Knowing the Landscapes of our Dreams
In this blog post we will attend to personal dreaming and developing our own vocabulary around our own dreams.
Dreaming is very healthy for us. It is a time to interact with the library of our soul and be fed by it, to explore the subconscious parts of ourselves, and be held and nurtured by the Dark Goddess of the inner Earth: The One Who Brings the Dreams. Scientific research is currently discovering the importance of dreaming to our overall health and well-being.
There are many dictionaries and systems for dream interpretation; however, I encourage everyone to develop their own vocabulary around their dreams. They are the landscapes of our souls and other lifetimes, images and layered impressions of personal experiences we are transforming or coming to understand. In fact dreamtime is the chance to integrate and more deeply understand all of these.
I posit that we are integrating more than this lifetime and dimension alone. I believe dreaming is a trans-dimensional affair. Our souls span all the dimensions and dreaming is a time for it to gather all its many aspects and continue to evolve as a whole. Since no one else knows the landscape of our soul, we are the best interpreters of our own dreamscapes. Having said that, it is an art to begin to decode them and see this vocabulary for what it is: a language for one to come into intimate relationship with. It is not difficult to start to understand. Simply begin by paying attention.
Since I became a diviner, I have discovered a whole new level of dreaming: dreaming landscapes, ancestral dreams, medicine dreams, integrity dreams and prophetic dreams. Each type has its own signature feel that I am able to identify and recognize as I am dreaming or upon awakening. Often, I divine into these dreams or ask another diviner to look into those I cannot understand. Yes, dreams can be divined into. For this I would recommend a 6 shell roll which some of the diviners on this site offer. You can learn more about this on our Meet our Diviners page.
Below is a list that is useful to start to understand more fully the different landscapes that can present themselves in dreams.
If we dream frequently, we begin to notice the feel of certain dreams. Some have more depth and texture than others. Also we begin to notice that there are certain “landscapes” we revisit over and over. The landscape may not even look the same but in the dream we know we are at a certain place or it is referred to in the dream or there is a feel to the “landscape” that is the same.
For me, an ancestral dream is usually at my parents’ home, the house I grew up in, in New Hampshire. Sometimes it is in a different location, but I know it is an ancestral dream by the amount of people there—a lot— and that we are mostly related. There is wine and feasting. It feels like holiday or party on that side of my family, my father’s Italian side. In these dreams people are always kissing and hugging me. That was the experience of my childhood with these ancestors. This is my own, personal ancestral dream landscape. That does not mean the ancestors in my dream are limited to my father’s side, just that this is the landscape of an ancestral dream for me. It can be ancestors from both sides. This recurring landscape is simply the way I am to understand that this is an ancestral dream. My own notes to myself. My own soul’s language to me.
When I have these kinds of dreams I understand that the ancestors have something to say or convey to me. These dreams are recurring, and all have this same quality
Your ancestor dreams will be different and have their own unique quality that you will begin to recognize. Yours may not even seem to be relatives, but a crowd. Most often a defining factor in an ancestral dreams is the crowd or group quality, the feeling of a function or an event.
Decoding the Dream
What happens in the dream is indicative of what is going on in the ancestral realm. Often I have these dreams when there is a big event going on or upcoming on the Earth plane, our 3D reality, that the ancestors are happy about and celebrating just like we are on Earth.
Perhaps on the calendar is an initiation ceremony, a wedding in the family, or a party for the medicine. The dream may be telling me that the ancestors want to be included and fed. They may perhaps even show me in the dream what they want, or that they want to be included or remembered or invited. I may have lost my manners and forgotten to invite the ancestors, meaning literally going to the ancestor shrine, telling them about the event, asking for their blessing and encouraging them to attend, letting them know that they are welcome. The dream may be reminding me to do this and that they too are involved.
Once we establish the ancestral dream landscape, we can look at the specific contents and feel of the dream for what the ancestors are trying to say, or possibly need from us or want to help us with.
