Dreams: A User’s Guide

 

My first purpose in writing this book has been to restore awareness of the virtually unlimited potential of dream-working. Its second purpose is to show readers how to develop this potential for themselves. This takes time, practice and commitment. The present ‘Guide’ contains all essential information needed to set you on your way. I will provide workshops for those who want to go more deeply into visionary work. Bear in mind also that the more of us attend to our dreams, the easier it will become for all of us to remember who we truly are and what we are truly for.

This chapter is divided into two major sections, to do with what I shall loosely call making sense and energetic integration. ‘Making sense’ involves arriving at a basic understanding of what a dream is about. Often this is necessary to motivate waking consciousness to pursue the second phase. ‘Energetic integration’ involves freeing for expression energies which are likely to be trapped in or behind a dream’s surface content.

1. Making Sense

The first thing you must do is gain access to your dreams so, if you don’t already have this or think your access needs improving, you can review hints given in the opening ‘Beginners’ chapter. Assuming that you have access, start by writing out your dreams as soon, as fully and as faithfully as possible without judging them in terms of length, plausibility, attractiveness, moral tone, vagueness and so on.

Dreams carry messages from parts of your Self that don’t often gain access to waking consciousness, so it is important that you prepare yourself to accept them as they are, without judgment. The more you develop this attitude, the easier it will be for your dreams to serve you. The more attention you give them, the easier they will come.

Prepare a written dream record which can be easily read, leaving room for notes and under-linings. A typescript is ideal as long as you don’t compromise your longhand version in producing it. It is important to date your records, since sequence is very relevant to the process of soul-opening over time.

Read your dream a few times without thinking too much about it. The aim at this point is simply to establish a holistic impression of its atmosphere and feeling. Allow yourself to form a sense of how it hangs together without getting into analysis or possible lines of interpretation.

Note the disposition of energies in the dream. Where is the action focused, if there is any? What happens? What changes or fails to change? Are there any signs of conflict, deadlock, or flow? Do characters stay put, move towards or away from one another? Given that everything in the dream is a reflection of yourself, the answers to these questions provide early signs of what is happening in you at this time.

Potentials and Liabilities

To get more precise indications, underline all positive words and phrases in one colour and all negative words and phrases in another. This key is given by George Rhatigan in his book ‘Dreams: Secret Language of the Soul’. George has been an important teacher for me and his influence is apparent in much of what follows. I recommend his work strongly.

All positive expressions refer to potentials which are currently waiting for integration into your waking awareness. This has not yet been achieved but is imminent, subject to your appropriate response. You can signal this by writing ‘I can (be)’ or ‘I need to (be)’ opposite all such positive statements. This provides you with a series of attainable challenges rather than pointlessly flattering reflections.

All negative expressions refer to limitations which you are currently experiencing. Signal this clearly to yourself by writing ‘I am’ in the margin beside each one. This simple linguistic key provides a clear picture of attitudes and circumstances which are currently blocking you from attaining potentials which would otherwise be within your reach. It also curtails possible attempts to defend an idealised self-image through the interpretation process.

You will now have a pretty good sense of primary reflections which the dream affords but you still need to know how they fit together and how they relate to the circumstances of your life, past and present. We need to have more information about context at this point.

Sense and Context

Start by noting the location of your dream. This helps to clarify its subject matter. Some locations have obvious significance: a school will have to do with learning, for example, a hospital with healing and so on. You can clarify the significance of dream venues by closing your eyes and listing three or four primary associations to them.

What does ‘cinema’ mean to you, for example? What happens there? (You see a big picture? Expand your outlook? Broaden your horizons?) How does the nature of this process or activity relate to the content of your dream? My dream accounts deal with ‘theatre’, ‘bookshop’ and ‘university’ locations in this way.

Some people find it helpful to consult a dream dictionary but this defeats your purpose if you become limited by it. I present a sample of common dream locations below to give you an idea, from which you will then be able to extrapolate:

Airport dreams have to do with arrivals or departures. In the first case, they have to do with birthing or re-birthing and, in the second, with new projects or beginnings.

A bathroom dream is about cleansing or purification.

A clothes shop has to do with choice of costume and, hence, attitudes or roles you choose to adopt.

A bridge indicates a need to harmonise or bring together.

A church suggests spirituality or spiritual ideals.

Dreams set in your childhood home focus influences from the past.

