Dear Dreamers –
Happy Season of Light. Thanks for waiting out a dry spell while I worked on about a dozen other dream projects and never quite got a newsletter finished.
But good things happened!
Ta-Da! Updated website! I am grateful to the sibling team of Elizabeth and Ben Blue, coach and techie, who kept me going and taught me so much about putting my work into the world. Take a look: www.firebynight.net. One of their brilliant ideas was to make my “Field Guide to Dreaming” a free download! You can get it on the website, or just click here:
I have had the best time ever this fall with my dream groups, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a dream group such a powerful, lively, and meaningful experience. Mostly, it boils down to these two things:
Dreams are given to be shared, because they matter.
And we discover, when we share our dreams, how much we matter to each other.
Deep, meaningful relationships can be hard to come by, and dreams – arising from the shared unconscious –can connect us instantly.
But only when you’re ready. When you’re in a circle of people you trust. When you’re sure you’ll be heard and respected. When you know everyone understands that dreams aren’t puzzles to solve, but encounters to honor. When nobody will try to tell you what your dreams mean, but everyone will let your dream inhabit them, body, mind and soul. When they speak honestly from their experience of your dream to shed light through gentle questions, intuitions, feelings, and associations. When you feel your own “aha” and share it as much - or as little - as you wish. When you think of ways to play with it and integrate its wisdom in your waking life, and if you want some suggestions, they can help.
You can share dreams with your friend or spouse or the lady behind you in the Kroger line, and that is really helpful, even if all they do is listen. (See Tips below.) You can share dreams with your therapist or spiritual director or with me.
But to take the dream into a group of dreamers is to “build community, intimacy, and support” as Jeremy Taylor writes. Ultimately, you find yourself “strengthened, liberated, revitalized and deeply supported and affirmed….Group work with dreams regularly generates ongoing relationship that become sources of deep emotional and psychological support of tremendous benefit to all involved.”
The magic of a dream group is not only that they help you understand your dreams and your self. Nor is it just that you help the rest of the group in the same way. The deeper magic of a dream group is that together we open ourselves to the whole-making, soul-making powers of the Self that orchestrates the unconscious into stories, images, and feelings. And those stories, images, and feelings carry energies that link us beneath the ego’s dominion, into the realm of the sacred. Beyond the fear and tensions that separate us, we find ourselves in each other, and through each other, and we discover something new and meaningful every single time we open up a dream together.
It’s hard to describe exactly, which is why I offer a lot of free classes and demos.
Come see for yourself: In January, I’m hosting two free intro workshops at Glendale Methodist and will also teach a 2-part series at USN Evening Classes. Find details below, and on the” What’s New” page of the website. http://www.firebynight.net/whats-new.html
If you have questions, please send me an email and we can make a time to talk. I would love to see you there.
In this season of the celebration of Light, I’m grateful to the communities that bring us light, and that welcome the light we bring. It takes courage, humility, vulnerability, and humor to show up and keep saying Yes to the wild, beautiful adventure of living in the both-and-more world that dreams open up for us. Thank you for being in it together.
Blessings of the darkness and of the light, and may you sense the love that surrounds us -
What follows is another long post - it's the lecture I'm giving tomorrow at Main LIbrary, Read it all if you like, or just pick up the main ideas here:
1. If as Jung says, myths are the collective dreams of a culture or time,
2. and they can arise to help out with the collective individuation,
3. then what are we dreaming about climate change?
4. As we see the increasing threat of Earth as a wasteland, I see some links with the myths of Gaia, the Grail legend, and the Green Man.
5. I see them because they arose in my own dreams that helped me heal from cancer, which was a personal environmental crisis. Can we extend this to the collective?
6. I don't know. But I would love to hear your dreams about things that threaten the whole of humanity these days: climate crisis, racial issues - please share.
New Section just for pictures, film, and songs at the end!
Carl Jung said, “The dream is the private myth: the myth is the public dream.”
