(An excerpt from Electric Dreams vol 2 #13, Part I)
"Some say that gleams of a remoter world
Visit the soul in sleep."
- Shelley, Mont Blanc.
I am currently researching and studying dreams of special spiritual
significance, which I call dreamjourneys. This research will be published in
article and book form. Consider this column a "sneak preview" - and an
essential part of this research process. I'm an avid DJ'er (dreamjourneyer), as
well as LDer (lucid dreamer), for over 25 years.
In addition to being a dreamjourneyer and researcher, I am a shaman. I work
as a spiritual catalyst, counselor and teacher, and have guided individuals and
groups in ritual, chant, meditation, and sacred drumming for spiritual
trance-formation for many years. I am also coauthor of "Passion
Play!," the world's first tantric sensual board game for lovers, and a
published poet and journalist.
My own shamanic initiation began with a dream, which I will share with you at
some point. I invite you to share your comments and questions inspired by this
column, as well as your personal dreamjourneys. You are also cordially welcome
to provide suggestions on what you'd like to see addressed in this column. You
can e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you e-mail me a dream, let me know if I
may use it in my other published work on dreams. I cannot compensate you in any
way, but I promise to credit you if you so desire.
A man dreams of being in a cave. The cave is dark and cool, but feels safe. In
the cave appears a bear. The bear says, "I am with you always. I am here to
guide you. This is your safe place of wisdom. Come here whenever you wish to
find me. I am always with you and within you." The man wakes.
Psychoanalytic-symbolic dream analysis would say the cave represents his
subconscious. The bear is a father figure (or perhaps, mother figure) that
represents his actual parent. The dreamer would be advised to consider: What
part of you is the bear? What do you feel about bears? What do you feel about
your mother and father, and how is this like your feelings or experiences with
bears? Possibly it would be seen as wish fulfillment that the man's mother or
father is always with him. (They are actually both deceased.) Freudian analysis
might even add some sexual aspect, like, the cave is a vagina. The bear is a
phallic symbol for masculine virility. The bear inside the cave is intercourse,
which is integral to the man's internal balance and harmony. He needs to resolve
his issues with his parents to improve his sex life. Oedipal issues would be
Spiritual analysis would be much simpler:
The bear is a totem for the dreamer. The message was literal. When he goes in
his mind back to that cave, he can contact Bear again for guidance. He should
heed those messages.
Clearly, there is a world of difference between these interpretations. The
world of spirit.Some Jungian therapists would also recognize this, even
though they would still see the bear as an archetype of part of the man himself.
It doesn't really matter whether you think of it as inner or outer, the
important thing is to validate the validity of the message and the messenger as
real and significant. To apply symbols to this dream obviously obfuscates its
beautiful, powerful message of first contact from Bear.
Once the dreamer recognized the dream as a spiritual message, and Bear as one
of his guides, he honored and increased his connection with Bear and Bear
qualities in himself: ferocious strength with loving gentleness. He feels he has
his masculine-feminine energies in better balance and points to greater peace
and confidence in himself.
OK, now here's a challenge for you. Here comes a dream loaded with religious
symbolism, that I invite you to interpret from any perspective you like. I'm
providing relevant background on the dreamer to assist. Next column, we'll look
at some of your interpretations. Then we'll see what happened in the dreamer's
life after this dream, and what she had to say about the dream's meaning. And
other mysteries will be revealed, like: Whose picture was on the candle?
Background: The dream took place in August 1994. The woman having the dream
has been actively increasing the spiritual focus in her life for about 5 years,
studying, teaching and practicing. She was raised Jewish, does not practice
Judaism at the time of the dream, but has an eclectic, growing spiritual life
focused on Goddess worship, also including shamanic, Hindu, Buddhist, Native
American and animist traditions. Four years earlier, she had had a related
dreamjourney in which her "soul was lost, in another place, a creepy
version of my bedroom as a child. I couldn't get back. I started praying like
crazy, to everyone I could think of. When I said 'Jesus,' I saw Jesus appear at
the foot of my childhood bed, smiling, holding out his hands. I jumped toward
him, into him, and I woke up back in my bed in Florida, where my body was."