Foreign countries suggest a need to expand awareness. Specific values can be ascertained by noting your associations to particular countries. Here are some (stereotyped) examples: Italy may suggest that you need warmth and passion, Sweden (in winter) that you’re emotionally cold, Germany that you’re regimented and so on.

An important point to bear in mind is that dreams generally refer to conditions of the inner self, so references to outer world occurrences often serve as metaphors for inner processes. Hence a journey by boat or train, for example, concerns your journey through life; a bookshop or library dream focuses your inner wisdom and knowledge; a workplace dream reflects the status of your inner work.

It is not possible to provide fixed or comprehensive lists for the meaning of dream symbols. The process of dream composition is intrinsically creative and becomes ever more so, the subtler the meanings to be relayed. Consider the example of my mother’s ‘house’ shimmering on a veil between dimensions in ‘Flying’, for example. What dictionary could anticipate that entry, or any number of possible others like it?

A dream is fundamentally poetic in terms of its composition and, because your dream is your composition, it is your associations which provide keys to its elucidation. However, you must avoid slanting these in order to contrive a favourable reflection. It is counterproductive to impress ego-agendas on gifts from your Unconscious so be clear, honest, rapid and direct in your approach. A brief listing usually suffices.

Because a dream is fundamentally poetic it may be he helpful to approach it as if it were a poem, allowing that its references are evocative rather than factual. Don’t worry about this if you dislike poetry. Your ‘I am’ listings will stop you from going far wrong and you will quickly become sensitised with practice. All of this genuinely does get easier. You will also develop new and more flexible modes of thinking if you persist.

Roles and Characters

We look next at characters in your dream, bearing in mind that they all represent aspects of yourself. Every regressive aspect in us has a history. It developed as a way of coping with stressful situations when we didn’t have discretion to respond otherwise. It is generally modelled on the examples of our primary co-participants in these situations: Father, Mother or uneasy combinations of both. My ‘cowboy’, for example, represents a direct incorporation of my mother’s acquired obsession with smacking down ‘boldness’ as it arose.

Dreams reveal such limiting tendencies to us in symbolic form every time an opportunity to clear them comes around. Often they are represented by people we know who carry the attributes or tendencies in question. Always we need to acknowledge such figures as reflecting parts of ourselves. We must then apply as much tact and compassion as we can in helping them unravel and come home.

I will show you how to do this in the ‘Energetic Integration’ section. Here I concentrate on establishing the dream’s basic sense:

If characters are positive and play positive roles, they are guiding or healing figures who reflect your imminent potential(s) back to you. Mark such instances with ‘I can’ or ‘I need to’ statements.  If they play negative roles, they mirror your currently limiting attitudes and provide information regarding their functioning and source. Mark these as ‘I am’.

The conduct and treatment of ‘your’ character (dream ego) clarifies the nature of your relationship with these other soul forces. Generally, a negative adult figure in a dream represents a limiting and still current influence of your father or mother, depending on their gender. Children usually represent developing and/or under-developed potentials, depending on context. You will be able to tell which by accompanying ‘I am’ and ‘I can’ or ‘need to’ indications.

If characters are simply present in support or accompanying roles, just close your eyes and quickly list the primary attributes you associate with each of them. Three or four adjectives per person will generally suffice. Write these down and note as before how they reflect your potentials if they are positive and your limitations if they are negative.

Negative attributes point to some characteristic of your self which is contributing to stuckness or difficulties in the dream. Positive attributes always point to some potential quality that you need to develop in order to overcome the problem.  We will see how to work with this information under ‘Energetic Integration’.

Past and Present

           Dreams can also provide information about how present difficulties have been caused by experiences in the past. Such notices are flagged by references within dreams to events which are clearly past-related: childhood home, ancient buildings, period costumes, very old people etc. If the dream is set in your childhood home, for example, you will know that the attitude or attribute in question was developed there.

Dreams generally ask old habits to make way for new potentials, especially in the early stages of a recovery process. In later stages, the role of ‘elder’ manifestations may be subtly re-valued, as in the teaching role which Merlin gradually assumes for me.

The Role of Objects

Objects in a dream can also convey significant information, especially if they are described as damaged in some way. These reflections will be picked up by your ‘I am/can be’ listings and, of course, apply to yourself. If objects are rod-shaped they have to do with male/masculine aspects of your being. If they are container-shaped, they have to do with female/feminine aspects.

