The DreamGate History of Dreams class online
was originally developed to deepen the level of dream sharing that could take
place online in the mid 1990's. It was part of a larger DreamGate project, which
included developing dream networks through the Net via the Electric Dreams
e-zine, developing dream sharing groups via the DreamWheels, and bringing dream
The DreamWheel seemed the perfect vehicle for teaching grassroots dreamwork
online. People could join anonymously, they could participate on their own time
schedule and they would be led by a moderator through some key moves that are
useful in any dream sharing venue. Yet some kind of depth was missing, as if
those new to the process picked up the strokes very quickly, but were afraid to
swim in deep waters where ideas mutate beyond recognition and radically new
forms of interaction emerge. Since this was often a person's first exposure to
dreamwork, I didn't want to alter change this process itself to force this kind
of situation. Part of this was due to the medium, sharing of text based dreams.
As Herbert, Olsen and Bosnak have all noted, the absence of face-to-face,
real-time connections that include voice tend to favor reflective intuition over
emotional processing. Still, I felt that ideas, notions, concepts and images
could find more profound expression in the online dreamwork process.
I had been very impressed with the idea behind Mircea Eliade's _A History of
Religious Ideas_ "For years I have had in mind a short, concise work, which
could be read in a few days." (xv).(2) I wanted something similar for
dreamwork, a way for people to get in a very short time some profoundly intense
ways to work with dreams.
The second challenge was to make the course for a wide group of people. Some
people are interested in dreams for psychological reasons, others for spiritual
reasons, and others for aesthetic and reasons of just plain curiosity. Part of
this was handled by offering a wide spectrum of topics, but part of this was
also handled by finding a common difference, a thing that mattered to people in
all these disciplines. This key turned out to be personal empowerment, becoming
the authority of one's own processes. Each of these lessons would hinge on
finding in the theory that particular set of techniques and ideas that allow a
person the freedom to create their own meaning in value in relation with the
world around them. The world would turn out to be the cosmos that includes the
dreamworld, the waking world, the potential worlds and many, many other worlds
and their inhabitants. In all encounters, there seems to be protocols that allow
us to interact, and then something that breaks through, an encounter with an
Other at a point of intensity where repetitive habits leave off and new forms
Each dreamwork that affects us will have some of each. They will have enough
protocol and hand shaking to establish a temporary field or territory, and
enough deterritorialization for the swarm of novel interactions to emerge. In
the primitive night, a circle will be drawn and an autonomous field of dance
will emerge from the DreamTime and distribute hordes of multiple beings across
the networks of the earth. Freud will establish a whole host of boundaries and
confidentialities so that the free associations can emerge from behind the
taboos and repressions. Jung will bring all the arts into play to allow the most
indefinable elements of the psyche to express themselves in a field beyond what
could have beforehand been imagined. Mednard Boss will force us to continue
facing the surface until it becomes so intense that the prison door melts and we
learn that a dream image is not something we have, but something that has us.
Fritz Perls will keep pushing, past the game playing, past the bull, past the
fear, to a center so hot it will fuse once disparate fragments of psyche into a
fully expressive being. Lucid dreamers have learned this trick. With practice
and focus, the dreamer gives birth to him/herself in a temporary autonomous zone
of freedom. This improvised universe, or Improverse, allows us the freedom to
connect with new worlds, build new relations and multiply their possibilities to
Thus each module in the History of Dreams course is set up to first establish
a protocol of communication and techniques related with that particular
dreamwork theory, and then to allow the dreamer to use his or her own dreams to
use the protocols find the breakthrough points. These points will be different
for everyone, and some protocols will appeal to some and not others. What people
break-through *to* will be different as well. Protocols are simply conventions,
agreed upon codes, which allow networks of relations to last long enough for a
person to cross over and enter into them. If I put my hand out to shake hands
with you, and you take my hand, chances are that we have agreed upon a
particular network of codes. We can go different directions. We can leave it at
that, like two statesmen agreeing to contract which will have future binding
powers, or we may mutually use that time to connect more personally, to
break-through our distance and enter into a temporary zone of friendship. Either
way, we have created a virtual reality, a field that is held together by shared
protocol. These shared fields empower us, enable us to take actions within the
limits of their range and scope and relevancy.
I have also set the course up so that at some point, at many points, it may
become clear that the dream itself is its own protocol and break-through to
itself. All fields have this double nature, the to-be-crossed and the place we
crossed to-get-to. Some will always see dreams as representations, as referring
to something else, be that a reference to how to live one's life better, a
reference to the state of one's psyche, a message from God or the Unconscious on
how behave, or a image of the past or future.
