Dream Telepathy

Once upon a time I wrote my newsletters and blogs more frequently. Two years ago I opened my fine jewelry appraisal business, and (imagine!) it's thriving. Which means I have less time to write. It's a mixed blessing because I love to write these blogs, but the beauty is, with commitment to take action what we dream up will come to pass. 

The busyness of my life and work left me feeling hungry for some fresh dream magic. I was ready for a little effervescence, and in June I attended the International Association for the Study of Dreams Annual Conference, where dream scientists, psychologists, artists, philosophers, and dreamers of all kinds come to gather and share.

A highlight every year is the Dream Telepathy Contest. During one night of the conference, the person chosen as the  "Sender" randomly selected a sealed envelope with an image from four that were previously prepared. During the night she set her alarm to wake every two hours and looked at the image with the intention of telepathically broadcasting it to the sleeping conference attendees, including dancing and singing and embodying the image. (Thank you, Maureen!) And during the night or in the morning the contestants filled out out a form with their dream reports. The next morning the reports were submitted and the one that came closest to the actual image wins first place. There were many “hits” by attendees during the night, including dreaming into the three images that weren’t the selected one.

That night I dreamed a long dream that included two children, a boy and a girl, which I observed at the end of the dream standing with their backs to me, slightly turned to each other, engaged in looking at something. I was watching them from above. As I woke I remembered the contest and kept my eyes closed as I asked to see the image. I then had a vivid image of a large round red sun on the left side with horizontal lines of colors in oranges, yellows and reds, warm sunset colors. 

I was surprised when I saw the selected image the next morning and won the contest! 

Dream a Little Dream: The Dream Telepathy Contest Image

Dream a Little Dream: The Dream Telepathy Contest Image

I missed the Santa Claus, the toys, and the window. What I find interesting is how the two dreams blended into one. The two children in my dream were modern children but were positioned in the same way, and the sun on the left became a fire in the fireplace, with the round form present in the wreath. The warm colors and the horizontal lines were similar. In my dream the children seemed to be looking at an object, perhaps a toy. Not a perfect, exact dream of this image, but enough is present to make it fun.

My predictive dreams are usually like this. They are not typically an exact representation of a waking life experience, but carry elements/symbols and feelings that manifest later, usually within a two week time span. And sometimes they're a blend of more than one waking life experience. I've learned this by reviewing my dream journal, where I find surprises like this. It's one of the fun features of keeping a dream journal and reviewing it periodically, and I'm convinced you'll find similar surprises in yours. 

All dressed up for the dream ball, where we come dressed as a character from a dream. I was Fire.

All dressed up for the dream ball, where we come dressed as a character from a dream. I was Fire.

The International Association for the Study of dreams is a marvelous resource to connect with other deep dreamers. Attending their annual conference is a great way to learn about recent dream research, and to be inspired by participating in lectures, dream groups, art events, and other fun experiences like the Dream Ball and the Dream Telepathy Contest. https://www.asdreams.org


Dear Dreamers,

After a long absence, a return…This is my first blog since January. I had some challenging life events to navigate, and now I have new dream stories to tell.

Sometimes surprises come that are more than difficult, but usually a gift shows up in the experience, and if we are alert, dream magic. My hip hurt, and I found myself hobbling around for half a year until I eventually couldn't do the things I love, like hiking, swimming, and walking to my car.  I had severe arthritis in my left hip.

One May evening I went to an arthritis lecture given by skilled and caring Dr. Thomas Peatman, and asked him if driving my beloved Subaru Outback with manual transmission was bad for my hip. Oh yes, depressing the clutch was certainly not helping things, and I really should be driving an automatic! Ugh! I loved my well-cared-for, seventeen-year-old car and couldn't see how I could possibly get a new car soon. Plus, I really like shifting as I drive, especially when listening to upbeat music as I go.

Custer Car 1924, IMage from http://weareelectricity.blogspot.com

Custer Car 1924, IMage from http://weareelectricity.blogspot.com

I limped from the lecture hall to my car, looked at the night sky and asked the Universe to give me a sign. Should I replace my car immediately or try to make it through until the end of the year?

That night I had a dream…I'm driving on a bridge across the Bay and my car is inside a long transparent tunnel. A massive wave hits the bridge, crashing over my car, but I'm safe inside the tunnel. I woke wondering what turbulent times may lie ahead.

