Thursday, July 27, 2006

Practical Dreaming #6 -- Dreaming the Future -- or -- "Auntie Em! Auntie Em!"

I was down at the Jersey Shore a few weeks ago with family, just hanging at the beach and doing whatever. For me, doing whatever at the Shore always includes daily naps. I love that afternoon siesta. Let the hottest part of the day sliiiide by as I snooze comfortably. And I dream my heinie off when I nap.

Here is an excerpt from a dream I had while napping on the afternoon of July 11:

"I'm at the studio, and working with two clients when I look out the window to the south and see a tornado forming and touching down not far away."

"The studio" is the Pilates studio my wife and I manage. It's located in Briarcliff Manor, NY -- about two miles North of Sleepy Hollow, NY. And on the afternoon of July 12th, in Sleepy Hollow, this happened. Yow.

When I dream the future, it's usually in a symbolic fashion and I don't put 2 and 2 together until after the fact. This is pretty straightforward, eh?

Related to this story is the fact that I totally forgot about the dream until yesterday, when i was reading back through my dream journal and saw the date on the entry. Holy moley! Just goes to show what a crucial tool and resource your dream journal can be.

I'll be interested to see if there are follow-up precognitive dreams of this sort, of if this was an anomaly. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Don't Call it "Real Life"

Language shapes reality. The words we choose to describe the world around us, and the way we use those words, shapes the world. I hope we can stipulate this as a given, since I'm not a semiotics professor. If you don't believe me, just ask Goebbels. Ask the billion-dollar industries that prey on the insecurity of women (and, increasingly, men) regarding their appearance/age. Ask the American Neoconservatives: "fear bomb terror fear terror evildoers fear Vote Bush/Cheney!"

Language shapes reality. The words we choose to describe the world around us, and the way we use those words, shapes the world.

Often, when people discuss their dreams, they do it in a pooh-poohing manner: "well, it was only a dream."

Dreamtime is not the random firing of neurons, and dreams are not the brain merely processing excess stimuli left over from the day.

Dreamtime is the other half of our soul's existence. When the body sleeps, our spirit is free to travel in other worlds, places and times. We meet up with aspects of ourselves, deceased relatives or friends, and other spirits which some call angels, others name faeries, and still others call -- somewhat less poetically -- non-corporeal entities.

Dreamtime helps us remember where we came from -- and where we will return. In the midst of our embodied, all-too-hurried and distracted human experience, we have a daily opportunity to be reminded of our deeper immortal nature. Put out your hands and catch a dream...

All this is preamble to the title above: Don't Call it "Real Life." As in, "oh yeah, I had this crazy dream where I was talking to my great-grandfather and he was telling me he was proud of me. It'd be nice to think he's proud, but it's not like he's telling me that in real life."

Ack! Please, when you consider your dreaming life, don't disrespect the energy, information and wisdom to be found there by calling its counterpart "real life." When you consider your Dreaming Life, call its counterpart Waking Life.

Calling it "real life" cuts the umbilical to your essential immortal universal self.

Calling it Waking Life immediately implies and references your existence Elsewhere -- call it what you will: "heaven," "the Otherworld," "Nirvana," "That Place What Wuz Before Anything Else Wuz." As the poet David Whyte puts it: "To remember that other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance." Remembering that other world honors the part of yourself which is embodied with the rest of you, but can leave the flesh behind to explore, frolic, learn and remember in that crucial Elsewhere.

Calling it "real life" disrespects and devalues anything that cannot be weighed, seen, touched...and chopped into tiny pieces by the so-called rational mind.*

Calling it Waking Life reminds us every time we say it that before long we will be sleeping again, and again ranging out into the beyond in search of information, contact or just plain adventure.

Calling it "real life" sinks us deeper into the illusion that this physical life is all that there is for us. This existentialist nihilism creates the sort of despairing materialism which induces people to try and fill themselves with food, booze, sex, and Buying More Stuff.

Calling it Waking Life merely names it what it is -- no more, no less.

So tonight -- set your intent to remember your dream as you lie in bed ready for sleep. Hold your intent as long as you can as you drift off: tell yourself you will remember your dream. And when you awaken, write it down and find a way to honor it (this can be as simple as just telling a friend the dream, or more elaborate if you feel so moved). And when you do honor it, say out loud to yourself: "I've brought a dream into waking life." Then, feel inside yourself for the pulse of your mojo.

