Electric Dreams

 DREAMWORK2000 Becoming Yourself in the 21st Century: 
An Interview with
Strephon Kaplan-Williams

Richard Catlett Wilkerson

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Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (1999 July). DREAMWORK2000 Becoming Yourself in the 21st Century: An Interview with Strephon Kaplan-Williams. Interviewed by Richard Wilkerson. Electric Dreams 6(7). Retrieved July 11, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Strephon Kaplan-Williams is one of the Titans of the Dream Movement. His Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork collections provided a map for a generation of dreamworkers, bringing Jungian, holistic and transpersonal themes to the common person as well as many professional therapists. He was the founder of the Jungian-Senoi Institute in Berkeley in 1977 and one of the initial founding fathers of the Association for the Study of Dreams in the 1980's. His development of the dream cards, tarot like cards for dreamers, has shifted the emphasis of dreamwork from talking interpretations to a more imagistic approach that is more in align with dreaming itself. All of this work is an intensely personal experience for Strephon as well, and includes fifteen years of Jungian analysis, ten years of intensive training as a therapist and workshop leader in the Jungian tradition, a masters in counseling psychology, four years as chief therapist at an innovative treatment center in California, eight years of bodywork and ten years of on the mat Aikido. You can now find him doing clinical work as a Dream Therapist and providing Dreamwork Leadership and Dream Therapist training programs in Netherlands and Norway since 1991, as well as lecturing and providing workshops around the world.

His current most recent creation is the Dreamwork2000 project which provides not only education and interactive dream forums, books, dream cards and other productions, but also sets the stage for a conscious bridge into the 21st Century.


Richard Catlett Wilkerson for Electric Dreams [RW]: Hi Strephon, and welcome to Cyberspace!

Strephon Kaplan-Williams. [SK-W]: Thanks Richard and to all of you. I never expected such a hearty welcome when I finally arrived in Cyberspace! As you know, I have been inhabiting Dream Space for a long time and now I seem ready at age 65 to enter Cyberspace. What great unknown will I find here?

[RW]: Before I ask you about the specific programs of Dreamwork2000, I wanted to ask you about the general intentions and orientation of the project, how the project came about and the like. In the past you have created grassroots movements, international organizations and professional training centers. How do you see your presence on the Net?

[SK-W]: So far I love being on the net, and I am saying this without even getting a significant response yet. We had over 1000 hits the first week when Ineke, our designer, threw it up on the web just for some of us to see. This probably is not unusual. You found me right away. I think you have some dream spider at work out there keeping track of things.

But seriously, I am committed to the net because it is free-form communication and creation. I have a lot of experience now and have close experiences with my students but through the net I can share some or much of that experience so that I am more part of that WorldForm being created. I am committed to being interactive and bringing on line as many of my students as possible.

When I have to tell a long-term student that I can no longer read and comment on his dreamwork I get this immensely sad feeling because I know now I am slowly closing down my life and leaving behind only the knowledge that my students and I have developed. The internet may be my true graveyard of the spirit. Don't bury me in the earth. Stash me somewhere on the internet.

I experience Cyberspace as similar to Dream Reality. In Dream Reality we participate through our dream egos, the presence of our personal selves in the dream, in interactions with significant figures, issues, potentials, and consciousness ideas. The same seems to be happening in Cyberspace!

A developed Dream Reality traveler should be able to travel and contribute in Cyberspace as well.

[RW]:. The Dream Cards are a featured focus of your new site. These have been globally successful and popular with many people. Can you tell the Electric Dreams readers a little about the cards? How you decided to do them? What was it like doing the art on them yourself and what did it mean to you? Why "66" cards?

[SK-W]: I feel very lucky to have the Dream Cards come through me and through Roger and Linda Garland, their illustrators, lakeside-gallery.com. What I did basically was give them a detailed but rough design with word descriptions for each image, they then did the professional sketch which I corrected where necessary and they did a final oil painting the same size as the Dream Cards. Almost no changes were made after that. The project took two years.

We worked with Eddison-Sadd, a packager who produces and prints and resells to a major publisher. So I got very little money for the 100,000 sets sold so far, less than 25 cents each set for the two years work. The Garlands took more than a year off from other projects to do the Cards and got paid separately.

Originally I approached Eddison-Sadd from California with my idea for an archetypal tarot based on my Ego and the Seven Basic Archetypes model. We had correspondence but no decisions and they said the artist I was working with was not of professional quality.

Then in 1988 I got the inner call at age 54 to give up everything in California, the Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Institute and friends and community to move to England and work in Europe. I had nothing developed in Europe but I made the move. There I called Eddison-Sadd and said, 'I'm here.' With surprise they asked me to come in and told me they would do my archetypal tarot but would I please consider doing the first dream cards ever published. I said give me a few hours to be with it. I meditated and found that using the same Seven Archetypes basic model I could indeed arrange dream symbols in a schema which would account for all dream symbols and prove useful in working with any dream or life situation.

This was of course The Impossible Task. For who in their right mind would even attempt a symbol system as a tool to account for the meaning of each and every dream symbol dreamed in the past, the present, or the future?

I designed the first Dream Card, Journey #37, the Garlands painted it, and we sold the whole project to Simon & Schuster for the advance needed.

During the development of the project I had to have several breakthroughs, not only for each Card but also in the design of the Cards. My editors, Nick Eddison and Ian Jackson, would sometimes ask, 'but how do the Cards work?' I would have to say, 'We don't know yet since they don't exist yet.'

I had to trust the greater dream source and Dream Reality. I had to trust that there was an overall schema built into Dream Reality, the Symbolic Universe, which could be known and modeled. I had to be ready for the whole project collapsing if some fatal flaw developed. For I would maintain intellectual and scientific integrity at all costs. I would not knowingly hoax the general public with a symbol system which did not hold together and which did not work.