These reflections may concern general personality traits or may be specifically focused on sexuality. The context of a dream will generally make this clear. For example, it was very clear to me that carrying a steel rod in my ‘spiritual journey’ dream had much to do with sexuality although this image emerged within a very broad framework of interpretation.

Houses and Vehicles

Houses, buildings and cars serve as important symbols of the embodied Self. Hence the condition of these ‘vehicles’ as revealed in dreams may be particularly relevant. Houses and other dwelling places are of special interest since we spend so much time and absorb so many influences in them. There are also specific parts of houses which have a symbolic correspondence with body parts or bodily functions. They may also have metaphorical ramifications beyond this.

Kitchens, for example, are associated with feeding, digestion, absorption and new days (starts). Toilets are associated with elimination, clearing and purification; bedrooms with sexuality, living rooms with the heart, basements with the subconscious, attics with the mind/brain, and so on. Windows are like eyes. Thus looking out front is to regard the future; looking out back is to review the past.

Again, with practice, the metaphorical basis of these associations becomes more apparent and familiar. It doesn’t help to be rigid in these matters. Dream construction is the opposite of a mechanical process. It is ordered, certainly, but never predictable or routine. The more you work with it, the more developed your intuitive sense will become.

Before looking further at the nature of this development, I want to give you some basic information concerning the role of number and colour in dream-work. There are many different accounts of both but I have never needed to do more than associate around the basic keys I am about to provide. We will consider number first.

Number Symbolism

Zero is a number of pure potential and cannot be qualified in any way.

One represents unity and singularity. It is the number of beginning, of pioneering energy and initiative. It contains all required potentials but needs unfolding for these to be realised.

Two is the number of duality. It represents the first stage of an unfolding whereby primal unity comes to know itself more. It holds energies of relationship and dividedness.

Three is the number of development and becoming. It represents the transcending of any opposition between the ones which make up two. It is forever going beyond itself.

Four represents an energy of containment, of giving form and holding it. It shapes the energy of three into various levels of durable but provisional resolution.

Five is another number of going beyond. More focused than three, it represents an energy of breakthrough with respect to the conservative, holding tendencies of four, implying a movement into centre or ‘quintessence’. It is also the number of karma (a principle whereby past actions determine our current state and obligations).

Six is the number of spiritual descent. It implies a recollection in the midst of our Earth lives of the spiritual reality that informs them. It suggests that we are ready to follow the intended path of our soul’s destiny, having transcended the determining influences of our karmic past.

Seven is the number of spiritual perfection. It implies a developed spiritual awareness and a corresponding attitude of loving harmony.

Eight is the number of infinity. It unites the energies of Heaven and Earth. It can also be associated with a severing of old ties which continue to exert restricting influences on us.

Nine is the number of spiritual ascent. It implies an energy of completion and marks the ending of a particular phase or cycle of development.

Ten is the number of new beginnings. It represents a fulfilment of the energy of one but also takes this to a new level of beginning where a new wave of still enfolded potential awaits unfolding through a new cycle.

Colour Symbolism

Colour can also be an important key in making sense of dreams. Again there are many accounts with different stresses. The following summary, based primarily on the chakra system, outlines the main associations that I have found useful myself.

Red associates with the base chakra. It represents the basic energy of creativity and passion for life. Its negative aspects are anger, rage, frustration and a fixation on survival.

Orange associates with the second chakra. Its positive energies are bliss, enthusiasm, sexuality, dreaming and sensual delight. Its negative aspect covers shock, trauma and abuse, especially of a sexual nature.

Yellow is the energy of the solar plexus, of power, enterprise, ego, intellect and personal will. Its primary negative associations are fear, self-consciousness and inhibition.

Green is the colour of Heart. It associates with healing, generosity, spaciousness, stillness and calm. Negatively, it associates with constriction, envy and resentment.

Pink is the colour of a fully open Heart. It represents compassion and unconditional love or, in a negative setting, the absence of and need for these.

Blue associates with the throat. It is the colour of peace, communication, authority and higher will. Failing due assumption of personal authority, it associates negatively with depression, isolation, reticence and withdrawal.

Indigo is the colour of the brow. It associates with intuition and clear ‘seeing’ of all kinds. Its negative aspect, fuelled by psychological immaturity, is illusion.

Purple, the colour of the crown, concerns spiritual power, leadership and teaching. Negatively, it associates with disillusionment, profound frustration and withdrawal.

