At the moment I am teaching two of my Shamanic Path and Practice trainee practitioners about dreamwork, a favourite topic of mine. I thought to share some of this work with you here.
Reading dreams or dream interpretation has long been a practice in shamanism. The intensive studies of shamanism by academics Rock and Krippner (2011) inform us that in Native American cultures dreamwork, as an individual practice, was and is a well-known tool for inner reflection and guidance around matters in the emotional, spiritual, and physical world. Rock and Krippner claim that in most shamanic traditions that the dreamed world is as significant as the physical world, and that the messages gained through dreaming can inform and empower the dreamer, therefore dreams were/are greatly valued.
There are many ways to read into dreams, and my way has been influenced by the studies of well known theorists of psychology Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the latter who adds the important aspect of spirituality, both of whom supported dreamwork as being significant in understanding of the processing of the unconscious component of the mind.
The model I have together is best described through actual dreamwork, as can be seen below in this example of a recent dream. The intention of dreamwork in SPP is to inform the dreamer of hidden messages within the dream, and to enlighten the dreamer of any unconscious repression that may be occurring and creating blocks or resistance around recent events, or significant events form the past or coming up in the future.
The steps involve:
1. Writing out, and if possible speaking out, the dream. It is in the sharing of the dream that often-unseen aspects come up as you trigger yourself further into new possibilities for the dream.
2. Highlighting significant parts of and words in the dream.
3. Time placement of the dream – is it reflecting a current event, telling of the past or past life, or foretelling of events?
4. Symbols in the dream in the form of objects, archetypes and roles, and significant words and events in the dream. Your own interpretation of these symbols, and perhaps universal, historic or cultural meanings of these symbols, which may involve some research.
5. Becoming one with the dream through the symbols that are most relevant to you.
6. Being aware of your feelings and insights through the telling of the dream.
7. Your final conclusions and interpretation of the dream and its important messages for you.
The Dream and Dreamwork Through Example
Last night I had a dream that an aunt died and she left a cupboard full of precious things that I was given first choice of. When I was going through the hundred of objects and jewels, another aunt who has helped to raise me, and whom I consider my second mother, helped me choose and she picked a beautiful green bottle shaped statue a bit like a trophy made out of jade. She said it had come from an uncle who had lived in Scotland and was a family heirloom and was important that I have it. The jewellery was beautiful but I chose two rose quartz crystals and the jade object my aunt loved so well. At one stage I had doubted my other aunt had been honest because she had daughters of her own and felt she had had first pick before me because I was certain there were more valuable rings that were missing. I felt terrible thinking that way and knew it was wrong because she had the right to do that anyway if she felt it was necessary, and I loved her and trusted her. Having that loving thought, I found another drawer with rings in it. In the end I would not have chosen differently anyway. The rose quartz crystals and family history were more important to me.
What is my dream telling me? Let’s see.
The first thing I look at is Time: Is it past (this and other lives), present, or future?
It feels like it is present with some reflection to the past as it involves ancestors. There is also a sense of a gift coming my way – therefore the future is involved. I am of this age in the dream, and my aunt is of her age.
If it is present time – what does it reflect going on in my life right now?
It seems it is possible there is death close to me. I have a dear aunt who is very ill who may well pass soon. I have made a decision to spend more time with her in her last days, even though it is difficult because she doesn’t recognize me at first gets so upset with herself, and it is hard to see her that way. At the level of now in time, the dream tells me it is important to spend more time together. However, there are more symbolic meanings to the dream in relation to time, and I feel they will unfold as I go more into symbolic meaning.
Symbolism in the dream:
It seems there is a precious gift coming my way. The gift may come from the choices I make. It is important to take my time to make that choice, and to let go of mistrust or doubt. Rose quarts symbolizes love. They were two almost identical large pieces of double terminated rose quartz. The dream tells me to always choose love first, in this case the love involves two people, and they are very similar in many ways. Similar in their values and capacity to love. Simply, I choose love.
Personal association in the dream:
Green jade is a precious stone found in many countries, but I associate it most to the greenstone of New Zealand where it is highly valued by the Maori people and objects made from it are handed down in families and given away as a way to honor someone. Given there involved aunts in the dream, and one said the green jade plaque was a family heirloom, I take from the dream that I am to treasure ancestral traits and values – strengths – that I can choose to continue to hold. Listen to my aunties, and trust them. These are indeed two aunts of mine who I love and trust and have been out of touch with for some time. The dream tells me it is time to reconnect with them and make time to see them.
There are other associations to present events. I run crystal workshops and am about to go to a warehouse – I will indeed look out for rose quartz and jade.
Colours that stand out in the dream and their meaning and their meaning to me:
Pink and green are related to the heart chakra, and again, I am reminded of the value of love. The love of my soul mate and partner, and the love of my family – and to value family history and things handed down to me. To stay connected with my family, particularly my aunts.
Becoming the significant objects as symbols of me and my character:
The pair of rose quartz crystals: I choose to be love, connected to both earth and sky, as in the shape of the double terminator.
I choose to have a partner beside me who reflects me and my values.
The jade carved object: I could not really identify as being more than ornamental. It was a carving of what seemed like a book but may have held whiskey in it or other spirits. It was large and heavy and of precious stone. When I first looked at it I didn’t value it. It wasn’t until my aunt pointed out its history that I realized it meant a great deal to me to keep it. It seems it is a gift in my mother’s line and was held most recently by an uncle from Scotland.
In reflection to this as I write, I feel insight coming: I sometimes don’t value myself, or even see myself in the picture when I am searching for meaning. I overlook myself at times, until trusted others point out my value. I am not easily identifiable as having a purpose – and feel that often that my purpose for being here is not seen as valuable – perhaps I don’t value my purpose unless others show that they value me. I look for affirmation. Affirmation is my love language, that is true. What I get from this is I need to stop overlooking myself and what I do and see it for its true value as my healing work is a gift handed down to me from my ancestors.
Other significant parts of the dream:
The feelings of doubt:
At one stage I found myself doubting one of my aunts and when I let go of that, what I was looking for appeared. The message here it to let go of doubt and the fear of trusting people I love, and I will then be able to easily find what I am looking for.
I was chosen by my deceased aunt out of everyone in my family to have first choice to choose: The word choice kept coming up in the dream. I was given first choice of my aunt’s precious things, and I had to choose. The message here for me is to understand that the value I place on my experiences are always my choice. And to make my own choice, trust my own choice, but also listen to the wisdom of the elders around and within me. There is also the message to be discerning in my choices, not to rely on what I can see to be worthy of choice, but rather to search for the hidden, unseen value. Look more deeply, choose more wisely.
Final message of the dream - putting it all together now:
There is a precious gift coming my way and it involves making a choice. When it arrives I will take time to look for what it hidden, and take time to listen to the inner guidance of my ancestors. I will trust in this gift and come from a place of love always in the choices I make, love for myself, and for the other.
 Rock, A.J., & Krippner, S. (2011) Demystifying Shamans and Their World. A Multidisiplinary Study.(5: 113 140). Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic.