lucid dreaming as a portal to afterlife communication

Lucid Dreaming as a Portal to Afterlife Communication by Janet Piedilato, PhD (https://www.janetpiedilato.net/)

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul.”  C G Jung (Collected Works, 10, p 304)

Pere LaChaise lies east of central Paris, gathering place of such notables as Chopin, Champollion, Balzac, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, American’s Jim Morrison and over one million others.  It is a place of life, not death.  One emerges from the Metro at the stop which bears its famous name, Pere LaChaise, Father LaChaise, the eminent confessor to King Louis XIV,   Pere LaChaise, communicator between the voice of the sun king and the eternal divinity.  And so the journey begins, entering and coming down a long pathway ending with a monument, Aux Morts by Albert Bartolome.  It is an imposing monument, a mastaba, a funerary monument prevalent in Ancient Egypt.  It is how the Step Pyramid began its life, step by step added during the long years of birth, until it became the first pyramid.  Yet the mastaba remains as foundation.  And Aux Morts begins the journey for along its outer walls are the waking humans lamenting the passing of their loved ones as they await their entry through the False Portal that leads to no ordinary reality landscape but to the Everlasting, the Mansion of Millions of Years.  Here begins our journey to communicate with those passed over, we walking upon the earth, lamenting the departure before us of our loved ones, yet coming to the doorway to commune with them…..How?   With intention and with our ability to commune through the waking lucid dream, that is how.

For many a lucid dream is one where we are aware that we are dreaming, understanding during the dream that we are experiencing something beyond our waking reality environment.  I expand the experience of the lucid dreaming to beyond the sleeping state proposing that we can be awake while fully attending internal imagery.  Altering our focus away from the tangible proximal environment to the mental dreamscape allows us to experience a lucid waking dream while our critical observer is aware that we are physically situated in a particular location as our mind moves on the dreamscape.  While only a few may be able to experience a lucid dream while sleeping, many can experience a lucid waking dream. With this widened perspective we will be able to view shamanic journeying, trance meditation, and invited waking dreams as lucid experiences where we expand consciousness in service of increased understanding of life and afterlife.  We literally become walkers between the worlds, that of the physical tangible and that beyond waking limitations.  We will come to see how the waking lucid dream acts as a doorway, a portal to an empowering inner experience opening to afterlife communion and a greater understanding of our true nature beyond the physical. 

Introduction

“Tomorrow, at dawn, as the countryside whitens,

I shall leave. You’re waiting for me; I know.

I shall walk with my eyes closed in on my thoughts,

Seeing nothing beyond, hearing no sound,

Alone …

When I arrive, I shall place on your tomb

A posy of green holly and of heather in flower.”

Victor Hugo, Tomorrow at Dawn.

Victor Hugo said it well.  Tomorrow at Dawn speaks of his journey to the tomb of his young daughter Leopoldine.  He speaks of seeing nothing beyond his inner vision, hearing no sound from around him in waking as he focuses upon his meeting with her.  The true portal thus recognized as inside oneself.  The image of the Egyptian false door on tombs and temples that dot the landscape along the Nile reflect what is this deeply meaningful inner experience.  The portal on Aux Morts likewise reflects the meeting place between the here and the hereafter.  It is an experience open to each of us. And at this time when the veils are thin from Toussaints, All Saints, All Hallows, All Souls Day,  to the flowing end of the year is the perfect time to make the intention and seek our communication.

Trance, meditation, and shamanic journeying have been with humanity beyond measured time and each practices the opening of inner communion. They are examples like lucid dreaming where individuals are awake, focusing inwardly upon mental imagery while remaining aware of the waking physical environment.  A critical observer is thus in control of the experience, grounded in the physical proximal environment while we focus upon the dreamscape, gift of our imagination, the faculty by which we form mental images.  We literally become walkers between both worlds, external and internal.

Communication with those in the beyond can begin simply in an ordinary sleep time dream or in waking we can call upon them, stand before the portal between waking and dream consciousness to call them forward.  Sometimes the experience can be spontaneous as I relate the following unexpected experience.

I present a personal example of a meditation I encountered decades ago. Unexpectantly it took me to a deep afterlife communication.  It began with a simple rosary.  Kneeling on the floor with my rosary early one morning at 4 AM I had one of the big lucid dream moments.  My rosary practice then and now consists of repeating a simple prayer, the Hail Mary, over and again as my fingers touch my beads.  It was thus that one morning deep in the rosary praying that I suddenly found myself peering down from the ceiling of my room looking at my physical body kneeling on the floor below.   A voice communicated with me from the Afterlife, one I recognized.  I knew I was outside of time and space in that eternal space and I knew far more, understood more about my life than at any other moment.  I understood that whatever challenge or sorrow befell me it would all always be all right, the message of this communication so strong it came upon me as something I already knew yet had somehow forgotten.  It is difficult to articulate even now decades later the effect this had on me.   The communion was real, undeniable. The message unquestionably genuine.    It was unexpected and spontaneously generated.  I was able to reach that communion again and I began to share my experience and the manner in which I reached it with others.   Dawn, the liminal space between night and morning, the perfect time to rise and take the beads in hand to seek the lucid waking dream and communion with the Afterlife.  The simple repetition of a prayer while the fingers engage with beads helps us to open the portal taking us beyond the boundaries of the physical. The waking lucid dream in that experience happened while I was completely awake attending to my rosary.  While many might see my experience as an “out of body” experience I prefer to call it an “experience of expanded consciousness.”  Looking upon this experience we can embrace the idea of walking between the worlds, lucid, aware while sleeping or fully awake.

More recently a series of lucid sleep dreams brought me what many might call remote viewing or out of body experiences  (I call this expanded consciousness where my consciousness is still connected to my physical body while expanded far beyond its limitations. When my body dies then I can experience out of body, at least in my thinking) In any case I found myself in Pere LaChaise Cemetery in Paris.  I had no prior waking knowledge of this place yet in the dream I was certain of my location.  A communication came and I knew its sender who directed me to find that poem, At Dawn, something I likewise had no prior knowledge.  I listened well. There was another prominent voice that rose to communicate with me, a composer, his music filling me.  So strong were these communications that I booked my flight and followed the directive of the dreams.  I was not disappointed.

