Dreaming With Plants
By Emma Farrell
We have lost the art of dreaming. Perhaps it is a side-effect of the modern mind that is so different in its functioning from the mind of our ancestors, or perhaps it is our disconnection from the Earth, and therefore from ourselves, that keeps us from appreciating the imagery and meaning of our dream-time. The surface world has taken over in its perceived importance and relevance to our ‘success’ in life. The power of the imaginal realm has faded into the background of our awareness and is obscured by our limited perceptions and by the excessive noise of today .
Dreaming has been an important aspect of our indigenous and spiritual heritage since beginning-less time. Our ancestors recognized dreaming as the doorway into the Other-world, into our subconscious, and as a vehicle through which the spirits can speak to us. Dreaming was known for it’s precognitive, healing and wisdom-inducing qualities, all very beneficial not only to survival but to spiritual well-being.
The oldest written references to interpreting dreams come from ancient Chinese literature. Dream incubation temples existed throughout ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, the Mediterranean and the British Isles. These temples were used for divination and healing. Dreaming was part of the Tibetan pre-buddhist spiritual practice, Bön, where adepts attained high skill levels for lucid dreaming. Once incorporated into Buddhist practice, this was referred to as Dream Yoga. Both these sets of practices cultivate the gift of becoming consciously awake in the dream, knowing that you are dreaming and doing something about it. Fundamentally the first and most obvious benefit of lucid dreaming is having a direct experience of being a consciousness able to exist and function with clarity outside of a physical body. Because the body is our main attachment in life, the effects of this experience can be profound.
When we work in a co-creative way with plants and trees they can be brought into our dreaming practice as a way not only to attain solutions and portents but as a way to connect more deeply to ourselves and therefore the earth. Plants that offer clarity, centeredness and presence support our dreaming practice as they make us more aware of our self, more aware of where our mind is focused. Waking mindfulness is essential to mindfulness in sleep, i.e. being able to remember or actively participate in our dreams. Nature in general brings us into the present moment due to its timeless quality within an eternally evolving cycle, so we could say that all plants and trees can help us to dream more consciously!
Yet there are plants that are known to specifically assist with dreaming, one of the more well known ones being Mugwort. Some of the main energetic attributes of Mugwort are grounding, alignment and clarity — to dream well we need to be connected to the earth and be properly grounded, to understand and participate in our dreams we need to be consciously aligned to our subconscious, and to ensure maximum lucidity we need to have clarity of thought. Just a simple cup of Mugwort tea before bed with the intention of wanting to connect with our dreams can open the doorway into the part of our life where we are usually completely unconscious.
Dream incubation is a very simple yet effective way to work with plants and trees to deepen our relationship with them and also to receive their healing gifts. Incubating a dream means setting a strong intention before sleep to dream about something in particular. When done with pure intention the dream we request usually appears after 1-3 nights. This can be done with or without plants, however, as a plant spirit healer I tend to work with the spirits of the plants for assistance. For example, if there is an issue in my local community that I need some guidance on, I will ask the spirit of the Oak—which holds the sacred dream of our land and promotes community— for assistance with the answer. Working in this way can yield quicker and more insightful results.
Many people find it difficult to work with their dreams because they don’t remember them! The easiest way to start to change this is to inform your subconscious mind that you are interested in your dreams by keeping a dream journal and noting down any aspects of dreams you remember in a morning, even if it’s just a feeling or a color.
The more you pay attention to your dreams, the more you will remember and the more you will feel connected to and an integral part of the dream of the Earth.
I look forward to discussing many types of dreaming with plants in the upcoming ONE teleseminar on the 16th of June - see you there!
- Emma Farrell