He also suggested that in a time of crisis, collective dreams and myths arise to help us see our way through. If we are humble and wise enough to listen to dream wisdom among other forms of knowing, it is possible to cohere around the Self’s sense of the issue rather than the Ego’s. Perhaps we can dream our way forward, collectively, into the lifegiving changes we must make. I have seen this work on the personal level, in my own dreams and those of my clients, so I trust that this is possible on the collective level as well.
A few days ago, the United Nations' IPCC issued another urgent warning. Our climate is changing at crisis speed, and we are far behind in slowing the damage before the Earth becomes a living hell for most surviving life forms (including us). Panic and blame are not my point: I simply want to know why are we so stuck? Is this complacency, lack of education, denial, distractedness? A crisis of this clarity and proportion should have all hands on deck.
As I’ve wondered along these lines, and as I’ve healed from my own wasteland of cancer, three myths have presented themselves to me: Gaia, the Grail, and the Green Man. The grouping first came from my own dreams. As I researched these myths, I found that all three got considerable play in Western culture during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when environmental concerns began to catch widespread public attention. What follows is some wondering out loud how the collective unconscious may have be helping us out through the picture-feelings of archetypal energies that come up for us in recent years.
Gaia, or Mother Earth, as creative and sustaining force for all of life
When the Apollo missions began photographing Earth from space, we behold the earth as a whole. These stunning visuals shifted our perspective. Across nations and cultures, we were able to see ourselves as global citizens sharing a beautiful planet.
Meanwhile, James Lovelock was developing his hypothesis that the earth is a single life system that sustains life through continual adjustments in species, climate, ocean and weather events. A year after the first space photo was published, he named his idea the Gaia Hypothesis at the suggestion of novelist William Golding. It was a brilliant move: the name and narrative invited us to hear crucial science as story. It helped us vulnerable, powerful humans to realize our intersubjectivity with the life of the planet as well as life on the planet. Gaia says – louder each decade - that if we are to survive, we must make profound changes. Life itself probably won’t die out anytime soon, but we might. Nature is more powerful than we are. There is no normal way forward; we can’t “sustain” how we live now.
Grail Question – key to healing
So why are we, as a species, so hard to change? To understand stuckness, we have the myth of the Holy Grail, specifically the old French version about the Fisher King. It’s interesting that so many film versions of the Arthurian legend came to the screen in starting in the late 1960's : maybe the dying king was an apt image for the social upheaveal in America. Chretien, in the 12th century, tells it this way: the King, for reasons unclear, is wounded in the thigh or groin. He can’t heal, he can’t die: he’s stuck. And the land mirrors his condition: crops fail, waters are drying up, there’s no rain, no food. The king feels relief from pain only when he fishes in his boat. His one hope for healing is if a pure knight arrives at his castle and asks the correct question - which is a secret.
So here we are: living in our tormented ego-structure, stuck in our dying land, and waiting for someone aligned to the Self, and enlightened enough to ask the right question.
After endless misadventures, Perceval finally arrives and asks: Whom does the Grail serve?
That’s it. Then king can drink from the Grail. He'shealed; consequently, the land revives.
The Holy Grail is the cup from which Jesus and the disciples drank at the Last Supper. Mythically, it is the cup of suffering, shared by the archetype of the Willing Sacrifice or the Wounded Healer. It is the Self willing to serve something higher than the Ego, something higher than even good intentions, prudence, compassion.
And whom does it serve? The story shows deep connection: the wholeness of the Grail knight, the King, the land, and its peoples are interdependent. Individuation of one person links to individuation of the whole. I wonder - if myths and dreams teach us to understand the Grail’s power, and help us choose a path of wisdom and necessary sacrifice, then could we help the whole creation – Gaia – be healed?
