This piece was written to accompany a proposed workshop in an ecological centre on dreams and the links betwen dreams and nature.
Nature and dreams are unexpectedly connected bed-fellows. Both are suffering in our industrial age, both colonized by matter and by over rationality. To phrase it in the positive both stand for the wild and the mysterious in an age where neither figure too far in our GDP and ‘to do’ lists. Dreams seemingly are a visual nocturnal experience which mostly we forget and dismiss before moving onto daily life with coffee in hand all set to conquer the world or at least our flickering screen. What possible use could wilderness and our evening’s internal slideshow give us?
It is in the fact that the dream is uncontrolled by us, that their potency is most apparent. We receive messages every night, as Jung termed it – a letter from ourselves to ourselves – which are untouched by our daily concerns, biases and preferences. It is a pure and powerful message that we give ourselves, if we can but understand.
Likewise wilderness has its own extraordinary complex and refined evolutionary perfection, which we meddle with at our cost. Dreams and the world of myth and the non-rational have their own wisdom which speaks to us on their terms. They need to be understood in a way that brings all of us, emotional, spiritual, and rational together. Every night, they communicate to us individually and at times collectively, about our deeper natures, our individual purposes and worlds which we can normally but guess at. They can be premonitionary to an extraordinary degree. If we can make friends with how ‘messages of the night’ speaks to us in ways which we will not comprehend with our socialized minds, then slowly we will understand more of who we really are. Not to de-value our minds and rationality per se, it is just that for understanding dreams another part of our human diversity is needed in understanding them. Namely a left brain intuitive, puts the dots together type of intelligence. Likewise if we approach nature with respect and awe, then we will be enriched by nature. Who doesn’t feel better after a hike or a sail? Both dreams and nature need this respect and humility to truly understand them. The destruction of the planet happens, I would suggest, by people or parts of ourselves out of touch with their dreaming life. Mindell the founder of Process Work says that in the West we have an unnoticed low level chronic depression through the lack of awareness of dreaming (and magic) in our lives. CG Jung said that the dreaming world is as real as waking life. When that is understood, which is a stretch initially, then life and our worldviews of ‘reality’, are stretched to be in awe of more than our human smallness and in turn reflect a respect and care for all of ourselves and all of nature and all of our psychologies.
Dreams and nature spring from the same root, mother nature, a physical manifestation of Gaia’s evolutionary brilliance. Our dreams, can only be understood by being in accord with the meta qualities, and in a sense the pace of nature herself. In a poetic and dreaming sense, our dreams are as real as the hills we see every day with the multitude of fauna and flora in them.
If we try to conquer dreams (and so many try through lucid dreaming, pills and alcohol) like an engineer carving a road through a pristine landscape we will suffer through losing the way to awe and humility.
So dreams and nature are allies, siblings emerging from the same root, the Gaian mother who in her unfathomable way birthed us all. How then to understand our place in the world, our unique journey, and how to heal and unfold all of ourselves? It is by slowing down and taking time to watch nature and how nature speaks to us; and to notice our dreams. The journey of a 1000 miles starts with one step and this is one of those early steps. It matters not if we live on the 40 floor of a high rise, nature will infuse us and effect us in our dreaming and in our lives.
Dreams and the dreaming include day-dreams, and anything that grabs our attention unexpectedly. The seeming small co-incidences life at times presents, the way something unusual can grab us, like a fictional character, can reveal deeper worlds beyond our self knowledge. Our day ‘dreaming’ can tell us there is far more too us than what we are consciously aware of and how we identify in the world.
Dreams are universal and are in most if not all scriptures. Archetypes and symbols are also universal and by definition beyond the momentary, they span eras. By their natures dreams are symbolic and can take us all further into our deeper natures. The Australian Aboriginals wisdom, so easily ignored in the last two hundred years, has enormous impact environmentally. If we can see the physical world as a living ‘dreaming’ which speaks to us individually, and not only that but speaks to our problems and has answers, then like a river leading to the sea, surely we will effortlessly respect our world.