It'll be bumpin'!

* Don't get me wrong: the rational mind has any number of lovely qualities and has brought any number of wondrous things to be -- antibiotics, to name just one. But over the last five hundred years, the Tyranny of the Rational over the intuitive mind has given us a world so far out of whack as to threaten the very existence of our species. Balance, balance, balance!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Some Thoughts on Lady in the Water

I hope this Sunday finds you well and dreaming your life into action. I wanted to put up a quick post because the new M. Night Shyamalan movie seems to be getting routinely excoriated by reviewers and I had a very different experience when I saw it on Friday night.

I won't address all the issues the critics are having with it (although I will note two things: first off, M. Night and Disney had an unhappy divorce after he released The Village and as a movie critic I suppose it never hurts to be on The Mouse's good side, and secondly, in the movie itself, one of the characters is a movie critic who is portrayed as something of an uptight loser). I just want to talk about why this film moved me and why I think dreamers might enjoy it.

The film is an allegorical fable. The characters are archetypes of the human family (whereas the critics are savaging the film for being full of "boring stereotypes" -- don't they know an allegorical fable when they see one? [grin]), and the community they comprise comes into contact with the Otherworld in the form of the Lady of the title. I won't give away any more of the story, but I will say that Paul Giamatti is excellent -- I think he's one of the best actors working today. And the fine supporting cast is full of actors you know by face but not necessarily by name (lots of "oh yeah: him!" moments [grin]).

The film evoked the following thoughts for me:

1. Without magic, the world is small, dull and incomplete.

2. Humanity *needs* the power of story to help understand its place in the universe -- without myth/story, meaning drains out of things.

3. While we are ultimately responsible for healing ourselves...

...4. We cannot do that healing work in a vacuum; we need our community around us in support.

5. The Otherworld is right here in front of our noses -- if we look with the right eyes.

6. Every one of us has a unique and indispensable purpose for being here.

7. Help is right here with us all the time -- if we're brave enough to ask for it.

I have no idea who among you were already planning to see the film. If you dislike M. Night's work, then don't bother seeing this one. If you're on the fence, I urge you to see Lady in the Water. When my wife saw me after this film, she asked me how it was and I said, "It was beautiful."

If you do go see the film (or have seen it already), please post a comment by clicking on the "comment" link at the bottom of the entry.

And if you are going to see the film, do it soon. If getting gutted by the critics equals bad box office, it won't be in theaters long. But who knows? Maybe tomorrow we'll find out it did big numbers and people are buzzing about it. Like I said, humanity has a need for myth. And as Dreamers, we are wisdomkeepers and storytellers, and our dreams are the stuff of myth.

I will post more of my thoughts on this later, especially if I get comments on this post. Dream strong...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dream Journal: June 29, 2006 -- "The Theater of Hilarious Havoc"

I am walking around in a really lame museum with my family, bored out of my head with the displays. A middle-aged paunchy guy walks up to me and says "You oughta check out the much more interesting exhibit upstairs!" He leads me up a stairwell which opens into a large high-school type of auditorium. The seats in the back half of the room have been removed, leaving just the floor which is canted upwards towards where my guide and I stand, taking in the action.

It seems as if at least three separate productions are taking place. I recognize a MacBeth (the Weird Sisters are doing their cauldron thing for MacB and Banquo), a Tempest (Caliban is slithering around on the beach) and a Midsummer Night's Dream (poor Bottom is walking around bumping into the scenery). The casts overlap and spill into the audience seating area, and the action continues beyond and behind the "audience" to fill the room. I say "audience" because there's no telling what persons sitting in the chairs are actually there to watch, and which might at any moment pop up to shout "The King hath happily received, MacBeth / The news of thy success!" Instead of trooping "offstage," characters happily hop down from the apron when they're not in the immediate action and take a seat (or sit in someone's lap) and start chowing down popcorn and heckling the performers. I say "offstage" because it shortly becomes clear that there is no offstage. All the world's a stage, and this is the Theater of Hilarious Havoc.

I begin to walk, slowly, amazed, down the middle of the clear area at the rear of the room and try to take it all in.

Just behind where the seating area ends, I spy a woman in an elaborate faery outfit (or is it simply a faery?) playing chess against herself with an oversized board and pieces (perhaps 4' square). She is writing out her moves and announcing them grandly before sliding the pieces about. The moves she is making with the chess set have no evident link to the moves she is writing out and saying aloud.

