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.
Tips and Titles for Dreamwork and Dreamplay
Tip: Keep a really good dream journal. Having a record of your dreams over time will help you see the longer arc and the deeper story that your unconscious is telling about your “one wild and precious life.”
It’s not hard but it takes a little effort to build the habit.
Here’s the simplified Laura Version. You’ll need:
Begin – Wake gently. When you have rehearsed the feeling and images of your dream, slowly move to language, and write just a few words about it in your Plain Old Notebook. That will be enough to recall the whole dream later when you have time.
Then – Record the whole dream in your dream journal. First give it a title and date. Make a few notes about what has been going on in your waking life, and what is on your mind.
Write on the left side of the page in your “dream color.”
On the right, leave room for notes, associations, sketches, insight. Use your other color of ink for these.
Last - go back and record the date and title of your dream in your Dream Index.
You will want to return to your dream narratives and make more notes, do your active imagination, etc. so leave some space for further insights. Your dream journal will be a treasure both in the present and over time.
Watch for my upcoming summer workshop on re-storying your narrative through your long-term dream journal.
Dream Theatres of the Soul by Jean Benedict Raffa
Dream Prayers by Tallulah Lyons
Here are two dream writers who have done a beautiful job of transforming the long arcs of their dreams into stories about how dream wisdom has transformed their lives over time. Both of these women are excellent dream teachers and storytellers. Raffa takes a more Jungian-centric approach, working through her “theatres” of ego, persona, shadow, animus, and the Self with a feminine perspective. Lyons offers dreamwork as a transforming spiritual path. Her wise, capacious language appeals to readers both in and beyond traditional faith circles.