I was invited to a meeting at the Algonquin, a Manhattan hotel once famed for a mordantly witty literary circle where Dorothy Parker was one of the presiding spirits. I had not dined at the Algonquin since, years ago, a generous publisher put me up there in the midst of a whirlwind book tour. On that occasion, I was not impressed by the food. But then there are the literary ghosts. I confess I have yet to have a personal encounter with a ghost at the bar of the Algonquin (though I have felt a mischievous spirit in the elevator). However, the invitation reminded me of a woman writer who met Dorothy Parker, as she now is, under more interesting circumstances. During one of my weekend workshops, I suggested that participants might want to travel, with the aid of shamanic drumming, focused intention, and a minimalist map, to an interesting locale in the Imaginal Realm, a place I call the Dream Library. This is a place where you may be able to garner information and support on any theme that interests you. You can hobnob with famous writers of the past (if they are willing to schmooze with you) or consult a master in any field that interests you. You can also seek the help of the Librarian, who may or may not appear with a shadow that looks like a long-beaked bird. I have had many illuminating encounters in the Dream Library with dead writers, including W.B. Yeats. I share some of the story of my visits with Yeats in my Dreamer's Book of the Dead. I have never found it necessary to spend much time on questions like: Was that really Yeats (his spirit, on the Other Side or reaching across time)? Or some essence of his work and personality? Or the aspect of me that is like Yeats? Or a teacher beyond either of us, putting on a familiar face as a "contact picture"? It is enough for me to go with the material. If it provides useful leads that check out, or sends me into a riff of creative writing with good results, I am content with that. Anyway, back to Dorothy Parker of the Algonquin Circle. On her journey to the Dream Library, a woman writer in my group met Dorothy Parker, who appeared to be sipping a martini. The writer mastered her initial incredulity as Dorothy fired a series of witticisms reminiscent of notorious dicta like, "I don't care what's written about me so long as it isn't true." The writer, while trying to take mental notes fast enough to keep up, was inspired to ask Parker, "Did you hold seances when you were alive?" Quick as a thumb on a cigarette lighter, Dorothy replied, "We are holding a seance now. How do you think you got here?" Woo-hoooo. That puts an interesting spin on the question of what is going on in some of our dream encounters with the deceased.
We'll be making a group journey to the Dream Library during the five-day adventure in "Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming" that I am leading at magical Mosswood Hollow, near Seattle, from April 16-20.