Dreamwork Archive

This is all the material I wrote on dreams and dreamwork before I retired the blog it appeared on. I felt that it should appear in some form unedited for your reading pleasure or displeasure.

Dreamwork the basics:

I started this course to what I would call the… ahem. Amount of crap there is out there about dreaming. There is a lot of bad stuff on the web, most of it as reliable as a drunk guy writing nondominant-handed on a pub toilet wall. I would like to be at least 10 times more reliable, I at least want you to know I am not talking shit here. IF I make a mistake, research something wrong, post something that you don’t agree with, please tell me.
Disclaimer aside I also wanted to say that you can ask me questions. When I go around saying I do dreamwork, I don’t just mean I do it for me. I do. But I also do it for other people, if they ask nicely. In the same way, I can’t say I am a complete expert here. The other thing is that there are three essential things I need to tell about dreams.
1. You are not weird, crazy, nuts, a fruit-loop, or anything else for dreaming something. If you suspect you have psychological problems get help (if you can, I live in a relatively wealthy country where this is relatively easy for most), if you don’t think what they are saying helps you find someone else.
2. You are not wrong or sinful for dreaming something.
3. You are not weird.
I know why these things need saying and I could cover how much it pisses me off when someone comes to me and tells me that they have “Weird” dreams. I always say that the mysterious dreaming curse is something of a good thing, it means you are healthy, you probably have a good imagination and no matter what you are not weird in a wrong way. I can’t say that enough. Being odd, different, silly, strange, out of the crowd. These are good things. Most of my friends are weird. I am weird. Weird can be positive, and I can’t stress that enough either.
If you have someone telling you that you are sinful for dreaming something, I don’t care what it is; you are NOT.

[I am not a Christian (for the record I am polytheist) but if you are (and I really don’t care if you are) look at places like http://ld4all.com and see in the forums for the Christian support section there is heaps of discussion about the Bible and dreams and how lucid dreaming isn’t sinful, and nor is sex in dreams (no matter who or what your partner is). Sex in dreams isn’t wrong (nor is nocturnal emissions from them), and they are a NORMAL biological process (this has been proved so comprehensively I am not bothering with links but will provide if you REALLY can’t use google scholar yourself).

NOR is it weird to have dreams of death, destruction, magic, monsters, unicorns, three-eyed fish, Jesus, whatever. It’s not. What you may think it is, but trust me I have heard many dream tales and not one of them is truly weird.
It’s not wrong to want to know why you dream these things either, and that is where I can help, sometimes.
The other person who can help is you. You need to take a step and say “Hey, I am dreaming, what I dream is in my mind, I am in my mind, and therefore it can’t be wrong.” Say this affirmation as often as you like, especially before bed, and you to can start to live a guilt-free dreaming life.

Dream recording:

When one has a method by which dreamwork is conducted, you can start to think about how you interact with your DC and dreams geography. There are countless methods all leading towards specific goals and indeed giving results which differ. There are of courses minor terms goals such as say interacting with a particular character, medium-term goals such as lucid dreams ( though for some this is a long-term goal) and long-term goals such as dream splicing (replaying dreams you have previously had) or dream grouping (also known as collective dreaming).
Ones goals also influence your dream content, so having them written down is essential.

We can cover many interaction and Interpretation methods, however as I have mentioned the method/s you choose depends on your goals. One can choose any, but I feel the best is to go with a method that works for you. This is not a full list, and these are the four I think that applies to most dreaming goals and most peoples background culture.

1. No interaction
As a default action, you can just choose not to interact at all with DC. This is not as easy as it seems. One can easily find yourself in the thick of the dream narrative before your even able to choose to interact or not. Being an Observer is hard to do but can be somewhat beneficial in that you can see patterns in DCs and dream geography.
2. Dream logging
This is one of the most natural methods to do and has the best results regarding meeting most (if not all) dreaming goals. Dream logging takes effort on your part, as it requires you to record your dreams logically (be it chronological or other). Keeping a personal journal on top of this can be beneficial, but some may find keeping two separate journals (the dream log and a personal life one) is better for some.
This method also requires little training (unless you’re not keeping it chronologically) and one can easily keep it near the bed (this is relatively important recall will be discussed at a later date).

3. Character sheeting
This method requires some training which there is little. I will hopefully be able to describe the technique in full at some later date. The basic premise is keeping a “sheet” of your interactions with individual dream characters, especially repeat ones. It can take some time to build up a database, but it will have benefit in telling you about possibly physiological and psychological issues you may be having. It can also tell you a great deal about yourself.

4. Dream dictionary building
Building your dream dictionary is probably the most intensive and time eating thing one can undertake. Logging your dreams, keeping track of as many influences as possible, staying on top of potential meanings and confirmed meanings. Watching for traps like dreams about dreams. These are part of building your dictionary of dreams. It is a very arduous lengthy task that one can easily get bored with.
You can use a pre-built dream dictionary instead. However, these often do little to help with your interactions and focus on dream meanings. Finding meaning in dreams seems to be the primary goal of this method, which many dreamers strive for.

Recall
Recalling dreams is something everyone who does dreamwork needs to be able to do. Often this is called dream recall (DR or DRE), and without it, you can be at quite a loss.
Most people remember their dreams, say every now and again. A few lucky ones can have spontaneous lucid dreams and OOBE ( outside of body experiences) (see Science of dreaming or LeBarge for more info). It is possible however to get recall every night (though skipping a night here and it is fine). It does take some work to get this to happen. First, you need to review your sleep pattern. If you currently don’t have any recall then the best thing to do us do a quick review of how much sleep you get. The more sleep, generally the better. If you have a life or are in a period of your life where you don’t get more than say 5 hours of sleep a night you are unlikely to get good recall (Sleep an active process), it’s not hard and fast rule, and some people will find good recall on even as little as 2 hours of sleep a night. I would, however, recommend that depending on your age (teenagers beware you need close to 10-13 hours good rest most nights, see the New Scientist articles on this) 8-13 hours of sleep is needed for good recall.

Don’t sleep this amount? I thought so. Most people in our “modern” lifestyle don’t. But you can change this, progressively over several weeks or months. Remember to start going to bed earlier, just five minutes at a time (set alarms if you have to) then when you are getting at least an hour more sleep then you are now reward yourself somehow (a small amount chocolate or a banana is a good idea) and then wait or continue the task of getting more sleep till you are getting at least 7. I don’t mean to sound mean here, but it’s for your health alone that you do this. Sleep is vital to life in which one thrives as opposed to just lives. Without enough of it, you have more significant concerns than getting enough recall. Having a life situation (such as a new baby) that makes this problematic is not uncommon, just realise that right now may not produce the best results for dreamwork.

