Dreams and Creativity. Do these two human experiences have
anything to do with each other? Is anyone really interested?
Well, if the response I received over the past month was any indication, it's
a resounding, "Yes!" I want to thank each contributor for their
willingness to share their experiences, learning and insights with the world,
through this issue of Electric Dreams. One person remarked, "To generalize
about the value that my dreams have for me is that they somehow are telling me
that something went terribly wrong somewhere in time, and I must try to fix
it." I read this statement as both a personal and a collective one,
capturing the essence of dreaming and creativity.
One of the themes which has continued to surface over the past several years
(a hundred or so) is the attraction or repulsion people experience with varying
approaches to dreams. There are people who fall in the "interpretive"
category (meaning of the dream), the "experiential" category (making
changes in one's waking life in response to a dream message), and the
"expressive" category (dancing, painting, writing the dream as it was
remembered. These various ways of approaching the dream are all exciting,
valuable and unique and all of them share a common goal of brining the dream
into waking life. One woman sent me her dream, it's interpretation of the image,
and how the combination led her to a discovery/invention which was incredibly
helpful to herself and her community. I don't think the varying approaches to
dreamwork have to be exclusive or singular. Interpretation of a dream image to
waking life can result in the most amazing discoveries and there is a lot of
material in print to support this statement.
I see "Dreams and Creativity" as natural partners. Dreamworkers are
here on the planet to share a secret with the world. Original creative
expression is present within all of us. It exists in our soul, it is in every
cell of our being.
The soul/psyche is a part of ourselves dreamworkers are willing to
communicate with as often as possible despite the fact that many of those
communications are painful to receive. Dreams often comment on the darkness
within our souls. Ah, we can't have Eternal Light without seeing first the
Eternal Dark. To find the light, we have to be willing to peer into the dark and
trust that there is Light in that Darkness. We are never disappointed.
Dreamworkers often refer to the term, "synchronicity", a word
coined by Jung (or reclaimed is probably more accurate which Jung would be the
first to admit), an experience that simultaneously combines inner and outer
reality. We are living in a mythic time and dreamworkers are very
"keyed" into this myth, as dreamworkers have always been.
What about creativity then? What does that have to do with dreams? Creativity
is the vehicle that brings the unseen world into the seen world. It is our
soul's journey manifested. Creative expression reflects the world back to itself
and changes it. Let's review a few examples. Prophesy, music, sculpture, the
engine, the telephone, etc, etc. The list is endless. Where has all that
creativity brought us? It has brought us to the gateway of sharing our
creativity with the world instantly in this medium. Creativity is the bringer of
the light that we may all collectively stay in step as we move forward on our
When we manifest a painting, poem, or story from our dreams, we bypass the
ego which is an extraordinary feat in itself. The ego is always busy nattering
about what other people will think, whether it's pretty, or interesting or good
enough. When we demonstrate something we experienced in a dream we don't have to
take credit for it or be embarrassed by it because, we can just say, "Oh,
this is something I witnessed in a dream."
I want to share a brief personal story that is at the heart of why I jumped
at the opportunity to be Guest Editor for this issue. Fifteen years ago I lived
in a wondrous city called San Francisco. Wondrous to me, moving from Toronto,
Canada. Presently I am living in Kitchener which could very well be San
Francisco's opposite if the truth be known. But that's another story.
While living in San Francisco I attended M.A. courses at the California
Institute of Integral Studies and weekly ran up that hill on Clay St. to the
Jungian Institute to see Michael, my therapist. Our work together is still
emerging, and always, as magical.
At C.I.I.S. I enrolled in two of Angeles Arrien's classes. One was Creativity
and the second one, a gift from C.I.I.S., was Transitions. When I began my
course on Transitions, I had three months left in San Francisco. This course
held special significance for me at that time. I knew I was soon leaving this
city and time in my life, and synchronistic experiences were abounding as they
are apt to do during times of transition.
The day I began my course with Angeles I went to a Hunan Restaurant on the
Haight for a quick lunch. I was feeling sad about leaving, having just been
refreshed on why I was in San Francisco in the first place! I wondered if I were
making the right decision to return to Canada at this time.
After lunch I opened my fortune cookie which read, "You need a new
environment, Try Canada." Since that's where I was heading, I assumed I was
on the right track.
