Mar 232015

donoharm‘Everything is a Mirror’ can be a powerful and transformative practice as we learn to navigate the synchronistic relationship between the inner and outer life, between self and other.  But the moment we lose sight of the paradoxical nature of life, this bit of New Age fundamentalism can make us too psychically porous and, in certain situations, even put us in harm’s way. It can be especially damaging in abusive or chaotic situations, and can lead to victim-blaming and justification of reckless behaviour.

There are times when someone else’s bad behaviour is theirs and theirs alone. And, instead of reflecting on how you might improve yourself or ‘rise above your emotions,’ you must respect your reaction and Become the Mirror. Which is to say, show the other your strong, clear boundary.

This idea that we should have unlimited patience and flexibility implied in the ‘mirror’ precept trains us to tolerate more than we should, always ‘working on ourselves,’ quelling our disagreements, being ‘more evolved,’ and attaining inner peace. But what if inner peace depends upon your speaking your NO? What if being evolved means wielding the sword of discernment, which knows its own standpoint and isn’t afraid to say, “I’m not in that.”

Photograph by Ben Zank

Photograph by Ben Zank

In the ancient Kabbalastic tradition, the development of the soul is represented by a symbol called the Tree of Life. Its a kind of map to divinity which respects the polarities, and the middle way between them. Upon the tree are 10 sefirot, or spiritual principles, by which the world is created. Though it is a rich and complex system, I’d like to speak about one pair of counterparts; Chesed and Gevurah.

While Chesed is ‘boundless loving kindness,’ Gevurah is ‘no more.’ It is the restraint of our natural impulse to bestow goodness. It’s the line drawn in the sand.  While Chesed draws the other close, Gevurah is boundaries. It is the withdrawal which holds the other accountable.

Together, Chesed and Gevurah act to create a dynamic balance in the soul’s navigation of relationships & the world. Paradoxically, (and here’s the juicy part) it is Gevurah’s withdrawal which creates the potentiality for Chesed to occur! In other words, the discipline you expect of others is actually an expression of love. Different from judgement, Gevurah is the tenacity to our own & others’ greatest potential.

Though asserting your boundaries rarely feels ‘good’ in the moment, it is ultimately a loving gesture to recognize someone’s capability and say, “I expect better from you.” To say NO is a potent medicine which places responsibility where it truly belongs, and invites the other to live up to honouring those limits.

Feb 262015
Etching by Carrie Lingscheit

Etching by Carrie Lingscheit

As human beings, I think we are always walking a line between the creative and destructive. We are both compelled by our wild nature into new forms of living, while also aching for the stability and constancy of belonging.

You may have known times when you were just one or the other. Maybe you came all the way untethered and saw what dangers and addictions, what loneliness comes with being rogue. Or somewhere, along the way, perhaps you made an internal vow to be ‘the responsible one’.

But responsibility can be just as dangerous as rebellion. It can come on like quicksand, burying you in its requirements, turning your life a platonic hue. What may have started with an edge of penance, now crowds out the very rebellion which kept you feeling alive. Like the wise words of a young man who climbed the ladder only to discover more ladders, “I wish I’d made more mistakes.”

And so we must find a way to walk between these things; alternately separating or uniting. Sometimes singing into the great choir of belonging means having a dissenting voice. At other times, the shelter we’ve built must be maintained as a refuge for others, and our creativity. At any given time we can ask ourselves, “Where is my vital edge and how can I inch towards it?”

Excerpted from the upcoming book “On Belonging” © Toko-pa Turner 2014. To read more, sign up for Toko-pa’s free newsletter here:

Feb 162015

It was a treat to be interviewed for Be You Media, by the lovely and talented Jenn Grosso this week. Our conversation turned to some intimate topics like depression, stage-fright and the book I’ve been writing on Belonging. I hope you find something useful here and I look forward to hearing how it lands with you:

tokopaperingIn my own life, and in the lives of the  people I’m blessed to do dreamwork with, I found that the search for Belonging is the silent conversation behind so many of the other conversations we have in the open. And while we crave this elusive thing, so few of us feel as if we’ve achieved it.

