Robert Moss describes himself as a dream teacher, on a path for which there has been no career track in our culture. He is the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism.
The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.
- Albert Einstein
While leading a workshop in Chicago, I recorded the following dream:
Einstein tutors me on time travel
I enter a landscape that can be folded like a map, or crumpled so that points that would normally appear distant in time and space are next to each other. I see a beaming Einstein figure sailing across the vista. He seems to be gliding in midair, but may be traveling across the surface of an invisible screen.
Einstein wants to talk to me, and begins to speak in a thick German accent. I am amazed, delighted and skeptical. Who would a great scientist wish to communicate with a scientific ignoramus like me?
Einstein explains that there are two reasons. First, from his current vantage point he has an even greater appreciation of the value of dreams and the central role of dreaming in our future science. Second, he reminds me that he was always a dreamer, and that his greatest discoveries were the fruit of his dreaming. “Dreaming was central to my lifelong work, from my vision at sixteen of riding a beam of light.”
Einstein tells me that dreaming will help to unlock the secrets of time travel – which could, however, be a mixed blessing. He continues to insist on the physical impossibility of human travel backwardsthrough time. On the other hand, according to “my” Einstein, it is possible to enter the past and interact with beings and situations in the past in other ways – for example, by materializing a body at an earlier time or by occupying the body and awareness of a person living in that time.
“Higher entities are capable of direct intervention in any time,” says my dream Einstein, who proceeds to tutor me on the existence and nature of five-dimensional (and higher-dimensional) beings who are not confined to the rules of the universe, even the relative universe.
This is one of a series of dreams and visions in which “Einstein” has appeared to mentor me on the structures of multidimensional reality. He gave me a very interesting working model of synchronicity described in my book Sidewalk Oracles. Some of his dream transmissions are extremely complex. I have shared some of my reports with scientist friends who can compare this material with their own explorations in string theory, particle physics and the nature of time. Sometimes we journey together, into a shared dreamscape – like the scene in which a landscape is folded like a map, or the courtyard beyond a Chinese gate where Einstein introduced me to Fu Tsi, the legendary creator of the I Ching, and explained why the I Ching is an accurate model of the universe and its patterns of manifestation.
Whether “my” Einstein is an aspect of myself, or a fantasy figure, or a holographic legacy of a great mind, or the scientist himself, making a visit from his research center on the other side, this ongoing dream series is provocative and thrilling, and gets me thinking about what dreamers and scientists have to offer each other.
In the wake of the Einstein revolution of 1905, physics became a science of uncertainty, improvisation and wonder. It revealed that behind the seemingly solid surface of things is an incredible dance of energy, or pure consciousness. It showed us that time and space, as we experience them on the way to the office or to pick up the kids from school, are not conditions for any other kind of life in the universe, merely human conveniences (although they often seem more like inconveniences).
Today, popular hypotheses in physics suggest the following:
* Time travel into the future is possible.
* Time travel into the past may be possible. (Einstein, in his time and in my dreamtime, maintains that it is not a physical possibility for a human body – but allows, in the dream version, that it could be accomplished in other ways.)
* There is no firm separation between subject and object in the universe. The observer and the “outside world” he thinks he is observing are enmeshed together. Indeed, at subatomic levels, it is the act of observation that plucks events from a soup of possibilities.
* Humans have an innate ability to communicate and influence people and objects across a distance.
* The mind is nonlocal. Consciousness acts outside the brain and outside spacetime.
* Any event that occurs in the universe is immediately available anywhere as information.
* Our experience of reality, like our experience of linear time, is a mental construct. Change the construct, and we change our world.
The new physics shows us a universe that baffles common sense, a universe that operates along utterly different lines from one in which the commuter train leaves at 6:05 (if we’re lucky). Yet the findings of leading-edge physics have brought us scientific confirmation of the worldview of shamans, mystics and dreamers, who have always known that there is a place beyond surface reality where all things are connected, a place beyond time where all times are accessible, and that consciousness generates worlds
How do we bring all of this together with our lived experience, our human needs, and our hopes for world peace and a gentle upward evolution of our species?