Recall can also be improved by merely having a notepad and pen next to your bed and writing your dreams upon waking. A tape recorder or dictaphone can be of great assistance. I would also say the voice recording system on smartphones is helpful, but shortcutting them is recommended. Using voice recognition is unlikely to get good results as you voice is often harder to interpret upon waking. Consulting bed partners would also be advisable before starting dream recording. Using the most passive method is likely to be better for those who share beds with others.
If you still have no recall, one can try many of the methods found in the ld4all forums, or failing that consulting a General practitioner. The reasons for no recall can be many, most psychological, some physical. It is possible to have no dreaming state, but often this is due to brain damage or significant chemical imbalance (possibly stress or depression).

Fear and dreams
Our fears are the primary source of influence in the content of our dreams. One main example of this is the fear of death. We may fear the destruction of our mother, for instance, as she is gravely ill and hasn’t been doing so well. We may go to bed and dream she has died. This is a perfectly normal thing. We could dream the death with her in hospital, on a bed with doctors surrounding her and someone apologising that she had passed away. Our memory of this dream can be perfect, extraordinarily vivid and unnerving. Then we encounter this situation in reality and find it “eerily” similar to our dream. This is not because we are prophetic, we find it identical because we are very memory driven animals and thus we will remember as we like (also the areas of the brain that deals with the mind are very close and often the same as the ones that do our dreaming). Although many people get quite upset at the thought of death, the fact is that we know it’s going to happen. Thus it is easy for us to imagine it happening. Therefor as we can imagine it, we can just as easily dream it. We can just as easily come to believe we somehow cause the death to happen, simply by dreaming it. Irrational this may be it is a perfectly normal thought to have, just as thinking we may have predicted our mother’s death.
The basic reason for we have the fear dream is our psychology is set up to “prepare” us for things we know will one day happen. We have, to a certain extent, evolved this ability as a side effect of both our intelligence and our need to practice our life’s events. In our dreams, we can practice for events without generally coming to physical harm or any real-life consequences. Thus everything we can fear, we can have “Fear dreams” about. We fear all sorts of both rational and non-rational things and these things will appear in our dreams in situations we are both likely and unlikely to encounter them.
We are most likely to have fear dreams when we are thinking, or are preoccupied with our fear for a significant proportion of the day, or when our mind remembers an event involving the fear induced situation before or during sleep.
Fearing something does not make it bad. That is a vital step in getting to know why your dreams contain your worst fears. Fear is a relatively healthy thing, without it we would make rash decisions, do things that could kill us more easily and probably die as a consequence (at some point anyway). It is when a fear becomes controlling or irrational that we need to seek help with this sort of dream. If you find your anxiety draining, that it interrupts your life, that you try your hardest to avoid it, then you should seek professional psychological help. Dreamwork may be a way of working with this fear but it should on no account be the only means to concur fear.

One easy way of doing dreamwork with fear is to: Create the fear as a dream sign. If you are already a Lucid Dreamer, you know how to create a dream sign, if you are not the process is relatively easy.
a) Write five situations you encounter this fear
b) Write five situations were it would be non-logical to encounter this fear
c) When you see either, say “I am in reality” and do a dream check (i.e. pinch yourself, block your nose or check your watch or a clock twice, choose only one).
d) Continue this for as long as it takes for the dream sign to appear in your dream when you are in your dream do your dream check you should notice you are dreaming. Then you can use this time to “practice” getting over your fear. You can’t get physically hurt in this dream and thus you can do anything you can imagine to your fear. Make it shrink, erase it with a magic word, or even just talk to it and ask it to leave you. If you are unsuccessful, you can try again as often as you can. If you are continually unsuccessful, seek professional psychological help.

Of course with more irrational fears and even some rational fears, it’s very hard to deal with in this simplistic way. Fears that almost everyone has, like not being able to find a toilet, are commonplace and it’s difficult to be rid of. Another fear, of not being able to deal with your fears in your dreamwork can even develop, and this is something one can easily see getting very introspective. This is why seeking professional psychological help with major fears is essential. A dreamwork method is one that can help, but you need to deal with your fears in other ways as eventually, you have to stop practising and start actualising.

MEANINGS:

Content comparison

A content comparison is common in many cultures for dreams. Some dreaming writers lament over how modern western culture is so lacking this. Sharing dreams in our culture is harder because of the knowledge we have developed that somehow sharing our dreams will render us a “weirdo”. See my post on calling someone’s dreams weird. Perhaps this fear is the full of a rampant authoritative monotheistic church that feared dreams interpreters as competition to their priests, or it’s simply come as part of the package of issues we developed with modernity. I think its a little of all of the above, but I am sure others disagree.
The pure fact is that we, often fear sharing dreams because we fear others will think it weird or even think we are crazy. Some even fear to share with loved ones, medical practitioners and those very close to us.
I can reiterate that no one knows what a “weird” dream is, but I doubt that I can remove years of learned fears.
If you are scared of sharing your dream content with others, then perhaps learn to share it with the most important person. You.
Start a dream log, diary, or even a private blog or wiki, and find yourself in your creation. One no one can take away or make you forget. One you can control and love. One that in which you’re a warrior, priest, poet, superhero, philosopher, wizard, pimp, racing car driver or whatever. And it can be as “weird” as you like.

Posted in characters in dreams, methods

One method of dream interpretation I have yet to mention is dream drawing and dream mapping. This is a very well known method and appears much in published literature, especially in psychology (they, of course, have special names for it).
Fantasy worlds can often appear in some peoples dreams. They are new countries ( built by our mind) that some can explore in great detail, and visit every dream they have. They may hold complete accuracy to our world, or be entirely the realm of the creation of our minds. Of course, those with such ability are rare. Creating art or a map is something you may decide to do with your dream logging. It’s a helpful tool sometimes as changes in dream landscape and in the artwork you produce can reveal changes in your psychological state and even for some become RC triggers.

Posted in Archetypes, characters in dreams, Dream types, dreamscaping, dream mapping, methods

One big cliche in many dreaming books and on the web is the whole subject if meaning. Most tell you that you are the only person who can decide on or find out the purpose of your dream. This is fine, but cliche, as they then rarely give any real instruction on how to do it. It’s like giving a student a library to research in without telling him what the test is on. More often then not he ends up in entirely the wrong section, reading the text on comparative erotica or something.
There is, of course, more than one method of finding meaning and the purpose you choose should meet your dreaming goals. But how do you know which to choose what goal? There is no simplistic answer. It’s all depended on finding what works and combining that with a general idea of whether or not that meets your goal.
Take a scientific person, for example, may look at each of her themes and give them a number, look at how often certain numbers (themes) appear in her dreams and then perhaps decide to influence her dreams by focusing on say the number for trees and writing down the results. You could take a person into Jungian archetypes, and they may log each DC over a period and then choose to talk to a specific character in their dreams and ask it questions about its goals and desires and thus get an idea about their psychology. Another person into astrology could look at his star sight and see how his astrology effects the dreams he has over time logging the effects of the moon and star signs over a period of months and comparing them to his twin sisters results. The possible ways of interacting with dreams and methods for logging and finding influence and meaning are endless.
I can’t tell you what methods are best for you, not because I am trying to be vague or cliche, but because your aim and methods are your own and ones you choose are as personal and intimate as your dreams themselves.

