Dreams as a Gateway to Self and Soul

Imagine that the soul ceaselessly yearns to dream itself into the world

– Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft

All of us are buffeted by the demands of family and work, and increasingly, the feeling that the larger social and political landscape in which we live is shifting in unpredictable ways. The election of Donald Trump is just the latest – and most dramatic – example. Against this backdrop, it is easy to lose our connection with our sense of self and soul – that larger and more sacred life purpose that pulses beneath the surface of our everyday busyness. To reawaken our sense of self we must grow our presence and awareness to the animate world around us, and the vital interior world of our psyche. In this way, we create the conditions in which our life is not merely the outward expression of our ego’s wants, but a manifestation of our soul’s deepest longing. There are many practices, rites and ceremonies that can facilitate this, and working with dreams is especially powerful. The landscape of our dreams is filled with symbolic messages that can play a powerful – even vital – role in self-discovery. Viewed in this light, dreams are a potent gateway to both Self and Soul. Carl Jung describes it well:

            The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret       recesses of the psyche, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness may extend…in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night.  There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all ego-hood.

Dreams emerge from the mysterious depths of the unconscious, and as such, are an opportunity for our conscious self, our ego, to be initiated into this deeper stream of our life story and purpose. To work with dreams in this way is not to interpret them, but rather, to treat them as a wilderness to be explored, an experience to be received. Regardless of how strange, wild, or mundane the dream seems to be, a soulcentric approach to dreamwork invites you to step into the arena of the dream carrying nothing more than an open and available heart and a few powerful questions as your compass:

  • Can I track the images and symbols, the atmosphere, the felt experience of the dream?
  • What might these images and symbols mean for me, and tell me about my soul and my soul’s journey?
  • How might my ego be changed by the dream?

To treat dreams in this way is to give oneself over boldly and vulnerably to the landscape of the dream and all those who live there. It is to mine the images and symbols that appear in the dream for their deep intelligence. This can be done in a variety of ways, including direct dialogue with the dream, deep imagery, experiential wandering in nature with (and in) the dream, and the expression of feelings evoked by the dream – in poetry, song, dance, or visual art.

The ecological and spiritual crises of our age require new forms of leadership. In particular, they require the creativity and collaboration that can flow from those who have undergone soul initiation. As Bill Plotkin and the guides of the Animas Valley Institute put it, “the inner wilds of dreams and the outer wilderness of the world are two of the most potent guides to soul”.

Jessica Rosin of Soul Quest Canada is convening a monthly soul centric dream group for those interested in following the tracks in the wilderness of their dreams. Contact Jessica (Jessica@soulquestcanada.ca) for details.

Written by Rob Abbott

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