One of the special gifts that come with dreams is an experience of the sacred. We may have a dream of a holy person, a deity, a ray of golden light, or a physician that is healing us. These sacred dreams often have a numinous quality about them; that is, through the images and feelings in the dream we somehow know this dream is coming from a divine source. Once a person has a dream like this, they need no convincing that there is a greater power beyond them. These dreams are humbling, yet they can evoke profound gratitude and sense of joy in the dreamer.
Sacred dreams can come at any time but they often tend to come when the dreamer needs them, such as at the start of a major life change, or in the midst of a difficult transition. In these cases, there seems to be the purposes of inspiring and encouraging the dreamer make it through a difficult challenge, or to take on the challenge.
The Story of Jacob’s Ladder
When thinking of sacred dreams, the Bible story of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28: 1-19) comes to mind. Jacob is in serious conflict with his brother whom he just cheated out of his birthright. He has run off to the desert, no doubt wondering what will happen to him. Instead of disaster, in a dream he sees a ladder on which angels descend from and ascend to heaven. The Lord appears to him and tells him that he will have many descendants and be given the land on which he rests.
The ladder is the connection between heaven and earth, just as the dream connects the dreamer to divine inspiration. Our dreams can be a ladder connecting us to our spiritual guides and higher truth. Have you seen a ladder in your dreams? Where was it leading to? It is definitely leading you to somewhere beyond where you are now. Are you willing to go there?
Jacob was so in awe of his ladder dream he named the place where he had the dream Bethel, the House of God. If we see our dreams as the place where divinity can come to visit us, we would take them much more seriously.
One of the classic signs of fear showing up in our lives is the overriding attempt control it. Our lives can literally get bent out of shape by fear as the flight or fight response kicks in—flight in our trying to run away from what we fear, fight in our desperate attempt to alleviate it, suppress it or shut it down completely. The flight/fight response was a coping method that worked well for our ancestors in the jungle for whom the main objects of fear were usually readily identifiable animals larger or more deadly than themselves.
Nowadays, few of us have to contend with actual alligators and lions just to get food on the table—but that is not to say we don’t have things to fear. The things we fear are now less tangible and as a result, often beyond our understanding and grasp, and therefore less easier to deal with, like a racial prejudice, unjust laws, people and cultures we are not familiar with, fake news that is difficult to verify, etc. This makes it harder to determine if what we fear is really worth fearing! The fear often cannot be tested immediately by just taking a quick look at the “beast” from a safe distance.
As a result, there are many fears that just hang in there or get bigger and more believable, and eventually rule our lives. When others fear the same things, a community of fear builds up which reinforces one’s own fears and often it happens that the one who challenges those fears is victimized and shut up. In this scenario, the individual and the community may never know they are dealing with fears based on an illusion, misinformation, etc. What is worse, because very few people are willing to challenge their own fears or even address the need to have those fears, fear becomes a solid foundation for their lives, informing all of their decisions.
One of the benefits of dreamwork is that it shows you when fear has some validity and must be taken seriously, and when fears are nothing but a colony of ants—a huge nuisance that can be easily managed. The way to tell is to look at the animals that appear in your dreams during a time of fear. The bigger or more deadly the animal, the more genuinely threatening the fear. And vice versa, the smaller, the less threatening. It seems our dreams remember when animals provoked fear and use those symbols to instruct us today.
I am thinking of a recent dream I had at a time when I felt overwhelmed by a variety of fears. It would have been really easy to fall into a desperate state of mind. In the dream I walked into my closet and found many ants scurrying out of a drawer. On waking, I reflected on what the ants meant and and how they reminded me of the many little fears I was experiencing, brought on by scam phone calls, a billing mistake by a company, hassles of straightening out paper work, etc., came to mind. As soon as I saw the connection, I felt relief and knew my dreams were telling me to put my fears in perspective. These fears were based on petty things and I should not take them so seriously. I could handle them.
Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote by Emerson has perhaps encouraged many people to pursue their dreams. In America, it is quite the fad to do so, the idea being that pursuing one’s dream is what will give your life purpose and direction. Often, to most Americans, this approach means pursuing some idea or ideal job that is a product of fantasy or a daydream. This daydream is often fed by other desirable things that may come along with the perfect job such as a great salary, benefits and real power. One imagines the perfect job, gets trained to prepare for that job, and then goes about looking for such a job.
However, few people actually pursue a job, not to mention a career, they have literally dreamed about at night. Whenever I tell people I have had seven major careers based on night dreams I have dreamed about at night raises people’s highbrows, as if to say, “Who would ever do such a thing?” Or, “That makes for a lot of change in life!” or “That’s not practical!”
It also raises the question of what we mean by following a dream. On one hand, we are encouraged to follow daydreams but not the nitty-gritty night dreams that often contain great power. This example seems to reflect the great value put on daydreams in this country but not on the night dreams. I leave it to my readers to provide the deeper answers why this is so.