Green Man – life force, vegetative vitality, hidden in plain sight
A third helpful myth has emerged in the early 20th century. For ages, the Green Man has been hiding in plain sight – in rituals, stories, songs, and oddly, often in many old British churches. Once you know to look for it, his leaf-hidden face seems to be everywhere. Sometimes he’s pictured with vines proceeding from his mouth, the greening force emanating like a speech bubble. Scholar P.M. Araneo says: "Whilst the figure of the Green Man has appeared, disappeared and reappeared throughout the centuries, there is evidence to show that his appearance is often linked to times of upheaval, change or environmental crisis."
The Green Man can be friendly, but he’s also a trickster, with shades of Christ and Dionysus. He’s there and not-there, testing our perception. Invisible like viriditas, the greening power of God, and felt in the blood, like “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” Common as grass, unruly as kudzu.
I mention the Green Man not because I think he’s charming. I bring up Green Man because he appears in my dreams, whether I’m dreaming for myself or – apparently sometimes – for others.
He showed up when there was an environmental crisis in the landscape of my body. He showed me I had a cancer, and he encouraged me, partnered me, helped me heal. With his lively vitality, a wink, a knowing, a hug, a bouquet of parsley, he presented the problem as opportunity and calling. He says, Here’s your bagpipe – time to play it! He uprooted a dead tree to show me the problem. In another dream, I’m distraught over a burned-out church, but he says Hey look – and I see his ring on my finger, huge, like a Queen Anne’s Lace flower. He puts me out in the rain. He plants gorgeous vines that lure me off the path, and gets me lost in a strange world. Sometimes I get him mixed up with Jesus.
The Green Man was my guide through my personal environmental crisis. I hope his lively greening power will continue to visit all of us, and help us become dreamers willing to align our small selves with Whom the Grail Serves, to heal both the Fisher King (representing personal and collective power) and Gaia (the entire created life system.)
It's a massive shift, almost impossible to imagine, but we must. Perceval’s story shows us that we must start within, with the simple practices for setting Ego aside, and listening for a wisdom that arises naturally through unconventional ways of knowing, including our collective and personal dreams. The king revives. The Green Man winks. Gaia breathes. .
Correction: Here's the right link to the Grail scene from Excalibur.
If you have any dreams that offer wisdom for collective healing and wholeness, I’d be grateful to hear them. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. I never share dreams without permission.
Dreamsharing is a seriously wonderful practice. It can also be a little risky, because dreams reveal your true colors, especially the ones you've never seen before.
Double issue! Not quite double wordcount.
First, a story.
Then three principles for sharing dreams
Next, another story.
Then, a couple of points about how dreamwork makes more authentic people of us, and why that is a good thing despite the obvious inconveniences.
If that sounds too much, start at the end and watch the YouTube videos. They are fabulous.
Story 1: True Colors
The other day I shared a fresh dream with a roomful of people, just hours after I woke up from it. I NEVER DO THIS. It 's not wise, because even if you get a quick “Aha!” from your dream, you still don’t know the whole of it, and you end up sharing something your precious vulnerable ego might regret. However, because the dream seemed to be about getting over my protective habits, and because the audience was a roomful of librarians, i.e. the Trusted Storykeepers of the World, I told it.
Now that you are drooling at the prospect of this juicy dream, I'm sorry: it'll disappoint. (And it involves coats in July, potentially a nightmare.) But here it is:
I walk into a lecture hall, where people are gathering for a presentation. I’m wearing a striking flame-orange wool coat, midcalf length, with orange buttons patterned in concentric circles.
I spot a woman I know, a civic leader (and real-life participant in one of my dream groups). As I sit down beside her, I see that beyond her another woman I know, also civic leader (who in waking life has offered me some helpful business advice). As I lean forward to greet them, my coat gaps open and I’m astonished to see the color of my blouse - a crimson so beautiful, so vivid and shining, that it seems almost alive. It's the color of a living heart.
Quickly I close my coat, because this feels so personal and surprising, and I’m not ready for anyone to see this color.