That morning I drove over the Richmond bridge to see a friend for a soothing Reiki treatment. I felt a little clunk as I approached the bridge but nothing happened and I made it easily to Mill Valley. Just as I was preparing to drive up a winding road to my destination, my car crunched and died, a block from a nice little independent car repair shop. I was safe, as in my dream. And what died in my car? The clutch! I heard the message. I sold the car to one of the mechanics, and adopted a shiny new champagne-colored Outback with an automatic transmission.

I had hip replacement surgery in June and was able to drive again within two weeks, something I would not have been able to do with my old car. My recovery has been remarkable, and I love my new car and my bionic hip, and I can hike, swim, and walk again. 

Tunnel of Love

Tunnel of Love

One final dream worth mentioning...many months before I had any idea of what was to come, I dreamed I was unafraid as I was wheeled down a hallway to have surgery. I knew all would be well, and had friends there to help me in the dream. They were the same beloved friends who were my angels during my recovery. The dream helped me go into surgery with confidence, and my friends helped me recover. 

Golden Dreams in the New Year

"Peace comes from within." - The Buddha

"The purpose of our lives is to be happy." - The Dalai Lama

Happy New Year Dear Dreamers,

Does this sound familiar? I had all kinds of intentions of getting tons of things done to close out the year. Only a fraction of those things were accomplished, and my dreams have reflected my over focus on work. I’m working by day and in my dreaming at night... my dreams have been, well, mundane!

On the night of the Solstice as I turned out the light I asked for a big dream, something inspiring. In the early morning I dreamed I was in a huge convention center, like a giant version of the jewelry trade shows I attend, and on the outskirts of this “village” live the shamans, the healers, and the psychics. I stopped to talk with a woman of power and said “I think it would be good for me to get a reading.” She answered, “I’ll be happy to advise you but in exchange you’ll need to bring me a sacred jewelry object.” I woke happy and intrigued.

Coincidentally, my first client the next morning brought four sacred items that my dream woman would like...a vintage gold Rolex watch, two Victorian-era gold medals of honor, and my favorite: a little golden Buddha object d’art...an adorable Chinese laughing Buddha, with a fat little belly to rub for good luck. My dream guide asked for a sacred jewelry object and I can’t think of anything better than that little Buddha. It’s a great synchronicity.

Go ahead! Rub my belly.  PHOTO: JANE CARLETON

Go ahead! Rub my belly. PHOTO: JANE CARLETON

I love the symbolism here. Time is precious: how do I use the valuable time I have to live my best life? Two medals of honor...how do I honor myself and the two sacred gifts I have in service to others?  And taking a moment to gaze upon that little Buddha, I smile and feel delight and peace. In that moment I feel I can meet that voice within me that reminds me of why I’m here. I feel relief. It reminds me it just takes a moment to pause and dream myself into that deeper, restful, inspired, perhaps laughing place.

Robert Moss calls me a Dream Appraiser. As a gemologist/jewelry appraiser and a dream specialist it’s been challenging this year to manage two careers. I opened my new office in May, with a gem lab/appraisal office combined with a sweet room decorated with Asian art for private dream sessions and dream groups. Gratefully, I’m busy with both, and there is still so much to do to create the balanced life I envision for the year ahead. Sometimes it feels like I’ve taken on way too much. But so many people feel this way. We all have so much to do. The week of this dream I really needed something to perk me up.

Finding an object that reminds me of my heart’s desire and connects me to my deep soul helps. When life feels too mundane, a talisman is a portal to a memory of a deeper, brighter, perhaps more golden way of looking at things. The alchemists knew something about this. That little Buddha made me laugh and was another unexpected reminder of something encouraging that runs through the fabric of life, popping up at just the right time. I offer the little Buddha to the woman of power in my dream, and to you.

May you have all kinds of surprising golden dreams in the year ahead!



Esalen Sunset Photo: Jane Carleton

Esalen Sunset Photo: Jane Carleton

Dreaming Again Like a Child in Bali

Dear Dreamers,

I returned to the land and people I love in Bali during the past two+ weeks, and what a gift a little time to dream there was!

I'm super inspired by a workshop I led for children, aged 8 - 12, hosted by holistic educators Susan Allen and her husband Susiawan at Yellow Coco Creative Nest, their marvelous center for children. Dreaming with children is absolutely magical.

Here's what we did during our two hours together, and if you feel drawn to do something similar with the kids in your life, please do. Take what feels fun and make it your own, experiment, play, and give children the opportunity to share their dreams with each other in empowered ways. It will inspire them to value their dreams and imagination, and the seed you plant may be with them for life. I remember vividly my favorite teacher, Mrs. Berlin, sixth grade, who reminded me to always value my imagination, even when I grow up, so that I won't lose it as so many adults do. I took it to heart, the best advice ever for living an interesting life.

