Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
September 03,   2009
The Gifts of the Night

 

The Gifts of the Night

Charlotte Galluccio, Atlantic University

 

            The present is so big. It sports a shiny, emerald green finish, and it is at least twelve feet square. Climbing the ladder, I lift the lid and let it fall to the ground. While clinging to the rim so I won't fall, I hang over the edge and labor to pull out enormous sheets of tissue paper. I love surprises! Surely, there will be a grand gift in a box this size, but I am wrong.         

Undaunted, I climb down and move the ladder over to the next box. This one is a vibrant orange. As I start to lift the lid, a voice from above admonishes that I can only open one present per day. "It's not fair." I cry. "There was nothing in the green box."

"Then you're not looking hard enough," booms the voice.

How can I see what is not there, I wonder, and I sit on the ground to ponder this question that I find so confounding.

 

I awoke from the dream feeling frustrated. I wanted my present that morning, the gift of a clearly defined dream that could energize me, enlighten me, and offer me hope of a fulfilled vision. What I got were remnants and mere wisps of feelings. I likened these to the annoying tissue paper filling the box and I discarded them without a second thought. Further, I failed to understand that guidance from a dream could reveal itself at another point of time, in another way. The box was not empty. As the voice said, I just was not looking hard enough. As I later came to understand, I needed to learn how to "see" in new ways.

Over time, I accumulated a cadre of techniques to assist in unwrapping the message of a dream. Volumes of dream journals filled the bookshelf.  It began as a hobby, an entertainment of sorts. With my secret world of scripts, I felt like a screenwriter, writing stories to amuse myself, but screenwriters have loftier goals for their work than I did for my dreams.  As they enter the imaginal realm, they move beyond the entertainment factor, leaving traces of moral or social awareness behind for us to consider. They also draw upon more than a skill with words. Deep observations and gut feelings drive their stories. Writers honor their stories; I needed to honor my dreams.

Before I could honor them and see them as more than a story produced by imagination, however, I needed to understand that dreams are a form of energy, capable of both offering me advice on what to eat, as well as providing the impetus for personal transformation. They may rise from extraneous events of the day, from an unresolved issue buried in the subconscious, or from the primordial creative force itself.

Once I took those initial steps to honor and explore my dreams in earnest, it was as though the wisdom of the ancients broke through time and space, empowering me to see what I could not see before. Each box in my dream was a night worth of dreams and it was up to me to awaken and learn to recognize the gifts of the night, even if they were not obvious.

            I soon gained some experienced in decoding dreams, and I began to use them to answer questions. It was a crude attempt at harnessing the imaginative forces. Will this person support my endeavor? Why is he reacting that way? Who will win Monday Night Football? Yes, I actually did ask that and was more than surprised when I got an answer -- Houston Oilers! In an off-season of the late seventies, I was laughed at for my choice, but guess who won. It was as though my dreams existed outside of me, my personal psychic, answering questions, but I soon discovered that the quality of my life was not changing for the better. In fact, it was becoming worse. Dreams and meditations became my drug of choice and I engaged in the escapism every chance I got.

Fortunately, this period did not last long and with time and patience, I learned to work with these forces rather than attempt to control them. I also learned to ask better questions of myself, which seem to help. The symbols alone were not responsible for offering answers to my questions, though. The symbols needed me to take my understanding beyond into a deeper, archetypal world, to go behind the mask of imagery to the invisible where I could realize my potential, not just receive an answer.

Gaining more skill in working with dreams and inner promptings, the time came when I had to find a purpose for their use. Ignoring the intention behind the use of the imaginal world could lead to confusion, or at least a misunderstanding of my nightly visions. History is filled with people who accomplished great things from acting on their dreams, but without an ideal to keep one on course, dreams can also lead to a series of eccentric episodes in life. Those who measured their dreams against an ideal were able to empower their vision and trust their instincts.

People like Joan of Arc, the young girl who led the French Army to victory securing the throne for King Charles VII, used her visions, voices, and dreams to guide her to success. Mark Twain not only dreamed true and used his fertile imagination to create classic literature, but also acknowledged the intangible gift of coincidence in furthering his career; and then there was the much-revered political leader, Winston Churchill. Here was a person who could not only see what was not seen by ordinary sight, but also had the ability to transfer the inspiration of his visions to others, much like Harriet Tubman was able to do with her own inspirations from dreams. All of them maintained a singleness of purpose.

                Though some might question the value of dreams on the physical aspects of their lives, no one can question the impact their actions had on history. None of the people mentioned above lived a life without problems, by the average standard of living. What was different from the average standards to live by was their perception of reality. Their nightly dreams were no different from "thinking" during the day. Most of us, however, don't need that level challenge to raise our sensitivity to a higher awareness and learn to identify gifts that we cannot see.

                A sign that I was making progress in utilizing my dreams was learning to listen to what was coming through in my dreams, rather than to pursue answers. During this new phase, I would ask a question before falling asleep only to find my dream informing me of my present state of mind. I would ask once more and get the same message. Asking yet another time, I would receive information on attitudes holding me back. And so it continued until I realized that I had a lot to learn about myself from these dreams. Answers would still come, but now I found they could appear any time, even when I was not dreaming. If I listened carefully I would be able to glean a message from anything in my environment through synchronistic events and inner whisperings. The gifts initiated in my moments of another consciousness started to appear regularly during the day.

