Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mysteries of Madison and Flying Books


I first went to Madison, Wisconsin because I met a stranger on the wrong seat on the wrong plane. I was en route to Boise, Idaho that day. I missed my connection at O'Hare airport and was put on another plane with an entirely different itinerary. When I took my seat, people on board started swapping seats. An attractive, mature woman took the place of the man who had been sitting next to me. By this stage my antennae were twitching because when our plans get screwed up, the Trickster comes into play.
    My new rowmate turned out to be a fellow-writer, who wrote popular romances under a pseudonym. She noticed that I was carrying a copy of my just-published book, Conscious Dreaming. I surrendered it and she was soon engrossed.
    Having lost my conversation partner to my own book, I glanced up at the screen to see what in-flight movie was playing. I saw a silly dog with fake antlers dressed up for some holiday photo shoot. I held my breath because in the previous night's dreams, I had seen a silly dog with fake antlers. In my dream, the dog ran out on the road and was killed. He was magically revived by a bizarre character who did not conform to any social norms. As the in-flight movie continued to play, I realized that I had previewed the whole thing in my dream. The silly dog was killed on screen, and was magically revived by a bizarre character who happened to be the Archangel Michael, as portrayed by Jon Travolta in the movie of that name.
    My rowmate was now talking to me again. She was very excited by the suggestions in my book about how to approach writing as a state of conscious dreaming, and all the creative games I suggested for writers to play. "Would you be willing to teach in Madison, Wisconsin?" she asked. I said I might come if people asked me nicely. She told me that Madison was her home town and that she had connections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She volunteered to try to get me invited as a keynote presenter at next year's summer Writers Institute at UW-Madison.

 

She delivered. The following summer, I went to Madison for the first time. Madison is a great city, full of creative people and original thinkers and bike riders. It is also deep in Cheesehead territory. The writers took me out to dinner at a fine Italian restaurant. The server who brought our drinks asked, "Would you like some cheese with that?" Why, sure. He returned with a one-pound brick of Wisconsin cheddar that he plunked in the center of the table. A pound of cheese between four people, before the appetizers. While I marveled at this, the server returned to ask, "Would you like some cheese curds with that?"   
    I enjoyed teaching for the Writers Institute. Confronted with 300 people, some of whom were nursing blocks bigger than the biggest cheese in the state (over 5,000 pounds), I had the whole group chant three words, over and over. "Wind-water-breath". A translation of the Pueblo Indian word for creativity.
   At breakfast in the below-ground restaurant in the college motel, I stepped into an alternate universe. I was surrounded by sports pennants, photos of football teams and football stars, and other sports memorabilia. I was gripped by creeping dread that through some quantum slippage I was now in a parallel reality where people who were not dedicated to American football would be hunted down and put in a corrective facility.
    I was mulling this when the elderly man at the next table raised his eyes above his newspapers. He studied me for a moment, then said very slowly, "Would you like the sports page?" 

My second visit to Madison came about because that same book, Conscious Dreaming, introduced itself to another stranger without need of my presence. A well-known shamanic teacher, resident in Madison, was traveling in another state. He visited a bookshop, looking for something else, and a copy of Conscious Dreaming flew off a shelf and hit him over the third eye. He had never heard of the author, but he bought the book. When he read it, he decided that he needed to invite me to Madison to lead a workshop on Shamanic Dreaming.
  
    Sometimes it's hard not to notice that forces behind the curtain walls of our ordinary perception are at play in coincidence and chance encounters. As for my flying book, well, that could be the work of shelf elves. Yet again, there are flying books, the kind that need to be placed in a bird cage or laid under heavy weights on a table to stop them flapping about of their own accord.
     I know that Conscious Dreaming is one of those books. Besides the bookstore incidents, I have heard dozens of reports of how the figures on the cover have come winging into people's dreams before they were aware of the book in ordinary reality. A copy of the first printing is at my left hand. I am going to put a fat, heavy scholarly tome on top of it before I walk the dog, just to make sure it does not go off on its own
.


