Dreamwork for Survivors

92b72-bannerpicI’m so pleased to announce that my very first dream class, Dreamwork for Survivors, is launching!

I’ve been away from this column for a little longer than I’d planned, but I’ve been hard at work getting this class together and it’s looking SO GOOD, I have to say. Dreaming and healing happen together – they are natural parts of the same deeply human process, primary ways we make sense of our old stories, weave new stories, share our visions and encounter our own power. I have long wanted to host a dream circle, but I am deeply proud and grateful that I get to bring this work particularly to folks who are in this process of their own healing and self-discovery. DfSFlyerWhen I talk about this project lately, I get a lot of curious eyebrow faces and questions like, “Survivors of what? Why?” Dreams have always been a big part of my life, and especially my path through the territory of healing and recovery, and so I forget sometimes that what makes total sense to me isn’t necessarily crystal clear to others. I could talk ALL DAY about intersections between dreamwork and the work of being a survivor (obvs, so much to say that I’m making a whole class and workbook!), but I think some of the crux of it breaks down like this:

For my purposes here, a survivor is anyone coming through a powerful experience of loss, illness, or violation, and who carries awareness of this wound in understanding themself. Survivorship is a relationship with your wounds, an orientation toward healing, mapmaking in the dark. A survivor is a shapeshifter, learning her magic on the fly, dreaming up new ways to be in the world. Survivorship often entails having a troubled relationship with one’s own body, feelings, dreams, and memory.

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The Beginning by Christian Schloe

Dreamwork teaches us to spend time with the modality of memory: to bring careful and loving attention to whatever fragments, images, sensory experiences, and internal knowings rise up into conscious awareness, and then to value them on their own terms, without forcing the pieces together or interpreting them to death. To instead turn the pieces over and over and see what starts to emerge, what the pieces want us to know, what patterns may develop. Dreamwork asks us to sit with the discomfort of what these pieces bring and let our deep feelings guide us toward our truths, rather than imposing truth from the top down, so to speak. This process inherently reconnects our thinking minds with our experiences of body, emotion, intuition and imagination. It leads us to a healthier place where all these parts of ourselves get to participate in deciding what’s true and what’s meaningful for us. At the base of survivorship are experiences of having one’s rightful power and control taken away. We all react in myriad different ways to such experiences, but we share the root experience of feeling out of control, disempowered. Claiming a practice that makes new roots in your power and your imagination – a practice that roots you in your ability to control how you come to your truth and what you do about it, is a revolutionary healing act. We may not be in charge of what happens in dreams, or what happened to us in our pasts, but we are in charge of how we relate to those experiences now.

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Erin Kelso’s gorgeous work

Dreamwork builds a sense of empowerment that feels collective and responsive, open and communicative, and diminishes the kind of power that gets stuck trying to control everything from on high – and that then feels angry or hopeless when that doesn’t (and can’t) work. I believe survivors, just going about the business of our own healing, have unique access to building the kind of open and constructive empowerment I’m talking about. Survivorship is ultimately about co-creating the space to remember, grieve, hold ourselves lovingly, and come into new kinds of relationships. Dreamwork naturally encourages, strengthens and supports all of these skills, and helps us experiences them in ways that show us we are not alone in this work.

I know you want to know more. There are a few ways to do that:

1) Join the first-ever Dreamwork for Survivors circle!

2) Pick up the workbook – available super soon – and each copy sold will support someone’s access to the circle at a sliding scale, so you’re directly supporting a local survivor as you learn more about working with your own dreams! Amazing! I’ll announce it here so keep an eye out!

3) Stay tuned to Dreamboat here at Compassionate Revolt – there will be more dreaming adventure, future classes and circles to come. ❤

Sweet dreams,

Kaeti

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave. ———- There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Why Dreams?

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Sometimes I tell people that I do dreamwork for a living, and mostly they cock their heads at me and don’t say much of anything. It’s unexpected. Some folks get excited and intrigued – my people! – but mostly I get two kinds of questions. “What does that mean?” and “Why dreams?”

I want to talk about that “why?” question. I’ve written a bit about the other one – what dreamwork means, and what that looks like. You can even download a lovely little pdf I made about beginning to work with dreams. The “why” question is trickier to answer, but for me I think it comes down to this:

Because there is more to you than your daily, outward self. There is more to all of us.

