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Dreaming can be a powerful ally in your quest for the Way of the Druid. Some shamanic cultures believe that when we dream, our soul ventures to other worlds and other lives, and when we wake, our lives in this world are the dreams of another existence. Whether you believe this to be true or not, dreams are a powerful way to get in touch with our unconscious mind. The unconscious is the seat of creativity and power. By learning to explore our dreams, we tap into this almost infinite source. In this chapter we will explore the use of dreaming as a shamanic tool to further your practice of The Way of the Druid.
To begin your exploration of dream work, you may wish to buy a notebook or diary. This will be your Dream Journal. Keep it on the nightstand or somewhere near your bed. When you first wake every morning, make it a practice to try to recall your dreams from the night before. Write them in your journal, preferably before you get out of bed. What does paying attention to your dream life tell you about yourself?
As much as some would have you believe otherwise, there are no absolute meanings to symbols and situations we encounter in dreams. Each dream is totally subjective. Its ultimate meaning resides within the dreamer. There are, however, some guidelines that will help you to delve into the meanings and the lessons of your dreams.
The first thing to consider is the symbols in your dreams. Carl Jung used the idea of archetypes to interpret dreams for his patients. An archetype is a powerful symbol that is common to people of all cultures. The universality of the archetype makes dreams about archetypes very meaningful indeed. Jung believed that archetypes were universal because they are hardwired into our brains. That is to say that all human beings throughout the world share the archetypes because we are all born with the same basic brain structure. There is a repository of archetypes in the brain of every human who ever lived. Jung called this repository the collective unconscious.
Because these archetypes are universal and a shared experience among all of humankind, you should pay particular attention to any dreams that contain archetypal information. Here are a few of the more common archetypes to be found in our dreams:
The Persona is the mask we show to the world every day. It’s the face we put on in order to be able to interact with the world. When dreaming, we may not appear in the dream exactly as ourselves. We may put on another mask. But in the dream, there is a part of us that knows that the Persona is still us. When dreaming about the Persona, pay particular attention to who you are and what you are doing. Is it different from your everyday life? What is your dream trying to tell you about the mask you wear every day?
The Shadow is the part of ourselves that we reject, repress and refuse to express in the Persona. Jung believed that all humans had the potential for all possible human behavior. The parts we choose not to act upon are pushed into the Shadow. In dreams, the Shadow may appear as an attacker, a pursuer, or some other danger. In dreams, the Shadow is attempting to force us to come to terms with our darker selves. By embracing the fact that we have darker impulses, we give ourselves the opportunity to control and even use them to our advantage. If, however, we choose to repress and deny these darker impulses, they lie in wait for an opportunity to burst forth.
The Anima and Animus are the male and female aspects of ourselves. If, as Jung believed, all humans have the potential for all human behavior, then we all have both masculine and feminine qualities. The masculine qualities are expressed in the Animus, and the feminine qualities are expressed in the Anima. If you are male and dream of being a female, then your Anima is trying to express itself; or if you are female and dream of being a male, then your Animus is trying to tell you something. Pay particular attention to what you are doing in this experience so that you can understand the message later.
The Divine Child is your True Self in its most innocent and pure manifestation. While this child of pure innocence is vulnerable, it is also full of pure potential. In dreams, the Divine Child (or the Mabon in the Way of the Druid) is represented by a baby or a young child. What is this child doing? Is it trying to tell you something? The actions of the Mabon in your dream will tell you about potentials and opportunities you may have missed in the waking world.
The Sage or the Crone is the wise old tutor who comes to give you advice. In dreams they may appear as a teacher, or a doctor, or an elder, or a parent or grandparent, or other old and trusted individual. In dreams the Sage and the Crone come to set your feet on the right path.
The Great Mother is the nurturer and caretaker. In the Way of the Druid she is seen as the Mother Goddess. In dreams she may appear as your own mother, grandmother, or other trusted nurturing female caretaker. When the Great Mother appears in your dreams, she is there to give you positive reassurance and nurturing. Heed her advice.
The Trickster is there to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously. In Celtic mythology the Trickster manifests as Puck or Robin Goodfellow. In Norse mythology he is Loki. In many Native American traditions he is Coyote. A Trickster may appear in your dreams as someone who plays a prank or laughs at you. The Trickster shows us where we have overreacted to a situation. He also shows up when we are unsure about a decision to goad us into choosing one way or another.
The Tree of Life is the World Tree that symbolizes the axis upon which the world turns. This archetypal tree is the source of all knowledge and a symbol of the union of the forces of Chaos and Order. If this tree appears in your dreams, it may have knowledge to give you, or it may indicate that you need to seek knowledge.
The Wounded Healer is an archetype found in many mythologies. In Arthurian legend, the Wounded Healer is the Fisher King, who had suffered an injury that would not heal. Even so, the Fisher King was the guardian of the Holy Grail, the source of all healing. In dreams, the Wounded Healer may appear as an injured person who wishes to help you in some way. If such a person offers to help you in your dreams, notice what their wounds are, and what they offer to help you with. The Wounded Healer’s injury may be something in yourself that has not yet been acknowledged.
The Mandala is a circular motif routinely used as a focal point for meditation. In The Way of the Druid, the Feige Find, or Fionn’s Wheel, is a type of Mandala. In dreams, the Mandala may show up in any motif of a circle. It may be a Sun, or a Moon, or a ball, or a dinner plate, or any recurring circular theme. If a Mandala occurs in your dreams, it indicates a desire or need to find wholeness and harmony.
The archetypes listed above are just a few that routinely occur in dreams. Archetypal dreams usually occur at periods of transition or intense change in a person’s life. They are characterized by being very vivid, full of symbol, emotion and meaning, and unforgettable. While many people forget most dreams a day or two later, people remember archetypal dreams for months or years. Pay particular attention to these dreams, exploring their symbolism and meaning until you are satisfied that you have gleaned the message from the content.