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From my third Raiðo supporter comes this topic:
“Any recommendations on how to incorporate dream-work into one’s Heathen way of life?”
It depends on the dreamwork we are talking about. I will not be digging into dreamwork as approached by Freud, Jung, or others as talked about on the Wikipedia page. Rather, I will be approaching as a kind of spiritwork and how we might approach it. Before we dig into this, dreamwork is not one of my specialties, it is not something I have engaged in recently, and everyone may experience dreamwork in different ways.
As with a lot of spiritwork I recommend caution before applying something to your life. A while back a dear Brother of mine, Jim Stovall, coined the phrase Spiritual Accounting. Jim’s formula is (M+C³)xR=V. M is message, C is Confirmation, R is results, and V is verified. He actually has a spreadsheet with Gods, Ancestors, and spirits he puts through this evaluation and it has borne good results for him. You can actually buy a shirt here and here that displays it and supports our podcast, Around the Grandfather Fire. In previous writing I have likened it to a three-legged stool, where we have lore (written and archaeological records), experiences (our own and others’), and divination.
So what is dreamwork? I understand and approach dreamwork in two ways: as getting messages from the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir in dreams, or accomplishing tasks/goals. With regard to getting messages, sometimes they can be quite vague and may require some deep work to understand, or even a follow-up with other divination. Sometimes this comes in the form of lucid dreams and other times it is under direction by a God, Ancestor, vaettr, or group of Them.
Most of my dreams are random psychological phenomena or entertaining. The ones that definitely involve the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir happen every so often and not with any pattern I can discern. I have not been pushed to encourage them, and to be honest, I will not since so much of my free time is taken up with spirit work.
What can I offer to those who are interested or are being pushed to engage in dreamwork? Questions and advice, mostly.
Why engage in dreamwork? Is it part of your toolbox, or a part of your toobox that you want to expand? Are you being required to work with this technique by a God, Goddess, Ancestor, vaettr, or group of Them? If you have a choice in engaging with this tool, is there a better one you could learn to work with where you have more direct control, or one that might be better suited to the aims you want to accomplish with this technique?
What tools do you already have at your disposal that will allow you dreamwork to be effective and remembered well by you? Do you have a journal to record the work, the experience, and the results? Do you have alarms set so you do not just float away and ignore your body’s needs too long? Do you need all but essential electronics turned off? Do you need isolation, silence, or darkness for a few hours, day(s), and do you have the means to get that? All of these are useful tools for anyone considering dreamwork.
What tools do you need to bring in for dreamwork? If you have a hard time getting to sleep or coming out of sleep have you spoken with a doctor about it and if there are options you have not tried yet? Some folks find it easier to sleep hot and others cold. Some folks find added weight, such as with a weighted blanket, helps them to fall asleep and stay asleep longer. While I would avoid caffeinated drinks, especially before dreamwork, a specially made tea for the working can be a powerful preparation. So might satchet pillows, charms under, over, or around your sleeping area. Stuffed animals and blankets with designs of any helping spirits, fylgja, etc can be a good way to bring them in.
When you have determined why you are going to engage in dreamwork setting the stage is going to be pretty important. You are not merely going to sleep. You are lying down to sleep with a spiritual purpose. It is not altogether different than if you were preparing for útiseta (sitting out, such as at a grave, mound, or riverside), hamfara (literally skin/shape travel/fare, to fare forth in your hamr or second skin/self), or other spiritwork. In fact, what your dreamwork may have you do would be hamfara, so preparing for that can save you from being spiritually hurt or lost. So, putting together protection, including shields, wards, and anchor-points for your soul parts well ahead of time would be at the top of my list. Well before any kind of spiritwork I would have at least a weekly preparation, and at least in the three weeks leading up to the working an every day preparation of cleansing, grounding, centering, and shielding. The day of the dreamwork, before lying down to sleep, do another round of that preparation, and double check your wards, anchors, and any other tools you are bringing into the dreamwork.
The reason I brought up the journal so early in this post is because it could well be one of, if not the most important tool for this work. Done well, a journal for spiritwork functions as a kind of work log, grimoire, record, diary, and personal journal all in one. Done poorly it becomes a literal paperweight and something you have to work to push through to write in. So, do whatever you need to so your journal is organized, moddable to your needs, and functions well. Take those steps now so you are not scrambling should you need to reference a working or try to remember something. This journal will also help you track your progress and long-term trends in your dreamwork. The journal can be digital, print, or both. Whatever your choice it needs to be accessible upon waking up. You can lose infromation in