Dreams are a bridge, connecting us to what else is going on inside – particularly things our waking selves have a hard time looking at, deep feelings, hidden stress, secret strengths, and important parts of our histories and futures.

Especially in our dominant American culture, our daily waking self’s perspective tends to harden around us like an armored shell. Dreams crack that shell open and reveal how much more we are – and how much more we are capable of. Dreamwork is a practice of remembering and honoring that richness within each of us. Dreamwork brings our daily waking selves into deeper relationship with the rest of us, and with the infinite web of relationships that is Gaia and Her dreaming world.

Dreams offer a chance to be in dialogue with what’s wild and Other about us. We are visited by powerful animals, beautiful strangers, familiar terrors and we sit with them, we host them, we listen to the messages they bring. We learn, and we change, and the dreams change along with us.

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Dreamwork grows an important skill that we can bring into waking life too – especially those of us who inhabit certain kinds of privilege: sitting and listening to what feels Other, containing the intense feelings that arise in us, and trusting that a perspective so different from our own is true and deeply valuable for us to hear. It’s as important to be able to do this within yourself as it is with your intimate and community partners, and as we go about the business of renewing our relationship with the more-than-human world.

Dreams are also where we have great adventures and find the spark of inspiration – we travel to new places, and we drink deeply from where the underground currents bubble up in flowing springs. We receive important messages from the world that is so much bigger than us.

I invite you to begin, or to deepen your practice of attending your dreams and working with them lovingly. Over time, with this practice, we come into a sense of ourselves as empowered, of our experiences as full of meaning, and of the world as alive and full of magic.

I will be teaching a dreamwork course in the Spring that will be a deeper, 12-week exploration of this practice. Dreamwork for Survivors will weave this practice while bearing in mind the needs of survivors and the ways that this work can uniquely support healing and reconnecting to yourself and your world.

Please check it out! Follow the link for more in-depth information and to sign up for updates as we get closer to March.

There are so many ways to engage your dreams. If joining a dream circle isn’t calling you, I encourage you to begin in a smaller way. Even just the act of making a dream journal can be a powerful start of such a practice.

I love that I get to live in this work, and that part of my work is helping others find access to their own version of it. And I look forward to sharing more of my work with you as we move toward the Spring and launch the Dreamwork for Survivors course.

This blog was originally posted over at Califia Collective, with whom I’ll be teaching the upcoming course. If you haven’t checked out their amazing and inspiring blend of community healing, justice, herbalism, and queerdo magic, you’re in for a treat!

~ Sweet dreams ~

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

On Armor, Self-Creation, and Accessing Our Inner Worlds

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Part of the great power and mystery of dreaming is that, in dreams, you find yourself in relationship with the rest of you: who you are when you’re not performing your daytime, waking-world persona; who you wish you could be, or hope you’re not. In dreams we can come into contact with disowned and discarded elements and aspects of ourselves – as well as new, emergent parts of us that we’ve never met yet. Dreams also present us with the forgotten or repressed facts of our living connections to each other – and to the animals and plants we share the living world with, to our shared histories and futures, to dreaming Gaia Herself.

Dreamwork creates reflective time for us to be with these mysteries and unfold ourselves into new awareness about ourselves and our world.

Dreams ask us to take an attitude to them that can be very uncomfortable. Waking, we are always discerning the boundaries of our conscious identity: this is me, that’s not me, that’s has nothing to do with me. Dreams ask us to become more porous and curious in our thinking, and become concerned not with what something is or isn’t but with how we relate to it (and how it relates to us).

Dreamwork asks us to practice a faith in our deeper selves by honoring that whatever comes up to the surface – the dream itself, our reactions to it, our associations to it – has its reason, has something to do with us, even if we don’t know how to recognize it yet.

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Art by Geninne: blogdelanine.blogspot.com

This can be a powerful release and relief, for the conscious mind to accept that it’s not in control of everything that goes on inside us, nor does it have to be.

This can also be a balancing practice for many of us whose minds have had very good reason to become protective and stay in control.

Every day, we are bombarded by images, values, policies, and judgments that don’t represent us and that do us harm. In the dominant racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist and capitalist culture, strength and survival can mean adopting an attitude of crafting and defining and valuing our identities on our own terms. That attitude of revolutionary self-creation serves us well in the waking world – but, when it becomes a habitual armor, it can cut us off from the deeper dreaming wellspring of ourselves, our connections to one another, our healing, and our inner guidance.