This was my big chance to get out into the world the first dream cards and a whole new symbol system.

The Dream Cards are not in any way based on the symbol system of tarot cards. I deliberately did not study tarot.

I wanted modern symbols from modern dreamers. I invited a number of advanced dreamers to contribute their greatest dreams and I took the chief symbols from these and my great dreams, meditated on the energy of the symbol and the Card and then came up with the basic design which the Garlands in their wonderful imagination and skill put into images.

In effect, the Dream Cards are produced by the Great Unconscious and the Dream Reality that emerges from this core stratum of archetypes which underlies our existence.

The greatest proof that the Dream Cards work was unexpected. While designed for use in working with any dream to gain meaning from it, nine out of ten people immediately used the Dream Cards to do life readings. The synchronicity, meaningful coincidence, of drawing one or several Cards around a life issue always seems to work and to give new insight and meaning. I have even been able to 'read' with public audiences according to the Card they pick when someone is suffering a severe illness.

So the Cards work to bring Dream Reality into Waking Reality and to teach people how to understand and relate to a universal symbol system.

Jung re-discovered synchronicity and I was lucky enough to have come through me in the meditative state an amazingly powerful synchronicity tool based on the Seven Basic Archetypes model. This model itself is amazing since it also came to me intuitively. My Jungian analyst teachers said Jung said you could not classify the archetypes since they are in the unconscious.

So immediately I started modeling the archetypes to answer a basic question a fellow student had, How many archetypes are there? Jung listed about 13 but what came to me when I went to a Cistercian monastery for a week of silent contemplation on the model was that Jung did not understand yet the functional nature and interrelations between archetypes which a model must have to be coherent and whole.

This is important because the Seven Basic Archetypes model is the basis for classifying all symbols in dreams and life based on their functional nature. The model works to explain how archetypes function in similarity and contrast obeying the fundamental law of opposites. The model works based on the powerful synchronicity that results in using the Dream Cards both for life readings, the waking dream, and for night dreams in breakthrough insights. Everyone reports this and I have interacted with hundreds of people now in using the Cards. Some guiding force that is very powerful in evoking meaning is at work through these Cards and the archetypal model behind them.

Interestingly enough, the conservative world of Jungian analysts does not recognize the importance of the Seven Basic Archetypes model or the Dream Cards. One non-orthodox Jungian writer even attributed the model to Jung!

I guess like a rain forest shaman my ways and whereabouts are hidden from the world. It does not matter just so the results are out there and useful for people to use.

If I have founded the first dreamwork institute, co-founded the first dream association, written the first comprehensive dreamwork manual, authored the first dream cards, presented the first workable archetypal model, given the first full three to five year professional dreamwork training program, originated certain dreamwork techniques, it has not been me personally but the Source which works through me because I am committed to following its prompting voice.

I seem never to have done what I wanted to do but had to follow where the most energy was. How I would have liked to be a novelist, a master teacher, a great tennis player, a rich man with a home in nature near a California beach, a person who has large audiences come to hear what he has to say, a teacher with students who stay.

Instead I live a fairly alone life in an obscure place in a small country with modest income and very modest standard of living, with no savings and no real estate, and very little recognition in the world and almost no intimate friends I can share my real self with. This is reality. What I have accomplished is in balance with what I have not been able to accomplish. The opposites rein supreme in my life and work. So be it!

Back to dreamwork after this personal aside.

The first language we all learn as babies is the language of imagery. As adults through Dream Reality we can return to the universal language through participation in Dream Reality and learn our way there and then connect to Waking Reality as well.

The Wisdom Cards which go with the Dream Cards are my meditations on the images once the Garlands produced their final painting for that Card. This idea also came out of meditation in the trance state, the same trance state I entered to have the images come into their rightful place for that particular Card. I felt we needed some help for people in relating to their imagery without being too interpretive. The Wisdom Cards hopefully evoke a dreamer's own personal wisdom source.

And so the Dream Cards were born into this world. Here I am in the Eddison-Sadd office and Nick Eddison says he has had this idea for dream cards for ten years and would I do them?

The idea had to come from an imagery man to a dream man because the dream man was too close to this key idea to originate it himself. Thus the first dream cards ever were born into this world.

How often can one be there at the right moment in time at the creative gateway when really new things emerge into the world? I feel privileged to be assisting at that gateway. For myself the use of Dream Cards has had major importance, not only for certain dreams but to do Card spreads based on the archetypal model at key events in my relating and life.

I must tell you also that in first talking with my editor he reported that two authors of other card projects had committed suicide in the final stages of their projects and their wives had to complete the project for them.

This is truly the dark side of bringing something terribly new into the world. I survived my own suicidal feelings in the final stages since I have helped others with suicidal symptoms and had been for-warned. So I paid the price to bring in the Dream Cards but not the total mythic sacrifice sometimes demanded of creators by the mythic gods and goddesses of antiquity and the Great Unconscious. There is a price for everything and everything has its price. This aphorism stays with me.

[RW]: Could you explain briefly how the cards are generally intended to be used?

[SK-W]: To continue the story of the first years of the Dream Cards, they were born in 1991. I had to write the book on how they were to be used before they even existed. The readings in that book are all authentic. We used the mock-up versions of the Cards to do readings. Now, eight years later I have done many trainings and readings with the Cards so I know better how to use them.

Use the Dream Cards to bring in meaning from a deeper guiding source than ego by doing dream and synchronicity readings with them.

Redfield has popularized Jung's idea of synchronicity with his emphasis on synchronicity connections but with the Dream Cards you do not have to be out there relating to others all the time to seek guidance through synchronicity.

Do it with the Cards. Find guidance with dreams as well. Develop intuition through inner work and not just outer work.

