Visits From the Other Side: When Our Beloveds Visit Us In Dreams

by: Carla Golembe

 Life is a dream walking, death is a going home. (Chinese proverb)

Welcome Dreamers,

First, I have to tell you about the painting.  My friend Carla is an artist; when her beloved cat Zippy died, she promised him that she would paint him.  Here he is, visiting her in her dreamtime, as well as getting top billing in this post.  The title of this painting is “Forever Friends”.

I just realized that my first dream visitation came from my cat. I wonder if it is easier for animals to cross over these thresholds, since they do not seem limited by our view of what is “real” or not.  My cat Aeshie (whose name came to me in a dream) often acted as my co-therapist, a grey Buddha in a fur suit.  She would come down to my office and do therapy with me (when she felt like it- she was still a cat, after all). She seemed to have an innate knowing of just who needed their leg rubbed, or to have a cat in their lap, at just the right moment.

If we allow ourselves to suspend our own disbelief in the possibility of multiple realities, we can experience great comfort and connection when our departed human beloveds visit us in our dreamworlds.  Many people I know who have lost a loved one say that they have had a sense that their dad or grandma visited them in a dream, but they weren’t sure if they could believe it.  Or else they say that they wish they could have a visit, and wonder why mom hasn’t shown up yet. (My first suggestion is to offer the beloved an invitation, as part of the incubation process before going to sleep (see post of  5/14/12 for more on incubating)).  Spiritual energy beings seem to be like cats though- they have their own lives (pun intended) and may not come right when we call.  Some traditions speak of a time after death when the spirit of the departed needs to get used to the afterlife for a while before being ready to visit back on the earth plane.

Having departed friends or family show up in a dream can have several different meanings, ranging from a message, to a symbol, to a visitation.  Their appearance can certainly have more than one meaning simultaneously (see post of 8/28/12 for more on the layers of meaning in a dream).

So how do we tell the difference?  Many people say that there is a visceral element in a visit that is not present when the person showing up in the dream is there as a symbol or metaphor.  My friend Joyce says that she could feel her mother touch her cheek.  Others say that they can feel a sense of being hugged.  Nancy had a dream within a dream: she dreamed her beloved husband Peter was kissing her, and that she then woke up (inside the dream) to tell everyone that she had been dreaming of him, and what he said to her.  When she actually awakened, she wrote in her journal “I woke feeling so happy, like he had really come to be with me.”  There is often a felt sense of presence. When my dad shows up in dreams, I hear his live voice, with the tones and timbre of his speech.  My colleague Fran says that she can sometimes feel the soft weight of her cat sleeping on her chest years after his passing.

There seems to be a consensus that an intuitive sense of deep connection is present.  There is a sense that the energy of the dreamed loved one is true to the energy of the person who passed.  Many people also say that quite often very little else happens in the dream besides the visit.  That is, there is not a lot of narrative or story; the visit is the main event.

Finally, my dream circle talked about feelings of awe or joy in these dreams.  They almost always feel like what Jung calls  “Big Dreams”, often in H. D. – High Def., or Technicolor. Shamanic practice teaches us that sometimes the visit comes in the dream or in waking life in animal form.  Whenever my mom or I see a hawk, we always say “Hi Bud”.   Often no dream interpretation feels necessary, except to say, “Hi, I love you, nice to see you again” to the visitor and enjoy.

Next time, we’ll look at when Nana or Uncle Joe are there in symbolic form; or have come with a message for our lives.

May you be blessed by enduring connections.

Linda Yael

Ps A few of you asked who Bodhisattva was, the dog’s name from the last blog.  Merriam-Webster says it is  “a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others and is worshipped as a deity in Mayahanya Buddhism.”  Now go back and think about that doggie…

A Minyan of Trees: Encountering the Dream in the Woods

 (trey radcliff image)

 “The clearest way into a Universe is through a forest wilderness” John Muir

Welcome dreamers,

There are dreams, and there are dreams.  We can traverse the thresholds between worlds by paying  attention to synchronicities in our lives (see blog of 7/28/12 for more on synchronicities); or this liminal space can also show up unasked.  This post is about the second kind- we were gifted in the woods on this one. The Druids knew this: the spirits of the woods and of nature were literally housed in the trees themselves in the forms of Nymphs and Dryads and other “tree people”.  Ritual can sometimes bring down this place of eyes-open wonder.

Carol Dearborn says about in-between spaces: “It appears that there is a “place” …in the intersection of the perceptual/cognitive process (a “place” or type of brain-wave) between waking and sleep where the metaphysical intersects the physical.  This intersection…becomes a kind of portal through which energy can be conveyed…Opening this portal requires a receptive and reverential state of being, like falling in love.”  (www.caroldearborn.com, the spirit of place).  Jung wrote of this too, calling this space between sleep and waking the hypnopompic or hypnogogic zones.

One of the words for God in Hebrew is “Makom”, which translates most simply as “Place”, but contains both a temporal  (time based) as well as physical implication.  It appears in the story of Jacob, when he has his famous dream of the ladder with angels going up and down it.  When he awakes from this dream, he says, “God was in this place (Makom), and I, I did not know.”   The word “Makom” also appears in the creation story, when Moses encountered the burning bush, and at Mt. Sinai  (among others).  When we are at “Makom” we are for a moment outside of the rules of time and space; and for that moment on holy ground.

“Minyan” is the Hebrew word for the group of ten people that are needed to be able to recite Kaddish; the traditional prayer for the dead.  In Jewish tradition, community is a big part of the healing process; I learned that the original requisite of gathering a minimum of ten was in order to compel the mourner to gather in community at a time of grief rather than to isolate him/herself. Traditionally only men were counted; in most modern practice women are too.  We found that acknowledging our animal, vegetable, and mineral brethren as part of a minyan worked as well.

So, I was walking in the woods with my friend Sara, about a month after her beloved grandfather had died.  She had been to services earlier that day, and had declined an offer to say Kaddish, partially because it is traditionally said only for parents, spouses, or children. I asked her if she regretted passing up the opportunity her community had offered.  Without hesitation, she said, “Yes – and I rarely regret anything!” We walked a little more, and then I asked if she wanted to say Kaddish right now; for since we were breaking one rule (not for a parent, spouse or child) and reconfiguring the ritual we might as well break with the rule of ten people.  Sara agreed and said “Yes- let’s find a tree to say it near”.

So we bush-wacked through a clump of weeds, and snuggled up to a beautiful three-trunked tree: one of those triple goddess trees.  We decided that “She (the Tree) can be part of our minyan” along with Bodisavta the dog (and yes, that is her actual doggy name).  We got into the spirit of minyan, and began counting: ” Me, you, Bodi, the triple tree counts as three, that’s six, the earth, the sky, the bush, and the rish-roosh sound of the wind-spirit in the trees- there’s ten.”  We had our minyan.  Ten Beings.  We said Kaddish.

The dreaming spirits of the Place came in, and we crossed the threshold in the woods.  Her grandfather showed up, as did my dad who had died 6 years, and we had a lovely gathering with them in this in-between Place.

Perhaps the ancient Druidic spirits of the trees also joined us in the minyan.  As e.e.cummings says: “…thank you God for this most amazing day,

for the leaping greenly Spirit of the trees…”

I am grateful for this type of dreaming as well.

Next time I’ll talk more about encountering our relatives in dreams- dead or alive, for better or worse, and how do we know if we have had a “visit” from the other side, or a dream encounter of a different kind.  Stay tuned…

Sweet dreams,

Yael Linda