Sunday, November 29, 2015

Breath Slippers are So Wild

It can be delicious to loiter with intent in that liminal zone that Tinker Bell recommended to Peter Pan: the place between sleep and awake.
   I love to do this in the morning when I don't have to rush off into the world right away, and and my dog allows me (when I am home) to delay his first walk for a bit. If I have the memory of a dream that intrigues me, I will stay with it, and let more of the adventure unfold.
   Sometimes I simply lay open to the rise and fall of images. When I make it my practice to remain an observer as the images come and go, I joke that I am doing horizontal meditation. But I am often poised to be more than an observer, by entering a scene that interests me and becoming a lucid traveler within its territory, and often beyond that.
   This morning, I woke early with the clear light of a chill autumn morning, dappled by the trees outside my house, slipping through the blinds. I remembered that I had been in London in my last dream, and decided to stay in bed, close to the dream scene, and see whether I could simply move back into it.
    Immediately the scene became vividly alive. All my senses were engaged as I walked towards an elegant restaurant under a colonnade, on my way to lunch. The area seemed very quiet. I wondered whether the restaurant was open. However, when I stepped inside with my companion, I saw that many of the tables were already occupied. I was slightly irritated when we were ushered to a table that was pushed right up against a smaller table where another couple were seated. It seemed quite impossible to have a private conversation under these circumstances.
     But my feelings changed as we started talking to the other couple. They were quite charming. The man was French, the woman English, and our conversation proceeded in alternate bursts of both languages. Another couple, at a table on the other side, joined in, in the same fashion. I was pleased to discover that my French was better, under these impromptu circumstances, than I usually give myself credit for. We talked about Montpellier, and the adventures I lead at a center near Montpellier,
    This was all entirely realistic. I can taste the butter served at the table, and feel the fizz of the sparkling water on my tongue. Soon I was traveling to various locations in London and Paris at the invitation of the new friends met at the table. I felt the joy of new friendship and of the meeting of minds as we discussed topics ranging from the Existentialists to how leaves change color in the fall.
    As I sped from one site to another, I noted that I was not using any obvious form of transportation other than my own two feet. I seemed to have developed the abilities of a human hovercraft. If I took a step, I would glide forward as far as it pleased me, across the English Channel, or from the Gare du Nord to Montparnasse. I had the impression - always at least vaguely aware that I had a body in the bed - that my giant steps were powered by my breath.
    I am wearing breath slippers! I laughed inwardly. This seemed all the more funny to me given the fact that I never wear ordinary slippers. I thought of Mercury with his winged sandals.

At no point did I try to control my experiences over the couple of hours I spent in this state. I did make it my intention - successfully - to look in on a special friend, and to walk again through the colonnade of lime (or linden) trees in the garden of the Palais Royal in Paris. However, for the most part I simply followed the flow of the encounters and opportunities that were presented to me, exercising choice without trying to control events by imposing any agenda - other than to relax and have fun.

I wrote here recently about a simple method for lucid dream induction that I call SO WILD. You go to Sleep, remaining Open to whatever may come. You Wake and then, when you are ready, you set an Intention to embark on Lucid Dreaming. We will be experimenting with this new technique in my next course for The Shift Network, "Active Dreaming: The Essential Training." Classes start on December 10.

Drawing by RM
Photo of trees at the Palais Royal by RM

Friday, November 27, 2015

Perennial lessons of Oversoul Seven

"Let's see...I'm a man on Wednesday and Friday, a woman on Sunday and Thursday, and I have the rest of the time off for independent study.
   "Actually...this is somewhat more complicated. Each life is lived in a different area of time to which various designations are given. As Lydia I'm in the twentieth century, as Josef in the seventeenth, as Ma-ah in 35,000 B.C., and as Proteus in the 23rd century, A.D."

