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Current Update as of January 15, 2006 

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Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

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Mandalas and the Incubation of Inspirational Dreams

Mandalas and the Incubation of Inspirational Dreams


     The New Year suggests a fresh start. We have intuitions about possibilities; we have our hopes, and sometimes our concerns, about what may lie ahead.

We may want to make some changes, some new beginnings, and wonder about which goals to choose and how to obtain them. Dreams are a wonderful source of guidance for life issues, especially when we are ready to take action.

If you've ever wondered about using your dreams for intuitive guidance you will be interested in the Dream Quest process I've developed, based upon the Edgar Cayce materials.

     Learning to interpret dreams and benefit from their guidance should be a natural process, as natural as dreams themselves, as natural as learning from experience. Edgar Cayce suggested it was a natural ability, to receive and benefit from intuitive dream guidance.

He suggested, in fact, that our dreams themselves will teach us how to interpret them, provided we do apply in life what we learn from our dreams. Over the years I've explored this idea, with great success. I'll share what I've learned and also inform you of some opportunities for you to make your own exploration.

     First of all, when I began recording my dreams, I had a life-changing dream. It led to my recovery from alcoholism, simply by following the hints from my dreams. You can read more about that at

     Then I learned from my dreams how to paint watercolor pictures ( I followed Edgar Cayce's approach, trying out ideas I first noted in my dreams. A dream showed me an easy way to handle those "loosey-goosey" watercolor paints.

I tried out what I learned from that dream and that simple idea opened a world of possibility for me. One dream-inspired painting led to another, and soon I was exploring watercolor painting with a new found sense of comfort and ease.


     When I began to do consulting work with the A.R.E. (the membership organization devoted to the study of Edgar Cayce), I began by developing a method for incubating inspirational dreams. I had to leave the laboratory and develop a fresh approach.

Using a "dream tent" outdoors in a natural environment proved to be very workable. I found that if people are truly ready for a change, and are ready to act upon the dream guidance, then a powerful dream may come to point the way (

You can do something like the "dream tent" by decorating your bedroom to become a dream sanctuary. Spend a day fasting, meditating, journaling, making art work, dancing, and involving yourself in activities related to your dream quest.

Perhaps you'll make yourself a special pair of dream PJs, or a dream pillow. In some manner, make it special, plan on how you will honor the quest the next day with some form of follow through, and go to bed expecting a dream.

     In the desire to find a way for people to obtain inspirational dreams without having to go through some kind of elaborate shamanic ritual, I developed a "home study" dream quest program as part of a major research program for A.R.E.

In this methodology, dream journal writing and daily "mini-adventures" trailblazing into the unknown were the main ingredients for the dream quest. In the project, people used their dream journals, and their daily experiments in making changes, as their major tool for dream incubation.

Here the process went something like this: On the basis of recent dreams, decide upon some project in either self-improvement, problem resolution, or creativity. Take a step forward toward fulfilling the goals of that project. Record your dreams and look to them for clues as to how to take the next step forward.

Follow those clues in the days ahead while awaiting new dreams. Here is a description of a native Peruvian who engaged such a process, showing that what Edgar Cayce suggested as a method to obtain intuitive guidance from dreams is a method that is native to our psyche. The story is taken from Connoisseur magazine, and is given in my book, Dream Medicine:


     Almost every night the same, recurrent dream invaded Ernil's sleep. A woman came from overhead, holding in one hand a golden sphere and in her other, a sphere of silver. Frightened, he fell backward into a bottomless pit. Ernil paid close attention in the following dreams to determine the exact location of the dream's setting.

With close attention, his dream did become clearer, and Ernil noted that the woman descended from a sharp-pointed hill. The dream's scant geographical detail spelled pyramid to Ernil. A native of the rising plains along the coast of Peru, Ernil was familiar with the ancient pyramids of the Moche people. They were burial sites, often filled with precious artifacts.

Although the Peruvian government claimed all pre-Colombian relics as state property, natives (such as Ernil) felt that these objects were their rightful heritage and inheritance. Like many other huaqueros (Spanish for "looter"), Ernil was an avid amateur archaeologist. He was also a practicing student of metaphysics and parapsychology.

     There was a pyramid site near his home, so he went there and took a nap, hoping for a sign. Wandering about, he dug on impulse and found a black stone, polished to a mirror finish. He could feel its powerful energy in his hand, and he returned home where he used it as an aid in his dreaming.

     There followed more dreams and more excursions around the pyramid site. Ernil instinctively followed a secret dream principle known only to those who have followed their soul's call: by putting a dream into practice, future dreams become clearer.

The more he pursued details from his dreams, the more details appeared in his dreams. He saw the positions of the sun and of the moon. Those clues gave him a general orientation as well as the time of the month to search. There was a bird in one of the dreams.

At the appropriate time, he wandered the site area and awaited the flight of a bird to cross his view of the sky in just the right way. Then it happened, just as in his dream!