We started with questions and answers, leading to surprising dialogue and dream sharing. Kids ask astute questions. I was stumped by some of them. One question was, "If dreams come from us, why don't we know what we're going to dream ahead of time?"  It's OK to say, "That's a good question. I don't know the answer to that." This leads them to ponder their own creative answers, and models the truth that we don't always know the answers to everything, which is perfectly alright.

Then we moved into an opportunity for the students to experience their live imagination. Stepping into guided imagery led to excited sharing. The secret is using guided imagery that is non-specific so the dreamer finds their own place in the imaginal. "Close your eyes and get comfortable. (Lying down is great.) Imagine right now you're somewhere beautiful in nature. It can be a place you dreamed, you make up right now, or a place you've been to in waking life. You're moving through this place and you come to a beautiful body of water. Look at the edge of the water and see if you can find a helper there. Perhaps it's an animal or a bird or a sea creature...this is your friend. What happens next?"

Every child found a place in nature, a body of water, a friend, and had an adventure! And they loved sharing that with each other, as engaged storytellers.

Dream Theater is Fun!

Dream Theater is Fun!

A quick watermelon break led to Dream Theater. We acted out two dreams with the dreamers acting as directors for their dreams, with guidance from me. Both were nightmares that had left an icky impression and the dreamers were eager to create a new, better ending for them. They liked the idea that these dreams are like a story, unfinished, and that they have the power to change them. We had a spider-spitting scary man in a dark room defeated by a blazing Phoenix leading to a new open doorway,  and a murderous teacher struck down by a lion, given the opportunity to become a nicer person. The light shone in the eyes of the dreamers, and the consensus was that this was "awesome!", and there was a tangible sense of relief for the original dreamers.

Notice at no point did we do dream interpretation. The idea is to alert the children to the fact that they have power as dreamers, and are not just observers of their dreams or their lives.

Did I mention It's fun?

Did I mention It's fun?

Next, the kids were outfitted with drawing supplies. I drummed for them as they closed their eyes and allowed a dream to form, with the instructions to open their eyes and start drawing when they felt ready. I continued to drum for about ten minutes as they drew, and it was remarkable how focused they were during the drumming, with no fidgeting, jostling or distractions. They were creatively engaged in their dream worlds. Afterwards, a few were not finished with their drawings and said they would like to finished them later. They were eager and happy to share their drawings with each other and their parents. 

Drumming up a Dream

Drumming up a Dream

It was a resounding success. At no time were the children bored. They engaged with each other and listened to each other. They played and laughed, and encouraged each other, even when working with a scary dream during dream theater. They left wanting more!

You can do these things with kids. Encourage your children and grandchildren, your students and friends, to talk about their dreams, and to find power in them. Find moments for little impromptu dream theater, even at home. Play with it. 

If you would like to learn more about this, I'm available as a consultant and facilitator. I am a former school teacher and my final Master's Degree project was teaching dreaming at the famous Green School in Bali. 


Discovering Gems

Happy, dreamy time in this new season!

Dreams are things of beauty, even when we don't understand that. And sometimes they lead to beauty...in a world with so much challenge, the manifestation of beauty, happiness and joy is sacred. There is something about viewing an item of beauty that creates a sparkle within. We are drawn to it. I see it when I observe a person looking at art or a gem, and I feel it myself. Inside something releases, relaxes, the worries of the world are for a moment forgotten and I'm immersed in a moment of oneness with a manifestation of the Divine through the archetype of Beauty. We're meant to be happy and to enjoy life and to experience beauty.

Treasure Island by Vladimir Kush

Treasure Island by Vladimir Kush

In 1981, gem hunter Heitor Dimas Barbosa had an irresistible inner knowing, truly a waking dream, that there was something incredible and never before seen under the earth in Brazil at Batalha, in Paraíba State. It became an irresistible calling for him, so much so that he devoted 5 1/2 years to digging for it. Something beautiful was calling him. It was grueling…his neighbors in this poor, arid, remote area, with no electricity, population around 500, called him “Heitor the Fool”.* Then, in 1987, he found them, stones so rare and beautiful they have become legendary. I remember when they first appeared in the gem trade at the Tucson Gem Shows in 1990. No-one had ever seen tourmalines as neon colored as these. Fantastic. Brilliant. Beautiful.

Paraiba Tourmaline Crystal Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Paraiba Tourmaline Crystal Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Mr. Barbosa followed his inner dream voice. The voice that knows things.

