Electric Dreams

An Excerpt From The Lucid Dream Exchange
Dreamgates Book Review
by contributor Arthur Gillard

Lucy Gillis 

(Electric Dreams)  (Article Index)  (Search for Topic)  (View Article Options)

  Gillis, Lucy (2001 Oct). An Excerpt from the Lucid Dream Exchange: Dreamgates Book Review. Electric Dreams 8(10). Retrieved Dec 28, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams 

The recent issue of the Lucid Dream Exchange was a memorial issue dedicated to the memory of one of our contributors who passed away this summer. The theme of LDE was lucid dream experiences of death, and the deceased. One of the articles was an enlightening book review, by contributor Arthur Gillard.

Book Review

DREAMGATES: An Explorer's Guide to the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and Life After Death by Robert Moss

Reviewed by Arthur Gillard (galatur23@yahoo.com)

Dreamgates by Robert Moss is a fascinating look at the lucid dream experience from a shamanic perspective which in many ways goes far beyond other books on the subject that stick closely to what can currently be proven from a scientific perspective. There is a lot to be said for dealing with this endlessly fascinating subject in a scientific way, yet I found myself immensely enjoying Moss' more far-ranging, free-wheeling approach and his emphasis on the spiritual beliefs of indigenous peoples throughout the world.

For Moss, the world of dreams is every bit as real as Consensus Reality, if not more so. In fact, he considers the Dreamworld or Dreamtime to be the primary level of reality and the origin of all that we experience in the physically awake portion of our lives. When we travel into dreams or out of our bodies in astral projections we visit real places, encounter other beings - non-human, ex-physical etc. - and have genuine experiences which may enrich our lives and enlarge our souls in various ways. For example, on these "soul journeys" we may recover knowledge from before this physical incarnation. It is also possible to anticipate future events and in many cases change their outcomes.

Initially I felt a bit hesitant about this book, finding some of his terminology too glib - e.g. he refers to people who often experience conscious dreaming (his preferred term for lucid dreaming) as "frequent fliers." However, I got over that once I realized that he has a sophisticated approach to this subject and is drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide variety of different cultures and times - e.g., lucid dreams of Aristotle, the soul journeys of the 18th century Swedish scientist/mystic Swedenborg, native North American legends, Australian aboriginal myths etc. His stance on skepticism also did a lot to win me over. He stresses the importance of a skeptical attitude, but only at the proper time, i.e. after we have had an experience, not before. We should not let the skeptical side of ourselves get between us and these sorts of experiences, Moss advises, but dialog with the skeptic afterwards to determine what the real nature of the experience may have been and what significance or utility it may have in our daily lives. Moss considers that the result of an experience often counts for much more than its ontological underpinnings, which may in any case be unknowable. He cites encounters he's had with what appeared to be the soul of a departed historical figure who inspired and helped him with creative endeavors such as novels he was writing; does it really matter whether the entity was actually the person he appeared to be, or a different being, or an aspect of Moss's unconscious mind? Whatever the nature of those encounters, they helped Moss bring a tangible creative product into the world.

The after-death state is a frequent topic of this book, which is one of the things that initially attracted me to it. A shaman is defined as a person who has had a personal encounter with death but came back to share her familiarity with that realm and use her knowledge to help others; shamans are scientists of the afterlife. Moss himself describes an illness he had in early childhood during which he made a soul journey to the underworld and met a ghostly race of beings; he lived an entire lifetime with them during the course of his childhood illness in our world.

Some of the more skilled explorers throughout human history have brought back maps of the hyperspace within which our more mundane reality is embedded, and these have been turned over time into myth and scripture, with inevitable distortions, simplifications and biases. What modern people need is not to take someone else's word for it, but to experiment and experience for ourselves and make up our own minds. Moss makes clear that he is only giving you techniques to use yourself, and temporary maps of hyperspace to help you initially until you can draw more accurate ones that reflect your own experience. Reality, in all its aspects, is always changing - therefore old maps have only a limited validity in the present moment.