So this book has taken me deep into the question of exile in my own personal history and in my ancestral lineage, taking me as far as rural France where I’ve walked the same cobblestones my ancestors walked before meeting their death in the holocaust.

And I’ve come to understand that belonging is not a place at all, but a set of skills that we in modern culture have forgotten. This book is an attempt to enumerate what I call those ‘competencies of belonging.’”  Read the rest of the interview here.

Feb 122015


In this 4-week online course, March 29th – April 25th, 2015, (SORRY, THIS COURSE IS NOW FULL) you will be learning the Cornerstones of Dreamwork. Using an intimate blend of art, theory and practice, dreamers learn to understand the structure and language of dreams & develop the tools necessary to begin bridging their wisdom back to waking life. This series is excellent for beginner and intermediate dreamers.

The weekly online classes will cover the following topics:


Week 1: Dream Architecture

Dreamwork is an art as well as a science. In this class we learn to approach dreams in the same way we would a work of literature, film or painting; appreciating its mechanics as well as its poetry. We will learn how to recognize the dramatic structure of a dream, isolate its key elements and bridge their symbolism back to waking life.

Week 2: Light in the Dark

Learning to actively dream involves finding balance between the light and dark sides of our nature. In this class we will pay special attention to the Shadow and nightmares, learning how to read the warning signs of imbalanced attitudes. We will explore the redeeming medicine of dark dreams and the importance of finding the light contained within them.

Week 3: Inner Marriage

Each of us contains both masculine and feminine qualities within. It is only our gender conditioning that engrains a bias towards one or the other. What results, is an impoverishment of our opposite-gender qualities. In this class, we will learn how to integrate both through dreamwork, so that we can recover our wholeness as individuals, correspondingly healing our larger community.

Week 4: Dream Yourself Awake

Dreaming is a kind of archaeological process where we enter the landscape of the soul to unearth the forgotten or undiscovered parts of our selves. As we begin to do away with unconscious, habitual behaviour, we awaken to a new way of being in the world. We begin to walk the dream – turning inspiration into action. In this class we will learn techniques for engaging our co-creative abilities in both dreaming and waking realities.


How it works:

  • Once you’ve registered the next email you’ll get will be on the Friday before our start date, containing an invitation to join an exclusive Facebook Group with your fellow Dreamwalkers, where all of our discussions will take place.
  • You will then receive your weekly video lessons on Sunday of every week, along with your weekly study guides.
  • We meet for our Weekly Live Call via Instant Teleseminar on Saturdays at 10 am (PST). You can access these gatherings via telephone, Skype or by web (listen-only). Though I do recommend showing up in real time, the recording will be available to all members if you have to miss the class.
  • We will be working on actual dreams as a group in every Live Class, so you can learn intimately about the Dreamworking process.
  • Our private Facebook Group can be used throughout the week to share dreams with your fellow Dreamwalkers, start discussions, offer insights, and ask questions.



“The work that Toko-pa is doing is potent and powerful. Through the Dreamwalking class I came to appreciate my own dreams better, especially those “simple” snippets of images that I might have dismissed before as being unimportant. Through her words and teachings, I now also realize dreaming is a way to enter into connection and community with one another. It’s an expansive, heart guided way to engage with the world and all her beings. My dreams have always been a source of interest, power, and inspiration, but working with Toko-pa has made me appreciate my dreams more deeply. To understand them as guideposts showing me the way when the path is unclear and as a tender, loving source of comfort when I’m in distress. Thanks, Toko-pa! Your loving, strong, guiding voice is so necessary right now. I’m excited to be engaged with this changing force in my own small way.” – Sidra Quinn

Click here to read more Testimonials from Graduate Dreamwalkers



Earlybird tuition (Before Feb 20th) for this 4-week course is $180.

After February 20th, tuition is $220.

Final registration deadline is Friday March 20th (please know that this course always fills up quickly, so I’d recommend registering long before this deadline).

You will be given an option at registration to contribute to the Scholarship Fund to help those in need.

Some scholarships are available and will be considered on interest, merit & need. If you’d like to apply for a scholarship, please send a mind & heartful letter to me here.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me.

