Participants in the lively playshop I led in Utrecht last weekend had been invited to incubate dreams on our gathering before we met. I enjoyed hearing some of these as we came together in a pleasant space below street level, right on the bank of the Oudegracht. My favorite: a dream in which I appeared as a combination of Professor Dumbledore and Catweazle, a preposterous time-traveling 11th century wizard from an old British television series, who mistakes technology for magic. I was glad to be reassured that my dream self appeared better educated and more competent than Catweazle, and did not go about in the company of a toad!
I was tickled by the reference to the headmaster of Hogwarts, especially after a personal experience in the last session of the day. I suggested to our dreamers that they could travel, with the aid of the drumming, to a Secret Library where they could gain information and inspiration on any subject that stirred their passion and curiosity, and meet a mentor in any field. I found myself drawn to a Map Room in my personal version of the Secret Library. The maps that compelled my attention this time looked like subway maps. Examined more closely, they proved to be maps of a deeper geography than the underground. The lines defined life trajectories in parallel realities, and they were never fixed. The map showed, with great clarity, what happens when a life path converges with, or veers away from, that of a parallel personality in another reality.
Since I was in the Netherlands, I was not surprised to see that one of the moving maps showed convergence with the event track of a personality linked to me who was in Holland during World War II. Our proximity in space seemed to have mobilized a convergence of certain dramas, gifts and challenges between his time and mine.
I remembered that Albus Dumbledore has a scar on his left knee that is described as a perfect map of the London Underground. When asked to explain this, his creator, J.K. Rowling, was taciturn. But I know what a certain kind of subway map means to me.
Wonderful, questing spirits in our circle in Utrecht, with that earthy Dutch humor and instinct for survival. We moved effortlessly from sharing dreams to moving with their energy, using them as scripts for theatrical performance, and as doorways for shamanic journeys.
I often reflected, during the active days and at our early, copious group dinner at La Connaisseur, on my sense of a very long connection with the Netherlands. This dates back to my childhood memories of the life of a Royal Air Force pilot who was shot down over Holland in World War II. It was requickened by a big dream, in mid-life, in which I found myself exploring the house of a magus, on a canal in a Dutch city. I roamed from room to room, fascinated by his magical equipment, his vast and eccentric library, and by a Persian carpet that lay, waiting for use, on his bed. When I reentered this dream, I found that the house was my own, that the magical machines still worked, and that the rug was most certainly on the flying kind.
Then, too, the Netherlands has played a very important role in my work as a dream teacher. I first introduced the core techniques of my synthesis of shamanic journeying and dreamwork to a world audience at a conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams at the University of Leiden in 1994. And the first foreign edition of my first book on these matters, Conscious Dreaming, was published in Dutch, as Droom Bewust.
During the night between our two days of group adventures in Utrecht, I felt blessed by a dream and a vision that deepened my sense of connection with the Dutch people and the spirits of land and sea in this part of the world. I dreamed of a tall, strong and beautiful young woman who had been used by men but retained an amazing quality of grace, innocence and majesty. In a waking vision, I saw her again as beyond age, accompanied by a dog. Her eyes were windows that opened into a sea crossing that I knew to be a portal to the Other Side. I felt I had been granted insight into the enduring strength of Dutch women, and that I was granted a glimpse of Nehelennia, the ancient Celtic-Germanic goddess of the North Sea, patron of travelers on both the ocean and the astral seas.