We all have it, that inner knowing, and if we choose to pay attention it may be truly remarkable.

Paraiba Tourmaline Ring

Paraiba Tourmaline Ring

*From an article by Brian Cook, co-owner of Nature's Geometry, Tucson, AZ, published in Rapaport Magazine, October 2013, www.diamonds.net

Dreams and Gems

If you have an impossible choice to make, how can a dream or two help you make that decision? In my case, I’ve learned to be alert for a certain voice that shows up on the fringes of consciousness that brings clarity and comfort. I’ve written about how this voice led me to meet my ancestors and my brother in an essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions, and how that literally changed my life.

Since 2006, when I decided to pursue my academic study of the healing power of dreams I’ve felt a tension between my two careers. I like gems and jewelry, and I’ve worked as a gemologist since 1984. It’s been my livelihood and my other passion. How can I walk away from that? And is it crazy to try to do both? I really didn’t know what to do about this.

Then that familiar inner voice came in a dream, stating boldly...”dreams and gems”. OK...I noted it in my journal.

Followed by more internal struggle about this as I continued working my day job as a freelance jewelry appraiser, and my evening/weekend work as a dream specialist.

Another dream came. I woke with the voice saying...”Ask for help.” I was thinking of how I could open my own fine jewelry appraisal office without the financial resources I felt I needed. So I started asking for help, as hard as that was. And it showed up in marvelous ways; support for my project came from friends in the form of donated furniture and cheers. Peers in the world of gems supported me with advice, some equipment, and cheers. And my dream community supported me with opportunities to do my dreamwork and to teach, with cheers, too.

1.48 carat Carletonite cut by Art Grant, photo by Michael Bainbridge

1.48 carat Carletonite cut by Art Grant, photo by Michael Bainbridge

Dreams and Gems. I’ve realized I don’t have to choose. As I reviewed my dream journals I saw the dreams have been telling me this for quite a while, but worry and narrow thinking prevented me from listening. Dreams do come to help us expand our habitual way of seeing the world and ourselves if we allow our old patterns to drop even just a little. Worry is a difficult habit to break.

Another little dream symbol came to me last week. I received a newsletter (well worth subscribing to!) from gem company Pala International, with a delicious article written by Accredited Senior Gemologist Elise Skalwold honoring the life of master gem faceter Art Grant. And I saw something I didn’t realize existed...a gemstone with my name, Carletonite, which hit me with a big "AHA". I saw it as a personal symbol of my ability to blend of the world of gems and dreams. The faceted gem has a wonderful dreamy inclusion cluster that looks like a little galaxy, and the rough crystal has two distinct areas of color that coexist quite beautifully, like gemology and dreamwork...all nicely packaged with my name on it.

Carletonite Crystal, photo by  Luciana Barbosa

Carletonite Crystal, photo by Luciana Barbosa

So, to honor my dreams and my livelihood, I’ve opened my new office in Walnut Creek, CA. It has two rooms: an appraisal lab, and a waiting room/dreamwork office. And both are so marvelous I find myself grinning as I work. It is many dreams come true. I'm convinced everyone has life clues hidden as little gems in dreams to help us along.

Incubate a Dream Tonight

“One of the most adventurous things left us is to go to bed. For no one can lay a hand on our dreams.” - E.V. Lucas

It’s a good season to incubate a dream. Yay for spring and new life!  The hills are still carpeted in green, the multi-colored wildflowers are waving hello in Northern California, and the days are warm and just right. Swim season has begun and outside in the fresh air, marvelous things are growing. Inside you new growth is forming, too.  

Try indulging in a peaceful moment before you go to sleep…slowly breathe in and out…and set your dream intention for the night. You can simply ask for a dream you can remember. Or you can be specific. Would you like to fly tonight? Or find a solution to a challenge? Do something adventurous? Maybe have a healing dream that helps you wake refreshed and vital? Or travel to someplace marvelous? Or have a visit with a guide or someone you love? Dream incubation often works. We can ask for a special dream and sometimes they actually appear that night. Sometimes they show up later, with patience and perseverance and a continued nightly focus on what you desire. Write your dream incubation in your journal and be ready to receive a dream. It’s always interesting to look at the dreams you have after setting an intention for the night.