One of the MacBeth "swordfights" has spilled off the stage and onto the seats. Yes: onto. The combatants trip nimbly about on the tops of the backs of the chairs, swinging away with their claymores and epees (one fellow is brandishing what appears to be an oversized sopresatta). I say "swordfight" because the action bears no more resemblance to actual life-and-death mayhem than the dance-cum-"gangfight" in West Side Story . It's clearly much more about exploring the fun to be had leaping from row to row as the audience members dive out of the way (or reach up and pinch a passing butt cheek) than it is about trying to hack one's opponent limb from limb.

Bottom, on his way from the stage (where he has recently been part of an exuent ) is striding purposefully up the center aisle, evidently keen to procure some popcorn from the cart that is manned by what can only be described as a male centaur is ludicrously shabby drag. However, Bottom runs afoul of the swordplay and has his donkey-head dislodged by the fellow with the sopresatta. This reveals his inner head (some kind of 50's B-movie robot-looking thing) which is in turn dislodged to reveal a human head, which in *it's* turn is knocked loose to head at all.

At this point, I'm about maybe a third of the way into the room and five feet behind the last row of seats. The action is all around me. Bottom, scuffling around on the floor, blindly trying to retrieve and replace at least one of his heads, is helped to his feet by a beheaded Bangquo (he is holding his severed, animate head under one arm and pulls Bottom up with his other). Banquo (roaring "Off with ye! Headless is MY gig!!") spins him around and, kicking Bottom in the, ah...bottom, sends the unfortunate fellow out through an open side door leading out of the room into a hallway.

I decide to get some popcorn (it smells delicious) and settle in for a bit. Banquo waits equably in line behind me and we enjoy the scene. Once we've both procured our snack (the centaur [chewing on a cigar stub: "Call me Babs"] isn't charging for it) , Banquo and I stand side-by-side (as his free hand feeds the mouth on his head) and make commentary on the proceedings.

As a squadron of unidentifiable raffish-looking fellows swing onto the stage on ropes suspended in the wings stage left (slamming into Birnham Wood, which is marching on Dunsinane from stage right), I remember I've left my family downstairs and they're probably wondering what happened to me. (Hmm...I suppose I should wonder, too...) I bid Banquo goodbye (an awkward moment when I try to shake his hand and he's got his head in it) and head back down to the Museum of the Dull.

But -- Great Day in the Morning! I'll be coming back.

This dream is utterly RIPE for re-entry and exploration. It operates on so many levels and is so rife with possibility for learning, scouting and just plain fun that it is worth several excursions just to see all what is there. I already have done dream re-entry, which involves shamanic drumming for 10-15 minutes to go back into the dream and travel deeper into it (I joined the cast of Midsummer's Night and had low tea with Oberon and Titania, among other experiences). But it also begs for sleep-time re-entry, where I'll lie in bed with the lights out and re-imagine the dream as vividly as I can and with as much detail as possible before falling asleep.

More on this dream later...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Keeping Vigil -- Part IV -- The Fire in My Head

My first drumming lasts 20 minutes or so. I watch the flames move and lick. The capital "I" me begins to fall away and my energy expands and unfolds as I become less myself: the ego relaxes its grip and the essential soul of who I am -- who and what I have always been, and always will be -- comes to the fore. This is the Ur-self, the self that was before there was a flesh named Timothy Duncan McCallum. This is the self that is not identified by its job, or residence, age or nationality. The most purely spirit self -- and in a way, the most human.

After this opening, I set the drum aside and simply sit for a long time. Empty of monkey-mind thoughts, empty of worry, empty of hurry to have anything happen. It is a sweet contentment and I'm aware of it as I rock very slowly and gently forward and back, my hands clasped in front of my knees which are drawn up in the front of me.

I become aware of the idea that my ancestors have kept vigils like this since the first fire. Sit, watch. Tend the fire as it burns. I sense an enfolding support when I consider that I am only the front of a line of McCallums, Chadimas, Cassidys and Schwenkas stretching back into the unseeable distance. The support isn't quite love, not quite approbation or admiration. It is more like: It's Allright, and Welcome to the Fireside, Tim.