Dreams influenced by stories

After our fears and insecurities, our minds are most influenced by stories. This is stories you see on TV, stories you read, hear about, stories you made up from your own experiences etc. The best book we can look at to learn more about dreams that are influenced by accounts is a fairly common one and its one that pretty much everyone at some point has read. No its, not the Bible.
I am of course talking about that most seminal of tomes, the tremendous and powerfully influential book known as Spot goes for a walk.
Any typical children’s book is the excellent example, as most carry the themes that dreams will commonly follow. If you haven’t read the book recently, let me remind you of its content.
The first spot is going for a walk before he even leaves his mother behind he is told: “Don’t get lost.” Already we are playing on spots fears of losing himself, losing his mother, and not being able to find his way back. These are fairly basic fears that children learn from a very young age and ones that are vital to learning. From a dream analysis point of view, it tells us what our first thing to look at when we have decided to analyse/interpret our dreams. Is this something I fear, as have feared. It’s not wrong to have fear. Yoda does say that “fear leads to suffering” and all that, but he is a Jedi, and to be frank your probably not. We all have fear and admitting we have some is often the best course of action. Denial of our fears is however far more dangerous for us in the long term.

The first thing Spot encounters as he continues his journey is a cat in the shed, the cat hisses at him, and you are led to believe he runs away. This is, of course, another fear based page and already covering that aspect; we shall move along.
Next Spot encounters some chickens, and then some bees. The chicken says hello, and he says that the bees flowers smell lovely and they say “Thank you”. These are everyday occurrences. It’s fairly common to have them in your dreams. You talk to people in the street so that you would do so in your dreams; you also like to look at things and most people like a sweet-smelling bouquet of flowers. Having these things occur in our dreams is very likely. Even if we don’t do something every day, if we can imagine it happening to us, we can dream it (some also say the same parts of the Brain do the same processing (see Eugen Tarnow, and Science 294 (5544): p. 1052–1057.)). Everyday occurrences are of course going to be a topic for another post, and we will cover them more then, and even how we can make them up as well.

Spot then enters a Rabbit in a field of carrots. The Rabbit is somewhat of a Trickster character in the Spot, s/he tends to lead spot astray and often tricks him, but s/he also occasionally helps Spot in his goals. This is quite typical of a trickster charter; you never know when you can trust them. The Rabbit knows that Spot is hungry and tells him to look in the flower bed, the flower bed when Spot digs it up, contains a Bone. If this was a dream, this is what we can call encountering a dream character. Rabbit is a character in Spots story who represents something. We all know a person or character in our lives that is like Rabbit, slightly Tricksy, slightly helpful, and these characters are ones we will encounter when we record our dreams and analyse them. We can have many characters of different sorts of archetypes (more on these later), and they are often based on stories we have read, like Spot, or even have watched, been told, or even stories we have lived (of course). Our characters are what define our dreams, and our interactions with them can help us discover many things about our true natures (ok yeah I know that sounds a bit fluffy but its true). This is the aspect of dreaming I am currently most interested in exploring more and influences of characters from our stories are ones I like the most. I want the ability to talk to Wonder Woman, or even have a coffee with Claire from Questionable Content, or walk on the moon with Neil Armstrong (with or without a spacesuit, it’s all the same in a dream).

Before Spot finishes his walk he then goes to a pond. Here we encounter what most would call a “challenge”. Spot wants a drink after his meal of bone and so drinks, but he is told to be careful not of fall in (Fear again), and unfortunately, he does. He doesn’t meet his challenge. So his walk comes to an end, he finds Mum and is asked what he did that day, he says “Not a lot” even though he appears to have done a great deal.
When we face challenges in dreams, we can pass or fail, but when it comes to influences from stories, a challenge is pretty common. We can thank the continually used “Heros journey” for this particular influence in some ways, but it didn’t become the most popular of story telling methods by just being easy to follow the formula. When our challenge is a story, we often attempt to overcome it in the same way the hero did in the story. If this means some radical, no possible scenario, all the better, if its means that Penguins ride in on Lamas while singing Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries carrying silver arrows and wearing KISS armour plating and makeup, all the better (especially during REM sleep). Because part of dreaming is influenced by things we see and do, as well as what we like and don’t like, as well as trying to process everything all at once, we can get some pretty mashed up stuff (so your not weird).
So when we think about our dreams, think a little more simply, because something like a story can easily lead us to how our mind came up with what seems like a pretty crazy thing. What spot goes for a walk is a perfect example of a story that can easily represent what things we need to consider, but there are of course others.
Happy dreaming.

Creating a dream dictionary for yourself

Creating a dream dictionary is often said in dreaming books to be a fantastic way of interacting with your dreams. This always frustrated me as there was no actual guide as to how to do it, or how to use it. As this blog is mostly about dreaming and how to interact with characters in your dreams, I would fall short of my goal if I failed to describe how to create what I define a significant way of communicating.
Goal
When you have decided to start your dictionary of dreams is to write the goals you aimed to achieve with your dreamwork. Each of these goals should be given a number and name; this is to help you decipher influence on your meanings from your goals. Of course, creating a dictionary of your dreams is something you can add to this set of goals.
Meanings
Meaning of a dream is a big topic that can’t be covered in a single booklet alone my blog, but we always talk about it. The question of what dreams mean is one that has driven people to create whole cultures based on. The meaning of a single dream is determined by its elements or makeup. Some assign meaning to each element where as others look at a wider context of what that element is doing. An angry growling dog may mean danger; a happy playing dog could mean play, a shy reserved dog might mean sadness and so on. This, of course, depends on culture and your thinking and feelings of the meaning of the dreams you have had. Culture may have little or everything to do with the interpretations you build. Use your dream elements to decide a meaning.
You may find meaning in other dreams, books on psychology, philosophy, books on culture, even published dream dictionaries, sometimes oracle decks, tarot cards, runes, ogham, the Internet, google-many might even be useful. Make sure you write down what you use to find meaning, this will be useful to create a list of references.
Elements
Often each part of a dream is given a meaning, an element in its context. As we describe each element in detail in our dream log, we can find repeat elements. Repeating elements we will find a meaning for will follow or align closely. Each time this happens, the assignment of meaning will be confirmed stronger. Of course, we will have dreams that break the general rule and these we can call non-conformist and often find a new pattern to use the second definition for, or give each a contextual definition. Our meaning may be one that is close or not at all related to those in already built dictionaries.
Reference
Each dream we log is a new reference. This is why it is so vital to log your numerous dreams. Numbering (or naming) them in nights you have more than one dream in. When creating a new meaning entry in your dictionary add a reference to the dreams in which it’s constituent element or elements appear. You can also add references to other things such as other dictionaries, oracle decks, daily events, feelings, philosophy and anything you think is relevant to the meaning you have created.
Sharing meaning
One word of warning, sharing your meaning may find you doubting it. Meaning you have created will be personal, and others may not easily find relevance in it. If you decide to share your dictionary make sure you are ready to accept critique and questioning. Making all your dreams public and tracing your references may help stay this critique, however opening your dreams like this is often very exposing and can leave one feeling deprived of personal privacy. Privately sharing your dreams is a different matter, doing so can be much less invasive and input from others often helps add to your interpretation of the dreams meanings, however, choose someone wisely, a negative reaction can be quite detrimental to your ego.

