Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Dream Is the Reality

Dreams are usually pushed asidemeaningless, inconsequential snippets of brain junk that visit us in the night when our defenses are down. Don’t be so fast to dismiss them. Under certain conditions, they are only too relevant. If you don’t pay attention, then you miss the message and actual guidance.

As Above, So Below ©2012 Carla Woody

As Above, So Below
©2012 Carla Woody

When I’m mentoring people I suggest they be aware of their dreams in the course of our work together. Most say they don’t remember them at all, or they slip away so quickly it’s like grasping at clouds. The same is true for me. However, when I’m in the midst of deep transformation, dreams become more than memorable. They’re emblazoned on my consciousness and part of my evolutionary process. This is also true for those who enlist me to help guide their process.

I take time in the beginning of our session for a check-in, an opportunity for folks to relay insights or things that have come up since the last time. What emerges is often a direct communication from the unconscious on where to focusand we hit pay dirt. Here’s a case in point. I’m changing the name to protect my client’s privacy. Grace said she’s happy to have her story shared in case it helps someone.

At the tail end of our check-in, Grace mentioned she’d had a dream that morning. She spoke about “not getting up right.” I immediately noticed her agitation. She told the small pieces she remembered and added that the dream had awakened her, leaving her disoriented and angry. Strong emotions were evident as she spoke. She said she felt betrayed. I was clear this was a message from a part of her we had been working with that was now ready to release a pattern. With permission, I stabilized the bodily felt sensations attached to the emotions in order to use them as guidance, going back to the originating occurrence. Almost immediately, she returned to the age of two awakening in a similar manner as the dream but with emotions that were intense. I’m going to preserve the details of the situation but will offer this. The incident wasn’t a severe trauma in the way we might think of it. However, it was traumatic in the sense of a two-year-old perceiving no options, feeling trapped.  That perception had affected her all her life in ways that held her back and kept her stuck. The dream was the message that allowed us to reframe the past incident and open a future toward freedom of movement and options that she’s not experienced before. She later told me that she knew about that incident, hadn’t thought of it in a long time, and hadn’t seen it important. Obviously, a part of her did.

Dreamtime and the Vision Serpent ©2013 Carla Woody

Dreamtime and the Vision Serpent
©2013 Carla Woody

In many Native traditions, dreams are interchangeable with daily reality. One bleeds over to the other. Children learn how to behave in their dreams without their parents teaching them. Medicine people receive their calling. Ritual musicians learn to play their instruments. Weavers receive requests from saints for new vestments. Warnings come. All of these things are received through dreams and given relevance.

In my new novel Portals to the Vision Serpent, a Maya woman receives her calling this way.

“For me, it started like this. When I was thirteen years old I had a dream. I was walking through my village like I was going somewhere, and I needed to be there fast. But every place I passed, it wasn’t the place I was supposed to be. Then suddenly the road wasn’t dirt anymore. It turned into a creek, and I was floating along, being taken with the waters. But it was gentle. I wasn’t afraid. I could see there were many fish in the creek swimming all around me. And still the water took me past many houses. My mother was there when I went by, and she smiled at me. I saw my grandmother, too, and other women. More and more came and stood by the banks of the creek as I floated by, until I was no longer in my village.” Her eyes grew moist.

“Something woke me up then. I opened my eyes. And the room was glowing—a beautiful blue! I wanted to tell my sisters, but I saw they were asleep. And then in the corner of the room, I saw a woman in a long dress. But it was hazy, like I was seeing her underwater. Her hair was wrapped in a cloth. There was white light all around her and when she moved, this light moved. She came over to my bed right there and reached out her hand like she would touch me. And the light came from her hand, and I felt it with my whole body, like such a love came to me that I have never felt. I feel it now when I tell you this. And we stayed like that, she and I, for what seemed to be a long time. Still my sisters slept. And I knew something was happening just for me. Slowly she disappeared, and then the blue glow left. It was just the bedroom again.”

Doña Flora’s eyes shone, her face serene. Her body radiated, the very act of recounting her calling activated a luminescence that only became stronger with the silence she now held. Tears leapt from Sybilla’s eyes but, transfixed, she didn’t reach to wipe them away. After a time, Doña Flora shifted in her chair and spoke softly, “Yes, this is how it first happened.”

Now, an interesting thing happened related to this excerpt. Shortly after I’d written this chapter a well-known Wisdom Keeper came to stay in my home for a few days. Over breakfast, she recounted how her calling came, very similar to the waking dream that I had written, down to the blue glow. The synchronicity is astounding to me. I also believe that, sometimes, the dream is relayed through writing, just another channel.