Our roots go so much deeper down...
Our roots go so much deeper down…

This is not even to really get into how the same dominant culture in general cuts us off from our inner selves, and teaches us not to ask questions, not to draw connections, not to identify empathically with an other. These thought patterns belong to this culture and its legacies of violence, and it’s impossible not to internalize them to some degree. For those (most!) of us who inhabit marginalized identities and have to work hard to claim our value, this can be a double-whammy of a cut-off.

If you find yourself saying things about your dreams like, “That was meaningless,” “That was a stupid dream,” “I wish I could just forget that dream,” “That has nothing to do with me,” or “Phew! Woke up and escaped, now I never have to think about that again!” – then the armor of your waking mind is protecting you from something in your own inner world that wants your attention.

Here’s a small way to begin practicing a balancing attitude in your dreamwork:

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  1. Make a quiet space for yourself – half an hour on the couch, some quiet tea time curled up on your bed, a blanket in the park, a walk on the beach, whatever you got to work with.
  1. Actively imagine yourself taking off a piece of armor and setting in on the ground beside you. A helmet or a chest-plate would do nicely. Tell yourself something like I am taking off my armor in order to be with myself, or In this quiet space, I am free to relax and get curious, or even just I am safe here or I come in peace. Take a breath and feel your body adjust to this attitude.
  1. Get your dream journal and either write down a fresh dream or turn to one you wrote down fairly recently. Pick one element of it that challenges, confuses, or bewilders you and name it, write it down.
  1. Give yourself permission to free associate – this means that, without having to understand or interpret anything, you get to brainstorm any and all images, feelings, or memories that come up as you contemplate your chosen dream element. Associations can be very personal but they don’t have to be – they can be old stories, characters from tv shows, current events in other parts of the world, etc. Let it all just blurt into your journal – notice if you feel hesitation or embarrassment, but remember that you are safe here, no one will see but you, and your only job is to take note of what comes up.
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Dream journalling gets wild… Art by Christian Schloe.
  1. Reflect on what you’ve journalled – allow yourself to ask questions without needing to answer them right away. The point here is to practice being curious and holding the possibility that you are connected to the images and feelings that came to you.
  1. Pick a few elements of your associations to remember and carry with you during your day – not as a problem to solve, but as something to carry lightly in your mind. As you go about your day, notice when events or feelings arise that remind you of your dream elements. Meaning or insight may or may not come to you in this process, and that’s fine – the point is to practice staying in connection to the inner world, and noticing when something in the waking world resonates with your inner dreaming world.
  1. Thank yourself for making time to connect with your own dream life!

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Want to learn more? Check out my Dreamwork for Survivors course, coming this Spring with Califia Collective!

DFS

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

Climbing Mount Stewart: Exploring Place in Dreams

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Last night, I dreamed:

 I ride my bike and walk up a large hill or small mountain. As I climb, everything goes wonky – the path narrows and curves at a bizarre angle, gravity and perspective and the very directions seem to shift in ways I can’t understand. It’s all I can do to stay on the narrow gravelly path, as if I could just fall right off it as I go. From the top, I can see new green fields all around, and there’s a civic park there at the summit. Gathered there sitting on a wall are some women I knew in high school, with their young children, and a young man who was a childhood neighbor and playmate. One of the women smiles and speaks with me. I begin to have visions of maps, and understand that this place is called Mount Stewart.

I’m excited to begin 2015’s Dreamboat by introducing  some my favorite tools for exploring dream imagery, taking you step by step through fresh dream work. There are obviously many elements of this dream that could be unpacked – the strange climb, the various people at the summit’s park – but my focus here is on the mountain as it reveals itself to me: Mount Stewart.

Places in dreams – in particular, specifically named places – hold a lot possibilities. I don’t know any place with this name in my waking life, nor does it remind me of any place I remember visiting. So the first thing I do is use the best tool for researching dreams, imagery, synchronicities and such that I know: the almighty  google.