James Redfield is a spiritual extravert. He has to have people kill each other in his Celestine Prophecy. On the Dream Cards is also adversity and killing but with inner meaning and healing.

You don't have to put violence into a spiritual novel to get people to read it. There are no enemies to your living spiritual principles except those in yourself.

Seek inward to go outward. Inner is prior to outer. So give me dreamworking and Dream Cards working any time over having to do so much outer relating to find significant meaning in life.

It's not out there! The fire burns inside. What a lesson!

For instance, in working with a dream, pick one Card to represent you in the dream and another Card to represent the key issue or potential you are dealing with in the dream. You can choose these Cards consciously by looking through the deck or looking up key dream symbols in the 5000 item symbol glossary and then going to the Card indicated.

Through dreamwork and Dream Cards work you are developing meaning, you are better understanding the issues in your life and how to use spiritual principles to deal with them in a meaningful way.

Once you have your two Cards then shuffle the Dream Cards and pick from anywhere in the deck a third Card without looking and that often is the breakthrough Card or connector with the other two.

With dreams there often seems to be a key insight or meaning that unlocks the whole imagery. Through using the synchronicity of the Dream Cards you can often get this special insight.

In fact I discovered that the Cards work far better at helping people to insights than I do. I may be an expert by virtue of experience with thousands of dreams but my forte is to help a person develop their dream issues and then the insight or key which unlocks the dream must come from a deeper source than the personal ego of the dream ego or the personal ego of the dreamer.

Just as a dream seems to come from a core wisdom source, so too does the key to a dream's meaning seem to come from a greater source than ego.

One thing that seems off in those who say the dreamer is always right as to what his or her dream means is that often the dreamer, because of personal ego, is the last to know what his or her dream means.

I am amazed at other dreamwork writers who love to quote Jung in their own work and use the word, archetypes, yet when it comes down to it completely ignore Jung's point that the dream most often functions to compensate the biased ego-view of the dreamer. Or why else have a dream if you are not going to learn from it and shift your viewpoint fundamentally.

Too many dream egos don't really look at their dream egos.

I hope I am consistent and trust-worthy in analyzing and compensating mine as the dreams reveal my real self to me. Beware of those who quote Jung but don't really follow his consciousness principles!

I take the view that dreams are meaningful because when we objectify their issues and teachings we are always challenged to new learning about others and ourselves.

We could also say that the Dream Cards are so rich in universal modern symbols that it is easy for a dreamer to project meaning into the symbols.

Yes, this is certainly one level. But I have collected examples of true synchronicities in which the connections seem far stronger than just projecting personal meaning into a symbol. Test this out for yourself. One time after seeing a deeply tragic and moving documentary on the German concentration camps and the Jews I felt such a dark feeling I just knew that I could pick a card blindly from the Dream Cards and it would be the Adversity Card, Destroying, which has a concentration camp symbol on it. Sure enough this card came right out in my hand. I still felt certain about such energy, such presence, that I put the card back in the full 66-card deck, shuffled the deck several times and again blindly pulled out the same card. Many people have reported to me a similar phenomenon of pulling the same card twice when a certain energy needed emphasizing.

I don't think projecting meaning is the only or final explanation for why Dream Cards work is so strikingly meaningful. Is it some psychic power to read blindly at work or is there a guiding synchronicity force working directly through an open person using the Cards? We don't have to know the answer if we use the Cards and find them effective. American pragmatism at its best added to European Jung's theory. I love it!

The other way many people use the Dream Cards is to create the waking dream.

You have an issue you are dealing with. Shuffle the deck and choose one to three or five Cards in a special Dream Cards spread. Since the images of the Dream Cards came out of people's major dreams then the waking spreads you create will have many dream-like qualities and you can go from there.

In fact, and this is important, the Dream Cards use modern people's dream symbols and are therefore more relevant and powerful often than a traditional tarot card reading which is based on symbols from the past, often masculine and full of potential violence, and not in balance for modern times. Many people have indicated their preference for the modern symbolism of the Dream Cards and their powerful synchronicity over tarot cards and readings. I'm not selling! I am just pointing out reality.

So I can only say that I am full of joy that the Dream Cards exist to help people dream travel and to become more conscious of what symbols may mean and how to work with them. Let's say that someday in every school all children will be learning the universal language of symbolism, or re-learning it, and from that day onward there will be a tremendous leap in consciousness for the entire world. One major result would be of course that humans will not act out so much their dynamics, such as the machine warrior who acts out in outer wars and killings. What young man does not have the fantasy to drive his car like a tank or airplane breaking all the rules of an over-civilized society?

[RW]: I have heard from group leaders and dreamworkers online who are very enthusiastic. One dreamworker told me that during a dream group they had a visitor who was a very difficult group member and by shifting from the "If this were my dream..." approach to using the cards, the tensions dramatically shifted and the imagination began to flow.

[SK-W]: I have already said what I think and feel about the "If this were my dream" issue. The reality point is that your dream is not your dream! You did not create it with your possessive and controlling waking ego so how can you claim it as your own production once you are awake again? Some of this is just plain old sound thinking. The dream is not a product of waking ego. We are asleep. One definition of sleep is that it is a condition in which the waking ego function lets go of conscious control of the body and its emotions so that other non-ego centers can function including the dreaming source, what I call the dream source, and there is no better word for it!

I can see why the Dream Cards might work with both passive and difficult people. For they do bring out recognition of a greater source than ones personal ego.

Yes, it seems that if we are caught in our own limited pictures of reality and ourselves we need to enter the greater realms where imagery, wisdom and imagination can more freely flow.

Let synchronicity handle difficult people, since this is a greater or outside source other than the personal ego with all its restrictions and self-importance.

