Night-time dreams are a powerful source of information, healing and wisdom utilizing metaphor, emotion and they tap into the subtle realms of Spirit and your deep subconscious. It can become a beautiful and personal way of working and is accessible to us all. For many, dreamwork is naturally a significant part of their spiritual practice, while others must dedicate to creating optimal conditions, intentions and sifting & sorting the dream medicine from the elements of our ordinary reality - the stuff of the movie we watched, our personal concerns, or mundane tasks that can colour our dreams.
Many of us don't remember our dreams, are plagued by nightmares or maybe reoccurring dreams, and are passive observers. We might periodically have big dreams, wild amazing dreams, lucid dreams even, but then there are those who are truly Dreamers, Medicine Dreamers, Shamanic Dreamers - those who witness or participate in spiritually guided healing work, receive important messages or premonitions and act on such in our waking life. When dreaming becomes medicine, you become a Dreamer of great potential for yourself, the earth, and our human tribe.
I'd like to share some of my journey with dreaming as a spiritual practice in hopes to encourage those who like me, thought only specially gifted people had anything more than ordinary, random, half remembered dreams. I'm also sharing for those who have been working with me in the dreamtime, and those who have dream medicine as part of their Shamanic Living Immersion solo work.
Years ago, before I began intentionally working in this way, I was greatly inspired by those with dreaming medicine yet firmly believed I didn't have the "talent" for such. My shamanic teacher at the time encouraged me with ways to establish a greater connection to this realm; how to track them, how to distill and interpret their medicinal messages and to become an active participant in healing work being done there. My dream time slowly became a very personal and powerful healing time. I began to make progress in reoccurring themes where I was powerless, stuck, or helpless. As I kept fostering this modality I began to have more of an active role, more influence over what choices I made or what I said, there was an awareness that I was dreaming and I could choose to stay in it or wake myself or continue the same dream if I woke. I was able to track changes in my dream themes as my ordinary day-to-day situations became more harmonious and vice versa, as I dove into healing work my dreams reflected my outer world and what I needed to focus on next. My personal shamanic practice started crossing over with soul retrievals & extraction healing, divination, energy balancing and transmutation happening while I slept. Ceremonies took place, deceased loved ones visited, omens and power animals began giving me insights, and as often happens when working with spiritual teachers, mine would visit me in the dream realm too - even after I finished apprenticing or studying with them, they brought more lessons or facilitated healing work. Sometimes I would wake up feeling like I had worked all night - like a spiritual graveyard shift - leaving me some mornings feeling like I had a "dream hangover". Slightly affected by deep work, a little stunned and a bit tired. At some point I began witnessing healing work for my friends and acquaintances. Not just "Hey you were randomly in my dream" type dreams, but "Hey you were in my dream and this profound thing happened" or "this message came through". Often I made a point to let them know in case there was something relevant for them, but sometimes I just let it be whatever it was.
Over these past years of offering community gatherings and a private practice, people in attendance would later share with me that I had visited them in dreams related to their healing work. Friends started telling me I had consoled them, held ceremony together, stood by them in a time of crisis, or held them during an illness. Now that I facilitate immersion programs working more closely for much longer with people, some members tell me I am there with them at night while I too am dreaming of supporting their personal healing work. Similar to journeying for clients, these experiences don't stick in my memory for very long - it's simply not for me to remember, the work has been done, and I have to consciously work at holding it fresh long enough if I am to share with them. While this can make for very active nights, I have worked hard to maintain healthy energetic and physical boundaries, even when people are actively setting the intention to visit in the dreamtime unbeknownst to me. I no longer wake feeling tired from working all night, but periodically I will set the intention to have a non-working night, and of course like all things my dreaming naturally ebbs and flows too.
These medicine dreams sometimes mirror my private practice - I have a drum or rattle, maybe wearing ceremonial clothing, sometimes we are in sacred tents or my spirit guides are there and traditional shamanic techniques are being drawn on. After our recent community Solstice fire I had multiple dreams per night of people fireside continuing their work with form given to what was being released and transmuted. Then came a series of dreams where I was passing gifts to people I'm close with. Each gift had a visible superimposed, energetic or spiritual essence overlaying the gift. These were all either soul retrievals or medicinal gifts from Spirit supporting their individual work. For one fellow I was giving him a carved wooden robin. The moment it touched his hands the world around him felt just like the last puzzle piece had been set in place. All was right. All was restored.
Other times we are in the land of metaphor, yet there is a clear understanding healing is afoot. I like these ones best. I am comfortable with mystery and love when I share seemingly trivial details that instantly make sense to the other. One such dream I had a few nights ago involved someone dear to me who runs a community group and coaching practice. In my dream he was simply setting up a fish tank. Rearranging the plants, selecting which rocks and statues to put in, pouring the gravel. Again each item had a glow of meaning to it. An essence beyond the physical items that had nothing to do with fish. I didn't know what each piece stood for, but as soon as all the pieces were in place that familiar feeling of rightness came over me and I looked up to see a roster filled full with his clients booked far into the future. The next day I shared this dream with him and when I said he was arranging a fishtank he told me it "totally makes sense" to him, that he has been cultivating a new environment for his practice and when an eco-system is in balance things flourish. We both saw this message that spiritual work is being done where his practice will expand to the next level and thrive - just like a healthy fishtank!
