far away. I asked her about her dreams, and she shyly shared that she had a reeeeeeally scary dream that week.
     “Really scary." Oh? Tell me more! “I was home and the wall in my bedroom was full of eyes looking at me!” Oh, how scary! Was it day or night? “Night.” Oh! Scary! “Yes.” What would you like to see happen with those eyes if you could do anything? “I want them to close!” Oooof. Me, too. What could make that happen? “I’d shine a big light at them.” Great idea! What kind of light? “A big flashlight!” Perfect! Would you like to do something about those eyes right now? “OK.”
      All right…see that wall…let’s imagine that wall is the wall in your bedroom. “OK.” And now…I’m here with you, so you’re safe…can you image that wall is full of those eyes, just like in your dream? “Ooooo Yes!” OK, we need a flashlight, right? How about if I be the flashlight, and you shine me on all of those eyes and make them not only close, but also disappear? “Yeah. OK!!!”
      We did a little dream theater right on the spot. This beautiful little girl, empowered and happy, shone her imaginary flashlight all over the wall, guiding me as the flashlight to shine right where she felt the light was needed. It was just right and the dream was no longer scary. No interpretations, no lessons, just a moment of dreaming together.
       Meanwhile, the adults were deep in conversation and didn’t realize the beauty of the moment. My new friend skipped off to another room and I rejoined the conversation.
                     About twenty minutes later, she came up to me with a big sheet of drawing paper…she wanted to share more dreams with me, and had drawn sketches of about a half dozen dreams…and was brimming with excitement at telling me about her dreams.
      A gate had opened simply because she found someone who was genuinely interested in her amazing inner life. We can do this for others, children and adults alike, and if we open to dreaming with adults, the child within will come out to play.

Jane E. Carleton, MA, GG specializes in dreams as an international consultant, educator, and workshop leader. With two graduate degrees in Dreams and Consciousness Studies, she is an adjunct professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Jane teaches a variety of contemporary and cross-cultural experiential, transformative dreaming techniques, including Robert Moss’s Active Dreaming. 

Eldorado Kite

The great bird lifts from my hand
drawn to the sun
on Your breath.
I tug on the string,
trying to drag it down,
forgetting what You taught me:
the falcon longs for the wrist of the King.

This strange wind is too strong for me.
I am rising with the bird
above all that is fenced in,
urgent to cut the cord.
My tame self panics.
It wants to hide among limits and shadows
where air does not move like this,
in animate waves of intent.

Something falls like a worn-out coat
and Your breath blows me as a sail
across oceans of sky
to my home in Your heart
where falcon and falconer are one.

Poems do not require explanations, but I want to tell the story of this one, which is a story of growing a vision for someone in need of a vision.
    I was staying with a generous man who was near death. I had sought various ways to offer help and return his hospitality. I had found a quartzite rock shaped exactly and naturally like the head of a bear and brought it to him as a possible agent of healing.
    But Death was getting ready to take him. He knew that in his body, in his dreams and in the behavior of the ravens that were always around his adobe house in the Southwest.
    I walked the neighborhood, grieving and searching for something to offer that might help him prepare for the Big journey. I saw a hawk overhead, a good sign for me. Coming closer, I saw it was a hawk-shaped kite, so well made you could easily mistake the semblance for the real thing. The kite soared aloft. It had escaped the hand or the pole that had held it.
    What a beautiful metaphor for a soul rising from the body, lifting towards the heavens.
    I wrote the poem for my friend and read it to him at his bedside. He was especially moved by the words about a "strange wind" and air moving differently, and had me read them again. Then, with his failing voice, he read the poem back to me.
    I like to picture him rising, at death, like a falcon that has slipped the leash, to return to the wrist of the Great Falconer above. 

"Eldorado Kite" is in my collection, Here, Everything is Dreaming: Poems and Stories. Published by Excelsior Editions.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Salmon, the Fox and The Little Prince at the Boarding Gate

A lady in line  behind me at the Southwest gate at BWI asks about things to do in Seattle. "Start at Pike Place Market," I suggest. "It is a synchronicity magnet. Eat wild fresh salmon."
    She asks whether I am going home or traveling for business or on vacation. "At Mosswood Hollow, it's all three, I tell her." She is amazed that my surname is enfolded in the name of my favorite retreat center in North America, and wants to know what I teach there.
    Soon we are talking about the magic of chance encounters, and how the powers behind the curtain of the world reveal their presence through synchronicity, and how we dream the future and can change it for the better.
   The kid behind her leans in, apparently looking for a way to join our conversation. He finds his moment when the lady asks, "What is the best season for fresh salmon in the Pacific Northwest?"

    "Year round," he says. He got that right. Clearly a native of the Northwest.
     I notice the logo on his sweatshirt. Naval Academy Wrestling. Really? He explains he has spent six days wrestling Navy Seals with his high school team. The Seals gave them the sweatshirts as souvenirs.
    "They gave us Le Petit Prince to read in French class in school," he tells me. "I thought you might know it."
     Indeed. In no time we are talking about alternative translations for the word apprivoisé  in Saint-Exupéry's beloved fable. The fox tells the little prince he cannot reveal the most important secret until he has been apprivoisé. The standard translation is "tamed" but the sense in more like "until we have become close" or "until we have gotten to know each other."
     When the fox delivers the secret it goes like this: “You can only see clearly with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes."
     The eyes of the high school wrestler are dancing. Such an intelligent, sensitive face in such a strong frame. A young prince of the Pacific Northwest.
     Our conversation ends when we board because after six days wrestling with Seals, he has to sleep. A friendly wink from the universe: the Little Prince and the wild salmon at the boarding gate.