It is said that the universe bends to where a genuine need exists and where a heartfelt request is made. I certainly do believe that prayer coming from real need is heard, and when prayers are not answered, one reason could be that God or the universe (whatever makes you feel more comfortable) just doesn’t perceive it as a real need, only an ego need on the part of the person praying.
What is Genuine Need?
The question arises then as to what constitutes genuine need, and how is it different from needing something just to soothe a bruised ego? It seems to me that genuine need arises out of significant suffering, the kind of suffering many people tend to actually deny, endure or cover up for a variety of reasons. This could be something horrendous like suffering sexual abuse or it could be something relatively less horrific like putting up with a chronic health condition.
Dreams and Pain
Dreams are very good at indicating where the genuine points of pain are located at the deep psychic level.
How Points of Pain are Symbolized in Dreams
These points of pain may be symbolized in the form of injured animals, a sick, dying or dead person, or some jarring situation such as a car accident. When these uncomfortable scenes are seen in dreams we tend to think of them as representing something outside of ourselves. In some cases, that may be true. However, usually, they represent an aspect of ourselves that is wounded, sick, dying, dead or being put in jeopardy.
When I have dreams like these, I immediately make it a point to pray for this aspect of myself that is suffering in such a way—even though I may not recognize it immediately since it may stand for something I may not yet be cognizant of in my waking life. I feel this is praying from the deepest and most genuine part of myself, surely opening a pathway to God and the universe for healing.
One of the benefits of dreamwork for women is that it helps women regain their power by allowing them to access the power within.
Note: My friends, in looking through some past posts I ran across this one fromApril 27, 2012 which seems especially appropriate today. Six years ago we were talking about the War on Women. Since then, we’ve made progress, especially with the #MeToo movement, but much remains to be done. After thousands of years of conditioning by male-dominated societies, we carry the roots of misogyny in the depths of our psyches. Some people, even very well-meaning ones, still can’t see it in themselves, let alone imagine a society in which women accept their sovereignty and their voices are heard and heeded without reprisal. But once a new light has entered a soul, no force on Earth can quell the fire of evolving consciousness.
Some of my posts come from the heart, some from the head. This one comes from the gut. It’s difficult to write because I’m swamped with strong…
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Whenever we speak of healing, we usually experience it as something that comes to us as a gift given. For some it may be a gift of nature, of the universe, or a gift of God. It is seen as something we don’t entirely have complete control over. Be that as it may, beyond the obvious rules of eating right and getting exercise, there are certain things we can do on a spiritual and psychological level that promote healing.
We do have a part to play in making it all happen and there are varying points of view. At one extreme we have people who assume healing is beyond them, especially on matters that medicine can’t adequately treat and will take a fatalistic stance such as “Well, I will either get well or I will die of this disease.”
And at the other end of the spectrum we have those who take on too much responsibility, thinking that if they don’t do this and do that, they will not be healed—acting like it is entirely up to them and not the doctors, God or the healing energy from elsewhere such as the universe, another a healing person or their own healing energies!.
Acknowledging Our Blocks to Health & Following through on Good Intentions
I think there is a happy ground in the middle which takes into account that we do have responsibility for our health yet knowing there is only so much we can do. First, we can, as a minimum, try to acknowledge when we abuse our bodies by eating junk food, over eating or not getting enough exercise. And secondly, we can also make the intention to do what we can to improve our health such as seeing a doctor, eating right and exercising. If we are religious, this includes praying for health or asking for prayers. It seems like such an easy thing to say but the truth is that prayer works in many amazing ways.
Tapping into Our Own Healing Energy
Also, another important way to promote healing is by tapping into our own healing energies, especially by doing dreamwork and/or visual meditation. After many years of working with dreams to create better health, I have learned there is something like an inner healer which is constantly at work to let us know when we are healthy and when we are need of healing, be it psychological, physical or spiritual. This inner healer may appear in dreams as a physician, a care giver or a nurse. Once we’ve seen this inner healer in a dream, we can ask for dreams that will include this inner healer to show us the way to healing. This archetype can become a guide for us, acting on our behalf. It can empower us to heal ourselves and others as we become a conduit for the energy it represents.
Through visual meditation, such as by imagining sick cells being removed and healthy ones taking their place, we can also promote energy healing at the cellular level.
Working so proactively for our health at the dream level reaches far beyond the physical to the energy level, affecting and caring for cells and the ways they communicate with each. What a profound role we can play in our own healing!
We all need sustaining visions that will get us through the worst times and give us clues to the good things that are to come. Ironically, it is often when we begin to go through difficult times, the veil is lifted from our eyes and we are given the grace, a “sacred moment” that gives us the strength to undergo any ordeal we must face. I remember a woman telling me that she was very nervous before a surgery to remove a cancer. As she prayed in the hospital bed, waiting to be taken to the operating room, she had a vision of light that came into the room and surrounded her. It gave her great comfort, so she was able to undergo the surgery with great peace.
One way we can experience profound sacred moments is in dreams. Almost everyone I’ve met has had some dream that is profoundly spiritual and sacred to the person who has had the dream. They may dream of flying effortlessly or they may dream of Jesus coming to visit them. They may dream they are healed of some shame or regret they once had.
