As a child and well into adolescence, I would share my dreams with my grandmother who had been my primary caregiver from infancy to age 5.
We lived in a small fishing village known as Island Harbour on the island of Anguilla, a British territory in the Caribbean Sea.
My grandmother was small in stature, yet she had an enormous presence. When you received a hug from her, she hugged you with her entire being. And when someone crossed her, they would immediately hear about it and so would everyone else.
From sunrise until late afternoon, my grandmother spent her days cooking, planting or harvesting, tending to her chickens, sheep, pigs, goats and me, while my grandfather, a sailor and fisherman, was often at sea.
“You used to follow her around the yard,” one of my uncles once shared. The both of us barefooted on the red dirt. She knew the earth. She understood its cycles and its rhythms. She knew the benefits of every plant that grew around her and she understood the wisdom of dreams.
I was fifteen when I dreamt of being alone on a familiar beach where I noticed a crib. Inside the crib, there was a fish. When I told my grandmother of this dream she said it meant that someone was pregnant. "Oh, because of the crib," I had thought. She said, "No." It was because of the fish. I had no reason to doubt my grandmother's wisdom since she had given birth to nine children including my mom.
Dreams of fish then became the way my inner wisdom communicated each time new life was growing inside of me.
“Go to the sea,” my grandmother used to say. She believed that the sea was the cure for just about any ailment, physical or otherwise. She would send us off without a word of caution. My cousins, my siblings and I would swim together in the ocean most often without any adult present. She trusted we would be okay, and we were.
How did you know that we would all remain safe? It is as though she now answers, Child, you were never unattended. I asked the sea to watch over all of you. If ever you ventured too far, its waves would gently usher you closer to shore…And now, now I am the sea…
They say our grandmothers once carried us in their wombs, I believe we now carry them in ours.
~Kathleen Webster O'Malley
Dreams can be poetic in nature, showing us where to place our attention without telling us exactly what to see. Like the workings of a telegraph, our inner psyche transmits messages from the deepest parts of our bioelectrical bodies, our cells, our tissues, our unconscious mind and our innermost being.
Our dreams hold elements of our waking lives. They are keepers of our most beautiful memories and our painful ones too. They reveal what is ready to be acknowledged, processed and healed. I believe they hold ancestral memories as well.
Harriet Tubman relied on her visions and premonitions to keep her and other slaves safe during their escape to freedom. According to Historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar, these visions were the result of a head injury sustained when she was struck in the head by a two-pound weight that had been thrown at another slave.
Illnesses and other bodily dysfunctions can be revealed in dreams even before they can be conventionally detected. This is because the sleeping brain is more attuned to this information and manufactures images based on the somatic signals it receives.. (Patrick McNamara, Associate Professor of Neurology at Boston University, The Neuroscience of Sleep and Dreams, 2019)
Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev dreamed the Periodic Table of Elements and wrote it all down. He published his first periodic table of the elements in 1869.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity was based on a dream he had as a teenager in the early 1900's.
Vocalist and bassist for the Beatles, Paul McCartney dreamed of the musical tune that became the song, "Yesterday" in 1965.
A feverish dream in the early 1980's led director James Cameron to create The Terminator movie.
Current research shows that dreams are not simply a by-product of sleep. Noradrenaline which is a stress-related, anxiety-triggering chemical is completely shut off when your brain enters REM-sleep dreaming which allows for emotional processing, enhanced creativity and memory strengthening. (Matthew Walker, PhD, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, 2017).
Amerindian societies honor dreaming for healing and practical guidance. Hopi elders believe that while dream symbols are personal, our dreams are of one heart and mind.
Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of medicine would often appear in dreams to offer cures and remedies.
While knowledge is passed down from generation to generation, wisdom is something we discover for ourselves. Look within.
Sometimes life asks that we dream a new dream for our lives. It is not to deny our current challenges or past hurts. The reality is, pain and loss open us up to new ways of thinking and being in the world. Tears somehow help us to see ourselves, the world around us and each other more clearly. Allow yourself time to grieve what is or what might have been.
Don't try to go the distance alone. We need life-affirming connections as we are wired to be in community. Reach out to those who would be honored to accompany you without judgment or ridicule.
Pay attention to your dreams. They often know us better than our conscious mind. Before you close your eyes each night, ask, What do I need most in this moment? How am I being called to heal, create and serve in this intricate web of life?
Know that your journey is not without purpose. Everything you have ever experienced has led you to this moment. You don't have to know what comes next.
And when it's time to know your next steps, trust that you will know. Even just a glint of hope will illuminate new paths forward.
For right now, keep moving towards life. No, it is not always easy, but it will always be worth it, to you and to the persons you meet along the way.
Sending you peace and a glint of hope...
Each morning is an opportunity for something new. Don't give up in the middle of the journey.
My gift to you!
Join my "web" community (opt-in form above) and receive a downloadable 21-page dream journal (See sample pages below).
Keeping a dream journal has been a source of guidance and healing in my life. I wish to share this process with others.
Let us explore the world of our dreams for the purpose of healing ourselves and the world around us.
It is not up to one person or one group to cre
Includes 21 dream journal pages that can be reprinted as often as necessary.
Each page contains an inspiring dream quote.
“A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.”
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer...You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion…to change the world.”
“Your vision will become clear only when you look
In the words of John Lennon, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I know I'm not the only one."
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