I'll be in Madison again in April 2014, launching my new book The Boy Who Died and Came Back at Unity Church on Friday April 4 and leading a 2-day adventure in Celtic dreaming at a dream location in rolling horse country just outside town on April 5-6. Details here. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The White Goddess and the habit of coincidence


The White Goddess is a "queer" and difficult book, as the author, the poet and novelist Robert Graves, cautions his readers in a foreword. The subtitle in itself may scare away some readers: A historical grammar of poetic myth. Yet it is a book I find myself returning to, again and again, over the years - though since I was a teen I have never been mad enough to try to read it from front to back.
     The whole book is a celebration of the Goddess, as she may have been worshiped in matrifocal Old Europe, and other places, before the advent of patriarchal gods installed by patriarchal men. The material came to Graves, and came through him, in a marvelous flow; he dashed off the first draft (then titled The Roebuck in the Thicket) in just three weeks. Specialists will carp at his prodigious but errant scholarship, which is guided by rhyme and resemblance rather than any logical ordering. Few who are learned in the languages and customs of the Celts, in his day or ours, will accept him as an irreproachable source on the Battle of the Trees or the Matter of Britain.
     Yet it is impossible not to thrill to the passion of a poet who proclaims that the business of poetry is to serve the Three-fold Muse, and restore the Goddess, and gives us the most rousing and transfiguring (if not the most literal) version of the Song of Amergin that has ever been sung in English.

I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
sets the cool head aflame with smoke?


In writing The White Goddess, as in other inspired work. Graves was certain that he was not alone in his creative space. In addition to what stirred in his imagination, he noticed objects in his physical environment showed up in ways that suggested a hidden hand, from the realm of the Goddess. In a postscript he added to The White Goddess in 1960, he recounted that when he started on the first draft of that book


I had in my work-room several small West African brass objects - bought from a London dealer - gold-dust weights, mostly in the shape of animals, among them a humpback playing a flute. I also had a small brass-box with a lid, intended (so the dealer told me) to contain gold dust. I kept the humpback seated on the box. In fact, he is still seated there; but I knew nothing about him, or about the design on the box-lid until ten years had gone by. The I learned that the humpback was a herald in the service of the Queen-mother of some Akan State; and that every reigning Queen-Mother (and there are a few reigning even today) claims to be an incarnation of the Triple Moon Goddess Ngame. The design of the box-lid, a spiral, connected by a single stroke to the rectangular frame enclosing it - the frame having nine teeth on either side means: ‘None greater in the universe than the Triple Goddess Ngame!’ These gold weights and the box were made before the British seizure of the Gold Coast, by craftsmen subservient to the Goddess, and regarded as highly magical.


When he learned the meaning of these African objects, Graves suspected that an African version of the Moon Goddess had played a part in his inspiration. The story deepened after World War II, when he returned to work on his manuscript. He was now writing about the sacred king, first the consort and then the sacrificial victim of the Goddess in certain traditions. Now a collector named Georg Schwartz bequeathed to Graves "five or six more Akan gold-weights, among them a mummy-like figurine with one large eye." Graves was able to have this strange figure identified as the Akan king's okrafo priest, who in later times served as a surrogate victim, in place of the king. "The okrafo figurine lay beside the herald on the gold box, while I wrote about the Goddess's victims."
     After publication of the first edition of The White Goddess, "a Barcelona antiquary" invited Graves to choose a stone from a selection of Roman gems. Among them was "a stranger", a banded carnelian seal from an earlier culture, engraved with a stag galloping towards a thicket with a crescent moon on his flank - the very image that had given the poet his original title, The Roebuck in the Thicket.
     "Chains of more-than-coincidence occur so often in my life," Graves observed, "that, if I am forbidden to call them supernatural hauntings, let me call them a habit." He hastens to add that he's not keen on the word "supernatural", since he finds patterns of "more-than-coincidence" entirely natural, though escaping the explanations of science.
     Call them a habit. I like that very much. Meaningful coincidences or correspondences do multiply when we are charged with passion, and in forward movement on the roads of life and creation, Goddess knows.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Before you push too hard, check whether you are at the right door