Magic Spring by Michael Parkes

Magic Spring by Michael Parkes

I was surprised two nights ago to find I had incubated a dream without realizing it. Thursday night we talked about visitation dreams during the university course I’m teaching this semester. A visitation dream has the appearance of a departed loved one, or an ancestor, or a guide of some kind, and are typically felt to be inspiring and spiritual. We watched a deeply moving Tedx talk by Dr. Christopher Kerr on dreams and visions of the dying. He speaks of his experience working in hospice where he witnesses the sacred passing of individuals at the end of life, and has been inspired by the peace and comfort that is possible at this initiatory time when a departed loved one appears.

You can find the video here.

That night I saw my friend Dana in a dream. We were dining at a large round table with friends, and he was talking in his oh-so-Dana way, giving advice, and laughing his Dana laugh. I woke so happy to feel something of his presence and to remember him again. I was delighted that I had a visitation dream, which are such special dreams, apparently incubated without effort after the discussion we had in class.

The idea of dream incubation is thousands of years old, practiced by multiple ancient cultures, and it still works. You can experiment with this any night you wish, and you may even find you have a dream come true.

Indian Summer by Michael Parkes

Indian Summer by Michael Parkes

Dreaming Spring Growth and Change

It’s spring and change is in the air for all of us in some way. How are you dreaming your way into new growth? Dreams, hunches, chance encounters, sudden insights and messages from our surroundings can certainly guide us along the way. It’s often surprisingly helpful to give it a little nudge by asking for ideas from the universe, and watching for interesting coincidences in things you see and hear as you weave through your day. 

And it’s helpful to play with an oracle deck. This week I had the delight of joining an open-hearted gathering of fabulous women of wisdom, hosted by my friend Anna Dorian of Vibrant Reiki in San Francisco, for a day of play. We dreamed up our own oracle deck and in the process gained brilliant insights and laughs. I love doing collage, and found the act of seeking images from magazines, cutting them out, and pasting them together in the form of a new visual dream to be magically surprising and so much fun.

These are two of my images and the corresponding readings that emerged. It’s all about change for me… and as I made my Changes card, I heard David Bowie singing in my head…”Ch, Ch, Ch Changes….”

Happy Spring and Buoyant New Growth!

Dream #15

Sink in. Travel within and through the Dream Gates to your own inner wisdom. There you will find what you seek. Your helpers are waiting to guide you along. All you have to do is ask. Tonight, before you sleep, ask for the dream that will give you the answer. Receive the dream that will come to heal you, right now, in this very night. You are an adventurer and your journey awaits.

Change #25

Change is good. Turn and face the change, walking tall and with courage, your ally at your side. What Golden Newness is waiting to be birthed, even as the fires of the Goddess flare and cleanse in all their magnificent intensity? You are not a witness to your life. You are the creator of unknown universes alive with gems of beauty and lasting effect. Step into this initiation in your full power.

A Surprise Romance

Dreams can change your life if you jump in and consider the possibilities, even when you don’t really know that’s what you're doing. Here's an inspiring dream story.

A friend dreamed several recurring nightmares in which a man she knew fell asleep at the wheel while on a long road trip and had a terrifying accident. The person in the dream was a healing practitioner she regularly saw, and was not a close friend. Even so, the dreams were so intense and insistent she was truly concerned for his wellbeing. She learned he was going to drive over 500 miles to attend a conference, and she volunteered to drive him. She made arrangements to spend the weekend to do this, and all went well. On the drive home, he was so tired he slept much of the way, and our dreamer feels she may have prevented an actual accident by following up on the dreams in this way. 

We’ll never know for sure. But I suspect it’s true. She may very well have saved him from that event. The happy second outcome of this dream is that they deepened their friendship at that time, and they eventually married…happily so for many years now! Two dream bonuses in one!

Gems, Imagination & Archetypes

I’ve been away working with gems and pearls at the famous Tucson gem shows, and took these images of some fabulous quartz pieces carved by Hans-Ulrich Pauly and faceted by Glenn Lehrer. The features you see are carved on only a few sides and the images reflect on the remaining faces of the crystal. 

"Unity" by Hans-Ulrich Pauly & Glenn Lehrer

"Unity" by Hans-Ulrich Pauly & Glenn Lehrer

We're talking about playful inclusions in crystals and gems again. What does that have to do with dreaming? Plenty. Dreaming includes checking in with your imagination regularly to see what wants to emerge from that deep part of you that knows something about mystery and symbols. And gems may carry those symbols.



