ROBERT MOSS is the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of modern psychology and shamanism, and offers workshops on dreaming, creativity, and shamanism throughout the world. He is also a bestselling novelist, journalist, and independent scholar. More information at MossDreams.com.
You begin Growing Big Dreams by saying, ‘The greatest crisis of our lives is a crisis of imagination.’ Please explain.
We get stuck and set ourselves up for failure because we buy into a limited or self-defeating version of reality, and refuse to see our situation differently.
The answer lies within us, in the power of imagination. We are ruled by images; they are the ‘facts of the mind’ (as Coleridge called them) that turn us on and turn us off and program our bodies for wellness or disease. To live richer and more creative lives, we want to learn to choose the images to which we give energy and belief.
True imagination is quite different from idle fantasy. Dreaming wide awake is much more than daydreaming. It is not merely wishful thinking, but a way of wish fulfillment.
Your way becomes easier when you recognize that you have a master teacher available all times. The Great Imagineer in your life is your inner child, who has all the imagination you will ever need. You may have lost contact with this prodigy because of pain or disappointment in your younger life. I want to show you how to bring your Magical Child home.
Your body believes in images. I want to help you create a personal Emporium of Images that will help your body get well and stay well. You will stock your emporium with fresh images harvested from your life memories, your dreams, and the visions that will come to you during the drumming journeys and meditations in the course.
I want to awaken you to what shamans, poets and mystics have always known: there are places of imagination that are altogether real. I can show you departure lounges for adventure travel to places of healing, creation and adventure in the Imaginal Realm. (continued)
You say, ‘Your big story is hunting you.’ What do you mean?
Australian Aborigines say that the big stories are hunting the right people to tell them, like predators stalking prey in the bush. The trick is to put ourselves in a place where the big stories can find us. We do that when we attend to our dreams and the dreamlike play of symbols and synchronicity in the world around us. We want to learn to step out of the tired old stories we have inherited from family, from other people telling us who we are, from personal histories of failure and defeat. When we are seized by the big story, we step beyond limiting definitions and beliefs. As P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, wrote, ‘Myth, by design, makes it clear that we are meant to be something more than our personal history.’ Great healing becomes available because we can now draw on the immense energy that is generated by the sense of serving a larger purpose and living a mythic life. The muse, or creative genius, and the intelligences of the world behind the world come to support our life projects, because we are following a deeper call.
Through your online courses you see literally thousands of dream reports every month Are people dreaming more and are there common themes you are seeing during the pandemic?
In our time of pandemic, many more people are paying attention to dreams and are willing to share them and talk about them. While some of the dreams reflect anxiety and trauma, others offer life-supporting messages and access to worlds of adventure, healing and possibility. In these lockdown times, many dreamers find relief and comfort in the fact that, dreaming, we can travel without leaving home and can be as social as we like. Beyond this, dreams may give us tools and resources and sources of inner guidance beyond the reach of the everyday mind. Remember that every dream, large or small, tells you more than you already know,
I receive many reports of encounters with the deceased in dreams and half-dream states of hypnagogia. The dead appear as they are — that is to say, alive in another reality. A woman named Ava dreamed that her departed mother started up a conversation by saying, with a chuckle, ‘Remember when we both thought I was dead?’ Often the deceased have adjusted their appearance to look much younger and healthier than when last seen by their survivors. Sometimes they come visiting; sometimes the dreamer finds herself traveling to their realms
Many recent dream reports provide a glimpse of the living arrangements the departed have created for themselves on the Other Side. In some of these dreams, the departed seem to be engaged in arranging comfortable living quarters for friends or family members who will be joining them. Instead of being scared by their dreams of the dead, most of those reporting emerged calm and confident, assured that life goes on in one world or another. Crossing to the Other Side was a prominent theme. It was clear that dreams of this depth are coming through because they are needed
How do dreams show us the secret wishes of our soul?
One of the greatest gifts of dreaming is that it puts us in touch with soul. It takes us beyond the limited understanding of the everyday self and shows us who we are, what our soul’s purpose is in this life experience and what our heart truly yearns for. There is a word for this vital function of dreams in the language of the Huron, a dreaming people of North America. The word is ondinnonk, and it means a ‘secret wish of the soul, especially as revealed in dreams. This expression takes us to the heart of healing. By connecting with our dreams, and celebrating and acting on the information they gift to us, we bring the energy and magic of soul into our daily lives. As we allow our big dreams to take root in this world, we become whole and well, and start living our deeper story. As we help others to honor and celebrate their soul guidance, as revealed in dreams, we become healers and dream bringers.
Ancient dream healers understood that we are often out of touch, in our surface minds, with our deepest truths and our heart’s desires. Not knowing who we are, forgetting our soul’s purpose, we do terrible harm to ourselves and others. Dreams invite us to get back on the right track, the soul’s track. I learned about this many years ago when I asked for dream guidance in support of a narrow, ego-driven agenda. I wanted inspiration for a commercial potboiler, a thriller that would follow the formula of a successful previous novel I had published. In my dream, I found myself in a banquet hall where a lavish feast for hundreds of people was being prepared in my honor. But there was a problem. In the dream restaurant, the master chef had walked out in disgust because he was bored with my menu. The message, on waking, was clear. If I persisted in repeating myself – in using my creative gifts for a limited purpose – my deepest creative energy (the ‘master chef’ of the dream) would bow out; the soul and its magic would be missing. I abandoned a major book project because that dream showed me it wasn’t ‘major’ in the ways that serve the soul.