In a difficult passage in my life, I was hell-bent on pursuing a certain project that I calculated would pay my bills and give me some room for creative expression. But every time I tried to push forward, I found myself blocked. Something inside me resisted my ambitions, and the world seemed to rebuff me at every turning.
    Despondent, I sat down and tried to make sense of my situation.
    Suddenly, I had a clear vision of myself from a witness perspective.
    I saw myself beating on a heavy wooden door, studded with metal, banging my fists until my knuckles were raw and bloody. I saw myself pausing to take a few rasping breaths, seemingly exhausted, before pounding again on the door that would not open.
    Okay, that's how it is. Like many night dreams, my spontaneous vision was holding up a magic mirror to my actions and attitudes. Was that all?
    I felt a prickling sensation at the back of my neck. I found myself drawn from my observer position into the scene, which was more alive to me now than the family room where I was sitting. My second self was still beating his fists uselessly on the unyielding door. But the prickling sensation was guiding me to turn around and look at something invisible to him. I turned to my right, and saw an elegant, mysterious figure beckoning me with a crooked finger. There was a Trickster quality about him. He was standing in a beautiful archway. Behind him a winding path led up a slope among flowering trees into a landscape of beauty and abundance. I felt that everything I was seeking in life was through that arch.
    The Gatekeeper waited for me to grasp what he was showing me.
    My vision and understanding were still far from complete.
    If all this bright promise was waiting for me, through an open door, what was I doing beating myself bloody at the door that would not yield?
 

  I turned to study again the situation of the Robert who was beating on the door. I discovered two things. While with one hand the Gatekeeper was beckoning me through the open gate of possibility, with his other hand he was holding that heavy, metal-studded door shut. The real shocker was that I could now see what was behind the door I had been desperate to open. The space behind it looked like a jail cell. I had been exhausting myself in an effort to put myself in a place of confinement.
    This powerful vision led me to make some radical life choices. I abandoned the project on which I had been working for months. Little by little, I found myself on the path between the flowering trees, in a world of ever-burgeoning creative possibility.
    The vision helped me to gain clarity on some rules for conscious living that work for me:


1. When one door closes, or won't open, look for the door that opens onto better things.

2. Before you push too hard, check whether you are at the right door.

3. Recognize that there is a Gatekeeper in life who opens and closes doors, and be ready to honor him (or her) and pay the price of entry, which may simply be a clear eye and an open heart.

Oh, there is one more. 

4. As long as you stand in your own way, you will find the world stands in your way.



I confess that #4 is borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson, my favorite homespun American philosopher. The original version is: "As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way."




Photos (c) Robert Moss. Doors at the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo, NY, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, at the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, Vyšehrad, Prague, and at the exit from the harem at the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The dream people are waiting for you

You are on the road of your ordinary life, maybe on the morning commute, by car or subway or on foot. Things are not moving swiftly or smoothly. You are worried you’ll be late. Now it seems you may not be able to get through at all, on your familiar route, because there is a major obstruction ahead. The way is torn up, or blocked. Hard to see whether this is because of new construction or an accident.
     Weary and frustrated, you notice an amazing being, slipping with a dancer’s grace between the stopped cars or people. There is something familiar about this figure. As it approaches the mouth of a tunnel, you realize, incredulous, that this figure is you – that is to say, an amazingly supple and youthful version of you, radiant in its beauty. The figure proceeds to fly up the tunnel, which leads upward. How can this be? Oh, that’s right. You must be dreaming. Wait – if you are dreaming, you can fly too. How could you ever forget?
    Now you are flying up the tunnel, exhilarated by the speed and your freedom from the clogged traffic you have left behind.
    You come out in a high, fresh place in the woods. A clean, sweet wind lifts your hair and shows you your way. You come to a meeting space, a lodge among the trees constructed from what the forest gives willingly. A great circle is gathered on the dirt floor, around a fire. The people here live very close to the Earth. The firelight reddens their skin as they sing and drum together. You stand, hesitant, in the door of the lodge, not wishing to intrude.
    But an elder rises from the circle and indicates that you are welcome, and that the dream people have a place waiting for you. You sit with them. You sing with them. You feel the depth and comfort of being welcomed home.
    After a good long time, when the fire is gentle, you rise from your place and move to the center of the space. You bow to the fire, and stretch out on the ground next to it.
     One by one, the dream people approach you. One of them takes glowing coals from the fire and places them over your eyes, saying, “We do this to open your eyes, so that you may see clearly.”
     Another places glowing coals over your ears, and sings, “We do this to open your ears, so you may hear clearly.”
     One places a hot coal on your mouth, saying, “We do this to open your mouth, so that henceforth you will speak only truth.”
     The wisest of the wise places a red-hot coal on your heart, and you feel it sear a passage through your body. The wise one sings, “We do this to open your heart, and to open the passage between your heart and your mouth, so that henceforth you will speak and act only from the heart.”
     When you rise from your place by the fire, you are not the same. You go out among the trees, and you promise to the wood and the wind and the stars, “Henceforth, I will speak and act only from the heart.”


