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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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