These are all parts of the dream, but there is also the dream-in-itself. If I
said to my friend, "Hey, thanks for that cup of tea, now I'm going to
interpret you and why you gave it to me", then my friend is likely to do
more than raise an eyebrow. There is a kind of intrusive offense at missing the
point of teatime in referring the special time and my friend who hosted it to be
only representatives of something else.
Every protocol has its own break-through, and when an intrusive break-through
is applied to a protocol, the field can collapse, the zone disappears. This is
not always a bad thing. Knowing how to subvert repressive zones of protocol is
as important to empowerment as engendering connections with creative fields of
Still, there will always be the call to things themselves. This is not always
just play land. Rather, it's more like how we move in an art gallery, from works
of art that represent things, to works of art which don't, or only represent
It's not always playful.
Jackson Pollock is often no less serious than Rembrandt, nor Rembrandt
at times less playful than Miro. This history of representation in Art follows
very closely the history of dream interpretation. Early cave paintings and early
dreams were players in a mythic landscape of ensouled regions. Kinship
filiations and tribal alliances marked the body to signal the flows of life and
death. Biocosmic gods sent messages through the art marks and through dreams.
With the rise of kings and pharaohs, the messages and marks on the art began to
refer only to these kings and the gods above them. During the Renaissance they
began referring to hu/man him/herself, and in the renaissance of dreamwork
(somewhat later) dreams began referring to hu/man and the meaning of his/her
life and his/her objects.
Finally, in modern art, the representations finally give way to pure
abstractions that refer to nothing beyond themselves, and dreams to begin to
wrap their significations back around themselves. Postmodern art finds itself in
a predicament. From representation of an Other to presentation of itself, the
theatre of dreams and art in the postmodern world seem destined to be collages
and replay and rehashing of previous periods.
Yet something novel emerges despite the seeming appearance in the day residue
of the past. At first we can only see this out of the corner of our eyes. Our
peripheral vision can catch glimpses of this new world. It's not something we
can control, and so it's not something we can represent. The grand stories that
held the world together have fallen apart and there is no single value system
that can rise up and cover the globe in harmony.
Of course, there never was, we all see this now. Each idea that we push past
its limit becomes a tyrant at the limit of its deployment. Still we continue to
paint, continue to dream. We have each become responsible for that which used to
be help up by grand narratives. We are free from any particular representation,
but we haven't quite freed ourselves from representation itself. Like a Zen
student who casts off the world of attachments and doesn't yet see this casting
off is an attachment in itself, the postmodern dreamworker completes the world
of representation by coming a full circle and entering back into connection with
them in a new way, stopping for a moment having taken them in a full breath,
recording the possibilities and blowing them back again across a new world which
remain while the dream and the real collide.
- Richard Wilkerson
This six week class is conducted online. Participants will get a full survey
of the history of dreams and dreamwork, from ancient Thrace to Cyberspace. All
are encouraged to join the Electric Dreams DreamWheel as well. $29.95
Classes start at the first of each month.
Class Syllabus: History of Dreams
Module 1. Introduction and Basic Recall Skills: The Peer-Relations Approach
---- Sign-up for online dream groups.
Module 2. Ancient Dreams: Messages from the Gods
Module 3. Sigmund Freud: The Dream-work of the Unconscious
Module 4. Carl Gustav Jung: Mythic Dreams and Wholeness
Module 5. Other Pre- 1960's Dream Theories (Adler, Boss, Surrealists)
Module 6. Frederick (Fritz) Perls : Gestalt Dream Techniques
Module 7. Mindell and Gendlin: The DreamBody
Module 8. From Couch to Culture: Grassroots & Modern Dreamwork Movements
Module 9. Non-Interpretive Dreamwork: Lucid, Mutual, Paranormal & Pro-active
Module 10. Dream Science and Dreamwork: Friends or Foes?
Module 11. Dream Anthropology: How Culture Influences Dreamwork
Module 12. Dreaming In Cyberspace: New Trends in Dream Sharing on the Internet
o Freud's Dream-work - a model of primary process.
o Jung: Me and my shadow, Beyond and through the personal, Jung and dreams.
o Dreams and Health: The Revival of Ancient Dream Healing in Modern Medicine.
o Couch to Culture: Montague Ullman and Walter Bonime.
o Nightmares: New approaches and techniques.
o Dreams and Western Religions: An account of what happened.
(1) Wilkerson, Richard C. (1999). A Brief History of Dream Sharing: Theory,
Techniques and Practice. San Francisco, CA: DreamGate.
(2) Eliade, Mircea (1978). A History of Religious Ideas. Vol 1. Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press. "Alas, that short, concise book has not yet
been written." xv
up for the class!