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Pagan Dreamer: The Foxglove and Your Healing Heart

Posted on:  Jun 28, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer

The Dream 

I wake, still immersed in that liquid, open state between dreaming and waking, while last night’s dream replays in my mind. It’s a complicated dream about white candle magic and negative energy. One image stands out and demands my attention — a black vase with a single, long stem covered with small, hot pink flowers. I don’t recognize what kind of a flower it is, but I sense that it’s dangerous and really shouldn’t be in my house.

Open to the dream teaching of the foxglove, with its stunning beauty and potent powers: love heals, but only with a strong heart that honors light and shadow.

I don’t know why the flower is important, or how it fits with the rest of my dream, and that’s okay. My mind has learned to be quiet in the presence of mystery, knowing that if it can reign in its compulsion to order and understand things, great jewels of learning will come.

Later in the day, I set out on my afternoon walk. As I step off the trail and onto the road, a single foxglove, with its long stem of small, hot pink flowers is waiting for me. This is unquestionably the flower from my dream — a thing of both beauty and danger, with stunning bell-shaped flowers that entice humans and wild things alike, and with an extreme poison that can be transformed into the potent heart medicine, digitalis.

I stop in my tracks and smile. This is pagan dreaming at its finest and I see that the foxglove has shown up to teach me something important.

As a pagan dreamer, I call this a between-the-worlds moment where the edges have blurred between physical and dreaming realities. The foxglove has crossed over the energetic realm of the dreaming and taken form on the physical plane. How this happened doesn’t matter. It may have arrived by synchronicity or appeared out of thin air. Regardless, the mystery of dream reality is at work and has my full attention.

Dream Teaching

As a seasoned student of the mysteries, I do what I always do when a powerful teacher reaches out from the dreaming and shows up on my path: I open my journal book, take a few deep, grounding breaths, and write an open question on the top of my blank page, in this case: what is the gift of your appearance in my life? Then I empty my mind and let my foxglove teacher speak.

This is what the foxglove has to say:

“I’m a powerful, dangerous medicine that can strengthen your heart. Your dream is about the limitations of the idea so prevalent today that love and beauty heal all.

Beauty does heal. Love does heal.  But only when you honor that the heart can differentiate healing from poison. There are negative forces in this world. Everything has a dual nature that can heal or harm. A strong heart has a love that recognizes shadow. This is what can heal the world.

Summer is a season of light and life, and a time to share your beauty and love with the world. Be a thing of beauty, but acknowledge shadow and toxicity. To walk the path of beauty and love, your strong heart must be big and wise enough to hold it all.

This is the gift and teaching of my presence in your dream.”

Lesson in Pagan Dreaming: Dream Etiquette 

As I share this dream with you, it comes to me that the foxglove is a perfect teacher in dream etiquette.

Where I live, foxgloves grow wild. They’re tall, imposing beauties, reaching heights of over six feet. Given their potent medicinal properties, the wise don’t touch them or cut stems for flower arrangements. These are power plants that can either harm or heal, not pretty, whimsical flowers. Long associated with the faerie realm and magic, the foxglove demands respect, whether encountered in physical reality or the realm of dreaming.

Your dreams are like foxgloves: beautiful, powerful gifts from the wild, undomesticated places in your psyche and the vast mysteries of this world. Dreams aren’t meant to be trivialized and ignored. They’re not the whimsical, nonsensical creations of your sleeping mind. They’re full of powerful medicine that can mend your heart and soul, if you consciously engage them with respect.

Dreams are your teachers on your journey of healing and personal growth. When an honored teacher shows up in your dreams, dream etiquette calls you to become the respectful student: humble, empty, curious and grateful.

But you don’t have to give your power away to your dreams, nor surrender your ability to discern positive versus negative energies that may come to you in the dreamtime. Remember the foxglove’s teaching about the strong heart, and meet your dreamwork with a love that recognizes shadow and is big and wise enough to hold it all.

Photo Credit: Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Pagan Dreamer: Storytellers and Stewards of Her Beauty

Posted on:  Apr 22, 2021 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer, Pathwork

Our primal, natural place in the great weaving of life on this planet is not dominion, but sacred communion and protection. Of all of the Earth’s life forms, we have been given the gift of creative expression to give voice to the beauty and wonders of this world.

Open to Nature. See what speaks to your wonder. Give this communion your complete attention. You’re the storyteller and steward of Her beauty, the Earth, our home.

This is what my deep dreaming tells me.