She credits Jesus with bringing her back to her body, to this plane, but is not
a Christian per se. "Hecate," referred to in the dream, was a Greek
goddess of the underworld, the goddess of witches, crossroads, the moon, and
night. She is not generally considered an evil figure by modern Goddess scholars
and worshippers, but is more of a powerful Crone.
Dreams #5 & #6
The night before I had this dream, I lit a white candle I had purchased
months ago at a ritual supply store. I didn't pay attention to the figure on the
picture around the candle, not consciously, and I don't know why I lit that
particular one that night, finally. I don't usually light any candle at all. But
When the dream starts, I'm in an elevator. There are a lot of people in the
elevator with me, including a friend of mine, Jane, who moved to San Diego six
months ago. I keep pushing "8" because I know we're supposed to get
off at the eighth floor. But the elevator won't stop. It's going down. It keeps
going faster and faster, now we're falling, shooting downward. The indicator
shows that we've even gone below the basement, just farther down, down. I'm
scared. I'm pushing the stop button, pulling a lever, nothing works.
Suddenly the elevator opens between floors. I can see a brick wall in front
of us, then the elevator falls a little more down and there's an opening.
But it's filled with demons! People with skull heads, dripping with blood,
and they're flying into the elevator! Attacking me and Jane. I'm trying to
defend her, but it's not working. Suddenly an evil woman appears. She reminds me
of Hecate, but it's like an evil anti-Hecate. She has a big nose. She's cackling
at me, she's laughing and saying weird things like "My nose knows! Ahahaha!"
I'm afraid, then I try to pull off her nose. It comes off and blood shoots off,
but she just laughs and another nose grows back.
Now the demons are coming at me again. I feel cornered in the elevator, so I
decide to run past them into the dark void beyond. I'm running and they're
chasing me. I'm out of breath and feel like they're gonna get me. I come to a
chamber. In the chamber is the anti-Hecate! There is some kind of satanic ritual
going on, she's being worshipped. I feel totally powerless.
I can't escape. They notice me and she says, suddenly nice, trying to be
inviting, "Why don't you join us? We can give you whatever you want! Power!
Money!" and so on. She makes me promises. I keep shouting "No!
No!" and putting my arms in front of myself to keep her away from me. She
keeps coming closer and making these promises. I start to run again. I wake up.
But when I wake up, I'm not in my bedroom in California. I'm in that creepy
room again - the creepy childhood bed! I feel totally afraid. I say to myself,
"OK, this is just a dream. I can will myself to wake up. WAKE UP!!!"
But I'm still there! I can feel really negative energies around me, tho' I don't
see them. I know I'm lost. My soul is lost. I'm terrified, and don't know what
to do. Just then, I start to see a white light glowing in the room. I dive into
the white light!
Whew! That saved me. I finally woke up where I was supposed to be, in my
"real" bed in California, in my body. When I opened my eyes, I was
looking straight into the candle, which was still burning next to my bed. I knew
I had just been somewhere else, that I had almost died, really. I was shaken,
but so relieved to be back. I realized this was no ordinary dream.
I felt healing light all around me, shimmering, could actually see it, the
whole room was glowing with good power. I knew what I had to do, even though I
was afraid. I prayed and gathered my guides around me. I said over and over
"Circle of Power Surrounds Me."
When I felt I was strong enough, I went back into the dream! Very lucidly,
although I don't remember too many details about this part. I went back to the
ritual chamber and confronted the anti-Hecate and her demons. I told them
something like this: "Nothing you can ever say or do will EVER get me to
join your side. I use my power for good, only. Now go away! Or I will destroy
you." I was growing larger and larger, glowing. I just know that I won. I
woke up again, feeling totally empowered and victorious, blissful, safe and
grateful to whoever/whatever was helping me. I fell back into normal sleep.
My life has never been the same, since that dream, especially because of what
So whatdya think? What did all this mean?
Differences Between Dreamjourneys and Lucid Dreams
One of the most common questions dreamers ask me is "What's the difference
between a dreamjourney and a lucid dream? Aren't they just the same?" There
are similarities, but they are not the same.