I spent two days visiting in flesh what I first saw in lucid dream. It was surreal to be physically in Pere LaChaise, an experience which defied words.  I yearn for more, something I hope to accomplish on future journeys..  And I rushed to two other places directed by the lucid dreams. One led me to Le Pantheon where upon the wall I found a memorial to one of my lifetime favorite authors, Antoine de Saint Exupery.  And thus his words come forth

“That which is essential is invisible to the eyes”

Antoine de Saint Exupery.  Le Petit Prince.

“Oh sleep that dreams and dream that never tires, Press from the petals of the lotus-flower something of this to keep, the essence of an hour!”~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

The other place I needed to visit was L’Eglise de Madeline.  An exquisite church, it was the location of the funeral mass for Chopin, one who connected with me during the dreamings.  I wished to sit in the Madeline and bring to mind Mozart’s Requiem which was played for his funeral.  Before I left I purchased concert tickets which featured Chopin, hoping in this way to honor him.  Yet upon arriving at the Madeline I found a poster announcing the memorial concert of Mozart’s Requiem in honor of Chopin’s funeral anniversary: October 30 1849- October 30 2022!  I had no idea that my journey landed me at this important time.  Immediately I purchased these new tickets and through an amazing turning ended up seated in the empty church, my two companions and myself, listening to over an hour of the orchestral rehearsal prior to listening to the entire memorial concert.  All due to the lucid dreaming which led me across the waters to follow them, and to affirm my lifetime commitment to memory, to the state of our dismemberment, and our journey toward rememberment, joining waking and dream consciousness to be healed, made whole, gently freed of the overwhelming ignorance of our true nature. Communion with those passed over was so powerful, so meaningful in both the lucid dreaming and the synchronicities manifesting in waking.  At Pere LaChaise we have the presence of the False door, the place of communion on the mastaba, like the many false doors in ancient Egypt, each pointing to the one inside ourselves.  

The Egyptian False Door: Knocking on Heaven’s Gate

“Arise, O great reed float, like Wepwawet (Opener of the Ways), filled with your spiritual power (Aka) come forth from the Akhet (Afterlife).”  The Pyramid Texts.  Alexander Piankoff.

While we have no written information on our prehistoric human rituals of communicating with the Afterlife, we are blessed with the abundance of a strong Afterlife belief system in the Ancient Egyptian culture.  The image above gives a view of one of the seven vaulted chapels in the Great Temple of Seti I in Abydos, Upper Egypt.  Center on its west wall  is the False Door. This is a door that does not open to a waking reality room but is intended to serve as a portal between the world of the living and that of the Afterlife. It was here at Abydos that priests would bring offerings and commune with the deities.  It was here that the communication would flow between one living and one passed over.  The living would remain aware of the physical chapel while focused upon the Afterlife communication,  the waking lucid dream.  Offerings were presented, physical or imaginal.  The Ancient believed in the power of the word and thus they created what is called a Voice Offering.  I present my abridged version here

An offering to Osiris, Lord of Djedu, great God, Lord of Abydos,

Of bread, beer, ox, fowl, alabaster, linen,

Everything good and pure on which a god lives

For the Ka of the revered one ( here the name of the deceased. ) ….

The False Door of Abydos is one of the many in the mortuary temple of Seti I, a pharaoh.  Yet there are many False Doors in the mortuary chapels of nobles.  A lovely example may be found in the False Door of the Mastaba of Perneb which can be visited in the Egyptian Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Likewise there is a vast collection of False Doors on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo with others in museums all over the world.  They are simply a common feature pointing to the deep conviction of the ancient Egyptian people: The ability to communicate with those passed to the Afterlife.

 I frequently visit Egypt as well as visiting the Mastaba Tomb which graces the Metropolitan Museum nearby.  I often find myself standing before the ancient False Door reading the hieroglyphs above it.  A scribe, now passed thousands of years ago addresses me in the script he left for my reading:

Oh ye who talk upon the earth, please stop and speak a voice offering in honor of Perneb…..

Composed and chiseled into the wall by a scribe over four thousand years ago I find myself responding, bridging the centuries as I speak the voice offering articulating the ancient prayer presenting the incorruptible, of all things good and pure for Perneb…… And I continue, seeing the False Door, as a place of communion, not only with the deceased for whom it was created, but as a portal of communion with my beloved passed away before me.  The Door is behind glass presenting a division between where I stand and the opening to the Afterlife.  It is a narrow room and few tourists spend more than a few moments inside.  Alone, I shift my consciousness allowing the portal to open, allowing the images to rise on my mental landscape, allowing the communication to flow.  The Ancient Egyptian False door is so symbolic of the portal beyond waking perception, a doorway to Communication with the Afterlife, all accessed via the lucid waking dream.

Awake and yet no longer solely attentive to physical environment each of us is capable of becoming walkers between the worlds, communicating with what is physically absent, eternally present in the Afterlife.

Nobles and workers who had the opportunity and the funds and time, created mortuary chapels and put aside additional funds for priests to conduct offering prayers for them at the False Doors within their chapels.  The mortuary chapels and temples were seen as a place where the living continued to interact with the deceased. The prayers and offerings were presented to the Great Lord, the deity, in the name of the deceased as the living continued to commune with them. The False Door was not the sole place of Afterlife communication as it is suggested that in some households there were areas, rooms set aside as chapels in which mortuary stelae or ancestral busts of dead family or ancestors were kept as a place for convenient communication.

In summation:

The shift in consciousness, the altering of the focus from the sensory generated view of the external world to the imaginally generated dream reality ushers in the lucid waking dream state which offers one the opportunity to commune beyond the limitations of the physical world.  The False door of Aux Morts at Pere LaChaise like the  Ancient Egyptian False Door brings to mind the place of communion where one upon the earth can make offerings leading to a communication with the Afterlife. It is a powerful reminder of the empowering nature of our dreaming mind.  We can expand our understanding of the False Door as a place, a portal within ourselves, where our conscious focus turns from the physical to view the imaginal world as we enter into the experience of Afterlife communication via a lucid waking dream.  With one foot in each world we step beyond and open the possibility of Afterlife Communication.

Our beloved awaits our arrival… Meeting through our lucid dreaming….