Google informs me that Mount Stewart is:

  1. A California mountain situated on The Great Western Divide, in Sequoia National Park, named after “The Father of Sequoia National Park,” in an area of the park called Valhalla. Stewart was an early conservationist who was also a journalist and fought to save the Big Trees (the park houses the biggest tree on earth).
  2. A small community on Price Edward Island, where a bridge across the river was an important transportation hub linking the two sides of the island.
  3. A place on Victoria Island, B.C. near Thetis Lake.
  4. An Australian asparagus farm.
  5. A memorial in New Zealand dedicated to early European settlers.
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Mount Stewart

That’s quite a list! I take some time to see how each facet of this list resonates, and what associations arise for me:

  1. That there is an actual Mount Stewart within a day’s drive is exciting. Looking at the map, I see that there is no road that goes there – it’s deep in the forest and can only be accessed by trail. Deep Forest and Mountain have been showing up in dreams and travel with increasing regularity and power for me, and I have never been to Sequoia but a dear friend considers it a spiritually transformative place that deeply affected her when she visited. You can be sure I will now be scheming on how I can make a retreat there sometime this year.
  2. I note that my only association to Prince Edward Island is that one of my favorite childhood authors lived and wrote about life there, and maybe I will revisit one of her books, since one of my intentions for 2015 is to reconnect with literature and fiction writing. I also note that I have ancestors who lived in Nova Scotia, although I know nothing about them or even which family line they came through. I will do some research on this.
  3. Victoria Island was a place I visited as a child, but was too young to remember much. I note Thetis lake because it’s good practice to note mythological figures who may be woven into the dream’s landscape – Thetis being an Archaic Greek sea goddess whose pre-patriarchal worship was deep and widespread and which record is largely lost, and who is remembered now for being mother to the hero Achilles. Also, another Canada connection. I take from this to be on the lookout for a connection to early childhood, powerful forces from beyond memory, and/or a reminder when working with this specific place of a larger context of the living earth and sea.
  4. Asparagus farm! The tag line goes, “We grow fresh green asparagus 8 months out of the year” and my first reaction is about how asparagus is a tender, early Spring vegetable – I feel a distaste toward the idea of over-forcing something out of its season. The “fresh green” reminds me of the green I see from the park.
  5. A memorial dedicated to early European settlers – I have been thinking and reading recently on ideas of whiteness, privilege, settler colonialism, and my own relationship with my ancestors. This process indeed feels like a long climb where the way the world works suddenly shifts, I have to account for different perspectives, and I have to tread very mindfully.

You can see how many facets of the image of Mount Stewart start to appear when held and turned in different directions. Exploring associations like this is one way of doing so. Another way of doing so, and one of my absolute favorites, is to explore the language itself. Where words appear, dreams are great punsters and make much use of the poetic depth of language and etymology.

First, I look at the word as it shows up: Stewart is an old Scottish name, connected to a line of royalty, of Old English origin by way of a Breton knight. (I note that I think I have some Scotch ancestry that I know nothing about. I think this may be connected to the line that wound up in Nova Scotia about which I also know nothing.)

From it comes the English word “steward:” a person who manages the household, or the affairs of another; a manager, caretaker, or guardian.

Digging deeper into the etymology yields the Old English stīġ + weard.

Stīġ: 1) house, hall, building, enclosure for animals. 2) An especially steep or narrow path. (!)

Weard: 1) guard or watchman, protector. 2) a protected place (neighborhood, section of community, area of a building, division of a forest).

Weard is also closely connected to an Old Norse word for cairn, a man-made pile of stones acting as a trail-marker, burial-marker, astronomical device, or spiritual monument. I note that this doubles the image of the small mountain with man-made park at its summit. I also note that part of my ancestry includes Norse folks, and with the earlier Valhalla connection there’s a doubling of this influence too.

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For me, Mount Stewart thus becomes a dream-place named for the process it embodies and illustrates: a careful climb up a steep and narrow path, which requires an attitude of oversight, guardedness, and stewardship (including the ecological stewardship for which the historical Californian Stewart was known). The park at its summit is a protected place, and needs to be approached as such. Whatever or whoever is beginning to be represented there by the people I meet in the dream should also be approached with these attitudes. The protected and stewarded nature of the place may reflect the purposes of cairns: orienting and connecting during movements between realms. As I deepen this dreamwork by turning to the figures and my relationships with them, I will bear all this in mind.

I understand this dream to speak to ongoing processes of learning and growth for me, touching many layers of my experience and practice: my relationship with mountainous terrain which was renewed last Fall when I traveled in the Carpathians; my relationship with forest terrain and its creatures, which are regularly present in dreams; my desire to have more travel and working retreats in my waking life; my relationship with the land of California, which has revealed itself to me in dreams before like this; my deepening practice of ancestral study and how that connects to issues of privilege, settler history (that great Western divide), and my stewardship of all this in terms of my own right relationship with the land I live in.