You may have noticed that in the above six dreamjourneys, only the second
dream in the last series (in which the dreamer chooses to return to the dream)
was lucid. The others were not.
Myself, in an average month, I have about 6 lucid dreams (LDs) and 7 or 8
dreamjourneys (DJs). Some dreams fall into both categories. As you know, a lucid
dream is a dream in which the dreamer is conscious and aware that s/he is
dreaming. Dr. Stephen LaBerge has pioneered the field of lucid dreams in our
culture, scientifically proving their existence and bringing them to the public
awareness, as well as helping thousands have more lucidity in their dreams. Dr.
KeithHearne also deserves mention for his lucid dream research, as do others.
Lucidity is a very useful skill, and I wholeheartedly support this work and
recommend Dr. LaBerge's books to anyone wishing to understand and develop lucid
dreams. I am very glad his work has gained popular acceptance and helped
thousands in their lives, from healing to creative problem solving to overcoming
The recognition and understanding of dreamjourneys is not the same as that of
lucid dreams, although they are related. Dreamjourneys are yet another piece of
the puzzle toward understanding our dreams and gaining wisdom therein which we
can apply in our waking lives.
As the concept of dreamjourneys and spiritual dreams in general is not yet
commonly accepted or valued in our culture, but lucid dreaming is a popular
interest, I believe it would be helpful to explain the differences and
similarities between these types of dreams.
Similarities Between LDs and DJs
1. FEEL REAL. Both lucid dreams and dreamjourneys feel more "real" to
2. TRANSFORMATIONAL. Both LDs and DJs have great power to transform the
dreamer's waking life, empower him/her, help eliminate blocks preventing
success, increase creativity, receive solutions to problems, and overcome
3. EXPERIENCES BEYOND WAKING LIFE. In lucid dreams as well as dreamjourneys, the
dreamer can experience things s/he could never experience in waking life, e.g.
flying, walking through walls, talking to the deceased, becoming an animal or
another person, breathing under water,
and so on. Dreamjourneys do change scenes, and characters can still blend
together and shift, as in lucid and other dreams.
4. MOST DREAMSIGNS STILL USEFUL TO GAIN LUCIDITY. Most dreamsigns presented in
LaBerge's "Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming" still apply in a
dreamjourney, and can help the dreamer gain lucidity within a dreamjourney:
* FEELINGS: You may feel such intense bliss and wisdom, such a connection
with everything in the universe, such as you have never felt when awake.
* ACTIONS: You may be able to do things normally impossible in the physical
waking world, such as fly, leave your body, breathe under water, speak a foreign
language. Or another dream character may do something "impossible." A
common example of this is animals, trees, rocks that talk, or change form.
* FORM: You may appear as another race, age, gender, species. You may see
angels, deities or other spiritual beings you do not see when awake. You may be
in a different time or place.
Differences Between LDs and Djs
In all lucid dreams, the dreamer is aware s/he is dreaming.
This is only sometimes true in dreamjourneys. Thus, some dreamjourneys are
also lucid dreams.
2. A DREAM VS. "MORE" (or other) THAN A DREAM.
After a lucid dream (that is lucid, but not a dreamjourney), the dreamer feels
like it was an exceptional, powerful and realistic experience, but it still
feels like a dream, albeit a remarkable one.
Whereas after waking from a dreamjourney, the dreamer KNOWS it was MORE than
a dream, no matter what anyone says (until or unless they are persuaded to treat
the experience as if it were a regular dream). It contains dream elements, and
manifests in dream form, but the dreamer feels there was something else
involved, beyond their usual dream experience.
3. SPIRITUAL/PERSONAL MESSAGES.
The lucid dream can reveal important personal messages relevant to the dreamer's
The dreamjourney reveals truths and messages not only about the dreamer and
his/her life, but about the spiritual world, the meaning of life, the nature of
reality, and other metaphysical revelations.
4. CHANGING OTHER DREAM CHARACTERS.
In lucid dreams, the dreamer can often change the environment and the actions of
other characters in the dream.
This is not true in dreamjourneys that are not lucid.