I’d like to thank Dr. Janet Piedilato for contributing to the Conscious Chimera blog!

If you’d like to contact Dr. Piedilato, join her courses, purchase her dream tarot deck and book, or simply read her bio, you may do so here: https://www.janetpiedilato.net/

a diagnostic coin toss

Consciousness-related phenomena (what the Conscious Chimera blog is all about) and cancer may not seem to blend together so well, at least at first glance. But maybe, just maybe, I will convince you otherwise. Cancer is coming up for me at this time because it is October – that dreaded month – reminding me of the biopsy followed by diagnosis.

“Yeah, I’m so sorry, the biopsy report shows that the tissue is cancerous.” 

Or something like that. 

Yeah, the exact words have faded although at the time I believed I would never forget them.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Something else happened that week too. I determined I would work with the cancer, understand it and it’s lessons for me. I would not engage in a battle, nor would I fight it. After all, my own body grew this. 

I believe bodies can not only allow cancer to blossom, but also wither. Consciousness plays a part in the shrinkage and the growth.

October has also been named Breast Cancer Awareness Month, yet many people actually prefer Breast Health Awareness Month. After all, we don’t necessarily need to be reminded of cancer. How could we forget it? It’s everywhere, in about 50% of the population…and growing. Could our chances of getting a cancer diagnosis be no better or worse than a coin toss? I can’t tell you how many people I know who are managing this condition! A focus on health – how to stay healthy or return to optimal health – is more appropriate.

So given the month and my personal experience, I’ll share how cancer and consciousness are in good company. Over these past three years since the diagnosis (I’ll never say ‘my’ diagnosis), I’ve spent countless hours with doctors (MDs, DOs, NDs, DTCM, PhDs, and functional and integrative ones) who have taught me a great deal about cellular behavior, consciousness, and even the biofield. 

If the term biofield is new for you, think of it as interacting fields of energy and information that surround living systems and deliver information to and throughout an organism, such as the human body. Long story short, I knew that cells were conscious from the work of Bruce Lipton, PhD and many others, yet finally, I knew my next life phase would be about much more than education or a theoretical comprehension. 

This phase is about transformation, and building an interactive relationship with all parts of my-self. 

With decades of practice in cancer treatment under his belt, Antonio Jimenez, MD, ND, has talked about how a bad thought is more deadly than a bad germ. After all, our cells are always listening…and they respond. Cells behave in accordance with one’s thoughts and feelings. Or as Bruce Lipton, PhD has noted, one’s beliefs have a profound impact on that person’s biology. 

In short, everything is conscious. We shape frequency, vibration. Consciousness is behind everything: Everything we think, feel, sense and do. 

Consider the research conducted on seeds, sand, water, and plants. It is profound. I’d even say magical. But it really is science.

This is not to say that anyone has consciously programmed their cells to make them turn cancerous. It is to say that we exist in a conscious multi-verse where we are participants in creative forces at play, whether we have awareness of it or not. We are not passive recipients or victims…at least we don’t have to be. 

As conscious creators, we are extremely powerful. Within us lies the ability to shape matter. How? With our thoughts and beliefs, our feelings and emotions, our actions and words, our energetic flow (or lack of it). Furthermore, by altering our states of consciousness (most commonly done through sound or the breath) it is easier to do so. A lot of things become easier when mental chatter (aka monkey mind) simmer down and we joyfully open to influence frequency. By focusing in, consciously directing energy to the target (energy follows attention), trust there will be results.  

Cancer Awareness just brings attention to cancer, but a month of Awareness on Health, especially Breast Health, supports women everywhere in fostering a healthy lifestyle. This can impact the entire body, supporting all levels of functioning.

Health-focused conscious lifestyles can co-exist with all forms of medicine and healing. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, allow a team of professionals to support you and simultaneously consider bringing in body workers and energy healers. Even if you are well-versed and practiced in work involving nonordinary states of consciousness, it can feel very supportive to invite others onto your team. I did, and I’m grateful for every person that provided assistance. At the same time, I ramped up my own inner work and found solid, grounded, experienced teachers to guide me further along in my wellness journey. 

It’s been three years now, and while I’ll always remember that numbing phone conversation, I feel empowered to use all of my abilities to continue to heal. If this essay encourages you do take the lead in your own health and healing journey, then my work is done for now. 

May you be blessed with good health,

Dr. Kim

meditate while you ZZZ

How many people would say meditation and sleep make strange bedfellows? A lot, I’d gather. Allow me to convince you that those people would be wrong!

Sleeping and meditating have the potential to blend together easily in the right conditions. With practice, it is very possible to be aware in a lovely meditative conscious space while the brain is in deep sleep. Enter the fascinating realm of Yoga Nidra, a centuries old practice, brought to us by people of India.

So what exactly is Yoga Nidra, you may be wondering?

Yoga Nidra is a sleep-based meditation designed to remove mental and emotional disturbance and rejuvenate the body. Yoga Nidra is composed of a structured series of breath, body and awareness techniques which progressively drop you into deeper brainwaves where your thoughts effortlessly move further away from you. It is in this gap between the thoughts that you can effortlessly experience restful meditation.  The body can deeply heal and rejuvenate, excess mental stimulation ceases and you awaken energized and focused. The more we rest as the silence behind the mind, the less we are disturbed by its unhelpful chatter—even while awake. Like meditation, Yoga Nidra can be used for medical, restorative and spiritual benefits alike to support one’s own goals and intentions.

What makes Yoga Nidra unique?

Most styles of meditation simply involve observing and allowing thoughts from a place of silent stillness. However, Yoga Nidra effects shifts from the state of meditation with the use of intention. In Yoga Nidra you are free from identification with deep-seated thought patterns that are constantly shaping and creating your mind, emotions, and even your body. With the use of intention you can consciously plant a seed to shape and create the state of your mind, emotions and body from the subtlest states of being very quickly and easily. This style of Yoga Nidra I was taught by Kamini Desai, PhD, and John Vosler is called the Integrative Amrit Method (IAM). They say it is like making changes to water versus ice.

The big difference with this particular method is that the focus is on energy as the point of entry into meditation. This released energy in the body increases the healing potential available during an I AM Yoga Nidra™ and typically takes most practitioners into deeper states of meditation more quickly. That is why this style is often known as “the deep one”.