The brilliant psychologist C. G. Jung realized that across all cultures, past and present, there are similar symbolic images and energies, which he called Archetypes. These symbols bring associated emotions and a felt sense in the body. Examples are feelings of love and other emotions, and the feeling you get when you see (or think about, or dream) a particular image, like that of a mother and child, either in waking life or a representation of it in the form of a picture, a sculpture, etc. You get a certain feeling from that image depending on what it is. Other archetypes include things like the image of a warrior, a wise person, or a foolish person...an image of a lion, or a mountain...or a house, or a temple, and so on. The number of archetypes is limitless and they can represent something deeper in your psyche you can imagine your way into. Because they are universal, and create similar feelings across cultures, Jung believed they represent a field of information, the Collective Unconscious, we access freely as members of the human collective. Typically these symbols are unconscious, but become conscious when we choose to pay attention to them, and this brings meaning. We find archetypal symbols in dreams all the time, and here are a few carved on the surface of these gems.

A friend emailed this photo of a wonderful quartz "egg" with inclusions that feature a figure of a mother and child, in other words, an archetypal Madonna figure. It’s hard to see, but eventually emerges from the image, and when I look at the photo I see another figure behind her, watching, and it looks like a male figure in a headdress. It reminds me of the archetypal figures I've seen of Christmas manger scenes. It's a form of dreaming to be available to this kind of daytime visioning. Perhaps another person may see something different in the patterns of inclusions and if so, that may be meaningful to the viewer.  

Do you see a woman holding an infant and a man with a headdress?

Do you see a woman holding an infant and a man with a headdress?

Looking at inclusions and other visual forms of meditation are a great way to step into your imagining, dreaming self. Just be present in the moment with it and see what shows up. Perhaps I've imagined my way into the collective unconscious and the Madonna archetype. I may ponder what the meaning may be of this symbol for me at this time in my life. Or I may choose to enjoy this crystal without the need to analyze it, because it makes me feel good, and it really doesn't matter why; it just is…a gem itself is an archetype, too.

Dreaming Into A New Year

"At least once a day, allow yourself the freedom to think and dream for yourself." - Albert Einstein 

"It's time to start living the life you've imagined." - Henry James

Love and Blessings to you and your loved ones for this New Year! May each day and night bring new adventures and vibrant moments of inspiration and peace that fuel you on your soul journey. 

Here's a little gemology fun...a "shooting star" inclusion in a diamond I appraised this week. I held my iPhone up to the ocular and voila! Look in the lower half of the photo near the middle to see it. Imagine, the bride who owns this gem had no idea a little world lives inside her ring, frozen in motion.

"Shooting Star" Crystal Inclusion in a Diamond, photo by Jane Carleton

"Shooting Star" Crystal Inclusion in a Diamond, photo by Jane Carleton

Dreams and gems, two fascinating worlds. Sometimes it's hard to choose one path, so why not have two? I'm grateful to have two fascinating careers. What road calls to you in this new year and how will you follow your path? Will attending to your nighttime dreams help you realize your daytime dreams? I've found it makes all the difference.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” - Norman Vincent Peal

Dream on!

Halloween, Samhain and Ogoh Ogohs

It’s that shadowy time of year....Halloween, where moving through our normal day and night we see unusual characters....and the veil between the worlds is said to be the thinnest, like the edge of a leaf.

Since we have ghoulish things moving about this weekend I’m thinking of Balinese Ogoh Ogohs. They come to life in March, on the last night of the old year, before Nyepi, the New Year, begins. Samhain is today, the Gaelic New Year, and with Halloween her sister, they all speak of transformation.

                             Shaking Hands with an Ogoh Ogoh,  Photo by Jane Carleton

                             Shaking Hands with an Ogoh Ogoh,  Photo by Jane Carleton

Ogoh Ogohs are scary. Artists in Bali make huge elaborate bamboo, foam, and paper mache' statues of the scariest things imaginable, like witches and demons. They spend many weeks making them, for Pangrupukan, a ceremonial day leading into a parade and festival that lasts late into the night. Every village and city participates. It’s an amazing sight to see these intense heavy statues, lit up, sometimes with roaring sounds, moving through the streets carried by dozens of men, led by the heady rhythm of the gamelon, with beautiful Balinese women moving in procession. Smaller versions are carried by children, and everyone enjoys the spectacle. It’s great fun, and it serves a purpose.

                                           Ogoh Ogoh, Ubud, Bali, Photo by Jane Carleton

                                           Ogoh Ogoh, Ubud, Bali, Photo by Jane Carleton

The idea is to prepare for the New Year. The shadowy, negative, scary, dark aspects of people and evil spirits are embodied by these statues. All this noise is made to entertain and confuse the demons. It's a wild night and the energy is intense. And what happens is the shadowy bits are acknowledged, and in the process perhaps transformed. 