Over the years, the night dreams I remember have served me well. They’ve foretold a path I’d take, attempted to warn me off another and repeatedly kept me on track. They’ve lent metaphoric meaning to the past and future in ways my conscious mind doesn’t always grasp but a deeper aspect does. When they’ve chosen to show themselves in a way that I can recall, they serve as allies on a path that is sometimes invisible.

We need to be intuitive enough to heed the guidance and the way it points. The dream is the reality.


What are some ways you’ve received important messages in your dreams? I invite you to share them in the comments space below.

Categories: Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What You Can Do in the Face of Devastation and Make a Difference

I received a very disheartening message. I want to share it with youeven though research statistics show that most people would prefer to see uplifting blog content. My feeling is there are just things I can’t ignore. I discount that, due to the immensity of a travesty, I can do nothing about it. That would be the easy way out, to push something aside.

I subscribe to Glenn Shepard’s blog Notes from the Ethnoground. Glenn is an ethnobotanist, medical anthropologist and filmmaker who lives in Brazil and has spent many years doing on-the-ground research in remote rainforest places. Yesterday his latest post ”A letter of protest: In defense of the rights of indigenous peoples and traditional populations in Amazonia” arrived via email. 

The post is about a proposed change to a law currently in the Brazilian House of Representatives “to make changes to Article 231 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988 defining the public interest in demarcating Indigenous Lands.” It has to do with ancestral land rights of the Indigenous peoples of Amazonia. If passed, it would take away many of their rights in favor of those who have encroached: cattle ranchers, mining operations and more.

Guarani People

Photo credit: Survival International

This is not a new issue. It has been going on for decades with terrible consequences. Not only is the rainforest threatened but Terena, Guarani and other Native peoples have been murdered in defending what is theirs. We rarely hear of these things because they don’t get reported. I did some research of my own and turned up this August 8 news article from the Guardian in the UK. It reports on the killing of a Guarani man believed by Survival International to have been ordered by a landowner, as well as other murders of Native peoples numbering “452 between 2002 and 2010, sharply up on the 167 killed during the previous eight years.” The article accuses the Brazilian government of “pandering to agro-business lobby rather than reallocating areas to indigenous peoples.”

Guarani and Kaiowa Indians are in conflict with ranch owners over the allocation of land in Brazil. Photograph: Celso Junior/AP

Guarani and Kaiowa Indians are in conflict with ranch owners over the allocation of land in Brazil.
Photograph: Celso Junior/AP

 If you’ve read this far, then you likely recognize a familiar story. Although the struggle of the Indigenous people of Brazil is especially heightened, similar things are happening in Native lands the world over. It’s a form of genocide. When the right to live on their own lands, grow their own crops and perform their own religious ceremonies is taken away, it’s devastating.

Have any of you ever lost a home? Been told your religious practices are evil, antiquated or ridiculous? Has your voice not been heard? Probably many of you have had such experiences. For traditional Native people, connection to ancestral lands, community, the foods they grow and ceremonies runs deep. It’s a matter of survival and what keeps them spiritually grounded. Take away these things and a sense of identity vanishes.

What to do about such things? It’s not an easy answer. Personally, I founded Kenosis Spirit Keepers  in 2007, a grassroots volunteer-run nonprofit organization, expressly because I believe so strongly in the contributions that these traditions make to the betterment of the world through continued existence.

Has it been a walk in the park to support projects we’ve committed to fund? No. We’ve had to be very creative to do so. I wish we were able to do so much more.

Does it feel to me as though my efforts and those of my board are like lonely raindrops in the wind? You better believe itespecially when I hear about such things as Glenn reported.

Yet, I can’t turn away. No matter how discouraged and tired I get…I just can’t. That’s because I truly believe the more people who feel the way I doand stay strong in that intentthat the tides will turn. We can make a difference. Looking back in history, I see the shift has happened too many times not to believe in what’s possible. I hold that you do, too.


Kenosis Spirit Keepers

To learn more about Kenosis Spirit Keepers and how you can help preserve Indigenous wisdom traditions, go here.

Categories: cultural interests, Indigenous Rights, Indigenous Wisdom, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections on Fire and Allies

We all need allies—fellow travelers on the path—to connect with deeply. This is especially so when words don’t express what takes you beyond the everyday life to the one that has no form. Yet your allies do understand and can add their own stories that place you on common ground. I’m truly fortunate to have such people in my life. It’s not by accident. I’ve cultivated them, or we’ve cultivated each other, over time. This is a post that shares such a foundation.

