Sigmund Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious,” but to bestselling author and world-renowned dream explorer Robert Moss, they are more: portals to the imaginal realm, a higher reality that exists at the intersection of time and eternity. The traveler’s tales in this book are just-so stories in the sense that they spring from direct experience in the many worlds. As you journey from the temple of the Great Goddess at Ephesus to an amazing chance encounter on an airplane, from Dracula country in Transylvania to the astral realm of Luna, you’ll confirm that the doors to the otherworld open from wherever you are. You’ll see what it means to live on a mythic edge and to make a deal with your personal Death for a life extension. At any moment, you may fall, like the author, into the lap of a goddess or the jaws of an archetype.
We hope you enjoy this interview with the author about his new book Mysterious Realities: A Dream Traveler’s Tales from the Imaginal Realm.
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What is “dream travel”? How do we become dream travelers?
In ancient and indigenous understanding, dreaming is traveling. In big dreams, we make visits and receive visitations. We travel across time and space, and to places where the dead are alive, as well as visiting alternate realities. Once we connect with our dreams and wake up to what is going on, we can begin to develop the practice of lucid dream travel.
An ideal departure lounge is the half-dream state of what sleep researchers call hypnagogia. In the middle of the night, or the early morning, you find yourself drifting between sleep and awake. If you can train yourself to maintain a state of relaxed attention in this in-between state, you will notice that you may be receiving a whole menu of possibilities for lucid dream travel.
This twilight state is a good place to become aware of your ability to travel beyond the body. I often find myself lifting out of the body quite effortlessly in this state. Sometimes when I am very tired, I simply rest half in and half out of my physical form. Sometimes I float up to the ceiling. Quite often I like to go flying like a bird to places far away.
This is one of the royal roads to lucid dreaming. The other is a practice I call “dream reentry,” which is when a dream has some energy and you choose to consciously go back into the dream to continue it. You may want to reenter a dream to clarify what was going on, or talk to your deceased grandmother, or explore a parallel world, or scout out a possible future. You may need to reenter a dream because there are terrors to be overcome, or a mystery to be explored, or simply because you were having fun and adventure and would like to have more.
There is a story in your new book called “Dreamtakers” and it paints a terrifying picture of what it means to lose our dreams. What can we do to recover our dream life?
In contemporary society, “dream drought” is a widespread affliction — almost a pandemic. This can be deadly serious, because night dreams are an essential corrective to the delusions of the day. They hold up a mirror to our everyday actions and attitudes and put us in touch with deeper sources of knowing than the everyday mind. If we lose our dreams, we can lose our inner compass. If our dreams have disappeared, it may be because we have lost the part of us that is the dreamer.
Traditional Iroquois say bluntly that if we have lost our dreams, it is because we have lost a vital part of our soul. This may have happened early in life through what shamans call “soul loss,” when our magical child went away because the world seemed too cold and cruel. Helping the dream-bereft to recover their dreams may amount to bringing lost souls back to the lives and bodies where they belong. In “Dreamtakers,” I describe a shamanic journey to help return dream souls to people who have lost them. This is something I personally teach and practice.
There are several ways we can break a dream drought, and we can do it any night we want to. Set a juicy intention for the night and be ready to record whatever shows up upon awakening. Even if it is just a dream fragment — be kind to it. The wispiest trace of a dream can be exciting to play with, and as you play with it you may find you are pulling back more of the previously forgotten dream.
If you don’t remember a dream when you first wake up, laze in bed for a few minutes and see if something comes back. Wiggle around in the bed. Sometimes returning to the body posture we were in earlier in the night helps to bring back what we were dreaming when our bodies were arranged that way.
If you still don’t have a dream, write something down anyway — whatever is in your awareness, including feelings and physical sensations. You are catching the residue of a dream even if the dream itself is gone. As you do this, you are saying to the source of your dreams: “I’m listening. Talk to me.”
You may find that though your dreams have flown, you have a sense of clarity and direction that is the legacy of the night. We solve problems in our sleep even when we don’t remember the problem-solving process that went on in our dreaming minds.
And remember that you don’t need to go to sleep in order to dream. The incidents of everyday life will speak to us like dream symbols if we are willing to pay attention. Keep a lookout for the first unusual or striking thing that enters your field of perception in the course of the day and ask whether there could be a message there. When we make it a game to pay attention to coincidences and symbolic pop-ups in everyday life, we oil the dream gates so they let more through from the night.
You invented the word “kairomancer” to describe someone who is poised to recognize and act in special moments of synchronicity. How does one become a kairomancer?
Synchronicity is when the universe gets personal. Traditionally defined, it is “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” Though the concept was created by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, the phenomenon has been recognized, and highly valued, from the most ancient times. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus maintained that the deepest order in our experienced universe is the effect of “a child playing with game pieces” in another reality — as the game pieces fall, we notice the reverberations in our own reality.
When we pay attention, we find that we are given signs by the world around us every day. Like a street sign, a synchronistic event may seem to say “Stop” or “Go” or “Dead End” or “Fast Lane.” Beyond these signs, we find ourselves moving in a field of symbolic resonance which not only reflects back our inner themes and preoccupations, but provides confirmation and/or course corrections. A symbol is more than a sign: it brings together what we know with what we do not yet know.