On one level, the dream points to that “yikes” of sharing something real or vulnerable about yourself that you didn’t realize you were saying. This happens all the time in dreamwork. When you tell a dream, you’re revealing your heart.
The dream also reminded me that it’s often been my habit in waking life to hide my heart, sometimes beneath an overcoat of energetic presence. Learning to share from the heart has been sometimes terrible, but in most instances a lifegiving exercise in connection, compassion, and courage. It wears me out, so maybe that big orange ego coat is helpful boundary at times.
The dream suggests it's time to connect with my inner “civic leader” energies for the practical good of the community. (The community would be both my internal energies and the literal community beyond myself.) What might happen if I spoke more freely, with heartfelt conviction about - everything? I trust there could be some changes for the general good.
So - to follow through on the work of dreamwork I'll experiment with Instagram posts this summer. Little heartbeats that could offer some truth and beauty. Or just fun. My helpers and I figured out the techie bits, so now you can
follow me on Instagram at laurahuffdreamworker.
Three Principles of Sharing Dreams
Sharing your emerging self can be feel risky - but when you're ready telling dreams is a good way to start.
Agreeing on a few basic principles for sharing dreams will make it go better. Below are three general principles. (Continue to the Tips and Titles section for a 5-step guide for partner dreamwork.)
Humility – the dream is from the unconscious, so it presents something new, which usually suggests the next steps in the individuation process. Often, this news is upsetting to the Ego, because the dreamer has to change an attitude, integrate shadow energies, etc. And the dream is multi-layered, so neither you nor the dreamer will ever get the whole picture. Please go gently. The dreamer is sharing from the heart.
As always, preface any remark with “In my dream…..” because you are speaking, after all, of your experience of the dream. Only the dreamer can know for sure what the dream means for them, and it may take awhile to get there.
Honesty - The best way to understand another person’s dream is to let it get down inside you and work on your feelings as well as your thoughts. Take awhile to really listen with mind, heart, and even body. (How does it feel?) You can offer brilliant insights, which are very helpful. But your honest feelings sparked by your experience of the dream offer even more profound “Aha’s” for the dreamer.
Again. Preface any remarks with the phrase, “IN MY DREAM….” because you are projecting.
Curiosity – Good dreamwork includes wondering aloud, stepping into the perspectives of the various dream figures, and holding “Aha’s” lightly enough to continue learning from them. Art, dialogue, embodiment, ritual, and play are good ways to engage a dream with a respectful, fruitful curiosity.
Story 2 Joseph
All this talk of coats and colors reminds me of another dreamer with a colorful coat.
At the risk of offending some of my Bible buddies, let’s take a look at how unprincipled dreamwork went for Joseph (Genesis 37-50). He proclaimed his dreams in a superior tone, and his brothers, similarly unaware of good dreamwork principles, were provoked to violence. They threw him in a pit to die, but sold him into slavery when the opportunity arose. Of course God uses it all for good in the end (that's in the story too.) If you’re on the path you can’t fail too horribly.
What if Joseph hadn’t been such a stuck-up little prig? What if his eleven brothers knew the principles of proper projective dreamwork ? Maybe that scene could have gone better, something like this:
Joseph: Brothers! I had a couple of dreams that seem important. I’d like to see what you make of them. May I tell them to you?
Brothers: The first principle of dream sharing is humility. Are you willing to believe that this dream may not be flattering to your ego?
Joseph. Wow, I forget that part all the time. But, sure, I know God has a tremendous plan for my life and I am willing to hear it. Plus you have GOT to hear this, it involves you.
Bro 1 -We’ll be honest.
Bro 2 And stay curious.
Joseph. Great! I dreamed there were twelve sheaves of wheat: all of yours bowed down to mine, which was in the center, naturally.
Bro 1: Hmmm. In my dream, I remember that everything in the dream is a part of me.
Bro 2: In my dream, harvest is about gathering the inner gold.