Dream sheeting

Dream sheeting is a more involved method of dream logging that can give more insight into your dreams and the characters and themes. The method can help with the goal of lucidity but is not an intrinsic part of obtaining it. Be aware dream sheeting is my name for this method.
The first step is to write down as many of the interactive parts of your dreams as you can. Give each one a number or if possible a name. Some characters will tell you a name in your dreams and others you can give a name to. If you decide to share your dreams with others, it’s best to give a pseudonym as well. You will notice many characters will keep to a specific set of characteristics and others will have a different appearance, but you will often know intrinsically they are the same. It may be useful to look for an archetype for your character, but this should not be a concrete mould for you, it’s a part of the story of this character. It’s also important to make a profile or sheet for yourself. This “avatar” sheet is often seen by some as vitally important to the original and intrinsic meanings behind dreams. I agree in part, I would agree in full. However, not all dreamers share the goal of seeking to mean from dreams. The “what does it mean” quest is often cliché and not useful.
Step two involves building the sheets you create. Each time you interact with a character can help you build these sheets and build towards a goal of yours, or simply give you a continuing story of your minds dreaming story. This is where if you can create a wiki or electronic record you can find out things about patterns in your dreams, such as the influence of the moons phase or sleeping in particular positions.
One can easily see these patterns as meaningful or find them completely useless. The goals you have will like to drive the way you build these sheets and how you use them or indeed decide to give up on them altogether.
Dreams sheeting is an intrinsically creative process as the way one does it depends on your own goals or simply on what you wish to record about your dreams and often makes you more involved with that dreaming state we spend a lot of our lives in.

Characters

What are dream characters:
No talk about dreaming would be complete without talking about characters and archetypes. A main stay of Jung and similar their use in dreaming psychology is fairly standard. It’s not hard to see why. Archetypes are a great tool for understanding any messages or meaning a dream or dreams may have (if they have any) and can be applied to any character in a dream. This application has its drawbacks and critiques but is still very helpful to most who wish to deal with dream work or dream interpretation (though this will depend on your culture, a BIG topic we may touch on later if I can get into the anthropology side of things).
When I talk about dream characters (DC’s), I am talking about a single interactive element in a dream. So this includes you, the tools and objects you use in dreams, the rooms, areas or places you visit (especially frequently) and animals, music, smells and even the dream itself. You can go around labelling these things, give them names, show the interactions on charts, create a dream wiki even. Doing this can be a positive step to interacting with your dream world if that is your goal.
A note on doing dream interpretation:
Just a warning, You must be clear, you have to have a goal in mind when you do this. A method you keep to, and a guide if at all possible if you get stuck, or lost. The methodology is the second most important of these; we will talk more about it and the most important in the future. At the moment, just keep your head on and simply look at your dreams, more analysis can wait unless you rather see someone sooner ( by all means do so).
Characters come in three main groups; typical, atypical and prime. These are names I have; psychologists have others.

Typical DC:
Either the manifestation of or representation of someone or something alive you interact with in life or any anthropomorphic manifestation of an object (such as a Clock with hands and eyes). Characters from TV, books, etc. also fit here.
These characters can be carbon copies of the person and or meet jointly with an archetype (Jung or not).

Atypical DC:
These are not your usual kettle of fish; unlike typical characters, these are often unreal things or objects that become a character. The Moon for example as long as it remains looking like the Moon ( if it says manifests in a anthropomorphic way it becomes typical) is an example; a Toilet is another (very common) one. They can talk to you, and interact with you in any capacity that the object would usually, some may change from typical to atypical and back, which is quite common (no your not “weird”). Archetypes work here as well, often just as well as for typical. Note: A disembodied voice counts as an Atypical character, i.e. a radio.

Prime DC :
Non-real concepts that humans invent fit in the Prime area. Emotion, concepts (such as relativity (see Faster than the speed of light for Einstein’s dreams of Relativity they are quite interesting)), music (but not a disembodied voice), sound, magic, smell, colour and light are all Prime characters. We might be able to interact with them directly or indirectly, bend them to our will, or let them manipulate us. They can’t always easily be placed in a Jungian scope of archetypes as they interact in non-real ways, this may be a seen by some as a failure of Jung, or just something that didn’t get looked at.

Some dream phenomenon

Some common nighttime terrors questions answered:
What causes Night terrors in my child?:
Taken that the brain is growing and developing from day dot till we are in our mid-twenties (and even after then), the development at (generally) around age 4-8 and up to 12 causes what are popularly known as Night Terrors (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_terrors). Some children will develop serious side effects needing the help of a psychiatrist or possibly a neurosurgeon (depending on the issue) a paediatrician or GP can get asses which is likely to be required. Neurological and psychological changes cause These sort of night terrors during the brains development and often are not dangerous but can be very scary. Seek medical advice if children do not sleep well over an extended period, can describe vivid imagery memory of the event, sleepwalk into dangerous situations, or has memory problems after suffering them. Often the best thing to do is settle the youngster, get them back to sleep and keep to an excellent sleep-time routine.
What causes this “Old Granny Syndrome” and like “terrors”?:
This is when you wake up in sleep but are in paralyses, unable to move or are sluggish (feel like an old granny). Some people experience a shortness of breath and uncontrollable fear. We cause this NOT waking up fully. There are five main stages of sleep, 30 odd transitive stages of consciousness, not including duel states. When you go to sleep you go through a phase called hypnogogic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnogogic) stage; it is during this stage that your brain shuts down your motor functions. This stops you from thrashing around in your sleep. Its often, not always malfunctions in reaching or going through this state that cause things like sleepwalking, sleep talking, etc. You can become conscious in this state (either in the process of going to sleep, or waking up) and can experience this very unpleasant syndrome. Breath control, i.e. breathing slower or faster, can help you out of this state. Unfortunately, breath control often requires you not to be in a blind panic. Hallucinations, OBEE’s, visions can occur in this state.
Some tips on how to help prevent these:
1. Warm milk about 20 mins before bed.
2. Passionflower and camomile tea can help give you a dreamless sleep (Don’t give to minors without GP consent, dosage level varies)
3. Good repetitive sleep time routine (works very well for youngsters, but still works for adults).
4. Some evidence that a nightly affirmation of some kind, bee it secular or religious can help if the wording is positive.
5. White noise may help if you can sleep with it on.
6. No alcohol in last 1-2 hours before bed and plenty (like 600 ml) of water before sleep

Some medications, especially psychoactive ones, EFFEXOR, lithium, sleep medications, even antihistamines etc. can change dream content and cause night terrors, consult GP, psychiatrist, neurochemist etc. for more info, unlikely to be quickly dealt with if you need the medication to live a relatively healthy life.
There are more complicated answers that involve things that neuroscientists and psychologists study, but these are beyond my scope of knowledge.