"Opening the Heart" (c) Robert Moss

Friday, November 22, 2013

The dead are alive in our dreams


There I go again. I am with someone who was very close to me, many years ago. We are holding a dinner party together, and I am proud of the elegant dining set I purchased. The table can seat twenty people quite comfortably, and cheerful guests are taking their seats.
    I want to tell the group how I came to buy this table. I ask if anyone knows the story.
    Patricia Garfield, a famous dream author, raises her hand, turning from her place at the table.
    I am going to tell my story anyway. It involves a visit to a "cheap" Sotheby's auction in London, not one of the grand auctions. My purchase of this table marked a turning point in my life. I now believe that without the table - and its promise of engagement with large, convivial groups in a social setting - my life would have taken a different course, and I would not have remained close to the woman who is responsible for tonight's party.
    When I step outside the house for a moment, into bright sunlight, I realize that in the reality where my body is asleep in bed, the woman I am with is dead. She died many years ago.
    So I am in a dream.
    I look back at the house. It is a row house in London, like houses I lived in long ago. The scene is entirely real, and solid - the portly taxi pulling up near the steps, the couple with a baby in a perambulator, the sounds from the house.
    Is the Robert in bed in upstate New York dreaming me, or am I dreaming him?
    I am in a place where someone who died in one world is alive in another.
    This feels less like an afterlife situation than like a parallel reality, an alternate world, where she is alive and I made radically different life choices.


I woke from this dream excursion feeling calm and reflective, saddened by memories of the loss of a wonderful woman who died tragically young, cheered by the idea that she may be enjoying a happy life in another reality, and maybe in many alternate realities.
    It's a common, perhaps even universal experience to find that the dead are alive in our dreams.
    Often an encounter with the dead, in a dream, becomes a prompt to dream lucidity. As we begin to realize that someone we are with has died (in our default reality), an inner voice may say, I am dreaming. 
    The presence of Patricia Garfield*, the dream author, may have been a prompt to the Robert at that dinner table to say to himself, I am dreaming.   
    There are things of huge importance afoot.
     Encounters with the dead, especially in dreams, have been a primary source of human knowledge of the afterlife throughout the whole odyssey of our kind on the planet. More than this, we may come to understand that in dreams and visions, we are at home in the realities where those who died in this world are at home. We don't need to puzzle over what happens in the afterlife once we realize that we are already in it.
     As I write this, I am back in a world that I know is real through the evidence of my

senses. My left instep hurts a bit, the legacy of excessive hill walking in recent travels. I hear the Bluetooth-ed mailman talking to unseen persons as he walks the street.I sense my fierce bad kitten trying to sneak into my study to turn it into a toy room.
     Yet my senses were no less alive when I was welcoming guests at the enormous dining table. I could smell the aromas of cooking from the kitchen, and of the flower arrangements on the table. I could feel sun on my face when I stepped outside.
    I muse over the many ways in which the Robert who is at home in that scene is different from my present self. He is highly social, very willing to entertain twenty or more people in his own home. By contrast, the Robert who is writing now is fiercely private at home and avoids social scenes, except in the context of his chosen work. (I often sit down to dinner with twenty people when I am leading residential retreats.)
      Yes, the dinner scene where someone dead was alive is a dream. And it is entirely real. Like life. Here and there, now and then.
      
The experience of parallel worlds and alternate realities is probably the most important feature of my dreaming, and has been as far back as I can remember.


*Patricia Garfield's book Creative Dreaming marked a watershed in our understanding and discussion of what goes on in dreaming. Before I met her, and before I started leading public classes around 1990, I dreamed that there was tremendous excitement in the small city where I was living because Patricia Garfield had moved to town and was teaching people about the importance of dreams. When I shared the dream with a friend, she shot me between the eyes by saying "YOU are the famous author who moved to this town and you are the one who should lead dream classes." (We did not yet use the "if it were my dream" protocol!) The next day, I received a call from a local arts center asking if I would lead some classes. They had creative writing classes in mind but were thrilled when I proposed dream classes - because of my dream of Patricia Garfield and my conversation about it. I enjoyed telling Patricia this story when I met her for the first time, 20 years ago. It is in my new book, The Boy Who Died and Came Back.

