Our lives can be considered a sacred quest. It is a quest that may have begun in this lifetime or many lifetimes before. It is a quest to find ourselves: who and what we really are. To do this we must first cease to pretend to be what we are not. We must cast away our Persona or mask. We must be prepared to confront the Shadow, that which we are and rather were not. Only then can we unify our conscious and unconscious minds and so give birth to the hidden Sun – the Self. ~ Vivianne Crowley
What does it mean to follow your bliss? The American mythologist Joseph Campbell, who coined the phrase, advised us to live life authentically and joyfully and assured us that if we did that, all else would fall into place. In my own life, that has meant that I had to give up such tight control of what I thought I wanted because when I have gotten it, whatever it may be, I’ve usually been no happier than I was before. Following my bliss has had more to do with turning off the control switch and watching the inner wisdom that shows up consistently in my dreams, synchronicities and visions. Once these gems of the unconscious become conscious; they can then be incorporated into my life to see what sparks a sense of joy or calling. Learning to draw upon the living waters of spirit to move Life to where it longs to be expressed is, in my opinion, the sole reason we are here.
According to Mayan shaman Martin Prechtel, in the article “Saving the Indigenous Soul: An Interview with Martin Prechtel,” by Derrick Jensen (link to article below):
“If this world were a tree, then the other world would be the roots—the part of the plant we can’t see, but that puts the sap into the tree’s veins. The other world feeds this tangible world—the world that can feel pain, that can eat and drink, that can fail; the world that goes around in cycles; the world where we die. The other world is what makes this world work. And the way we help the other world continue is by feeding it with our beauty.”
I recently had what I consider to be a Big—from the other world that feeds this tangible world—Dream about a tree that was followed by a couple of extraordinary meaningful coincidences. In honor of Martin Prechtel’s sentiments, I will share the beauty of the dream with you now.
In the dream
A giant tree is walking swiftly around a wooded area in our neighborhood [not my neighborhood in waking life]. Its trunk up to where the branches start is a royal blue color, like the color of lapis lazuli. My husband [not husband in waking life] stands to the side watching it. As I come up to him, he is standing off to my right. As the tree circles and comes behind me, I am a bit frightened because I know what is coming next. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do except let it happen. Just as I expect, the tree swoops me up and takes off with me in its branches. I close my eyes and hold fast to whatever I can hang on to around me. Soon, I find that while the tree is traveling fast, I have no problem holding on. It is traveling at a speed that is safe for me. I feel a strong kinship with the tree and begin to enjoy the ride. We come to the edge of a road where the Executive Director of the non-profit I retired from is driving. As she catches sight of the tree and me, she swerves in a large puddle of water in the road but keeps driving, zigzagging in a sort of careening way. I think, “How am I going to explain this to her?” as the tree turns and heads back toward where my husband is standing, waiting for us to return. I am on the ground again, and my husband explains that the tree is rare and ancient. Its royal blue color is now gone and it looks like a large tree with regular bark. He tells me the tree’s name [which I can’t remember when I wake up]. The dream switches to a scene where husband and I are mixing some concoction on part of the tree that juts out and resembles a shelf of some kind. I see the beautiful design in the grain, and say that we should use a plate and not mix directly on the wood, which we do. A man in the neighborhood comes running up with his son saying, “What the hell was that all about?” meaning the tree walking about with me in it. My husband and I ignore his question as the men walk up to the tree. The father tells the son that they could cut it down and make something (I forget what) out of it. I am aghast! But my husband winks at me and says, “Just let them try. There is no way those two are cutting down this powerful being with its roots embedded deep in the earth and its branches reaching into the heavens!” (EOD)
I had this dream the night before I was to visit my doctor with a physical concern I thought might have been serious. Upon awakening, I remembered that my husband, who died at the age of 42 of cancer, had experienced tree dreams at the end of his life. However, in those dreams, the trees were all cut down, leaving only stumps. I did not try to interpret my own dream right away but felt, instead, the sense of wholeness it brought to me and a feeling that all would be well with my health (this turned out to be true) since the tree was both in movement and well-rooted and whole without the possibility of being cut down at the end of the dream.
Later that week, I felt inspired to paint parts of the dream. After I finished the painting that included the dream tree with my dream self in its branches, I noticed that in its bent-over position as it walked with me, the tree looked like the Native American Trickster fertility god, Kokopeli. The painting immediately brought to mind my affinity for the Kokopeli icon, of which I have many, as well as my love of the Santa Fe/Taos Area of New Mexico. Images of Kokopeli bent over playing his flute are plentiful throughout that area of New Mexico—in silver and turquoise jewelry, statues, paintings, cloth art, pottery, and other expressive mediums.
The morning after I’d completed the painting, a woman I know called to see if I’d be interested in attending a memorial for a mutual friend of ours who had died a few months earlier. The memorial, that would include scattering part of our friend Selina’s ashes, was to be conducted in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range just outside of Santa Fe, in a little town that had been a place of spiritual power to Selina when she had lived. Interestingly, it was our joint love of that area in New Mexico that had initially drawn us together as friends when we’d worked at the same organization on the west coast of Florida several years before she had died. I wasn’t surprised to receive the call. As soon as I’d noticed the resemblance of Kokopeli in the dream tree, I knew something was brewing just outside my field of consciousness that had to do with traveling to New Mexico. What I didn’t know was that there was even more to come.
Eventually, I shared the tree dream with my friend Travis Wernet who as a seasoned dreamworker, gave me sage advice:
“I’ve had a number of tree dreams at least over the last few years, and I feel the energy of ‘dream-trees’ says something ‘rooted’ and eternal about the Wild Self and the depths of Instinctual Nature that is part of human nature on an important integral level…One initial thought/feeling, if this were my dream, and in my imagined version, I am the tree and the tree is me, and it’s striking to me that I/we can and do travel about and it’s an experience, for me, of the larger and mythic life that I can inhabit/am inhabiting in the Psyche…And here, I can take the roots with me! Or they are capable of this themselves.”
Thanks for the initial thoughts on the dream, Travis! I agree with you about the tree and I being one and the same. And I do feel the connection between the mythic/wildness of the dream and grounding. I am currently reading Monika Wikman’s amazing book Pregnant Darkness…much about connecting the mythic and instinctual sides of self.
A few months later, I learned about a week-long retreat that Monika Wikman and Diane Haug are facilitating at the Ocamora Retreat Center in Northeastern New Mexico, located a few hours north and east of Santa Fe. The retreat, titled “Feeding the Moon: Creativity and the Divine Feminine,” will begin the day after the scheduled memorial for Selena! I didn’t personally plan these mythopoetic – as Travis would say – events. They were ‘handed’ to me, one after the other, to choose or reject. There is a saying that goes, “When the mind plans, God laughs.” My personal sequel to that is, “When God (Goddess, Great Mystery, Spirit…you choose) plans, the mind is given the opportunity to transcend all blocks to Joy.” In my experience, that is what it means to follow your bliss.
Link to interview with Martin Prechtel: http://www.hiddenwine.com/indexSUN.html
Link to Travis Wernet’s online dream group: http://www.meetup.com/WayOutWestDreamGroup/events/118264882/