My experience has been that the very special dreams we have are meant to prepare us either for a special mission, an ordeal like a surgery or a difficult transformation. For example, a dying person may dream of someone special, a loved one who has already died, coming for them and possibly leading them somewhere. The dream has a sacred quality about it and tends to literally help the dying person die. The dream then is a sacred moment which is preparing the person for transitioning from the worldly plane to the spiritual plane.
All of us have had “sacred moments” in our lives, either in dreams or in lived experiences. Some people have had visions and some have experienced a deep connection with God, nature or another person. What are some of your sacred moments? How have these moments helped you feel that life is worthwhile, even in the midst of the most difficult times? If you are in a low spot in your life you might consider asking for a dream that will present you with a “sacred moment” to get you through the hard times.
The Japanese have a word for one’s life purpose and that is ikigai. It’s what makes you want to wake up in the morning. It’s what motivates you to push through all sorts of obstacles. It’s your reason for living.
Many people aren’t sure what their true igikai or life purpose is, even though they may be in a rewarding job and enjoy a good family life. This unsureness may be felt in a vague restlessness or dissatisfaction that has no specific cause.
The deepest callings of our souls sometimes remain hidden because the timing may not be right for us to know such information or we may not be prepared to receive such news. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to uncover the deep callings. Thomas Merton, a well-known monk and spiritual teacher suggested we may never know what our true vocation is in this life! It may be revealed to us after we die.
Dreams Can Give us Clues to Our Ikigai
Dreams, which are messages from the soul, can give us hints and even outright statements as to what our life purpose is. I remember when I graduated with my new Master’s Degree, I wanted to know how this degree would help me work toward my life’s purpose. I then had a dream in which a voice said, “The purpose of your life is to teach people how to swim in the sea.” Since I am not a strong swimmer, I knew that the dream did not literally mean for me to teach swimming. However, since I just got my degree with emphasis in Religion & Philosophy, I thought the dream was giving me the green light to teach people how to swim in the sea of life. My degree certainly prepared me for that. I have found that after forty years of working, some of the most meaningful jobs have involved helping people “swim” in the sea of life by being a teacher, life coach and writer.
Other Ways Our Dreams Try to Communicate Our Life Purpose:
- Leading us to places in dreamtime, often with a dream guide. If you find you are being led somewhere you don’t know, be sure to ask, “Who is leading me?” The person, spiritual being or animal leading in the dream may give clues about where you are going. For example, I had several dreams of Edgar Cayce leading me and pointing out the right direction to take. Edgar Cayce taught a lot about holistic health, and got me specifically going in this direction—beyond the generalized “swimming in the sea.”
- Opening a door in dreamtime. What is the kind of door and what is beyond the door?
- Going somewhere on a train, plane or boat. What clues can the symbols and processes in the dream give?
Fire: A Symbol of Light and Purification
In a series of blogs on kundalini energy as it appears in dreams, I have written about snakes and volcanoes as being important symbols. Fire and flames are also dramatic and powerful symbols for kundalini energy, and when they occur in dreams, it is hard to forget. The dream is very wise to choose this symbol to convey the workings of kundalini energy because fire is similar to kundalini in that it burns away all that is harmful or not necessary and brings light to guide those touched by its energy.
Working with a Fire Dream
Dreams about things burning can have many meanings on the physical and spiritual level, but first and foremost one should look for a spiritual meaning because all dreams have a spiritual message at some level, and fire dreams are particularly connected to the work of the spirit. The imagery of something burning calls to mind the biblical story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-17). A burning object always attracts our attention and focuses our mind on a dramatic transformation that is taking place before us: the transmutation of something physical into something else such as gas and ash, or in the case of the Burning Bush, the presence of a divine being because the expected transmutation wasn’t taking place. Spirituality is about transformation and being in the presence of the divine.
As in dreams about snakes and volcanoes, one has to ask what is going one in one’s life so that fire and flame appear. A fire dream may be merely an expression of one’s fears about a house catching fire because of fire hazards in the house. However, if one is experiencing strong kundalini energy in one’s body, it may be giving the dreamer a chance to observe what this energy is doing and how it can be managed.
Dream: My Car is on Fire
I am with a friend and some other people. They have just come out of a store. I invite them into my car since I can seat 6 people. When I start the car, a little alert icon on the dashboard goes on and I yell for everyone to get out. The car is on fire! Everyone jumps out and is OK. I want to use my cellphone to call 911 but my friend says not to.
This dream came about a year and a half before I experienced the onset of kundalini energy in my body. A car can be a symbol for the body or for how we get around in life. In any case, it was alerting me to the possibility that my life would be affected by a strong energy like fire. It would cause me fear and concern but the dream is also telling me that I (and the many parts of myself represented by the others) would be OK. My friend (who is a wise and knowledgeable person in waking life) tells me it is not important to call 911. This is odd so it makes me think this dream is not predicting something physical but maybe a spiritual process that is meant to happen. The burning car is a symbol of a transformative process that is OK.