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Dreaming with Ancestors Cultivating a Relationship Over the Threshold

kristena briem-west a spiritual approach to the world anthroposophical dream work Anthroposophy Christian mystic conscious dreaming contemplation continuity of consciousness council of dreamers creation myths devotional art making dream dream life dreaming Esoteric Christianity rudolf steiner Santa Barbara Anthroposophy Shamanism shamanism and dreams

Every single culture has creation myths that tell how souls are spoken to at night through the border world of dreaming, and how the spiritual worlds gave knowledge and wisdom through dreams.

It is well known, that Shamans receive wisdom of plants, starry worlds, animal and mountain spirits to become helpers to strengthen or heal humanity. Holy people are receptors with a direct link to the Gods. 

But everyone dreams, every night. Novalis said, "Sleep is the little brother to Death." My father used to say, "Every night you go to sleep and enter the spiritual worlds. And as in the day, you go to school, to grades one-two-three and so forth, at night your soul also goes to school and also advances over time. "

Image: Camille Flammarion 1888

My father gave me dream techniques that I used diligently and this led to a propitious dream life. Again my father told me, "If you use these techniques, they will lead to continuity of consciousness: the ability to wake up Over the threshold." 

I became a dream teacher and researcher...

We All Experience Mystical Phenomena

         One night in class I asked the participants if they had ever experienced something unusual, mystical or metaphysical. The response was surprising. They all started to share some extraordinary, unusual or “weird” incidents. Their term, “weird,” translated to mystical phenomena, OBE’s, audible voices, dormant healing abilities, clairvoyance, or visions of angels or “others.”

         When I asked the students about why they were keeping silent about these mystical events, they replied, “It’s too weird, too strange, not normal. Nobody else talks about it either. I don’t want to be different.” They did not understand that the very thing they were keeping silent about and dismissing was trying to tell them something about their reason for being here and their life purpose.

         I gave them the same tools I discovered and had used with good results during my spiritual emergence cycle. Using these techniques, the students were able to understand that there was “something else” infinitely more mysterious coiled deep within them. By using the exercises given within this book, they began to listen to their soul and journey to spiritual realities to gather information and knowledge. This lead them into new avenues of thought and challenging adventures, which widened their world view. By using these different techniques they discovered different pathways into soul and spirit--naturally developing a spiritual practice that worked for them.

Yearning for Spiritual Renewal

       As souls, we long for mystery. We long for something to take us out of our lives, change us, shape us, intend us toward something better, something great, toward light, heat, passion, potency and purpose. Although we may desire this adventure into spirit, many of us fight off these experiences, as our egos consider them too threatening. Joseph Campbell, when speaking of the lure and danger of surrendering into the unconscious, says that these visions and dreams are dangerous.

They are dangerous because they threaten the safe world we have created for ourselves and our family. But the pull to the unconscious worlds also emits a strong lure, a fascinating temptation for us, we desire it and fear it. If we take this tempting bait, we will destroy ourselves and the constructed life we live. Yet the discovery of self, our true nature, will birth a vigorous, adventurous, more expansive whole human with a heart. “That is the lure, the promise and the threat,” says Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 8) [excerpt "Alchemy: the Magical Arts of the Union of Soul." Kristena West ©2000]


Here are some basic dreamwork tips:

    • Every night upon going to sleep, declare your sacred intention to remember your dreams, and ask to be taught within your dreams.

    • Buy a spiral-bound five subject college notebook or blank journal. Label it with the month, day, and year of the first entry you make. When the book is full, enter the last entry’s date, too.

    • Keep a penlight and pen or pencil by your bed within easy reach.

    • Have a cup of mugwort tea before going to bed. Mugwort is a dreaming herb. You can also try tucking a small pouch or pillow filled with mugwort under your pillow to court dreams.

    • Try to wake up naturally, without an alarm clock. If that doesn’t work for you, set a clock-radio to wake you to low-volume classical music (or other gentle music without words). Give yourself at least five or ten minutes before you have to get up.

    • On awakening, don’t move! Just lay in bed quietly. Moving your body activates motor centers in your brain that take you out of the imaginal realm of dreaming, and the dream will wisp away. Keep your eyes closed and stay in the same position in which you awoke.

    • Allow yourself to stay in that state between dreaming and consciousness. Follow the trails of your dreams. If you remember the first one, they often unravel backward and you can track the previous one.

    • If you cannot remember what you dreamt, ask yourself, “Person, place, or thing?” to help jog your memory.

    • Write down your dream(s), all the details you can remember: the smells, tastes, sights, sounds, textures. Was it day or night in the dream? Were there period costumes? Were you in another century or country? What was the emotional quality of the scene? Notice whether there were any puns, plays on words, or words with double meanings. Any visual innuendoes? If what you remember is just a snippet, that is good, too. Write it down.

    • Sketch a scene from your dream to help capture an important image.

    • Jot down a title and be sure to note the full date of the dream.

  • [excerpt "Alchemy: the Magical Arts of the Union of Soul." Kristena West ©2000]

Dream Incubation: Asking the Spirits for a Dream

         I asked my father how does one get an answer to a question or life problem from a dream. He replied with the Three-Day Prayer.

  • If you have a question that you would like to ask the spirits, condense it into a single question as simple and to the point as possible. Then when lying in bed, simply pray your question to the spirits, asking that they send you a dream answer. You are to do this with enthusiasm, focused intent, and sincerity.

         Dad said, “It takes a while for your spirit body to hear you, and so you have to ask the question three nights in a row. When you ask the question, you put your will force and longing (like praying) into the question. On the third night, you will have your answer.”

         “What if on the third night I do not receive the answer?” I asked.

         He said the answer might be kept hidden for a reason or I might need to try harder. If I tried for a period of time, say, two weeks, and still no answer, then I should let it go and trust the spirits will tell me when and if I am ready. This is a reliable method that works.

[excerpt "Alchemy: the Magical Arts of the Union of Soul." Kristena West ©2000]

Working with a Beloved Ancestor Over the Threshold

What are your Questions? What is it that lives longingly in your soul? Craft one simple question to a family member or friend on the other side. Use your journal and make an art piece, it can be just a sketch. Title your dream.

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