Dreams are quite possibly one of the biggest untapped resources in the Western world, and I don’t just mean for spiritual growth and development. Dreamers in other cultures and Westerners in antiquity have used dreams and dreamlike states to gather military intelligence, make scientific discoveries, write music, heal ailments, see the future, mitigate catastrophes, and build nations (Moss, 2009).
So why aren’t we tapping such a valuable resource?
As logical, rational Westerners, many of us, even the believers, struggle to comprehend how knowledge could possibly be obtained through irrational, non-Western methods, like by reading the knowledge in birds, trees, animals, crystals, water, the earth, sky, other people, the written/spoken word, events, and dreams. What we have to understand is that our methods to obtain knowledge aren’t absolute truth, they are socially constructed, and we haven’t always done things this way.
Western culture in antiquity most definitely utilized esoteric methods to uncover knowledge and see the future. When Catholic Church began to gain power, it saw these Pagan practices as bad for business, so it eliminated the competition. (I should note here that the Church did not limit its persecution to Paganism, this extended to all mystical, shamanic, and indigenous spiritual practices.) Not only that, the Church created slanderous narratives about Paganism and used fear of death or severe punishment to discourage continued practice, effectively erasing Paganism from the culture (and in many cases literally erasing it from written history; Radin, 2018).
Following the fall of Paganism and the rise of the Church, science was born as a way to test reality, to discern the veracity of information: fact or opinion. The scientific method provided a useful tool for this discernment process. Science helped to develop a (false) sense of safety: If we can see it, touch it, observe it, or test it scientifically, it is real and okay. If we cannot see, touch, observe or test it scientifically, it is false, and not okay (Redfield, 1993). Today, the Church and science are in a power struggle. It needn’t be this way. Spirituality and science aren’t inherently diametrical (Cambray, 2009). What is happening right now and what happened with the rise of the Church are simply a function of a culture that doesn’t understand that two truths can co-exist, a culture that believes in a win-lose dynamic, a zero-sum game.
Fortunately, pioneers like Dean Radin (2013, 2018) are bridging that gap, using science to demonstrate that spiritual and mystical concepts (e.g., signs, synchronicities, psi phenomena, etc.) exist; more specifically, he’s demonstrating that they exist using a method that Westerners can’t discredit (i.e., the scientific method). Quantum physics also provides an avenue through which we might begin to understand spirituality and mysticism in way that’s palatable for Westerners.
If we can suspend our Western beliefs for a moment, consider the possibility that dreams might actually have value, and learn how to work with our dreams, then we can learn what Tibetan Buddhists, Pagans, and shamans knew centuries ago: Treasure is buried everywhere.
When we find treasure, it’s generally a good idea to mark the location on a map. One great way to mark these map locations is to keep a journal, documenting numinous experiences, like dreams, signs, synchronicities and other unusual experiences (Aron, 2016; Moss, 2015).
Here’s how to do this:
1. First, be on the lookout for any numinous experiences, and especially any numinous feelings. These feelings will give you the sense that there’s been a “rupture in time” and are often your first clue that something special just happened (Moss, 2015). Here are the experiences you’ll want to look out for:
- Synchronicities— Synchronicity is “a unique moment ‘falling together in time,’” (Cambray, 2009, p. xi), where inner and outer worlds meet; it involves three elements: “…meaningful coincidence, acausal connection, and numinosity” (Cambray, p. 12). Synchronicities can include experiences with birds, trees, animals, crystals, water, the earth, sky, other people, the written spoken/word, and events.
- Dreams—especially any that are really vivid, weird, or recurrent. Write down everything you can remember when you wake up and spend some interpreting the dreams each morning.
- Anything else that seems unusual or leaves you feeling there’s been a “rupture in time.”
2. After you’ve identified a numinous experience, write down the category of the experience (e.g., synchronicity, dream, “other” sign, psi experience, etc.).
3. Next, write a short-phrase description of what happened (e.g., “recurrent dream of school,” “orchard oriole,” “precognitive experience,” etc.), then include a full description of the experience.
4. Finally, record the meaning of the experience. If applicable, look up the general meaning of the experience online to get a basic understanding. This is especially helpful with animal, bird, plant, and numeric symbolism. Then, spend some time determining what the event means more specifically to you and your life.
One of the most frustrating aspects of learning to read synchronicities, dreams, signs, and other unusual experiences is discovering that you will return to the same wisdom and internal growth work, again, and again. It often seems as though you are trapped in a loop and not progressing. This is not true. Yes, you will return to the same wisdom and internal work, over and over, but each time, this will happen a different way, and it will resonate at a different level each time. It’s like ascending a spiral staircase or doing an archaeological dig. Similar discoveries are made, but there is movement, and the discoveries look and feel a little different each time. Looking at them directly, both spiral staircases and closed loops appear the same, but from an angle, the difference is apparent: A spiral is open, and moves on several planes; a loop is closed and moves on a single plane. And, a spiral, ironically, is the way out of a closed loop.
If we honor these numinous experiences by documenting them as outlined above, we can begin to make movement in our lives, stringing these experiences together, noting patterns, themes, and deeper meanings. These experiences become like street signs, providing guidance and direction on our path (Moss, 2015). And, through this process, we will begin to feel connected to something greater than ourselves, and less alone in the vast cosmic expanse we call a universe.
If you’d like to learn how to access hidden wisdom and begin internal growth work through dream interpretation: sign up to take my self-paced, online course called, “Dream Interpretation: The Basics & Beyond.”
Aron, E. N. (2016). The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. New York: Harmony Books.
Cambray, J. (2009). Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
Moss, R. (2009). The Secret History of Dreaming. Novato, California: New World Library.
Moss, R. (2015). Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols, and Synchronicity in Everyday Life. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Radin, D. (2013). Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities. New York: Deepak Chopra Books.
Radin, D. (2018). Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe. New York: Harmony Books.
Redfield, J. (1993). The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure. New York: Time Warner Books.