Thursday, March 1, 2012


Every culture recognizes the importance of dreams. It is through dreams that the gods, spirits, ancestors, and the subconscious speak to us. It comes as no surprise that there are many books and techniques for dream work. Below are some techniques that I have tried.

Dream interpretation can be a very tricky thing. The message of the dream, if there is one, is meant for the dreamer and is best interpreted by the dreamer. The symbols in the dreams are tailored to them and attempted interpretation by others can be difficult. The presence of a squirrel in my dream can have a totally different meaning than if the same squirrel appears in your dream. This is why I don't use books on dream interpretation. The interpretations in books are based on cultural generalizations and may not reflect my personal symbology. I usually meditate or journey on my dreams to get a more intuitive read on them.

A dream journal is an excellent tool for those interested in dream work. To keep a dream journal you need to place it next to the bed so you can write down your dreams as soon as you wake before the dream slips away. I used to keep a separate journal for dreams, but now I record significant dreams in my shamanic journal. keeping a dream journal will allow you to look back at dreams later and sometimes that hindsight will give you a clearer understanding of the dream.

Lucid dreaming is the technique of taking control of the dream from the inside. Lucid dreamers are then able to reshape the dream as they see fit as in the Matrix "there is no spoon", or Dark City's "tuning".  I haven't set out to try lucid dreaming, but I have recently been able to spontaneously achieve this state. I think it may be related to my shamanic studies. Dreams and shamanic journeys are very similar and my familiarity with the state needed for journey work allows me to recognize this state in dreams and take control.

Recurring dreams usually carry an important message. I had a series of dreams that started before I began studying shamanism. The settings of the dreams were always different. What was the same was that in all the dreams I was held immobile by an outside force. My attacker appeared in various forms. in some dreams it was a ghost. In others, it was invisible. The last time I dreamed of it, it manifested as a swirling shadow. In the dreams I knew that if  I could command it to let me go, it would have to obey. However, I could not speak. So the dreams became a contest of wills between me and it.

When I began studying shamanism, I learned about the shadow. There are many different names for it, and there is a great blog post about it on Standing At The Centre. Basically, it is the parts of you that are denied and repressed. But repressing things doesn't make them go away. Instead, because you are ignoring them, they get to run amok, influencing you in ways you don't realize. I believe the dreams I had were an initiatory experience of sorts. They alerted me to the presence of my shadow, and showed me that if I did not control it, it would control me.

After I began working with my shadow, the dreams stopped. I still journey to check in with my shadow from time to time, especially if I do or feel something and I don't quite understand where it is coming from. I have made the process an important part of knowing myself.

This is by no means a complete list of dream techniques. These are only the ones that I personally have experience with. There are stones, charms, herbs, and spells for working with dreams. Working with dreams can be a big undertaking, but it can really pay off. If you want to learn more about dreams, dream interpretation, and dream magick, there are many books on the subject. I really like Christopher Penczak's book "The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft". Among other things, it has a chapter on dreams.

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