5. CONSISTENCY WITHIN EACH DREAM ENVIRONMENT.
There is somewhat more consistency to the environment in a dreamjourney than in
a lucid dream. For example, in "Exploring the World ofLucid Dreaming,"
Dr. LaBerge states that in a lucid dream, the dreamer may look at a printed word
on a page, look away, and when s/he looks back atthe page, the words are
different, or gibberish or hieroglyphics.
Similarly, when one looks at the time (in a lucid dream) on a digital watch,
it may say "4:52" and a second later say "10:23." These are
examples of "dreamsigns" or inconsistencies in the dreamworld that are
ways to recognize that one is dreaming in order to achieve lucidity.
In dreamjourneys, as in all dreams, the scenes may switch rapidly or be
unrealistic. But in most dreamjourneys, there is more consistency within that
scene. For example, if you see a particular mark on the wall of the cave you are
in, and you look away to look at the snake who is talking to you, and you look
back at the wall of the cave, you will probably still see that mark. Perhaps
this is because a lucid dream is still an experience that is in the regular
dreamworld, created by the unconscious mind, while true dreamjourneys are
actually visits to another reality that does not necessarily depend upon the
dreamer's mind to keep the details consistent.
At least, that is my theory, but I welcome your explanations...
* Thus, it is necessary in dreamjourneys to look for other dreamsigns to achieve
lucidity, as there is more consistency in the environment and specific details.
Lucid dreams that are not also dreamjourneys lend themselves well to symbolic
Dreamjourneys are best analyzed from a revelatory perspective, and understood
rather than interpreted. They are more literal experiences, akin to mystical
7. TIME EXPANSION/DILATION.
Lucid dreams that are not also dreamjourneys generally contain a time rate of
passage that is close to that of waking reality.
Dreamjourneys, like other transcendent spiritual experiences, often transcend
the regular rate of time passage. Thus, in a dreamjourney you can feel like time
is standing still and you are experiencing eternity. Or you can experience many
lifetimes in mere seconds. The spiritual realms are not limited by time any more
than they are limited by space.
8. AWAKENING FEELS DIFFERENT.
When the dreamer awakens from a LD that was not also a DJ, s/he is struck by how
vivid and real the LD felt, but the sense of "waking up" is close to
that of other dreams. There is a change in state, a barrier or veil that is
pushed through to wake up.
Awakening from a DJ feels "Like I was already awake and just opened my
Each column, we will analyze one or more dreams from this new perspective,
comparing, contrasting and combining it with other styles of dream analysis, to
discern meaningful messages and find universaliies to the human dream
Other topics to be covered:
* Detailed analysis of specific, real dreamjourneys of all types
* How to use spiritual techniques to increase your ability to DJ
* How to recognize and validate your dreamjourneys
* Techniques for understanding dreamjourneys
* Similarities and differences between DJs and awake visions
* Carlos Castenada and other shamanic perspectives on dreamjourneys
* Dreamjourneys and the creative process
* Your suggestions
* Your dreamjourneys!
NEXT COLUMN: DreamJourneys Throughout the World
Many cultures have recognized the spiritual significance of dreams, and have
understood that dreams are always journeys to an alternate reality of sorts. In
the dreamstate, we are closer to the spirit world. Next column (space
permitting), we'll look at the spiritual dreams of many cultures, possibly
including the Senoi, Iroquois, Mohave, Hopi, Ojibwa, Indian Upanishadics,
ancient Greeks, Siberian shamans, Islamic world, pagans and more.
Sweet Dreams! And dream on...
By using the word "just," I do not intend to trivialize the
importance of other dreams. I use this word because this expression is almost
universally the way people describe dreamjourneys, in their own
The psychological perspective tells us everything is within our own minds,
that the entire universe exists within our perception of it, in the mind. Many
spiritual perspectives look without, rather than within, and see that there are
deities, energies, or forces, and planes of existence, beyond the mind and
beyond the self, that are accessible by others and not just existing in the
individual mind. Perhaps both of these perspectives differ only in semantics. Or
perhaps they are truly different, yet both true. The worlds of the mind and
spirit do not know mutual exclusivities.