Bro 3: Yes – in my dream, the middle sheaf isn’t the ego, it’s the Self, which organizes the collective riches of the whole psyche. I don’t control it, just connect with it.
Bro 4 - In my dream, bowing is about recognizing : all my inner players know they are not more important than the divine image in me. My ego is really not in the center.
Bro 5: Right, and the center sheaf is a collective thing – in my dream, I remember how every little stalk and seed comes to fruition naturally. I don’t have to stress, strive, or compete.
Bro 6 – Getting honest here: in my dream, it looks like what happens at home: I have to play second fiddle to Dad's favorite.
Bro 7 - Yep, In my dream, I am watching out for ego inflation. That way lies peril.
Joseph – Wow guys, you are really helping me with that sheaf dream. But what about the Sun, moon, and stars? Really, they bowed down to ME. Not a symbol.
Bro 8 – How’d it feel in the dream when that happened?
Jo – Oooooo, grand!!! Like I was more fabulous than anything in the sky!
Bro 9- You want to take a look at that? I mean, in my dream, if I’m more important than the SUN, the dream exaggerates as a form of compensation: it's trying to help me see my arrogance before something bad happens.
Joseph. Aha! You’re right! I see that! So I will back off on acting so special all the time.
Still, I like the coat. What do you think about this coat, is it a problem for you if I wear it?
Bro 10 – You mean if you flaunt the fact that dad loves you best? Is that a problem for us, guys?
Brothers – Well SURE, it’s a problem.
Joseph – Maybe I could organize a rota for sharing it? Or cut it up and make bandanas for everyone? Or give it to our sister Dinah? What should we do?
Maybe we could all dream on it?
Bro 11 – Thanks, Joseph, for considering how we feel. This projective dreamwork is sure a great way to build authentic, compassionate community and even do some practical problem solving.
The reason the Bible version of this story finally ends well for the whole family - after years of lies, grief, slavery, scandal, imprisonment, famine, and finally, some good dreamwork skills - is because suffering finally opens into compassion, understanding, and trust for each other. I hazard to guess that with a certain amount of humility, honesty, and curiosity, they could have spared themselves the drama, and still headed off the famine.
Be brave, be true, share your colors with those who will appreciate them, and don't let Ego run the show. Your deep Self, part of the infinite rainbow, is glad for the chance to shine.
Here’s a little peek at some recent group dreamwork:
What are they?
Moonflowers and morning glories.
You can guess.
Moonflowers open at sundown and bloom all night – like dreams!
Morning glories open at sunrise and bloom all day – like waking consciousness!
And there’s a beautiful liminal moment, just at dawn, when the moonflowers begin to close and the morning glories begin to open, just like the liminal moment in consciousness when we can best remember our dreams.
Tending moonflower and morning glories together is a way of making visible our intention to tend our dreams and integrate their wisdom into waking life. Find some seeds and start your own dream garden. Have fun with it: plant a couple of each kind in a big patio pot. Or plant a screen of vines on your porch, or train them into an arch to mark a threshold, or create a little tent with bamboo poles. I like to plant dozens of them in little peat pots to give away.
One thing to know about growing these dream vines: they need support. You can use a fancy trellis, a fence, even just strings tacked to the wall – any kind structure for the vines to hold onto as they grow towards the sun.
Seeing as all we do here is metaphor, let’s think for a minute about that structure.
It’s one thing for dream interest to sprout, but it needs a bit of structure to grow well. That structure could be some basic premises that we bring to dreamwork – ideas and practices that give us support and a direction for learning.
Here is a good basic trellis for helping your Jungian dreamwork thrive, thanks to master dreamworker Jeremy Taylor:
Jeremy Taylor’s Ten Basic Assumptions About Dreams
You can create a group or find a local dreamworker to lead it. The Community Dreamwork Initiative invites you to join us for summer dream events offered through the Nashville Public Library and the Nashville Jung Circle (see below).
One more thing.
