Hangin Out with The Fool & The Hanged Man

TarotTuesdayBannerHi friends!

I had a lovely time adventuring over my break – very much in the rambling fool spirit that Traci so lovingly wrote about here last week 🙂

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A happy travellin’ fool!

For today’s draw, I pulled The Hanged Man in my trusty old Rider Waite Smith deck, and as I settled down to peruse Traci’s exploration of The Fool, I found myself considering the relationship between these two cards for the first time in probably years, maybe ever.

foolhangedmanThese seem like the same person! Both have a special relationship to space, gravity, and trust – hangin out, a moment of suspense. The Hanged Man is perhaps where we check in on the fool during her journey – she’s a little rougher around the edges, a little simpler, kinda travel-worn, a little less grand (but with the same penchant for leggings and tunics, which I fully support as a fashion choice).

If these cards talk about different kinds of transitional space, I like balancing The Fool’s externality against The Hanged Man’s internality. In the image of The Fool, the world is fixed and still as our foolish hero loftily spins and skips and crashes through it. In The Hanged Man, there is an outer stillness seems to anchor all kinds of inner movement. The Fool is about diving in and learning about intuition and inspiration on the go, suspending judgement. The Hanged Man today talks to me about what it looks like to have a practice of trusting that flow of intuition and inspiration, and to seek dedication into its inner mysteries by inhabiting a different kind of suspension.

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A different kind of foolish Hanged Man I encountered on my travels…

For me, today, these cards are all about the joy of traveling and being out of my element – and then the joy of coming home and being back in my element, while still being upside down from those travels. It’s me, integrating all that I have learned and still aglow with the knowledge that the world is so much bigger than I can ever imagine, full of so much more than I could ever learn, and that it’s not my job to control it but just to be in it and let my intuition and sense of connection guide me. It’s taking a pause in this in-between space and not just jumping right back into routine, but valuing this space for the insight and perspective it brings. Even if that’s just enjoying how jet lag makes me wake up and enjoy the very early mornings which, when back in my usual routine, I never seem able to wake up for. Small moments of upside-down suspension in my otherwise-familiar world.

Maybe sometimes The Hanged Man is what The Fool looks like at home?

What do you think?

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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.

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Tarot Tuesday: Some of my Favorite Resources

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Today I’d like to share with you some of my favorite other tarot resources in the big wide world.

First, if you’re local to Southern California I heartily recommend you check out Califia Collective’s Introduction to Tarot course: Reading the Cards – this Friday in Long Beach! It’s being taught by the incomporable Alexis of Worts & Cunning and is affordable and promises to be full of learning and playfulness and goodies galore.

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The internet is full of people sharing fabulous explorations of tarot. No list could ever be truly complete, but here are a few folks whose work I particularly love and/or whose work has supported my own tarot journey over the years.

Aeclectic Tarot is a huge – I mean HUGE – store of of resources. A lively community of scholars, professionals, aficionados, newbs, and all-around tarot-lovers has co-created a wealth of reviews, readings, experiences, stories, scholarship, advice, games, discussions, and random loveliness. This place really supported by tarot study, especially in the middle years of deepening and exploring and beginning to read professionally. Worth a trip down the bunny hole.

Beth at Little Red Tarot is doing fantastic work, is catalyzing a queer tarot community, just started a tarot learning course that I’m hoping to do together with my niece, is manifesting a queer tarot deck, writes lovely articles for Autostraddle, and is all around awesome. She is also recruiting writers – particularly folks of color and magical queerdos. Send her some love!

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a shining star, and you can find her at brownstargirltarot.wordpress.com – her work bridging tarot with radical healing and social justice is super inspiring. Check out this lovely interview with her too!

Trung Nguyen is an artist working on a gorgeous and inclusive tarot deck – you can read a wonderful interview with him here, or check out some his work on his tumblr here.

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Trung Nguyen’s beautiful Empress card. Swoon!

That should keep you busy for a while. Happy exploring! ❤ Let us know who your favorite tarot peeps are!

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.

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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.

The Magician: A Magical Lunar Cycle Spread

TarotTuesdayBannerLet’s talk about magic.

