Cover art by John Anster Fitzgerald
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”Carl Jung
One foot on a goat, one foot on a well. There’s an ongoing negotiation in my life between being here, and being somewhere else. There’s the allegedly rational (and frequently insane) real world that I have to connect with for day to day living, and the other places, where the call is stronger, and there are times when it feels a lot more real. The spirit worlds, the places of dream, imagination and possibility are essential not only to my druidry, but also to my creative work. However, misrepresent them out here in the ‘real’ world and there would be hell to pay.
Talk to the right people and anything magical, or spiritual becomes delusion. It’s proof of mental instability, an inability to cope, a lack of reason. At best you’re just silly. The faintest hint of magic can and will be used to by some to invalidate you, take away your voice, your right to autonomy, your ability to judge. I know that the police checked me out online about a year ago. I know my ex is out there just looking for dirt to throw. Who else is reading, waiting for me to say something that can be taken out of context? (You aren’t paranoid if they are out to get you!) Mostly I don’t talk much about magic, or religious experience, I keep to the rational, because it is a way of protecting myself from others.
However, the realms of dream and spirit are no less present in my life for not being talked about too much. I’m not sure why I’m blogging this today, perhaps a need to push away from the constraints of anxiety, to stand my ground and assert my own right to be.
I dream rich and wild. I always did as a child, and right through my teens. Then in my twenties, my dreaming narrowed to a handful of oft repeated anxiety dreams, reflecting a soul sickness I couldn’t admit to, much less tackle. Away from that which was poisoning me, I’ve started to dream again. The vibrancy has returned, along with wild variance of setting, narrative and content. I meet people in dreams who tell me things. I have experiences which resonate into my waking life. Partly this has happened because, in private, I have given myself permission to feel a much broader range of emotions, and to hope again. I’m not as fearful as I was.
In my sleep, I walk between worlds. I experience things, sometimes, that feel more real to me than my waking life. Most dreams are not that extraordinary, but they come, and with them a sense of being somewhere else. A couple of nights back I lived for days on an otherworldly journey. I must have been through multiple cycles of dreaming, going back into the same narrative line. I think I’ve visited some of those places before, although not in a while. In my teens there was a city, and I went back to the same places there, although I haven’t seen them in a while.
So I’m starting to ask questions about the relationship between this waking life, and the dreaming one. They bleed into each other so frequently. If a dream affects what we do when awake, the dream has a reality in a rational sense. I’m still very tired from the journey dream of the weekend. That tiredness is undoubtedly real. But there are a lot of places you can’t show up dazed because you’re in the throes of a profound spiritual experience. Hung over, sure, half in the spirit world? Less easy to explain.
There are days when I wonder if the problem is that we spend too much time ‘here’ and not enough time in those dreaming places. I gather most adults don’t sleep enough, and that will eat into dream time. Those who run countries tend, from what anecdotal evidence I’ve encountered, to be even more sleep deprived than average. Maybe what our politicians need is a good dose of dream sleep, a chance to be in that other place, and to straighten out their sense of what real is. Too much reality, I suspect, really isn’t good for a person.
Nimue Brown is an author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. She has her own blog as well as patreon. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. She has published many renowned books on Druidry including Druidry and the Ancestors: Finding our place in our own history and Druidry and Meditation.