1. Erin, I know from our work together in the Indigenous Mind program that you are a powerful dreamer. When did you first start remembering your dreams?
The first dream I remember happened in the apartment my family lived in until I was 18 months old. So, sometime when I was very young, I had a dream of three faceless figures sitting on a bench in a desert, in front of a building made of sand with swinging red doors. I guess it was a nightmare, because I screamed for my mom, “The folks are coming! The folks are coming!” It was very real. My dream life has always been vivid.
2. Have you noticed times in your life when your dreams were particularly powerful or sacred? What was going on in your waking life at that time?
Powerful dreams happen most often when I am traveling, or if I'm in a transition--situations that put me out of my comfort zone and make me feel alive. But they can come at any time. I treat all dreams alike. Whether they seem powerful or not, they all matter. I write them all down, and consider them as I make my decisions. Small, insignificant-seeming dreams can add up to motifs, which taken as a body of work, can be very powerful.
When I went to Ireland, and sat in the sacred sites of my ancestors, my dreams were very potent. I would often return to my room after a day at Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange), lie down, and simply leave my body. Sacred sites have a profound impact on my dreaming.
3. A. What is it like to dream as a woman? B. Have you noticed correlations between your dreaming and your menstrual cycle? C. How did your dreams change when you were pregnant?
My concept of gender has really changed over the years to be more open. I guess I can only speak for myself. As a woman, I feel very receptive to energy and information. I love to learn the symbols that have come to us as a dreaming people for millennia. It feels like a very old, natural art that connects us all.
I think of menstruation as a service, in which millions of women are processing grief, turmoil, and all kinds of stuff, on behalf of all of us. I prefer to relax and nourish myself, if I can. It's a great time for dreaming, letting go, and being recalibrated.
When I was pregnant, I had lots of prophetic dreams with animal symbolism, which I didn't understand until after the birth. They foretold my daughter's stroke, and also the medicine that could help stop her bleeding. My daughter spoke very loudly from the womb, to both me and her father. Her dad is a very practical computer guy, and he'd wake up from these clear, prophetic dreams that showed what she looked like. Before she was born she said, “Don't worry, Daddy. I'm smart and happy.” We were so grateful for this dream when she was in the hospital. She also told me her very unusual middle name in a dream, which I did not share with her dad, and then he “thought of it.” In a way, we were both pregnant with her.
4. Some indigenous women teach that women’s dreams are intimately connected with both their womb and the moon. Have you noticed your dreams changing in accordance with the phases of the moon?
For five years, I tracked thousands of my dreams against an astronomical ephemeris, including the phase of the moon. I noticed that I had the most dreams in a waning gibbous moon. I don't know why. I was born in a waning gibbous moon, so maybe there's an affinity there.
5. In the Indigenous Mind program, we are encouraged to actively research our ancestry. Did you find ancestors visiting you in your dreams? And did it occur more frequently after you began doing research and/or honoring them in some way?
Yes, I did have some visitation dreams. I still do. I don't know if they occur more frequently than they did before, but I understand them better now. I think I was always fated to work with my ancestors. We all are, since we inherited their histories, but often that continuity remains unconscious.
As a teenager, I had visions of ancestral homelands that I would later visit. One vision (a waking state of seeing clear, photographic images through closed eyelids) showed me a map, which I thought was France. It turned out to be a map of County Meath, Ireland, which I painted as a mural seven years later on my ancestral journey.
Around the same time, I had an out of body experience of being in the Black Sea. Later I learned my maternal great grandfather came over from Odessa. When I was 20, I made a waking life pilgrimage to the healing wells of Arles, France, and to Mt. Sainte-Baume, the resting place of Mary Magdalene. I had lots of dreams and visions on this trip. This was before I knew of my Frank heritage. If you're as mixed as I am, you can go almost anywhere and it will be an ancestral journey.
Actual ancestors came to me in dreams, too. One man told me his name and relationship to me, which I verified in waking life. Some unsettled ancestors have come in. Others have come to bless me. Ancestor dreams don't need to be so literal. I have been looking at my dreams closely for a long time, so I know some of the symbols that are associated with ancestors, and what they can mean.
6. I know that you are very interested in lucid dreaming. Can you tell us a bit about lucid dreaming and why you think it’s important?
Lucid dreaming is fun. It shows me a clear view of reality, and my impact on it. If I project love, the scene responds in kind. If I ask to see what's beyond dreaming, I can experience clear, fundamental, nameless quality that is so exhilarating that I can't tolerate the experience for very long without waking up. It's also the perfect place to face my fears because they can literally manifest before me. So, I get to practice courage. Once I sat down in a den of striking snakes to meditate, because why not? Then the dream dissolved, and the most scintillating energy rippled through me, as though I had integrated the power of the dream. I felt like I'd passed some kind of test I set up for myself.
Lucid dreams are a great place to experiment with ancient healing technologies. I can't do it very well by myself; I have not been initiated or trained except through my own experiences. I need the support of a tribe, and a contextual demand for the skill. Our ancestors practiced healing from the dream worlds. I have experimented a lot with bioremediation in lucid dreams, as well as healing people (with permission), as long as it doesn't get too strenuous. Or else, what's the point—healing one at the expense of another?
I have learned to watch for the egotistical, colonial mentality of "fixing" something I know nothing about and doesn't need fixing. The idea of curing in general maintains duality, but seeing my child suffer, or thinking about people who don't have enough food to eat or access to medicine makes this view seem like decadent abstraction. There are so many layers. It's a dance.
7. Aboriginal elders believe we dream the world into being, that we can dream a better world. What do you think of this idea and do you have a dream you would like to share that can inspire us and help us to imagine a world transformed?
A teacher of mine tells about a man who came down from a mountain to bring a girl, his distant relative, out of a coma. He treated all information he encountered along the way as a dream. When he got to the girl's house, he simply said, “Sit her up.” And she did. She sat up and asked for a drink. He had to “work on” everything and everyone around him so the dream would turn out the way the girl's family wanted it to.
We get to practice the same thing in lucid dreams and in waking life. Some lucid dreaming teachings encourage us to “control the dream.” As Robert Waggoner says, “Does the sailor control the sea?” But still, we can practice walking through walls, flying, turning into animals, doing whatever we set our mind to. This strengthens our power in any facet of the world. I don't know if the man from the mountain dreamed a better world, but he dreamed a different outcome.
To me, hope of a better world is counterproductive. I just try to keep my heart open to what's in front of me, and then tolerate the discomfort. If I give up the hope the world can be a better place, then I can relax into my actual situation. When I'm present, I'm more sensitive to the cues life gives me. Then I can respond powerfully with simple economy of gesture. I am learning about abandoning hope and animating the story I want to inhabit. Hope takes away our power. Acceptance, intention, and sustained action toward that intention give our power back to us, especially when we work together.
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