The Dreaming Season

Dearest Dreamers, For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it is just a few short sleeps before the Autumn Equinox is upon us. This is a time characterised by warm colors, cozy cowls, changing leaves and, as the poet Keats so beautifully puts it, the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” As we prepare ourselves for the inwardness of winter, a time when we restore balance in our lives, Dreaming always comes on stronger and richer. My favourite thing about this season is the call to Creativity! And for those of you who have been patiently waiting for news about the Creative Dreamer – an online Creativity course – I haven’t forgotten you! I’ve been hammering away in my Dream Workshop and am almost ready to announce it!  Please stay tuned for dates. And by popular demand, I’m happy to announce new dates for Dreamwalking: A 4-week online Course on Dreaming. It tends to fill up quickly so be sure to register early if the timing feels right for you. Now please enjoy these small offerings. Love & lucidity, Toko-pa...
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Water Dreams

Water Dreams

To dream of water is to make an encounter with the Earth’s own lifeblood, of which we are mostly composed and by which we are all related. Water is not simply our ’emotions’ but that which gives rise to emotions: the unconscious source of all vitality. Though it is easy to become identified with our terrestrial roles and duties, the feeling life will not be ignored. It will come for you when you might need a good drowning, flood away that which is redundant, lead you to the fountain you don’t know you are thirsting for, or just sweep you away on its crest towards a new terrain. At other times Water may cleanse and baptise you or introduce you to ancient helpers who live below your surface. It is the slipstream from which poetry is culled, the softening grief makes of us, it is the flow, the origin and sustenance of all life. Though we give ourselves only small drinks to soothe our gasping gills, what we really need is to be often returned to these great depths, to be carried deeper into our own fathomlessness, immersed in that place where lovemaking is the dialect and discovery is the constant – where we are without destination or tether, carried by...
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Dreamspeak: Ancestral Healing

Dreamspeak: Ancestral Healing

One of the most powerful dreams I was ever given was a visitation from my maternal Grandfather who came to me as an adult, twenty years after he died. Like many ancestral dreams, it was singularly vivid and more lucid than everyday dreams. I looked into the bright clarity of his eyes, felt the warmth and weight of his hand on my shoulder, and recognized the melody of his thick accent even though I was 7 years old when last I heard it. A great stillness stretched around us as he looked at me tenderly and said, “I’m sorry for having given you my eyesight.” Towards the end of her life, my Granny told my brother and I many stories she’d kept secret for a lifetime. She spoke of many unfathomable atrocities, and the near-death miracles that kept my Grandparents alive. But there’s one story in particular which haunts me, of a long walk they took together to escape Poland at the end of the war. My Granny always told it with pride for the man my Grandfather was, how he covered her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see the piles of corpses strewn by the roadside. “Nothing influences children more,” Jung says, “than the silent facts in the...
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Dreamspeak: Eating Your Shadow

Dreamspeak: Eating Your Shadow

The single most healing practice for those who fear that “Evil” exists outside of oneself -in the form of malevolent spirits & other entities, like Satan – is the integration of one’s own shadow. Or what I call Shadow Eating. Most of us have been raised to be moral, good & agreeable, but we have also been putting all of our “unacceptable” qualities in what Robert Bly calls The Long Black Bag we drag behind us, what Jung termed the personal Shadow. The Shadow is the place where everything we have forgotten, denied, rejected or not yet discovered goes to live. The greater the denial of one’s darkness, taboo, or ‘negative emotions,’ the more fertile the breeding ground for fear, shame, depression, violence and anxiety. Now if you add public power to that equation, you are in for real trouble. Anywhere you see the attitude of the “evil-doer,” the corrupt “Other,” you can be sure the shadow has been denied in the self and now projected onto the outside world. In those places where extreme self-righteousness is proselytized, the more rampant the shadow becomes. For instance, in the Christian...
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Dreamspeak: The Importance of Fairy Tales

Dreamspeak: The Importance of Fairy Tales

As Joseph Campbell famously says, “Dreams are the private myth & myths are the public dream.” Indeed Campbell and other mythologists, such as those delightful Jungians, discovered amazing cross-cultural motifs in Fairy Tales. Those patterns, (or what we now call archetypes), are found repeatedly in stories from around the world, seemingly unconstrained by geography or epoch. Imagine for a moment that you could strip your ‘local’ story down to its bare essence, to find what you  have in common with everyone in the world, and you’ll get archetypes. From the Greek archetupos, meaning “first-moulded,” fairy tales are the blueprints of our innate, universal experiences. Archetypes get activated in our dreams during meaningful transitions, but having lost the art of symbolic language in our culture, we don’t recognize (or remember) them when they arise. Working with dreams & fairy tales helps us to see when we are undergoing important rites of passage, such as initiation, courtship, marriage, birth and preparation for death. They bring meaningful dimension to our human lives by showing us the chapters in our mythic journey. We...
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Ritual and the Cultivation of Indebtedness