The dream owns itself. We do not own the dream. Therefore greater source experiences like dreams can help us get out of our personal egos.

The dream, like a child, has the right to exist in itself. Our job as dreamer is to relate to the dream, to serve it, to help heal the dream or develop its potential.

Instead of asking others for the meaning of a dream, ask the dream itself, do work with it, re-enter the dream in some form, use methods with the dream. I long ago reacted against all the dream interpreters out there because I saw how much ego projection even dream group leaders and writers were doing on their own and other people's dreams.

So the Dream Cards through synchronicity bring in another point of view for the ego to consider. That is one of their chief functions. I would love to do a workshop just for dreamwork writers and leaders to help them purify egos through Dream Cards work and the method, Following the Dream Ego. But will this ever happen?

[RW]: One of key values that I see running through your site is
consciousness, or self-awareness. This is particularly brought into focus with the Dreamwork2000 & Millennium2000 notion of being "dream and life conscious." What do you mean by this?

[SK-W]: Have I failed? Have I not made it clear yet on the site? Of course on the site I ask, "Are you dream and life conscious?" and you ask the question right back!

Consciousness is such a difficult issue. Jung talked about it takes ego to have ego. I also say that it takes ego to observe ego. The hardest thing for an ego, a personal identity to do, is to objectify itself. So this is why I discovered the technique, Following the Dream Ego in which you analyze specifically how your dream ego, the image of yourself, is acting and not acting in a dream and what attitudes might be motivating your actions or non-actions.

Consciousness is the ability to reflect upon how we are reflecting upon ourselves. Consciousness is the ability and commitment to get beyond our pure subjectivity into a place of objectifying ourselves and not just others or what is out there.

When we dream we are waking up only we find we are dreaming we are awake yet can't seem to truly wake up by getting out of bed or writing our dream down, then we see this beginning ability to see ourselves seeing ourselves. What is the difference between waking reality and dream reality? Depends on whether you are at the time in dream reality or waking reality. Our ability to discriminate, to distinguish inner from outer, dream reality from waking reality, projection from actual direct experiencing, the unconscious from the conscious, is a practice in consciousness. We reflect on ourselves and we reflect on our reflecting on ourselves. I reflect upon myself reflecting upon myself, therefore I exist. Not "think therefore I am." But, "exist therefore I am." I know I exist both because I am existing and I know it and because I am reflecting on the process of knowing I exist.

I am a being observing myself being a being. Or in the ancient Chinese butterfly dream: I know I am a dreamer dreaming of a butterfly because I know I am not that butterfly but a dreamer. Now how can I also be a dreamer dreaming myself alive, dreaming myself into existence?

Is this not why we are interested in our dreams?

[RW]: The forum includes a Character Inventory, which champions such values as discipline, courage, reality function, comparison and understanding. The Dream Cards support a wider range of values and encounters. How did you pick these as the values you wanted to emphasize?

[SK-W]: Ah, a switch! These character values came to me because I realized in a flash that many of us are out there in life having experiences but not building character. The modern humanistic, hedonistic point of view is to enhance human living via technology and quality culture. But at the same time we have breakdowns in these values in dark side incidents and little wars. No amount of culture or technology in itself will build character. You can build outer walls and houses but do you use your life to build yourself?

The above traits are chosen traits, not inherent traits. You can only develop them if you commit to develop them and make every sacrifice to do so.

In terms of dreamwork it concerned me that beginning dream egos are quite lazy and non-interactive in dreams. To the dreamer in the dream things happen but the other characters besides the dream ego are often more interesting and dynamic. Why is this? Poor training! No Dream Warrior training to speak of! It's one thing to become conscious or interactive in a dream and quite another to know what you are doing being there. Therefore have real values and purpose in dream and life exploration. And build your character. Make yourself an effective tool for meaning in this life and don't get caught up in petty fights and unreal imaginings but do something worthwhile, not just in life but with yourself. I am very concerned in the people I meet how little them have put themselves through a purification process riding themselves of too much subjectivity, feelings, hysteria and egocentricity's, so that they can be an effective force in life.

The greatest opportunity that most people miss in life is not meeting the frequent challenges in dreams. When you fall asleep your dream ego is most often under constant and real challenge, challenge to integrate, interact, give up control, change your point of view, develop yourself, become more real, and work to serve and heal the dream itself and its issues. What a brave task true dreamworking is! Dreamworking at this level becomes life working as well.

[RW]: One of the most interactive forums is the Consciousness Forum, where Cyber-travelers can discuss dreams and consciousness. Can you tell us a little about this area and what is intended?

[SK-W]: In the design of the Consciousness Forum I did not want people simply spilling out their dreams and opinions. As I say, we live in a narcissistic age in which people are very concerned about their subjective selves and not at all about their objective selves. Therefore it is that I ask contributors to also do some work on what they share as a dream or life experience by pointing themselves to their dream's issues and how they are responding to them. You saw this in your own dream contribution and your responses to my responses that raised some important dream issues that I see now in a new light.

I have been warned that some people just spill their guts out on the web. I hope this does not happen here.

[RW]: I noticed that you are not afraid of discussing dreams and their meanings here. What do you feel will be the limits and potentials of dreamwork in Cyberspace?

[SK-W]: As a beginner to Dream Cyberspace I already feel that Cyberspace is developing well as a separate awareness reality just as dream reality is a separate reality in some ways. We tend to exist at several levels of reality experience, so it is moving to see how Cyberspace can be developed.

Cyberspace seems to be developing as a free and open space for all sorts of awareness and images. Images evoke energy whether dream or erotic. What is hidden must be revealed. The more we reveal our levels of imagery the more dynamic and aware we can become.

