Tag Archives: dream


I dreamed I was a hedgehog. In the dream, I was being cut open, although I was still alive and aware. My innards were being removed, and my body cavity washed clean. Then I was rolled in clay and put in a warm place. This is the traditional way of cooking a hedgehog although I think normally the hedgehog would be more dead and less complicit. It wasn’t a painful dream, it just felt odd.

I don’t have the kind of identification with a single creature that features in many people’s Druid paths. There are creatures I feel strongly about and whose appearance deeply affects me – owls, otters, nuthatches, egrets, curlews, and of course, hedgehogs. An encounter with any living being is powerful for me; I love the foxes, the badgers, the deer, the rodents in the undergrowth… But I do not belong to any specific kind of creature nor has anything been present in my life as a specific guide or mentor.

There is an emotional truth about the hedgehog though. I have mostly been prickly on the outside and inclined to roll into a ball when I feel threatened. I tuck away the soft underbelly, I do not let most people near where I am vulnerable. It’s more of an emotional metaphor than a spiritual consideration.

In some traditions, dismemberment is part of a spiritual process and to experience it in vision or trance or as part of a journey is highly significant. I didn’t seek this out. But as a dream it is clearly significant. A necessary invitation to let go of my hedgehog self a bit. While the imagery sounds violent, I didn’t really experience it that way.

I’m going to take this as an opportunity to flag up with importance of not giving unsolicited dream advice. So much x=y thinking around dream interpretation depends on the idea that dreamer and interpreter share a common dreaming language. That’s a really unlikely thing given how many influences we are all exposed to. It’s also far too easy to assert the truth of your path in face of someone else’s experience. The hedgehog is a metaphor for me, not an active spiritual participant in my life. It was a dream that echoed the kind of thing that happens on other people’s paths, but it makes no sense to me on those terms because of my hedgehog relationship to this point. It was (I know) an invitation to let go of something, not to take more hedgehog in.

Dreaming your full time Pagan Life

What we do is informed by what we dream. That’s true of our daydreaming, and or our less intentioned night dreaming. What we absorb resurfaces in our desires to shape our intentions and our actions. Magic is all about will, but will is informed by many things we might not be aware of. Take a step back from your intent to check where it comes from and what’s feeding it.

Make time to dream your Pagan life. This is especially important if you can’t meditate or don’t have time for a daily Pagan practice. Make time – whatever time you can – to just sit down and daydream. I recommend a plant or a good window view or a nice outdoors setting for company if you can. Failing that, some Pagan art, your oracle cards, a crystal – anything that gives you a bit of Pagan-flavoured headspace. Imagine what it would be like to live a totally Pagan life.

What would you eat? What would you wear? What would your sleeping arrangements be like? What would your job be? How would you pay your bills? How would you get around? What would your family life be like? What would you do in your time off? And how would your spiritual practice fit in to all of this?

If you work with guides, gods or any other spiritual forces, you can invite them in on this process. Ask for guidance. Ask for inspiration. Keep doing it in whatever moments you can find and see what emerges. Find out what you really want from a full time Pagan life. Explore it imaginatively. Play with ideas – your first impulse is not necessarily your best one, you may need to dig in a bit.

Now, here’s the fun bit. There’s no direct action stage here. Just keep dreaming. Except that all our ideas are born of dreams and imaginings, and that what we invest energy in shapes us. You may feel moved to run out and make radical changes – feel free, it’s your life. You may not feel able to, you may not be able to see how to get to your dreams from where you are now. But, as you go along, your dream infused life will change, because you will make small, every day choices based on those dreams. The odds are it won’t be the dramatic shifts that really count in the long run – it will be the small, every day things that change everything. It usually is.

Dream who you want to be. Dream the life you want. Dream how best to manifest your Paganism in your life. I don’t particularly believe that like attracts like, or that what we focus on, we get. But I do know that what we think about colours every experience. How we think shapes our perceptions. What we focus on, we invest in. So often, things we are not conscious of get the steering wheel in our minds and lives – it’s the expectation of this that underpins every single advert you encounter. Take back your dreaming. Change everything.

Dreaming differently

What would happen if our dreams were not driven by the desire to consume? What if we weren’t drawing our inspiration from adverts, and weren’t being fed a constant consumerist narrative about what we need to own in order to be happy? What would we daydream about then?

We might stop dreaming about new cars and kitchens and carpets and start dreaming about how to live at our hearth and in our homes. Dreams of community and time spent with people we care for, and who care for us. Not the look of the kitchen itself, but the scope to make good food and share it with good people. Life changes dramatically when you’re less focused on how a home might look and more concerned with what you can do in it.