You can learn more about this method here: https://amrityoga.org/yoga-nidra/

Let’s look into the process of Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is practiced in a comfortable lying down position. Typically, one lies on a yoga mat on the floor with just a little padding under the head so that the spine stays in alignment. Something under the knees allows for extra comfort as well – some use a pillow or bolster for this. For those that cannot lie comfortably on the floor, a bed, couch or reclining chair are preferred. During yoga nidra body temperature may drop, so having a blanket next to you in case you need it is a good idea. Some people also like to use an eye pillow for extra darkness – I love eye pillows!. As the yoga nidra experience begins, you will be guided through a series of breathing exercises and simple instructions. Some of these include visual imagery or a scan of the body, which occupies the mind and prevents it from becoming involved in the usual mind-chatter that absorbs our ordinary consciousness. Within a short time, you become submerged in the alpha state…then go even deeper.

Ah…it’s sooo relaxing.

Now if you’ve read this far, let me tell you why I’m blogging on this topic today. Firstly, it is my three-year anniversary of earning my Yoga Nidra Certification. When I entered this whole yoga nidra thing seriously, it was early 2019, and honestly, I wasn’t sure why I was propelled to do it. But before the year came to an end, I understood. This brings me to the second reason. The following month, after earning my certification in September 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As you can imagine, I had some big decisions to make and, naturally, anxious energy flowed through me night and day. So guess what? I used Yoga Nidra (sometimes twice a day) to calm my nerves and instill a state of calm. I had the direct and long-term experience to discover how effective it is. Through Yoga Nidra, I was able to relax and focus much more so than I was at that time able to with other forms of meditation I knew so well. To this day, I offer free Yoga Nidra every Wednesday to a growing online community. You’re invited! Just reach out.

Lastly, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to my teachers at the Amrit Yoga Institute. Check them out here: https://amrityoga.org/

Jai Bhagwan,

Dr. Kim

got insomnia? turn down mind-body-spirit noise!

Is insomnia in your self-descriptive vocabulary? I hear this regularly among patients in my clinical practice. Maybe you experience insomnia or sleep next to someone who does. Sleep is natural, but why do so many people struggle with it? Insomnia seems to have become the new normal. Would you agree?

No one is alone here. Sleep disorders are a major concern for millions of people, including young children. Loss of restorative delta sleep (~ 0.1 – 4 hertz)  – that’s the deepest level of sleep –  and loss of REM sleep are both related to a slew health issues, both physical and mental. In Dr. Matthew Walker’s (2017) Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of  Sleep and Dreams, he writes, “No facet of the human body is spared the crippling, noxious harm of sleep loss” (p. 133). Sleep loss negatively affects all major systems of the body, including the immune and sympathetic nervous system. Research also shows how cancers are linked with getting 6 hours or less of sleep each night and over-exposure to light at night. There is good reason for making some changes!

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

But what is sleep? Sleep is holistic, intimately tied to many areas of life. This includes our relationship with the deepest part of our-self, our inner world.

The underlying organizational and foundational structure of sleep is natural  cycles or rhythms (think circadian, ultradian, etc.), body temperature, and a sense of inner peace, according to sleep specialist and clinical assistant professor, Dr. Rubin Naiman of University of Arizona.

Challenges to getting good sleep are much, much more than a biophysical issue. Most people these days are aware of the psychological consequences of sleep loss, such as increased thought distortions, and mood disturbances, as well as loss of attention, concentration, and memory. In children, sleep deprivation leads to what adults describe as ‘behavioral problems.’ It’s really the same with adults. But beyond this, how many are aware of the social and instinctual aspects of sleep?

For those with insomnia, we might consider what we have imposed upon ourselves. One question to ask ourself is “What do I consume?” Beyond consuming food (with lower nutritional value today than decades ago), we also (over)consume various forms of stimulation such as light (electricity, screen time), information (24 hour news), fluids, and energy (aka heat/arousal). Then there’s additional stressors – the good old fashioned kind – such as the quality of our relationships. Chronic inflammation, which underlies all major diseases, and hyperarousal (do you run hot?), which is behind insomnia, are associated with consuming excessive energy/stimulation (aka noise).

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

The good news is that we can reset ourselves, just like a pendulum clock. Exposure to nature light early in the morning is the best way, according to some sleep specialists. Greet the sun each morning  – use the moment to connect with Source through meditation or prayer.

Last year I wrote an article which included 10 sleep hygiene tips – Find it here: https://dreamstudies.org/dreammedicine/

And here are a few additional suggestions. In the PM hours, get into a solid ‘sleep hygiene’ routine. Furthermore, use substitutions, such as swapping out coffee (or alcohol) for teas, elixirs, or mocktails. We can also add a 30 minute yoga nidra session into our day or evening. Yoga nidra is a guided sleep-based meditation that “helps restore autonomic nervous system balance,” according to yoga expert, Dr. Kamani Desai. Yoga nidra turns down the heat. This is one antidote for sleep loss (and the tension that builds with ongoing insomnia) since it is designed to gently guide practitioners into deep sleep. It’s so relaxing! If you’d like to join me for yoga nidra, email me. For almost three years now, I have facilitated free yoga nidra sessions. At this time, I invite you to my free, virtual yoga nidra offerings on Wednesdays (6pm Pacific Time) – since it’s online, you can enjoy the relaxation from the comfort of your home. If you prefer pre-recorded sessions, two links to audio recordings can be found near the middle of this page: https://consciouschimera.com/professionalservices/

Since insomnia is much more than a biomedical condition, if you’ve made positive bio-psycho-social-enviromental changes (you’ve turned down the noise) yet still struggle to sleep, you may consider melatonin therapy or pharmaceutical medication. If so, consult with a functional medicine doctor (FMD) or naturopathic doctor (ND) for proper melatonin usage (especially to learn about its anticancer properties) or with a psychiatrist for pharmaceuticals. Like physicians, psychiatrists have earned a M.D., however the vast majority of primary care physicians do not have the training in sleep and psychopharmacology. So, a psychiatrist is recommended. NDs and FMDs are extremely helpful as well. Remember that integrative care is highly supportive, so if you choose to use medication for sleep, you might want to continue with a sleep hygiene routine, and know you are always welcome to join my free online yoga nidra group. If you want to use psychotherapy to treat insomnia, there is also CBT-I, that is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia – the gold standard, with no side effects. I use CBT in my private practice when appropriate as do most therapists. Feel welcome to contact me for support here, especially if nightmares are involved – just click on the Therapy tab on my website, ConsciousChimera.com

Wishing you deep rest,

Dr. Kim

another dream conference begins…

Due to orchestrating a major relocation, I took about six weeks off from writing. The break was helpful. For a short while I forgot that I blog. Sometimes that happens in life – we turn our attention to pressing matters and lose touch with our routine. 

