Writing in the House of Dreams by Jenny Alexander

 

 

Writing has been important to me since I was a little child. I used to get moments of ‘possessed inspiration’. Moments that I needed a pen and some paper. When I put the pen down, words flowed out. Where a story just seems to present itself. As if it comes from another realm, just like a dream.

Those moments have gone, unfortunately. Possession has transformed into structure. Reading Writing in the House of Dreams, written by Jenny Alexander, brought back those memories.

This is a Mindfunda Book Review of: Writing in the House of Dreams
by Jenny Alexander
Five Lanes Press 2014
Kindle $ 4.17 Paperback $ 13.99

 

writing
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Writing in the House of Dreams Introduction

“If you are a writer interested in dreams, you will find here a guide to the dream world and a toolkit of techniques that you will need to explore it, such as how to recall and record your dreams, how to incubate a dream and how to tackle nightmares” Jenny promises the reader on page 9.

What a clever way of targeting your audience, I thought when I read that. I know that I am one among many dream-lovers who fantasizes of having her own book published.

writing

Writing in the House of Dreams is divided into three parts. It’s build up according to the hero’s journey. Jenny encourages you to cross the threshold in part one. She enthusiastically shows you around in your house of dreams in part two. Than she lures you outside in part three when she tells you that there is a landscape beyond. And finally in part four you need to take the jump into the Dream-space.

Writing as a Means to Cross the Threshold

“Babies in the womb display all the physical signs of dreaming, and so it seems that the dream is the first, before mother, father, family, culture. We are born out of the dream and emerge, still cocooned, into the magical world of childhood, where teddies can talk, fairies grant wishes and monsters hide in the shadows” (page 11).

Jenny is very clear about it. Dreaming is our natural state of being. Before we take our first breath, we are already dreaming.

writing
Art: Joseph Israels

“The call to dreams is a call to the soul. Writing fiction is similar to dreaming, but less intense. We enter the ‘writer’s trance’ and become, to some extent, our characters” (page 43).

The back ground story, that Jenny tells in an italic letter type, is how she has struggled with dreams. Having an exquisite dream memory and a traumatic past,  she talks about a recurring nightmare. We find out that where her talented older sister she has looked up to all of her life, suddenly commits suicide. Jenny feels lost now that her role-model apparently had been lost herself. What to do now? She visits several therapists and non of them can really help her deal with a recurrent nightmare.

The tide changes for her when her therapist advises her to read Patricia Garfield’s Creative Dreaming.

Each chapter has some very interesting exercises to improve your writing skills. For example, in the introduction Jenny suggests that each person three “seed stories”.

“Three random incidents you remember from your childhood can contain the seeds of all the stories in later life”. And she shares exercises that will reveal those stories to you.

 

Writing the House of Dreams

Once you have crossed the threshold and have re-acquainted yourself with the world of dreams, it is time to explore your house of dreams. To not only make yourself at home, listen to the voice of the dream however soft it whispers but also to hear to the cries of the beast in the basement…

writing

“Your dream is like a person sitting next to you on the bus journey through life. If you choose to ignore them and look straight ahead, you probably won’t even know what they look like, let alone what they have to say” (page 116).

Even though it is pretty basic stuff about the technique of dream incubation, Jenny is onto bigger realities. At the end of part two, she invites us to “The Landscape Beyond”.

Writing the Mythic Dimension

“We don’t dream in isolation. The dream is bigger than our personal unconscious” (page 142).

I think this was the moment that I fell deeply in love with this book. In my own mutual dreaming experiment (The Mutual Dreaming Model) and in the (online) dream groups I have facilitated, I have experienced that ether is something like a shared dream consciousness.

I dared to speak about it one time, at a Dutch Dream Convention, where immediately a concerned dreamer raised his hand and said: “but a dream tells you things only about yourself”. I felt lonely at that moment and agreed with him just to get rid of the “yes/no” discussion I knew that was going to follow.
So I was excited to read about someone who is gutsy enough to accept this asa given fact.

Myths and stories resonate with a particular area of your life. Jenny invites you to write about the Persephone situations in your life. Persephone, daughter of fertility Goddess Demeter was captured by the God of the Underworld, Hades.

writing
Persephone
Artist unknown

There she became Queen. She learned the art of communication beyond the real of the living. Her mother wanted her back. But Persephone had already decided that she was going to eat 6 pomegranate seeds. She had children, she became queen instead of daughter and she had very important position being the Queen of the real of death.

At one point in life we all have been in hell. And we have come back from it. Somewhat more bitter, somewhat less trusting. But all who have been there know exactly to just listen to our own inner voice. Even when it tells us things we don’t like.

I especially like the writing exercise in this part that concerns six of your favourite stories.