Equally, if our gardens don’t have to look like something off the telly, we might dream of wildlife havens instead. We might plant trees and welcome insects, birds and small mammals to share the space with us. We might dream of the summer humming of bees and the beauty of butterflies. We might want a space to just chill out and watch the clouds go by – dreaming of a space in which to dream.

We might indeed dream of holidays, but not of planes and other countries. We might dream of having the time to really get to know the land we live on, or having more time for the people who come into our homes or the wild things in our gardens.

We might dream of changing our bodies, but not through the misery and seldom successful methods of commercial dieting, and not by purchasing a new look from the planet trashing fashion industry. We might dream of the things we can joyfully do with our bodies. We might aspire not to thinness or fashion, but to grace and delight. We might start listening to our bodies and let our dreams come from the needs our bodies have.

Rather than dreaming of fame and fortune, we could dream instead of the things we want to achieve. The book we want to write – not to be famous, but to say the things we need to say. The art we want to make. The dance styles we want to learn. The courses we want to study. The things we want to create with our hands. We can make space to dream up ways of re-using rather than throwing away. We can get excited about our own creativity.

We can dream about how good it would feel to know we are living sustainably. The pleasure of not harming the living planet, and of knowing we’ll leave it in good shape for those who come after us. We can dream of a world in which life and beauty flourish, rather than profit and greed. And the more we dream this, the more we move towards it. The more we share these dreams and draw other people into them, the more feasible it all becomes. Dream it and talk about it, and see who you can co-dream with, and then see what you can co-create as those dreams turn into ever more viable possibilities.

(And I can recommend the Transition Towns movement as an excellent place to find inspiration and turn dreams into action – https://transitionnetwork.org/ )

Collective Dreaming

We live in an individualistic culture that tends to understand dreams and ambitions as solitary. We tell stories about the triumph of the individual genius, and when we fail, we tend to feel that we have failed alone.

Collective dreaming has a lot more power to get things done. When there are more of us, sharing the same goals, figuring out the same trajectories, there’s more scope for success. More minds on the case. More hands to the plough. More resources and potential. Whether we’re talking about community projects, social movements, or small collaborations, we can get more done when we dream together.

Of course collective dreaming comes at a price. You have to be willing to give up the allure of personal, standout success. If you win as a team, you may not be personally famous. A little realism about the odds of being personally famous by working alone can help a lot here. Collective dreaming means being willing to compromise a bit on your vision. Even if you’re working with people who are very much aligned to your view, they won’t always be perfectly in synch with you with all things. Patience and flexibility are essential. Sometimes it means letting go of a large part of your vision so as to make a small piece of it actually happen. We live in a culture that encourages us to nurture our private dreams and not sacrifice parts of them for a common aim. Even when that means the dream goes nowhere. We can see hanging on to the exact dream as heroic, even when it gets nothing done.

Working together doesn’t automatically make something a force for good. That our dreams are shared does not necessarily make them wise, feasible, or virtuous. We can amplify each other’s worst ideas when we work together. We can build bubbles of unreality, believing ourselves to be better, more important, more influential than we really are. We can enable each other in doing horrible things. Our shared dreams may be other people’s shared nightmares. The validation of being part of something can give us the confidence to be despicable. When enough people sign up to such projects, they can become cultural norms. Nazi groups also share dreams.

The only way to measure our collective dreaming is by giving it a lot of thought. Watching for the risk that we’re talking each other into unrealistic expectations or belief. Watching for what we validate in each other, for whether we seek power over each other, and how we envisage people who are outside our little collective. Those intent on justifying atrocious behaviour are generally good at finding ways to do that, and we need to watch for them in our collectives. Getting involved with a collective dream doesn’t have to mean continuing to think it’s a good idea or dedicating to seeing it through. Like the notion of the heroic lone genius, the notion of group loyalty to the bitter end can prove to be deeply unhelpful in practice.

Walking between worlds

One foot on a goat, one foot on a well. There’s an ongoing negotiation in my life between being here, and being somewhere else. There’s the allegedly rational (and frequently insane) real world that I have to connect with for day to day living, and the other places, where the call is stronger, and there are times when it feels a lot more real. The spirit worlds, the places of dream, imagination and possibility are essential not only to my druidry, but also to my creative work. However, misrepresent them out here in the ‘real’ world and there would be hell to pay.

Talk to the right people and anything magical, or spiritual becomes delusion. It’s proof of mental instability, an inability to cope, a lack of reason. At best you’re just silly. The faintest hint of magic can and will be used to by some to invalidate you, take away your voice, your right to autonomy, your ability to judge. I know that the police checked me out online about a year ago. I know my ex is out there just looking for dirt to throw. Who else is reading, waiting for me to say something that can be taken out of context? (You aren’t paranoid if they are out to get you!) Mostly I don’t talk much about magic, or religious experience, I keep to the rational, because it is a way of protecting myself from others.