Fears and Dreams

Our fears are the main source of influence in the content of our dreams. One main example of this is the fear of death. We may fear the death of our mother, for instance, as she is gravely ill and hasn’t been doing so well. We may go to bed and dream she has died. This is a perfectly normal thing. We could dream the death with her in hospital, on a bed with doctors surrounding her and someone apologising that she had passed away. Our memory of this dream can be excellent, extraordinarily vivid and unnerving. Then we encounter this situation in reality and find it “eerily” similar to our dream. This is not because we are prophetic, we find it identical because we are very mind driven animals and thus we will remember as we like (also the areas of the brain that deals with memory are very close and often the same as the ones that do our dreaming). Although many people get quite upset at the thought of death, the fact is that we know it’s going to happen. Thus it is easy for us to imagine it happening. Therefore as we can imagine it, we can just as quickly dream it. We can just as easily come to believe we somehow cause the death to happen, by merely dreaming it. Irrational this may be it is an entirely reasonable thought to have, just as thinking we may have predicted our mother’s death.
The basic reason for we have the fear dream is our psychology is set up to “prepare” us for things we know will one day happen. We have, to a certain extent, evolved this ability as a side effect of both our intelligence and our need to practice our life’s events. In our dreams, we can practice for events without generally coming to physical harm or any real-life consequences. Thus everything we can fear, we can have “Fear dreams” about. We fear all sorts of both rational and non-rational things and these things will appear in our dreams in situations we are both likely and unlikely to encounter them.
We are most likely to have fear dreams when we are thinking, or are preoccupied with our fear for a significant proportion of the day, or when our mind remembers an event involving the fear induced situation before or during sleep.
Fearing something does not make it bad. That is a vital step in getting to know why your dreams contain your worst fears. Fear is a relatively healthy thing, without it we would make rash decisions, do things that could kill us more easily and probably die as a consequence (at some point anyway). It is when a fear becomes controlling or irrational that we need to seek help with this sort of dream. If you find your fear monitoring, that it interrupts your life, that you try your hardest to avoid it then you should seek professional psychological help. Dreamwork may be a way of working with this fear, but it should on no account be the only means to concur fear.
One easy way of doing dreamwork with fear is to: Create the fear as a dream sign. If you are already a Lucid Dreamer, you know how to create a dream sign, if you are not the process is relatively easy.
a) Write five situations you encounter this fear
b) Write five situations were it would be non-logical to encounter this fear
c) When you see either, say “I am in reality” and do a dream check (i.e. pinch yourself, block your nose or check your watch or a clock twice, choose only one).
d) Continue this for as long as it takes for the dream sign to appear in your dream when you are in your dream do your dream check you should notice you are dreaming. Then you can use this time to “practice” getting over your fear. You can’t get physically hurt in this dream and thus you can do anything you can imagine to your fear. Make it shrink, erase it with a magic word, or even just talk to it and ask it to leave you. If you are unsuccessful, you can try again as often as you can.
Of course with more irrational fears and even some rational fears, it’s very hard to deal with in this simplistic way. Fears that almost everyone has, like not being able to find a toilet, are commonplace and it’s difficult to be rid of. Another fear, of not being able to deal with your fears in your dreamwork can even develop, and this is something one can easily see getting very introspective. This is why seeking professional psychological help with major fears is essential. A dreamwork method is one that can help, but you need to deal with your fears in other ways as eventually, you have to stop practising and start actualising.

Lucid dreaming:

“To sleep perchance to dream”[5]
The who, why, what where and how of lucid dreaming.

I have to warn you, unlike any other “new age” tool, or weird concoction sold to you for a “good time”, this will work. And no, it’s not for a limited time, nor is it sold on the market, its relatively cheap, easy to use, require less than a few hours work a day and comes in an easily accessible form. It does not, on any account come with a free set of steak knives. However, if it does for you I finally know where they get them all from. I am talking of course of the resource known as sleep. With this amazing resource that comes plentifully available each night you do sleep, you get this other thing known as a dream. If one has ever heard of this thing known as lucid dreaming, where one can control one’s dreams and experience things beyond your imagination and am interested in achieving this feat, then your reading the right article. This article discusses the who, why, what was and how of lucid dreaming and not only will it give you a “good time” and if you like you can dream up yourself a free set of stake knives. I have been lucid dreaming since I was 11, I will also write an article on outside of body experiences in The Crossroads Journal.

Who?
Well, that’s very simple, you. There are no almost barriers to being able to have lucid dreams if you can count, or remember your dreams for just 5 minutes then your eligible. Of course, some of you will immediately say “but I don’t dream”, this is of course rubbish, everyone whose not crazy or brain dead dreams [1,2,3,4]. You just need to make a conscious effort to remember your dreams. However, some advice I must give here is that if you have schizophrenia or have a sort psychosis of any kind, or your family has a history of such problem, then you should get advice from a psychologist before undertaking lucid dreaming. People with ADHD are likely to experience trouble with remembering dreams, but lucidity is still possible. And yes its even possible to lucid dream if you are blind.

Why?
Why lucid dream? To start with, you sleep more than 50-80% of your life [1,3,4], so why not take advantage of the fact? You may as well do something in your dreams. Have you have ever had a nightmare and do you ever wish you could just stop it? Or say turn the main aggravator in the nightmare into say, a very large pigeon? Or even make it say it sorry and apologise for all it has done to you in your dreams and promised never to come back again? You can do all of this and much more in lucid dreaming. In lucid dreams, you can fly without the assistance of wings, an aircraft, or anything else for that matter. You can meet gods and spirit guides and maybe even join them for a meal of an evening. Anything you can imagine can be done in lucid dreams [3,4]. So you can see why it is quite a popular thing to do, and since close to everyone can there is almost no reason you can’t at least try.

What?
Ok so you’re on the tip of the question and may have been for some time, you have started a nagging question in your mind… What is a lucid dream and how do I know if I have had one? Put simply; a lucid dream is a dream in which you know you are dreaming. You don’t have to be in control of the dream as 100% control is extremely hard, some say impossible, but as long as you know you are dreaming, then a dream counts as a lucid dream. There are other things in the dreamer handbook as to other types of dreams, such as false awakenings, outside of body experiences, pre-lucids and a few others.
A false awakening is where you think you are awake but are still dreaming, they can be quite vivid and seem real until… you wake up and notice the subtle differences. An outside of body experience is another topic entirely and will be discussed by me in a later edition of The Crossroads Journal.
A pre-lucid is a dream in which you control your actions or words but have no idea that you are dreaming, generally before you work out that you are but not necessarily so.

Were?
Ok so were can you lucid dream, or find out more info?
You can lucid dream, in your bed, in a chair, on a bus, in a lecture (I know one guy who frequently does so) anywhere you can sleep comfortably.
For more info on lucid dreams, my bibliography contains some of the better books. However, one is out of print and relatively academic, the best place to get more info is ld4all.com a free site devoted to the research, sharing and development of lucid dreaming.