Conversely, sometimes these dreams are turned inside out for me and I realize all is not well in the ancestral world. The dream is not a crowd of hugging people at all, rather, I am on the streets of a city alone or with a few others and the “bad guys” are after us. I am marked and being chased and I cannot get away. There is a sinking feeling in my stomach throughout the dream. There is usually a family member in the dream with me, maybe one or two, and we are in danger. It is dark: literally nighttime. These dreams are dark in the other meaning of the word too: a foreboding, heavy, frightening feel. There is violence, literal or threatened. I wake up shaking from these dreams.
Now I know, through a teaching from my mentor in the Dagara tradition and repeated experience, that these dreams often indicate stress in the ancestral realm. They are trying to protect me in my work and keep my family safe but they are worn thin and in need of more support in the form of material offerings from me. When I awake, I make many offerings to the ancestors to offer them extra fuel for their support and protection and all the work they are doing for me (See the Strega Tree Apothecary’s You Tube video, How to Make Physical Offerings to Spiritual Entities, for instruction on this).
I then try to define for myself the situation I have gotten myself into that may be stressing them. A client with a lot of ancestral debt, possible sorcery or ill will being aimed at me from other medicine people who do not have my best interest in mind, or I am engaged in an Earthly relationship or behavior that is really not good for me. I need to tighten up my boundaries and fix up places where I have become sloppy. I need to analyze these factors and make the changes that I need to make to keep my family, community, the ancestors and myself healthy and safe. Usually, after I make my offerings and arrive to the conclusion of what is stressing them, the nightmares cease.
Some dreams are medicine dreams. Here are some examples:
- Being visited by a spirit animal or another entity you work with or a new one that is presenting itself to you. Often animal totems or new entities(a goddess, angel or guide) will appear in a dream as a message or just to make themselves known to you. If this happens, it is always good to make an offering the next day as an acknowledgment of this. I see you and thank you. Here you go. Simply make the offering onto the Earth or leave it on your kitchen counter for a few hours.
- Working with an element (fire, water, earth, mountain, wild) in a new and magical way.
- Receiving information about medicine work or literally being taught in the dream by an elder in the medicine.
- Given work by being shown a ritual, or shown an issue that needs looking into, or being shown where to look for information. Many people see inside books or are given words.
- Being shown things the spirits want us to make or acquire. I have seen rings and other jewelry in my dreams that wedeme want me to acquire, new tools to make or acquire and how to use to them, even concoctions or remedies to make.
- Seeing oneself as a medicine person working in a past life and one’s guides from that lifetime
- Dreaming of my medicine tools. Perhaps they need an offering or are simply wanting to interact with me in this space and come into better relationship with me.
I often deliberately ask for these dreams or they are prescribed in divination. Put a quarter under your pillow and ask for a dream, people are often told in divination. When I want to understand something better, I whisper it into a shell or seed and put it under my pillow as I sleep. Tree medicine came to me through meeting a tree being in two separate dreams. Dreamtime is an important, interactive space for any medicine person.
I was so happy to understand that there is a cap on what we are allowed access to through what I call universal integrity tests. By this I mean exactly what I say: the universe sends us tests and we either fail or pass. These tests are checking up on our integrity in life and with the work. If we pass, we are given greater access. If we fail we have less access. Access to what? Information, teachings and the work in general.
In a liminal space between sleep and waking, I was shown a literal ceiling we will meet if we fail to stay in integrity. We will be stopped if we do not handle the medicine appropriately. We will lose access. That does not mean we cannot make mistakes and correct ourselves. It is not said to create or imply punishment. It is just another cause and effect action of the universe. If you are not in integrity with the medicine, you can still do medicine and some magic but you will stay at certain level and never advance.
Who is conducting the tests? Our guides. It seems to be something we have all agreed to because they seem to be pretty standardized.
It is also not for us to judge the integrity of another and make assumptions about their level of access. Humans could never be trusted with that. What we need to be concerned with is ourselves and our own relationship to the medicine, not anyone else’s.
