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Monday, August 11, 2014

Normalizing Seership

Last night, my daughter Weens woke me up for the hundredth time around midnight. I was kind of grumpy, but nevertheless interested in recording a batch of dreams from early in the night, which would have otherwise been lost. One dream went like this:

Weens and I are walking inches from an ostrich who's guarding a bunch of her eggs.

Today, we got up and decided to go to the zoo, where we hopped on the first train ride of the day, and immediately found ourselves faced with this guy:

The only thing the conductor shared about the emu (not an ostrich, but I honestly don't know the difference) is that they lay 15-20 eggs at a time. 

This kind of dream-to-wake-world bleed-through happens all the time. Nothing major in and of itself, except that it illustrates the continuity between waking and dreaming, and the simultaneity of existence. 

A few minutes later, while riding the Sky Train (a great metaphor for dreaming, and in this case also denoting cars suspended by cables that overlook the zoo), we passed a woman who had recently been referred to me for instruction on dream yoga, or ways to cultivate and practice awareness while dreaming. We waved. I laughed. 

I think about the notion of continuity a lot, about corroding the distinction between day and night with awareness. Don't get me wrong; I love to be unconscious, too, and value the restorative function  of the deep black void. The punctuation of sleep. (Or of death.) Right after I spoke the ostrich dream, I whispered into my recorder, "I feel better now, like a heart remembering how to beat after a day of wraith-like fluttering. In this case, sleep was my defibrillator." 

I practice dreaming as a way to navigate the bardo, after death, so everything I encounter in dreams I consider fair game for future arising in some or other transitory state. I figure the more I face without (or in spite of) fear, the more likely I am to make a graceful transition between incarnations. And, you know, the more likely I am to manoeuvre gracefully while I'm awake, which I haven't really been doing lately. So, that's clearly just a theory.

Usually my dreams are good/benign/ illustrative, but sometimes in lucid dreams, which can feel even more "real" than waking life, mortal danger and death present themselves. It is fun (ok, terrifying) to practice facing them, always unsure of whether I'll wake up. Dying sometimes is good.

Then this other thing happened this morning while I was awake and tidying up. I "saw" Weens fall down and get a bloody knee. So, I told her. I said, "I just got a pretty strong hit of you falling down and getting a bloody knee today, so I recommend putting pants on under your dress." She said, "No, thank you." I said, "Okay, but just know that if you do wear pants, your knee will be more protected, and if you don't wear pants, there could be blood." She declined pants a second time. So, I put Neosporin and bandaids in my purse.

Of course, the bloody knee happened at the end of our visit to the zoo. I brought my screaming girl into the bathroom, blood dripping down her little leg. It happened when she was dismounting the ostrich (of all things) on the carousel. I cleaned her up, spoke soothing words, and set her to the task of opening her dinosaur bandaid. 

I bring up both these instances of precognition to normalize seership. One of my mentors Bob Levine calls it "awareness." "Psychic," he says, can lead you off on some weird tangent. But awareness is natural. You can just notice, accept, and let go (and of course, navigate life more easily from all the heads-ups). 

When I was a wee lass I felt (and at times acted) like a lunatic (I do love the moon) because I didn't know what to do with all the unbidden "mystical" experiences. Neither did the church or the people around me. I have since learned that there is nothing I need to do, but that keeping good records helps, and service is good. 

As a teen, I wanted to be a "particle physicist." It's all I wanted to read about and think about. I spent lunches with my physics teacher, Mr. Klein. That obviously didn't happen, but I have developed a science out of marginalized experiences. The first step is to move them out of the margin and into the median. I make note of what I see, dream, or feel. I track symbolism, matching it against wake-world counterparts (sometimes only in hindsight), and note repetition. 

Eventually, a dictionary of awareness arises. For me, it's taken about ten years. I might court the fringe, but I feel like a scientist in my approach, acknowledging and partnering up with inevitable subjectivity. I'm playing the ball where it lands, which is in the laboratory of oneironautics rather than at CERN.

Another reason I'm also sharing this is because I frequently see people a) freak out or b) get a very inflated ego when something "out of the ordinary" happens, when the truth is, awareness is ordinary. If you can see, you're not special--or rather, you're exactly as special as everyone else. 

When I was a girl, I assumed I was special. But I'm here to tell you that anything in the diverse, yet relatively minuscule realm of human experience is absolutely normal. And I just thought you should know because maybe some of you don't, and I wish someone had told me sooner. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Warrior Chief of the Erils

Dreams educate me more than any history class ever has. My nightlife resurrects such specific bits of history in the living, breathing context of me. I had never heard the word gulag, for example, until years ago when my dream showed me as a little boy, slogging through the snow in a daily will to survive. Nor did I know that Phoenicians used the purple dye of the Murex shell as currency. Or that the Jews of 14th century Spain faced expulsion and massacre under Catholic rule. I experience these stories subjectively, living them in poignant and personal detail.

Last night my dream taught about the Erils. I'd never heard of them before, but there I was, confronted with their warrior chief, who came back from the dead to yell at me. Minutes before, I had reached into a bed of rocks to pull out a large iron dagger, one of many that looked as though they'd been forged by the same person. I held it in my hand, and gave it a joust, to see what it felt like. It felt like a child's curiosity, and nothing more.

But now here comes the Chief of the Erils, a hulking giant, who I see emerge from the same bed of rocks. In my audio dream journal, I portray him thusly: "Holy shit, he is a big motherfucker, with a deep, deep voice... Oh. My. God." In modern times, maybe he would be considered "genetically abnormal" for his size, but in his time, his size and power made him chief of the warriors. His deep, gravelly voice conveyed all his might: "You took something that wasn't yours."

"I'm so sorry," I say, gesturing to where I'd already put it back.

I wake up. I consult Google. It just seems like the kind of dream that will yield search engine results, and I find this page about Erils as Legionnaires:

Roman sources tell about the Heruli, but on our runic stones they name themselves Erils [...] That is why I use the Scandinavian word [...] It seems logical to think the Erils were heirs of the early Bronze Age traders and metallurgists since the metals and skill of working had to be imported. My other books tell about their ancient roots. For the Romans, the Heruli were only mercenaries, while in Scandinavia the Erils were the upper class that managed a normal society in the sparsely populated times. 

I should mention here that my Scandinavian ancestors and gods are extremely active and present. I have been afraid of the Nordic shadow (which is my own shadow) because I've had some shady dealings therein. (Yes, a pun.) But now I feel comfortable in my skin and theirs.

In the dream, the chief was also affiliated with the Celts. I suppose the terms we use (Eril, Celt, etc.) lack storyline and fluidity so that we can use words and pretend to know things, and then to organize these fictions in ways that nevertheless bestow meaning. 

I digress. 

Empowered artifacts were often put out of commission when their wielder died. You'll find that magical implements and musical instruments have been bent or broken. Drums have been smashed. Horns have been separated--the mouthpieces disappeared, and the body of the horns offered to the depths of the bog. Is it the same with weapons of war? I get the sense that there is no one answer, but that they can be inherited by others in future generations (i.e., now). In this case, though, certainly not by me.