I have written at length about dream encounters with the dead, and dream travels in worlds where the dead are alive, in several of my books, especially Conscious Dreaming, Dreamgates and The Dreamer's Book of the Dead

Photos of tombstone at Vyšehrad  (c) Robert Moss
 
    

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Celtic songs of shapeshifting



Mosswood Hollow, Duvall, Washington

A great and distinctive mode of Celtic poetry is the song of shapeshifting. A famous example is the Song of Amergin, in which the bard of the Milesians lays claim to the land of Ireland by singing of his many selves and his identity with many forms of animate life.  In Robert Graves' version in The White Goddess, it begins


I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall.

    In this spirit, I felt that the best way to honor and gather the deep experiences we shared in a recent group journey into Celtic Dreaming would be to give everyone the creative assignment of writing a personal song of shapeshifting. The offerings came after we had traveled deep and far together on the borders of Faerie, in the realms of the ancestors, on the track of the Antlered Goddess, in the flow of Sequana, to Merlin's enchanted apple orchard.
    In our closing session, a superior ceilidh in a great yurt in the greenwoods of the Cascades, I asked everyone to write their poems on index cards. The cards were then shuffled and then dealt at random. Each person read the poem that they drew, before the author was identified. In this way, we were able to take in another's imagination deeply, while all of us grew a deepening awareness of our connection with the whole web of life, with the hawk on the hill, with the cherry blossom, with the bones of the earth, with the dragon.

Susan wrote:

I am the child who plays in the branches of the oak tree
I am the woman the gray whale sees
I am she the Sea Kings sought to teach me their song
I am the motherless daughter whose love heals and protects
When I dance, cherry blossoms trickle from my fingertips.

Nancy Eister wrote:

I am the white mare rolling on my back
in a grassy field gleaming in the hot sun

I am the blades of green grass bearing the mare's weight
then springing back, with the joy of her steamy breath


I am the white bones beneath the soil:
ancestors, animals, antlers.

And the white stones on the hill, stacked just so
five thousand years ago to capture the winter sun's illumination


I am the Sun behind the sun, whose rays transmute
bone and stone into liquid light

I lift the eagle aloft, and the gull
I warm the seed's dream of springing up
through the soil as grass for the white mare.


I am the moon goddess casting a silver net over this night
I am the brooding black raven asleep in the dark wood
I am the dreamer and the fox who guards the dreamer 
I am the windswept plain where lost dreams can be found
I am the bone songs of my ancestors playing on the wind
I am the heart of the ancient sycamore crumbling into dust
I am green leaves capturing rays of sunlight as they fall
I am the lone crane, standing watch near the shore
I am the jumping salmon crane silently waits for
I am the dance of flickering flame consuming it all
I am Phoenix reborn from the ash of what came before.

-
My workshop "Return of the Ancient Deer: A Journey into Celtic Dreaming" will be held again in Madison, Wisconsin, over the weekend of April 5-6, 2014. Expect poetry, and dragons (of course).
-
"The King's Dolmen", oil crayons (c) Robert Moss

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Rhymer




The Rhymer

I rhyme the days
I assemble what resembles
I am speaker for the Speaking Land
I am the grammarian of epiphany
I am the syn in synchronicity
I am the quick jay that ruffles your hair
I am the fox who puts edge in your mind

I am the code in the tree bark
I find a world in a grain of sand
I make futures in a tea cup
I am the fall of the cards
I am doctor for your poetic health

You are never quite ready for me
I give a tilt to your world
and you feel reality stutter
between what is and what may be
Look for me whenever life rhymes
When the world gets personal
feel me with you, alive and in-person.

- Mosswood Hollow, November 17, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Orpheus who does not look back



Call me Orpheus.
The one who charms the wild beasts
and becomes what he sings.
The one who goes down
to the Netherworld
to rescue a lost soul
and braves Death  on his dark throne
and sings so sweet and strong
that mercy flowers from stone.
I am not the one in your stories
who lost her again by looking back.


When those who can't have me
try to kill me, their weapons won't obey them.
When the jealousy demons
turn their fingers into claws
my body yields, but I go on singing
until my severed parts come together again.


I speak to you in golden leaves
I give you the best directions
for the journey all must take.
Go right at the fountain by the white cypress.
When the Gatekeeper challenges you

remember to say:
I am born of earth and of starry sky
my race is of heaven alone
.



-Big Sur, California, November 13, 2013



Photo (c) Robert Moss. Orpheus mosaic in Archaeological Museum, Istanbul.