Pornography is only revealing what we have kept hidden beneath our clothes, the life of the genitals but also the inner life and fantasies of our erotic life nature. Dreams likewise reveal our erotic nature. One dreamer described dreaming of her boyfriend's penis inside her but partly seen in public and she felt embarrassed. Yes, her training was to feel embarrassed about certain outer behavior but also about sharing her inner erotic nature and her inner dream nature. But she shared it because of the safety of dream group sharing. We have many aspects to our nature. Why not share them all and thus come more into the reality of who we really are?

Cyberspace, like dream sharing, can help all of us in the world share more of who we really are, whether at times we love erotically, or kill hatefully, or whatever we do. Let's be real. Let's be totally in reality about all of who we are and share and process that through. What a dynamic and amazing thing this will be when the World Culture is truly sharing all of itself with itself.

[RW]: Besides the interactive forum, there is also a basic dream interpretation guide and a free monthly course. This month's featured topic is "Objectifying Dreams & Following the Dream Ego." Do you have overall plan for this course or will it follow a more organic path?

[SK-W]: I hope I can keep the commitment to presenting a monthly course on the different dreamworking methods so the regular visitor to the site can do dreamwork even on a daily basis if they so feel inspired.

My simple goal, as always, is to present dreamwork as a viable consciousness tool for enhancing life and purpose in the world. I have used and taught these techniques for many years at beginning and advanced levels. So now through the internet people can practice dreamworking. I don't charge for this because I like the concept of contributing free information and inspiration as so many sites do. I am sure I can earn my basic money through books and teaching. Let's hope the Big Bucks Boys don't try to take over the internet and make it expensive.

[RW]: One of the ongoing debates about dreams and consciousness, is whether we can become too conscious and destroy the quality of dreams that is Other with too much lucidity. Where do you align yourself in this controversy?

[SK-W]: I had a private conversation with Stephen LaBerge on this issue. He knows well my position that developing your ego choice-making function to control the dream's production of imagery can be defeating of the naturalness of the dream and possibly damaging to the dreamer's own psychology who needs to dream of things from a non-ego controlling point of view. Stephen did acknowledge with me that there is a moral or integrity position in the fact that when you do achieve some sort of dream awareness and choice you do not necessarily then go on to demonstrate your powers by making things you want to happen in the dream happen.

In one of Stephen's earlier books he met in his dream persons hostile to him as his dream ego perceived them. He then proceeded to be aware that this was only a dream and therefore since it was his dream he made them into friends and thought he was successful.

I pointed out that it might be more effective to deal with threatening characters as threatening characters because your dream source presents them that way to you. Why not simply change yourself and your approach in the dream? Why try and change the other person, in dreams or life? Is this not too controlling and dominating?

Stephen acknowledged with me in the private conversation that there was a point, when lucid in a dream, to changing your own attitude and behavior rather than trying to change the dream situation or character.

I have done this with myself and others for years through dream reentry, simply closing your eyes and going back into the dream itself and there interacting differently and more in congruence with the rest of the dream. Dream Reentry by the way is not from Jung as I understand it. He did not in any way, shape or form advocate changing your dreams since they were a direct expression of the central archetype of the self. He did advocate carrying the dream forward by starting at the end of the dream and letting the images unfold further.

So again I say, become active in your dreams, not to control what happens there but to integrate more with the dream and its issues. Develop your dream ego behavior more. Take on characteristics of other characters in your dream and live them yourself. Also use your dream ego to do things which help resolve the dream's issues. Become congruent with the dream as a whole. Help the dream itself become more congruent and whole by developing your dream ego there.

I felt then that Stephen LaBerge was now more open, and not the fresh young radical he used to be, to making conscious choices on what you actually do in a dream when you are more aware in it.

I don't think it is any great shakes to become lucid in a dream in the sense that you know you are dreaming while you are dreaming. In fact I think you can destroy your sense of dream reality being a full reality in itself. When we dream of meeting a person who as recently died is that the spirit of the actual person we knew? Or is it a part of oneself as the Gestalt people claim? Or is the spirit of a person recently died some essence left of them in actual communication with us through the dream state?

Without being able to answer such an ultimate question definitively I can say without a doubt that people who have such dreams are deeply moved at a feeling level and with a sense of certainty that there is something there of the other person. So I say that at a feeling level dream experiences are at least as real to us as outer experiences. So why become a lucid dreamer in which you wake up in a dream and in effect say, "I am only dreaming, I can change this if I want." This makes your dream experience terribly subjective and controlling and I think you lose something of the real reality of the dream experience and its ability to deeply affect you and your consciousness.

Don't then lucid dream by saying, "This is only a dream." If you must lucid dream at least tell yourself, "I am awake and alive in this dream which is very real to me." Keep your dream reality while at the same time developing your conscious awareness in the dream. We train dreamers in this by lots of dreamworking and especially Guided and Direct Dream Reentry. We then have dreamworkers with much more dreamwork activity than when they first started.

Since I have at last demonstrated hundreds of times the effectiveness of dream reentry to produce more active dream egos it could now be time for university people to come in and do their before and after content analysis studies of dreams which have been dreamworked by using dream reentry.

I am for anyone who wants to make the dreamworking process at any level more conscious but not ruining its natural ecology through controlling and manipulative interactions which scientists are also fond of doing.

[RW]: Dream Reentry has also been an area you have developed extensively and written about. Much of the inspiration comes from the Senoi that have also been hotly debated in the last few years. For some time after Domhoff's book and reports from Delaney and Garfield, the Senoi were seen a mythic creations of Stewart Kilton rather than historic influences. Now Stewart's wife's second husband (Allen Flagg) has come forward and said that this is just not so, and Kilton's experiences with the Senoi did take place as recorded. Do you have a position on this?