I had a series of dreams that winter and spring that stunned me with their
intensity. When Angeles Arrien asked students to do a project that would express
a feeling of transition, I knew I would do the dream series but I didn't know
what form it would take. I wandered around Salvation Army Thrift Stores
Gradually, the form of this dream began to grow within me and I started
buying the objects that were in the dreams. I picked up a Barbie Doll and cut
her hair the way it was in a dream, I made her the outfit the dream character
was wearing, and so it continued until it became a wall hanging on an opened
black velvet skirt.
The first time I had it all laid out, I stood back and looked at it. I was
stunned. I was looking at the unseen world with my waking conscious eyes for the
first time in my life! I was incredibly excited. I trotted around with it
everywhere, sharing it with everyone in my life then.
After my class presentation, several people approached me at break to say
(nicely), "That was very dark, Kathleen." That's why I loved showing
it to people. It wasn't pretty. It didn't even tell a nice story. It was
shockingly powerful and I took no credit for it whatsoever.
Over the past several years I have been facilitating dream study groups,
lecturing on dreams, teaching six- and ten-week courses at Community Colleges,
Community Agencies, senior citizens's residences, and independently. Whenever I
have a group spanning a period of weeks I give them "the project". On
the last day of class everyone presents their project to the others, and
describing the dream the work of art was inspired by.
Typically we never have enough time. People bring the most astounding works
of art which I have ever been so honoured to see with my waking eye. And instead
of anyone else analyzing them (as art critics and dream critics love to do) the
dreamer/artist themselves do their own analysis with their presentation.
What is that impulse that is expressed through creativity? I believe at the
core it is our spirituality. It is a prayer, sung in a song so old we don't even
venture to guess its age. It is dreaming dreams of wonder and painting them all
over our cave walls. It is singing and dancing the expression of its message.
Sometimes we get to hear it and understand it more clearly. But even when we
didn't fully understand it, we knew that someday someone somewhere would, and we
acted with faith.
We still hear it in our dreams, our creativity and our prayers. We glimpse
our soul and the unseen world through our dreams, and bring messages back to
share in the manifested world... which itself began as a dream.
I wish for everyone in the world to have this experience just once. It would
transform them and us forever.
Dreams and Creativity - articles
The first article by Linda Lane Magellon, "Sociability and the Creative
Dream Journal" is a perfect balance of personal experiences and learning
and really helpful advice to anyone journaling their dreams. Linda is absolutely
right in saying that our dream journals are the perfect forum in which to
explore the power of expressing our dreams creatively. As a wise person once
said, "The most important book you will ever read about dreams is the one
you write yourself."
"An excerpt from Jean Campbell's book, _Dreams Beyond Dreaming_ will
inspire you to write stories from your dreams. For those of you caught in the
snare of a writer's block, or those of you wondering how to find original and
fresh material, Jean has some great advice and stories to share."
I am including here an article of my own on "Dreamy Writing" which
looks at our spiritual voice at the core of creativity and also provides a
multitude of plug-in points for anyone interested in dreams and dreaming.
In this issue I strongly urge you to read Richard Wilkerson's article,
"Dreams and Creativity in the Electric Theatre of Cyberspace". Typical
of Richard, he succinctly captures the power of Creativity, Dreaming and
massive, instantaneous global communications. Remember to print this article for
your files, you'll enjoy it's prophetic message for years to come.
Web Site Visits
The following are web site recommendations from people who are creating works
of art from their dreams.
Click on "Publications" and go to Marie Kazalia's book of poems which
she has written from her dreams.
Kristena West has begun an online Shamanic Art Gallery which is as beautiful as
it is magical.
Jana Hutcheson has built a great site that pulls you into her world of
creativity and dreaming. Jana believes that, "..creativity is a wonderful
way to stay grounded while experiencing all that energy and gives it a structure
and container. It becomes a boat and it is a way to survive a storm. It gives
the energy a form to express itself."
Janice Baylis has written a couple of books (in particular Sleep on It) which
give a historical account of inventions which have been inspired by dreams. She
also provides some practical guidelines for using your dreams as a resource for
creative expression. Janice
welcomes enquiries from interested readers.
Recommended Reading in Dreams and Creativity
Marie Kazalia provided me with a very helpful recommended reading list on
Dreams and Creativity. The first book on the list has been recommended to me by
several people - I think it's time to get a copy!
Writer's Dreaming by Naomi Epel
Dreams & Inward Journeys by Marjorie Ford
Kerouac's Book of Dreams
My Education a Book of Dreams by W.S. Burrough
Stuff of Sleep & Dreams by Leon Edel
I would also highly recommend
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Kathleen Meadows, Ph.D.