I wake up in the early hours of the morning, still half in my dreamscape. In my dream, I am writing about the country walk I had taken with my partner the night before.

I record the sensual minutia of the natural world: the slow track of a jet-black snail, with a thin band of shiny, silver slime marking its passage; the nuanced scents of the surrounding forest and farmland with hints of resin, flowers, and sun-warmed earth; the gun-smoke gray of the twilight sky juxtaposed against the rich chestnut of a horse’s coat; and a weighty silence that marks the fading of day into night.

As I slowly emerge from this dreaming, I bring with me a fierce, full-body love and awe that speak to my primal communion with the living landscape, and inspire the writing flowing from my heart onto the blank page.

And I see, with the soulful clarity that sometimes slips through from the dreaming to the waking world, that we humans are the storytellers and stewards of the beauty and wonder of this place, the Earth, we call home.

I invite you into my dream world to experience this fierce, full-body truth for yourself.

Go for a walk or spend a quiet hour in a favorite natural setting close to your home. This can be a park, trail, or green space in an urban setting — anywhere you feel a strong heart connection to Nature.

Bring a journal or sketchbook with you, whichever is your preferred form of creative expression.

Anchor yourself in your body with a few deep, full breathes. Quiet your mind and be fully present to the landscape around you. Take in the sensual details of the wild world: the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of Nature. See what draws your attention and speaks to your wonder. Give this communion your complete attention.

You are sacred witness and storyteller to this moment. The wild world is gifting you with its beauty. Show your gratitude for this gift by expressing and recording what is before you.

Widen your awareness, open your heart and your body, and then write, draw, or record, in whatever way is free-flowing for you, the beauty before you.

Keep your mind and interpretations out of this. This moment is not about you, but about your capacity to storytell, in words or images, the beauty and wonders of this living, breathing Earth.

When this communion feels complete, put down your journal or sketchbook. Let go of words and images. Sink into your energetic connection to the natural world, your living body to its living body. Take in the sensations and emotions that arise in you, the raw love, joy, and awe that infuse your primal communion with the beauty and wonders of this world.

Breathe this connection into your body; imprint it in your memories; let it change you.

You are the storyteller and steward of Her beauty, the Earth, our home.

Photo Credit: Jared Erondu on Unsplash

Pagan Dreamer: The Bombs of Deep Dreams

Posted on:  Aug 3, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Pagan Dreamer

The Dream

I’m in my house: a special, personal space, and my inner sanctum where I choose the rules of engagement. Messages come to me in this house, delivered by a loud, disembodied voice, and later accompanied by bombs, like the kind dropped from a World War II plane.

Be a badass Dreamer that welcomes challenge and change, understanding that big, deep dreams bring core, powerful healing and transformation.

I understand that these messages are from the Mysteries that are directing and influencing my spiritual journey. They’re pushing me, sending bombs my way in the form of life challenges, waiting for me to answer them.  I refuse to answer, and with every refusal, I enter deeper and deeper into my inner house, to rooms that are secret and special to me.

But still the messages and bombs come. The Mysteries can penetrate this secret, private space within me. And the bombs are getting bigger as I go deeper inward.

After a huge bomb lands on the floor in front of me, I wake up with a jolt and my initial reaction is fear and frustration. Aren’t I listening and responding to the Mysteries constantly?  I work my dreams. I pay attention to what’s happening in my life always. I’m willing to heal, change, grow in whatever ways are necessary. Deep spiritual work is as natural and necessary to me as breathing.  Am I missing something?  And do I really need to just keep getting bombs to do my personal work?  Bigger and bigger bombs… egads!

Then it comes to me — I’m not afraid in the dream at all.  I’m calm, fully present, even slightly amused. The messages and bombs show up.  I observe them, curious, engaged, but choose not to answer the Mysteries’ questions. Then I go to the next level, deeper inside of me, and do the same thing over again with the next message and bomb.

Dream Teaching

The message of this dream is pretty direct: big change is here, and that change is driven by challenges that work the deepest layers of the psyche. Bombs are being dropped in my inner sanctum, going deeper and deeper, and getting bigger and bigger.  Profound, core healing and transformation are required.

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Pagan Dreamer: A Dream of the Good Man

Posted on:  Jul 5, 2019 @ 12:00 Posted in:  Featured, Pagan Dreamer, Pathwork

I dream of being with a woman elder who teaches me about a clan of good men with special spiritual energy that have been with humanity throughout our history. Then the dream shifts. I’m waiting on a street corner on my island home for a man to pick me up and give me a ride. I intuitively know that he’s part of this clan: a good man, and a teacher and holder of this special energy. The car pulls up. He smiles and greets me. I get in the car and then the dream ends.