How?
You knew there would be a catch to complete dream freedom? Well yes, there is. It means a bit of work on your part. First and foremost you need to make a conscious decision to remember your dreams, start by getting a notepad, if you have a dictaphone already then it would be a replacement but you need not break the bank buying one. Place it near to, or by your bed, or even under your pillow, with a pen (pencils are hard to sharpen in the complete dark I can assure you this) and write down your dreams when you wake up from them. You wake up a few times a night, so remember to write your dreams down, every time you wake. Do not forget, as you are likely not to remember, even a lucid dream can be forgotten by the morning if your not stringent with this part [3,4]. You should then write them all down in a dream dairy when you wake up in the morning or soon after as your likely to lose detail unless you do. After a month of remembering your dreams you may have recall of about 3-5 dreams a night, this is good; you may also have had a lucid dream. Congratulations if you have of course. The following is a list of different methods to add on to your nightly recall of dreams. I have found the best approach is to work with a mixture of them.

The Wake Induced Lucid Dream (WILD)
The Wake Induced Lucid Dream involves merely you counting or using some other method of keeping your conscious mind awake as you go to sleep. This can lead to sleep “hypnotic” states and possibly the dreaded “Old Hag Syndrome” in which you can’t move but are fully conscious. It’s better to visualise the numbers or walk up or down stairs (it doesn’t effect the dream which as far as I am aware). In fact, if you have heard of “counting sheep till you fall asleep” then this is where the method has entered popular culture. The most effective WILD method I currently know of is a process of relaxing the body by slowly relaxing the mussels in your body from the feet up till you reach what is called the “hypnagogic” stage [3,6] (a long explanation of the hypnagogic stage can be found in Carol Eby’s book “Astral Odyssey”, referenced as 6). From this stage start to count “1 I am dreaming, 2 I am dreaming…” and so on and you will see images starting to appear, you will become into a state of “knowingness” (no current English word describes this) and then will be able to enter your dream. This may take a while, but with practice, WILD is the most reliable form of lucid dreaming. However, it can involve some OBE and “old hag syndrome” side effects in my experience.

The Mnemonic Induced Lucid Dream (MILD)
The mnemonic induced lucid dream is one of the most familiar to anyone who has read anything on lucid dreaming before. This is as its an invention of Stephen LaBerge a lucid dreaming scientist who has proven time and time again that lucid dreams are real and available to (almost) all [4,3]. The MILD method relies on your memory and belief in lucid dreams; you start with telling yourself you will wake to have a dream when you do remember all you can and record it in some manner. Ongoing back to sleep, you should set your intent on being aware that your dreaming, when you find your thoughts wandering bring them back softly (this is important as you will wake yourself if you concentrate too hard) then visualise yourself becoming lucid in that dream, see yourself as lucid and in control. Repeat the last two steps until you fall asleep. Of course, as with any other method it takes some practice and patience but will be successful eventually.

Reality Checks and Dream Induced Lucid Dreams (DILD)
Another method of lucid dreaming is the dream induced lucid dream or DILD method. This method is better used in conjunction with other techniques of lucid dreaming as it will likely not get you results very quickly. The idea of a using DILD is to catch yourself dreaming. You need to “check” your reality in the dream to see if it looks normal. The common pop culture reality check is the age-old “pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming” which of course does work if your in the habit of pinching yourself in real life. All you need to do is form a pattern of keeping yourself pinching and eventually you will do it when you’re in a dream, and suddenly you will notice it didn’t hurt! Thus you know your dreaming. Another easy one is the nose reality check (RC), in which you block your nose for a few seconds and see if you can breathe through the nose, if you can, your probably dreaming. Reality checks become useful for the other methods as a self-test, it’s always good to make sure your dreaming before trying to fly off a building for example.

Other methods
There are more methods of lucid dreaming, but some require much more practice and maybe only suited to certain people, these are the methods I have found both widely published and easy to use. A lucid dream may take many months to accomplish, but when it happens, you will know it and its beautiful effects.

Conclusion
“I didn’t feel confused or anxious anymore. And I didn’t feel powerless anymore either. I felt there was a lot of work ahead of me. And I liked that feeling.” [9]
Lucid dreaming is something that almost anyone can do and is fun and easy; it’s not only that but a great way to help memory and keep a person interested in what will happen next time they go to sleep. Its something I have found has aided me in both my normal and spiritual life and continued to do so. There are many methods of achieving lucid dreams, some of which I described in full, others you can find on ld4all and in the many books on the subject. I am certain that having read this article you should be able to know the who, why, what was and how of lucid dreaming and be willing to give it a try tonight. May your life be full of fantastic dreams –

Now for some discussion about OBEE’s

OBE or OOBE or OBEE (chose your acronym of preference):
Note: I will use OBE to mean Outside (or Out) of body experiences in this post, I am entering any current discussion of their relation to NDE or Near Death experiences at this stage. Please also note OBE and lucid dreams are considered distinct to one another (though you can slip from one to the other).

Current science
Hypnagogic imagery and OBE are a big petty topic. Although (Cortex 45: pp. 236–242, 2009) tells us there is now a fairly clear distinction between the two states, Blanke and Mohr (1,2) also let us know that there is much to be studied in this area. It is pretty much-cutting edge science from that point of view. New studies on this topic are often hard to find in peer-reviewed literature and without full-text access to major neurology and psychology database (the best I can do is Informit and Google scholar who are great but not brilliant for this cutting edge stuff). One, however, is at a loss to discuss one without the other.
For OBE’s Many older “How to do it” publications confuse the two simply either due to lack of knowledge or the fact that at that stage science had not even studied such brain activities. Of the most comprehensive “how to do it” books Ophiel (3) is by and by the outright winner, listing no less than five different ways to achieve an OBE. More recent authors such as Barham and Greene (4), Eby (5), and Peterson (6) have all made fairly useful reading for a good background to the modern day OBE practitioner and the science behind the activity of achieving this stage. Rinpoche (7) talks about “Dreams of clarity”, but as his methods are culturally specific, I don’t choose to compare them to the others, all of which fit in with modern 70′s to 00′s western culture. There was some rumour that someone had perfected a method to obtain OBE scientifically using machines, but I have never been able to find any real facts behind this claim which are either easily obtainable or cost noting I am not. Unfortunately, a wealthy man and I can’t waste my money on every “guaranteed to work” method that, unsurprisingly doesn’t work. I do understand that those who make these plans need to eat as well, but it’s not for me to test them all, maybe someone else will.
Hypnagogic imagery is less of a “clear” part of this discussion, its mostly classified as the a state which the body goes into between awake and sleep (or sleep and awake which some call Hypnagogic imagery, Eby goes on a major rant about this in her book) and pretty much its left as just that. Its hard to define what is and is not hypnagogic imagery and what is an is no OBE due to this fairly poor definition. Essentially always most people will experience hypnagogic imagery before getting OBE, and one major hypnagogic imagery is the old granny syndrome of which I talked about in this post. False awakenings (FA) can sometimes also be a type of hypnagogic imagery, they are often experiences just before awakening and often contain almost “reality” duplicate to the real life you currently live in their imagery and content. False awakenings are the bane of many a dreamworker and dealing with them can be a major pastime for some who experience them as a problem in their lives let alone in their dreamwork, the “falling dream”, “naked at work/school dream” and the “can’t find a toilet dream” are all classic false awakenings.