Dreaming, we swim in the quantum soup of possibilities, where the act of looking brings things into being. Dreaming, we discover the existence of alternate realities and parallel worlds – including dimensions that escape human conceptions of form – and can actively explore them. Dreaming, we confirm that consciousness is never confined to the body and that we can reach people and objects at a distance. Dreaming, we are time jumpers, able to visit (and possibly influence) both past and future. Dreaming, we can experience the six (or seven) “hidden” dimensions of physical reality, separated from our everyday sensory perception at the time of the Big Bang, that are posited by string theory.
As dreamers, we can achieve experiential understanding of the multidimensional universe that science is modeling.
As active dreamers and researchers inside multidimensional reality, we can contribute in important ways to what will be – if we are lucky – the foremost contribution of the twenty-first century to science and evolution: the emergence of a true science of consciousness.
Part of this text is adapted from Dreaming True by Robert Moss. Published by Pocket Books.
In our contemporary society, when people (including analysts and “dream experts”) take dreams seriously, they usually approach them from just one perspective, as sets of symbols to be decoded. Certainly our dream life is rich in symbols. Etymologically, a symbol is something that “brings things together” (what is “diabolical”, by contrast, is what divides and separates). Symbols help bring together our workaday mind and the workings of a deeper multidimensional reality. We need symbols to take us beyond the little we know, or think we know, to a richer and deeper understanding of everything. So we dream in symbols. But we also experience dreams that need to be taken literally rather than symbolically, because they give us a clear perception of events that are unfolding or will unfold in physical reality or in another order of reality that is no less “real”. They are experiences that take place within two broad bands of dreaming that should not be confused with symbolic dreaming. One of those broad bands involves the ESP that works naturally during dreaming, and is part of our human survival kit. In dreams, our intuitive radar sometimes functions better than it does amid the clutter of waking life; we scout across time and space and glimpse events at a distance. To borrow language from the East, these are “clear” dreams or “dreams of clarity” (although on waking, we may struggle to retain clear and complete information from them). The other broad band of dreaming involves the dreams and journeys that are experiences of a separate reality somewhere in the multiverse. For active dreamers, this is the richest treasury of dreaming. We travel, consciously or not, to the realm that a great Sufi philosopher (Ibn 'Arabi) called “the isthmus of imagination”, which lies between the realm of the senses and the realm of the eternal. We have adventures in many other locales in the mutiverse, including parallel worlds, bardo zones, far-flung galaxies, and places where gods, demons and faeries are at home. So, as we reflect on a dream, let's remember to ask: Which band was I dreaming on - symbolic, clear, or MV (multiverse)?
It’s June 1940. England stands alone against the Nazi horde that has overrun Western Europe, and Hitler looks invincible. Churchill, Prime Minister for just one month, speaks to the people and warns them of the stakes. If the British people fail to resist Hitler, the world will be plunged “into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
But defeatism is everywhere. It has rotted the British establishment, and keeps America on the sidelines. How can Churchill transfer the vision of possible victory against terrible odds? He delivers his most famous sentence: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”
These words seized the imagination of a people. They transferred moral courage and confidence. Let’s notice two distinctive elements in Churchill’s vision transfer that helped it to take root in the minds of many.
The first is the time shift. He carries his listeners with him into the far future, beyond current dangers into a time where everything has long been resolved. He persuades his audience that victory over Hitler is not only inevitable, but was won long ago - so brilliantly that anything that has followed looks like an anti-climax.
Then there is the shift to the witness perspective.He stirs us to do our duty now (‘brace ourselvesto our duties”). But at the same time he lifts us, with his words, to a place above, a place of eagles. We look down on our current struggles from a higher level. The bigger self looks down on the smaller self, and says with admiration, “This was their finest hour.”
Churchill brings his audience inside his tremendous imagination, where the war is already won.
We can learn from Churchill how to transfer a vision to someone in need of a vision. Let’s review the two key elements.
First, we take ourselves – and then others – through the power of imagination to a future in which an issue or conflict has already been successfully resolved. We build a happy future we can believe in, and that imagined future gives us traction to get beyond current difficulties.
Second, we inspire those for whom we are spreading a vision to rise above the current worries, and look at everything from a bigger perspective. We invite them to inhabit the Big Story, not the old history and the thousand reasons why success is impossible.
We give them a bigger dream, and invite them to live that dream, and bring the world with them.
