DREAMS, GUIDES TO OUR INNER WORLDS

 

Having worked with my dreams, keeping dream journals, being in dream groups, going through Jungian Dream dreambutterfliesAnalysis, lecturing on dreams and keeping current with the ‘psychology and spirituality of dreams’, I believe dreams to be one of the most important avenues into reflection, introspection, ancient wisdom and our own personal journey through lifetimes.  The other methodology which is just as important and has long been practiced in addition to the study of dreams is ‘meditation’.

 

In order to know oneself, as we grow older and mature in years, we must learn to monitor our spiritual life in a way that guides us on our path.  How we do that is similar as has been done for thousands of years, paying attention to dreams and dreamrecordingguidance that comes from contemplation and higher wisdom.  There are disciplines that need to be put in place so that we are not playing ‘hit or miss’ with our dream life, but instead we take seriously our dream world as it is remembered and cared for by the ways we bring it to consciousness.

 

I have devoted a section of my website to the study of dreams and you are welcome to visit:  http://gwynnemayer.com/category/dreamwork/.

 

The ancient treatment of dreams, as a window into our inner worlds, is worth noting and we will discuss this in a later connection to the ancients.dreamalchemy

 

 

 

Dreams are studied at many levels psychologically, to unlock the meanings of our dreams and help us free our minds and feelings from the compulsions, inhibitions and habits which stem from the unconscious.  What we remember is often only a tip of the iceberg relative to the depths of the deep unconscious, so we have to travel the labyrinth that takes us to the other levels, bit by bit, dream by dream….

We, in the western world, are very demanding to ‘find proof’ of the reality of a dream rather than allowing the ‘non-physical’ world to take shape and guide us.  We instill in ourselves a ‘Guardian of the Threshold’ so that we don’t get in touch with more than we can manage.  Put into plain language that the first images that come to us upon dreamsymb1awakening, even before we open our eyes, are often so threatening and frightening that we forget and relegate those images back into the unconscious where they have a life that is leading a parallel existence.  This often happens in dreams that have sexual connotations.

Dream interpretation is a matter of who, how and where it is conducted.  We tend to find just the ‘right place’ to discuss our dreams, or ‘not’, so it is important to follow one’s intuition about getting interpretation.  I personally have a format which I ask my dream student to follow this sequence of documenting and it looks somewhat like this:

 

…Symbols or key phrases upon awakening:

…Feelings or emotions coming out of the dream:

…Visual or sensory perceptions as they are remembered:

…Thoughts of the story, the dream itself written out as much as can be remembered:

…Important symbols, numbers, major themes as can be remembered:

…Context of the last 24 hours that may give a clue to some of the dreams elements:

dreamsymbols

 

After considering these in sequence and after many ‘trial and error’ remembrances, we will get a glimpse of our dream world and what importance it has on determining our connection and communication with our inner world, our spiritual guidance, etc.

 

 

At this point we cannot ignore the common charge that since the belief in the existence of the soul is without rational foundation, unprovable in the terms of contemporary science, then all this talk about the Kingdom of the Soul is meaningless. Dreams can be, at the most, only random productions of the idling, computer-like brain. Such an unprovable assumption against the existence of the Soul does not invalidate the opposite assumption of its existence. The denial is like that of a blind man who cannot understand how anyone could see.

Quoting Sri Madhava Ashish:

 

“To many people, therefore, the path of life seems to lie between precipitous cliffs of matter, on the one hand, and the unplumbed depths of the unconscious mind, on the other. It is paved with rock, for our lives have a material base, but what lies beneath the paving, whether matter or consciousness or nothing at all, is uncertain. We can overcome this dilemma by putting the question in strictly secular form, free from assumptions: Is there, or is there not, anything more than the world as perceived through the organs of sense? If so, have we any place in it as experiencing individuals? Can we then know its nature?

       Putting the question in this form liberates our inquiry from the whole gamut of religious teachings, their associated mythologies and superstitions, their confirmations or denials by mystical visionaries, the speculations of philosophers and, of course, from the flat denials of the materialistic scientists. Why it liberates needs explanation.