Dreamworking with OBE
From a dreamwork point of view, OBES have been something many dream workers have been working with or obtaining for many years, getting better at coming up with new ways to reach a state of OBE or one like it. Another other than those already notes is the work of those who have come up with Binaural Beats. Science has little to say so far for “hemispheric synchronisation” via “modulated strophic beats” (this is what scientists call them), but its practitioners often praise it like the holy grail of all dream working tools. I remain sceptical, I have tried it and found that it, like a lot of methods requires a specific set up and methodology which was fairly hard to consistently use for the length of time I needed to produce useful results for myself, let alone give me any solid data. I find it is far more useful during meditation and use it frequently for that purpose.
I have had naturally occurring OBE, and have been able to control them with some standard lucid dream methods such as the questioning methods: “what was I doing just then?”, “am I dreaming”, “is this my hand?”, ” what is the time? is it still the same time?”, “can I breathe with my noose blocked” (note: the “pinch my arm” method rarely works for me) and the continual statements of affirmation “I will remain lucid” “I will continue dreaming” etc. We will return to these tools in later blog posts as they apply to lucid dreaming as well as OBE.
My most trustworthy method has been the “Light body” method which Opheil (3) calls “The body of light” and his method is neither new nor hard to modify, I have found no less than 6 unique versions of his method in different places in the world of dreamwork and out of it as well, and thus it’s likely you can find one that works best for you (or read these and other OBE books and find one that does work for you).
Unfortunately, like all dream phenomenon, there will be some of you who will be unable to achieve OBE states for whatever reason, some medical, others simply due to lifestyle or even stress levels, it’s hard to ascertain without exploring every different possibility and some we simply don’t know about yet.

References at this stage:

1. Blanke O, Landis T, Spinelli L, and Seeck M. Out-of-body experience and autoscopy of neurological origin. Brain, 127: 243–258, 2004.
2. Blanke O, Mohr C, Michel CM, Pascual-Leone A, Brugger P, Seeck M, et al. Linking out-of-body experience and self-processing to mental own-body imagery at the temporoparietal junction. Journal of Neuroscience, 25: 550–557, 2005.
3. Ophiel, The Art and Practice of Astral Projection, Weiser, 1974
4. Barham, M. J., Greene, J. T., The silver cord: lifeline to the unobstructed, DeVoss & Co, 1986
5. Eby, Carol., Astral Odyssey: exploring out of body experiences, 1996
6. Peterson, Robert., Out of Body Experiences: how to have them and what to expect, [Unknown], 1997
7. Rinpoche, Tenzin Wangyal, The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, Snow Lion Publications, 1998

Herbalism and dreamwork

Helping to dream with herbs
A search on google™ can make you realise how much of a market there is for herbs and things that supposedly help you lucid dream, some advertising “guaranteed lucid dreams in under 30 days”, most are rubbish. There are a few tapes and things that will help, but they are much easier to buy separately, and it’s not a good idea to go searching on Google without knowing what you’re looking for.
A dream bag containing lavender, white sage, jasmine flowers, calendula, mugwort and rose petals can work, but they will run out after a while. Teas containing aniseed, sage, rose petals, yarrow, liquorice root, star anise and chicory root may also assist. I have also found the oils or extracts of lavender, aniseed, sage, benzoin and jasmine placed on a dream bag in quantities of 1 or 2 drops help considerably as well. Please note that women who are pregnant or who are planing to become pregnant or those who share a bed with someone who is planning pregnancy should take extreme caution with herbs they use, mugwort especially is a known feature.

“Hey, what do you think of the ‘Collective unconsciousness’ thing?” – John Dreaming in Northport

I will be the first to admit my first thoughts were sceptical. And it pretty much stayed that way.

The issue we have here is one of a diverse set of different beliefs of a theory that wasn’t entirely completed and then was subsequently corrupted by others. Jung has been credited with the mainstay of this idea appears in The Archetypes and the collective unconscious (1990, Routledge). Jung died before he was able to finish it. Hence it’s posthumous cooperative publication. As I said most people think of what Jung meant is not entirely correct.

Firstly collective unconsciousness is in itself a concept that relies on one psychological idea, which is that we are all connected by some means. This is what Jung meant, but as far as I am aware he also said that we have a personal unconsciousness. Both are of equal importance. The unconsciousness is also poorly understood by both Psychology and more solid Scientific fields. We don’t even know precisely where our consciousness ends or begins. We can’t even seem to fully know if we have free will or not. This is pretty deep stuff to be messing around with without fully understanding it. Instead, most of the time, we are doing the best we can. This is why Psychologists need to do so much school, and then do some more after that, and more, and so on. Lifelong learning is of upmost importance to such fields.

Then take this and shove archetypes into it. Jung only describes a small number of archetypes, 5-6 at most. Why then when you look in New Age books on them do we see sets of 12-15 or even more? Why do they look suspiciously like a cross between a Rider Waite Tarot deck and Campbell Newman’s Mono-myth?

I’m sorry, but you have just been conned, at least to some extent.

I love some New Age things as much as the next person, I practice modern paganism, I have more than a few useful Llewellyn Press (though they have got better in recent years) books on my shelves, and I own more than my share of what I will politely call “complete and utter crap” texts. Problem with most new things is that when it gets popular, it becomes moneymaking. Commercialism essentially takes over, and someone in marketing wants to make as much as possible. Thus they add what Jung wrote, to a bit of stuff that people expect (here enters the Tarot and Newman’s Mono-myth), add a bit of water to wash it down, call it Collective Unconsciousness Applied or some such and wallah. You have a best seller.

These books are not a complete con, though. There worth of course depends on the author and the level of research that goes into them. Most are average, but more not so great stuff is being put into “print” thanks to electronic publishing. Wait a while for that to die down, and there should be some ok stuff their too. Best bet is to use your judgement, do some self-research on the myths and connections for yourself and decide what is and is not useful for you. This takes time and work, but if you want to use this method efficiently you’re going to need to do that at some stage anyway. The best bet is to do it first up, as then you don’t need to re-do everything again when you work out you went wrong, or find its no longer helping.

We hear all the time about the collective mind, thought and ideas that form from our greater cultural inter-activeness. Our culture and religion and everyone we interact with of course influence our dreams. Dream contents are pretty much controlled by everything, including dreams themselves. One can’t help thinking though from a more scientific approach to it?

