Saturday 19 February 2011

Sacred Dreaming (by Franco Santoro)

by Pierre Cendors
 During dreaming the soul goes on a journey. It travels through various layers and reaches dimensions of wisdom emanating from ancient or future times. The effects of this original past and future constitute the reality of our life as we perceive it in the present. 

This wisdom reveals itself through dreaming experiences where the basic myths of the universe directly express themselves. Such dreams can be recognised by the fact of providing, upon waking up, a strong sense of wonder or mystery so that the dreamer is tempted to talk about them. 

Among many tribal cultures these dreams were very frequent and were given much attention. They delivered messages from ancestors and beings dwelling in subtler dimensions. 

Dreaming was not regarded as something personal or private. It was a tribal and sacred activity that could provide guidance for the whole community. 

It  also contributed to retrieve ancestral memories of the processes which brought about the hallucination of separation. These people attributed to dreams a significant role in the weaving of their sacred story. With sacred story I mean the places and paths journeyed by our soul, the myths inherited from our ancestors and past traditions, the story of our family, the major events in our life, and all the patterns which can be perceived in the universe.

In certain  traditions of the Native American dreams are publicly dealt with and considered as a form of community service. The Iroquis (Huron and Seneca) regarded dreams as the true language of the soul, more reliable and significant than the language of the waking state. They believed that through dreams the hidden side of the mind could manifest its wishes. If those wishes were not met, that part would create problems. Hidden wishes were considered the cause of all individual and collective misfortune. 

The Iroquis developed a system that allowed the dreamer to socially act out its dreams (Iroquian Dream Cult). Although they were a disciplined group and had a strict ethic, during such acting the dreamer was allowed to go beyond moral conventions to the extent that he could also have sex with the wives of other men, if that was acknowledged by the tribe as a wish to be honoured. This process allowed the release of unconscious desires and prevented grievances from proliferating.

Temple of Aesculapius, Villa Borghese (Rome)
Also the ancient Egyptians and Greeks highly valued dreams and employed them for specific purposes. They would connect with their gods by sleeping in special temples and receiving guidance. Many sacred sites were used for such purpose. There people would take part in evening rituals and drink potions to induce inspiring dreams. In more than 300 temples devoted to Aesculapius, the god of healing, the above practices were used to obtain information as regards afflictions and grievances. 

All patients were accepted, regardless of their illness or capacity to pay. On certain occasions Aesculapius himself would appear in a dream, holding a staff with a serpent twisted around it, and thoroughly cure the dreamer’s sickness. During these healing dream experiences, snakes were supposed to slip over the patient and lick their wounds and eyelids.

Dreaming was also one of the major arts of sorcerers in ancient Mexico. Don Juan, in the works of Carlos Castaneda, defines this art as a way of dreaming in which you do not become totally unconscious and remain aware that you are dreaming. Dreams are very real as with them the sorcerer acts in accordance with his Intent. He has the power to change the course of events and the reality of daily situations. 

One of the most typical practices when working with dreams is that of looking at one’s hands. This technique was promoted by Carlos Castaneda, via Don Juan, and consists in remembering, before sleeping, to execute the order to look at your hands during the dream (1). By doing this, the dreamer becomes aware that this order comes from the non-dreaming dimension and therefore creates a connection with that. This is a great achievement as it builds a bridge between different realities. 

Here the hands are not important as such. They are simply a strategic expedient. Any other parts of the body or tool will do, as what matters is simply to remember the order to do something during the dream. 

Temple of Aesculapius, J.W.Waterhouse
For this purpose, in astroshamanism, Spirit Medicines (Pahai Tulah) and Sacred Tools (Pahai Rupah) are also used. Once you learn this trick (and this could take a lot of time and patient practice), it is a question of holding the image of one of these Spirit Medicines and Sacred Tools in the dream, that is, to focus on them and to avoid them disappearing. 

If they begin to fade away, you can pronounce their names or turn your eyes on other objects and then return again to the Sacred Tool when the other objects tend to disappear. The purpose is that of managing to hold the vision of more things and then of the whole scene. In this way you can be able to easily explore specific locations in the non-ordinary realities of the dream and operate healing. 

The point here is remembering your Intent and your whole self when dreaming or being in any possible altered state of consciousness, including the most prominent of all, i.e. ordinary reality. 

At times we have nightmares or dreams that stir up pain or weird feelings. An unpleasant dream is frequently the crucial part of a process of release and forgiveness. In these instances I usually run a brief ritual., which allows the grievances that have emerged to be released. I also express my gratitude for the work which has been carried on during the night. 

When a dream is particularly mysterious or distressful, your Guide can work as major source of support. Guides are experts in interpreting the deeper significance of dreams. Simply ask your Guide for direct explanations about the dream. You can also replay the dream, watching it as if it were a DVD, repeating the intriguing scenes, playing them in slow motion and pausing when necessary. During this process you can also delete and edit part of the dream.

After a dream and upon waking up, as with all shamanic journeys, it is most useful to write down or draw the content of the experience. This is a simple and easy way to ground the inner values that have been disclosed through the dreams and serves the major purpose of allowing the above information not to get lost or forgotten.

Working with dreams is a very effective practice as it allows you to employ for spiritual purposes an ample part of your time that you are going to use anyway. What follows is a process that can help you in retrieving and mastering the subtle dimensions of dreams. 

This is an astroshamanic integration of an ancient practice used by the Pythagoreans, which has some similarities with the Catholic examination of consciousness. 

Each night, before going to bed, give thanks for the experiences of the day and confirm the adherence to your highest Intent. As you sit or lie on your bed, review the day back from the last events to the beginning. 

In the course of this process, if you become aware that there were moments in which you did not act in accordance with your Intent or you allowed grievances to spread and manifest, replay that time as if you had a DVD recorder. 

Delete what went wrong and substitute the undesirable sequence with a right course of action. 

For example, if you were rude with your partner, see yourself being gentle and giving attention to her. Then strongly affirm that the next time you are presented with a similar scene, you will conform to your highest Intent and Function. 

As you continue to review the day you can also notice if you have collected unpleasant emotions and ideas. Release them and allow them to be transformed, and reaffirm your commitment to your sacred path. 

When you have completed the whole process, give yourself the task of simply looking at your hands. It does not matter whether this is going to happen that same night, just repeat this practice every time you go to sleep. Then count back from twelve to one, affirming that you will remember all that occurs during your dreams. 

Upon waking up, stretch yourself like a cat, give thanks for what happened throughout the night, and note it down in your journal. If you have difficulties in recalling the dreams, try and wake up gently, lying in a relaxed state for some moments. Then make an effort to remember the first feelings or thoughts that came to your mind upon waking. These will help bring back the content of your dream and also give indications about its deeper essence. 

If you still feel unclear about your dream, make sure to identify any image or detail that you recollect. Write it down or draw it, no matter how incoherent it may seem. These fragmented pieces usually act as catalysts and spontaneously draw significant information at a later stage during the day. 

By employing the above process you have the chance to clear and release from your system any grievance that may have caused harm to you and others. You will gradually start to acknowledge the basic scripts of your life and release what blocks your Intent. Take note of what happens to you every day and operate with simplicity. 

By observing carefully, you will notice how the astrological events of the day (position of Sun and Moon, lunar phase, etc.) are related with your dreams. 

Please be aware that walking a healing path involves remembering your Intent and true nature in the midst of all kinds of altered states of consciousness and problems in your life. 

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