     Self is real and not, as materialists would have us believe, an ephemeral illusion, born of brain activity and ceasing when it ceases. This search will lead us below the surface of the waking mind and into unmapped country. “

 

 

 

 

 

By Kenan Branam

Ying Yang(For many years, I worked with Kenan Branam and we were soul companions, briefly married, but remained friends.  This article was written during that time and is an intelligent discussion of how Gestalt fits into Astrology. We often wrote off of each other and these could just have easily been my words. He died recently and this is my tribute to him.  Thank you Ken for all of your hard work and dedicated service to mankind.)

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”

Shakespeare said something like that. He offered a paradigm of reality seeing life as a dramatic play in which we are all compelled to “read our lines” and meet our inevitable end. This fatalistic view of reality was not original to Shakespeare. History credits Greek Tragedy with an earlier version.

In more modern times, Constantin Stanislavski, Russian stage actor/director, and teacher developed a method of “being” not just acting that would foster individual spiritual growth. (Read more about it – The Transpersonal Actor) He had a more optimistic paradigm of reality. He prophesied that we, as individuals, could create our own lives through self expression, reaching deep into our psychic resources. Perhaps he understood Shakespeare’s other wisdom, “The play’s the thing, to catch the consciousness of the King.”

Stanislavski recognized that these resources were both personal and universal. Tapping into the same pool of intuition, Carl Jung charted these deep waters and named it the “collective unconscious”. His identification of “archetypes” became a “cast of characters ” or “roles” that each of us access unconsciously to play out our personal life scripts.

Fritz Perls, the Father of Gestalt Therapy, brought the “play” to group work and individual personal growth with the “hot seat” dialogue. He facilitated both the verbal scripts and the intuitive experience to guide the client toward greater self awareness and intentional integration.

How I learned Astrology

I had been practicing Gestalt in group and individual session for several years when I became curious about esoteric subjects like astrology and tarot. I had practiced dialogues with imaginary people (my father, mother, significant others), empty chairs and pillows, trees, animals, and of course, the “world” as I saw it. When I recognized astrology as archetypal, I included its symbols in my personal work. I would say, in a Gestalt session, “I am Mars!”, and then experienced the back flow of my declaration. Feelings of fear, anger, challenge, excitement, images of war and violence, even physical responses such as deeper breaths, flushed skin, spontaneous flexing of muscles in my arms and thighs, energy coalescing into images of ancient Roman warriors. “I am a Warrior!” I would say as I “owned” and accepted the warrior in myself (filtered through Carlos Castaneda’s “Warrior”.)

“I am Scorpio!” I felt a rush of sexual feelings and images with a sudden need to hide them from the group. Alas, I didn’t know it then, but I was beginning to tune into and integrate my Mars in the 10th house in Scorpio with the subtleties of its oppositions, conjunctions and square to Pluto…my T-Square, my ongoing process, my Gestalt.

With psychodrama, pillow talk dialogue, and time to meditate, I began to realize that Something powerful flowed through me on it’s way through animals and plants and planets. To me, Mars is not just a small red dot in the sky, an intellectual concept, nor just a thing…. it’s Me. I give “My Mars” more of it’s share of my life and value it as a unique part of myself… and part of the Universe at the same time. With this spiritual connection, I began to feel a little bit more at home in Universe.

With only street knowledge of astrological symbolism, I built a base of personal knowledge and experience that I later discovered corresponded to “key words and phrases” in the cookbooks of Astrology. Astrology has become a part of me. And I’m a part of Astrology!

“Astrology is not something to BELIEVE in… It’s something to KNOW about.”- Noel Tyl

The Gestalt Approach to Reading a Chart

Fritz Perls’ definition of the Gestalt process comes from objectively watching the natural way that living beings deal with life’s essential needs such as hunger, aggression, mating, etc. Simply speaking, we all follow a similar process of becoming aware of what we want or need, focusing on a method of satisfying the need, acting out the plan, and reaching completion and integration. We’re hungry, we find food, eat it, digest it, assimilate it, become satisfied and, hopefully, move on to the next gestalt. We move from general awareness to specific back to general … with some growth happening in the process. The process is cyclic and never ending just as we must continue to breath in and out to stay alive.