Part of me is weeping against an ash tree beside a field of hay Part of me checked out of this body at age three Part of me never left London Part of me is on an island of no-pain where I never have to grow up Part of me never stopped fighting battles that cannot be won Part of me never stopped winning battles that should not be fought Part of me never left that marriage, or that early love Part of me wears a lion robe lined with the night sky Part of me remembers this as a fading dream Part of me does not know he has more than one body
Part of me is teaching school in a dusty town in New South Wales Part of me is painting with Kupka in a French garden Part of me is an African witchdoctor dancing with spirits all night Part of me is fighting the Magical Battle of Britain Part of me is entertaining in a villa in the astral realm of Luna Part of me is in the Cinema of Lost Dreams, lost in the movies
Part of me fights to leave my body whenever I suffer heartbreak Part of me abandoned me when I gave up on a life dream Part of me hanged himself from the World Tree but did not die Part of me is swimming with manta rays in the South Pacific Part of me is interrogating the ghosts of Egyptian sorcerers Part of me keeps score by money and part of me flees from it Part of me is the tiger and part of me is the sheep
Part of me stands at the center of all these selves and reminds them of our family motto: Reviresco. I grow back Part of me is weeping against an ash tree by a field of hay
- - Ryzmburk, June 8, 2019
Drawing: "Storm Bird Brings Me Back to Earth" by RM
He lives in a world lit mostly by fire. The Roman Empire has recently been split into two. Rome, the capital of the West, will soon fall to the Goths. The barbarians are inside the gates of Constantinople, the capital of the East. His home city of Cyrene, in what is now Libya, is under constant attack by marauding tribes; he is often up on the walls, standing sentinel, or training his neighbors and retainers to fight back.
He comes from a noble family that can trace its lineage back to the founders of Sparta. He has the best education of his day; he studied with Hypatia, the great woman philosopher and scientist of Alexandria. In brief seasons of peace, he enjoys riding around his estates, sampling the olive oil and the honey from his bees and the milk from his goats. His great loves are books - in an age where nearly everyone is illiterate - hunting and dreaming. His name is Synesius of Cyrene, and we should know it better, because around 404 he wrote a treatise On Dreams that is (in my opinion) the most helpful book on the practice of dreamwork to appear in the West until very recent times.
In an era when the great oracles of the ancient world are being overthrown, Synesius reminds us that dreams provide us with "a personal oracle" that goes with us everywhere. All we need do is pray for a dream, wash our hands, and set our heads on a pillow. Dreaming matters because it shows us the future, provides creative inspiration, reveals different aspects of who and what we are, offers guidance on all the business of life - and above all, because it "uplifts the soul", raising us from our everyday confusion towards the level of Mind.
As a writer and orator, Synesius reports on how dreams corrected his literary style and gave him ideas for speeches that allowed him to catch the ear of an emperor. He observes, correctly, that recording and telling dreams is great preparation for public speaking, because it gives us training in telling our stories well. Some of that story material is of course extraordinary and challenges us to expand our ways of expression: "It is no mean achievement to pass on to another something of a strange nature that has stirred in one's own soul."
As everyday practice, Synesius urges us to practice dream incubation (asking our dreams for guidance), to study personal markers or "forerunners" in dreams that clue us in to whether those dreams may reveal future events, and above all to journal our experiences. He advises us to keep both a "book of the night" for dreams and a "book of the day" for our observations of signs and symbols in the world around us. By the universal law of sympatheia "all things are signs appearing through all things" and "the sage is one who understands the relationship of the parts of the universe."
For active dreamers, the very best incitement to go dreaming that Synesius offers may be this soaring passage in which he encourages us to embark on an adventure that will take us far beyond the laws of our physical universe:
There is nothing that forbids the sleeper from rising from earth and soaring above eagles, to reach a point above the loftiest spheres themselves. He may look down on the earth from far above, and explore lands that are not visible even from the moon. It is in the power of the dreamer to converse with the stars and to meet the hidden powers of the universe. [my adaptation of the 1930 translation of On Dreams by Augustine Fitzgerald]
In 410, the formidable Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophilus, persuaded Synesius to become bishop of Ptolemais. He was allowed to continue to live openly with his wife, to pursue his love of the poets who celebrated the old gods, and to practice and write about philosophy in the way of Plotinus. In the Hymns he wrote in his last years, we see Synesius making a marriage between the Christian revelation and Neoplatonist metaphysics, in verses that are sometimes very beautiful (but still await adequate translation). So we can call Synesius, at least retrospectively, the Bishop of Dreams. It is heartening to know that the early Church, in a time of violent contention, could make room for a philosopher who taught that we can become citizens of the deeper world by dreaming, and should allow no one to come between us and the sacred source that opens to us in dreams.
