Monthly Archives: December 2009

Dreaming Up Success in 2010

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Just like dressing for success puts our best foot forward, dreaming for success can help us achieve our biggest goals this year.

Last year I shared 10 great tips for having big winter dreams. But more important than having big dreams is knowing how to work with all the dreams we have. Here’s how to make every dream count, no matter how small.

  1. Remember your dreams and write them down. Even if you only remember a word or name, color or feeling, write it down. Dream recall increases the more we practice it.
  2. Go for what makes you happy in dreams. Some traditions insist that to be happy in waking life you must pursue pleasure in your dreams. Being successful in 2010 means being bold, so start by doing what you want in dreams even if it’s something you would never do in waking life. It’s just a dream–go for it!
  3. Don’t run from conflict in your dreams. This may take some practice, but you’ve got all year, right? If there’s a dragon chasing you at night, coach yourself to turn and face it. Likewise with intruders, thieves, and other scoundrels. You will soon find it easier to overcome obstacles of all kinds during the day. Seriously, it works!
  4. Keep tabs on your health. If you are sick or injured in a dream, don’t freak out, but do heed the warning. Dreams usually work on the symbolic level, but sometimes they have direct, concrete advice for us. Always check out a health concern in a dream, it could be the best move you ever make.
  5. Pay attention when things go bad. Notice what happens just before a good dream starts becoming an anxiety-ridden nightmare. Do you hesitate out of fear? Is there a misunderstanding that sets things off the rails? Are you listening to someone with the wrong information? Figure out what the glitch is, and start overcoming it in waking life.
  6. Look for dream allies and treat them well. Dreams are full of unforeseen turns of fortune, if we know what to look for. Just as in fairy tales, if someone offers you something in a dream be gracious and thank them. It may look strange, but looks can be deceiving, and we never want to turn down what could be a golden opportunity.
  7. Always go for the highest good. If you have a choice of two actions to take in a dream, and one of them benefits you alone whereas the other benefits you and several others, take the second choice. Start now to shift those self-centered patterns in the dream world, and you may find that others are more willing to help you achieve your goals on waking as well.

We all have to sleep and dream, no matter how desperate, ambitious, or energetic we are. The good news is, our dreaming minds are perfectly capable of helping us with our waking goals–when we act in accordance with our values and stick with it in spite of the setbacks that inevitably occur. In a year where money is scarce and every advantage counts, who can afford to discount their dreams?

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post.

How To Stir a Pot

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One summer in the beginning of the Aughts, I spent an amazing week in Somerset with Donald Engstrom and Sharon Jackson. That is to say, the weather was amazing, the countryside amazing too, the company was fabulous, and the spot we were staying in was perfectly lovely. Our job, on the other hand, was thankless, arduous, and at times grueling.

We were teaching at Avalon Witchcamp, the first year that the camp did not have any of its regular teachers there. It was an experiment in “introducing new talent” and “altering the camp dynamics,” which surely would benefit the entire community in the long run. We were, in effect, substitute teachers while the camp was in its adolescent rebellion stage.

Having spent years working as a substitute teacher I had a premonition that it would be a tough gig, but didn’t want to believe it beforehand. After a day and a half, though, I instinctively moved into damage control mode with Donald and Sharon: Stick together. Be sympathetic to everyone, but don’t promise anything. Project confidence, and do what you do best.

We each had our strengths, but Donald had one technique that seemed to always—at least momentarily—quiet the discontented and bring the camp into some kind of altered state together. I watched him, transfixed, until I figured out what he was doing. Anyone who has seen Donald in ritual will know exactly what I mean when I call it “Stirring the Pot.” Here’s how it’s done:

First, be stocky, Swedish, and Lutheran. Have a low, gravelly voice and enjoy humming. When it is your turn to guide the energy, step into the circle and keep your gaze on the fire.

Before taking another step, extend your arm toward the center of the circle, fingers pointed slightly down to the flames like dowsing rods. Start a little hum, as low as possible, and as you do this begin to slowly swirl your fingers in a circular motion, still pointing down toward the center of the fire.

Let the hum build into something barely audible, then into a song containing actual syllables. It doesn’t matter what the syllables are exactly, but they should sound like a cross between a Native American raven chant, a Saami joik, and a middle-aged guy puttering in his garden.

Continue this stirring and singing until you have the crowd in the palm of your hand, so to speak. You’ll eventually want to say something, if only to snap people out of their trance. Take your time, and enjoy being able to talk without challenge. Cap off the ritual with warm beverages indoors, and stories told in a salacious tone. Rest easy, get up in the morning, and do it again.

Getting Ready…

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We’re all about holidays in this house: Solstice, birthdays, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, and Hangover (New Year’s) Day. It’s all good, and all cause to light the house with shiny, colorful things.


Yesterday we headed to Deborah Oak’s place in San Francisco to celebrate the Solstice with old friends and great food. John Sulak was there, still knee-deep in his book about the Zells and about to swear off Pagans for good (present company excluded, of course). The lovely Robin Dolan gave us all a Victorian fashion lesson by wearing a gorgeous red satin corset over…a black cotton turtleneck. What Would Dickens Do?

Thorn and Jonathan were there too, and from them I got an update on the brouhaha at the Parliament of World Religions. Naturally, I am shocked and appalled. But also strangely comforted that (a) we care enough to go to these things, (b) we keep building bridges and talking with other traditions, and (c) we keep talking to each other.

Meeting up with former circle brothers and sisters gave a special glow to the evening, and I came home this afternoon warm, happy, and sated. Meanwhile, Jojo and her friend decorated the tree in our absence, and the house is now ready for the next festive event in a jam-packed week: Jojo’s 17th birthday on Wednesday!

And on it goes. Another season of cold and warmth, squalls and firelight. Tomorrow morning I am being interviewed on someone else’s radio show: “Questing—Where Is the Path?” on KWMR, 90.5 Pt. Reyes Station, 89.9 Bolinas, and streaming on the web here. I am sure we will talk about dreams, but probably also about paths and quests. Those, it seems, are never-ending.

The other night I had a dream about returning home from a teaching trip, and deciding to take the last leg of the journey up the coast by bicycle. Cycling through the verdant green hills under dark storm clouds, I glanced to my right and saw an amazing scene: there was the City in the distance, its white and gray skyline clearly etched against the broad snow-capped hills of the East Bay. Geographically it was ridiculous, but that little glimpse through the clouds was so stunning that everyone on the road pulled over to gawk, get out their cameras, and take in the breathtaking scene.

As I was ready to go, two other former circle sisters came to greet me with big hugs and encouragement, and I mounted my bicycle again, still dry in spite of the rain, and headed home.

I take this dream to be a good sign for the year to come. May it be so. May all our dreams bear full fruit, and may the bridges we have built be strong enough to bear the traffic of many years of commerce, conversation, and communion. Blessed Solstice, everyone.