There are good men among us — the poets, teachers, leaders, wise men and healers who give over their hearts and hands in service of the miracle that is life.

In my waking-world life, I know this man, and he is indeed of this special clan of good men whose presence and deeds can open hearts, heal souls and change our world. He’s a poet, teacher and Zen practitioner — a brilliant yet humble man, with gentle, penetrating eyes that seem to take in our world of beauty and sorrow with a deep love, wisdom and crinkle of humor.

There are such good men among us. They are the poets, writers, teachers, leaders, wise men and healers in our midst who kneel in reverence before the miracle that is life, and give over their hearts and hands in service of the very best of our human society: love, compassion, justice and beauty.

Oddly, the good man isn’t our cultural ideal of the masculine. Instead this ideal venerates “real men” who emulate a rugged self-determinism founded on domination and personal gain. In the battle for supremacy in our shared social order, real men fight their way to the top of the pile, reaping the rewards of wealth, power and adulation, indifferent to the price others pay for their success. Our modern political, social and economic systems are founded on this masculine ideal of dominion, will to power, and unfettered self-interest and greed.

It can be hard to recognize the good men among us given the long shadow of our cultural, real-men ethos. Many of us have experienced harm at the hands of an abusive man, or because of the misogynist roots and toxic male and female stereotypes that permeate our social order. Others may have a strong political or intellectual viewpoint that understands the role that men and patriarchal institutions have played in the worst of our human history and current malaise.

Yet there are good men in our midst, with big hearts and spirits, gifting their best in service of others and our world.  And these men, with their positive masculine traits, are desperately needed as partners, allies and role models in the mending and renewing of our human society.

When I shared my good-man dream with my poet neighbor who appeared as the good man in my dream, he replied, “Yes, there are such men without a doubt. I’m glad you know, Karen. That, in itself, is worth all the dreams.”

To know the good men among us — to open our hearts and minds to their presence and offerings — is a powerful counterbalance and antidote to the clamor of the crazy, crazy of real-men masculinity, played out in the constant bad newsfeed of political mayhem, environmental devastation, economic crisis, income disparity and war.

Here is a simple exercise for claiming this powerful, healing good-man medicine in your own life.

1. Start by turning your attention to the good men in the public sphere, living and historic.

Who are your heroes: men you admire for their good nature and good deeds? What gifts do they give to the world through their beliefs, writings, teachings and actions? What kind of positive change do they bring about? What impact do they have on the hearts and souls of others? How do they make the world a better place? Consider the common qualities that you admire in these men.

2. Carry these good men with you in your heart and thoughts for a day.

Imagine them as your companions as you go about your day-to-day life. Try to see the world through their goodness and best qualities. Notice these qualities in yourself and in others. Let your experiences widen your heart and change you.

3. Bring your awareness closer to home, to the good men in your family, community and workplace that more directly impact and influence your life.

With these more intimate connections, remember that no person can be all good, and that you may have a hard time seeing those near to you as fitting the good-man ideal because of some imperfection or inconsistency in their personality. Don’t look for perfection. Instead, consider the men in your life who have a good heart, give of themselves to others, and have a positive impact on the world around them.

4. Again, carry these good men with you in your heart and thoughts for a day.

See the world through their goodness and best qualities. Notice that the good-man ideal applies to everyday men in everyday circumstances, and that the men in your life have positive, life-affirming traits outside of our cultural, masculine stereotypes.

5. Choose a simple way to honor the good men in your personal life and the greater world.

You could tell one of these good men how much you appreciate them, share a positive article about men on social media, or better still, decide to change something about yourself in alignment with the good-man ideal, knowing that a positive masculinity is part of our human nature, available to all of us regardless of our biological gender or gender identity.

Our world desperately needs to remember the good men in our midst. Each of us can do this crucial work in our own lives, families and communities. We can witness, name and honor these men. We can let others know of their presence and deeds, and emulate the best of their qualities in our own life.

In doing these things, we can step outside of the culturally imposed masculine, and begin to dismantle and replace its restrictive, toxic parameters with the bigness of being, heart and soul that is the true, best essence of men and masculinity.

