When I first became interested in dreams, I focused on their creative potential. Apocryphal stories of scientists who had dreams that led them to important laboratory discoveries or inventions inspired me. When I began to teach dream work, this creative, applied aspect of dreams seemed to have the most appeal to folks. People naturally wonder “what’s in it for me?” to justify the time needed to study dreams.
Creating from dreams also fits well with Edgar Cayce’s unique approach to dream work. Rather than looking for the “correct” interpretation of a dream, we’d make more progress, he suggested, by finding ways to apply the dream, to act upon it. “Follow your dreams” might be a popularized way of expressing his philosophy. The deeper idea was that if a person acts upon something perceived via the dream, that action will stimulate a dream response, and, over time, a relationship will develop between the person and the dreams.
Acting upon dream insights became the theme of the historic A.R.E. Dream Research Project (now reintroduced 30-some years later in 21st-century form as the Edgar Cayce Dream Quest Project; see website: http://www.edgarcayce-intuitionschool.org/dreams) that demonstrated that ordinary people can make creative use of their dreams for guidance, provided they act upon dream insights to allow the creative quest to unfold. This project clearly established the practical value of dreams – their ability to provide creative guidance for daytime pursuits.
Today the dream scene is quite different. There is a broader perspective on the value of dreams beyond the mundanely practical. The average person may still ask “what’s in it for me?” when it comes to dream work, but the acceptable possible payoffs have expanded. While many people find personal insights or inspirations for creative expression in their dreams, many others also approach their dreams for healing, for psychic detection, for community building, for soul retrieval, for spiritual encounters, and for extra-dimensional experience, to name a few “applications.” Any perusal of the magazine that truly is for dreamers only, Dream Network, will attest to such wide-ranging interests, not necessarily tied to everyday practicality.
One of the more active players in the modern field of dreams is Robert Moss, an exemplary explorer of dream worlds and a prolific sharer of his discoveries. He dives into his dreams, and accepts the invitations into other realities which they provide him. More an explorer than an interpreter, he talks less about what dreams mean and more about the dimensions of consciousness they reveal. In his most recent book, Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul (Destiny Books), he tells us the story of his spiritual initiation by the spirits of Native Americans that occurred in his dreams, and his synchronistic daytime interaction with indigenous dream-keepers. He shares what he has learned from these dream encounters about the soul’s journey in consciousness, a story similar to Edgar Cayce’s “mythistory” (to use one of Moss’s terms) of the soul’s creation by, separation from, and reunion with the Creator. It would be fair to say that to Dr. Moss, the important thing about dream work is for us to use it to remember our true spiritual nature as soul.
I’ve adopted a similar idea in an attempt to summarize Cayce’s view: the purpose of dreaming is for us to empathize with our soul, the treasure within. Ideally, dream work would make soul awareness, which is usually dormant except while we sleep, more a part of our waking consciousness. Dr. Moss repeatedly admonishes us that a dream is a call to action. We need to act upon the dream to honor the soul that brought it to our awareness.
One of the actions he values most is to sing the dream! Imagine doing that. Attempting to sing a dream, as I can attest, does put one in touch with the dream’s mood, the shadow of soul. Singing creates a spell in which the enchantment of soul expressed in that dream can be experienced. It is more an experience of energy than insight. Being in touch with soul energy may seem impractical, but with experience, one comes to realize how important it is to be able to approach the world with a non-material consciousness.
Dreams are essential to bring a sense of intuitive, timeless being into a co-creative relationship with the unfolding experiences of one’s lifetime. The alternative, as in Moss’s horrific dream, of a modern man amnesic for soul leading a lifeless, mechanical existence, is completely impractical. Creating from the impulses of soul – whether it be an artistic or inventive work, an attempt to refashion a relationship, or a new way of honoring the awareness of Spirit – is the evolving style of today’s active dream work.