However, the realms of dream and spirit are no less present in my life for not being talked about too much. I’m not sure why I’m blogging this today, perhaps a need to push away from the constraints of anxiety, to stand my ground and assert my own right to be.

I dream rich and wild. I always did as a child, and right through my teens. Then in my twenties, my dreaming narrowed to a handful of oft repeated anxiety dreams, reflecting a soul sickness I couldn’t admit to, much less tackle. Away from that which was poisoning me, I’ve started to dream again. The vibrancy has returned, along with wild variance of setting, narrative and content. I meet people in dreams who tell me things. I have experiences which resonate into my waking life. Partly this has happened because, in private, I have given myself permission to feel a much broader range of emotions, and to hope again. I’m not as fearful as I was.

In my sleep, I walk between worlds. I experience things, sometimes, that feel more real to me than my waking life. Most dreams are not that extraordinary, but they come, and with them a sense of being somewhere else.  A couple of nights back I lived for days on an otherworldly journey. I must have been through multiple cycles of dreaming, going back into the same narrative line. I think I’ve visited some of those places before, although not in a while. In my teens there was a city, and I went back to the same places there, although I haven’t seen them in a while.

So I’m starting to ask questions about the relationship between this waking life, and the dreaming one. They bleed into each other so frequently. If a dream affects what we do when awake, the dream has a reality in a rational sense. I’m still very tired from the journey dream of the weekend. That tiredness is undoubtedly real. But there are a lot of places you can’t show up dazed because you’re in the throes of a profound spiritual experience. Hung over, sure, half in the spirit world? Less easy to explain.

There are days when I wonder if the problem is that we spend too much time ‘here’ and not enough time in those dreaming places. I gather most adults don’t sleep enough, and that will eat into dream time. Those who run countries tend, from what anecdotal evidence I’ve encountered, to be even more sleep deprived than average. Maybe what our politicians need is a good dose of dream sleep, a chance to be in that other place, and to straighten out their sense of what real is. Too much reality, I suspect, really isn’t good for a person.

Dream Interpretation

The science of dreaming fascinates me, the limits of it more so. There are dreams that I can readily identify as being my brain just sorting out what has come in during the day. When I learned to crotchet recently, I was crocheting the fabric of my dreams for some nights. I can also spot the dreams that are born from suppressed emotion – usually anxiety. Not least because they tend to take the same forms all the time.

But there are other dreams, rare and strange ones that I can’t rationally explain. Dreams that have such deep resonance it feels like they are telling me something. I remember waking from just such a dream in which my father was trying to contact me, and knowing that he would phone that morning. He did. My Nan had gone into hospital and she died a short time later. Not all of the resonant dreams are that clear and coherent though. Sometimes I wake with the sense that a profound thing has happened during my sleep, and no real idea what it was.

In my teens I studied my own dreams enthusiastically, and was managing a little lucid dreaming. In my twenties my dreams reduced down to a small number of scenarios, obsessively revisited and laden with anxiety. The return to good dreaming has been very much a part of my return to more creative and happy mental states. The quest for re-enchantment has me looking hard at my dreams again.

After all, we spend a fair chunk of our lives dreaming, they are part of our experience, and that gives them a reality of sorts. They may well be windows into the unconscious, they certainly have the capacity to bring fresh inspiration and to help with problem solving. There are dreams that incline me to feel I have really been somewhere else, and that something real has happened to me. Dreams where the emotional content is so affecting, that by influence, the dream itself becomes real in important ways.

We used, collectively, to be far more open to the idea of dreams as messages from god, or the gods, and of the potential of dreams to be prophetic. The rise of rationalism has done away with this as superstition. But I don’t think that’s entirely fair. We take in and process far more information than we are conscious of. The capacity of the human mind to make connections and find patterns in apparently random things is phenomenal. Magical, even. It underpins so much of what we are able to do ‘rationally’. Dreams are all about the mad juxtapositions, the great intuitive leaps, maybe they are the bits we reject as other parts of our mind go through the available information to see what might be useful. Dreams are testimony to the sheer wonder of both our consciousness and our unconsciousness, to the imaginative potential within us all, and the dashes of chaos and irrationality that go into making us human.

Rational, logical thought only takes us so far. Intuition and inspiration are not logical (I pause once again to nod to Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance). Invention, problem solving, and creativity all depend on that more irrational thinking. Dreams are part of that process, a nightly eruption of the kind of thought that shows no respect to boxes, laws, or consensus reality.

Last night I dreamed about going to court, and finding there was no real hearing, just lots of people gathered together to sing, organised by a portly woman of advanced years. Explaining this to Tom he said ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings?’

She sang. Perhaps it’s a good omen!