White associates with enlightenment, purity and hope. Mixed with other colours, it suggests a positive impact of their values. Alone, in negative contexts, it indicates a rigid, judgmental perfectionism.

Black is the colour of fear. Mixed with other colours, it signifies a darkening of their values. It associates also with anxiety, hatred and depression.

Brown associates with ‘earthiness’ and practicality. It balances ungrounded spirituality. Its negative aspect is excessive materialism.

Gold signifies spiritual healing and creativity while silver stands for intuition. The negative aspect of gold is irrational worry while dulled silver becomes the grey of anxious preoccupation. The dream context generally makes it clear whether positive or negative values apply.

We turn now to consider the process of energetic integration, which begins after we have completed our preliminary work of making sense. If we don’t take this step, our souls won’t unfold. All that can happen is that we will continue recycling the same dream plots over and over in different forms which reflect surface developments in our waking lives. I acknowledge Paul Rebillot’s synthesis of gestalt therapy and ritual theatre as an important source of inspiration for what follows. See his book ‘The Call to Adventure’.

2. Energetic Integration

Every dream implicitly expresses the Truth of the soul which produces it. This could never be fully presented or made fully explicit. The dream expresses what is most pressing in the life of the soul but this is always fore-grounded against a background of what is not declared. The momentum of the whole soul is behind every dream, tempered by the limits of our processing power and the deformations of our personal psychology.

We could never hope to interpret or understand fully the total soul movement which lies behind every dream. Dreams are not primarily about meaning. They promote energies which arise in us towards particular ends, all of which have to do with healing and fulfilling our lives. Dreams clarify the various stages of this process. They provide a symbolic language by means of which ego-consciousness can become aware of deeper, grander and vaster currents which constantly underpin and suffuse it.

All we need do to begin aligning with these greater tides is get a basic sense of what our dream is about and go forward in some way to meet the energies it is seeking to release at the time. Ultimately, every dream expresses a spiritual energy that informs all life and seeks fulfilment in accordance with the soul history and life purpose of individual human beings.

Thus, our goal in working with dreams is not just to interpret or understand them. Even if we could do this perfectly, it would be of no benefit unless we were also able to engage the energies they present, reconciling these as appropriate and integrating them into the flow of our daily lives. This is how we get to ride winds of powerful, unconscious impulse that are seeking to move through us at all times.

For this we need a method which goes beyond interpretation and allows us to access energies carried by the forms of the dream. These energies are generally only hinted at and rarely exhausted by what dreams actually declare. We need to get behind the forms of a dream in order to experience its energies.

The Method of Enactment

I have referred throughout the accounts of my own dreaming to a method of enactment which I use to move beyond interpretation towards the integration of energetic charge and visionary content. This is a wonderful practice because it also transforms the dispositions of waking consciousness, leaving us more flexible, imaginative and creative every time we bring our dreams to life.

It is not necessary to have a definitive interpretation to start enacting, just a good sense of what’s happening in the dream, especially with regard to where energies are flowing or blocked. Remember that the dreamer’s subconscious negativity can block what’s trying to happen from manifesting in the dream itself. If it hadn’t been for the Cowboy of my Past, for example, Apaches would have entered the house of my being without any fuss and God knows what might have happened then as a result.

Re-entering the atmosphere of that dream with focused intent, it was easy to sense their frustration and desolation clearly. This will always be so in cases where there is blockage of something that is trying to unfold. Assuming that you’ve already done preliminary ‘making sense’ work in relation to your dream, it’s generally sufficient to ‘walk through’ it, pausing at points where you sense impedance of the full flow of what might have been.

This is usually signalled by a stand-off between characters, as in Cowboy-Apaches, but it is also possible to detect in more subtle manifestations – as when I fail to play with the robots in Merlin’s shop. Always there is a sense of incompletion, of frustration caused by a promise unfulfilled.

You need to come out of the dream energy having noted such a shortfall. Walk around, let go of all ego-agendas and then go in again receptive to any impressions or impulses that may now be ready to arise.

The key consideration is that the dream-ego (the part played overtly by you) usually has very limited awareness, typically because it is dominated by whatever strain of negativity the dream is trying to bring to our attention: the Cowboy of my Past again provides a classic example. We figure in such dream scenarios as embodiments of parts of ourselves which our waking ego-dispositions normally eclipse, since we tend to believe our own publicity about being whole and perfectly in charge.

