Cartography is the practice of drawing maps whereas the palette traditionally holds the selection of coloured pigments with which you are going to paint. Thus, dream cartography is the practice of mapping the dream world, and using the ingredients found there in that rich bed of oceanic archetypal-matter to seed new form: imagined into being in your waking life.
How's that for a creative ambition? Sheesh! It is both simple and impossible to have that much
control within the river of matter and etheric substance.
Yes, that is what I have been preparing for. That is what I have been practicing.
To me, creativity encompasses the art of living and dying.
That is what I am exploring as I journey. Outwardly it looks like I am building a website, consulting with a business owner, or writing a funding application. Inwardly, I am navigating emotional waters and social structures, I am organising and synthesising ideas into actionable articulations. All to support the process of creativity.
Dream cartography appeals to me because it proposes the possibility that you can go within and explore, and map your own path. It is a tool that allows you to grow within, so that you have something to offer in the world. (We usually try to do it the other way around).
I'm thinking (writing) out loud here. I think perhaps this is a proposal, an emerging hypothesis, an avenue for exploration and adventure. I have been practicing dreaming since the winter of 2015. You could also call it having visions, certainly it is a visual and visionary process, but unfortunately 'dream' and 'vision' and 'imaginary' are all very problematic words. I am talking about something real, if it helps, you can call it a language.
A dream is an idea, a seed.
One day I sat myself down after adding yet another lush nature rich image on my Pinterest board 'Dream' (which is full of tree-houses, campfire, wild-harvest, weather and wildness) and told myself: "This is silly. You think your dream is out of reach, you have to do something, these moods, feelings and environments are something to cultivate, you need to act!" and happily the mind-set shift meant the dream started coming to life, I found myself skinny dipping in a water-hole, climbing a huge ancient tree in a rainforest, and generally noticing my environment and making art with it). I didn't daydream about those things once. But I did spend some time remembering that they are things that I love by using images as the language to express what my soul was yearning for.
Your mind is the bridge between worlds
(That's another hypothesis).
The world of dream and the world of matter are two worlds overlapping. When we sleep, most of us loose conscious control of our dream experience. The kind of dreaming I have been practicing is more like a daydream without thinking. Somehow I have cultivated the ability to drop within and down into the dark where there is space to dream... without falling asleep. (I'll write about my process another time).
Day dreams usually go "I wish I could be ... (somewhere/doing something)" and then you picture it in your minds eye. The kind of dream I'm talking about has no internal chatterbox. I am not following a thought, I am actively exploring and moving around the dreamworld the same way I would in a forest where all my attention is on the sensation of the sun, the sound of the leaves, the movement on my feet finding their footing, the stillness of an animal encounter until I haven't heard my own voice in my head for quite some time. To be attuned to spirit and matter, heart and mind, body and soul at the same time takes practice in this world and I'm no expert, but becoming whole(r), and learning about all the different aspects of our being (even the chatterbox) helps a lot with this.
It's like I have one foot in the dream world and one foot in the physical world and be conscious of both, but it is not my feet spanning the 'gap' (if there even is a gap) it is my mind or consciousness creating the bridge. How this gift emerged I have no idea but I know 'stream of consciousness' writing prepared me for it, allowing my deeper consciousness to come through without the interruption of my thinking mind. In the dreamtime, your deeper consciousness leads the way.
This is really no different from the process of making an artwork. In art, you engage with the process of making and allow yourself to be surprised by forks in the road, you set out and the material takes you somewhere that you could never have planned.
The topography of a dream landscape has the following features.
I have approximately 100 written-down dreams which have a noticeable consistency of detail and function. The following features could be mapped:
All of these things make up the environment of the dream which is your 'palette'. The things you see, do and experience there can be shared through art and storytelling. That is the idea
What is your experience of the dream world?
What do you know about lucid dreaming? Is your experience like mine or completely different to what others experience? (That's ok, I really do believe we each have different ways of accessing information and experiences). Let me know in the comments below.
Would you be interested in another blog post focusing on suggestions for practice?
Here's some things you could try that have worked for me:
1. Practice sensing your astral body
I never liked the idea of astral travel, I always associated it with loosing control and being apart from myself (which is probably very inaccurate) but I did find a book in my home bookshelf as a teen that gave some interesting exercises for preparation. Once was to learn to sense your astral or energy body:
Try this: stand up straight and move your arms slowly up and down like a flapping bird in slow motion. With your eyes shut. And you will be able to 'see' or sense your energy body following the movements but in a slight delay.
I don't believe this is a second body, but the part of your body that can move through worlds in a way that isn't bound by physical laws. An example of this is phantom leg syndrome. When someone looses a leg they can often still feel pain in the missing limb even though the physical limb has been removed.
2. Practice letting your mind take a back seat
Often our minds are very busy thinking about and controlling our experience. Our ego "I" is very attached to its view of the world and anything out of the ordinary can give it a fright. I am not suggesting you become mindless but actually let your mind work for you, as a tool you can use rather than letting it sweep you along without a hand on the tiller. Perversely, this actually involves letting go and allowing nonsense to come out of you until it burns itself out and you find jewels in the rubble.
Try this: stream of consciousness writing for at least a month or two can help to practice dropping down below the thinking ego. By writing in an uncensored way, everything that passes through your experience as you sit there, you may discover something useful.
I discovered deeper wisdom coming through. (When I drop into the dreamtime whilst I am awake it feels the same as dropping a bit deeper to speak from a place 'beyond'). I believe that voice is my inner soul guide and its that deeper consciousness that informs my experience in my dreamwork. It's also the reason I have a 'personalities' page on my website (my soul guide is represented by this one).
3. Create a ritual that is repetitive
Start small, but imagine yourself a practice that is repetitive and supportive of getting in the zone. Start by remembering any time where you had a dream experience that felt different to your standard sleep dreams.
Try this: ask yourself "what if I knew exactly what I needed to do to create the ideal dream state for journeying?" - let the answer pop into your head, and allow for the possibility that it might come to you later in the day.
The reason repetition is important is that you train your brain to feel safe and therefore confident, enabling you to drop into the 'underneath' easier. It helps to start every dream by imagining going through a door or portal. A cave or a hole in a tree that takes you down into the dark is ideal. In the dark, forms will emerge.
Examples of repetition:
Have fun, and let me know how you get on below!