Writing into the Dream Space

A dream offers a gateway to realms beyond all human experience.

“For dreamers and writers, this feeling that the ordinary world is not as ‘real’ as it seems means that the world of imagination feels even more ‘real’. Rather than leaving the ‘real’ world and going off into flights of fancy, we move easily between realities, which are all products of the psyche” (page 207).

Jenny invites you to explore the idea that Anne Baring (Dream of the Cosmos) has also written about in such an inspiring manner. Is there a dream that is dreaming you?

writing

She shares some interesting ideas about her concept of the elasticity of time:

“Letting go of the idea of time as a line which travels in one direction has an interesting knock-on effect in terms of identity and the human journey”.

And my old friend synchronicity also appears in this book.

“As soon as you stop looking for cause-and-effect links on a line of time, you notice other links, things that are meaningfully connected, yet in a non causal way. Jung called this ‘synchronicity’.

Conclusion

PRO

I enjoy the exercise(s) at the end of each chapter very much. I will go back to all the exercises and see if I am able to rekindle that inspirational writing flow of my childhood.

I like the mythological approach very much. You can read the book as a personal record of Campbell’s Journey of the Hero.

I know that there are a lot of dreamers that long to write their own book, and this  book offers so many practical exercises to get the writing juices flowing again.

I admire the vulnerability with which Jenny writes down her story. It is honest. Nothing is brushed away or sweetened up.

CON

The information about dreams that Jenny shares, tips to remember dreams is for beginners. More trained and advanced dreamers do not need those tips.

Sometimes the personal stories in italic letters are a bit too long. I found my eyes sometimes scanning a story instead of reading it.

A very practical downside: it has no index. This makes it very hard to look up a certain concept you are interested in.

Enthusiastic? Click here to buy Writing in the House of Dreams

Creative Dreaming #Dream Classic: 3 Ways to get Creative in Your Dreaming

Patricia Garfield
Photo bbsradio.com

Creative Dreaming, written by Patricia Garfield Ph. D. published in 1974, is still in print. There is a reason for it. This blog will give you three reasons to get creative with your dreams.

Continue reading “Creative Dreaming #Dream Classic: 3 Ways to get Creative in Your Dreaming”

Chicken soup for the soul: dreams and premonitions

Chicken soup for the Soul
Dreams and premonitions

 

Dreams and premonitions

Today, September 22, the book ‘Dreams and Premonitions’ is launched. This book was born on twitter. Amy Newmark twittered about wanting to publish a book about dreams. She is a publisher on Chicken soup for the Soul. And Kelly Sullivan Walden let her know she was interested. you can listen to the book launch and the stories behind the scenes.

I have met Kelly Sullivan Walden at a conference of the International Association of Dreams in Berkeley. I know about her energy and her determination when it comes to promoting the magic of dreams. And I know several people who did a great job of reading all of the dreams that were submitted. So you know that when you buy this book you get a very good selection of amazing dreams. If you buy the book using the link on this page you will support all of the good work of Mindfunda.

In the book is a collection of 101 dreams divided into 10 sections. They are: Navigating life, Messages from heaven, Facing fears, Early warnings, Next generation, Waking up to a new life path, Life savers, True love, Personal transformation and Miracles happen.
Each section has about 10 dreams from different people. Among them are ‘famous dreamers’ like Patricia Garfield and Robert Moss.
I would like to share the painting that belongs to the dream that Patricia shares in the book. You would have to read the dream to get the full appreciation of the picture. In her dream, Patricia looked in the mirror and saw that out of her head two antlers were growing. This dream inspired dream artist Brenda Ferrimani to create the painting “Branching Woman”.

chicken soup for the soul dreams and premonitions
Branching woman
Brenda Ferrimani

 

Dreams and premonitions

It is always nice to read a book filled with magical dreams. I hope that this book will inspire lots of people to look at their dreams more closely. I want to share one very nice story about the book. Me and my dream group decided to do a pre-cognitive challenge to see if we could dream up dream number 101, before the book was published. We did not know the dream, we did not know the participants, we did not know the subjects.
The title of the dream 101 is ‘Stella Sky’. Several people in this group are very talented dreamers and they had dreamed connections with sky. Others picked upon the medical theme of the story. There are two names in the story: Stella and Janet that were dreamed about by members of our dream group. Other themes in this story have to do with the all intriguing question if the future is predetermined or not: “The question I ask myself is this. Can writing a story about someone where they are saved from dying safe that person from dying?”
In our group we had a vibrant discussion about writing because lots of dreamers that participate in that group (including me) are writers or contemplate writing a book about dreams. So in general, our group of precognitive dreamers picked up on health issues and writing in all of our dreams.