You know how a beautiful garden transforms your yard, and by extension, your neighborhood? Growing dream-consciousness actually changes how you see, and how you live – and you share that transformation whether you mean to or not! Good dreamwork habituates you to compassion and nondual consciousness. Shared dreamwork creates deeper and more flexible relationships. Those flowers in your garden picture the flowering of your psyche and the flowering of a community of amazement open to grace and transformation.
Watch these moonflowers open as dusk begins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNj7afVNIeM
I know I say this sort of thing all the time, but only because I believe we need to remember it. Dreamwork is a profound and amazing resource, available to everyone, that helps us become what the world needs:
people of compassion, courage, creativity, and grace, who are willing to live in alignment with the greatest good, and foster a just and flourishing society.
That won't happen overnight, but we can dream towards it.
My friend Joan, who is 93 and who has written her life story as a Jungian-influenced epic in 300 iambic quintains (please take that in a for moment) reminds me that when I start talking up dreamwork, I need to “explain about the unconscious.”
Thank you Joan. It’s easy to forget the basic premise.
Several years ago I asked Sam Fulks, an artist with Poverty and the Arts, to make a teaching image for me to share around, and put on the cover of my little “Field Guide to Dreaming.” Although some of you have heard me talk about this before, here’s my take on the Jungian map of the psyche, much simplified and pictured as a waterlily:
Lilypad - waking consciousness: what you know about yourself and the world
Pond – your personal unconscious: what you don’t know about your personal life. It’s murky but full of discoverable, rememberable material.
Bottom of the pond and indeed, the whole earth of which the pond is part - the collective unconscious. This is the vast unconscious, bigger than all of humankind. The pond bottom pictures just the beginning of all we don’t know – shared archetypal energies and images, the human story, the consciousness of plants and animals, the truth of the imagination, the mysteries of the holy, and we can never know what else. It’s wild, creative, dangerous, and relational but not necessarily agreeable.
Root - is the most fascinating thing there is in the whole picture. It's your core identity that is bigger than your own ego, self awareness, or personal existence. People call this astonishing force by names like the God Within, the Soul, Wisdom, -- every culture finds a way to point to this reality.
Here’s what it does, in Jungian terms: It interacts with the deep unconscious and the personal unconscious, sensing what you most need to see, feel, and know in the moment. Then it sends those energies up to consciousness in a form you can use – as dreams, synchronicities, archetypal situations, growth-producing events, significant people, mishaps, and various other forms of meaningful happenings.
Waterlily –the dream that rises and blossoms, ephemeral, with gold at its center.
Stem: how information travels between consciousness and unconscious. This could be dreamwork – but also anything that connects you to your Root and sustains growth: prayer, meditation, gardening, running, playing music, yoga – you know it when you feel it.
Poetry too. Since it's National Poetry Month,we'll explore poetry in the Tips and Titles department (see end of post).
That's plenty, but I do want to mention the point of all this.
Relationship is the point. You can use your dreams to relate to this powerful, lifegiving “root Self." Whether your dreamwork uses intuition or analysis, play or work, prayer or art, body or mind, this relationship is profoundly creative, challenging, and enlightening.
In fact, being in the relationship with the "root Self" is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for others. This connection enhances capacities for insight, compassion, creativity, and courage. Humility. Wisdom. Love.
How? The poets suggest that we not try too hard. “I loafe and invite my soul” says Walt Whitman, and he would be thrilled if you'd join him. Be "a bride married to amazement" says Mary Oliver. "Bellow forth...the whole rusty brass band of gratitude" says Ross Gay. Lie down in the field "out beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing" invites Rumi. "Leave spaces empty," dares Kay Ryan. "Taste and see...all that lives to the imagination's tongue" says Denise Levertov. Rilke "wants, simply, to say the names of things." The work of becoming is not necessarily easy. But Mary Oliver brings us back to the lily pond, assuring us that even if we think we fail at spiritual alignment, grace is as natural as dreaming:
"Each pond with its blazing lilies
Is a prayer heard and answered
whether or not you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray."
