Adapted excerpt from Leopard Warrior by John Lockley.
In traditional South African culture, dreams are an essential part of everyday life. Our soul is seen to connect with us through our dreams, keeping us in alignment with our life’s journey. If someone doesn’t remember their dreams, they’re seen as being out of balance with the world around them because they don’t know what is happening to their soul.
As we become more conscious of our dreams, we become more conscious of our waking lives. We are also preparing ourselves spiritually for our final sleep when we die and leave our bodies. We come from the Great Dreamer, or Cosmic Consciousness, and we enter this physical world through the portal of our mother and father. When we sleep, part of us is always connected to the Great Dreamer and our original home. No matter how impoverished, abusive, or constricted your material reality might be, your spirit can fly like an eagle when you sleep and help you find answers to your earthly troubles.
Levels of Dreams
There are three levels of dreaming. The first level reflects your everyday life. You might dream about shopping for clothes or food. There appears to be no meaning to such dreams. It’s as if your mind is simply relaxing and replaying what you did during the day.
The second-level dream involves your emotional self. You might replay an old love or traumatic experience. If these dreams repeat over years, this might indicate an emotional block; some form of therapy in which your dreams are addressed may help you move forward with your life.
The third level involves prophetic, mystical, or teaching dreams: amaphupha amhlophe (white dreams). These are the dreams of sangomas, mystics, and shamans. Everyone gets these dreams in some capacity throughout their lives. Recognizing them will help you realize your life path.
You can identify these prophetic or calling dreams in a number of ways. The most direct approach is through the body. When I experience these dreams, my body feels filled with electricity. I’m hyperaware upon awakening. Another way to recognize these dreams is by noticing how many of your senses are engaged in the dream. Can you smell fragrances, see colors, hear sounds? What can you perceive?
Notice the landscapes of these powerful dreams. Your dream is saying something about you and your family. Its landscape can depict your ancestry. If your people came from the desert, it would make sense for you to dream about deserts.
To dream is not enough. If we want our lives to change and our spirits to grow, we must act on our dreams. Our dream lives and our waking state feed and nourish one another.
Suggestions to Aid Dream Recall
The first step to remembering your dreams is to look at how you sleep. Do you sleep enough? Adults need about 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. It’s good to have one morning a week when you leave your alarm off and allow your body to rest deeply. This is one of the easiest ways to remember your dreams. Also, be mindful of how you spend your time 2 hours before bedtime. Screen use can make it harder to fall asleep and dream.
Before sleep, meditate and do some heartbeat meditation practice either in your sacred space or a similar space that elicits a sense of calmness and peace.
Nutritional supplements like vitamin B complex and magnesium have been known to help with dream recall.
If you have a demanding life and poor dream recall, make a decision to remember your dreams. Then make a few practical changes in your life. Turn your computer off at least two hours before bedtime. Instead, read a book. Take a long bath and add essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, or rosemary to the water. You can also add about two tablespoons of Epsom salts. Do this for at least 3 consecutive nights.
Buy a beautiful dream journal. Keep it by your bedside. When you first wake up, open your book and write the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t worry if it’s silly or doesn’t make sense. Note your emotions and any images and colors that come to mind. Remembering an emotion or feeling from the dream state is a good start.
When you write your dreams down, give them a theme such as “Dragon’s Breath” or “Magic Mountains,” or whatever your imagination creates. Also, note where you had the dream — at home, when traveling, at a friend’s house, etc. Noting themes and locations will help you track and make sense of your dreams. Also, make sure to date your dream. Over time, you can look back on your dreams and gain another picture of your inner world.