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When The Magician came up for today’s card, I had to grin: of course! Today’s a big magical New Moon, and new moons are generally a great time to play with tarot for divination, exploring thoughts or beliefs that no longer serve you and are ready to be released, planting new seeds of intentions, or making reflective space for new ideas to come to the surface. Today’s new moon in particular comes right on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius, as we straddle the boundary between the gravity of tradition that weighs on our bones and the electric future sparkling before our eyes. It’s also conjunct Circe, an epic magician adept at powerful magic in the service of self-care and transformation. Tomorrow, Mercury turns retrograde, which deepens the pull to slow down and turn our gaze inward. Time for tarot, meditation, or journaling during this window promises to yield some pretty powerful and useful insights.

The Magician asks us to take advantage of this opportunity. The Magician is all about taking our awareness of cycles, patterns, environment, and energy and introducing our will, our hopes and desires, into the mix. The Magician reminds us that we can not just notice all these things, but take action and participate!

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Attribution disappeared into the internet – if you recognize this image, let us know ❤

Here’s a spread you can use to explore the opportunities this period holds for you. It follows through the lunar cycle as it interacts with Mercury for the month – because what better structure to follow for magic-making reflection than the dance of the moon’s own rhythm with the hermetic magician himself? You can lay it all out at once, or pull cards for each part of the cycle as we move through it – or both!

1TheVision0° Aquarius New Moon + Circe (Jan 20): The Vision.

How am being called to evolve beyond my traditional or habitual boundaries? How does this image illustrate possibilities for serving my community, in a way that actually meets my needs and serves me too? What intention can I set to participate mindfully and heartfully in this magic?

2TheKnotMercury Retrograde 1° Aquarius (Jan 21): The Knot.

Where is the Trickster drawing my attention? What kink is being unraveled in the service of this magic? What needs to be lost or released in this process?

3TheGardenWaxing Quarter 0° Taurus (Jan 26): The Garden.

How do I meet my intention in the sensual world? How can I enjoy myself and find pleasure in this process? How can I get creative with this magic?

4TheRoaringHeartFull Moon 14° Leo (Feb 3): The Roaring Heart!

This is where your intention for this cycle finds full expression. How does the card you pull here reflect an image of your own power? Are you aligned with your own power? Do you feel overwhelmed or disempowered? What do you need to express out loud?

5TheUnexpectedLessonMercury Direct 17° Aquarius (Feb 11): The Unexpected Lesson.

How does this shift your intention, moving forward? How can you adjust to weave this into your ongoing magic?

6ThePurgeWaning Quarter 23° Scorpio (Feb 11): The Purge.

What has surfaced in this cycle that you no longer wish to house within yourself? What can you do to shed these elements and make fertile room for new growth?

7Renewal29° Aquarius New Moon (Feb. 18): Renewal.

An image that reflects your dedication to honoring yourself as a part of your beloved community. Rinse yourself clean after the lessons of the last cycle, and know that you are devoted to your own process of evolution, whatever your journey is. What is your vision, moving forward from here?

Blessings on your magic-making endeavors!

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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.

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!

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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.

The Flow of Creativity: 3 of Stones

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I’ve been drawing today’s card a lot lately (twice this week!) – and it has me kind of loving the Wildwood Tarot’s take on the three of pentacles:

3 of Stones

3 of stones

A traditional take on this card would have us thinking about work – specifically collective work, work that joins you to your community or is a harmonizing effort of all the parts of yourself. But I think that emphasis tends to get redirected in our cultural focus on work as linear, directed, goal-oriented, productive, and commodified – our thinking that work is about what you produce, and its value, and how that defines your value. This particularly trips us up, I think, when we feel the lack of creativity in our lives. I often hear people say “I’m just not creative,” “I miss being creative,” I need to be more creative,” and they tend to be talking about making things. Making artistic things, maybe, but making things nonetheless. Producing.

The 3 of Stones offers a different view: work as process. Work as connection to being. Work as being grounded. Work as being in the flow – the flow of the earth, the flow of intuition, the flow of inspiration. The flow that roots in its own place – and gives energy back to its own place, becomes part of the ecosystem. The flow that communes with what cannot be seen. The 3 of Stones reminds us that all of these process are themselves creative, and part of what it means to be creative.

I love that this card challenges us to just get into our flow, whatever that looks like today – whether giving or receiving, connecting to nature, dancing with intuition and ideas, taking care of our physical needs, meditating, connecting to source, drawing strength or inspiration up from our roots – and say: “I’m being creative.”

Because a dimension of “work” is recognizing or attending to the ways energy flows through us, connecting us in partnership with the living and more-than-human world around us. Our deep connectivity is a font of creativity. How does your work change when you send roots down into this place? What dimensions of creativity open up to you when you see this image?

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.