This first level of blockage maintains further blockages of energetic potentials which are even more deeply repressed. These are likely to include

1) gifts that our younger selves might spontaneously have exhibited had we not been choked off in some way at an early stage in our development; and

2) deeper still, an undisclosed, under-developed range of skills, knowings and potentials that are carried by our souls but were also choked off when our inner children were made to conform to regimes of our biographical past.

Our biographies recap our soul histories in crucial respects. Hence to revive the child is often to revive the soul. There is a vast work of reclamation here. What follows is a way of going about this. I have described the Apache dream in detail earlier and present it again now for reference:

 

I’m in my childhood home with another cowboy. Apaches are attacking. I rush to the basement, where they’re trying to force entry from the back. My colleague defends the front. I break a hole in the rear basement window with my Winchester and kill two Apaches who are sneaking down the garden path. Three others rush in. I kill them also with repeated firing. Then there is quiet. It seems there are no more. I go back upstairs but there is no sign of my friend. Everything looks calm on the street. The house is fortified and I feel lonely.

 

The core of the enactment process is that we act out a dream from the perspective of all its characters and then work to integrate these, rather than identifying exclusively with the part played by the dream-ego. I will first provide an overview to give you a sense of the process as a whole, then I will present specific step-by-step directions.

Enactment: An Overview

Before we go any farther, there is a subtle truth about consciousness which needs to be clarified. You will have memories of being sad, for example, and of knowing that you were sad. The consciousness of this ‘knowing’ is of a higher, more inclusive type than the sadness per se. This reveals a very important property of consciousness, namely that it can always transcend its contents. Thus I can be conscious of myself knowing that I know that I am sad and so on ad infinitum. (It is possible for consciousness to transcend the subjective processes of identity in this way, but we don’t need to consider that now.)

It follows that consciousness, in principle, always has the option of being fully engaged by sadness (or any other emotion) or of simply observing/witnessing it. Just witnessing dissolves the emotion. What happens under duress is that consciousness forgets its transcendent nature and contracts around whatever content is causing it to feel sad, angry, afraid or whatever. This happens when Cowboy panics in ‘Apache’: his consciousness locks completely around the threatening content by which it is faced.

My adult consciousness is not so bound. All I need do to integrate Cowboy’s restricted consciousness is rid myself of present agendas and preoccupations so that my awareness can be filled by his concerns and hold them without judgment in a fully accepting witness mode. Thus our first step is to bring developed consciousness to bear on the dream scenario, having been informed by the preliminary orientation process described earlier. At this point I intend to be the cowboy.

In practical terms, I start by emptying my waking consciousness so that it’s not dominated by ego-agendas. Breathing in and out deeply three times, emptying on the exhales, is sufficient to achieve this, or you can use some other method if you already have one. I then literally walk myself out of John-consciousness and enter imaginatively into the Cowboy role, crouching behind rocks and so on when it’s time. This allows developed consciousness to experience how it feels to be in his position.

I simply let consciousness fill his role. Unchecked, consciousness then registers ‘his’ emotions but, unlike the consciousness of that virtual little cowboy stuck back in 1950s time, ‘my’ consciousness knows that it’s playing a role which it has the option of quitting when it wants. This gives it a freedom to experience fully, which is precisely what the little cowboy cannot do. He is permanently stuck in pain and fear.

Thus I stay focused so that consciousness can experience all there is to be experienced in the role. My consciousness becomes filled with cowboy’s apprehensions as a result, but it also witnesses and contains them. It knows (that there is) more, including a way out. It even knows that being ‘in’ is optional but for Cowboy himself there has never been any escape. This is why I have to rescue him and bring him forward out of deadlock into flow.

Before I then turn consciousness to the Apaches, I must empty myself of all that being Cowboy entailed. To do this, I integrate him by taking him into my Heart. The fact that this is an imaginative process doesn’t mean that it is unreal. On the contrary, it is powerfully ‘real’.

I need then to settle all energies that are re-leased in me by his release as part of the integration process. There is poignant holding and a little crying. I feel my enthusiasm stir as Cowboy’s freed energies begin to move again in my body.

There is no deliberation in this. It’s just something that intuition tells me has to be done. Having done it, I walk myself out of his role, emptying myself again before re-focusing for the next stage. Then I walk myself into whatever this next role or situation is to be.