Friday, November 8, 2013

From the Blue Lake of Healing


Pârâul Rece, Romania, and after

There is a blue lake of healing, on top of a mountain. You must earn the right to go there, by tracking a wounded animal through the woods, following it up steeper and steeper trails even when mountain mist swallows your sight. The animal is connected to you. The places where it is wounded reflect your own condition.
    At the top of the mountain, you are amazed to find a shining blue lake. As you watch, the animal staggers to the lake and falls in. It is gone for so long that you fear it has died. Have you come here for death?
    At last, you see a stir in the waters. The animal surfaces on the far side of the lake. As it takes off, you see it is whole, and healed.
    It is your turn to enter the waters of the healing lake. You may go far deeper than the world you come from. How far you go will depend on your courage and imagination. 


This is a summary of the simple instructions for a group journey that I gave to the intrepid dreamers who gathered in the Bucegi mountains of Romania with me in mid-October for my program "Dancing with the Bear: Reclaiming the Arts of Dream Healing". The Blue Lake of Healing is a real place in nonordinary reality. You can read about how I discovered it, and the full instructions for the journey, in my Dreamways of the Iroquois.
    We found once again that our shared adventures in shamanic dreaming and soul healing produce gifts that keep on giving. I asked our dreamers to write summaries of what they experienced and what they learned in the journey to the Blue Lake. Here is a first sampling of their travel reports:



"A wounded deer was completely healed as she entered the blue lake in the mountains. In the middle of the lake there was a crystal and from there healing was being sent for Mother Earth and for all the living creatures on Earth. I was healing people and animals and through healing a part of the light was being sent, so that they themselves became filled with more light."

”The aura of your heart will soften the hearts of those around you. It will transform them into clay that you will mold until it becomes liquid. It must be left ripening in the dark until it becomes light.” 

"Healing comes from the depth ! You can heal yourself there, where you did not think that you could even live! The diamond tunnel with rays of divine light help you heal yourself."

"The mountain goat was hurt in many places and still she had the power to reach the lake. The drums and the fire were calling me, recognizing me as one of their people. I was asked why I needed healing. I said, 'Because I want to make art with colors.' Again, I was asked 'Why?' I said, 'Because in this way i can travel.' I brought colors to my heart and my body." 

"The animal I met was very young and very beautiful. He was bleeding in the neck area. In the deep of the lake I found a rock, removed it and got to the top of a mountain, where I sat in lotus position. I felt myself being charged with energy. I met some dynamic forms, light green in color. I received a gift: a schoolbag with pockets with buckles."

”A giant eagle was my guide. I became one with her and felt her pain As I came out of the water my body was translucent. I was light, I was love. I saw my dear ones - I sent love to them and they sent love to me. Together, we created an immense sphere of light and love and sent it to float above the lake, the country, the planet. Then I transformed into a tree.”

”I follow a big stag, wounded in the chest, in the left. He is limping, but still I cannot reach him. I arrive at the lake, just in time to see him going into water. I run to the lake and I see him getting out on the other side, healed, running towards the forest. I dive into the water, which on the inside looks like an immense lagoon, with light in every corner. There are nymphs and gods at the bottom of the lagoon. My chest hurts, on the left side. I feel the energy healing me. When I get out of the water I notice I have a big scar on the left side of my chest, where my heart was healed.”

"Dancing with the eagle and the bear and the lion. Great festivities in an underwater city. Ceremony around a cauldron. Diving into the cauldron, swimming through a curvaceous tunnel and arriving in the kingdom with all of our loved ones."

"Heart wounded, I realized I came here to die. I let myself fall in the blue lake. Sweet fall, like floating. Beings, translucent tall beings put this golden, shiny, small energy ball inside my heart center and it started spinning. Golden light revived me and i started breathing the blue, good water. Breathing like the first breath in my life. Came back from the journey with a new song in my head: It is a new life, it is a new dawn.

“I was dancing with the shamans around the fire. In the rhythm of the drums I started spinning - faster and faster - until at a certain point I was not touching the ground any more. I was at one with the wind."

"The stag is bleeding from the eyes and his back right leg is injured. When he comes out of the blue lake, he is healed - and he has dropped his antlers. As he moves away, the antlers grow again, larger than before, and golden. 
   "Ravens strip away dead energy & disease from the energy field of the group. Bear dismembers some people, cleanses their hearts. Below the lake is a hospital of animal doctors. We are covered by angels' wings, blazing bright."



