Coming through Halloween or Samhain time, ancestral dreaming has been in my thoughts quite a bit. Now, I know that’s a big phrase: ancestral dreaming. It could mean a million billion things – and does mean many things to me. For here and now, I want to hold it lightly and curiously, with a heart full of possibility.
I created my first ancestor altar this Halloween. It was (and continues to be) a powerful experience. I have had many experiences of what might be called ancestral dreaming, but one of my goals with this new practice was to reach a little bit further back…back into dreaming as a way to connect with older generations whose physical presence I may know little or nothing about, but whose spirits feel sometimes present and about whom I am very curious.
Dreaming becomes twofold: waking, I dream of making contact with heritage, with inherent parts of me that don’t belong only to me. I remember wisps of dreams from recent years: the ancestral male council, the indigenous grandmothers; grandparents who physically knew and cared for me. I feel a need to relate to them. Sleeping, I receive visitors who bring clear and simple messages.
One is my great-grandmother, who I knew and loved until she died in 2001. She showed up in dreams last week. She felt solid and present. Not like in other dreams, where various feelings and characters have worn her form, but as if really her, as if I could get a good look at her for the first time in many years. Look her in the eyes. She let me know about one of her favorite herbs for upset stomachs, which a quick google search validated, and which happens to grow abundantly in my garden. Thanks Grammie!
Sometimes dreaming is like this: getting in touch with guidance that is both you and not-you, beyond-you. You put yourself out there, you ask. You are visited and you receive. Sometimes these gift-bearing visitors are folks you know and love. Sometimes they are like energy-forms, a message wearing a mask. Sometimes they are, plainly put, just themselves. I don’t pretend to know where they are when they’re not visiting, but they do visit. From a place of doing so many other kinds of dreamwork, and having prepared to do a lot of writing about those other kinds of dreams here, it feels good to begin by remembering this fact, and honoring that dreams are sometimes bridges to the beloved dead. They are very real.
No matter what kind of guidance or connection you are seeking, play with this dance of asking and receiving. Think of asking and receiving as stances, postures to be practiced and held. The practice of putting your intent out there – what can you do in waking life to physically symbolize that intent? The practice of listening to whatever comes as a response – even if it “makes no sense” or is not borne by the expected messenger. Explore writing about any and all of this in your trusty dream journal. Share your stories and thoughts with us here!
Til Next Time,
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.