In our present example, I walk into the tentatively advancing frame of the first Apache, imagining him/myself stealing down the garden path. Otherwise, I don’t do anything. I simply put consciousness into a part of myself, represented by the role, to which consciousness has habitually been denied.

Consciousness first registers the limitations of the role – feeling the mistrust and apprehension, for example, and accepting them. It thus allows the ‘part’ represented by this role to open into the durable, loving flow by which it is now being embraced. Such loving acceptance stimulates further expression of energies which are implicit in the role, behind the scenes as it were, but which fail to manifest because of what happens: namely, the shooting down of the Apaches.

Now, accepted instead of being shot down, Apache consciousness has somewhere to go. A sense of true welcome inspires previously repressed parts to start moving again towards integration. This process cannot be forced but it doesn’t need to be since the characters/potentials would not have figured in my dream unless the energies they represent were ready to move.

All that is needed is for consciousness to meet a formerly isolated role with love and acceptance. There is no sentiment or piety involved. This is what un-deformed consciousness is actually like. Once it feels accepted, the stuck part moves towards being fully lived and fully expressed, beyond the arrestment of its trauma response.

A pattern is completed as a result and a way into transformation opened. A part that was deadlocked in isolation is admitted to a company in flow, and other parts are enabled or made ready to move also as a result.

This process is not by any means one-way. When consciousness takes up the bodies of the dead Apaches, for example, it knows that it needs to sing. Melodies rise up from formerly blocked potentials of that which is sung to. They are enabled to rejoin the flow of life by this means. Trust your spontaneity in such moments.

Even in virtual death, the gifts for living carried by my savage Apaches inform consciousness in ways that are both renewing and renewed. Eventually I feel their vital sensibilities flood through me, alerting me to previously un-discerned life in sea and stone, Stone People, elder beings, all that I am and have ever been. This happens because potentials which had been dormant are now awake again.

Again, all I need do is be conscious and extend this power of consciousness into parts from which it has previously been withdrawn due to effects of trauma. This initiative brings healing of itself.

Other Examples

My Cowboy-Apache example is quite clear-cut. Others aren’t. Just remember 1) the very fact something has appeared in your dream means it’s ready to move; and 2) that your ego-consciousness doesn’t need to understand, beyond appreciating the need of keeping its appointments with the soul. Indeed, by directing consciousness into a role, it suspends itself and allows fugitive parts of the Self to fill consciousness with their sense of whatever needs to be done.

This won’t necessarily be heroic. The priestess doesn’t kiss and make up with the fire twins, but neither does she kill them in their sleep. Their reconciliation is an alchemy that happens gradually in my soul. No deal-cutting is required, although in other cases it might be. All that is needed is for movement to occur, so that energetic mingling of two previously opposed ‘sides’ becomes possible. This happens whenever there is acceptance of both.  Usually, developed consciousness is called on to provide this.

In cases where there are no other characters – e.g. Merlin’s vacated bookshop – I find that just putting consciousness into a dream scenario attracts the inspiration needed to release whatever is waiting to happen next. Acting according to this inspiration brings out the hidden promise of the dream. This is a dance, an interaction. There is nothing objective involved. The following down-to-earth example comes from C’s dream-work (see ‘A Woman’s Dreaming’).

A bathroom door has been left open in the aftermath of a tangled sexual affair. Looking away from it C sees a silver-white horse in the distance. She feels energetically stuck, as if she has been left suspended between two scenarios. Resolution comes only when she re-enters the bathroom and, finding the toilet lid raised, puts it down before closing the door.

She is now empowered to turn away and draw the horse closer. Eventually she integrates its power. The horse, it transpires, brings healing to her emotional body and, more specifically, her sexuality. She is moved to draw it towards her only after she has ‘put the lid’ and closed the door on her old affair. It pays to keep an eye out for raised lids and unclosed doors.

The crucial point is that when you put consciousness into the ‘parts’ of a dream, it becomes informed with a sense of what is waiting to happen. Enacting one part of a dream opens a door to the next, and so on. Sensitivity develops with practice and so will the subtlety of your dreaming, so long as you keep attending to it.

The most important thing is not to be limited by agendas in your approach. This is why you must empty yourself before entering the atmosphere of a dream and then let consciousness flow into its various roles to facilitate transformation.

As this happens, the vision of soul-purpose borne implicitly by all our dreams enters more and more intimately into the process of our waking consciousness, elevating, ennobling and enriching it. This is a radically open-ended process which cannot be reduced to a closed, mechanical system. Always there will be other dreams, fresh visions and new horizons.

