With science, we strip things down to get at their heart. With dreaming, we are as shaman-writer Martin Prechtel describes, adding layers to the bulk of our soul by remembering. He is not speaking simply of remembering stories that are passed down through generations, but of a much further memory than that.
Every time we dream, we are dipping into a wellspring of ancient wisdom. Though the scenarios in our dreams often appear contemporary, they are held together by archetypal motifs that are neither constrained by culture nor time. The entire appendix of our species, Carl Jung teaches, is within each of us for the accessing.
The question is – what to do with all these layers? The idea Jung had was that in strengthening the bridge between unconscious and conscious, one had the chance at becoming more whole. Instead of living out two separate lives, one hidden and the other on display, it is possible through dreamwork to heal that split and live a more individuated life. It isn’t enough to simply dream something, you must put into practice what wisdom you’re given. Bring it down into the material. This process is what I call dreaming it forward.
Of course the first step is to write your dreams down, but why not write them with increasing creativity. Try to write in the present tense, (this will stir up the vividness of your recall), and find careful words to express your dream feelings. Did you go into the house, or did you cross the threshold with trepidation? Illustrate the details of your dream as if every nuance was relevant. If something or someone feels too vague to describe, describe that vagueness!
The beautiful genius of dreams is that once they’ve helped us untangle our own issues, they become excellent teaching stories. Not only do they love to be shared, they (and we) thrive on it! But why stop at the writing or telling of a dream? If you want to live deeper into your symbols, you can do what is called Active Imagination.
Simply choose a dream figure (or object) that you would like to know better and dialogue with it on paper for at least 15 minutes. Ask it all the questions you’d like and try not to judge or interpret the answers as they flow out of your imagination. You may find a great deal more insight than you expected lies just below the surface.
You might even want to write a short story based on a dream scenario, filling in the blanks that perplexed you or rewrite a dream ending so it is more empowering. Though the fear might arise that you are ‘making things up,’ one might argue that it is the same mind who invents, as dreams.
If writing isn’t your thing, pick up a sketch pad and draw or paint some of your unusual or compelling images. Dance them, or turn them into theatre. Google your symbols, research your animals, treat your images like clues on a treasure hunt. Don’t forget to keep a lucid eye on your daytime hours too – due diligence with dreams almost always increases the rate of synchronicity in waking life.
Inevitably your symbols will evolve and possibly even submit themselves, in the meantime, as material for your artworks, symphonies, stories and solved equations.
In the end, every effort to engage with your dreams will plump up your sumptuousness. By giving credence to them, bringing the players further out into view, you are increasing the landscape of your consciousness in ever-widening spirals. You will eventually become, as Prechtel poetically puts it, delicious with remembrance.