Dreaming not only renews our understanding of the soul’s purpose; it can literally bring the soul back home. From the shaman’s perspective, soul loss is the root cause of much illness and affliction in our lives. We suffer deep grief, heartbreak or abuse or trauma – and maybe then succumb to negative habits and addictions – and a part of our vital soul energy goes away. Chronic depression, lethargy, memory gaps, low resistance to illness and emotional numbness are among the most frequent symptoms of soul loss.
Our dreams can tell us which parts of ourselves may be missing, and when it is timely to bring them home. Recurring dreams in which we go back to a scene from our earlier lives may indicate that a part of us has remained there. Dreams in which we perceive a younger self as a separate individual may be nudging us to recognize and recover a part of ourselves we lost at that age. Sometimes we do not know who that beautiful child is – until we take a closer look
Physicists speculate that we are living in Many Interactive Worlds. You say that through dreaming and monitoring synchronicity we can acquire evidence of the existence of parallel worlds and use this to do some good. Please Explain.
We find confirmation for the Many Worlds hypothesis in dreaming, for example in serial dreams in which we return again and again to scenes from a life in which we made different choices. For example, you dream you are with your ex or in your former job or former home doing what you might be doing if you had stayed on that event track. Such dreams may be first-hand evidence that we are leading parallel lives. The experience of deja vu may also lead to the thought that you were in a certain scene before you got there because a parallel self moved ahead of you. I help people to explore this consciously. We can sometimes move beyond regret over the past – over people we lost, things we did not do – as we awaken to the possibility that we may be walking all of our possible life roads, right now.
We can learn to do more. We can learn to reach to our parallel selves and bring gifts and lessons from their lives into our present one. This means working consciously with what physicists now call the theory of Many Interactive Worlds.
In a recent workshop, I helped a group to open a portal through which we could journey, with the help of shamanic drumming and focused intention, to explore the situation of parallel selves who made different life choices. When we shared travel reports in that workshop, we found that nearly everyone had brought back important gifts. One of them was often a sense of closure, through the understanding that making a different life choice would not have resulted in a happier or more desirable outcome. Another gift was the understanding that we can reach to our parallel selves and borrow their knowledge and their skill sets. Then there was the vivid awareness that we don’t need to let ourselves be consumed by regrets over lives we might have lived when our parallel selves are leading all of those lives, right now, on the countless roads of the multiverse.
Growing Big Dreams is full of dreamwork exercises. You call one of them The Lightning Dreamwork Game. What is it and how does it work?
I invented a fun way to share dreams, get some non-authoritarian and nonintrusive feedback, and move toward creative action. I call this the Lightning Dreamwork Game. It’s like lightning in two senses — it’s very quick (you can do it in five minutes), and it focuses and brings through terrific energy. It’s a game you can play just about anywhere, with just about anyone – with the stranger in the line at the supermarket checkout, or with the intimate stranger who shares your bed. The rules are simple, and they open a safe space to share even the most sensitive material.
You can play this game with two or more people. We’ll call the principal players the Dreamer and the Partner. There are four moves in the Lightning Dreamwork Game.
The Dreamer tells the dream as simply and clearly as possible, as a story. Just the facts of the dream, no background or autobiography. In telling a dream this way, the Dreamer claims the power of the story. The Partner should ask the Dreamer to give the dream report a title, like a story or a movie.
The Partner asks the Three Essential Questions. (1) How did you feel? (2) Reality check: What do you recognize from this dream in the rest of your life, and could any part of this dream be played out in the future? (3) What do you want to know about this now?
The Dreamer answers all three questions.
The Partner now shares whatever thoughts and associations the dream has triggered for him or her. The Partner begins by saying, ‘If it were my dream, I would think about such-and-such.’ The etiquette is very important. By saying ‘if it were my dream,’ we make it clear that we are not setting out to tell the Dreamer what his or her dream — or life — means. We are not posing as experts of any kind. The Partner is just sharing whatever strikes him or her about the dream, which may include personal memories, other dreams, or things that just pop up. (Those seemingly random pop-ups are often the best.)
Following the discussion, the Partner asks the Dreamer: What are you going to do now? What action will you take to honor this dream or work with its guidance? If the Dreamer is clueless about what action to take, the Partner will offer his or her own suggestions, which may range from calling the guy up or buying the pink shoes to doing historical or linguistic research to decode odd references. (continued)
Or, the Dreamer may want to go back inside the dream (see below) to get more information or move beyond a fear. One thing we can do with any dream is to write a personal motto, like a bumper sticker or something that could go on a refrigerator magnet.
One of your chapters in Growing Big Dreams is titled ‘You Don’t have to Drive Used Karma.’ What do you mean?
The time is always now. All other times — past, parallel, or future — can be accessed in this moment of now and may be revisioned and revised for the better. You are ready to learn how to reach across time to other versions of yourself and other members of your multidimensional family. You can communicate, mind to mind, with a younger self and provide the counsel or course correction she needs in her own now time. You can do this with personalities in other times whose dramas and relationships are relevant to your current life passages. You can check in with your parallel selves who made different choices and are following different event tracks in the many worlds, and you can share gifts and lessons. You are about to discover that you stand at the center of all times and need not be bound by past or alternate histories, including your résumé life and the demons under your bed.
The book was completed before the pandemic. What is the number one message you want readers to take away from Growing Big Dreams in the time of the pandemic?
The stronger the imagination, the less imaginary the results. Your world is as rich or poor, as alluring or dull, as you can imagine. My aim is to help you grow a vision of fulfilling your heart’s desires, so rich and strong that it wants to take root in the world. When you move in the energy field of that vision, the world responds to you, because you are magnetic. Now you generate events and encounters that open new doors, and your days sparkle with a champagne fizz of magic. Your dreams speak louder and brighter, and the extraordinary comes to meet you on any street corner.