Now that things are starting to settle, I can give my full attention to what’s occurring at the moment. That is, the 39th annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD). This year, it’s being held in Tucson, Arizona, at a beautiful resort, and Day 1 of 5 begins tomorrow evening. Join us for a day or even the full conference if you are nearby! 

What’s especially enticing is the keynote presenter line-up. I’m really excited to get to see Dr. Stephen LaBerge for the first time. He is one of the few researchers responsible for putting lucid dreaming on the map of western science. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, lucid dreaming is when a person is dreaming while knowing they are dreaming. Prior to LaBerge’s work at Stanford University’s Sleep Laboratory and the work of a handful of other dedicated scientists, the ability to dream fully conscious, that is lucidly, was highly doubted. Even with countless credible anecdotal reports of the phenomenon, those in academia and the sleep research field thought the notion of lucid dreaming was ridiculous. Today, lucid dreaming has been demonstrated in hundreds of sleep studies and has become a hot topic – you can find dozens of symposia on lucid dreaming at IASD conferences.

If you are not a natural lucid dreamer, not to worry. Lucid dreaming is a skill that can be taught. With practice, one can enhance that skill and, well…the amazing adventures await you. Sure, dreaming with awareness can make for great fun, yet it can also offer a space (a dream space, of course) to practice and develop talents and abilities such as improving your golf swing, developing a poem or new musical piece, exploring far away places, and solving challenging math problems. There’s much more one can do while lucid in a dream, but hopefully those examples were enough to whet your appetite.

During a spontaneous lucid dream not terribly long ago, I used my dream awareness to see if I could get some answers to health-related questions of great concern. My dream began as one typically does, then suddenly, something in the dream prompted lucidity and with that spark of awareness, I recalled the health challenge I was facing. I realized this was a precious opportunity, so I called out to the dream space: “Dreaming mind, how do I heal this condition?” and (after a response was given),  “Dreaming mind, what is the root cause of this condition?” The responses I received offered guidance, information, (and some surprises) so that I could consider how to proceed in my healing journey (If you plan to attend this year’s IASD conference, consider sitting in on Tuesday’s Health and Healing Dreams panel, where you’ll find me, along with two colleagues, sharing our research and personal experiences on this topic). 

So why wait until a diagnosis is given? Why not use lucid dreaming as a tool now, at this time in life, in order to inquire into what the physical body may need? There is so much to be explored and discovered through experiencing this phenomenon directly, personally. This is gnosis – knowing through direct experience – rather than through theory or someone else’s descriptions. Direct revelation is powerful, and very personal.

If you are interested in lucid dreaming and want to learn more, including the eastern perspectives and spiritual aspects of this practice (known as dream yoga), check out my book, Dream Medicine: The Intersection Between Wellness and Consciousness (2021). There, you will find multiple perspectives and see what the dozen plus professionals I interviewed have to say about dreaming. Dream Medicine also includes tips, techniques and strategies to get you lucid asap. 

May you know good health. May your dreams be your medicine!

~ Dr. Kim

an introduction to talismans

This is part 4 of a 4-part blog on amulets & talismans.

So after reading part 3, did you make an amulet bag for yourself? How did it go?

Now we turn to the sibling of amulets: that is, the complexity of Talismans as the final piece of this 4-part article.

The Greek telesma and, later, the Arabic tilsam bring about the word talisman. These are more complex when compared to amulets. Unlike the various naturally occurring amulets, talismans are crafted works. Cunningham (2019) in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs explains how when worn or carried talismans “attract a specific influence, such as love, luck, money, health; as opposed to an amulet which keeps forces from its bearer” (p. 286). Knowing this, the color correspondences that were listed in part 3 of this 4-part series, can be applied here as well. Before moving on, I’ll include a few thoughts on some related European history.

Both amulets and talismans are woven into Europe’s ‘historical marriage’ of religion, magic and medicine. We only have to look back a few hundreds years to see how authoritative power and misogyny laid the foundation for today’s biases, ignorance and misinformation (Magic does not mean heresy.). By this, I mean literally, the exclusion of women from holding positions within Christian/Catholic religious institutions, high-magic orders, and medical practice alongside the formal education required to practice. For those interested, the scholarly writings of Thomas Hatsis offer an in depth look into the pharmacopoeia and folk drug practices of the medieval period. Sure, there were those who misused their status, positions and power, yet how is that any different than today? So, with that noted, let’s look more deeply into talismans.   

While a talisman can potentially be created with any object, it is ritual which surrounds the production of talismans for the purpose of infusing magical powers. In addition, the magical properties of protection and power emerge from the sacred signs found on talismans. In The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, Lecouteux (2005) explains, “The talisman is, among other things, an incantation, a magic word, a charm set down in writing instead of being recited. Depending on its purpose, the person either carries it or not; it is a personal object that, in order to be effective, should take into account everything concerning the individual for whom it is intended” (p. 24). A talisman’s magical signs and symbols are often obscure (such as a sigil) and this is what some have said to be the reason behind harsh condemnation by the church. Even a few centuries before 1000 CE, talismans became associated with the devil. This negative association, created by church clergy and officials, continued through the Inquisition and beyond. The Dark Ages of Europe lasted around 1,000 years!

To summarize the distinction, both amulets and talismans protect, yet talismans go a step further in that they require ritual preparation (thoughts, plans, care) for a particular purpose, such as attracting something desired. Basically, we charge talismans with our desires. Both amulets and talismans, in their many forms, have been valued by people all over the world for centuries … millennia, actually. These are components of ancient medicine. In fact, a prehistoric male corpse was found in the Alps near the borders of what today would be Austria and Italy with an amulet in the form of a filled leather pouch around his neck. Their use continued, however, although sometimes in secret in order to avoid penalty and consequence. 