[SK-W]: When did I present at the last ASD conference? There I listened in on a panel on the Senoi and heard something new. A woman university researcher has gone and learned the Senoi language and lived with the people today and found that they did use their dreaming for cultural artifacts like making and singing dream songs which had wisdom in them.

This for me cut through all the skeptics. The critics of the Senoi concepts are university supporters and trained. Who pays you often determines what you preach. Domhoff was just a couple of hours away from me and could have interviewed me in person before he wrote his damning criticism of others the American Senoi dreamwork movement and me. University professors want to preserve their high status, good living conditions, good salaries, not having to live in the real world of making it on your own, so naturally the go on the attack when something really new emerges which is not university controlled and generated.

The historical fact is that the ASD was born, not because of university people but because of innovative grass roots people born from Kilton Stewart's innovative and feelingly presented intuitive reporting. Kilton Stewart deserves almost single-handedly the recognition as the innovative causative agent for the American dreamwork movement. Dream groups arose all over the country in the Seventies because of his paper on the Senoi. There would be no lucid dreaming movement without the Senoi concepts though this embarrasses the university people.

The fundamental flaw in the university skeptic's condemnation of Stewart is that they make references to the past without ever having been there. Stewart at least was in Senoi territory in the thirties and Gayle Delaney, Patricia Garfield, and William Domhoff were not. They act as if they can know what happened then fifty years later. This is poor thinking. Domhoff did himself in as a university thinker in my mind when he reported gossip about Stewart from ex-girlfriends. Now if you have any experience with sexual relationships, your own or other peoples, you know how distorted an ex-lover's picture of you or some other lover can be. I am trained as a professional marriage counselor also and one fundamental is never to take what one lover says about another lover as what actually happened in reality.

Domhoff had to make a case and he used charming writing, gutter gossip and a university press to do so. His motives are suspect. As a dream worker in the field I have a whole caseload of incidents of university people attacking those of us trying to do innovative work and be culture changers. And they get paid with our tax dollars! Let there be an end to the Senoi controversy with a proper recognition of Kilton Stewart's positive contribution to America and the world's revived interest in dreams.

I am simply tired of these university type skeptics who tried to take over ASD so they could have conferences every year at their universities and get university credits to keep their jobs by presenting papers at our ASD conferences.

Let's be a bit more honest about the whole Senoi dreamwork issue in America. If anyone should be awarded a founder's plaque, as I was, for helping found the Association for the Study of Dreams it should certainly be Kilton Stewart who probably did more for the American dreamwork movement than any other one person.

Why not simply acknowledge our spiritual ancestors and be done with it? The important point is that the American dreamwork movement was born and Kilton Stewart's one paper did the trick.

[RW]: You have said publicly on your site and in your writing that you have spent more than a few hours with the Jungians, not only in analysis, but also teaching Jung and in bringing Jung to popular culture. Will Jungians continue to influence grassroots dreamwork, or will his work remain in the background and in analysis?

[SK-W]: What Jung pointed to was the inherent nature of symbolic experience. In pointing to the energy dynamic behind symbols called archetypes Jung was emphasizing the universal nature of the archetypes.

Jung seemed to try and restrict the term archetype to inner experiences of the psyche, the personal and collective unconscious. But I have taken it one step further in maintaining the philosophical position that the archetypes are universal energy functions that are inherent to existence itself. Long before we evolved archetypal dynamic were at work, the generative function of the feminine the causing function of the masculine, the destroying function of adversity, the achieving function of the heroic, the cyclic function of death-rebirth, and the developmental function of the Journey archetype. All these functions then are coordinated and connected by the integrative function of the archetype of center, the greatest archetype of them all or this universe would not hold together as one whole.

What has come to me is that doing dreamwork is in fact learning the First Language, the universal language of symbolism. We have got to understand symbolic experience and behavior or we will continue to act out the archetypes as individuals and groups, nations and one world.

So it is not Jung the pioneer as such which is important but that world culture recognize and study symbolic experience, the nature of core reality itself. Jung personifies this study but its implications are more universal than Jung. Don't worry about a few exclusive and narrow-minded Jungian analysts around the world who try and control what it is to call oneself Jungian. See the larger picture that what is essential is the study and working with the nature of symbolic experience. So many of us are only partly in reality because we do not understand the difference between a symbol, its projection, the beliefs we use to contain a symbol's energy, and what it fully means to turn symbol into function and so vitalize ones life and make it both meaningful and effective.

Jung is not the important focus. How we relate to our symbolic experience is!

[RW]: How do you feel about the Archetypal school as promoted by James Hillman and its influence on dreamwork?

[SK-W]: What I heard from my Jungian analysts who were part of the Zurich Jung scene is that Hillman when head of the Jung Institute there tried an experiment of having his students and clients living all in one house. Sex happened between him and someone. Hillman lost his license and had to leave the Institute and the country. Then he wrote a book against Jungian analysis. And the story goes on. When you feel that personal tragedy motivates a person's intellectual life then their intellectual positions are suspect. Hillman is so mind he needs the body. His position seems to be to act out the archetypes. He seems to belong to the school of Jungians, similar to Robert Bly, who act out the archetypes, their symbolism, dream and mythic but without taking personal responsibility in what Jung called the individuation process.

Jung pointed to the danger of groups because groups can evoke mass archetypal feelings that no one takes responsibility for. In a nutshell, the archetypal school wants mass experiences of the archetypes, as in Bly's groups of "wild men" drumming, the collective dream, but does not take personal responsibility which individual dreamwork requires. Group dreaming and group rituals of a symbolic nature evoke great energy but they weaken the individual ego in its individual ability to cope with the great forces of the unconscious. Individual dreamwork, first under guidance, keeps the individual grounded in his or her own relation to the archetypal sources of symbolic experience, including dreams. However, individual guided dreamwork, as in Jungian analysis, can become dry, boring and possessive, lacking the essential spark and over intellectualized. So let us then open the field for dream expression both individual and in community, but do it all somewhat consciously.

