Our dreams are populated with all sorts of interesting characters – friends, family, strangers, fictional characters, animals, mythical beings, Gods and Goddesses. Each night when we close our eyes and give ourselves over to dreamland we gain unique opportunities to interact with intelligences with which we normally don’t have contact.
Some explain these dream figures as parts of ourselves that manifest through our subconscious when we are asleep. Others believe that these figures have their own independent existence. Perhaps they are the astral forms of living people. Maybe they are discorporate spirits or ghosts, angels or demons, perhaps even Gods and Goddesses. It doesn’t really matter how we explain their existence. There are things we can learn from them regardless how we explain their presence.
Dream characters have fluid forms. They can take all manner of shapes and appearances. Just because they appear to us as family, friends, or people we recognize it doesn’t mean they really are those people. A dream figure might appear as one of your parents in one dream and then come back to you in another dream in the guise of a well-known celebrity, or as a stranger. They might appear as humans, animals, mythical creatures, or even as inanimate objects. Sometimes we might recognize a dream character as being familiar to us even though it has taken a new form. Sometimes we don’t realize that a dream figure has appeared to us before in another form.
Some people are lucky enough to be able to remember most of their dreams and can even choose to go back into a particular dream and continue it. More often, though, we only remember bits and pieces of our dreams and not the whole narrative. Remembering a whole dream, let alone going back into a particular dream, can be difficult. There are other ways though we can reach into our dreams and draw meaning from them.
Think about dreams that you do remember regardless how much of the dream comes to mind or whether any of it makes any sense to your logical mind. Are there any people in your dreams, human or animal, that feel important to you? Were there any that you felt particularly drawn to, or conversely felt were scary? Strong emotion, whether it is positive or negative, can indicate that a particular dream figure is important for you.
Perhaps there is a particular dream figure you find intriguing. Was there someone you wanted to spend more time with in your dreams? Someone you thought might be a good friend if you gave the relationship a chance? Perhaps there was someone who might have information that can help you with a particular problem. Maybe that dream figure is antagonistic towards you but you can still gain valuable information by talking with them, even if you know they might be lying.
Dream figures are often most helpful if we treat them like they are real people with their own opinions, desires, and emotions. Don’t assume that they will always tell you the truth, or even if they are telling the truth, that they are telling you the whole story. Ask them for their opinions but take what they say and balance it against your own better judgment. Just because a dream character appears to you in the form of close friend does not mean that they are who they appear to be. They might not be able to tell you things that their real-life counterpart would know. Treat them like you would any stranger until you really have established a solid relationship with them. As you start to establish a relationship with them, ask them questions that you can easily confirm so you can try to guarantee the dream figure’s identity and the value of their information.
It’s wise to start your dream figure dialogs with some ritual designed to protect you. You wouldn’t just throw your front door wide open and invite any random stranger to come into your home to talk with you. Spiritualists recite the Lord’s Prayer or other prayers requesting protection before attempting to contact spirits. Ceremonial magicians attempting to summon spirits often use carefully constructed magick circles and triangles of manifestation. Wiccans usually cast a circle, or at the very least recite some protective prayers to the Divine, and maybe light some protective incense or sprinkle blessed water to cleanse and protect. Do whatever makes sense to you so that you feel grounded, centered, and safe before you start.
Once you feel ready, calm your mind and take a few deep breaths, then think about the dream figure you wish to contact. Think about how they appeared in your dream, what they looked like, and how they sounded if they spoke. Remember as many details as you can about them. If they used a particular name in the dream, think of that name and repeat it to yourself either silently or out loud.
Some people are able to visualize the dream character well enough that they can start to interact with it immediately. Others might find it more helpful to use props to aid in the communication – perhaps gazing into a crystal ball, a bowl of water, or a skrying mirror. Some find they have great luck using a pendulum. Personally, I find that using the tarot works really well.
When you feel that you’ve made contact with a dream figure, start with simple yes and no questions. Shuffle the deck, think of a particular question, and then turn over a card at random when it feels right. The card that is turned over gives a basic answer: an even numbered card means yes, an odd numbered card means no, and a court card means the dream figure doesn’t know or can’t answer that particular question right now. Once you’ve got an answer, put the card back in the deck and shuffle some more and ask the next question. Sometimes a question needs to be asked a number of times, worded slightly different ways, to turn up a solid response. As always, treat the answers as just this dream figure’s opinion and not necessarily as proven fact.
Often simple yes and no questions are not enough and you want to move on to a more sophisticated discussion. The tarot is perfect for this sort of communication too. There are many different layouts that you can use which can focus on different types of information.
A simple layout I often use is a basic four-card spread. I’ll ask the dream figure a question, and then turn up four cards. The first card represents the dream figure’s way of explaining the key part of the question I asked. The second card represents positive aspects of the question. The third card represents negative aspects of the question. Finally, the fourth card tells me what the dream figure suggests as a possible way to resolve the question.
Four cards just aren’t enough sometimes. In those cases, lay out further cards for specific aspects of the four-card reading. Ask, “What else can you say about this part?” for a particular position you need clarified and then lay out a new card along with the card that is already turned up for that position. Interpret the new card as modifying or adding on to the card that is already there. This can go on for a while with lots more information turning up. Of course, other more complex tarot layouts can be used as well if the basic four-card spread isn’t satisfying.
When you communicate with a dream figure treat them like real people. Show them respect, and accept that they might not want to tell you what you are asking. Ask them to talk about themselves, listen to what they have to say. When your discussion is over be sure to thank them for talking with you. You might find you are rewarded with a new friend!
http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/links/spreads.shtml Links to explanations of different tarot layouts or spreads.
Raymond Buckland “Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communication ” (Llewellyn: 2004.) A good overview of spirit communication methods that also work when communicating with dream figures.
Dr. Ann Faraday “Dream Power ” (Berkeley Books: 1972.) A small paperback that discusses dreams, dream interpretation, and some ways to explore dreams by interacting with dream figures.
Strephon Kaplan-Williams “The Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual ” (Journey Press: 1988.) An excellent collection of dreamwork techniques. Unfortunately this book is out of print and tends to be hard to find.