Electric Dreams

The Underground Railroad of Dreams

Robert Moss

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Moss, Robert (2001 July). The Underground Railroad of Dreams. Electric Dreams 8(7). Retrieved August 4, 2001 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams  

When I moved to upstate New York in the mid-1980s, I started dreaming in a language I did not know, which proved to be an archaic version of Mohawk.

Eventually I studied the Mohawk language to interpret my dream communications with an ancient woman healer and a warrior shaman (ratetshents). I learned that in traditional Iroquois society, dream-sharing is the first business of the day. Dreaming is regarded as a social, as well as a personal activity. The role of the community is to support the dreamer in fulfilling a happy dream (or avoiding an unpleasant event foreseen in dreams); to harvest messages for the benefit of others; and to honor and celebrate the dream n for example, through dream theatre. The Iroquois describe dreams as wishes of the soul. They recall us to our soul's purpose, our heart's desire. If this is ignored, we lose part of our vital soul energy, we become sick or depressed.

My dream-driven studies of Iroquois dream practice led me into fascinating territory. I discovered that early immigrants to North America, fleeing war and oppression in the Old World, were also guided by dreams. This was central to the survival of the Palatine Germans who arrived in the first mass migration to what is now the United States in 1710. Conrad Weiser, who emerged as a great Indian interpreter and peacemaker on the borders of New York and Pennsylvania, was welcomed among the Mohawks because of his dreams; I wrote an account of his early life in _The Interpreter_.

When I followed my dreams, quite literally, to a home in Troy, N.Y. in 1990, a new character entered my dreaming: a stocky little black woman in period clothes, often wearing a mannish hat, who bobbed up from time to time on my mental screen, usually in the twilight zone between waking and sleep. I did not identify her until I had a big dream many years later in which I found myself teaching the history of the Underground railroad in schools across North America. Not having had an American education, I had to do some fast research. When I saw photos of Harriet Tubman, I recognized the woman I had glimpsed in the hypnagogic zone. I was fascinated to learn that she dreamed of flying to freedom, over landscapes she subsequently crossed on foot. Later she was guided by specific precognitive or clairvoyant dreams to safe houses, river crossings and friendly helpers she had never encountered in waking reality. In this way, she escorted 300 escaping slaves to freedom, without ever losing one of her "packages". I discovered that in 1860, she had visited my home town of Troy, and led a riot that freed a fugitive slave.

What a powerful example of how we can "dream our dream" in entirely practical ways! What a difference it might make to our understanding of dreams, as a culture, if the role of dreams in the Underground Railroad n and in the lives of many others struggling to survive and prosper throughout history n were made the focus for well-conceived school education projects. These projects should be experiential, not simply didactic. We can go to the sites, and take kids there, and try to dream our way into the human experience associated with these places. We can practice "dream archeology", sending ourselves backward through time in a state of conscious dreaming, as I once did in order to describe the scenes of the Battle of Lake George (1755) in my novel _The Firekeeper_.

As we recover the true history of dreaming n which may be a secret history of the world n we will gain courage and confidence for the urgent and creative task of building a dreaming culture for the 21st century. A dreaming culture is one in which dreams are shared and celebrated in every environment n at the workplace, at the clinic, in schools and in families. In a dreaming culture, our lives and our interactions would be different, and magical. Here are some of the ways:

Community Dreamwork

By creating a safe space for each other to share and work with our dreams, we move quickly beyond barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding, and build deeper relationships. In our dreaming culture, families and larger communities will share and explore dreams in order to move beyond taboos, tell their troubles, achieve healing and resolution n and as wonderful entertainment, generating song and story, dance and theatre, as well as strategies for bringing the energy and insight of dreams into manifestation.

Dream Navigation

In our dreaming culture, it is generally understood n as most traditional dreaming peoples know n that we dream the future, maybe all the time. The futures we perceive in dreams are possible futures. By clarifying messages and taking appropriate action, we can change the odds that any particular scenario will be enacted. In our dreaming culture, we will check our dreams for guidance on the probable outcome of the choices we are making. As dream scouts, we will bring through dream guidance on the possible future for the benefit of others, and for the community as a whole.