Dreaming as a medicinal modality fascinates me. If you are a Dreamer please feel welcome to share your latest and how it relates to your spiritual work. If you are a Shamanic Teacher engaged in dreaming with students, I'd love to connect with you! And if you would like to start an intentional dreaming practice but think maybe you can't, send along a message for some tips or dive in and pre-register for the next Shamanic Living Immersion program. Bless your night-time dreaming!
Do you have an affinity for a particular herb?
Have you been drawn to certain crystals?
Maybe you collect rocks that always seem to catch your eye.
These are each invitations to cultivate a relationship with these beings and their unique medicines. Perhaps you have already studied a bit or have begun to work with them and want to take things deeper.
There are a good number of methods that you can gradually get to know your new allies with or dive right into a full immersion experience. Here are a few of my favorites.
Take a fresh sprig of the plant, a crystal or the stone you want to work with and place it under your pillow (or inside the pillowcase if you are worried about losing it) Thank them for sharing information in your dreamtime. This may come through directly where you meet the spirit and have a lucid dream of asking questions or being shown energies and how to work together, or it may come through as an indirect influence of metaphor where meanings reveal themselves over time.
Depending on the type of crystal or plant (watching for toxicity or dissolving) having an ritual bath is a lovely way to immerse yourself in the energetic medicine of your new ally, especially if you are sensitive to energy. Rose quartz, amethyst, lavender, rosemary, or stones from special places are all wonderful to bathe with. This isn't a "get-clean" kind of bath, it's a quiet time to feel subtle energy. Light a candle, do some mindful breathing, meditate, and allow yourself to notice how you feel, invite these energies into your thoughts and see how they shift.
Make a tea or water:
Again using caution around potentially toxic plants and crystals if using a direct method, or stick to an indirect method to be safest - you can transfer the energy of your new friend into teas or waters and bring these medicines right into your body. A direct method is one where the plant/crystal/stone has been washed then placed directly into your water cup, or if a plant it can be brewed as a tea. Some safe crystals for this are rose quartz, clear quartz, or non-irradiated citrine. Generally some safe plants are lemonbalm, lavender, or red-belted polypore (of course I need to advise consulting a professional for any contradictions with existing medical conditions). An indirect method involves placing your item into a flat bottomed glass, then placing this glass into a bowl that has been semi-filled with water. Your item never gets wet, but will infuse the water surrounding the glass with its energy. Again, being thankful and respectful of the gifts being shared with you. This indirect method is safe to use for any plant, crystal or stone. If you are very sensitive you may only need a couple drops of your water or tea to feel its effects, you might choose to sip all of it slowly over the day, or you may wish to drink much over a few days.
'Shamanic' Journey or Meditation:
If you have learned the shamanic technique of journeying, or if you have a meditation practice suitable, you may glean a lot of information by visiting the spirit of the plant/crystal/stone that you are working with. You can ask for a healing, for guidance on how to work further with them, thank them for showing you just what the medicine they are offering is and importantly how you can reciprocate in the relationship.
Tuck your stone, plant or crystal into your pocket, into a medicine pouch around your neck, find or make a pendant where it touches your skin (some plants like Devil's Club can be dried and made into beads) In this way you are in constant contact with the medicine, the energies of this helper. Skin to skin or simply in your energy field, there will be a conversation happening as you move through your day.
Mesa/Lia Mala/Crane Bag/Medicine Bundle:
Some shamanists or medicine people carry a Mesa, Lia Mala, Crane Bag or other Medicine Bundle. If you have one of these, tucking a new stone, crystal, or part of a plant into the folds is a nice gentle way of bringing their medicine into yours. If it is right to do so, you might add this piece fully inside to work more deeply, to alter the harmony already present, and to stay as a longer term influence. Each lineage will have differing ways of working with your medicine hearth so you may want to consult an elder for guidance around this.
Some plants, even certain fungi, are beautiful to cleanse and bless with while burning. You may already know how buffalo sage brings about a different cleansing than tobacco or palo santo, but you might also find rowan berries become your go-to for protection while lavender opens the door to your Ancestors. You may find that some plants instantly connect you to different healing work, helpers, or area of focus than others. Over harvesting of certain popular herbs gives us an extra nudge to look local and to our cultural heritages. What is naturally growing in abundance around you? What might your great-great-great-grandmother have burned? I have been sweetly surprised to learn certain plants coming to me have a long history of being added to sacred smoke rituals. I had been working with fomitopsis pinicola for about 20 years before I discovered some First Nations used it during smudge rituals. This knowledge deepened my respect for this powerful healing ally. Oh! how I love working in these ways!
Remember, we don't just ask and take from our human or animal friends, we also care for them and support them when they need it. The same is true for our plant, crystal or stone friends. We are entering into a spiritual relationship, they may become sacred objects and part of your medicine basket, we need to always treat them with respect and honour. Never leaving them laying around or placed directly on the floor, cleansing and recharging them with moon or sun light, salt, the running water of a clear stream, or by saining. Feed them offerings, whisper your gratitude, sing to them, wrap them in special cloth or place them on your altar. This is a special and personal friendship :)
A bean feasa of Gaelic heritage shares stories & insights from her animist and 'shamanic' practice on the West Coast of Canada.