The Gestalt approach to Astrology, from the “reader’s” point of view, is about looking at the Natal Condition from a process perspective. Seasoned professional Astrologers have learned various ways to “see” a chart from a process point of view. As they say, “I get a picture of who the person is.” Then they work toward communicating their vision to the client with greater or lesser degree of success.

From the broadest perspective, everyone’s natal chart has a unique visual configuration that forms an harmonious circle. After all, the solar system is always in harmony, so it’s important that we, as Astrologers, recognize that harmony and the potential for integration inherent in every client’s chart.

Then as we begin to notice groupings of the planets in quadrants: above and below or Eastern and Western. We assign meaning to these patterns representing the native’s propensity to certain psychological states such as introvert/extrovert or inner/outer. We might also identify karmic conditions that influence the native’s life mission and how it will likely be “acted out”.

Next we can focus on specific groups of planets in signs and house and what angles they make to each other. We can assign meaning to such patterns as Grand Squares, Mystic Rectangles, or “buckets”, etc.

At some point in our process of attention, we move from a broad perspective to a more analytical perspective, perhaps, to delineation. Finally, we return to “the big picture” through such techniques as Maritha Pottenger’s number system or Joan Negus’ “three times is the charm”. One might say we switch from right-brain to left-brain, from a Pisces to a Virgo perspective, or harmonize some personal opposition or square in our own chart. The process of awareness that we use to read the client’s chart is our own version of the gestalt process. It is HOW we deal with the world. It is how we ARE in the world.

When we, as Astrologers, look at another person’s natal chart from a gestalt perspective, we can sometimes relate to their primary processes of awareness and assume we can discriminate between our own propensities and our client’s.

The Experiential Gestalt Astrology Session

The Mandala work is a facilitated exercise performed by the Native (you) in a group or private session. It is an empowering opportunity for you as a client to participate and contribute.

A 12′ astrological natal chart is drawn on the floor. Spheres as symbols of the planets signs are placed on the grid corresponding to their positions in your natal chart. After you have had a few moments of sitting in the middle of the Mandala, having a physical experience of the colors, symbols, and their spatial relationships, you then begin a conversation with planets representing aspects of yourself: your present conflicts, dilemmas, “other” people in you life, even memories, dreams, and reflections.

Intellectual concepts and symbols are “fleshed out” with the drama of your life scripts, enabling meaning and purpose. Conflicting internal dialogues from opposing planets negotiate new contracts for more integrated behavior. Trine and sextile planets become consciously supportive. Unconscious planets join the team and show up with greater resources.

Everything that is important to you in your life is reflected in your natal chart and emphasized by current transiting planets. As you interact with your natal chart and the symbols of planets, signs, modalities, and elements, you develop an intuitive understanding of astrological energies and processes.

The Role of the Gestalt Astrology Facilitator

Being a Gestalt Facilitator is a way of relating to another person in a consulting or teaching role that requires quite different objectives and procedures than would an astrologer or psychoanalyst, for that matter. More emphasis is placed on empowering the “client” to experience his/her own processes and integrate new awareness’ into her/his life skills. The Gestalt Facilitator primarily acts as a “clear” mirror to reflect the client’s behavior back to their own awareness.

The Astrological Natal Chart is an objective mirror in the form of a visual symbol. While it is very focused and detailed, its archetypal principles provide unlimited depth of meaning. When we, as Astrologers, “read” a chart for a client, the benefits we offer are limited to our specific knowledge of astrology, our communication skills, the client’s ability or state of mind to listen, and the time/space limits of our session. With a gestalt approach, we can open the door, the natal chart, to greater possibilities of experience and understanding for the client. The potential of the client’s awareness is invited and, providing that the Facilitator is skillful and clear, even enhanced, allowing the client to leave a session with, not only greater knowledge but with greater self awareness of personal power.

Gestalt as a psychological approach is a cognitive modality that facilitates integration of body, emotions, mind, and spirit, enabling an experience of essential being, clarity, self-support, and personal empowerment. When applied to Astrology, the Gestalt experiential process provides an opportunity to transform the Ancient Wisdom of Astrology into a personal, existential experience of our Natal Integrity.

…and God divided the light from the darkness…The Gestalt Perspective