Dreamwork in Medicine and Healing

In dreams our bodies show us what is going on inside them and what they need to stay well. Early warning dreams forecast conditions that may develop, often years before physical symptoms appear n and often counsel on prevention and alternative approaches. When we do become ill, dreams give us fresh and powerful imagery for healing and recovery. Because the body does not appear to distinguish between a physical event and a mental or emotional event that carries real energy, these images can help us reshape the physical blueprint. Some leading-edge research suggests that in this way we may even be able to change the cellular memory of the body. Above all, dreaming puts us in touch with the hidden sources of illness and wellness, and opens paths to recovering soul.

Dreaming in Schools

Keeping a dream journal is excellent writing practice, and constantly opens up exciting avenues for research. Telling dreams builds powerful communications skills and brings the gift of story. Dream rehearsal prepares us for tests n perhaps literal school tests n while dream incubation helps us to tap into a deeper source and bring through creative solutions. These are some of the reasons why dreaming and dreamwork deserve a central place in our schools, starting in pre-K. In our dreaming culture, schoolkids will gain credits for keeping dream journals. They will do projects on Einsteinos dreams, dreams in art and literature, dreams in social evolution and world cultures.

Dreams to Help the Dying

In our dreaming culture, the practice of dreaming is recognized as vital preparation for the transition to life beyond life. The Plains Indians say that the path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams. Dreaming, we learn to move smoothly and naturally into other dimensions. Conscious dreaming, like meditation, familiarizes us with paths and landscapes beyond physical reality. For those who do not have a dream and cannot meditate, the "dream transfer" technique offers caregivers wonderful ways to help open doors and clear the paths.

Dreaming and Future Science

Dreaming is central to the emerging science of consciousness, which is likely to be the most important science of the 21st century. Active dreamers and long-term dream journalists provide direct, experiential data that is crucial to new lines of scientific discovery and research. Research inside dreams n through conscious dreaming techniques n provides immediate access to multidimensional reality and a means of testing scientific speculation about parallel universes, the holographic model, and the possibility of travel across time.

The challenge before us is to marry the best of our science and scholarship to the ancient arts of dreaming that recognize dreams as both wishes and experiences of soul and offer a path for evolving consciousness that can help us build more compassionate and creative communities. We can dream our dream and we can dream our world if we remember, like Harriet Tubman, that we can fly.

Robert Moss 2000. All rights reserved.


The full story of Harriet Tubmanos dreams of guidance is told in Robert Mosso new book, Dreaming True (Pocket Books, September 2000). An excellent introduction to Harrietos life, suitable for older children as well as adult readers, is Ann Petry, Harriet Tubman, Conductor on the Underground Railroad (New York: Pocket Books, 1971). Benjamin Drew, The Refugee: A North-Side View of Slavery (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1969), first published in 1855, includes accounts of other fugitive slaves who escaped to Canada, guided by dreams. For the experience of traveling the Underground Railroad, make a station stop at Anthony Cohenos Menare Foundation website, www.ugrrr.org. Tony Cohen is a brilliant young African-American historian who has walked the routes of escaping slaves, sometimes in his bare feet.

Learning objectives:

As an educational project, the Underground Railroad of Dreams has the following learning objectives:

a. Developing a new kind of social history that gives dreaming its rightful place.

b. Creating dream education projects for schools and community study based on the role of the dreams in the Underground Railroad, the practices of Native Americans, and the immigrant experience.

c. Unfolding a vision of how incubating and sharing dreams as a daily practice can help us to overcome barriers of social intolerance, bring through creative innovation, heal organizations and relationships n and provide a decisive contribution to the emerging science of the new century, the science of consciousness.

d. Learning to dream true the way Harriet Tubman dreamed true n and bring insight and energy from our dreams to create better lives for ourselves and our communities. Help this dream grow! We are interested in bringing this important theme to colleges, schools,
community groups and general audiences.

Email robert@mossdreams.com if you would like to suggest further venues or help facilitate programs.

We are also interested in collecting more personal experiences and historical examples of how people of all backgrounds have been able to "dream their dream" for the benefit of the community as well as themselves.

Robert Moss is a world-renowned dream explorer, a best-selling novelist and a former foreign correspondent and professor of ancient history. His many books include Conscious Dreaming, Dreamgates and Dreaming True: How to Dream Your Future and Change Your Life for the Better. He is also the author of the popular Sounds True audio series Dream Gates: A Journey into Active Dreaming. Visit Robertos website, www.mossdreams.com


Copyright Robert Moss 2001