To Dust You Shall Return: An Ash Ritual for All
Anyone can utilize the power of ash rituals to mark a transition in their lives.
While in the process of writing my book Shamanic Dreaming, at some point—as is generally inevitable—I began to wonder what I was doing, and started to doubt myself. I went to sleep that night in one of those “questioning my whole life” states of being. “What is this visionary thing? Am I making it all up just to be different? Nobody wants to know anyway, Carol.”
I felt miserable and stuck.
In the morning, I awoke from a profound dream to the clear sound of my spirit guide’s voice, speaking to me in real-time. In the dream I had been with my friend Cathy, who had passed away in 2017. We were in the woods together, coming down a hill. I was in a wheelchair, effortlessly propelling myself forward.
Cathy insisted she push me, and she nudged me over a curb, taking a bit of a risk, which Cathy was prone to do. I was tossed into the air but landed safely. In this leap, all my senses opened, and I awoke. Wide awake, I heard the sonorous speech of my guide sounding through the air waves like a lady in a television voiceover:
“The visionary has been and always will be someone assigned to the future life map.”
This literal wake-up moment has helped me refine my path by listening to the inner visionary through shamanic dreaming. These moments of miraculous, clear messages are like gold dust. They penetrate the apparently seamless membrane of the controlled reality we conspire to keep ourselves locked in, and open us up to the dreaming matrix that we are truly a part of.
It can be a bit like being an archaeologist, doing this work. You tap and brush away with devotion, but there are often very few results in the present. Artists and visionaries work with the future. They travel through the imaginal pathways to communicate with time that we have not yet reached.
How exciting! This practice of art and visioning happens in the communication channels of the realm of shamanic dreaming.
The word dream is of Germanic origin. It relates to the Dutch droom, German traum, and the Old Saxon drom, meaning merriment or noise. The Old English root of dream is drēam, which means joy or music. The original meaning of dream is related to bringing forth happy sounds or emotions. Later, in the 1900’s, the word would become synonymous with planning for or aspiring to something.
From these definitions, I understand how dreaming could be considered an ecstatic pastime involving making sounds and music with the intention of creating plans for the new. This seems akin to the timeless continuum of shamanic practices all over our planet, where communing with spirits and the many realms and entering a trance with drums and other instruments are ways to bring about healing and ensure health and balance.
In the mythology of some Australian Aboriginal peoples, the Dreamtime, or Alcheringa, is the world that is a deeper octave of this one. Dreamtime is what is behind the manifestation of the natural world and is celebrated in ritual. Dreamtime is a place of power.
Shamanic dreaming is something we can all do to align with our deeper selves, direct our lives, and take care of the future life map.
Here are some pointers for beginning the practice of shamanic dreaming. I suggest you carry around a journal and keep a dream diary, and make it your goal to gently build a relationship with your visionary nature.
1. Make an intention to live in the present moment
The present is where we are housed. It is from this place that we can more easily cast out into the dreaming matrix.
Your task: Throughout the day, take moments to bring your awareness to the sounds and sensations of the place you’re in. Try saying “present moment” as a mantra as you feel your surroundings and become mindful of who and where you are.
2. Spend time in nature
Nature can be likened to essence. It is the inherent qualities or character of anything. When we spend time in nature, we begin to get more in touch with our own true nature.
Your task: Find a tree in a chosen place in nature that you can visit regularly. Focus on your breath. Let yourself move into your senses. Touch—sense the air on your skin, brush the ground with your fingers, and feel the surface of the tree. Smell—breathe in the scents around you. Taste—lick the grass, the tree bark. Hear—let your ears take in the sounds. See—set your eyes on everything as if seeing for the first time. Let nature join you through your senses.
3. Develop a relationship with knowing
One of the definitions of the word shaman is “they who know.” Developing a relationship with your intuitive knowing is essential, as this is the part of you that communicates with dreams.
Your task: Think of a time when you have known something intuitively. Connect with your knowing and let all your attention flow there. Ask yourself, “Where does this knowing come from?” Feel the origins of your knowing. Let it strengthen. Observe what happens for you.
Learn the basics of active dreamwork for trauma healing.
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