As the opening of a novel, this is hard to beat as an attention-grabber. I remember sitting forward in my seat, catching my breath, the first time I read these lines in the summer of 1988, fifteen years after they were written. If you don't recognize the source, maybe it's time for you to go find it, even if you think you don't like didactic fiction. The Education of Oversoul 7, the first of a trilogy by Jane Roberts, presents a working model of our possible relationships with personalities connected to us in other places and times, and with intelligences on higher levels of being and consciousness.
     The speaker on the opening page is Oversoul Seven. He is a fallible being, responsible for four very fallible humans facing different, yet interrelated, challenges in different places in time, from the Ice Age to a future in which most humans are "floaters" living in a plastic environment suspended above the Earth.
     The first lines of the novel are not a spoiler, because we soon come to understand that things are even more complex and exciting than Oversoul Seven understands at this point. He is not some all-knowing "spirit guide" or guardian angel. Though to a certain extent he can play guide and teacher to his trans-temporal set of human charges, he is answerable to his own mentor and supervisor on a level above himself. This mysterious entity, who never stays long in any single form, is identified as Cyprus. It is hinted that Oversoul Seven, like the humans he supervises, may be one of a set of "oversouls" all related, and subject, to Cyprus. Most certainly, Oversoul Seven is no "master". He is a student whose classroom is the world. All his engagements with his human personalities are tests on which he is being graded.
      When he's reporting to Cyprus, as he is doing in the opening scene, Oversoul Seven generally adopts the default appearance of a fourteen-year-old boy, very appropriate since in relation to higher intelligence he is a schoolboy. When his humans perceive him, most often in dreams, they see him as a wise old man. His ability to stay present to all four of his human personalities and help out in times of crisis is impeded by his tendency to play favorites and get drawn into one of the dramas, while losing track of the other three.
      Thus the first great lesson we derive from the adventures of Oversoul Seven is: the teacher is a student too. Our ability to gain from our teachers and communicate with the Self on higher levels will be severely limited until we understand this simple and fundamental truth.
      The second great lesson, for us, in the Oversoul Seven story is that we may have relationships with personalities in other times and other probable realities, past and future, that are intensely relevant to our current life dramas - and that all these lives are going on now. What is happening in 35,000 B.C. can change a situation today, and what is happening in the 23rd century can inspire and transform the life of a painter living in the 17th century. There are constant "bleed-throughs" between one life and another life, rarely noticed by humans on the ground except in dreams that are frequently forgotten.
      That is the third great lesson: that to understand how all of this works first-hand, we need to become more active and conscious dreamers.
      The fourth great lesson, for me, is this: yes, reincarnation is possible, but it is not automatic and it does not operate only according to the rules of linear time. One of Oversoul Seven's favorite personalities is Lydia, a feisty, chain-smoking woman writer who has set off in a well-furnished trailer, at seventy-three, for a sunset romance with her younger lover. In the first Oversoul Seven novel and in its sequel (The Further Education of Oversoul Seven) we follow Lydia's journey through death and the choices she comes to make when her understanding of the soul (which she wasn't sure about in life) begins to grow. She enjoys herself, for a time, in a young and attractive body in a personal post-death world she builds from her desire and imagination. When this begins to pall, she eventually agrees to be reborn as the child of a person in the family of selves that Oversoul Seven is supervising. She will take up residence of a baby that will be born in the seventeenth century. Her past life will be her future life. By my own experience and observation, by the way, such things are entirely possible.
     There are profound and perennial lesson here. When I re-read The Education of Oversoul Seven over Thanksgiving this year, I was as excited and impressed as I was in 1988.
      This is fiction, right? Yes and no. For one thing, it is grounded in Jane's long engagement with the entity called Seth who dictated a series of books that - to my mind - contain one of the best working models of the multidimensional self. Jane, a brilliant original thinker and writer as well as a gifted psychic medium, shows here that she knows how to bring ideas to vivid life, in many voices.
      Then again, when I consider genres, I remember a young boy who was once in line ahead of me for a library sale. His mother asked him if he knew the difference between fiction and nonfiction. This was his response: "Nonfiction is what you think in your head. Fiction is what you 
      The Oversoul Seven stories are books through which we 
see. For me, the idea of reincarnation in a "previous" time is entirely plausible. But don't let's just sit on the sidelines discussing these things. Like Jane Roberts' "Seth" books, the Oversoul Seven novels are an incitement to gather first-hand knowledge of these matters by dreaming on them.

I write about the impact of the Seth material and the Oversoul Seven books in a critical phase of my own life in chapter 13 of The Boy Who Died and Came Back.