Through the weaving of synchronicity, we awaken to a hidden order of events — to the understory of our world and our lives. You do not need to travel far to encounter powers of the deeper world or hear oracles speak. You are at the center of the multidimensional universe, right now. The extraordinary lies in plain sight — in the midst of the ordinary — if only you pay attention. The doors to the Otherworld open from wherever you are, and the traffic moves both ways.
I invented the word kairomancer to describe someone who is ready to recognize and act in special moments of synchronicity when time works differently and opportunity strikes. It incorporates the name of Kairos, a Greek god who personifies a kind of time that is altogether different from the tedious linear concept of time. It is that special moment of “jump time” when more is possible than you ever imagined before.
To become a kairomancer, you need to check your attitude as you walk the roads of this world, because your attitude goes ahead of you, generating events around the next corner. You need to take dreams more literally and the events of waking life more symbolically. You need to take care of your poetic health. Expect the unexpected, make friends with surprises, and never miss that special moment when the universe gives you an invisible wink or handshake.
Many of the stories in your book involve awakening to the possibility that we are living parallel lives in parallel worlds. How can we explore our own parallel worlds?
In physics, the hypothesis of the “Many Interactive Worlds” suggests that we live right now, in one of countless parallel universes that impact each other. Part of the secret logic of our lives may be that our paths constantly interweave with those of numberless parallel selves. The gifts and failings of these alternate selves may influence us in ways that we generally fail to recognize.
We are connected to our parallel selves in a multidimensional drama and this may generate events in all our parallel lives that may appear as “chance” to those who do not understand the trans-temporal patterns. The hidden hand suggested by synchronistic events may be that of another personality within our multidimensional family, reaching out to us from what we normally perceive as “past” or “future,” or from a parallel or other dimension.
When we experience déjà vu and feel certain that we have been in a certain situation before, this may mean that we are close on the heels of a parallel self. Serial dreams, in which we find ourselves returning to the same people and places may also be glimpses of a continuous life of a parallel self in a parallel world, in which different choices were made. Physicist Brian Greene speculates that we all have “endless doppelgangers” leading parallel lives in parallel universes.
Once you have mastered serial dreaming, you may be ready to journey as a lucid dream traveler into a parallel life to dismiss old regrets and claim gifts and knowledge from your selves who made different choices. This can effect a quantum shift in your present reality and life story.
The stories in Mysterious Realities are full of encounters with the dead, both interacting with the deceased and visits to places where the dead are living on the Other Side. Is contact with the deceased really as natural and easy as you suggest?
I am often among the dead in my dreams. Sometimes I remember that they are dead, and other times I don’t. My father has come many times since his death with helpful advisories for me and our family. Sometimes my dream travels take me to new environments on the Other Side where the dead are enjoying new lives. They show me around and I learn first-hand about this new lifestyle and the real estate options available after death.
Contact with the deceased, especially in dreams, isn’t weird or unusual or even truly supernatural. It happens for three reasons: the dead have never “left” and are still with us; the dead want to visit us from wherever they are; or we travel to the realms of the dead where they are now living.
The immense body of scientific research and data on near-death experiences (NDEs) is evidence of the survival of consciousness after the physical body has closed down. When you become a conscious dream traveler, you confirm through your own experience that awareness is not confined to the body and brain, and therefore is able to survive death. You are ready to learn that healing and forgiveness are always available across the apparent barrier of death, and to develop your personal geography of the afterlife.
One of the most interesting things I have learned is that the living may be called upon to play guides and counselors for the dead. “The Silent Lovers” is a just-so story about interacting with the dead in my book. It was quite shocking to me as it unfolded — I was called to play advocate for a dead man, who was otherwise a stranger. Irish poet William Butler Yeats was right when he said with poetic clarity that the living have the ability to “assist the imaginations of the dead.”
Your book’s subtitle is “Tales from the Imaginal Realm.” What is the “Imaginal Realm?”
There is a world between time and eternity with structures created by thought that outlast anything on Earth. This is the “Imaginal Realm.” You may enter it through the gate of dreams, or the gate of death, or on the nights when you drop your body like a bathrobe. Here you will find schools, palaces, places of adventure, healing, and initiation.
The Imaginal Realm is a fundamental ground of knowledge and experience. In this realm human imagination meets intelligences from higher realities, and they co-construct places of healing, instruction and initiation. Here ideas and powers beyond the grasp of the ordinary human mind – call them archetypes, tutelary spirits, gods or daimons– take on guises humans can begin to perceive and understand.
The great medieval Sufi philosopher Suhrawardi insisted both on the objective reality of the Imaginal Realm and that the way to grasp it is the way of experience: “pilgrims of the spirit succeed in contemplating this world and they find there every object of their desire.” To know the realm of true imagination, you must go there yourself. Happily for us all – once we wake up to what is going on — the doors can open in dreams, as well as in the fertile place between sleep and awake, or even in a special moment of synchronicity when the universe gets personal.
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Robert Moss is the author of Mysterious Realities and numerous other books about dreaming, shamanism, and imagination. He is a novelist, poet, and independent scholar, and the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism. He leads creative and shamanic adventures all over the world. Visit him online at www.mossdreams.com.