Ritual and the Cultivation of Indebtedness

It takes my teacher Martín Prechtel several hours to walk a short distance because every stream and river, rock and valley in the village is sacred and needs to be sung to, fed by our beauty-making. We are too fortunate for our debt to ever be paid, so instead we cultivate indebtedness as a way of life. You might say that our abandonment of ritual practice is the greatest loss felt by modern society. Under the spell of rationalism, we have forgotten what indigenous people understand to be cardinal: that this world owes its life to the Unseen. Our disconnection from the Old Ways expresses itself in our culture’s affliction with depression, anxiety, violence and loneliness.What we are experiencing, explains Marion Woodman, is the loss of the symbolic life. We have displaced our natural impulse to worship the sacred onto the material. We accumulate wealth instead of strengthening our values, pursue knowledge instead of wisdom and choose status over village-making. In tribal society, every inheritance, every yield, every loss and every yearning must be distinguished by an offering made to the Invisible. Vicariously, in this practice of making gifts for the Holy, we are being...
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Author Jenny Alexander interviews me

Author Jenny Alexander interviews me

Recently, I had the delightful opportunity to be interviewed by dream teacher and author, Jenny Alexander. I loved her questions which prompted me to write about my own childhood  and how I was drawn into my work with dreaming. As always when engaged on the subject of dreams, I feel like a mountain creek in spring! I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing about my love of Dreamwork. Here is a small excerpt on “Giving & Receiving a Hello…” There’s nothing more intimate, fulfilling or magical than ‘touching souls’ with another being. Most people walk around for years without ever receiving a proper ‘Hello.’ What I mean by that, is that most of us have been taught from the earliest age to suppress and discount the tenderest, most creative part of ourselves. And while it is certainly possible to survive in this way, underneath the daily armour is an unabating hunger to be seen. To connect, being-to-being, with that thing which is tired of fitting in, which wants to feel alive, which has something authentic to offer. Giving a proper Hello is to hold a subtle, unwavering presence for that thing to feel safe enough to emerge. Dreamwork is all about...
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Tips for Dream Recall

Tips for Dream Recall

With few examples in our midst of powerful & skilled dreamers, some people spend a lifetime thinking that they just don’t dream, or that ‘remembering’ is an ability that doesn’t come naturally to them. But Dreaming is an artform which can be cultivated and practiced. In my experience, it takes very little to get your dreams flowing again.The starting point must be an attitude that your dreams are of value. From there, just a few simple steps and, in a week or two of practice, you will see the beginnings of the lifelong relationship you can have with your vast inner knowing and creativity. 1. Before going to bed, set the intention to remember your dreams. You may want to re-read some of your previous dreams to strengthen the waking/dreaming bridge, or meditate on a question you’d like answered. 2. How you wake up is fundamental. Avoid using an alarm clock. Train your body to wake you up instead – you’ll be amazed by how accurate the body clock can be. 3. Keep your eyes closed and remain in your waking position. The dream can easily be dislodged, (especially by your to-do list), so stay present with the dream, as if carrying a fragile creature across a rickety bridge. 4. If...
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Dreaming is Nature

Dreaming is Nature

Dreaming is Nature growing us, by way of images and story. While we are asleep, complex symbols are narrated together in a sophisticated unfolding of our ‘private myths.’ But every morning, we have to overcome resistance to what reads like ‘nonsense.’ This is because we live in a rationalistic age which has willfully forgotten our mother tongue, the language of symbols. It is a ruthless voice which calls dreams superstition and, like nature itself, Dreamwork is in fast danger of becoming extinct. Those warriors who penetrate the dismissal to learn reverence for their dreams, who teach dreaming to their children, are rewarded by astonishment and a sense of...
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Dreamspeak: Faith in Synchronicity