In our dreams, we have access to a personal doctor who makes house calls, provides an impeccable diagnosis of our physical, emotional and spiritual condition, and doesn’t charge a cent. If we are not in touch with our dreams, we are missing out on a tremendous resource for self-healing. Here’s why:
· The body talks to us in dreams. It shows us what it needs to stay well and previews possible symptoms long before they manifest. If we recognize these messages from the body, and act on them, we may be able to avoid painful and costly medical intervention further down the trail.
· Dreams are also experiences of the soul, and show us the spiritual sources of wellness and illness. The Iroquois say that dreams reveal the “secret wishes of the soul” – as opposed to the narrow agendas of the ego. If we honor the soul’s purpose, as revealed in dreams, we move towards health and balance. In traditional Iroquois practice, it is the duty of the community to listen to dreams in order to help the dreamer to identify and honor the wishes of the soul.
· Our dreams provide us with fresh imagery and energy for self-healing.
· By going back inside our dreams and consciously reshaping our inner dramas, we may be able to help shift the body in the direction of health.
· Dreams invite us to reclaim vital soul energy lost through pain or grief or addiction. Absence of dream recall is sometimes a symptom of soul loss. Dreams in which we encounter a younger version of ourselves or return again and again to earlier scenes from our lives may be invitations to bring home parts of our energy and identity that went missing.
· We can bring through dream guidance for others as well as ourselves.
· Dreams give us a direct line to sacred sources of guidance and healing. In sacred sleep, the ancients not only sought diagnosis and healing images; they sought a direct encounter with the Divine Healer. We can ask for dream healing in the same way.
Here’s how to bring the energy and magic of dreams into daily life, in four easy steps:
1. Make a date with your dreams
Before you go to sleep, write down an intention for your dreams. Make this a juicy intention – “I would like to be healed” or “I want to meet my soulmate” or simply “I want to have fun in my dreams and remember.” Have pen and paper ready so you can record something whenever you wake up. Write your dream in a journal later, give it a title and see if you can come up with a personal motto or “bumper sticker” distilling the message or quality of the dream.
2. Share dreams with a partner
Regular dream sharing is wonderful fun, builds heart-centered relationships, brings us fresh perspectives on our issues and helps to nudge us towards taking appropriate action to honor our dreams. You’ll want to begin by creating a safe space where you and your partner will give each other undivided attention. Whoever is sharing a dream should tell it as simply and clearly as possible, giving the dream a title. The partner then asks a few simple questions. Start by asking how the dreamer felt when she first woke up – the first feelings are usually an excellent guide to the general character and urgency of the dream. Ask the dreamer whether she recognizes any of the elements in the dream in waking life, and whether any parts of the dream might possibly be played out in the future.
You are notgoing to tell each other what your dreams mean. You don’t want to steal the dreamer’s power, or to lose the energy of the dream in verbal analysis. You can offer helpful, non-intrusive feedback by saying to each other, “If it were my dream, I would think about such-and-such.” Finally, you’ll want to ask the dreamer, “What are you going to do to honor this dream?”
3. Act on your dreams
Dreams require action! If we do not do something with our dreams in waking life, we miss out on the magic. Real magic consists of bringing something through from a deeper reality into our physical lives, which is why active dreaming is a way of natural magic – but only if we take the necessary action to bring the magic through. Keeping a dream journal and sharing dreams on a regular basis are important ways of honoring dreams and the powers that speak through dreams. Here are some more suggestions:
· create from a dream: turn the dream into a story or poem. Draw from it, paint from it, turn it into a comic strip
· take a physical actionto celebrate an element in the dream, such as wearing the color that was featured in the dream, traveling to a place from the dream, making a phone call to an old friend who showed up in the dream
· use an object or create a dream talisman to hold the energy of the dream: A stone or crystal may be a good place to hold the energy of a dream, and return to it.