               One surprise was to discover advice on healing. I developed a skin rash that covered my arms. On the way out of the doctor's office, I was handed a prescription for a corticosteroid to ease the uncomfortable symptoms. That night I had a dream.

I am sitting on the edge of the ocean in the month of October. The sun is bright. I can feel the healing rays of the sun, even through the chilly air. Waves gently wash over my feet, the water carrying a potent energy of its own. A wise old man, draped in a white robe, approaches me. He tells me to bath my skin in the salt water and let it dry in the sun.

 

               I wondered if this was what it was like to visit an ancient healing temple, entering expectantly, and free to engage in activities designed to foster an inner dialogue between my conscious self and my higher self, then leaving knowing I was healing, or even experiencing a spontaneous cure.

               I did just what my dream advised; I followed the advice of the sage, and within days the rash disappeared, without having to take the medication. While the doctor was not vocally supportive of my method of treating the rash, he could not argue with the results. I thought I even detected a momentary glint of knowing in his eyes.

On another evening, I am shown a balancing board in my dream. On one side is a jar of peanut butter, on one side sits an apple. After indulging in more junk food that was healthy for me for a few days, the single-scene dream gently reminded me to maintain a balanced diet. I got the picture.

               As my awareness of energy expressed through dreams, coincidences, and intuitive feelings expanded, I learned how the gift could be shared with others. From time to time, I would ask friends or family members to have a dream for me. Without telling them the issue at stake, they seem to be able to mirror my concerns and pass on clues to my answer. What I found interesting was that some of these people were not particularly interested in working with their dreams, yet managed to enter a higher common realm of consciousness with me. Like a Shaman, able to operate intuitively and objectively in guiding a soul to wholeness, my dream partners brought me back a clue to an answer. I was amazed.

               I am not able to say for sure whether these meetings were real or imagined, but if the energy from imaginal forces can meld with the consciousness of another as it did with my friends and family, then I have to believe that entering a dream state provided a place in time for unlikely alliances to take place. In either case, the inspirations from those meetings were strong enough to move me to action.

Eventually, the layers of consciousness became a study in themselves. How was it possible to be asleep and be conscious at the same time? How could I be aware of myself in multiple levels of consciousness within a dream, able to view the action from several perspectives at once? I was being shown how to separate myself from my thoughts and allow new thoughts to come to me. I did not have to seek them, they sought me. I had only to work on being a channel for creativity.

               I will admit that this gift was more of a puzzle to me at first, but I was finally getting the idea of what it meant to "look harder." In one dream there were no images at all, just energy, but I could identify each entity from the difference in vibration. Looking harder meant noticing core qualities of individuality rather than looking for an image. These dreams were no fantasies of the mind presenting stories for my entertainment. The energy of imagination permeated dimensions and time, and sought to synthesize all that I knew at every level of my consciousness. In fact, I did not have to look at all. What I had to do was remain open to the experience, stay true to my ideal, and absorb the truth presenting itself.

            I must admit that with my dream life becoming somewhat more sophisticated, I saw myself pursuing greater results. My higher self must have seen this coming and wisely presented another perspective for me to consider.

My mother, gone for over forty years, interrupts my dream with a telephone call from the other side. She gets right to the point. One of the guests I invited for dinner the next evening will call in the morning to cancel.

 

               She was right, but what perplexed me was the nonessential quality of the message. Why would my mother contact me, and I did feel it was an actual communication, over something so mundane? Surely, dreams should have a bigger purpose, but this was the lesson. Dreams can deal with small activities as well as life altering events. The activity does not matter, the message does.

Maybe Mom was just bringing me down a peg to remind me that everyday living is what matters. Surely, I will never have to look to my dreams for advice that will alter the course of a war, but I will have to make a myriad of decisions that will systematically alter the course of my life. Few transform as instantly as the biblical Saul. For most of us, change is in the details and all the help we need is available to us on a daily basis, if we learn to recognize it.

               Years ago, I was not able to see the true gifts inherent in dreams. I looked into a box and saw nothing. What I missed were the enormous possibilities that existed in the "empty" space. I passed on the chance to visit past attitudes that needed work and chose only to view the past life itself. I neglected to experience the existing dimensions of the present within each dream, sometimes leaving me confused with the dynamics of a dream. Then there were the dreams of the future that I failed to learn from. They were not about direction; they were about choices and consequences. I see that now.

               Tomorrow, I will awake to a new present, only this time, I know what to look for. It might be an epic story, or a snippet of a dream; I might recall a simple feeling, or even nothing. But, I will never see the night as being empty again for even when my dreams slip through my memory, I know that I dreamed and something always comes through during the day that I can attribute to that escaped message. The gift will always be there, if I choose to see it.

 

Resources

 

Campbell, J. (1998). The power of myth. (An interview with Bill Moyers). NY: Bantam

            Doubleday Publishing.

 

Moss, R. (2009). The secret history of dreaming. Novato, CA: New World Library.

 

Watkins, M. (1976). Waking dreams. NY: Gorden and Breach. Retrieved September 20, 2007

            from http://www.atlanticunivercity.org/courses/TS506/index/htm.

 

 

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