MtStwart

You can see the rich weave of information and influences these ways of working a dream create. The beauty of these tools is that you don’t need a lot of special equipment or education. Access to the internet, a playful and curious mind, and an intention to explore and expand an image (rather than collapse it into definition, as I might have done by looking up “mountain” in a symbol dictionary) are all you need. Held this way,  a dream becomes a puzzle that yields orientation, guidance, confirmation, and fresh ideas and directions to look toward. I hope you find it useful!

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

You missed out.

No, seriously, you missed out.

The Califia Collective Holiday Market was AMAZING!

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There was of course the lovely Dream Workshop by our COM|PASSionate REVOLUTIONARY, Kaeti Gugiu, the highly anticipated Elixir Bar + Potion Lab, lots of lovingly made and magically imbued goodies and most importantly community gathering!

Those who swung through were lovely, folks with lots of healing knowledge themselves, aromatherapy and plant medicine aficionados, those just entering wide eyed into the world of quirky holistic healers and medicine makers, serendipitous new connections  and even some unexpectedly familiar faces! We were quite busy heading up to the event (and even almost missed it by a day due to confused chaotic holiday scheduling on our end) but we’re so glad we did the hustle to get there! It was truly a testament to opening up to new connections, trusting and heading in with open hearts.

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Because… when you’re open to new connections, trust and head in with open hearts sometimes you come out well dressed, smelling delicious, warmed up from the inside and also vaguely sparkly from a fortuitous trade with a radical midwife who’s partner makes magical goodies like Unicorn Sparkle Balm!

Yup. You missed out. In fact I hesitated too long and missed out on the Dragon Balm! Life lesson: If someone, ANYONE, offers you a magical gathering and sparkly things in jars labeled after mythical creatures there’s no room for hesitation… I REPEAT, NO ROOM.

Lucky for you, though, dear reader, the magick women nurturing the collective, Kirsten + Alexis,  are continuing to busily create revolution in our local community with lots of new healing events!

Stay posted! We know we will! Check out links after the fold for holiday healing treats, services and revolutionaries!

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Traci is a patron of the lost art of mythical creature balm making, queer family building, community dreaming and naturally sweet smelling arm pits. She writes and dreams for COM|PASSionate REVOLT, facilitates mind/body summits through yoga and offers herself as a humble witness of process through her therapy practice COM|PASSionate REVOLT Healing.

REVOLUTIONARIES mentioned in, alluded to or complimentary to this post.

Califia Collective

Worts + Cunning / The Lunar Apothecary

Long Beach Apothecary / The Crazy Herbalist

Dreamwork for Survivors

Holistic Living With Kristy

Spinsters R Us

Taproot Midwifery

Dream Inspired Design

 

Califia Holiday Market!

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Special Announcement!

Please join us at Califia Collective’s Holiday Gathering & Market, tomorrow night!

The good folks at Califia are bringing me on board to teach with them, and tonight will be my first event with them. I will be there speaking about dreams, sharing a little zine version of the Litte Dreamwork Primer, and announcing my Dreamwork for Survivors course that will be debuting in the Spring! I’m so excited and pleased to be able to share this all with you. Our wonderful Compassionate Revolt team is going to be there too, sharing all kinds of lovingly crafted goodies and healing tools. This is a wonderful chance to meet, build community, support local healers, and get your little paws on some one-of-a-kind treasure.

Plus: FREE herbal elixir bar and make-your-own dream pillows!

So excited. See you there!

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A Dream Considered Through Personal, Collective, and Gaian Lenses

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Today, I’d like to take an old dream of mine as an example for one of my favorite ways of working with dreams. I don’t have a catchy name for this tool, and maybe it’s more of a philosophy than a tool, but I think it’s incredibly helpful.

Lots of folks talk about dreams as working on multiple levels. Jungians are maybe best known for this, and they break the levels down in various ways. The language that feels simplest, cleanest, and most useful to me is to think of dreams as working on 3 different levels: Personal, Collective, and Gaian.

Personal: this probably already makes sense to you. There are dreams that easily slide into this microscope, and you can gleam all kinds of information about yourself, your psyche, your history, your evolution…you get the idea.

Looking through the microscopic personal lens...a beautiful hidden world!
Looking through the microscopic personal lens…a beautiful hidden world!