Well, it’s not something that is easily gained as I mentioned Jung didn’t quite finish the idea to its fullest. The other issue is that what we are looking for may not be possible with current technology or ability. Dreams are often subjective, and although a Cow may mean something relating to milk and the mother and protection to some, it may also mean love and kindness, or it may be a symbol of destruction and inner turmoil. Jung often taught that context was also very important, it was not just the collective unconscious that was being used, but the dreamers own conscious and the context of the dream. For example, the dream may have a Cow playing guitar in a field of poppies while bombs from B57’s are dropping into the fields exploding into large puddles of green milk. The cow is playing KISS and wearing white and black makeup. If the dreamer had just been to a KISS concert and usually works as a milkman who has had to deliver a lime flavoured milk due to a promotion that includes a local sporting team whose colours are green and logo is a B57 bomber featuring a guitar playing Cow, its not to hard to work our where this dream has come from. If however, the dreamer is normally a lawyer who has been caught up in a particularly lousy divorce case, it’s a bit different. The collective unconscious comes in more when we are looking at the archetype within a dream and how they may influence or be influenced by the dreamer.

To explain all this, we need to go back to first principles. Dreaming is what most people think we do when we are asleep. This is wrong. It is not. Dreaming is something we can do, while awake. We often call these experiences Daydreams. Many people think we also have maybe 2-5 states of sleep. This is also wrong (see the works of John Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley). In basic terms, five main stages of sleep do exist, and these five are what can easily explain most sleep phenomena, but they don’t explain Daydreams (or Trance, OBEE or night terrors). When we go into a dreaming state, we process information, but the way our brain does this is still subject to debate. The question is why do we dream of not being able to find a toilet, or being naked while having a lecture at uni? It’s not just information we are processing. Its emotions, time, people, thoughts, the entire human experience for that last day we just had. The process is both neurochemical and physiological not one or the other. This is an issue as most dreaming experts will treat many sleep phenomena as either a product of one or the other, which can be fine sometimes, devastating other times. To find when we are dreaming we need to know more about this process, and through this, we may explain collective unconsciousness.

Although there are many dream working methods and theories about how to apply dreamwork, there is one that prevails in both the Academic literature as well as and that is applying those used by Jung. Jung’s theories are used predominantly in modern psychological dream working methods such as the Five Star Method discussed by Sparrow (1,2) and other new methods as well as old methods such as using Jungian archetypes. The whole archetype theory is something I am not a huge fan of. If you feel like it you can go in depth and read Jung’s work and find his notes on archetypes and how they can be applied (and please do if you’re going to apply them, many people DO IT WRONG). My problem with archetypes was and somewhat still is from a philosophical point of view. If you put it basically archetypes are a part of a concept called the “universal conscience” this “universal conscience” is not and should not be mistaken for a big whole of universe set of objects and spirits that all humans can draw from, that can be referred to as the “collective conscience” theory and shouldn’t be mistaken as the same thing. Conscience to Jung is hard to pin down, and as only a casual reader I won’t go into huge detail about the work, but basically, the conscience is your thoughts, memories, dreams, and everything that can be psychologically defined as a part of your waking and sleeping mind. Both these minds (waking and sleeping) can access the “universal conscience” which gathers its data from your waking mind, grabbing concepts, getting data, processing it and generally being mind like and then (and only then) do you compare it to the “collective conscience” i.e. everyone else’s perceived points of view which you then go on to create new data, stories, memories and so on. I am paraphrasing a huge amount here, but I want to keep this a simple as possible and also don’t have a huge amount of time to do the necessary research to get exact quotes on this. Just so you know this “collective conscience” is not, and should not be mistaken for a hive mind like thing, it’s an unfinished symphony as it were, its a collection of all other peoples ideas AS you perceive them and process them. People often make the mistake of saying a “collective conscience” is an actual conscience that Jung theorized existed beyond the body, I am not entirely convinced this is EXACTLY what he meant by this, but if he did, this is where my problem lies.

A “collective conscience” that is actual conscience that exists beyond the body (which we will call an “Astral conscience” for the sake of clarity) has a big philosophical hole, and that is free will. The problem goes like this if you have free will then you can create your ideas and concepts (and here is the thing) you will base them off your experiences, thoughts and from the “collective conscience”, in the “astral conscience” model you have these archetypes implanted in your brain or grab them through some ether that somehow all of humanity can access (which sounds a tad to unscientific). I don’t dismiss that this might be possible, what I have an issue with is that this removes a part of your free will, your ability to create your ideas and concepts without outside interference. If the archetype theory is based on the “collective conscience” rather than the “Astral conscience” there isn’t an issue, and it still fits in with all of Jung’s ideas and concepts to do with it and even makes sense when you think about how he came to create the theory. The argument for the latter mostly has to do with the similarity of human experience between cultures, i.e. most religions have a Tricksters or trickster like beings (an upcoming post will be purely about WHY tricksters need to exist in a healthy religion even in newer ethical systems (Schumacher, C. (2012)) But there are three main issues with this theory 1. Most older Anthropological work was done by White Men, 2. All culture on earth is not free from influence from either an earlier time (i.e. from original inhabitants bringing whatever innovative culture and beliefs they had to the new home) or from colonisation by Westerners (who liked to do things like spread smallpox and the like) and 3. These comparisons are in a way a form of appropriation and DO NOT allow for the fullness of culture to be appreciated nor do they look at the context within which that culture and religion began or was developed necessarily. This doesn’t dismiss the idea of archetypes though; I don’t wish to do that though.

Archetypes are a useful tool we can apply to dream work and (to an extent) use to compare religions and cultures (as long as we are conscious that this brings them out of context)

References:

1. Hobson. A. (2002). Dreaming, an introduction to the Science of Sleep. Oxford University Press. London.

2. Webb. B. W. (1973). Sleep and Active Process. Scott Forman’s and Co. Illinois – Out of Print

3. Q. (2006). Lucid Dreaming for all [online resource], http://www.ld4all.com

4. LaBerge. S. (2004). Lucid Dreaming: A Concise Guide to Awakening in Your Dreams and Your Life. Sounds True publishing. Louisville, Colorado

5. Shakespeare. W. (Unknown). Hamlet.

6. Eby. C. (1996). Astral Odyssey. Samuel Weiser Inc.York Beach, Maine

7. Thorpe. R. (2003). Happy High Herbs. Possibility.com. Ringwood, Victoria

8. Drew. A. J. (2001). Wicca Spellcraft for Men. Career Press. Franklin Lakes, New Jersey

9. Kharitidi. O. (2001). Master of Lucid Dreams. Hampton Roads Publishing. Colorado, Vagina

10. C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996) p. 43

11. C. G. Jung, Man and his Symbols (London 1978) p. 57

12. Sparrow, G. S. (2007). Applying the five-star method of dream analysis in counselling. Paper presented at the annual symposium of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Sonoma, CA.

12. Sparrow, G. S. (2010). The Five Star Method: A Relational Dream Work Methodology. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5, 204–215.

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