Only a century ago, the Bretons (Celts of Northern France) hung starfish over the bed of a child who was experiencing night terrors and nightmares (Lecouteux, 2005). It’s haunting to realize that what many people carry, wear, use, or utter today would have led to interrogation, harassment, possible imprisonment or murder just a half-dozen centuries ago. 

At the same time, it is mind-bending to know that a simple change in terms, from “magic” (pagan) to “miracle” (Christian), makes a difference! After all, magic removes the patriarchal authority of the church. What’s more is that a Christian cross worn around the neck is basically an amulet, as are small pouches with images of saints as seen within Catholicism. When it comes to Christian amulets and talismans, the use of sacred names is important. The utterance or vocal conjuration is what gives the power. Lecouteux (2005) writes that the “mentality underlying the use of Christian amulets predates Christianity itself. It constitutes an interesting form of syncretism that combines elements of the dominant religion with older structures” (pp. 93–94). The appropriation of pagan customs by the church is nothing new and can be observed well beyond amulet and talisman use.

There you have it – a brief introduction to talismans.

Thank you for reading part 4 of 4 – you’ve now completed the entire amulet & talisman blog series. For a deeper exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

Have you enjoyed this blog series? If so, consider joining me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting at the beautiful Mar de Jade Wellness Resort in Chacala, Mexico. Details can be found here: 

www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

amulet-making as folkloric craft

This is part 3 of a 4-part blog on amulets & talismans.

As we saw in part 1, amulets come in many diverse shapes, sizes and materials. They hold natural virtues for warding off evil, guarding against negativity, and protecting the wearer or carrier from harm. Part 2 highlighted ways to cleanse amulets.

Have you enjoyed this blog series? If so, join me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting in Mexico. Details are here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

Now, let’s take a look at how we can get crafty and creative!

Customizing Your Own 

In addition to those examples of amulets described in part 1, an amulet pouch, medicine bag, or charm bag can be created. These are often worn around the neck, pinned to a person’s clothing, or placed in a pocket or under one’s pillow. These little bags/pouches can be filled with various items, such as herbs, flowers, crystals and icons. No sewing is required. Simply cut a piece of appropriate colored fabric into a square or circle. Felt, silk, or cotton work fine. Place the amulets of your choice in the center and use a six- to eight-inch string, ribbon or thin leather cord to tie the pouch together at the top. This can be done similar to a European sachet—I’ve been fond of those since I was a little girl. 

Choosing the Best Color for You

Traditional English as well as African American bags are often constructed with red fabric, however, colors correspond to particular attributes, so the use of red is not always necessary. Consider the following additional possibilities – these are just a few examples:

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* Blue for emotional and mental healing

* Green for financial success, prosperity, and physical health matters 

* Purple for confidence, power and success

* White for general protection and purity, or in place of any color

The color you choose in itself can serve as a reminder for what you want. So if I want to protect my physical body or protection around material matters, I’d go with green. If I need to protect my mental and emotional states, I would choose blue. Purple can serve as protection for my personal boundaries, self-esteem, or sense of self. This is the way I think about it, at least.

Today, not only do I carry amulets during the day when I feel I need them, but I often have them on or near me at night when I sleep. This can be one method to help protect people as they dream, go into deep meditative states or trance, or even embark on a conscious, intentional out-of-body experience. Part of maintaining health, in my opinion, is taking action to protect our energy bodies and psyche/soul. Working with amulets is one way to do so.

Thank you for reading part 3 of 4 – the next article (part 4) will focus on talismans. For fuller exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

Have you enjoyed this blog series thus far? If so, consider joining me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting at the beautiful Mar de Jade Wellness Resort in Chacala, Mexico. Details can be found here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

the care and cleansing of amulets 

This is part 2 of a 4-part blog series on amulets & talismans.

I hope you enjoyed reading part 1. Have you identified any amulets within your possession?

Not all amulets need cleaning, such as plant sprigs, such as a Bay/Laurel leaf, that would only be worn or carried for a short amount of time. Those can be buried or given back to the earth at the appropriate time. See part 1 of this 4-part article for more examples. For crystals and stones, I recommend clearing or cleaning them in simple ways. Below you’ll find some ideas about how to go about this. 

In just one word, first and foremost is intention. Thoughts and prayers are powerful. We can create our realities by what we believe to be true. Before we do ritual cleansing, it is wise to set an intention. While doing the cleaning, hold the intention. These phrases or sentences should be as affirmative as possible and use positive language. Make your intention clear and to the point! Remain authentic. Here are a few possibilities: 

“With this smoke, only love and light remain. I am protected.”

“May this salt water banish all negativity and be a cleansing force now.”

“This amulet protects me and serves my highest good.”

Using the verbal or mental intention of your choice, simultaneously imagine being surrounded in a bubble or egg of soft, golden light.

There are a few ways to cleanse amulets. Salt is a powerful energetic cleanser and is used in many traditions, including Christianity. Salt is used in Catholic exorcism, for example, and salt mixed with water becomes holy water after each are exorcised and prayer over. Prayer, or intention, is crucial for it to function properly, however, the church insists on formal liturgy and avoidance of private, nonreligious usage, thus attempting to take away the natural power of individuals or small groups. For amulets that can get damp or wet, I mix a little salt, about half a teaspoon, with water in a paper cup or disposable plastic container. I gently place my amulets in the salt water, anywhere from one to eights hours. During these longer soaks, I set the intention right beforehand and again near the end, prior to a final rinse. Offering a word of thanks to conclude the cleansing process. Then, toss out the container.

For amulets that should not be exposed to water for more than a few seconds, if at all, set the amulet in a bowl of salt (without the water) and leave it for about the same amount of time. I often do this option at bedtime so that my amulets can get clean overnight while I sleep. In the morning I give them a quick rinse in filtered water, then gently pat them dry, so long as this won’t harm them. After they are cleaned, I thank them for the job they perform. Wash the container thoroughly before next use. 