These things shake us awake from our disquieted acquiescence to the real-man cultural ideal. We widen our gaze to the good men and their positive masculinity. We remember: that our hands and our hearts are made for service to ourselves, each other and our Earth home; that good deeds, founded in love, compassion, justice and beauty, are the true markers of the best of our humanity; and that these life-affirming choices and actions are not just the responsibility of the good men of our world, but of each and every one of us.

Together we can claim the dream of the good man as our new cultural ideal of masculinity.

Photo Credit: Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Pagan Dreamer: Breathe. Love. Listen. Change the World.

Posted on:  Apr 7, 2018 @ 20:34 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer

The Dream

I’m at a pagan spiritual retreat, helping to lead ritual. I guide our group in a breath exercise that’s a mirror of the process of deep change. We breathe and move in the space together, turning our awareness inward on the inhale, and outward on the exhale, shifting from self focus to other focus.

Breath. Love. Listen. Offer up your best presence and support to yourself and others. This is how we can heal and transform ourselves and world together.

On the inhale, I ask the question: how do you want/need to change; and on the exhale: how do others need you to change? We continue this breath and attention process, over and over again: inward to outward, self to other, personal change versus change in others, seeking our individual place and purpose in this time of collective transformation.

The dream ends leaving me with an insight into my relationship with my aging parents. What they need from me and my siblings is not only our well-intended support, but also more asking and listening on our part: what do you want? need? how can we best support you in this time of transition and endings?

Dream Teaching

Although this dream ends on a personal note, it’s really a big picture dream that addresses the pressing question: how do we find our place and purpose in these edgy, transformative times we live in?  Do we focus on personal change that arises from our life story and circumstances? Or do we dedicate ourselves to outer change?  What drives deep transformation: our individual narrative and journey, or societal, outward-focused action?

In this era of the #metoo and #neveragain movements, people are showing up to their personal pain and translating it into a collective force for deep-rooted, desperately needed social change.  A raw, authentic, irrepressible power is released in this fusion of inner and outer, and self and other that is challenging the very foundations of our status quo reality with its battle cry: enough is enough, and the time of change is now.

These courageous, inspiring movements teach us that there’s no separation between our inner, personal lives and the outer, greater world. Our individual wounding arises from the ills of our shared society, and the ills of society arise out of our individual wounding. Both are in need of our loving focus, and our commitment to healing and transformation.

You don’t need to be marching in the streets to participate in this epic, global movement. Instead you can keep things simple and close to home, beginning with wherever you are right now in your life. Just follow the practice offered by my dream.

Breathe, deep and slow, turning your awareness inward and then outward, from self to other, over and over again: how do you want/need to change? how do others need you to change?

Listen deeply to yourself. Listen deeply to those around you. Listen deeply to the sorrows of the world that call to you. How can you best support yourself and others in this time of transition and endings?  What is your place and purpose in the making of a saner, kinder and more loving world? Whatever you discover can guide your journey of healing and transformation, both personally and in your greater environment, at whatever depth and pace are right for you at this time.

Lesson in Pagan Dreaming

Dreams are not just about powerful ideas and insights. They’re also emotional experiences.  Often dreamwork focuses primarily on the images and content of the dream. Just as important is how the dream makes you feel, and this too is part of the dream teaching.

My dream begins with a group, collective experience, and shares a breath and awareness practice for deep inner and outer change. This is the primary content of the dream. Yet the dream isn’t done with its offerings; it finishes with an intensely tender, emotional part of my life: my love and support of my aging parents.

This is raw and real for me.  In the dream, I connect with the visceral, vital power of my love and compassion for my parents, and my desire to do my very best to listen and support them in this last part of their lives.

And I get, from this emotive, heart-wrenching part of the dream, that this same quality of love, compassion, presence and commitment is what is being asked of me, you, and every one of us as we take this bumpy, terrifying, glorious ride of healing and transforming our lives and world together.

This dream tells us to breathe, to love, and to listen from our deepest, most tender heart and best self, not just to those close and dear to us, but also to ourselves, and the many others in our lives, even those that we may see as our enemy. Death is a messy, emotional business, as is the birthing of new life, and that’s where we’re collectively at: a death-rebirth moment that’s being driven not just by our pain and wounding, but more importantly by our love and best presence.

So breathe. Love. Listen. Offer up your best presence and support to yourself and others.  Start simple, small and close to home. Trust that you’ll find your place, purpose, and kin that walk your same path. The time of change is now.  And this is how we can heal and transform ourselves and world together.

Photo Credit: Elvis Ma on Unsplash