· use the dream as a travel advisory: If the dream appears to contain guidance on a future situation, carry it with you as a personal travel advisory. Summarize the dream information on a cue card or hold it in an image you can physically carry.
· go back into the dreamto clarify details, dialogue with a dream character, explore the larger reality – and have marvelous fun!
4. Go back inside your dreams
When I started living in rural New York, I dreamed repeatedly of a huge standing bear. Though the bear never menaced me, it made me uneasy because it was several times my size. I realized that I needed to face the bear and find out why it kept appearing in my dreams. I made it my intention to go back inside my dream, and “brave up” to whatever I needed to confront. I stepped back into the dreamspace – as you might step back into a room you had left – and the bear was there, vividly real and tremendous. There was nothing cute or “made-up” about this encounter. I had to push myself to approach the bear. When I found the courage to step up to the bear, he embraced me and we became the same size. He showed me we were joined at the heart by something like a thick umbilical, pumping life energy. He told me he would show me what people need in order to be healed. I later discovered that the bear is the great medicine animal in Native American tradition, and that the most powerful healers of the Lakota are the members of the Bear Dreamers Society, composed of those who have been called by the Bear in dreams and visions. Today, when I lead a healing circle, we call in the spirit bear.
Our dreams may offer us gifts of power and healing that we can only claim by going back into the dreamspace and moving beyond fear or irresolution. We may need to go back inside a dream to overcome nightmare terrors, to clarify whether the dream is about a literal or symbolic car crash, to talk to someone who appeared in a dream, to reclaim our own lost children, to use a personal image as a portal to multidimensional reality – or simply to have more fun!
Dream reentry is one of the core techniques that I teach and practice. If you would like to experiment, start by picking a dream that has some real energy for you. It doesn’t matter whether it is a dream from last night or from 20 years ago, as long as it has juice. Get yourself settled in a comfortable, relaxed position in a quiet space and minimize external light. Focus on a specific scene from your dream. Let it become vivid on your mental screen. See if you can let all your senses become engaged, so you can touch it, smell it, hear it, taste it. Ask yourself what you need to know, and what you intend to do inside the dream. And let yourself start flowing back into the dreamspace…
In my Active Dreaming workshops, we use shamanic drumming - a steady beat on a simple frame drum, typically in the range of four to seven beats per second –to help shift consciousness and facilitate travel into the dreamspace. The steady beat helps to override mental clutter and focus energy and intention on the journey. If you are doing dream reentry at home, you may wish to experiment with a drumming tape or soft music. I have made a recording of shamanic drumming specifically for dream travelers.
The applications of the dream reentry process for healing are inexhaustible. In this way, for example, we may be able to travel inside the body and help to shift its behaviors in the direction of health. In her wonderful novel for kids of all ages, A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle describes a journey into a world inside one of the mitochondria of a sick boy; when things are brought into balance inside a particle of a cell, the whole body is healed. As we become active dreamers, we can develop the ability to journey in precisely this way. Our dreams will open the ways.
Illustration: "Serpent Staff in the Sky" by Robert Moss
I find myself drawn, again and again, into the world of the Victorian spirit hunters, especially that great and eloquent pioneer of psychic research and psychology, Frederic (F.W.H.) Myers, and his famous American friend William James. They joined in a great quest to provide evidence acceptable to science that consciousness can operate outside the body and survives bodily death. They drew to their cause many of the greatest minds of their era, including scientists, physicians, literary giants and a British prime minister.
There is an amazing moment in one of James's sessions with Leonora Piper, the Boston trance medium James studied and consulted over many years and came to call his "white crow".* She was supposedly communicating on behalf of Richard Hodgson, a great friend of James who had been secretary of the American Society of Psychical Research. Though "tremendously athletic", according to James, Dick Hodgson had died suddenly playing handball, leaving two book projects unfinished - and a half-joking promise that, if he died first, he would communicate from the Other Side and provide evidence of survival.