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Another way to cleanse is with smoke. If you grow your own herbs and medicine plants like I do, consider making a personalized bundle just for burning while cleaning amulets. Since I live in northern California, a climate not too unlike the Mediterranean where my ancestors come from, I grow plants that were sacred to that area in ancient times. To make a plant bundle for burning, I can pick a couple stalks of lavender and rosemary. I like to combine these with plants that grow naturally next to my house, such as cedar and pine. Since white sage is native to these parts, I have some of that too and may also add it to the bundle. I place them together, lined up evenly, and wrap them with a piece of thread. I suggest using white thread as that is the color of cleansing and purity or black thread, since that is the color for banishing negativity. Either will do. Once the herbs and plants (it’s all right if their flowers are included) are bound and dry, I burn just as one would burn any kind of incense or bundle. Pass the smoke around the amulet clockwise a few times as well as above and below as you firmly hold your intention in your mind. An expression of thanks is important, as these plants are working for us, for our highest good. Another tip: Kindly express gratitude when picking the plants and herbs in the first place. Sometimes, I leave gifts and other times I say a prayer. Consider what is right for you. All I can suggest is that we acknowledge that everything growing out of this earth has energy and is sacred. Behave accordingly. 

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A final suggestion for cleaning and clearing amulets that can get wet or damp involves making your own spray or spritzer. Purchase a tiny glass bottle with a spray cap. Take distilled or filtered water and fill the bottle three-quarters of the way full. Fill the rest of the bottle with small appropriate amulets—a little crystal and a bay leaf or sprig of rosemary, for example. Then top it off with about 10–15 drops of essential oil. I like clary sage and rosemary essential oils for my spritzer bottles. Let the mixture infuse, so set the bottle aside for a couple of hours, then shake and finally spray around the amulet above and below in addition to all directions moving clockwise. As always, hold your intention firmly in your mind and offer gratitude as the finishing touch before using the cleansed amulet. 

In her book, Italian Folk Magic, Fahrun (2018) shares how she cleans her water-safe amulets—it is the way her aunt taught her many years ago. She combines water, a little dish soap, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Then, she takes the amulet and moves it around in the solution, clockwise, three times. Next, she takes it out and rinses it under running water before drying it with a clean towel and allowing it a little air-drying time. When completely dry, she takes her amulet in her hands, says, “May it bring me luck” (“Che mi porta fortuna”) and kisses it (p. 103). 

Consider cleansing your amulet after anyone touches it or even if you suspect someone has touched it. Regardless, some people choose to clean their amulets each week, as part of general housekeeping. Obviously, this is for objects that you will have for a long time. For amulets directly from nature, such as a bay leaf, it’s best to return it to the earth when done with it or when it begins to fall apart or decay. These days, there are many people blogging or video posting on these matters. Some suggestions you’ll come across are similar, while others might be contradictory. Go with what makes sense and with what personally resonates. A final word of advice: Do not share your amulets or your talismans (more on talismans in part 4 of this 4-part blog). These are for you and you alone. If you are gifted one, clean it as well. 

Now, amulet pouches or medicine bags are treated a little differently. This will be the focus of the next article, or part 3. Amulet pouches or medicine bags should not be soaked in salt water, obviously, and don’t necessarily need to be smoked. However the contents can be cleaned and cleared prior to becoming part of a pouch though. The ritual act of making the pouch or bag is powerful in and of itself, so clearing or cleaning the space in which the bag will be constructed is a good initial step. Give it all of your undivided attention. Do not multi-task. Later, after the pouch has served its purpose, it can be buried or returned to the earth since it will likely decompose. 

Thank you for reading part 2 of 4 – the next section (part 3 of this series) will offer instruction for making your very own amulet pouch. For fuller exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

Have you enjoyed this blog series thus far? If so, consider joining me for the Dream Medicine Retreat I’ll be hosting at the beautiful Mar de Jade Wellness Resort in Chacala, Mexico. Details can be found here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

All best,

~Dr. Kim

#women

#folkmagic

#craft

#folkloric

#protection

#evileye

#kitchenwitch

#magik

the what and why of amulets

Welcome to part 1 of a 4-part blog series on amulets & talismans.

If I asked, point blank: Do you intentionally carry an amulet? You’d likely say no. It’s not something on the forefront of most people’s minds. Were you ever gifted a rabbit’s foot? I was, and as a child I carried it with me…at least for a while. Or maybe instead you whisper, “rabbit, rabbit” at the start of each month. Either way, calling in good luck, or repelling bad luck, with various objects is serious business within cultures across the globe.

These days it seems that amulets are somewhat increasing in popularity, yet again, these are not objects at the forefront of one’s mind. The rabbit’s foot as a good luck charm was quite popular in the United States and Great Britain for decades. The history of this particular amulet is not entirely certain and is connected to several possibilities.

So what exactly is an amulet anyway? 

An amulet is said to contain natural virtues used for warding off evil, guarding against negativity, and protecting the wearer or carrier from harm. As a protective object an amulet can come in many shapes and sizes. The power is within the material. In short, an amulet repels what we don’t want, claims Mary Grace Fahrun, author of Italian Folk Magic (2018).

Here are some examples of common amulets which are culturally and situationally dependent:

Coral

Vervain

Thyme

Garlic

A leaf of Bay/Laurel

A fresh or dried sprig of Rue

Amber

Silver and Gold

A stone, gem or crystal (such as quartz, amethyst, tourmaline, carnelian or onyx). 

Italian red coral is considered an amulet.

Amulets can offer protection in all states, whether in dream, meditative, visionary or waking states. Furthermore, amulets can serve as a general protective element as well as carry a unique function. One historical example is how fossilized amber was used for preventing nightmares with children. Another example could be the Italian corno or hunchback or the hand of Fatima, all of which are meant to provide a specific function—protection against evil eye. 

Apotropaic (aka protective) magic refers to the power to avert evil or harmful influences, bad luck, misfortune, or the evil eye. The popularity is evident, even today, by the vast number of apotropaic amulets and talismans sold worldwide. A very early example comes from ancient Greece in the 4th-century BCE – a relief showing Asklepios performing a healing ritual with a serpent and two apotropaic eyes above. These talismanic ‘eyes’ were also commonly found on ancient Greek vases and throughout parts of the Mediterranean region. See part 4 of this 4-part blog series for more on talismans.