Last week near dusk—the Hour of Power—my long-time friend Yaqin Lance Sandleben and I ventured into the forest. Yaqin is a Cherag, an ordained Sufi minister following the Chisti Sufi lineage of India. A number of years ago, we would meet periodically to meditate among the pines. This time was different though. We felt called to offer prayers in the wake of the Doce and nearby Yarnell Hill fires. We got as close as we could without overstepping the areas the Forest Service had closed to re-seed the burned places. Yaqin shared his own insights later with a message to his community. With his permission, I’ll share excerpts with you.

Granite Mountain

“Granite Mountain is a sacred mountain to me, and to many others. As a friend says, it is our mount Kailash, our Mount Meru.   It is quite different than the other mountains in our area and has an ancient old growth forest on top.  The fire, the day it began,  was whipped into a great frenzy by strong winds, going from less than a hundred acres to over 5000 acres burned or burning in one day.   The smoke was towering over Prescott.  I knew that at some point I would have to go to the mountain and meditate.  Seek understanding…Naturally when we meditate, we may hear many voices and ideas, and part of our awakening path is to develop discernment.  I pray for that wisdom.”

The area is filled with rock formations. We made our way to one of them and settled in, Granite Mountain rising up before us. Yaqin was quite content sitting next to a fallen tree while the black ants that covered it made a beeline to me. I finally decided it was an invitation to go elsewhere. I’m glad I did.

Close by I noticed a ponderosa pine so large it towered over any of the others in the area. A Grandfather. All the others were much younger. When I got closer I noticed the most curious thing. Its trunk was newly charred at the base and every bit of ground  within a fifteen foot radius was burned. Yet the other trees and bushes in the area weren’t touched, only small places of brush damaged. We were a distance from where the fire had been raging. I silently questioned if a spark had been carried on the wind.

I was drawn to to this Grandfather like a magnet. Its energy was extraordinary. I wrapped my arms around it, put my forehead against its trunk. Then moved to place my back solidly along its line of support. It had stories to tell. After walking slowly around its base I sat down on my haunches and gazed up at its high branches. That’s when I got the real sense of what it is to be stationery and know a threat is approaching that you could do little about—except perhaps to attract it. And it seemed to me, that this Grandfather, with all its resident energy, drew the fire to protect the others.

I knew I could share my impressions with another ally Mike Weddle, who lives in Maryland, initiated in the Kaqchikel and K’iche Maya traditions as an Ajq’ij, or Daykeeper and Spiritual Guide. He wrote back to me.

This is the way of the Ajq’ij, to pull the enemy near,

to resist using your power to cause them harm, to turn them into allies.

And shortly on the heels of Mike’s message, Yaqin shared this in his community message: “I settled into meditation and breath.  After a while, I began offering prayers of healing.  I practiced with the Medicine Buddha, offering healing. I felt intuitively that fire was a natural part of the life of the forest, causing harm to some beings, such as trees, birds, insects, and animals; but also a kind of purification, a natural cycle of life.

“I began asking questions to the Universe, at first about fire in the forest around me.  The first impression I received was a koan.

The memory of fire remains but not forever.

Fire 1 “As I sat and breathed, I felt this had more than one level, including describing the workings of the human heart, and that further contemplation is called for. When I opened the query again, gazing at Granite Mountain, I received a second, though quieter impression:

The mountain remains but not forever.

“That thought echoed down the halls of eternity. I continued meditation and breathing. After a while, I asked the forest beings, the invisible ones, whom Inayat Khan calls the ‘unseen beings,’  about the fire and whether it damages them or what their relation is to the fires, and I got a clear impression, a vision.  I saw that within the raging fire,  there are invisible fire beings, who are with the fire itself, and are a part of it, as other invisible beings are a part of the forest.  Perhaps they tend it, as it has been said that invisible beings tend every growing thing.

“I asked the invisible beings around me if they have fear or suffering with the fire, and the answer came fairly clearly…

They are our brothers.

Fire 2…’they’ referring to the invisible fire beings.  I am not sure gender is actually a part of their existence, maybe it was just how my mind interpreted the answer. I continued mediation, also watching large black ants wandering around a fallen tree, and the rock on which I sat.  Sometimes they wandered on me.  I could see a few smaller ones going into a hole in the tree, coming back out with very small pieces of wood from the hole they were digging tirelessly.

“I then asked the question: Is there a meaning to the Sacred Mountain in the heart of Prescott burning?  And I heard these quiet replies.”

The Mountain is.

Fire is.

Categories: Healing, Meditation, Sacred Reciprocity | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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