This weeks blog is on an indigenous approach to dreams
"There is a dream dreaming me." Bushmen saying
For most of us the easiest form of access to the cosmic infinity and to realms not localized in space and time is the dream world. According to sangomas there is every indication that our dream state is as real as the waking state - all we have to do is decipher the cosmic conversation. We have to understand the metaphors and the passwords. These may be highly individual and it is up to each one of us to find our own individual code. The "Field" has a particular dialogue for each person that depends on their genetics, culture, religion and education. When we learn to encourage our dreams and understand the conversation, we open up to a user-friendly source of wonder and sometimes life-saving information.
Dreams come in metaphor but can also be literal. Basically there are two types of dreams, instructional and noninstructional. Sometimes we are being told something directly and if we ignore the messages we may never find the gift that is waiting for us or the danger that lurks. The ancestors usually work in metaphor and often we need to unravel the secret symbols. Important dreams may have a different quality, a heightened intensity and they alert us to the fact that we may be receiving an official communication from the spirit world. The nightmare - often a big dream - can be a warning dream, sometimes overstated to caution the receiver to take the message seriously. Some dreams are not really dreams but visitations and these have a different life like quality. A visitation requires tremendous energy from the spirit guide to come through and is an occasion for much gratitude. Dreams that come in metaphor or as symbols also require a lot of effort to script but not as much as an actual visit.
A strictly psychological interpretation of dreams is seriously limited.
A strictly psychological interpretation of dreams is seriously limited.
Dreams can come in many forms and will vary from individual to individual. There is no single type of interpretation that can be applied to any particular presentation - one size does not fit all. There are some generalities such as driving a car being a metaphor for one's life - are you taking a back seat, are you driving out of control without breaks or steering...
There are numerous fine books written by gifted dream interpreters, not the least of whom was Carl Jung. Most experts look at dreams mostly from a psychological viewpoint based on the subconscious. This view is incomplete and a Jungian approach to dreams which is often more shamanic in nature recognizes another complexity. Dreams are a personal phenomenon, individual expressions, perhaps of universal truths or messages that may come in the night to tell us of something we need to know. If one is astute and maintains a dream journal one can see patterns emerge that can assist us in the interpretation of our own dreams without using scholarly research to unravel them. To make interpretation easier it is useful to categorize dreams according to one's own experience; warning, nudging, instructive, empowering etc. Of course, not all the dreams are messages or instructions from the ancestors. Some are probably the psyche offloading stress, others are helpful and some are life-saving. The question (and the challenge) is how to recognize the scripted informative dreams and parse them.
The so called garbage dreams of the night - may be the subconscious playing itself out. They are often related to some event that has occurred in the recent past which triggers the image. Nightmares fit into this category, and they may be generated by fear or by one’s sense of physical discomfort while asleep. For instance being too hot. If there is a need to empty one's bladder, there may be dreams of searching for a bathroom. If you have seen a scary movie, that night you may have terrifying dreams. However, it may also be that we are still tapping into a dream reality which has now shifted into a lower vibration because of exposure to a darker energy pushing one into an astral realm or parallel universe which is unsavory. It's best to avoid images and news that could either affect the psyche or drag our consciousness or the dream spirit down into an undesirable realm. We really do create our own reality, both when awake and asleep.
Dreams that come in the form of an apparition, usually a face or the figure of a person are often prophetic and may warn of something bad to come.
Another rare form of dream can arise as a profound, vivid series of events, sometimes in three or more parts like a play which is so striking it cannot be ignored. These dreams often portend the future in some detail and are the way things will "play out." They are palpably different in character and have a numinous or luminous sometimes technicolor quality to them. One knows immediately on awakening that they are important.
Sometimes dreams are associated with a sensation of vibrational energy which permeates the body. This association with Kundalini (the Zulu call it Umbilini) is an endorsement of the validity of the message.
Some dreams involve a song, a sentence, written text or even a Biblical reference which may require research into the meaning being conveyed. The words of the song usually have the message you need.
There are dreams that close friends, relatives, loved ones or even strangers may have on our behalf. These can also be prophetic and can sometimes predict illness or harmful events. Receiving dreams for others has been called "getting someone else's" mail.
Sometimes when ancestors or spirit guides feel they are being ignored they will resort to sending a stronger message to us directly or via someone else who has influence. These may come in a foreign language or in words that one needs help to decipher. The spirits want to lend emphasis by introducing a word totally unknown to the dreamer but known to someone who can assist in the interpretation.
Sangomas often dream about patients coming to them and about specific plant remedies for those patients. Even though they may never have seen that plant before, they will go into the bush, find it, and then dispense it.
Today, most of us cannot believe that God or anyone else from beyond our own realm speaks to us. We think that prophetic, Biblical-style dreams have no validity as actual instruments of prophecy. This is not true. We may not have the same kind of dreams as Jacob and Pharaoh—dreams that prophesy the future of an entire people but we do receive important personal messages which can help ease our way through life. At the very least we awaken with the sense that we are being supported from another domain. If we "ask to receive," these dreams or visitations may come from loved ones who are no longer with us in life, but are there in spirit.
Sangomas appreciate that ancestral dreams or spirit dream messages usually occur in the early morning when the veil between worlds is more permeable. They say this is when the ancestors are active. Physiologists confirm that this is the period of R.E.M. or rapid eye movement sleep which still does not exclude the possibility that guiding forces are present.
We are all given dreams for a purpose and one should not need years of special training in order to interpret them. All one has to do is translate the metaphor into something that fits one’s own unique origins and not necessarily that of a psychologist or anyone else. The Bible is replete with dreams and dreamers, and what I have learned from the sangomas is very Biblical. I trust the information. If we have difficulty with the interpretation, an intuitive outsider can be invaluable in keeping us close to the truth. Self-denial or lack of insight can trip us all up. If nothing else, we can remember that there are instructional dreams and if one ignores instructions the consequences can be significant sooner or later. Because dreams are coming from the "Field," they are not localized in time. The dream may precede the prophesy by many years.
It is not so much that one acts on a dream but rather on a pattern of many dreams. It’s also true that some dreams are so compelling that they force us to pay attention to their specifics and act immediately. Dreams are not always absolute truths but rather clues or signposts to the truth you need to be guided to. Moreover, when you see or experience something in waking life that you have encountered in a dream you cannot ignore it as easily.
Some dreams are powerful because, while they relate to us, they are not prompted by specific recent events such as conversations, meetings, movies, and so on, nor are they reflections of our hopes and fears about such incidents or conditions. Instead it is their detachment from our daily lives and from ego that gives dreams the capacity to help us on our journey through life.
Aboriginal peoples hold great store in dreams because they know how to use them. The knowledge gained is verifiable as time comes to pass. The dream world and the sangoma’s world are inseparable.