Dreamspeak: Faith in Synchronicity

You dream of an owl and the next morning one swoops by your windshield. You are feeling grateful for a friend’s support when the song, “You’ve got a friend” comes on the radio. You finally quit an unhappy job and are offered a great opportunity the same afternoon. Not only are spirit and matter connected but they are, as Carl Jung puts it, “two different aspects of one and the same thing.” All of us have experienced synchronicity, (especially frequent among active dreamers,) and while we may not agree on why these ‘waking dreams’ occur, we unanimously feel our ‘clock and calendar constructs’ collapsing, and are saturated with a sense of meaningfulness. As many aboriginal cultures view it, time is more circular in pattern, not like the Western linear comprehension of time, (past-present-future), but flexible to the individual at the centre of that`time-circle.’ This is why we can heal our past as if it hasn’t happened yet. It is also why, with enough faith, we can dream things into being. In a giant leap of faith, my partner and I pulled up our roots in search of a new home. It is our dream to live in a thriving and activated community that is in alignment...
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Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

Dreamspeak: Owning Your Destroy

For as long as I can remember, New Age gurus have been telling us to “stay in the light.” They tell us to meditate, generate and emanate positivity, warning us that we create our own reality and negative thinking begets negative results. But if you’ve ever found yourself cringing before all that Spiritual Correctness and wondered what was wrong with you, I am here to tell you that you aren’t broken and you don’t need fixing. As an Ambassadress of the Darkness, it is my duty to sing the praises of wrath, rebellion, grief and destruction. I am here to champion the wild, unapologetic  power of nature. I am here to urge us all to drop our composure like sandbags and get stirred up into the real storm of living. While the New Age movement has awakened many to the power of creative intention, it has simultaneously pathologised the negative emotions, striking them from our social palette of acceptability and is driving us all into repression. First of all, what if those negative emotions aren’t wrong, but totally right? What if the real problem is the misguided attitude that we need fixing in the first place? When we try to live up to impossible images of spiritually enlightened,...
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Dreamspeak: Where the Eagles Are

Dreamspeak: Where the Eagles Are

On the morning Annie went into the hospital, I had a dream that Toronto was drowning. It started with a sadness welling up at my windows. When I got up to look out at the city, cars were bobbing around like plastic toys and whole buildings were being swallowed up by water. In the distance was a tsunami, and it was racing towards me. Knowing there wasn’t anywhere to run, I became curiously calm. Within seconds the wave smashed through my windows, took me up on its crest, and began rushing me into the unknown. It was the sound of the phone jangling which woke me up. I stumbled across my shockingly dry room to answer it. Annie Jacobsen; my friend, my mentor, my lighthouse, had been hospitalized in the night. After nine years of wrestling back lymphoma, the cancer had taken hold. A tumour the size of a melon had grown in her belly and she could no longer eat more than ice chips. “You are an artist,” Annie said every time she saw me. At first I thought she was delusional, how relentlessly she spoke that word about me. A word that was too big for me. A word whose shadow I cowered in. But she said it again and again; on every visit, in every letter, and she managed to find it in every...
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Dreamspeak: Doing Your Duty

Dreamspeak: Doing Your Duty

When we hear the word discipline, we immediately think of toil, sweat and deprivation. Over the centuries, the once beautiful word has been distorted to mean something akin to punishment. But at its root a disciple is someone who devotes themselves to something they love. I am hitching to Argenta, land of goats and caravans, when I meet a young woman on the road. She is barely twenty, cheeks full of petals and flush, and the only student I’ve ever met who loves school in her final year. That’s because, she explains, she’s doing a degree in Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, a program predominantly carried out in the field; camping, hiking, grokking the magnificence of nature. As she speaks about the organism that is our planet, how its wisdom informs her life, she comes alive with fire and wonder. We’re waiting together under the high sun of noon for a ride to the next town when I realise I have a small window to ask the perfect person the question I’ve been carrying. “Why is it so easy for us to be amazed by the beautiful, interconnected, mathematical genius of Earth…but even as Her very organs – her eyes and ears – we hate...
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Dreamspeak: Falling the Stone Wall

Dreamspeak: Falling the Stone Wall

Dear Toko-pa; In my first dream, I am married. I am at my parents’ helping build a stone wall and this spouse-person keeps calling and asking where I am, telling me I am the type of person who only does what is best for me – how I am unreliable, ambivalent and untrustworthy – but that he still loves me. My father is building the wall all wrong – it keeps falling down. He doesn’t listen to me or admit that the plans I’d drawn up were functional. Sweat in my eyes, arms aching, hands bleeding, I throw down my load of rocks. This isn’t worth it, I say, none of this is worth it In the second dream I am traveling in high desert country alone. Rocky and gray. Carefully, I select a chador; it takes me a great deal of time to figure out the proper way to wear it and the relief as I finally cover my hair, wash my face free of make-up, is palpable. The air is cold and thin and I walk through a market and buy food from women then ride in a truck with men and guns. In this dream, I feel so safe. – Alma Dear Alma; Your stonewalling project make me very curious about the origins of your ambivalence towards relationship. How much is your dad’s example falling apart for you now?...
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Dreamspeak: Feelings Are Your Friends