The dreams are coming back

The dreams are coming back.
Slow down and feel their firefly glow.
Stay still and hear the rustle of their wings.
Open like a flower
and let them feed from your heart.
Don’t be afraid to remember
that your soul has wings
and you have a place to go flying.
The dreams are coming back.

Art: "He Sees" by Reet Kalamees.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Orenda and the practice of giving thanks

In  indigenous North American traditions, giving thanks is a practice for every day, not just an annual holiday. Here is a little of what I learned about this from the Onkwehonwe, or Iroquois.

Orenda is the power that is in everything and beyond everything. It clusters in certain things – in that tree, in that stone, in that person or gathering – and if you are sensitive you will feel its weight and its force.
     People come from another world – in the Iroquoian cosmogony, they call in Earth-in-the-Sky – and the origin and purpose for life here below is to be found in that Sky World. Tosa sasa ni’konren, they say. “Do not let your mind fall” from the memory of that other world where everything is directed and created by the power of thought, and everything lives in the glow of a great Tree of Light.
    The first person on Earth who was anything like a human came from that Sky World, after she fell – or was pushed – through a hole among the roots of its great tree. As she fell, she was caught on the wings of great blue herons, who carried her gently down to a chaos of water. Animals, diving into the black deep, found earth for her, so she could begin to make a world. Turtle offered its great back and First Woman danced a new world into being. Under her feet, a handful of soil became all the lands we live on.
     The memory of Earth-in-the-Sky in no way blurs the knowledge that orenda – which is power, spirit, energy, consciousness all at once – is in everything. In the way of the Onkwehonwe, the Real People (as the Iroquois call themselves) we must remember that our relations with our environment are entirely personal, and require appropriate manners. If you want to take something from the Earth, you must ask permission. The hunter asks the spirit of the deer for permission to take its life and wastes nothing from its body. I once watched a Mohawk medicine man gathering healing plants. He started by identifying the elder among a stand of the plants and speaking to this one, seeking permission. He offered a little pinch of native tobacco in return for the stalks he gathered for medicine.
      In this tradition, the best form of prayer is to give thanks for the gifts of life. In the long version of the Iroquois thanksgiving, you thank everything that supports your life, and as you do this you announce that you are talking to family.

      I give thanks to my brothers the Thunderers
      I give thanks to Grandmother Moon and to Elder Brother Sun

     In the Native American way, as Black Elk, the Lakota holy man, said, “the center of the world is wherever you are.” For him, that was Harney Peak. For you, it is wherever you are living or traveling. You may find a special place in your everyday world. It may be just a corner of the garden, or a bench under a tree in the park, or that lake where you walk the dog. The more you go there, and open both your inner and outer senses, the more you will find that orenda has gathered there for you.
     A woman who lives near the shore told me that she starts her day like this: “I go to the ocean in the morning at sunrise and put a hand in the water and say Good morning, thank you, I love you. I feel a response from this. The tide will suddenly surge up a little higher, hugging my feet, which is kind of cold in winter but wonderful in warmer weather. I talk to everything out loud like this.”
     The simple gesture of placing your hand in the sea, or on a tree, or on the earth, and expressing love and gratitude and recognition of the animate world around us is everyday church (as is dreamwork), good for us, and good for all our relations
     It is good to do something every day, in any landscape, to affirm life in all that is around us. This may be especially important on days when the world seems drab and flat and even the eyes of other people in the street look like windows in which the blinds have been drawn down. The Longhouse People (Iroquois) reminded me that the best kind of prayer is to give thanks to all our relations, to everything that supports life, and in doing so to give our support to them. When I lived at the farm, I began each day by greeting the ancient oak on the dirt road behind the house as the elder of that land.
    These days, it is often enough for me to say to sun and sky, whether on the sidewalk or in the park or by the sea

I give thanks for the morning
I give thanks for the day
I give thanks for the gifts and the challenges of this lifetime

Adapted from Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

Photo by RM

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Birth of Athena

If you devour a mother goddess
make sure you have a loyal friend nearby
armed with the ax of the crescent moon.