From my visit to the archeological museum in Thessaloniki, 2019.

In the book The High Magic of Talismans and Amulets, Lecouteux (2005) provides some history on the origins of the word amulet: In the first century BCE, we come across the Latin word amuletum, derived from amoliri, meaning to protect, to drive away. Considering what amulets are and are not, the most striking example I’ve come across is revealed below. What you see is below is from an excerpt from my 2021 book, Dream Medicine:

Considering the notion of general protective capacities, let’s turn to Celtic traditions for a moment. Healing, wisdom and truth are sourced from severed heads. The most extreme example of an amulet I have ever come across, unsurprisingly, is that of a human skull fragment. According to Tom Cowan, author of Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit (1993), ancient Celts were well known for “their cult of the severed head” (p. 35); they flaunted the heads of enemies from their horses or their own necks. Celtic warriors wore human skull fragments as amulets. Sometimes the entire head was placed on a gatepost, outside a doorway, or on top of a stake for protection. In belief systems where the soul is immortal, residing in the head while alive on earth, it is not surprising that claiming or keeping one’s head “was the same as possessing that person’s soul, spirit and personal power, analogous to the practice found among some cultures of eating the heart or brain of a noble warrior or admired enemy in order to ingest his strength” (Cowan, 1993, p. 36). How about that for a power object!

Now that you know what amulets are and why people carry them, we’ll turn our attention to their care in the next part fo this blog series.

~Dr. Kim

Consider joining the Dream Medicine retreat in Mexico this Fall – we are booking now, so get all the details here: www.ConsciousChimera.com/Retreats

Thank you for reading part 1 of this 4-part blog series. The next part (2) will place attention on the cleaning of amulets. For fuller exploration of this subject, read Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness (Toplight Books, 2021).

#traditionalways

#magic

#power

#ritual

#amulets

#ancientgreece

#talismans

#goodluck

#folkmagic

#craft

#folkloric

#protection

#evileye

#Asklepios 

#rabbit-rabbit

#apotropaic 

oh what surprises dreams bring

“Are you expecting anyone?” can be the first question heard in a household after a loud knock on the door. We all have different feelings about surprise visitors knocking at our door. Some are thrilled to receive a spontaneous visit while others prefer a text or call first, allowing time to prepare for the visit. 

When it comes to dreaming, things can go a bit differently during those nocturnal adventures. We can ask for a visit, as part of a dream incubation ritual or intentional dreaming practice. However, we may not always get what we expect. Other times, a surprise visitor will just pop up, without any forewarning whatsoever. When it comes to dreams, who are these visitors?

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The ‘visits’ we may recall in our dreams can include a wide range visitors, from babies-to-be to those dearly departed. There is specific terminology for these types of experiences. Have you heard of the term ‘announcing dream?’ Think of a pre-birth (or even pre-conception) communication occurring between parent and child-to-be. Pregnancy is not required for an announcing dream to unfold. Announcing dreams are much more than a mundane dream of a baby, and they come with such visual, tactile and auditory sensation that extends beyond mere fantasy. These kinds of dreams can hit so hard that upon awakening, there is no doubt in the genuine communication that took place.

Announcing dreams are not metaphorical like most ‘fertility’ dreams, meaning that instead of dreaming of a ripe growing fruit, for example, an announcing dream could include a child or baby proclaiming, “I’m coming” or even provide the dreamer with his/her/their name. I’ve interviewed dozens of women about their announcing dreams and can tell you that while they provoke all sorts of emotions, these experiences are memorable and held close to the heart. Announcing dreams are not all rainbows and butterflies, although many times, these dreams spark confidence and enhance pre-natal bonding.

Are you are parent or grandparent? 

Do you recall an announcing dream during the time of pregnancy? 

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As the years pass by, our time inhabiting this body comes to an end. Those weekly or even yearly visits we spent with friends and family do not necessarily have to end just because death has come knocking. A commonly-reported dream experience containing an interaction of some sort with the deceased is known as a visitation dream. 

Unlike announcing dreams, visitation dreams can unfold across the lifespan – they have been reported by children and those at end-of-life as well. Furthermore, the visitation dream experience is not always a happy affair. Here, in this article, let’s focus on the warmer, heart-felt visitations. Allow me to share a memorable one noted in my April 2020 dream journal. This dream segment is also reported in my 2021 book Dream Medicine: The Intersection of Wellness and Consciousness.

It is a warm, sunny day. I see my beloved Nonni sitting on a structure, like a cement block, in a park. She is having a lively conversation on a cell phone, even though they were not common when she was living. “How strange,” I think. I have a good feeling when I see her. She’s wearing a pretty violet and blue dress… As I greet her with a touch and a kiss, I can feel her and I can smell her.

Dream reports of the deceased may emerge shortly after the deceased has passed on or decades after the death. With regard to my dream with Nonni, I can tell you that her death date was over three decades ago. Other recalled visitation dreams are fresh.

Sometimes, although more rarely, an announcing dream and a visitation dream merge. I recall a pregnant woman who reported to me how in her dream as she pushed a stroller where her newborn rested, they passed a bench where her deceased uncle sat. He offered her a smile and a wink. This dream took place two years after the uncle’s death. The dreamer noted mixed feelings – both positive and anxiety-inducing. Since each person holds unique beliefs about death and dreams as well, you cannot predict who will or will not come away from these experiences with peace or tension. 

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Both announcing dreams and visitation dreams can be quite visceral. Experiencers are not easily talked out of the dream’s ‘realness’ as the experience is quite potent. When anyone shares their inner world, such as an impactful dream, it’s best to just listen. After all, the dreamer owns the dream – it was meant for them.

Maybe you have experienced extraordinary dreams, or you would like to. I’m offering an intimate in-person retreat in Mexico this October. This retreat is for those who would like to learn more about extraordinary dreams and liminal state visions, enter a community space where these experiences can be safely discussed, and get personalized support in the dream arts. Here’s the link with the details: https://consciouschimera.com/retreats/ We are booking NOW so act fast to get the best room!

Dream big,

Dr. Kim