Last weekend in Jonesborough, home of the International Storytelling Festival, we had a Main Street event, complete with artists and musicians and many pumpkins. I was so inspired by the yarncraft that I went home and picked up my knitting. Once upon a time I made challenging things, even a Fair Isle sweater, but now I mostly make big rectangles. With one clever seam they become these elegant drifty wraps*, but I digress. Knitting a few rows helped me reorient to the task at hand - a long overdue process I call my Over Time Seasonal Review of Dreams and Waking Life.
The initial part of this practice is a read-through of all the dreams and journal entries over a period of time. I include what's been going on in the wide world, in my family, spiritual life, finances - there's a big list. The point of it is to see what I notice about the dreams and my life when I take the long view. Most of the time, the story I’ve been telling myself is very different from the story the Dreamgiver is telling me through the dreams. Eventually, after several more steps in the process, the review helps me reorient to a very different perspective about life and meaning. Often, what I see surprises me. An astonishing new story is revealed about what is really going on.
If you’ve ever knit a Fair Isle sweater, or received one from an amateur knitter, you have a good metaphor for how this very important part of dreamwork works. Let’s say you read through the dreams of a season or a year.
At first, this is probably how they come across:
Oooo. A shapeless shape…a random mess of colors not necessarily to your liking…loose and tangled threads…raw edges curling into an unresolved question.
Yes, a read-through of my dream & life journal feels pretty much like this –
the back side of someone else's complicated knitting project.
But if you stick with it, watching your dreams, your waking life events and feelings, and the occasional synchronicities, you start to see the relationships coming together. Something might flip in your emotional, intuitive, symbol-and-metaphor perception,
just as a knitter flips a piece
from the messy, unintellible back...
The relationship between what you see dream by dream,
and what emerges over time
can reorient us completely.
At first, just looking at that dream in the moment, we may say,
"Not sure about this, but something is coming together and I like the colors."
Then, over time, as we learn to discern from the Dreamgiver's perspective
we can see,
“Oh - it’s a sock! With a pink cat!”
Maybe as we stay with it, the vision becomes more refined, as we take in new dream details
and some input from the waking world and we conclude:
“Oh, it’s a Christmas stocking, and that creature is supposed to be a fox (the knitter said so).
Then you can begin another level of dreamwork, sitting with what's needling you:
My dreams and life events have knit themselves together over this season,
revealing the odd, orginal hot pink foxcat part of me
who marks the receptive edge
where Gift, Giver, and Receiver meet,
to celebrate the embodiment of the Divine in the world.
What can the foxcat show me about my sacred essence?
Am I called to explore the Christmas stocking part of myself,
a carefully crafted container for lavish generosity in a season of Great Gift?
All those things we learn in dream groups and dream books and dream classes -
they are all about
this one difficult creative process
of embodying more truly what we are, in service to the greater Whole,
whether we step or stumble or foxtrot our way along.
The vision is not always readily apparent, and like knitting,
dream discernment takes some skill and practice.
Rarely is it quite this neat and clear:
Still, if you want to get your mitts on this process,
try keeping a dream journal that is a reliable resource for you.
Include the four basics for each dream:
3.Dream narrative, including feelings in the dream
4.Notes on life context.
You can download my free “Field Guide” for starters,
and also refer to the journal templates on the Resource page.
When you review your dreams, you won’t see a seamless whole. There is far more mystery than consciousness can take in. But you will begin to notice themes, evolving characters, recurring settings, and hints about where the Dreamgiver may be leading you these days. You may begin to trust that when you slip a stitch, change colors mid-row, or drag those ugly floaters across the back – in dreams or in waking life -- there is some sort of pattern going on behind the visible mess.
Thank you and deep dreams, all.
*Some of you are wondering! See https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/soft-kid-wrap
Most of these are original works on knitting websites:
Malabrigo Caracol: The Loopy Ewe