This is for those of you who say you never dream - or for those of us in a dream desert. Good news! Your unconscious seizes on things all the time to offer the metaphors you need in waking life. You don’t have to be asleep to access dreamlike wisdom: all you have to do is pay attention to whatever insists that you see it.
For instance. Sometimes I tune into the classic country station, because I do like a good ballad. Last week I tuned in twice and both times I heard that old song “Mercury Blues” sung by Alan Jackson. Really? This felt odd. During that second airing I said to myself, Why this song now? I asked that question in the same way I coach dreamers to ask, “Why this dream now?” We don’t often get an immediate “aha,” but the question makes us focus on the intersection of dream life and waking life, which is where the action is.
It took a day or two of listening to that line in my head (Crazy bout a Mercury, Lord I’m crazy bout a Mercury) before I realized – Oh! Mercury! Yes I am crazy about Mercury. As in Hermes/Mercury, the Greek/Roman god of thresholds, trade, travelers, and communications. As the messenger between gods and humans, he also brought dreams from Morpheus, the Greek god of Sleep, to human dreamers.
So now I’m holding curiosity and openness for growth about my own relationship with “Mercury” energy. For one thing, I’m abysmal at social media. My challenges, which would make any fifth grader snort with disdain, slow me down for weeks. So on one level, “Mercury energy” means hiring a helper (job description below).
One another level, as a dreamworker, I'm continually cruising in a Mercury. I'm driving along the road between Self and Ego, integrating wisdom from the inner source with insight from waking consciousness. So on this level, I'm reminded of all those ways I struggle to connect and attach to the physical world: bringing ideas, feelings, insights, and beliefs into grounded presence is often a challenge for me. Like you, I know that practical dreamwork is Mercury in action. So today, how can I express or embody a nonphysical reality in physical form? I can anchor a dream with Energy painting (see Tips). And I can serve up some love by making lasagna for my wild, wonderful teenager.
As Mercury drivers, we can offer a ride to others. Any time you listen to someone else’s dream, you show them that their dream matters. You can help them know that it holds practical wisdom as well as a glimpse into mystery.
There's more. We can interpret, translate, and transpose dream wisdom for others to share. We can phrase our understandings in terms consistent with Jungian psychology or the languages of traditional faith or natural spirituality. Knowing different ways to name a common experience offers hospitality and gives rise to various understandings of the depth and significance of the dream. Would you rather speak of the Self, the Imago Dei, the Dreamgiver, Wisdom, the Christ Within, or another name? And whoever's ridiing shotgun with you - how would he or she language that sense of Source? There's room for it all in the Mercury.
And one more thing: dreamers have a different roadmap. When you listen to another’s dream or share your own, you’re also opening new thresholds between the individual consciousness and the collective unconscious. Riding in that ‘49 Mercury convertible, you can navigate territories of mythic otherness: it's your Wardrobe, your Platform 9 and 3/4, or your Subtle Knife.
As new vistas open, feel the winds of change whipping through your hair, and hear the music spilling into the widening world - "Lord I'm crazy bout a Mercury!"
Two Mercury Things:
-Please follow me on Facebook: I’ll try to post updates about dream events without blowing up the internet: https://www.facebook.com/firebynightdreamwork/.
-Job! I need someone excellent at social media to help put out newsletters and Facebook posts, and to give my website a facelift. Email email@example.com. Knowledge of Mailchimp needed.
Wake up to Dreaming...
I love this 12th century carving, “The Dream of the Magi.” It pictures an imaginary beginning to the Epiphany story about the wise men who left everything to follow the dazzling star. The artist himself is a wise man, for he draws us first to the hands, not the star. This beautiful image is about waking to the touch of the angel.