My own spiritual experiences, including dreamjourneys, have
"proven" to me, beyond any proof science or mental (of the mind)
activity could ever do, the actual existence of spiritual forces, good, evil,
neutral, that are both contained within and simultaneously beyond my self. When
you have directly experienced Spirit, God/dess, heaven, hell, angels (or your
own equivalent), and receive divine messages every day, you know - at the soul's
level of knowing - that there is more than the mind creating these things. I do
not think, though, that it is necessarily true for everyone that the spiritual
world has to be beyond their own self. I recognize that for many spiritual
people, all these things are parts of their self, and they see Spirit or God/dess
as their Higher Self, their God Self, etc. I don't argue with this perspective.
Psychology and spirituality are intricately, intimately interwoven, not
opposites. I do think, though, that it is a Cartesian denial of Spirit to say
that everything is "mind" (and self) only. If all the great sacred
experiences every human being has ever had are just a part of their own mind,
then what is meant by the word "mind" must be truly expansive and must
therefore include what I call "soul" and "Spirit." Jung
recognized that there is a universality to human transcendent experience, which
he called the collective unconscious.
Perhaps this is exactly the same as what I call Spirit, or what many of us
call God, which manifests in different forms. But whichever camp you lie in, I
believe dreamjourneys can be a powerful transformational vehicle on your own
personal path to Spirit.
The question arises: Is it true that the place visited in a dreamjourney
exists separate from the dreamer, and can be visited by others? In other words,
can the existence of the spiritual world(s) be proven in the physical world? I
will discuss later the work of Carlos Castenada, myself, and other shamans of
various cultures that do point to the separate, real existence of spiritual
worlds. I have experienced them myself, and know that many millions of other
people have, too. But can this be proven to the nonbeliever, or to a skeptic who
wants tangible proof of the intangible? No, probably not. No scholarly, literary
or artistic work about religion or spirituality to date has conclusively proves
the existence of the soul and the spiritual nature of reality. I do not purport
to be able to do this in this single work.
Many will read this and dispute it on the basis that it is not scientifically
confirmed. This is an age-old conundrum. I myself seriously doubt that the
existence of Spirit or spiritual realities can ever be
"proven" scientifically; the very nature of spiritual reality is
beyond our physical reality. (This may sound like circular logic, but it is
true, by definition.) But there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence. I have
collected many examples of dreamjourneyers who have never met having visited
very similar places in dreamjourneys. Also, there are thousands of documented
cases of similar dreams and visions of heaven, God, white light, bliss,
characterizing near-death experiences (NDEs), whether as waking visions or
dreamjourneys. But this still doesn't prove to the skeptic that this place, or
even a deity, exists. It is possible, after all, that these people simply share
a common internal concept of heaven, God, the afterlife, etc., rather than that
this is universally a heavenly, accessible place for everyone.
But far more convincing even than the accumulated centuries of anecdotal
evidence is direct experiential evidence. Even more than "seeing is
believing," experiencing is believing, and understanding. I know what I
know, at the level of the soul, through direct experience. I hope to reach some
of you who will read this, to help you recognize your own sacred dreamjourneys,
to broaden the understanding of your dreams to honor the spiritual, as well as
the psychological, perspectives. If you experience it for yourself, you know. As
David Engle put it in Divine Dreams: "No rationalizing discourse from a
mere human could surpass the effect of even a five-second visit from an angel
who looks more beautiful and beams forth more wisdom than any sight you have
even imagined." I recognize that not everyone is ready, willing, able or
even interested in this spiritual approach. But some people are, and this
perspective has been thus far a tiny voice in dream study in this country. In
ancient times, the focus was almost exclusively on the precognitive, revelatory
aspect of dreams, to an extreme. Now, the pendulum has swung the other way! If
my work can be even a tiny part of the spiritual awakening of some, and enhance
understanding of the dream experience, it will be worth this work. And, at the
very least, we will enjoy some stimulating discourse on spiritual dreams. But
prove the existence of God, the soul, the afterlife, alternate realities?
Probably not to the satisfaction of many... and that's perfectly all right.
It's supremely difficult to squeeze stuff of the spirit into these tiny boxes we
Reprinted with permission from:
SPIRAL CHAMBERS ONLINE November, 1995
Issue #2 - contact Repsi at SK@aol.com