Dreams and magick are closely connected, particularly in the early forms of Shamanism that gave rise to the various systems of magick throughout the world. As we saw in the previous article learning the language of your subconscious via dreams can be a great source of personal knowledge and power. Having become familiar with their dreams the next step for many Shamans was to learn to become self-aware within the dream itself and interact with it. This is still done by tribal Shamans today, and by Pagans such as Chaos Mages, Technomages, and Pagans who are recreating the Shamanistic branches of Celtic and Norse spiritual systems.
This technique is called “Lucid Dreaming” and has also crossed over into the New Age and Psychology fields, which has lead to the discovery of easy and effective ways to attaining this state and making use of it. Today, as with most things, the mainstream trend is towards using pricey technology. From lights that, placed by the bed, come on just enough to wake the person up enough to become aware of their dream, to vibrating bracelets that do a similar job. However there are two traditional Craft methods work just as well and are within the reach of everyone.
The first technique is repetitive autosuggestion that when a particular situation occurs, or you see a particular thing, then you will realise you are dreaming and become conscious in the dream. The best trigger is something that you wouldn’t see in normal waking life, such as a striped rose or a purple giraffe. You can do this verbally “Whenever I see (your trigger) I will realise I am dreaming”; or by imagining/experiencing yourself dreaming then seeing the trigger and ‘waking up’ in the dream.
The second way to increase your chances of having a lucid dream is, if you wake up after having a dream, lie back down and re-experience the dream you had. As you do so remind yourself that you are consciously doing this, and there is a good chance that you will find yourself aware within the continuing dream. This happens because you are returning, consciously, to the same level of perception you were when you were dreaming previously.
Once you have attained the ability to dream lucidly there are a number of things you can do with this skill. Firstly, in a dream you are free of the limitations of the waking world including things such as gravity, and actions having consequences. This raises some interesting possibilities which are fun to explore for a while before going on to more ‘serious’ work. Doing this will help motivate you to achieve the lucid dreaming state, learn how far you can mould dreams, and the characteristics of the lucid dream state.
After a while this ‘fun’ aspect of lucid dreaming begins to pale and you can start to explore the ‘deeper’ aspects of this special state. As mentioned in the Bellaonline Dreams website people can enter the Astral or Etheric realm through dreams and, by doing this with lucid dreams, you can find a system of projection that works best for you. You also find out the difference between Astral projection; where you project your consciousness into the inner planes, and Etheric projection; where your consciousness is focussed within your energy body which can travel on the physical plane to any part of the world, or out into space.
In some modern magickal literature the two are confused under the general heading of “Astral Projection”. The two states overlap, as do the Astral and Etheric planes, but are quite distinct in their ‘feel’ and effect.- particularly in dreams. Etheric projections tend to result in clairvoyant dreams of things happening in the here and now and, on rare occasions, the figure of the dreamer being seen by people they were ‘visiting’. Etheric projection may also be the basis of the shapeshifting associated with Witches and Shamans and their “going forth in the form of a Hare” or other power animal. In the Etheric state there can be some interaction between the projector and the environment in that the projector may be able to move lightweight objects. Also damage to the etheric ‘double ’might be mirrored in their physical body due to damage of the energy field, or psychosomatically because of the projector beliefs.
Astral projection on the other hand means projection of consciousness into the astral planes that are totally different from the physical world. Current magickal worldview has it that the astral planes condense down into the etheric, then the physical, worlds. The further you travel from these condensed areas, the more exotic your experiences become. One classic way of checking which plane you are on is to evoke a cube, such as a dice or Rubik’s cube, and endeavour to see all six sides at once. If you fail then you are either lucid dreaming, or on the etheric plane, but if you can it is a good indicator that you are in the Astral realms.
Projecting from a lucid dream can be done consciously, by willing it. But it can be made easier by giving yourself the suggestion that, as you climb a ladder or move upward in any other way, you are projecting or focussing your consciousness outside your body. Some people suddenly become self-aware just after they have passed from the physical into the etheric or astral planes. Usually this is as part of a dream where they are stuck or cannot move in some form or another.
In lucid dreaming this is caused by sleep where paralysis, part of your brain is switched off to avoid you acting out your dreams. With the body paralysed this is a good chance to will yourself to leave the body – if you can remember to get over the panic of not being able to move! Concentrating on ideas/images of floating or flying free can cause this problem to become a doorway into realms beyond the physical. The same can be true of the ‘running and not getting anywhere’ dreams. Focus on the idea that you can fly, as this is usually indicative that you have reached the Etheric/Astral boarder and the medium you are travelling through has too low a density for the etheric body to be able to gain a grip.
Once on the Astral plane a whole new set of challenges and experiences await you. This is where physical reality has its roots and you may see glimpses of potential futures, meet beings that are particular to this aspect of reality, and see the workings of the multiverse itself. Hopefully this is where the experiences with lucid dreaming will pay off, as all the beings and events you have experienced in that state are part of your own personality. If you have been interpreting your dreams then the symbolism you encounter should tell you if what you encounter is an external being or a projected part of your own persona. At this level of being your Pagan practice and rituals are truly integrated into the Universe and have powerful effects.