Look at this liminal moment: those few seconds when we’re touched awake by a powerful dream that we’ll never quite grasp with our waking minds. The messenger – the dream – we may not remember, but when a dream touches us, we’re changed. We become more capable of seeing the star that we’re to follow, finding the courage and curiosity to take the next step, whether leaping or plodding, towards a mystery which we realize only by moving towards it with our whole selves.
This sculpture also shows the layered process of collective awakening. It’s like a dream group! One person wakes with a dream, that person tells it to the others, and then we all become conscious of a luminous summons. We’re a community not only of dreamers, but of wakers who help each other see whatever it is that draws us towards the divine mystery present in the world. That mystery is embodied in each person. It radiates from the natural world. And it glows even in the broken shards and grimy corners of human experience. As we move through our lives with greater consciousness and openhearted receptiveness to that mystery, we help create a world of more hope, more compassion, more peace, more beautiful, juicy, surprising grace in every step.
Maybe the first epiphany is simply that we are not alone.
Deep dreams to each of you this year,
A note on Celebrating Dream Epiphanies
Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th as the day the three Magi finally discover the Christ Child. The word "epiphany" simply means "appearance" or "revelation." Some of the Fire by Night dreamers celebrate the day by sharing foods depicting personal epiphanies that appeared through our dreams. This year I’m making a lemon meringue pie with chocolate crumbs: it honors my dream of a yellow bird who, by exhaling ashes, lifts herself off a prison ground and flies with exhilaration through the Grand Canyon.
It’s amazing that I can forget an epiphany that pictures such healing and invites such liberation. But I can. Hence the dream journal. Keeping a dream journal truly helps me follow the star that reveals the holy mysteries of ordinary living. (More on dream journals below, in Tips and Titles) This year I invite you to wake up to your dreams, keep them, feast on them, share them, and trust them to help you follow your star.
Fire by Night is glowing!
Welcome to the first issue of the monthly letter of Fire by Night Dreamwork. Here’s a flotilla of flaming thanks to all of you who have participated in Fire by Night over the years as it’s moved from a quiet circle of dream exploration to a certificated practice with multiple offerings and outreach events.
You’re receiving this because you’re a current or previous Fire by Night dreamer, or you’re a friend, colleague, therapist, and creative, curious person who might be interested in dreamwork.
Thank you for opening up the first issue to see what’s new.
Here are some recent dream images shared in the groups: a gorgeous red and white ‘53 Ford mired in deep mud. A rotted ceiling opening into a vast new room under the roof. A herd of beautiful golden-gray fish with a tender caretaker. A motorcycle rushing out of town with grinning baby girls balanced like outriggers as champagne rains down. So much change and growth underway! What image would you share?
Dreams come to us as emotion-drenched images. Soul-stirring pictures and symbols are the language of dreams, and as we shift from experiencing the dream to telling it, ordinary words often strain to translate the energies of the dream into a tellable tale. We try to outline the story, or describe the scene, or name the feelings. And, however limited the language, when we speak the dream aloud, and then play with it and work on it together, an amazing thing happens: meaning glows from within the dream, intuition leaps to insight, and we begin to perceive waking life differently. Dream story changes life story.
As dreams and synchronicities led me to put down teaching and take up dreamwork full time, it was time for a logo. I asked Linda, my inspired artist friend, to help. “Wait for an image that shows how it feels to do the work,” she said. I did, and here it is. Not quite what I’d imagined at first. I hope when you look at it you’ll see something you recognize. Maybe the inbreaking of an “Aha!” Or the peace of mandala patterning. The unsettling scatter of dream fragments that nevertheless bear light. The shape of the overlapping realities of dreaming and waking. The fascination of light and the beauty of darkness. The realization that dreams, like images in stained glass, point beyond themselves to the “fire by night” or Presence at the heart of life that knows you, loves you, challenges you, changes you.
My hope for you in this season of light is that however you name and celebrate the Mystery, that your dreams may lead you to new perspectives of compassion, courage, creativity, and joy.