[RW]: What is your own favorite dream?

[SK-W]: If you mean my favorite dream of mine then among several I would have to say the one dreamed on my birthday in 1976 in which I dreamed that my spiritual leaders were giving away their furniture because they were closing house. I was one of several who was allowed to take one thing which I could choose. However, in the middle of the night I awoke realizing how important this dream was and wrote it down and worked with it. Then I fell asleep again and re-dreamed the dream, much to my amazement. This time I chose a cut-glass mirror, half of a whole long mantle mirror that had twelve cut-glass squares around its borders. My wife did not want me to take it. She said we have no room for it in the house. That year of celebrating the American revolution I left the treatment center where I was chief therapist, I left the organization I had trained with and worked in for ten years, and I finally left my unworkable marriage. Within two years I had founded and developed the Jungian-Senoi Institute and was on my own in the work I most loved and was committed to. This dream showed me that I had the necessary connection with source and could trust in going my own way that I was not operating simply from ego but from a sense of greater destiny.

Interestingly enough, I had discovered dream reentry without knowing it by falling asleep again and reentering the same dream and carrying out its dream task, which was to make a fundamental choice and take the symbol of wholeness as my personal life's work, the square cut mirror with the twelve facets of consciousness to reflect back to the eye of the beholder the multiple levels of reality so as to work with them. Speak about dreams of destiny, I have had a few amazing ones at this level.

[RW]: What is your favorite dream quote?

[SK-W]: We dream to wake to life!

While this came through me it is not mine. It simply states what I have experienced as a major function of dreams. Imagine what it is really like to wake up to what oneself and life is all about? What other major life experience is such a good reflection back to oneself than dreams? Intimate relating is a close second but even here the dream dreams us as we really are in our intimate relating. But will we really face the truths in our dreams? Do we dream our dreams or do our dreams dream us?

[RW]: Do you have any advice for people who would like to become
dreamworkers professionally?

[SK-W]: To become a professional dreamworker in my experience you need to also educate the public in the value of doing dreamwork. You need to risk being on your own. You need political savvy since your fellow dreamworkers are political animals as well who are ambitious and sometimes kind and sometimes not. You need to organize on an everyday level with all those phone calls and details that have to be dealt with. Then finally if you are successfully organized you get to have your dream groups and your workshops, the high point of being a dream worker. Here as a dreamwork leader you are called upon to guide your dreamers to work with their own dreams and discover meaning there. This takes real objectivity so you are not projecting your own symbolism and unconscious into someone else's symbolic experience, the dream and its dreamwork.

As far as training to be a dreamworker I make it an absolute requirement in my training's programs which last three years or more of around three hundred hours of direct dreamwork a year that you work with your own dream journey first before helping another person with theirs. If you don't relate to your own dream source how can you possibly have the integrity to work with someone else's dreams? Then you start working in guiding others in their own dreamwork. This is very rewarding because other people's dreams are as rich in issues as your own. A more fully realized person is one who does work with other people's dreams while still working with ones own. Why? Because the dream world is so rich in meaning we can easily gain from other people's dreaming. This is also why small dream group experience often has the edge over individual dreamworking, say in a therapeutic relationship.

I must make it clear that while I was first introduced to dreamwork in personal Jungian analysis which totaled fifteen years of work then ten years of additional training in the Jungian approach I gradually realized that dreamwork is not exclusively a tool for psychotherapy but that dreamwork exists in its own right. Since everyone dreams then everyone can learn dreamworking methods for working themselves with their own dreams for life insights and consciousness. Dreamwork as an art and a science has a right to exist in its own right.

When I first conceived the idea of bringing together dreamworkers of varying points of view to form a first conference and a first association of dreamworkers I was already operating at the level that dreams and dreamwork had a right to exist in itself as a profession. Gayle Delaney, one of the original four was not working as a psychologist but thinking of being a fundraiser for Princeton University. Patricia Garfield was our only university trained psychologist but chose to write original and popular books on dreamwork in itself, as in her classic, Creative Dreaming. Jeremy Taylor was not a psychologist but a community organizer who brought dream sharing to that field and was later voted in as a Unitarian minister in Berkeley California. A few months later we included Stephen LaBerge, a dream scientist, radical in his own way but part of the Stanford University system and another community organizer, John van Dam, who was a complete original in himself. Then there was me trained in an innovative Jungian organization with work in Jungian psychology, mythology and the spiritual aspects of religious experience, especially the historical Jesus and his wisdom. I also had a Masters in literature and one in counseling psychology at the university.

So if you want to be a dreamworker then train hard on working with your own dreams and changing your life thereby, then also work with others. Organize and educate. We are just at the beginning of the modern dreamworking movement. Focus on the dream and its life as a life-long passion. Deal with your other dreamworkers yet make your own way. You don't have to accept all points of view or even some of the disruptive personalities you will come across but you do need to include them all. Don't let any one person or point of view claim exclusive right to doing dreamwork.

This is most obvious as an issue when you come across the view from psychologists that you must be very careful and qualified in working with someone's dream or you may damage them. Well, I have been as horrified over what trained psychologists did in working with other people's dreams as when an independent lay person who has been through no training themselves may work with a dream. Dreams themselves have resiliency. Just keep the dream out there, re-experience it, learn from it, love it, move forward in life with your dream, and help others with their dreams. Don't be so Goddamn careful in life. Get out there and experiment, live, make mistakes, get upset, upset others, love the dream, love others, experience amazing things, fight the great battles of the spirit, involve yourself fully in life. Don't become a dried up old fig narrowly defined and over-controlling.