Steps to Enactment

Process your dream as soon as possible after recording it. This gives you the best chance of preserving an authentic sense of its energetic atmosphere. Also, an opening that impacts urgently today may not be available or relevant next week.

Walk through the dream from the perspective of your dream-ego, having first familiarised yourself thoroughly with it. Determine where you wish to begin enacting and which role you want to play first. Usually, you will start with the dream-ego.

Empty yourself of agendas by breathing out emphatically three times. Then walk yourself imaginatively into the role. Devote the full power of your consciousness to experiencing the action of the dream from this perspective.

Let consciousness experience fully all constraints by which your dream-ego has been bound; then let it feel the total acceptance and support of consciousness. This will help it to be more imaginative and daring.

Allow yourself to feel all emotions and reactions as you play through, noting any insights or impulses to change that arise. Stay with this until the energy winds down. It may be that you will need to enact the dream in stages, in which case you will simply recycle these directions.

If your dream-ego blocks some potential development within the dream, explore this next by shifting consciousness to the other role. To do this, walk out of the dream-ego role you’ve been involved in, note any realisations associated with it, empty yourself, refocus and walk your way into the next role.

Repeat the steps outlined above with respect to the new role, allowing consciousness to experience the frustration of the blocked part and the blocked par to experience total acceptance by consciousness.

Let this blocked ‘part’ speak or be otherwise expressed. If your consciousness enters the role of Apache, for example, it will feel like singing, so SING! Revert if necessary to your dream-ego role to encourage this. Remember always to walk out, empty, refocus and walk in with every role shift. This becomes automatic over time.

If in your primary dream-ego role, you have left some situation incomplete and undeveloped (as when I failed to play with Merlin’s robots) revisit it and explore alternative possibilities that will now arise, with new consciousness.

Close the bathroom door, in terms of our example, and encourage your horse to draw near. Don’t fear rejection. Bear in mind that everything in your dream represents a part or potential of you that’s waiting to return to awareness.

Even negative manifestations represent the influence of parts that have been wounded by criticism, neglect or abuse. Loving acceptance by consciousness heals this and permits new options to emerge. The key is to hold each part in compassionate awareness, accepting that its limiting disposition was formed in relation to limiting conditions which no longer apply and freeing it by this acceptance into a greater life.

The essence of integration involves bringing hurt and isolated ‘parts’, marooned in trauma while the rest of consciousness developed, back into the flow of present awareness. We manage this from the perspective of consciousness by letting our hurt part experience being safe, held and accepted so that there is no need for it to stay closed and aloof.

If there are two or more such parts, developed consciousness can oversee their integration separately, even if there is conflict between them. This can be quite direct as in ‘Apache’ or subtle and indirect as in ‘Campfire’, where reconciliation of Priestess and the Fire Twins has been for a long time ongoing in my Heart. It is crucial for developed consciousness to provide a forum for reconciliation.

The integration process usually culminates for me in an imagined physical mergence, often after the fugitive part has been drawn into expressive activity of some kind. This releases energies that had been confined by its repression and gets the process of transformation under way.

Lend your body as a vehicle for expression when this is required. A previously withdrawn child may wish to dance or run, for example. If your body is offered with the innocence of pure consciousness, the innocence of your damaged child will be restored.

You will then find a means to integrate her/him. I recommend in the case of a young or severely wounded part that you take her/him imaginatively into your Heart. This is a very moving process and movement is exactly what is needed to pass out of deadlock into flow. Sometimes a more muted form of mergence may feel appropriate, as when the priestesses were gradually absorbed into my body on the shore.

Remember that this is primarily a symbolic-imaginative play which has the purpose of re-integrating into consciousness aspects of yourself whose existence you may not have suspected before or whose confidence you had been unable to win.

Using your dreams as a platform in this manner brings powerful transformative energies into awareness that will continue to unfold with attention. You will know after each stage in a cycle when its hidden energy potentials have been harvested because you will no longer feel frustrated or incomplete.

This sense of satisfaction will be total but will only last until your next dream presents a new challenge and a new opportunity. As you repeat the process over time, it becomes subtler, more exciting, more fluid, spontaneous and rewarding, just like any life process engaged in evolution.

Don’t feel intimidated. There is never any more involved than parts of yourself coming home to love, acceptance and a greater sense of life. Dreams just show the way.

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