Feb 022015


I am thrilled to announce The Dream Lodge, an 8-week online mentorship program (May 19th – July 7th, 2015) for graduates of my Dreamwalking course.

In this intimate group of 13 women, each dreamer receives personal guidance with her own dreaming practice, learning to better understand and nurture the dreaming impulse which is working to align her with well-being & belonging.

She will also be refining the skills she learned in Dreamwalking in this practice-based program which focuses on the wisdom of the circle, partaking and contributing to its conversation, synchronicity and creativity, just as an ecosystem would:

The Dream Lodge is a council of women dedicated to the practice of dreaming together, honouring the wounds that shape us uniquely and moving through the impediments to embolden our creativity in the world.

Some of our core practices:

  • Deepening the Quality of Approach: learning the art of slow courtship of dream symbols
  • Opening the Third Ear: becoming attentive to the inner life
  • Refining our Questions: drawing out the secret longing of every dream
  • Self & Other: holding paradox & befriending otherness
  • Sheltering the Shadow: becoming hospitable to uncomfortable emotions

How it works:

  • We meet in the virtual Dream Lodge on Tuesdays at 10 am (PDT) from May 19th – July 7th, 2015 for 1.5 hours each week. To convert this to your own time zone, go here:
  • You will access our Dream Lodge gatherings via telephone, Skype (audio-only), or listen in via the web.  Though I do recommend showing up in real time, the recording will be made available to you if you have to miss a gathering.
  • We will be working on actual dreams as a group in every gathering, so you will learn intimately about the Dreamworking process and benefit from the magic of the shared unfolding.
  • We will also have a private Facebook Group to be used throughout the week to share your dreams with our council of women, discuss your practice, offer insights and receive support with your important questions.


“We, the dreamers, are ever so grateful that you have provided us with your scholarship which is so well supported by your experience and innate wisdom Toko-pa, and that you have made a place for us to gather and practice new skills and share and support each other. It is all more than I could have possibly imagined. Gratitude abounds.” – Cathi Pettigrew

“WOW Toko-pa, you have created such a potent, life-shaking course here. You do not shy away from the darkness and muck that make a lot of others squirm and flee. I appreciate the deep work and deep self-inquiry that it takes to bring this about.” – Katherine Knupp

“I love witnessing the magic follow of the dreaming, as Toko-pa dives deeply yet gently in the story of the dreamtime. She is a gentle, loving storyteller and in today’s world with so many techniques available for our spiritual growth the mentors forget to teach, gentleness and humbleness. Toko-pa draws from both including love and integrity. This is why I will continue supporting this gifted dream whispering healer.” – Lorna Cluttey

To read more testimonials, click here.


Please know that I am limiting this program to 13 women so we can preserve the intimacy of our circle, but that also means it will fill up quickly. If you had your heart set on joining us & you find registration full, please send me an email and I’ll put you on a waiting list.

Earlybird tuition: (Before May 1st) for this 8-week program is $249.

After May 1st: tuition is $299.

Final registration deadline: May 15th, 2015.




Jan 082015
Painting by Richard Young

Painting by Richard Young

To explain the mystery and importance of Duende to artistic expression, Lorca tells the story of a great Andalusian singer whose performance leaves a modest audience unimpressed one night in a little tavern in Cadiz. “Here we care nothing about ability, technique, skill. Here we are after something else,” they seem to say. The songstress then tears at her expensive gown, guzzles a tall glass of burning liquor and begins “to sing with a scorched throat: without voice, without breath or color but with Duende” all to the crowd’s raucous approval. Lorca says, “She had to rob herself of skill and security, send away her muse and become helpless, that her Duende might come and deign to fight her hand to hand…” (from Terrance Hayes, More Theories of the Duende & Teaching the Inexplicable)

As Nick Cave wrote, “All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them.

The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.”

Dec 302014

Artwork by Catrin Welz-Stein

What if nostalgia is not a fruitless dwelling on those irretrievable moments of the past, as we are taught, but an attempt by sweetness to reach you again?

