Dreaming Your Life Awake

Australian Aborigines believe that our dreams are our real life, and our waking life is meant to be a path to fulfill them.  I’ve had recurring dreams, meaningful dreams that I still remember vividly, and dreams that have come true much as I dreamed them. I once dreamed a portion of someone else’s lif and had them verify it.

Dreamers, colored pencil on Bristol Board © Quinn McDonald

What’s bothered me about dreams is that they seem personal and meaningful, but dream interpretation seems to be a impersonal, reduced to symbol searches. Many books list the items in dreams and assign them a meaning. You dream of flying, it’s a sign someone is going to die. In another book, flying is sex. (In that book, everything is sex. It doesn’t need to be 300 pages long, one would have been plenty.)

Another school of thought says that you are everyone in your dream. I’m not sure that works for me, either. Many of the people in my dream are known to me and many unknown that represent an idea or warning for me, but they aren’t me.

I think dreams are far more meaningful, and I don’t believe they are random images your brain fans out because you’ve eaten pepperoni pizza late at night. I believe dreams are a connection to the collective unconscious–the past of your cultural ancestors. I think dreams are a map of our lives, a colorful tapestry of adventures, a guide to the path we have chosen, an illuminated manuscript of both our imagination and our possibilities.

After studying with Robert Moss, and reading his books, I’m interested in active dreaming–a combination of shamanic methods and paying attention to ourselves. Moss says, “Our ‘big story’ is stalking us, and if we don’t embrace that story, others will impose their own stories, little stories and ‘small identities’ on us. ”  The only person who can correctly interpret a dream is the dreamer, who has all the information. Well meaning friends, who reach for mass-interpretation of dream, may want to help. But it’s the “fixing” kind of help that isn’t the best answer because it’s someone else’s idea of what we should do.

Moss believes we can re-enter dreams, either in meditation or in subsequent dreams. He believes we need to get lost in the meaning of our dreams to discover their meaning.

I’m keeping track of all this dreaming, waiting to see how I’itoi is meant to be in my life. I’ve chosen to believe that dreaming of I’itoi is not hijacking another culture, it’s freeing my limits. Dreaming sets your soul wandering at night, why should I build a fence around it? Enough people do that already. And maybe that was the meaning I’m learning.

Quinn McDonald is a dreamer, writer, and creativity coach. She never uses faces in her work, but this one, a figure from a dream, worked out.

16 thoughts on “Dreaming Your Life Awake

  1. Pingback: Mesmerising Mount Warning | Home Life Online

  2. I live in far northern New South Wales, just south of the Queensland border. The mountain is Mount Warning, named by Captain James Cook in 1770, when he travelled along the eastern coastline of Australia. Captain Cook named a number of our local landmarks. The top of Mount Warning is where the sun first hits the land each morning as the sun rises. I have quite a few photos of Mount Warning in various posts on my blog.

    The stories of the Indians are great to hear. I find them far more interesting than Aboriginal stories, probably because they are in another country! But even as a child, I loved to watch any shows on TV with Indians in them as I found them fascinating. Keep the stories coming. You will always have a captive audience in me! 🙂

    • I just looked up Mount Warning–wow! What a great natural feature to live close to. I also saw that you are not too close to Kerang and the horrible flooding of January. Meanwhile, I’ve discovered two of your blogs–are there more? Leave a list so we can explore. I think we always love what isn’t familiar, so I find the Aboriginal tales of dream time fascinating. But Arizona is well-haunted, both by the present and the past.

  3. The Aboriginals are extremely spiritual people. My home overlooks a mountain and I live in an area where many landmarks have two names; the European name and the Aboriginal. The mountain is calming, and mesmerising! I’m sure the spirits of the Aboriginals are within the mountain.

    Thinking about the Aboriginals, I thought again of I’itoi. Do you live in Arizona? For some reason I’m thinking I read that somewhere. And I believe the Indians have a long history in Arizona. You would surely be affected by the spirits of the Indians, just as I am by the spirits of the Aboriginals.

    I like your idea that I’itoi is freeing your limits. And I’m just loving your dream stories! 🙂

    • Yes, Joanne, the Tohono O’odoham were the first people in Southern Arizona. They are still the largest land-owning tribe in the state. Arizona had more than 21 different Indian tribes who lived here over its history. The TO dug the irrigation canals that are still in use today. They are related to the Pima, the Gila River tribes, the Hohokam (which means ‘vanished’ in Tohono O’odham) and the Papago. And you are right. I would surely be affected by the spirits of the ones whose land this is. What mountain do you live close to?

  4. I’ve been listening to Martha Beck’s “Steering by Starlight”. She does an entire section on dreams. You’re right–the symbolism is highly personal, and will only have meaning for YOU. You have to take on the role of each person/animal/event in your dream and understand it’s highly personal meaning for you.

    If you can borrow, beg or steal a copy, try that section and see if her insights help. I was astonished by her concepts, and can’t wait to try them myself!

    • I have her books AND the MP3–and found them fascinating. Very much along the line of Robert Moss, too. I’ve done a few dream-meaning courses and was never satisfied with the ones that require a “one-size-fits-all-meaning” books.

  5. I feel the same way about dreams, we need to think on them to find the unique meaning of them. I dreamed once about a dream dictionary, a giant hand came out of the sky and knocked the dream dictionary out of my hand and a loud voice proclaimed, “No! Think!” The pages of the dictionary scattered in the wind.

  6. Maybe this sounds a little bit crazy but I wounder now whether I’itoi has connected you in your dreams with nature’s movements and showed a tsunami coming up..
    I mean when I watched the worldnews this morning I felt shocked and later in the day I remembered the dream your wrote about…
    Just a humble idea.

    • I hadn’t thought of that at all, being selfish and thinking the dream was about me, but dreams take away the idea of a time continuum as well as a space continuum. Einstein was quick to say “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

  7. Wow…love this post…that connection with you through dreaming is back…I feel a strong pull to read about your dreaming and wonder on its meaning for you. Just thought today about one VERY strong dream I recently had. I received many real life connections, and discoverd some profound answers for myself.

    I am now really thinking about “dreaming my life awake” and wonder about the bears from my dreams…they are like shape shifters…very real, perhaps only appear as bears, and even if all of the bears become extinct, I would still connect to “bear”….the ideas behind the image I perceive. Thinking more on this one….


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