Collective: this probably also makes sense to you somehow. On this level, we might talk about archetypal dreams, ancestral dreams, prophetic dreams, shared dreams, dreams where you receive specific information about something other or bigger than you, dreams that touch experiences that you share with many other people, and dreams where you are part of a larger drama.

The mind boggles.
The mind boggles.

Gaian: this may be where you’re cocking your eyebrow at me, because we don’t have much language about this in the dominant culture. This is the level where we acknowledge that humans are not the only carriers of consciousness, and that we are only a small part of the dreaming world. Dreams can be a field of communication with other phenomena – places, weather, animals, and the ways we all embody the larger organism which is Gaia. Dreams can be a place where we connect to the immense suffering of the world, and engage in the important work of grieving and creating new relationships with the Gaian world. If you’d like to read more about this, I refer you to the striking work of healer Deena Metzger.

Click here to access Deena Metzger's powerful essay Living By Dream, in the inaugural issue of Dark Matter: Women Witnessing
Click here to access Deena Metzger’s powerful essay Living By Dream, in the inaugural issue of Dark Matter: Women Witnessing

It’s important to note that these levels are not “kinds of dreams.” Personal, Collective, and Gaian are stances we can take toward any dream; they are attitudes and approaches. We can hold a dream and turn it carefully over, looking through each lens, one at a time, allowing the dream to express its multidimensional fullness. They help us to practice a multivalent awareness and to grow our understanding that meaning happens on many levels, in many ways, from many perspectives, all woven together. It is never just one or the other.

Here is a dream that came to me in Spring of 2010:

A dark, underground sewer. A woman has been floating down, and now emerges from, the muddy stream. She is brilliant red, glowing, bloody and screaming in agony because she has no skin, she is skinless. She will grow a new skin.

I first considered this dream personally. I thought about all the change and transformation I was undergoing, having been “in the shit” of my own healing for a while at this point. I thought about how painful this process can be, how in the disorientation of deep, healing change it can feel like you’ve lost your skin – feeling everything, feeling too much, having lost the old filters and barriers that helped you deal with all the shit you’ve been swimming in for so long. I thought about the brilliant red and the fact that the figure is emerging from the sludge, ready to grow a new skin, and I felt hopeful about my own emergence and new growth, even if it was still underground.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I was looking through my collage-fodder picture books and stumbled across this image:

From the Splendor Solis
From the Splendor Solis

It was the very picture of my dream! – only above ground, instead of below. This is the kind of thing that happens on the collective level. Like tuning into a frequency or tapping into a current, our sensitive psyches light up with stories and images that have been around for ages and ages of human experience.

This is an alchemical painting, and, to add to the synchronicity, a few days later I went to school where our evening training that session was in Alchemy. I spoke to the professor briefly about this experience, and she encouraged me to deepen my exploration of it as a collective dream. She saw in it a powerful image of the raw Feminine, so sensitive and so mistreated in our dominant American culture, violently expressing Her rage and pain – and calling me to help in the work of re-growing Her skin. I was being reminded that even in doing my personal healing, in re-growing my own embodied sensitivity and containing selfhood, I was helping anchor the same kind of renewal on the collective level. I am just one place where this re-emerging Feminine is happening in my culture.

Whatever we mean by “the Feminine,” it is something that has as much to do with what we call “the natural world” as it does with human women. Both women’s bodies and the earth itself have been subject to the same kinds of objectified exploitation. Understanding this figure as an expression of the Feminine is a way to expand even further, out into the Gaian stance. From this perspective, we can see the skinless woman’s screams as the pain and rage of Gaia, the living earth, engulfed in human sewage. I had this dream during the period of the BP Oil Spill, as I was becoming interested in ecopsychology and other methods of including the more-than-human world in healing work.

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This dream was a major message for me that as I grow into a new relationship with my self, and with whatever the Feminine is in our culture, that necessarily includes my relationship with the more-than-human world of interconnected life that I now refer to as Gaian.

Of course, this is only scratching the surface of this dream and its story. But my hope is that this shows you how powerful just a single dream image can be, and how richly it unfolds when considered using different lenses. I love how each not only enlivens the dream’s message, but each layer creates new texture for the others, creating multiple points of access and meaning that deeply inform one another. I hope this becomes a useful tool for you in exploring the beautiful multiplicity of your own dream life.

Sweet dreams,

Kaeti

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.