According to Dreamgates, the after-death state is dreamlike. "The path of the soul after death is the path of the soul in dreams." Through conscious dreaming, soul journeys, shamanic techniques of dream reentry etc., we can become familiar with the after-death state while we're still physically alive, and thus avoid some of the mistakes which may befall many of the newly dead - such as not realizing that you have died, or playing out limited or redundant patterns from your life rather than taking advantage of the many opportunities for spiritual growth and adventure available to us once we've left the physical permanently. "Our feelings, experiences, and creative energies survive physical death and colour a new phase of growth and experiment. All of this can be perceived by the living through dreams and inner communications and may be a vital source of guidance and inspiration." It is also possible for a living person to assist the dead in various ways, for example to give up old patterns or to move on to their next stage of growth. Anyone can be a "psychopomp" or guide of souls. He talks about various ways this can be done, but the most important thing is your attitude, your desire to help. "If your intentions are good, you will receive the help you need."

In any case, Moss wisely advises us to live our lives from the perspective of our eventual death. When we die, and we look back over our lives, what would we want, then, to have done now, in our current life circumstances?
It would be best to live life now in a way that will not lead to many regrets at the moment of our death. Of course, this is very easy to say in theory, and very challenging to put into practice. But from the perspective presented in this book, we're here to learn and grow as evolving spiritual beings.

For me the last several chapters were among the most interesting. Moss describes alien abductions and points out the great similarities between such accounts and many dream encounters; he feels that many such experiences probably occur in dreams - however, he also feels that people may actually be having encounters with real, independent non-physical entities, though in most cases probably in their dreambody rather than their physical bodies. He goes on to speculate that because our culture has denied the Dreamtime and taken such a narrow materialistic view of life, perhaps the Dreamtime is breaking through into our physical reality, to wake us up to the spiritual dimension of reality. This could account for some reports of paranormal occurrences. Perhaps the physical world is becoming more dreamlike, he suggests. Regardless, "dreaming is about living more richly and generously. As you become an active dreamer, you will learn to navigate by synchronicity. When you view dreams more literally and waking life more symbolically, you enter the flow of natural magic."

If I have one major complaint about this book, it is that he deals in fear way too much for my taste. He's always alluding to frightening or dangerous phenomena that you may encounter, and the corresponding great need to carefully protect yourself in various ways - for example, sanctifying and shielding the place where your body is located when you go on these travels. He also talks much about secret schools on the astral plane, that may make you pass tests or do certain things before you are allowed to enter, and guardians at various thresholds and gateways. All of this, in my opinion, could lead to unnecessarily terrifying experiences on the part of people who are trying these experiments. It may be that Moss is invoking fear as a way of more fully engaging his readers in the process, making them pay a lot more attention to what they are doing and take this all more seriously; or maybe it's more of a disclaimer so he won't be sued for astral damages (these days I wouldn't be too surprised); or perhaps he really believes it - maybe it's even true! I find it hard to take seriously statements such as "If you are out for sex and thrills, you may wish you had insisted on a health inspection before getting involved with some of your partners."

Astral VD? Come on! I'm willing to consider that he may be correct on some level(s) and to keep an open mind about this, and to learn some techniques that might come in handy if I find myself in a bad astral neighborhood. It also occurs to me as a possibility that people who go out feeling that the multiverse is all sweetness and light, while they might have more positive experiences, may miss out on some of the really interesting and educational opportunities to be had.

Such quibbles aside, Dreamgates is a fascinating look at shamanic dreaming, is a very entertaining read, and would be a valuable addition to any oneironaut's library. I highly recommend it, and I plan to read more of this author's work as soon as possible.


The Lucid Dream Exchange is a quarterly issue featuring lucid dreams and lucid dream related articles, poetry, and book reviews submitted by readers. To subscribe to The Lucid Dream Exchange, send a blank email to:


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