Precognitive dreams

I had my share of premonitions and dreams that changed my life. The precognitive dream about my father’s death  was the most impressive one. It came as a nightmare where I felt completely helpless. In waking life, seeing my father in his hospital bed with nothing I could do to make him feel better made me feel the same way. The dream wanted to prepare me for this new phase in my life.

Right before his death I dreamed of painting a garage white for a friend of my brother. In this garage, there was a motor cycle, which made perfect sense to me because my brother rides a motor.
In waking life, my father used to ride a motor bike but stopped doing that years ago. My father and my brother where best friends.
After his death my brother dreamed about going to a garage to take a bike ride with one of his friends. The garage opened and my father came riding out. He said to my brother: “she has to come with us too”. And he put me -as a little baby- on the front of the motor.

In my experience dreams that tell (a bit) about the future (or a possible future) are ordinary dreams. there are no angels with trumpets singing hallelujah. But in retrospect you can find a lot of clues to things that will happen. Is that coincidence? It could be. I always say to people who are interested in dreams: dreaming is like training a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger this muscle becomes.

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Good books on Mindfunda

good books
Photo @Iowa library

I was pregnant with the idea for Mindfunda for a while. It had to be a blog that combined research and spirituality juiced up with a little bit of mythology. About three months ago, on February 10, the first Mindfunda was published. Since then I talked with you about a lot of good books. Thank you all for your support, your shares on Facebook and twitter. You all make my job so much fun!

By the way, I wanted to let you know that there is an Amazon deal to listen to audio books for free: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Here is a list of the most visited blogs according to our statistics:

Good books #1: 10 dream books you should read

Actually these are 10 books for the price of one! This is one of the most visited blog posts I have written untill now. The list contains good classics on the subject of dreaming and dream interpretation.
Creative dreaming by Patricia Garfield, the book that got me “hooked” on dreaming at the age of 16 (I could not stop reading it and it introduced me to lucid dreaming) is my personal number one. You can read the list here. Be sure to leave a comment in the section below if I have missed a good book that I should be reading and blogging about.

Good books #2: Dream from the Cosmos

Anne Barring was introduced to me while I was talking with Patricia Garfield about good books written about the Goddess. Anne Baring had written, together with Jules Cashford The myth of the Goddess. At home I purchased it and I dived into their phenomenal knowledge about the Goddess principle.
Dream of the cosmos had an even more alluring sound to it, because it discussed the myth of the Sekhina: the dwelling part of god on earth.

good books
Dream of the cosmos

You can read my blog about it here, in the blog is a link to my interview with Anne Baring. My first interview, with such an educated lady. You will definitely look at the world in a different way after reading/digesting it. You will see how things are connected, you will be able to feel the tiny lines of the web of Indra that connects all.

Good books #3: The woman’s book of dreams

Connie Kaplan wrote a book about how the moon affects dreams. It is something we are all aware of. Dreaming during full moon is usually more intense. Somebody told me, right before I had to do a dream workshop for some pregnant ladies that in the book of Connie Kaplan you will find a method for group dream work that is very useful. And indeed, the night before I had to do the workshop I dreamed about going downstairs and getting her Woman’s book of dreams out of my bookshelves. You can read my post about it here. In the blog the link to my interview with her is included.

good books
the Woman’s book of dreams

 

Good books #4: Theory of dreams by Kasatkin

As a young girl I had a near death experience caused by a diabetic coma. Being ill for a long time, the doctors could not find anything wrong with me and dismissed it as “growth”. Meanwhile I was getting thinner and thinner and finally my fat supply was gone…

Ever since I have been very interested in health. I did some research about dreams and health, I started a rather unsuccessful questionnaire that not many people responded to. But I had this notion that your dreams follow the process of your disease and that you in fact can incorporate them to heal yourself.

I was not the first with that idea. A Russian psychiatrist, Vasily Kasatkin gathered data from all his patients in several hospitals in Russia. He analyzed the data and published a book called A theory of dreams.

 

good books
A theory of dreams

This book was never translated. I sent an email to a German military library asking for a copy and I got it. Then I had to translate it. This was a problem: I don’t speak Russian and I did not have the money to have it translated for me. I dd actually find someone who withdrew because Russian was not her native language. But she promised me to help whenever I got stuck in a sentence. And boy did I need that help! My husband, the invaluable invisible force behind Mindfunda helped me to scan the documents in a way that permitted me to cut and paste it into google translate. Then I had pieces of text that I had to re-write and remodel into proper English. I wanted to update the insights of Kasatkin (which where remarkable modern for his day and age) and put in a lot of footnotes referring to modern research in the areas he mentioned.
It was a labour of love.  Read all about dreams and health here.