James grilled the Hodgson personality over and over, seeking proof positive that it was the dead man talking, through the revelation of personal secrets and codes neither the medium nor the sitter could have known. The demands this approach imposed on Hodgson's memory (assuming it was Hodgson) became ridiculous. Assessing the notes from these long sessions (James conceded) bored him "almost to extinction".
But then something will come through that is thrilling even to a skeptical reader more than a century later. Here's what excites me, in the transcript of a "voice-sitting" on May 21, 1906. Speaking through Mrs Piper, Hodgson tells James that Myers (who died in 1901) is with him:
"Myers and I are also interested in the Society over here. You understand that we have to have a medium on this side while you have a medium on your side, and through the two we communicate with you."
The "Society" mentioned is the Society for Psychical Research, which was (and is) dedicated to producing evidence of "supernormal" (Myers' phrase) phenomena, including contact between the living and the deceased. Think about the statement made via Mrs. Piper's vocal chords. While there is a Society for Psychical Research on this side, there is a similar Society on the Other Side. They, too, hold seances or sittings with mediums. While James is listening to the voice of his dead friend through a speaker for the dead, Hodgson is apparently listening to the voice of his living friend through a speaker for the living.
Was this the ultimate folie de grandeur of a psychic charlatan, promoting her own profession - that of medium - to the status of indispensability on the Other Side? I have a notion that this part of the reading, at least, can be trusted. There are sensitives among us who are more able than others to pick up presences and messages from the Other Side. It's not such a stretch to suppose that in the same way, there are people on the Other Side who are better as inter-world communicators than others, and may even have the ability to call spirits of the living for a session with relatives or colleagues who are eager to talk with them.
* Having concluded that Mrs Piper's communications were for real, even though the sources could not be determined beyond doubt, William James declared: "If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, it is enough if you prove that one crow is white. My white crow is Mrs. Piper." [William James on Psychical Research edited by Gardner Murphy and Robert O. Ballou. New YorK: The Viking Press, 1960, 41]
Illustration: "The medium Leonora Piper" in Pearson's magazine, vol. 18 no.2 (1907)
Place your hands over prints of the ancestors on the cave wall that yields to your pressure
and lets you into a world behind the world
or releases into your world, through your touch,
beasts with wings, goddesses with hooves,
the obdurate seed of the soft green earth.
Stand with the great stump that nurses new life and say from your belly, “I grow back.”
Remember the spirits love you and will keep changing their skins until you join their embrace.
- May 20, 2019
In my writing retreats we play a version of my Coincidence Card Game in which we swap stories and images as starter dough. giving each other permission to borrow and adapt whatever we want to play with. This little poem is a hybrid of images shared in the first round of the game in my current retreat at Mosswood Hollow.
Though mostly skeptical of reported sightings of the Little People, I’ve had some personal encounters – wide awake and dreaming in the animate world of nature – that have quelled my inner naysayer. Here’s a brief account of one such episode, when I stepped through a garden gate in Gloucestershire, into the greenwood:
I walk by the redwood - a newcomer to this English landscape, and a link to a place of my heart - above the cow pastures, and past an ancient sycamore that leans over a softly bubbling spring. I am drawn to a path that leads up to the kitchen garden on a rise behind the stone manor house. The far end of the garden is aglow with pink and peachy roses, rambling and climbing over trellises, forming a bower. Beyond the roses is a gate in the high, old brick wall that separates the garden from the woods beyond. In the arch is a weathered gray door, secured by a simple wooden latch. The woods are bottle green, dark as an inkpot above the top of the door. I open the gate and step through, onto a trail part covered by ground ivy. As I walk the path, a breeze picks up, and soon the woods are alive with whispers. The stir is most active beneath and around me, where the wind does not reach. I have the vivid sense of small creatures running and hiding. I am amazed by the thought that they are trying to hide from me. I can't see them, not yet. But I sense them quite distinctly. They are Little Ones. There's no need to be afraid, I tell them. I'm not going to hurt you. For a moment, the woods seem very still. Then a small country voice says, from among the roots of a tree, We thought you were one of the Lords. Oh, I don't think so. Who are the Lords? Do you mean the Normans? Or the Courts of the Fairies? Sshhhh. We don't talk about Them. This leaves me quite uncertain about the identity of the Lords they fear. Wait, they tell me. We'll get the Centaur. It seems that this creature is the Big Man in the society of the Little Ones. I am tremendously excited by the prospect of meeting a centaur. When he gallops up, I am amazed. He is certainly a Big Man, in this company, with a massive torso, a curling black beard, two stumpy horns - and a phallus like a club. But he is about six inches in length, from his chin to his tail. And his body below the waist is that of a billy goat, not a horse, although he does indeed stand on four legs rather than two. -----The Goat-man tries to act bold in front of the Little Ones, but is plainly terrified. From his perspective, I am a giant, and of entirely unknown intentions. -----I can see the whole company more distinctly now. The Little Ones are the size of elm leaves. I have no wish to disturb their society, or make their centaur lose face. I bid them good day, and follow the track deeper into the woods.