Go with the dream. Live the dream. Honor the dream. Experience amazing discoveries. Your passion may be slightly or a lot different from someone else's but live your passion for dreams and dreamwork fully. The figs dry out and drop off the tree yearly but the tree of life itself lives on. Go with the tree but eat its fruit.

[RW]: In taking consciousness into the next Millennium, you made several predictions on your site which could be the topic of another full interview. But generally you summarize that " One thing is clear. We live by the perspective we have of the world and ourselves or we do not live at all." Can you tie this in with dreamwork and how it can provide a bridge in this transition?

[SK-W]: Even a rock has consciousness of itself, pointed out Teihard de Chardin, the great Catholic evolutionary thinker, because in order for a rock to be a rock part of its inherent character is to turn back on itself to enhance its rock nature.

Thus the reflective process is essential to evolutionary formation. We not only live life, we re-dream the living of life. Do we first dream our life possibilities and then live them? Or do we first live a life experience and then re-dream it to make it more relevant to our own personal evolution. Dreaming re-capitulates living and living re-capitulates dreaming.

Living life is easy. Just give in to your instincts while following the collective norms. Live unconsciously. Eat, try and have good meals in life. Fornicate, try and have good sex and good children. Work, try and make effective things that are new in this world. But it is all world. When you die it makes so little difference how you have lived. Someone else will move into your house, into the arms of your wife or lover, into the thoughts of people where once you dwelled. This is the impersonal stream of life and experience. You are born, you exist, you live, you die, you don't exist. So why get so excited about things?

Now we come to the question, What is important in life since life itself is simply life itself and only concerns you while you are alive?

The best you can do with your life is to align yourself with that which is greater than yourself. If you actively participate in yours and others' dreaming you are contributing with each act of dream recognition to a greater whole that I also call the Dream Source.

It seems like there is a numinous body, or a core reality, of shifting and developing archetypal energies that you can contribute to with your dreamworking focus. The source gives to us and we give back to the source. But what do we give? We give consciousness of course. We reflect the source back to itself. We are re-dreamed by the dream and we in turn through our conscious dreamworking then re-dream the re-dreaming process so that the source itself becomes almost imperatively different through my conscious participation in it.

Quite possibly, every sincere effort and dreamworking does make a small put significant contribution to the whole, which is so much greater than any one of us.

If you have received and benefitted from the source through the dreams which make a difference in how you live your life, then you can acknowledge this fact by contributing back to the universal source your own participation in it through your own active dreamworking. This affects the whole. The whole is different, is even more source for all those new nights and new dreamers who are continually coming into re-existence each night and day in which the new dreams come.

Make your contribution. Use your life for what is most worthwhile. You can still suffer all sorts of hardships and inadequacies but you are still at your task helping turn the Great Wheel of Life and Death into a pathway that has Direction.

Dreamwork is source working when we get our personal egos to serve the greater source rather than try to dominate or control it or our dreams.

[RW]: What are the future plans for dreamwork2000? I noticed you have the dates for a worldwide tour coming up.

[SK-W]: What a lot of work to go on a worldwide tour. I already work in several countries one way or another and I am 65, which means retiring more and more from the world. However, my agent says I have to be out there, especially in America, and so I follow suggestions and go where the energy is. Dates can be revised until an absolute commitment is necessary. I am open to doing the best presenting and teaching I can and so now have Dreamwork2000.com and Georgia D'Antonio who is the virtual assistant behind it.

Dreamwork2000 is organic. It will develop or die according to the energy and purpose available to it. In vision one thing I see is a dream symbol data base available to all based not on telling what a simple means, the act of interpretation which itself is suspect, but based on real life dream experiences from people and their most significant symbols, similar to what I have been able to do with the Dream Cards and now my new book, the Dream Alphabet. I conceive that there will become available dream curators who will supervise and select for the database so that as the internet lives on so will this dream symbol database live on when I am not around.

I may not be smart but I am not dumb. I have used my life so far to help create a system for consciousness based first on Jung and other spiritual insights, such as the historical Jesus, and based first and foremost on the many dreams from others and myself.

The amazing thing is that now via the internet this information can live on and grow if it remains viable for others. When I and my body are gone I no longer function as a living human being but the consciousness I represent can live on via the internet if it is important and useful to others. Books grow moldy and die and cease to be read. Internet information is more immediate, viable, useful, subject to change, and progressive. This web, what Chardin called the Noosphere, can live on and develop indefinitely.

People live their lives either unconsciously or according to the perspective they achieve. Consciousness helps people have perspective on life. What your perspective is on life is how you live your life, no matter what happens to you or what you can create.

A twenty-seven year old woman at a consciousness fair in Norway came up to me and said, she picks a Card blindly every day from her deck of Dream Cards and it always highlights something important in her day. And with that slightly embarrassing statement she left. I saw her two minutes and then she was gone forever. But the Dream Cards and their ability to evoke wisdom remained with her and obviously are making a difference in how she is living her life. I don't matter personally to her. I am not needed. Dreams and consciousness are what is important. In this sense I am already dead. To be dead is not to be needed. If I can already be dead, be not needed, before I actually die, then I have accomplished myself. I am the dot at the end of the sentence and not the sentence itself.

To not be needed is the teacher's greatest accomplishment.

Dreamwork2000 offers many forums on dreams and dreaming, as well as information on the Dream Cards and several other publications including: The Dream Alphabet, Dream Working, The Elements of Dreamwork, the Jungian-Senoi Dream Manual, The Dream Cards Recipe book and many other Journal Press publications. Be sure to drop by the site and see when Strephon will be visiting YOUR area, either in dreams or life!


Interview copyright 1999 Strephon Kaplan-Williams. All rights reserved