On Being a Dream Journalist & the Moon<>Hermit Axis
When we use tarot to help guide us, pulling one card might give us helpful information or considerations, but we have to remember that there is no separation in energies and that for every singular card, there is an axis point and layers of other energies to dive into (astrology, numerology, symbolism). I love tarot because it is such an expansive tool that weaves together so many different modalities to give a greater picture of what’s going on in our subconscious mind. This makes tarot an amazing tool to help with dream work.
In the Major Arcana, the Moon is our deep subconscious, the Piscean dreamer, Neptune’s veil between one realm and the other. The Moon, when full, shines a light on the shadows and thus paves the way for us to consider our hidden motives, hidden wounds, and hidden desires. The Moon is our guidepost into the inner realms. We can think of the medicine of the High Priestess, ruled by the Moon when we evoke this energy for our dream journaling. The messages that come through during the dream state are on purpose, the conscious mind is quiet and unable to create excuses for the information that needs to come forward. This is why dream journaling is so potent, it allows us to arrive at our core essence of the time we're living in, whether it be the here and now or in the past.
The Hermit, ruled by Virgo, is our day to day practice. The spiritual retreat has us engaged in ritual between the mind, body, and spirit. In this, the Hermit is the act of dream journaling, maybe the Hermit is the journal itself. The Hermit can help us deliver the information from the dream onto the page so that we reflect and consider the messages. A Hermit spends time in reflection of the mysterious and the mundane and that is essentially what a dream journal practice is.
Exercises for the Dream Journalist:
1. Simply implement a dream journal into your morning ritual. Use any blank notebook or buy one specifically for dream journaling.
I call my work with dreams “Dream Journalist” because I’m actively investigating the meaning and purpose behind my dreams. My subconscious is my strongest ally to my trauma healing, my subconscious holds the buried truths, my subconscious has protected me since day one by creating fear displacement(s), triggers and black holes of memory.
In my personal practice, I’ve found that dream journaling + tarot pulls often helps me access what my subconscious is trying to tell me. Every aspect of your dream is you; other people, objects, places, interactions. Every aspect of your dream is to offer guidance, even if it comes off scary. Because of trauma, many of my dreams bridge on anxiety and fear, which makes nightmare journaling a potent exercise. It might be painful or scary to recall our anxiety dreams/nightmares, but there is a rich message trying to be shared with us. Like a trigger in waking life, our subconscious is trying to get our attention.
2. Pull out your favourite tarot or oracle cards and give this spread a try!
(Background image via Upsplash)
3. From “Living the Dream” by Sally Gillespie:
What is the title of the dream?
What is the strongest part of the dream?
What are the feelings of the dream?
What are the themes of the dream?
Where do I connect to the dream?
What gifts and/or challenges does this dream offer me?
What further questions arise for me out of this dreamwork?”
(Idea: use the above questions in a tarot spread or just answer them in your journal)
1. “Social support is a beautiful tonic for nightmares. It reduces stress to have someone witness the things we are subconsciously or internally struggling with. A nightmare is a symptom of a deeper emotional issue that needs to be made known to the conscious mind. Dreams are a doorway to the subconscious.”
2. “Insert yourself into the perspective into every significant aspect of the dream as if you were experiencing that perspective here in real time in the now.”
"Write down your dream as if it were happening in present tense and then go into the perspective of (or become) every significant aspect of the dream and then explore and express your perspective as if it were taking place in present tense.
For example, let’s say that I had a dream about an alligator in a swamp and there was a broken down shed by the swamp and the alligator ate my father. I would first record my perceptions and feelings as [myself].
Then, I’d switch into the perspective of the swamp itself and say my perceptions and feelings like this, “I am the swamp; I am ancient and full of sorrow. I am lonely and people are repulsed by me and I want [myself] to wade into my waters, the alligator is my only companion etc.”
Then I’d switch into the perspective of the shed and state my perceptions and feelings. Then I’d be the alligator, and then I’d be my father being eaten.
Do this with as many elements as you can to form the whole picture. See how this changes your perception of the dream.
Every aspect of your dream is, in fact, an expression of yourself or your perception of life. In other words, every part of the dream is the dreamer. There’s no wrong way to do this. This is an exploration of the subconscious mind. Doing this, allows us to re-own the fractured or split off aspects of ourselves."
If you struggle with dream recall:
There’s a lot of reasons why dream recall can be difficult. Our subconscious works with us, it holds the key to the door of all our memories and does the hard task of filtering what we can and cannot hold in our conscious mind. Sometimes trauma memories are too intense so we block it out, sometimes our sleep hygiene is so scattered due to insomnia that we never get into the full REM cycle making dreams seldom. Also, consider that we wake up multiple times during the night even if you don’t remember. You might have had a dream but then woken up, shifted positions in bed and fallen back asleep thus losing the memory of the dream.
A lot of people believe that dreams are meaningless or “stupid”, but we have to remember that looking into the significance of dreaming isn’t some new age phenomena, indigenous practices around dreams have existed for thousands of years.
Here are some considerations for you that work for me whenever I can’t recall my dreams:
Adopt a piece of moonstone, kyanite or amethyst for under the pillow or on the bedside table
Ask! Our subconscious listens, our guides listen, our higher selves listen when we ask: "I want to remember my dreams upon waking up in the morning." (Remember to ask for the morning — we wake up so many times in the night even if you don’t remember waking)
Have patience! As with any new practice, it takes a while for our bodies (physical, emotional, mental) to get into rhythm. Non-judgement is key here. If you find yourself falling into shame or judgement around not being able to recall dreams, try to sit with that feeling and then move on from it. The deep resistance that comes with judgement might be preventing the recall even further.
Keep your dream journal (a separate journal from any other journal) near your bedside so you can grab it when you wake up — no instagram, go for the journal first! Even if you can’t remember a single thing, just write “I can’t remember”. The ritual of grabbing your dream journal every morning sets an intention. This feels similar to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages from the Artist’s Way. With Morning Pages, Cameron suggests, "there is no wrong way to do Morning Pages –they are not high art. They are not even 'writing.' They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind” In the Artist’s Way she says that by committing to the three morning pages we are creating a sense of ritual, even if that ritual begins with “I don’t know what to write”, soon deeper thoughts from the subconscious start to come forward. The same is true for dream journaling, committing to the ritual of tending to the morning notebook even if it’s just to say “I can’t remember a single dream”, starts to exercise the sleepy subconscious to spill images, feelings, colours through dream flashbacks.
Keep at it, everyone dreams, sometimes it just takes longer for the dreams to come forward.