"The giant with the head and antlers of a stag was standing on the lake shore, with six of my ancestors flanking him, with staffs in their hand,s looking at me. He gave me his blessing to enter the lake. Now is your time. I entered the lake cautiously, and found I could breathe normally.
     "I came to a gate near the bottom of the lake. It was like a lens. When I passed through, I was flying within a blue horizon. I realized I could create anything from my heart. The Heart Fairy appeared. We put our chests together and our hearts were united. They were one, with a tremendous power. And then my chest opened, as I was flying and i connected with thousands of hearts. We were linked in a net of love, light and healing. I realized I was golden. I was there for a long time.”



"I met the bear. He was weak, wounded and tired. At the blue lake he dived below and then he came out all shining. His fur, once grey and without light, was now shining in the moonlight. After my healing I was given a white and silver dress that looked like the fur of the bear waiting for me on the shore. I climbed onto his back and we went into the forest where a shaman woman taught me a dance and an incantation for cleansing: "I release to the fire, water, earth and wind what does not belong to me and is a burden for me.'" 

Vindecarea exista in fiecare dintre noi. Crede. "Healing exists inside each and every one of us. Believe.”



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Playing the hand


The other player looks like a shaggy Merlin, but seems to have forgotten his arts. He stares at the glowing blue pentacle that is the latest key, and prepares to replicate its shape in midair with magical passes. I nudge him to recall what he did "last time", when the key looked like a blue lotus. He places his hand over the pentacle, and his palm is a match. 
     I have to help him avoid losing these games decisively, while I avoid outright victory, because our contest must go, across eons of time. I recall more of the people we have been, and will be.
     But this is quite a complex pattern. So I go outside and roll in the grass with my little dog. Simple is good.


Feelings: cheerful and happy after this morning dream.
Reality: Yes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Time and the Corn Maiden


Gore Mountain, New York

Look: you have new eyes to see.
Eyes of black owl, eyes of white owl.
Don’t be scared when they sear your soul
and clamp strong talons on your shoulders.
Let them lend you their wings,
their ability to see at many angles.
Let them take you to the place
you did not expect in this, your only, time.

Sun on your face, you part the high grass
to the field of grain on the steep hillside
where beans and squash sprout among the corn
in the old way. You feel her, the woman
whose body is the fertile earth
and gives birth ceaselessly to the three sisters
from her belly, her breasts, her blood.

Why are you here? Climb the slope
to the cabin in the woods. Don’t run away
from the shadows and husk things along the trail.
Show respect for the grandmothers
as you enter from the sunrise side.
Be patient with the girl they have sheltered here
for all these years, until you were ready for this.
She comes and goes like a cat, until drawn
to you by the brightness of your tears.

Don’t be ashamed that you forgot her.
She forgot you in her world of love and magic,
where time follows the law of eternal return,
the phases of the moon, the cycle of seasons,
not the logic of clocks. Stand tall now.
Show that you have ripened into a woman of power.
Drum for the grandmothers, and the corn maiden.
Let her follow you home on your heartbeat. 


Plant beans and squash in your garden.
Braid cornhusks, blackened and bleached,
in the code of all life. The old ones taught you
that dark and light must always contend,
in every created thing. Without contraries,
there is no creation. Black owl, white owl,
Whirlwind and Sky Holder. End their struggle
and you roll up the game of the world. So:
Every day, renew the balance of order and chaos.
Each day, with corn maiden singing in your heart,
throw your arms up to the sky and shout
Yes to life. Birds will take flight from your hands.

- Gore Mountain, November 3, 2013

This poem was inspired by a shamanic journey for soul healing that led deep into the landscape and mythic imagination of the Longhouse People of the Northeast. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where soul was kept safe


Roused by birdsong in the cool soft Cascades morning
Western tanagers, small glories of red and gold
in this green world. Soul birds, sized for the heart.
or to sing of what is past or passing or to come.

Where was I, just now, in my second body?
Out in a hot desert of snakes, in another skin.
A big man praised me for going out and returning
but I think the soul birds sang me back here

So: After the dragon gave a girl the six of hearts
and the Daughter of Wind blew us clean
we found, by objective chance, the universal key
that opens every high school locker.

All of us left something in those school lockers.
Dirty socks, old secrets, movie star idols, fright masks,
yearbooks, catcher's gloves, tampons, first loves,
shame we couldn't tell, sneakers, soles we forgot.

Here, take the key. It can open any locker
but in your hand it will open only the locket of your heart.
Follow your footprints backwards. No, the other ones,
the tracks of your night-traveling self

who crosses time, forwards, backwards or sideways,
as you cross a parking lot. He knows - she knows -
what you need to bring back from the place
where soul you've been missing has been kept safe.