It’s like this: the feminine power
you thought you could master
is going to stir and swell in you
until your whole being is a trembling womb
that can only open at the top
like a volcano rising from the ocean floor.
It will blow out your brains
unless your head is opened.

So keep a helper with the right tool handy
and be ready for the bright fury
with owl eyes and blazing mind
who will burst from your head fully armed
and love you to death, setting her spear
at the throat of your certainties. 

imageAthena fountain by Karl Donndorf, 1911. Stuttgart.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Directions for Travel through a Snail Shell

Which way is the direction of love?
Choose carefully before you turn the spiral key;

worlds within worlds are waiting.
The Blue Lady reminds you that to be great
you may need to become inconceivably small.

The sea snail gives you a pattern

you saw long ago in the eyes of a goddess.
An austere time lord who cannot be bribed

may explain it to you by drawing lines
in soft powder from a termite mound.

Turning and turning you enter a universe

where mountain spirits whisper like grasshoppers.
To follow the true direction of love

you must speak in the language of smells and tastes,
and make every nerve ending an organ of delight.

You must create the door and the keyhole
to fit the spiral key you now turn the other way.
Aphrodite was born on a half shell.
You must do better. You must play the shell game

in the foam of worlds in the making.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

So Wild: A New Plan for Lucid Dreaming and Dream Incubation

I have come up with a new plan for dream incubation and lucid dream induction that suits our modern lives. It has worked like a charm in my own life and in the experiences of a group of two dozen dreamers with whom I have been testing it during the adventures I am leading at magical Mosswood Hollow this week.
    We need to recognize that very often, when we first fall into bed, our most immediate need is to rest and restore the body. We may be overburdening ourselves and failing to satisfy that need when we set dream intentions or try to embark on lucid dreaming right away in the first period of bed time. It is actually fine to let the first cycle be "industrial sleep", allowing ourselves simply to restore and regenerate the body.
    Of course, spontaneous dreams will come during this phase, and may trigger lucidity as well as lively dream recall. So we want to be open to dream gifts during the first cycle of sleep. But we do not want turn the pursuit of dreams, or the quest for lucidity, into a job of work during this part of the night. We never want to turn the dream adventure into another of our chores, or stress ourselves by setting objectives that are unrealistic given the body's need for rest and restoration.

    The prime time for pursuing dream intentions and embarking on lucid dream odysseys is right after the first cycle of sleep. People's sleep patterns vary, but chances are you will awaken - and know you are awake - three or four hours after going to sleep. Maybe you need to go to the bathroom or have a glass of water. Fine, do it. Maybe you have dreams, or at any rate elements of dreams, from the first sleep cycle. Jot them down. Titles or key words may be enough.
    Maybe you want to putter around for an hour or two before going back to bed. That's fine, too, as long as you leave yourself time for more nocturnal adventures before you need to go out on the business of the day.
    Now: settle back in bed. Lie on your back, or on your right or left side, whichever position is most comfortable but do not lie on your stomach (unless you want to be seriously grounded). This is the time to set, or reaffirm, an intention for your dreams.
    If you have a dream with some juice from your first sleep cycle, you can make it your intention to reenter that dream, explore the dream space, and carry on with the adventure you were having before.
    You may find you are in a space where communication with an inner guide is possible. The most important spiritual dialogues of my life have unfolded here, in contact with wiser intelligences I have learned to trust.
    You may find that an inner light comes on, as bright as the sun would be. Once you resist the tendency to open your eyes and check whether someone turned on the lights, you may find that this rising of the inner light can carry into a state of greatly expanded awareness and creativity, where you can find solutions to previously intractable problems, and much more.
    Or you can simply lay yourself open to the images that will rise and fall on your inner screen in this liminal state between sleep and awake. Chances are that one of these will catch your attention and grow into a living scene that you can enter. This will be your portal for a lucid dream excursion if you set the intention to remain conscious you are dreaming as the action develops. The chances that you will fall into sleep without memories are reduced because you have already received your essential rest.
    I dreamed up an acronym for this simple approach:

    O=open to experience

SO-WILD, and it works!

We will be experimenting with this new technique in my next course for The Shift Network, "Active Dreaming: The Essential Training." Classes start on December 10.

Photo: Skylight at Mosswood Hollow by Oana Calin