Those dark spirits are not very smart. They can't turn corners and are easily tricked. And they enter into these statues because they like all that commotion. At the end of the night's festivities, the statues, with the darkness, are burned, cleansing the island. 

And then...the next morning all is still and in silence. The island of Bali shuts down for a full day and night, even the airport. People are not allowed out on the streets and the village security police make sure everyone is complying. No electricity is to be used, no TVs or entertainment, no noise, no vehicles, and no travel or moving about. Voices are to be low, or ideally in silence. And because everyone is quiet and there's no movement, evil spirits think the whole island is deserted and they pass it by.  It is a sacred day for contemplation, meditation and prayer. 

Imagine if we did this here. First, highlighting and transforming the shadowy bits, and then how marvelous to spend a whole day contemplating the sacred nature of your life, to begin your initiation into winter, the time of gestation and going deep. 

                             Image from National Geographic: Mysteries of the Unseen World

                             Image from National Geographic: Mysteries of the Unseen World

Your Dreams May Scout the Future in Funny Ways

Dreams really do come true, in odd little ways sometimes. Funny little predictive dream elements pop up unexpectedly and, I have found, regularly if you watch for them. When this happens, it glimmers like the feeling of being in on a happy secret, and it’s a reminder there’s a lot we don’t know about the many ways we’re conscious beyond our usual waking mind. Dreams don’t always require a lot of interpretation; just noticing them brings a little more energy to the day. 

This week I had a dream I was at a big convention, and as I moved through the gathering, I sampled food in several locations. It was not tasty nor nourishing, and I decided to leave. I went outside the building and helped a woman who had a booth, selling something. Then I saw an expansive slightly slanted wooden floor surrounding the entire complex where the parking lot should have been, like the kind of shiny brown hardwood floor you’d find at a roller skating rink. I ran and dove sideways and happily zipped around sliding on this surface like a child. It was fun! In the dream I vowed to return here with my skates and remembered how I loved the free feeling of skating the streets of Santa Monica in the early 80’s. This dream has plenty of symbolism ripe for interpretation, but I chose to focus on the joy of zipping around, free of worries. 

The next evening I chanced upon a delightful program on TV of an enthusiastic chef sampling food at several wonderful little restaurants in Paris. The final segment shows him surprised by a long cavalcade of people joyously riding past on roller blades. One person was even lit up like a Christmas tree; it was a very dreamy waking moment.

This can be considered a form of predictive dreaming. Somehow my dreaming self picked up elements of life I would perceive the next day: the sampling of food, building community by interacting with venders, roller blading (skating is my version of that), and the feeling of happy freedom. 

There are clear differences in the two dreams (and a waking experience is a form of dreaming), but the similarities are enough to make me smile and give me that sparkle of recognition that we move through the world in mysterious ways. There are personal messages for me to consider while looking at these meaningful coincidences, like the need to a look at how I’m nourishing myself. And that leads me to consider dusting off my old skates.

Happy Skating

Dreaming My Way to My Family

Dreams really do come true!

I've just returned from a heart-full week in Washington state where I visited, for the first time ever, my long-lost brother and his family. Two dreams led me to my family and I wrote about this in the newly published Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions. Sometimes the healing trajectory of a dream can span decades.

The first dream arrived in 2001, in the form of a waking inner voice experience that literally told me to go to ancestry.com. There, I met my fathers's first wife, Helen, and she was doing genealogy research for her family, including my brother Mark. I didn't know about Mark until I was well into adulthood, and we had never met. Helen shared interesting information about my family, and I was happy to meet her. Life went on.

Then, in 2007, dream number two came. I dreamed I was discussing how to have a healthy relationship with a dream character who was supposed to be one of the brothers I grew up with. But it wasn't his face. In the morning the inner voice nudged me to Google my grandfather's name. A photo of a high school football team from 1913 appeared, and I burst into tears as I recognized the face I had just dreamed. Remarkable...my father had been a foster child during the depression and I had no exposure to his family, and no idea of what my grandfather looked like. The ancestors were calling, and I picked up the trail.

Which led me to my first brief meeting with my brother just a few years ago. And to our wonderful extended visit this week, where I experienced the love of family that I didn't know my Soul was seeking.

Really, if you get an inner nudge from a dream or a hunch, follow it. It may be just the thing. And try not to wait. I realized today...if I hadn't poked around ancestry.com when I did, the small window of opportunity to answer Helen's call may have been lost. And if so, I would never have found my family.