For a moment Mr. Ego comes lurching up from where he's been relaxing (thinking about what a fine, fine thing it is to be a self and endlessly self-fascinated with one's selfdom) to say "Oh *SURE*! It's all DANDY! 4000 dead, a City in flames and a War to Come! Just FANTASTI--"

I take a quick, sharp and deep breath, which throws Mr. Ego off balance, wondering if there's something the matter with His Self. As I exhale long and slow, I visualize him sloowwly falling back down to a horizontal position -- and out of the conversation.

I rise to throw more wood onto the fire. In the afternoon I had dragged a number of fallen trees (or large branches shorn off of huge trees by wind or storm) to the side of the fire circle. To create fire-sized pieces I have to break the larger pieces down into manageable lengths. It is hard work, but pleasant to feel the power in my body as it levers branches off of stumps or cracks them over a knee.

As I'm about my work I note the sound of a large jet of some sort passing overheard, headed south. It's low -- on landing approach? Hmm. Stewart Airport in Newburgh? Over the course of the evening, as another and yet another jet passes by on the same course, I eventually figure it must be military transport aircraft, heading to the Air National Guard base at Stewart. My government is already moving its armies around the board -- working logistics out for the invasion of Afghanistan that would come the following month (and then of course, Iraq...and now Iran?). Welcome to the Empire.

Ego's words -- "War to Come!" -- echo in me. But they ping through and find no purchase in me at that moment. I'm seeing now the wisdom in this simple vigil. Sit, watch, listen, tend the fire. Clear the mind, open the heart. Human minds and souls and greeddesperationselfishness create so much agony and so many problems. But the solutions will never be found while the mind is wound up tight, full of hurry sickness, thinking first and foremost of itself, the veil of illusion (what the Hindu or Dharmics call maya) wrapped tightly around the eyes. No: the only way forward out of the maelstrom is to ground myself in the true reality of things, to remember who "I" was before my grandfather was born. Without that essential connection to the greater truth, all my efforts (and anyone's efforts) only take me deeper into the illusion that I am separate from the world around me and the people in it. Away from the unity of all things.

There in the deep woods of the Catskills, the veil fell and I reconnected to the essential source. And began to weep out the week's sorrow, anger and hopelessness.

After a time I felt emptied and purified. Again I drummed, slipping deep into the play of the flames in front of me, catching glimpses of ancestors and friends and loved ones. Down, down into the mandala of fire, each stem and licking tongue of it one of the lashes on the eye of God, peering back into me as I peered into it.

Finally my arm gave out and I wondered how long I'd been drumming, how long I'd been swimming in the flame, how far had Earth spun back towards dawn? A crackling crash in the brush about twenty yards away from me made me jerk my head to the right.

All night long, at well-spaced intervals, I heard animals moving through the underbrush behind me. Judging by the sounds they made and the fact that there were always at least two of them, I had pegged the sounds as deer wandering through on their nocturnal feeds. But this was different. Only one set of sounds, and much larger and not delicate like deer.

I sat for a moment trying to pierce the darkness beyond my firelight but saw nothing. Again the soft, rolling crash of something large moving through the low brush.

I found my flashlight and beamed it over to my right where the sounds continued. As soon as I swung the light towards it, though, the sounds stopped. Whatever it was had frozen. I scanned back and forth a bit with the beam but it didn't penetrate the leafy wall. After a minute or so, I gave up and turned the light off. With that, the sounds began again. I whipped the light over again, thumbing it on -- but of course, whatever it was stopped moving.

Aw hell, then, I said to myself. I shut the light off and left it off as the slow-motion crashing began once again. It was moving in a semi-circle from my right to my rear, being cagey about staying out of range of the firelight. The sounds changed once it was almost directly behind me -- from twig-snapping pops and crackling to a slick-snick of something on stone. I turned, shining the light towards it and was rewarded with the view of a black bear's behind as it climbed up a portion of the rock face. When I hit it with the beam it turned, blinked, and then continued on, disappearing down into a hole in the rocks.

Ahhh, home for the night. Have a nice vigil, two-legs.

I was glad I hadn't brought food.

As I turned back to the fire (noticing it needed to be stoked), my serenity returned, and deepened. I was a child of the universe, after all. Darkness not a threat, alone in the woods not a threat, bears not a threat. Safe in the belly of the world.

I fed the fire, I sang the bear a song, I danced for myself and whoever or whatever was watching -- and then I sat once more and awaited dawn.