Dreamspeak: Feelings Are Your Friends

In dreams, feelings are our greatest allies. They show us where our energy is being concentrated and which way it wants to go. Like signals from the unconscious to the physical body, feelings show us where our needs are. Sometimes they warn us to retreat from dangerous situations, other times they magnify where we need to continue working. While joy and enthusiasm are the kinds of friends who show you what you love, so are disappointment, jealousy, irritation and fear. They serve you to progress beyond your limitations and strengthen your patience with discomfort. Unfortunately, we have learned from a culture that altogether devalues feeling, to ignore and override them. On their own, emotions can overspill, drowing us in havoc and confusion. But if cultivated in tandem with the other faculties, discernment and action, they serve as our instinctual barometer. By respecting your feelings as intelligent instead of depressing them, they will begin to alert you to the areas of your life that need attention before it appears exaggeratedly in your dreams. For instance, if you put too much emphasis on work and deadlines, you may be running a constant low-level anxiety which inhibits...
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Frequently asked questions about Dreams

Frequently asked questions about Dreams

Frequently Asked Questions about Dreams What does a dreamworker do? What can I expect in a dream session? What if I don’t remember my dreams? Are all dreams meaningful? I keep having this one recurring dream. Should I be concerned? Can you recommend some good starter books for learning about dreams? Is it possible to control your dreams? Where can I learn more? 1. What does a dreamworker do? The dreamworker is like a psychic midwife. She mediates between the dream and waking life. Her role is to reflect you, hand you back the pieces of yourself without distortion. All tribal traditions have such a person. Though they are found under many different names; shaman, crone, medicine man, witch, healer, analyst or priest; they all perform the same sacred function. It is to guide you towards your true path. When you are at a crossroads; no longer what you used to be and not yet what you will become, you will find her there. In every dreamwork session, Toko-pa draws on the wisdom of several mantic arts including; Jungian Psychology, Mythology, Sufism, Shamanism, Intuition and Energy Work. 2. What can I expect in a dream session? A dream session is a collaboration between you and your...
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Dreamspeak: Lights of the Night

Dreamspeak: Lights of the Night

Dear Toko-pa; what is the significance of the moon, stars and constellating night skies in dreams? — Astrodreamer Dear Astrodreamer; This past spring I was invited to go caving with a friend of mine who is a seasoned spelunker. Naturally, I was terrified at the thought of going underground into total darkness to squeeze though cold, wet and tight spots. “Where’s the appeal?” I asked him. His face lit up like a ten year old’s and said; “Only 20-some-odd humans have ever set foot in this part of the cave, which we just discovered last season. The stalactites are over 6 million years old! The landscape is nothing you’ve ever experienced before; it’s like being on the moon.” It was a pretty convincing argument. Geared up with rubber boots, hard hats and rain gear, we climbed and maneuvered and shimmied down 30 foot long body-sized channels, all by the light of our headlamps. It was exhilarating. My downward-dog practice came in handy when we had to get under a narrow opening through which a freezing current was rushing through the caves. Then, soaking wet in the subzero temperatures, scraped up, and very nearly wanting to turn back, it opened up into a cathedral of caves with...
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Dreamspeak: Revolving Door of Love

Dreamspeak: Revolving Door of Love

Dear Toko-pa: I dreamt that I entered a revolving door, in which I had planned to meet my sweetie, but then exited alone. I woke up shaking, like it was a nightmare, because I was desperate to find him there. We’d lost phone connection and I couldn’t get through. This dream comes up at a time when I have lots of questions about entering into a new phase of closeness with him. It’s loving and sweet but the level of my fear about losing him grips me sometimes. Have you written before, or would you consider writing about, the meanings of doors in dreams? — Spinning Lover Dear Spinning; I once knew a monk who used doors as cues for mindfulness. Each time he stepped through one, he’d notice his transition from one place into the next. He said it helped keep him in the Now by focusing his awareness on the nonstop transience of life. The doors in our dreams are not dissimilar to waking life doors in that they mark the threshold between two spaces. The details of your door and how your respond to it says a great deal about how you cope with transition. Does your door open to the outside or the inside? Do you rush through it or are you tentative? Maybe you’re...
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