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.

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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.

Healing Journals

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Ahoy dreamers!

Today I found myself going through old dream journals, making another dent in my ongoing project of typing up years’ worth of dreams into my own intricate (and searchable) catalogue. I found myself full of gratitude and wonder at what this practice has yielded now — not just the fruits of the day-to-day practice, nor even the season-to-season, but the long arc of adventure and transformation available for me to lovingly leaf through, from here, offering new lessons and perspectives still.

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From here, I envision this blog as an experiment in and companion to my deep love and respect for dreams, the development of local dream circles, the growth of COM|PASSionate REVOLT, this ongoing personal catalogue project, and the interweaving of my therapeutic and community projects. So, getting ready for this first blog, I thought: what better place to begin than with the container itself, the dream journal!

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Act, practice, ritual, scrawling ground — psychic dump and minefield, laboratory and garden, switchboard and library, a dream journal is many things. A dedicated place to record one’s dreams, it need not be even be a journal. A dream journal can be a notebook, a ream of loose papers, a file of voice recordings, a series of canvasses, a shelf of figures and sculptures, a collection of music, a choreography of movement — anything physical and creative that houses both your dedication to engaging consciously with your dreams and your regular practice of that art. It can be as fancy and decorative or as simple and easy as you wish. Likewise, it need not engage only night dreams — daydreams, fantasies, waking visions, synchronicities, meditations, musings, all are welcome. The dream realms are vast and various. Your journal is your personal dreamboat, the craft you ride along in as you explore whatever psychic territory you find yourself in today.

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And as all kinds of sailors know, it can certainly help to keep track of the rhythms at play in each territory — there are ways to navigate and orient, to chart one’s course. Practicing mindfulness of these rhythms is complementary to the dream journal, and can be a powerful addition to the journal itself. Rhythms to note might include cycles of the moon, menstruation, work, sleep, mood, eating, drinking, medicines, drugs, relationships, travels, anniversaries, times of transitional life changes, themes of the day, synchronicities, omens, or divinations, to name a few. Tracking any of these rhythms along with our dreams evokes a powerful awareness of how our psychic rhythms intersect with those of our bodies, of our neighborhoods, of the earth and the cosmos, the present and the past and even the future.

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Using your journal can be as quick and disciplined as switching on the light in the middle of the night to scribble something down while it’s fresh — or as languid and elaborate as a comforting ritual with a special place, a special brew, a special pen. Or any other million ways to do it. Reading and rereading your entries, you may begin to recognize a particular voice, a particular way of reporting your dream adventures. You may notice a kaleidoscopic strangeness, with gleaming flashes of voices and images you know you wrote and yet don’t quite recognize. We’ll have time to explore a lot of these scenarios, but first it’s time to start journaling

Do you have a dream journal already? We’d love to hear about it — how do you use yours? Do you like color? Pen? Pencil? Do you record by voice? Do you use words, pictures, or both? What is your favorite part of dream journaling? If you’ve never recorded your dreams before, what’s drawing you to start now?

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Til next time,

Kaeti

Kaeti Gugiu is a Revolutionary Friend, Dreamworker, Magick Woman and Healer. Visit Kaeti’s practice website: here and find journal creations: here.

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