We all deal with integrity tests regularly in our daily lives. These are moments where we have a choice to make concerning our own behavior as well as how we handle situations that may be triggering, challenging or emotionally charged for us.
But the dreams come too. It’s nice to get the dreams because they give us a chance to try things out and see where we may be vulnerable to acting with less than integrity. I remember one dream where I was being very tempted to betray a friend. In the dream, I was extremely close to doing it. It was very seductive. When I awoke, I realized it was an integrity dream and that I had been truly tempted by the seductions that were being presented to me. If I had indeed betrayed her, I would have been in better graces with the person in power who was encouraging the betrayal.
I had to do a lot of soul searching around the temptations that were seducing me in this dream and why they had been appealing to me.
Other things that can be common integrity tests are situations where we choose to be greedy rather than generous, where we allow our jealousy to get the best of us and deliberately try to denounce or destabilize someone else or where we are encouraged to cross the line with our medicine work over into sorcery because we feel wronged, angry or hurt.
Sometimes I am not sure whether or not I have “passed,” but then receive some kind of new information later that makes me aware that I have increased access. I suspect the ones I do not pass and lower my access I may not actually be aware of. I think part of being out of integrity is not even knowing when we transgress. That is why it is good from time to time to do a scan on ourselves, taking some time to be alone and check in with ourselves and do the sweeps and soul washings described in other blog posts on this site with regularity to make sure we are dealing with our shadow.
Especially in this culture where a lot of projection of grandeur and awe is cast onto spiritual workers and leaders, we must be mindful to hold our boundaries and be in proper alignment with our power. We must be careful not to indulge our egos and buy into those projections of adoration and holiness that could make us believe we do not have to abide by common rules of conduct.
Prophetic dreams are when we are shown an event that may come to pass in the future, or are given a warning about a person or possibility that could arise out of our current life trajectory. They can also simply be showing us our own futures. They can be confusing however, since we can feel uncertain about what it is we are being told or shown. These dreams can be divined into to determine exactly what the message is and see if there are actions that can be taken to offset the possibility or mitigate the damage of these events if they are catastrophic in nature. We can begin to work with these dreams by recording them and then seeing if things that we are told indeed come to pass. Then we can begin to categorize them to better understand meaning and levels of priority. Sometimes dreaming of catastrophic events can be speaking to our own emotional lives rather than an event that is going to take place literally on the Earth. For example tsunami dreams are often indicative of emotional overwhelm or fear of overwhelm. Working with dreams consciously helps us to begin to discern these differences.
Visitations and Visions
Some dreams are not really dreams at all but are “visitations” or visions that have a dreamlike quality. Often at night I am awakened by what I call a visitation. I am awakened so I am not asleep but they mostly happen in the middle of the night. Is it because the liminal state between waking and sleeping allows me to be more open to the visitation or is it because I am quiet and they are sure they can get my attention and I am forced to listen? Is it because I am a captive audience? I am unsure but, in these cases actual entities, ancestors, places, energies, stars, come into the room and speak to me. They float above my bed as a sort of light form or visual picture. Usually with a visitation comes an order, a request or a plea. I don’t tend to ignore them.
Visions are spontaneous shifts to another reality when we are suddenly able to see through another dimensional lens. They can come with a meditative state, deeply pondering something, sitting by water, or even when we are speaking to someone. They often carry information about what we are considering at the time but they can also be completely random and spontaneous. These too are worth recording and categorizing to better understand and derive their meaning.
Your dream list will look different than mine. Just know that you, and your dream landscape, are worthy of studying and exploring, as much as anything else. It is a language worth learning.
~Theresa C. Dintino
© Theresa C. Dintino 2019
Theresa C. Dintino is an ancestral Strega (Italian wise woman), Earth worker, and initiated diviner in the West African Dagara tradition. For more than 20 years Theresa has studied and practiced an Earth-based spirituality. She currently helps others reclaim their personal lineages through her divination work. Theresa is the author of seven books which include her Tree Medicine Trilogy. Learn more about her books here.