Help Your Children Bring Dreams Into the Light

I’m reminded this week about the gift of sharing dreams with the beloved children in our lives. Children live so close to their dreaming selves, and it doesn’t take much to create a spontaneous dreaming moment, one that can bring closeness and understanding in beautifully unexpected ways.

I was once at a friend’s house and met a young girl, about seven years old, visiting with her family from far away. I asked her about her dreams, and she shyly shared that she had a reeeeeeally scary dream that week.

“Really scary."  Oh? Tell me more!  “I was home and the wall in my bedroom was full of eyes looking at me!”  Oh, how scary! Was it day or night?  “Night.”  Oh! Scary!  “Yes.”  What would you like to see happen with those eyes if you could do anything?  “I want them to close!”  Oooof. Me, too.  What could make that happen?  “I’d shine a big light at them.”  Great idea! What kind of light?  “A big flashlight!”  Perfect! Would you like to do something about those eyes right now?  “OK.”  All right…see that wall…let’s imagine that wall is the wall in your bedroom.  “OK.”  And now…I’m here with you, so you’re safe…can you image that wall is full of those eyes, just like in your dream?  “Ooooo Yes!”  OK, we need a flashlight, right? How about if I be the flashlight, and you shine me on all of those eyes and make them not only close, but also disappear?  “Yeah. OK!!!”

We did a little dream theater right on the spot. This beautiful little girl, empowered and happy, shone her imaginary flashlight all over the wall, guiding me as the flashlight to shine right where she felt the light was needed. It was just right and the dream was no longer scary. No interpretations, no lessons, just a moment of dreaming together.

Meanwhile, the adults were deep in conversation and didn’t realize the beauty of the moment. My new friend skipped off to another room and I rejoined the conversation.

About twenty minutes later, she came up to me with a big sheet of drawing paper…she wanted to share more dreams with me, and had drawn sketches of about a half dozen dreams…and was brimming with excitement at telling me about her dreams. A gate had opened simply because she found someone who was genuinely interested in her amazing inner life. We can do this for others, children and adults alike, and if we open to dreaming with adults, the child within will come out to play. 

Father's Day Dream Story

This weekend is Father’s Day, and I want to celebrate the love of fathers, and all the complexities, challenges, and joys of our relationships with our fathers. Dreaming was the final healing piece for me to transform the father/daughter wound, later in life, when I was 45, during a 5 day Esalen workshop with my now friend, Robert Moss. I came away from that week, after doing a menu of Active Dreaming processes facilitated by Robert, completely healed of the anger and sadness I had carried for a lifetime. This was truly a miracle for me, and I saw and felt my long-passed father in a brilliant new light, one of understanding and forgiveness.

My father was hardworking, creative and adventurous…he went to night school to earn his bachelor’s degree and then his master’s degree, while raising his family. He wrote a science fiction novel, was a skilled photographer and reporter, an amateur astrologer, and he loved to dance to Santana in his Bermuda shorts and black socks in our living room.... Every Friday he left a little bag of pistachio nuts in my dresser drawer, and when it was time for dessert in my family, my father would ceremoniously unlock the bedroom closet that held bags of all kinds of cookies and chocolates for my brothers and me to excitedly select from. He died in 1989, and never knew all the things in my life I wish I could have shared with him. A few years ago, I thought of him as I was driving my car one day, and I played the oracle game...I asked for a message from the universe…was my dad watching over me from the other side?  I turned on the radio to see what the message might be, and there was his favorite Santana song playing. He was dancing in my imaginal world in that moment.

Dad Boxing.jpeg

He was also tough, very tough, as a retired military man, who served in the navy during WWII as a teen, then went on to explore the army, eventually retired as a Master Sergeant from the Air Force, then worked for the Civil Service, for the Defense Department, a true believer in fighting for his country. We had different world views, and he was hard on me, very. But he loved and protected me the best he could in his way.

Seeing my father with love instead of anger changed so much for me! The weight I had carried my whole life was gone, miraculously replaced by   a freedom to live differently, without anger. This was huge, and was a pivotal moment in my life, eventually inspiring my decision to study with Robert and to eventually return to school to earn my graduate degrees in Dreams, and Consciousness Studies…the healing power of dreamwork is real, and I wanted to learn more. 

Now, when I think of my father, I laugh at the goofy things he did, and I’m delighted by the creative parts of me that I seem to have inherited from him, and I send love to the challenging memories of our time together. Sometimes he visits me in my dreams, and that is always a gift.