I am a natural dreamer and lucid dreamer. But I still have the memory of my education sewing the seed of doubt. Being a dreamer was not encouraged! Maybe I just went to the wrong school. The art teacher was hardly ever there, with the notable exception of Reggie Renshaw. The creative writing tuition was dull dull dull, and, as for a mention of the 'dreaming arts,' not one look in. Perhaps things are different now? I hope so, for it is through our dreams that we tap into our aspirations and our creative source. It's through our subconscious that we tap into...well, the really interesting stuff. Sure, the left side of the brain is essential for the waking world, but ask yourself this: what manufactured object be it a building or a chair did not come to us through creative imagination first...through our dreams?
Whilst travelling in Canada throughout most of 1997 and then again in 2002, I was lucky enough to meet some First Nation people and take part in Sweat Lodge, Vision Quest, Fire Walk and Drum Journey Ceremonies. I was even lucky to meet people back here in Edinburgh who held regular drumming journeys. There is nothing like exercising your right to dream, and I do mean exercising. Once the directions are given with due honours and the guardians are called in, a sacred place is created for the drumming to begin. It is a sacred thing accessing this dream world. Done in the right way, you can learn so much about a side of your self and your world. You may need an animal guide to show you the right path to take or who gifts you with some courage, cunning, confidence, wisdom, transformative power. - or even their magic! - to guide you on your way.
Once you forge a link with this side of your self, you build a bridge between the right and left hemispheres of your brain and your creativity and sense of identity expands. With more experience, you begin to get to know yourself more and more, and, at the same time the way you relate to the world around you changes. Everything becomes more vibrant, more alive, more exciting.
I'll tell you a true story. I lost my keys once whilst sitting in long, long grass high on a hillside overlooking Brighton. All of my flatmates were out, and when I got home, I was locked out! I figured they must have fallen out in the grass. My chance of finding them was so very slim! So I started the long walk back. As I approached the hillside, I saw a Kestrel. Immediately, without hesitation, I spoke out loud to the Kestral. “Oh Kestral you have the sharpest eyes, I have lost my shiny keys, please can you help me?” The Kestral broke from its masterful hovering, swooped around, hovered once more, and then dove down to the ground. I raced over and sure enough - there were my keys. Result!
For storytellers and artists,, having regular drumming journeys can be a very useful experience. It lets you enter into any character’s senses and emotions in a more intimate way. Having been eaten by a leopard in your dream, you awaken with more cat-like reflexes; you move with more grace, you know hunger differently and a knowing patience fills your cells. Does this all too shamanic for you? Such a dream might scare you as a child, unless you are taught to understand the process. In First Nation cultures, this kind of dream is a 'medicine dream.’ A medicine dream? Yes, a medicine dream! By experiencing a medicine dream, you can gain new strength, a strength to work with and nurture, to deepen into and to use to help others when they could use a bit of cat-like cool.
My own dreaming adventures came to a peak when one night I had a particularly vivid dream return to me after a nine-year gap. The very same dream. I wrote it down, and kept on writing. Story upon story poured out of me, and, over time - with a lot of patience and editing - it became a book. It's called ‘When We All Dream Together.’ It's about what happens when thirteen people around the world are guided to meet The Dream Wizards, and what happens when they learn to dream lucidly together. If they can believe in their dreams, learn how to re enter them at will and meet each other in waking life they can spark a dreaming revolution. Are they true? Are they worthy?Are They ready?
What if you could return at will to these dreams and share them with others? Enjoy.
Ken Shapley is a storyteller artist and Drum Journey practitioner living in Edinburgh. He can be booked for storytelling or drum journeys for children and adults through the Scottish Storytelling Centre.