-----It does not surprise me that when I stroke the smooth bark of a beech, the tree responds. I absorb a deep knowing from within the beech, and have the impression of a feminine figure whose eyes are leaf-green, without pupil or irises. She instructs me on natural remedies for various bodily complaints; when I check them out later, they work brilliantly.
This is an excerpt from the travel journal I kept while leading a five-day summer adventure in “Reclaiming the Ancient Dreamways” at Hawkwood College in Gloucestershire, at the invitation of Celtic scholar and shaman Caitlin Matthews.
Those who live there, those who have visited, those who have died and come back.
The Tibetan language has a word for those who have died and come back. The word is delog (“day-loak, with the stress on the first syllable). There is also the term nyin log, for one who dies and returns in one day.
Delog Dawa Drolma [d. 1941] recorded a detailed account of her travels in “realms of pure appearance” under the guidance of White Tara while her teen body lay seemingly lifeless for five days. These higher realms, like the lower ones, are understood to be “the display of mind”. The pure realms are the display of enlightened awareness, while the bardo state and the six directions of rebirth are “the display of delusion and the projection of mind’s poisons.” In the presence of the Death lord Yama Dharmaraja, she sings (with Tara) a song:
If there is recognition, there is just this – one’s own mind. If there is no recognition, there is the great wrathful lord of death
Sogyal Rinpoche discussed the delog phenomenon in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. He reported that “In Tibet this was an accepted occurrence, and elaborate methods were devised for detecting whether d´eloks were fraudulent or not”. The Tibetan Library of Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, houses at least a dozen accounts of delogs French anthropologist Françoise Pommaret did pioneer work in this field, published as Les revenants de l' au-delà dans le monde Tibetain. She traveled often to the Himalayan highlands and discovered historical records of ten delogs from the 11th to the 20th century. She interviewed a delog in a village in Nepal and three in Bhutan. Pommaret’s studies of texts include a marvelously detailed story of a delog whose biography is based on a 17th-century manuscript.
Pommaret observes that "at ﬁrst, the delogs may not realize that they are dead, when the spirit separates from the body, leaving it seeming like an animal in the delog’s clothing. As the disembodied spirit roams about the home, the delog may not understand why the rest of the family is acting so strangely and unresponsive to the delog’s efforts at communication."
A delog named Gling Bza’chos skyid reported that she did not recognize her own body when she saw the family gathered round it in mourning:
When I saw my own bed, there was the cadaver of a big pig covered with my clothing. My husband and my children and all the neighbors of the village arrived and began to cry. They began to prepare for a religious ceremony and I thought, “What are you doing?” But they did not see me and I felt abandoned. I did not think that I was dead.
When another delog met her spiritual guardian (yi dam), he said:
“Don’t you know that you are dead? Don’t show attachment to your body of illusion; lift your spirit towards the essence of things. Come where I will lead you”
Then she met terrifying minions of Yama shouting, “Execute!” but was protected by her yi dam and her mantra.
Lee W. Bailey, “A ‘Little Death’: The Near-Death Experience and Tibetan Delogs” in Journal of Near-Death Studies, 19(3) Spring 2001
Delog Drolma, Delog: Journey to realms beyond death trans. Richard Patterson. Junction City, CA: Padma Publishing, 1995
Françoise Pommaret, Les revenants de l’au-delà dans le monde Tibetain: Sources litteraires et tradition vivante Paris: Editions du Centre National de le Recherche Scientiﬁque, 1989
Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: HarperCollins,1992