     Ernil and a friend began digging at that spot. He found dog bones, the remains of many guardian pets. That find was encouraging, matching elements in his dream and also suggesting more to come.

After unearthing human skeletons as well as hundreds of trinkets, silver and turquoise jewelry, Ernil had a dream warning him of poisonous fumes. That dream was encouraging, predicting he would come upon a major tomb, protected with a herbal mixture meant to kill would-be intruders.

Ernil's dream proved true. He and his friend dug down to a level of adobe bricks and carefully uncovered the herbal mixture (containing mercuric sulfide); then they let the area ventilate. Below those bricks they peered into a deep, dark hole. Soon they discovered an abundance of golden artifacts, more than they plus the hundreds of friends who were called in to share the bounty could carry.

     Not surprisingly, the police heard of this find and traced the looters in order to reclaim the artifacts. Ernil was ultimately killed in a scuffle with the police, but not before telling his story to Henize Plenge, a photographer friend, who was present when Ernil predicted his violent death.

Although officially a grave robber, Ernil was a hero to his neighbors. Not an expert in dream interpretation, but willing to act on hunches from his dreams, he was the discoverer of the royal mausoleum of Sipan, the greatest pre-Colombian treasure ever found.


     I created a workbook to spell out the steps to go on a "dream quest" using essentially the same method as Ernil, using journal techniques to interpret the dreams (today that workbook, entitled Dream Solutions, is available from We found that the people who completed the project were indeed able to learn to use their dreams to make constructive innovations in their lives.

One interesting finding came from this work: If a person acts upon a dream insight, the next day they are more likely to have a dream that they can readily understand with no interpretive work. Regular meditation improves dream recall, we found, but does nothing to improve the intelligibility of dreams. Acting on dreams, however, does make dreams easier to understand.

     The tools used in that project have been updated, improved and enlarged. Through the Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies you can obtain these tools for your own use. If you use them for your own personalized dream quest, I'd be happy to talk about it with you afterwards. You can find this material at

     Over the years I have evolved an interesting intersection of my interest in painting and in my work helping people enjoy home study dream quests. I offer "mentored" dream quests (see to folks, where I coach them in the use of the tools I mentioned before.

Sometimes people appreciate a little personal support, guidance, and such as they learn to work with their dreams. When I mentor a home study dream quest, I have regular phone and e-mail conversations with the person, helping them to get the most out of the dream tools they are learning to use. I also provide assistance in the process of using the philosophy of making "small change" into a life-transforming process, which is the way dreams work as well.

     What is most unique about these mentored dream quests is that I create a personalized water color mandala for the person. Examples are given here as well as on the dream quest web site. I send the original painting to the dreamer, and make a colored copy for myself. These mandalas create an energy bond between me and the other person. I mount the person's dream mandala in our dream temple (see so that special dream prayer energy is constellated for that person's quest.


     A mandala is a universal symbol. By the information it contains, a symbol organizes energy, giving it focus and applicability. The mandala symbol brings together two very different realities, as expressed by the circle and the square.

The circle expresses the oneness of all creation, the potential of all that is. While the circle is a spiritual truth, it is like theory, and not found in perfect material manifestation. On the other hand, the square is more earthy, reflecting what of creation has actually come to exist.

     Putting the two together, "squaring the circle," refers to the mystical act, in which we all participate, of bringing a specific manifestation of the infinite potential of all of creation into actuality. As a soul, we reflect the whole of creation, yet our experience, our lives, express only a portion of this wholeness, and does so imperfectly.

The mandala symbolizes the finite, specific, imperfect manifestation of the infinite soul which is one with all of creation--the spark of the creative forces forging a specific expression.

     I use prayer and meditation to become receptive to imagery that should be the basis of the Dream Quest mandala I will paint for the person going on a mentored dream quest. When the imagery comes, and the time does come to paint, a square piece of paper, made from pure cotton is specially prepared.

Although I do not know the intended meaning of the imagery, as I develop the painting, I meditate upon the person to resonate with that person's energy. The painting is a prayer that of all the creative possibilities existing in the person's interactions with their dreams, the specific life-changing results from their quest will be the ones that will bring that person closer to their ideal life.

     When the mandala is finished, it contains the energy of the prayers. It serves as a blessing and a source of continuing prayers. The dreamer often experiences the caring and support of the mandala expresses about their quest. The person also may perceive additional personal meaning in the design.

I suggest that the dreamer keep the Dream Mandala visible during the four to five weeks of the quest. Each time their eyes glance upon the mandala, it is a reminder that just as the person is questing through their dreams to experience a more ideal life, so is the Creative Spirit also questing through that person to express a personal example of its awesome potential.

     In other words, the life force wants to live through us as much as we wish to have a more abundant life. Dreams are a wonderful place to meet and collaborate with that force of nature. Mandalas seem to picture that reality.


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