I have heard it said that the dream world is the real world and our waking world is but a dream. That’s a strange notion, isn’t it? Dreamtime was what the Aboriginal tribes called non-ordinary reality—or the journey world. There is some sense that the ancients saw journeying as another form of dreaming, and they weren’t wrong. Certainly, there are similarities in these two states of consciousness.
When you sleep, your brain waves settle down to 1 to 3 cycles per second, compared to waking (the alpha state), when your brain wave cycles can increase anywhere from 8 to 20 cycles per second. Journeying induces another state of consciousness (theta), which lies between waking and sleeping, but probably is closer to the delta state of sleep, running at about 4 to 7 cycles per second.
The shamanic journey is sometimes called a “lucid dream” or what Robert Moss likes to calls a “conscious dream.” The body is not asleep and the mind is tuned into the flow of the unconscious, able to ask questions and decipher meaning as the images arise. The journeyer engages in active communication with what is happening in a way the sleeper cannot.
But, if the shaman is doing her job, and is being the “hollow bone”, the evolution of the journey can be as spontaneous as a dream. The imagery can spill right out the shaman’s own life in an imaginal language perhaps only she can interpret. And, like dreams, journeys can be prescient and revelatory.
So, what does it mean to say the world of dreamtime is more real? Well, in shamanic terms, there are a number of ways of thinking about this. First of all, you might consider the fact that when a shaman goes into the spirit world, it is to obtain clarity and understanding about something in the everyday world that is not understood. (e.g., why is my marriage failing? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Why did this accident occur? Why am I so sad?) That’s kind of like dream interpretation, and why journeying is called “going to source.” And I suppose that may make non-ordinary reality more truthful or real.
The shaman finds the spirit world to be a font of wisdom and power. It is understood that what takes place in the journey world will follow in ordinary reality. Insights gained there shift thinking and behavior here. Healing which transpires there creates healing here.
The shaman observes that a regular practice of journeying into the spirit world changes you. It broadens your viewpoint, helps you to let go of judgment, encourages you to value yourself more, and makes living your life more manageable. It gives you equilibrium.
I have said this before, so bear with me while I say it again: you were not meant to live in ordinary reality 24/7. To ignore the spiritual aspect of your being. To make decisions based on fear and need instead of wisdom and compassion. You were not meant to go it alone. Or believe that you must.
The truth of who you are and why you are here and why what is happening to you is happening is to you is to be found in the other world, the spirit world, the dreamtime. Maybe that’s what makes it more real.
It certainly, to my way of thinking, is where the power is—the power to heal, the power to understand, to find yourself, to gain inner peace, direction, and contentment. And, it is also the place to bring your dreams into reality.
When I have a goal in mind, something I wish to make manifest in my life, I typically journey to my guides and ask for insight into the best way to bring that goal about. I do not wish to create something that is not for the greatest good, that will distract me from my spiritual path, or ultimately create more karma. I want to manifest in an informed way. I have grown to see the wisdom in turning over the inner workings of my life to spirit, to simply ask that what is made manifest in my life serve the highest good.
You’ve probably created situations in your own life that didn’t go smoothly and possibly took you years to dig yourself out of. So, I think you know what I’m talking about here. It might take a lot of wrong turns for life to convince you that handing over the reigns is probably the best policy.
I can’t dream into being anything so magnificent as spirit can, so I give my guides and helping spirits free reign there. I ask them to suggest possibilities to me. And then it is my job to lend my energy and enthusiasm and creativity to those possibilities and make them real.
It is in this way that the shaman dreams the world into being.