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April 2019

My friend Joan, who is 93 and who has written her life story as a Jungian-influenced epic in 300 iambic quintains (please take that in a for moment)  reminds me that when I start talking up dreamwork, I need to “explain about the unconscious.” 
Thank you Joan.  It’s easy to forget the basic premise.
Several years ago I asked Sam Fulks, an artist with Poverty and the Arts, to make a teaching image for me to share around, and put on the cover of my little “Field Guide to Dreaming.” Although some of you have heard me talk about this before, here’s my take on the Jungian map of the psyche, much simplified and pictured as a waterlily:
Lilypad - waking consciousness: what you know about yourself and the world
Pond – your personal unconscious:  what you don’t know about your personal life.  It’s murky but full of discoverable, rememberable material. 
Bottom of the pond and indeed, the whole earth of which the pond is part  - the collective unconscious.  This is the vast unconscious, bigger than all of humankind. The pond bottom pictures just the beginning of all we don’t know – shared archetypal energies and images, the human story, the consciousness of plants and animals, the truth of the imagination, the  mysteries of the holy, and we can never know what else. It’s wild, creative, dangerous, and relational but not necessarily agreeable. 

 Root - is the most fascinating thing there is in the whole picture. It's your core identity that is bigger than your own ego, self awareness, or personal existence. People call this astonishing force by names like the God Within, the Soul, Wisdom, -- every culture finds a way to point to this reality. 
Here’s what it does, in Jungian terms:  It interacts with the deep unconscious and the personal unconscious, sensing what you most need to see, feel, and know in the moment.  Then it sends those energies up to consciousness in a form you can use – as dreams, synchronicities, archetypal situations, growth-producing events, significant people, mishaps, and various other forms of meaningful happenings.
Waterlily –the dream that rises and blossoms, ephemeral, with gold at its center.
Stem: how information travels between consciousness and unconscious.  This could be dreamwork – but also anything that connects you to your Root and sustains growth: prayer, meditation, gardening, running, playing music, yoga – you know it when you feel it. 
    Poetry too.  Since it's National Poetry Month,we'll explore poetry in the Tips and Titles department (see end of post).
That's plenty, but I do want to mention the point of all this.
Relationship is the point. You can use your dreams to relate to this powerful, lifegiving “root Self."   Whether your dreamwork uses intuition or analysis, play or work, prayer or art, body or mind, this relationship is profoundly creative, challenging, and enlightening.   
In fact, being in the relationship with the "root Self" is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and for others. This connection enhances capacities for insight, compassion, creativity, and courage. Humility.  Wisdom.  Love.
How? The poets suggest that we not try too hard.  “I loafe and invite my soul” says Walt Whitman, and he would be thrilled if you'd join him.  Be "a bride married to amazement" says Mary Oliver.  "Bellow forth...the whole rusty brass band of gratitude"  says Ross Gay.  Lie down in the field "out beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing" invites Rumi.  "Leave spaces empty," dares Kay Ryan.  "Taste and see...all that lives to the imagination's tongue" says Denise Levertov. Rilke "wants, simply, to say the names of things."  The work of becoming is not necessarily easy. But Mary Oliver brings us back to the lily pond, assuring us that even if we think we fail at spiritual alignment, grace is as natural as dreaming:

"Each pond with its blazing lilies
Is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,
whether or not you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray."



One spot left in the new Tuesday night dream group.  We’re meeting April 16-May 21 from 6:30-8 in my Green Hills office.  This is the last new group til fall – let me know if you’re interested!  $100 for the series, includes “Field Guide” and materials.

"A Field Guide to Dreaming" 
If you'd like a copy of the "Field Guide" you can buy one online at or email me at  $10.


The Lunchtime Book Club at Main
continues reading
Dream Theatres of the Soul
by Jean Benedict Raffa. 
Come join us even if you haven’t read it. Liz the Librarian still has copies to hand out!
This month we’ll meet at noon on Friday April 12 and Wednesday April 24
(Shift to Wednesday because the NFL is taking over downtown on Friday the 26th. Nightmare on Cherry Street.)

Happy News at
Hadley Park

The Community Dreamwork Initiative is starting a dream discussion group at Hadley Park library.  Open to all.  We’ll meet 2nd and 4th Tuesdays from 12-1:30 starting April 23. 


Book Discussion of Jung’s Map of the Soul by Murray Stein.  Sunday, April 28 2:30-4:30 at the Green Hills Library.  This is the long-awaited discussion of the second half of the book, led by the intrepid Dan Tyler. 


Tips and Titles
for Dreamwork and Dreamplay

Tip: Write a simple dream poem. 
This works for those, short, elusive dreams or a piece of a longer dream
.  No dream is too short to count.  Relating to that "root Self" is what matters most.

Here's a 5-element form I just made up.  
You can state or imply responses to each section.   They can come in any order.
-Image in the dream
-Action in the dream
-Feeling of the dream
-Question the dream leaves you with
Example: In my dream, I see a birthday cake with candles bent so that the wicks disappear in the pink frosting.  I feel they are hiding.
Birthday cake. 
Sparkler candles doubled down,
wicks buried in pink frosting.             
What blazing birthright
do I bend over backwards
to avoid?                                                 

Title: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
Many many poems, songs, and art pieces arise from dreams.  Here’s my newest poetry obsession, brought to my attention by an alert dreamer who heard the poet interviewed on NPR.
Ross Gay is an acclaimed poet and community orchard gardener who has suddenly turned up everywhere in my world – but he’s been out there awhile and has lots of prizewinning books.  Where have I been?
The title poem “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude”  begins and ends with a dream. It is a long poem. And irresistible.  Even if you just read the first section, you will feel happy and blessed.  But if you stay with it til the end, you will weep with love for the beauty and suffering in this life we share, the terrible fragility of our world, and the mystery that holds us together. 
Read it at
Watch and listen on YouTube:
Bonus: Found Poems. Try one.
Poetry is everywhere, I discovered that April is also National Safe Digging Month, so  I couldn’t resist shaping a poem from the writeup at National Day Calendar website. Keep your eyes open and try it yourself. All I did was eliminate some of the text and arrange the rest on the page. 

This article caught my attention because digging, like poem writing and dreamwork, means getting into the deep unconscious. Which has its dangers if not handled with respect.
Every Six Minutes an Underground Utility Line is Damaged
Beyond the devastating risks of
or injury,
consider the costs of
and even
Remember, if you dig,
Call 811, dig parallel with the utility line, use small hand tools
If you
smell rotten eggs,
Or hear
                        Or Roaring

Fire By Night Dreamwork
Laura Huff Hileman, M.A., M.S.
Dream Mentor and Spiritual Director

Personal dreamwork and spiritual direction
Dream groups
Presentations, workshops, and retreats
Copyright © 2019 Fire by Night Dreamwork, All rights reserved.

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