-     
      I wrote this poem in celebration of shared experiences of soul healing through active dreaming at Mosswood Hollow, the retreat center in the foothills of the Cascades where I lead many depth adventures.

   Photo by Oana Maria Calin



Monday, November 4, 2013

The power of the dream song



Gore Mountain, NY 

Dreams bring us images and energy for healing and revitalizing our lives. These gifts may be delivered through the vehicle of a song.
    My Celtic ancestors lay in tomb-like spaces in the dark, sometimes with heavy stones on their bellies, hoping for the gift of awen - poetic inspiration - to burst through in song.
    For the Temiar-Senoi people of the Malaysian rainforest, the greatest gift of a dream is the kind of song they call a norng. The word literally means a "roadway". The dream song can open a road between the worlds. It can also help to open a path through the thickets and obstacles of everyday life.
    In the Mohawk language, which my dreams required me to study, the word for song is karenna, which literally means "I am putting forth my power." In my book Dreamways of the Iroquois, I describe the experience of a Mohawk grandmother of the Turtle Clan who received a healing song in a dream and was able to transfer its energy to a whole circle. As she sang, the veils between the worlds thinned. The whole group became vividly aware of the presence of spirits of the land, including Great Turtle, a form of the teacher of the Deep in the Iroquoian tradition.
    I have been gifted with many songs in my dreams. Sometimes I have to reenter a dream in order to capture all of the words and elements. Once I awakened from a dream in which I was bouncing across lush grass towards an immense tree that resembled a beech. I knew, in the dream, that secrets of life were waiting for me in a world below the roots of that tree. And that there was an entry price. To enter the gate of this tree, I must bring a song. When I rose from my dream, I had the music of this song humming in my mind, but not the words.
    Urgent to move with the dream, I called a close friend who has traveled with me in the way of the shamans over many years. "Can you come over at once? I need you to drum for me." She jumped in her car and was with me in less than an hour.
    As she drummed, I traveled back into my dream. I enjoyed the springiness of the grass under my bare feet, the clean smell of woods and water. Over the drumming, through the drumming, I hummed the little hum that had stayed with me after the original dream. Now the words came too:


Praise and serve the Mother
and let her grace unfold
Praise and serve the Mother
and re-enchant the world. *

The way to the world of our Great Mother Earth now opened to me, through the roots of a world tree. I was healed and nourished in her generous embrace. I found specific guidance, for myself and others, in a kind of creative cave that opened to me, within her realm. This is a place to which I have returned, again and again, to restore my inner compass and replenish my energy.
     The dream song may be a wing song, a song that can help you journey beyond the body, into other worlds, at any time you choose. My dreams have given me many songs of this kind, some of which I share with the circles I lead to power our group shamanic adventures.
      Recently I woke with this song streaming in my mind:

We are sleeping till we're dreaming
We are dreaming till awakening
We're awakening for our homecoming
      into the Land

Anxious that I might lose the tune, I phoned two friends and sang it to them over the line. One made a recording; the other had her musician husband listen in and write down the notes. We have sung this song in many of the adventures I have led since the dream, including our shamanic gathering up on a mountain in the New York Adirondacks last weekend.
     In the Celtic way, we sing to call lost spirit home. In some of the old tales, a part of soul that has left the body is up in a tree, in the form or a bird, and must be charmed by the power of the right song into returning to the heart and the body of the person. In recent gatherings, I have encouraged participants to go to a special tree, with a special song, and call back whatever parts of their spirit may need to come into their bodies and their current lives - a child part lost when the world seemed very cruel, a counterpart personality from another time, an aspect of a greater Self, a bright shining winged soul.
     But what if you have no song?
     Sometimes it will be gifted to you. We have journeyed on wings borrowed from the old ones - songs of the Highland and Islands, and of W.B.Yeats, chants from Africa and Native America, through Baltic dainas and Romanian doinas, rhythms of the orishas. We also share the fresh songs that come through members of our dreaming family. On the way to a recent workshop in Celtic Dreaming, my friend Wanda Burch shared a marvelous song for soul healing that had come to her.

I am calling my spirit back home

She readily agreed to invite the group to use this when they traveled to the special tree to call spirit back home. It worked like a charm then, and has been charming spirits ever since.


Photo: On the magic mountain. By Jeanne Cameron.