Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Provençal blue

lo País d'Òc

Over the past week, the ruling color of my dreams, sleeping and waking, has been Provençal blue. I led a six-day training for teachers of Active Dreaming, my first teacher training in Europe, at the Hameau de l'Etoile, a restored medieval village near Saint Martin de Londres in the Midi. Gifted dreamers eager to become guides and ambassadors to the deeper life came from Sweden and the Netherlands, Germany and Estonia, Britain and Romania, Italy and France (of course). We shared wonderful adventures in two languages and in two worlds, and the work was deep and true.

Doors, shutters and gates at the Hameau were painted in the colors of memory, nostalgia and sweet yearning, tested and tempered by the seasons.

Even the doors to the rest rooms were Provençal blue.

I would have loved to have plunged into the deep blue dreams of the splendid pool at the Hameau, but it was a little too cold for that in late October

After the training, I found my way through a chaos of tram lines under construction to the heart of Montpellier and stopped for a beer at a cafe in a quiet square in the university quarter. Here the doors were a deeper blue.

On my last day in southern France, I visited the magnificent medieval city of Carcassonne, the scene of mass tragedy when a Pope ordered a crusade against the Cathars in 1209. On a high terrace within sight of the donjon, with the noise of a brass band rising from the street, I lunched on a cassoulet of white beans, duck and Toulouse sausage, and found the blue trim of a window another invitation to go dreaming.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Turkish delight

I've been enjoying a new riff of Turkish synchronicity this week.

First, I received the image of the cover of the new Turkish edition of my book THE THREE "ONLY" THINGS.

Second, within a minute of that, I received an invitation (from a different person, someone I have never met) to lead a workshop at a beach resort town on the Turkish coast next year.

Third, within 30 minutes, a friend posted a comment at my Dream Gates blog in which she mentioned that she will be in Turkey next summer and has been dreaming that a tiger will be her guide in this trip. At the exact moment I read her post, I was cutting the picture of a tiger from a greeting card I had received to use as a bookmark.

Sometimes it's hard to avoid noticing that there are things that WANT to happen, and forces at play (in the play of coincidence) that help us to get that message.

I wrote a previous piece about an amazing (even by my standards) case of synchronicity or "mental texting" involving Turkey at my Dream Gates blog. On that occasion, exhausted by long investigation of an incident of alleged dream sending in the time of Suleiman the Magnificent, I said out loud, around midnight, "I need a Turk!" (to help me with documents in Turkish in the archives of the Topkapi Palace). Two minutes later, I received an email from a doctor in Turkey (unconnected with the latest riff of coincidence) who readily volunteered, when asked, to help with my research.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finding the green book in the tree library

Rhinebeck, New York

At the end of our first evening session in my workshop on Shamanic Lucid Dreaming at the Omega Institute last weekend, I gave the group one of my standard homeplay assignments: to approach the night with intention. I urged our dreamers to set a juicy intention: to go to a tropical paradise, to have dinner in Paris, to seek healing or life direction or a tryst with the perfect dream lover.
    The next morning, a lawyer in our circle was eager to share the dream he had entered after setting the intention of meeting with higher intelligences. He found himself in a familiar setting, a law office where he asked two junior members of the firm to help locale a green book he needed to bring a case before a higher appellate court. It seemed that to locate this book, it would be necessary to go two levels above the regular law library. One the first level above were the golden books for intermediate cases; the green book he desired was above those, and he would need to find it for himself.
     As the lawyer went up, he found the scene changing. The wall beside him was now covered with bark, like a tree. He realized, to his wonder, that he was ascending a tree library. Going got harder. He was now climbing an Indian ladder; the rungs were little broken-off branches. Nervous, he was unable to get up to the place of the green book. But he woke with excitement and a strong desire to find what he was seeking.
    This exciting dream invited one of the core techniques of Active Dreaming: dream reentry and tracking. The lawyer readily agreed that he would like to go back inside the dream, with the aid of shamanic drumming, and that he would be happy for the 25 people in our group to accompany him, as trackers, and bring back our impressions. I was especially delighted with the dream because I had had many prior dreams and visions of a library inside a tree that seemed - inside the trunk - to rise as high as a skyscraper.
    This time, the lawyer succeeded in scaling the tree, found his book, and experienced direct contact with what he felt was an intelligent being on a higher level. In my own journey through the portal of his dream, the green book appeared to me with the green scuffed leather covers of my own travel journal. When I opened it, I found the pages of this version were blank. This filled me with an eager sense of possibility: of the potential to start life - and a new book - with fresh vision.