What if nostalgia is really located in the present, like a scent or ambiance which is gathering around you, should you avail yourself to it.

As anyone who has been heartbroken knows, there comes a time when, long after loss has been well-lived with, a small melody of love always returns. And to your surprise, you may recognise the tone of that love as the very same love you believed you lost.

It’s then that you know your love never belonged to another. Your love was always your love. And if you let yourself be unguarded to it, nostalgia may find its way back into the generosity of your presence once again.


Dec 212014

6c341aaf7a5385ceabcbf3effdac176bOn this, the longest night of the year, it is helpful to remember that we too are being called into our deepest dark. Down into the places we hide from view; where we store our grief, where we brace and hold, where we are ashamed and unforgiving too.

When we speak of the ‘returning of the light’ it isn’t just a grace that this threshold season provides, but the call to our own revealing. We are being asked to acknowledge our untruths, to surrender our silence, to bare our fragile stories in the open. These are the acts which connect the fabric of our lives to the whole of truthfulness.

Without proof, we trust that a way will be born then in the dark, out of nothing, by this braving forward. And we are rewarded with the dignity of a life which emboldens the poetry trapped in the silence of others, and tenderises us for a more articulated quality of love.

A blessed Winter Solstice to you, beautiful Dreamers.

Nov 172014
Owen Gent

Artwork by Owen Gent

In fairy tales, there is often a character whose sole purpose is to introduce doubt into your mission. Like a strong tide their influence can pull you away from the shores of your truth,  tempting you to renounce your secret vow altogether.

These characters are not always unsympathetic – they may even be folks you admire – but when you are subtly attuned to your nature, you’ll notice yourself wilting in their presence, taking on their diminishing view of your abilities.

Like eating something that doesn’t agree with you, this will give you a sour feeling in your belly, which sometimes grows into a rejection of life itself. In the worst of times, it may seem to stretch into an ocean of lostness in every direction.

When you find yourself in such an untethered place, there is a secret  which can anchor you back into intimacy with your vow: The recognition that you are only susceptible to the invalidation which matches a companion vulnerability in your own standpoint.

Now, this isn’t to say that the other is not being an empirical jerk, but that in their jerkness, they’ve brought to light a place within that requires fortification. It is the thing that keeps us in relationship with those who don’t see us, or which holds us back from fully emerging with our gifts. You may even recognise it as an almost comfortable self-abandonment, where your losses outnumber your triumphs and “that’s how it will always be”.

But in the Dreaming Way, these periods of detachment are invitations to deepen your vow. To make boundaries against those sour-belly influences, tightening your circle of intimacy, taking symbolic steps towards that which knows your true name. This can be as simple as keeping a daily list of those beautiful things which conspire in your favour, recognising the tiny triumphs that are keeping you from downspiraling, or exalting in some physically symbolic way the life you are calling towards you.

Destiny is not to be mistaken with fate, where one has no influence upon its outcome. It requires us to take steps towards it, to parent its growth especially in times of doubt and weakness. And if we find the courage to move in its direction despite the absence of grand signs, we are often graced by the small miracles of confirmation and synchronicity that we’d been hoping for all along.

Nov 112014
maia flore

Artwork by Maia Flore

To have one’s trust betrayed is one of the worst human heartbreaks. Under the pain of the dishonesty revealed in your environment, your very belief in goodness may be compromised.

The seduction in the wake of betrayal is to take up a thicker armour, to practice at expecting less of others, or to punish one’s own naïveté. But these are the same refusals from which our world is dying. Never should a judgement be made against one’s willingness to open the heart.

Trust is one of the great acts of kinship and naïveté is not, as some believe, a foolish disposition that needs to be prepared for the worst. At its root the word is from the 1670s French ‘naif’, meaning “natural, simple, artless.” It is the authentic, genuine, and literally “native disposition” of the human heart.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t practice discernment in our dealings with others, but  if our trust is broken we must remember that it says more about the other, who doesn’t yet know how to be loved, than it does about the heart who offers of itself.

Let us remount our commitment to sincerity, reassuring our native inclination to trust, and remember that even in the rubble of loss and betrayal, trust is what we all deserve.