Art: "Message Tree" by Annick Bougerolle

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Solving things in the solution state

As I lay in bed early on a rainy Saturday morning, it occurred to me that the drifty state after waking can sometimes be - quite literally - the Solution State.

I did not initially have narrative dream recall. Instead, I found that my mental field was like an ocean of clean, translucent oil, in which many images and ideas were floating and bobbing. I could reach around and choose some of them to mix and match, and to bring into clear resolution. As I did this, I was given very clear solutions to a number of specific problems and imagery sequences I could now develop - or allow to develop - into movie-like sequences, with plot lines and voiceovers.

I was in the realm of hypnagogia, specifically in the hypnopompic zone that follows sleep. In my Secret History of Dreaming I report how creative breakthoughs in all fields have often been accomplished in this twilight state of consciousness, when connections that escape the daytime mind are made fluidly, and solutions arise.

Experiences of this type take place in a matrix that could be called a "solution" in the sense that many elements and possibilities are suspended in it - and that creative people have the ability, in that state of relaxed attention (or attentive relaxation) to enter the Solution State to bring through solutions.

Salvador Dali, Three Sphnxes of Bikini

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dreaming with Nehallenia


She appears each time I start drumming for the group journeys in my shamanic workshop at the De Roos Center in Amsterdam. She stands at the prow of a ship, looming out of a deep sea fog. She is robed, though her long golden hair floats free. Sometimes she has a dog, sometimes a basket of fruits or loaves of bread. When I go deeper, I see that her boat is part of a the back of a tremendous sea serpent, that may itself be part of the swell of the ocean.

I know her name, though its meaning is mysterious. It survives in inscriptions on votive altars erected by merchants and ship captains who credited her with safe passage through storms at sea. They called her Nehalennia. She was venerated at Celtic and Germanic sacred sites on the North Sea, especially on the island of Walcheren, and at Cologne.

She was the patron of voyagers; seafarers and traders made offerings to her for safe passage and success in their transactions. According to one etymology, her name derives from the proto-Indo-European root *neh2u- (boat); so her name could be translated as "Lady of the Boat" or "Goddess of the Vessel". Others find the source of the goddess name in the root *nek- (death, to bring) in the reconstructed proto-Indo-European lexicon. We could then translate Nehallenia as "Death Bringer", which makes some of the scholars twitchy but seems to me to bring forth a central attribute of the Goddess who opens the doors of life and death and rebirth.

Nehallenia is depicted as a lovely young woman enthroned within a seashell, with a basket of fruit on her lap and a dog nearby, gazing up at her adoringly. Often she has her foot on the prow of a ship, and a boat rope in her hand.

Her other close animal companion is the dolphin. In my dreaming, she is the patron of astral as well as physical journeys, just as Elen of Britain is the maker of roads as well as dreamways. For the Celts, the happy afterlife on the Islands of the Blessed requires a crossing by water. And in ancient Europe (as in Polynesia) one of the favorite forms of transportation for the Otherworld voyage is the dolphin. Ripe fruits are often carved over the top of Nehalennia’s shrines. She offers abundance and ever-renewing life, as well as safe passage through the Otherworld, before and after death.

I am glad for the presence of this kindly Death Bringer and Lady of the Sea, here below sea level, where it sometimes feels like the Netherlands is also the Nether World.