Good books #5: Lucid dreaming plain and simple

Robert Waggoner wrote another book together with Caroline McCready. His first book Lucid dreaming Gateway to the inner self is on my favorite dream book list for years.

Good books
Lucid dreaming gateway to the inner self

With his remarkable talent of analysing Robert waggoner always finds an interesting edge in your road to self discovery. His newest book is filled with tips, techniques, loaded with information, and the two writers have gathered dreams from the most skilled lucid dreamers. You can read my bog about it here, in the blog is a link to my interview with him.

good books
Lucid dreaming plain and simple

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PS:
I will be uploading two very interesting interviews on my YouTube channel soon. Ralph Metzner, author Well of remembrance and one with Jean Raffa author of Healing the sacred divide be sure to sign up!

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10 Dream books you should read

I have been working with dreams for several years now, and I read a lot of dream books. But sometimes there is that one book that really has a special edge. A way you have not looked at dreams before. Here is my list of 10 dream books you should read i.e. I can recommend all of you to buy and read. Please let me know if you agree with my choices. If one of your personal favorite dream books is absent, let me know by using the comment section below the blog.

  • Dream books tip #1: ‘Creative Dreaming’ by Patricia Garfield:
    Years ago, in the eighties, I read this book, in one night. It was the first book ever that discussed dreams as creative material. I fell asleep and had my first lucid dream (a dream you have while being aware that you are dreaming). This is not only about lucid dreams however. It is about getting the most out of a dream to make your life better. Patricia was criticized for not being scientific and for not having visited the Senoi people she wrote about. But that does not change the fact that this book gives you a method you can use that will change your dream-life. Patricia was on the panel I organized on the conference of the International Organisation of the Study of Dreams (IASD) in 2014 click here
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #1
Dream books tip #1: Creative dreaming – Patricia Garfield

 

  • Dream books tip #2: ‘Extraordinary dreams and how to work with them’ written by Stanley Krippner, Fariba Bogzaran and Andre Percia de Carvalho. This book gives you such a good insight in all the different types of dreams: creative dreams, Lucid dreams, Out of body dreams, healing dreams, mutual dreams… It is carefully organized and there are a lot of references to very good research about dreams. There is even a paragraph about “Working with dreams within dreams”.  I have only come across this phenomena in books about dreams in Frederik van Eede’s Dromenboek  (A Dutch lucid dreamer and writer who was in the same circle as Carl Gustav Jung).
    This book will give you so much information about dreams, your head may spin. read it one chapter at a time so you will digest all the information in it. After all these years it is still a source of reference for me.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #2
Dream books tip #2: Extraordinary dreams and how to work with them

  • Dream books tip #3: ‘a Branch of the Lightning Tree’ Stanley Krippner came over in 2013 to do a workshop Personal Mythology in Utrecht. Identifying mythological themes in your life and your dreams can give you so much more understanding. About yourself, about the situation you are in and about the steps you can take. Reading  a Branch of the lightning tree written by Martin Shaw has taught me a lot about distilling mythological information out of stories. Dreams are stories told by the night. So even though this book is not about dreams, it will help you understand them better.

 

Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #3
Dream books tip #3: A branch from the lightning tree

 

  • Dream books tip #4: ‘Active Dreaming’ – Robert Moss is an excellent writer. He knows how to tell a story. When he came to Utrecht to give a workshop Active dreaming, people were glued to his lips. His books are filled with useful well researched information. Robert has written a lot of books and they are all good. I have chosen Active dreaming because I like the exercises in them. There are coincidence games in it, the mapping of your energy path, a low maintenance plan for your health… It is just a very good book. A dream is something to act upon and Robert gives you the keys to unlock the secrets in them.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #4
Dream books tip #4: Robert Moss Active Dreaming


  • Dream books tip #5: Another book that changed my way of looking at dreams is the ‘Woman’s book of dreams’. The knowledge Connie Kaplan shared about the moon and dreaming is something I have never read before in any other book.  She connects dreaming with astrology. It made me grab my dream notes and look at what sign the moon was in while I had these dreams. In that way I made discoveries about myself, my dreams and their content that I would not have been able to make without reading this book. She also discusses a way of working with dream groups that I have used several times. One time, before doing a workshop with pregnant women and their dreams I took this book out of my closet in a dream. It made me change my workshop in the “Connie Kaplan” way and it was a good decision. In the workshop some very profound discoveries were made and people were able to engage with each other on a deeper level because of the method I used.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #5
Dream books tip #5: The woman’s book of dreams Connie Kaplan

 

  • Dream books tip #6: ‘Lucid Dreaming’ – Robert Waggoner is a very experienced lucid dreamer. But what is so intriguing about this book is that he helps you to shift perspective. He asks you who the writer of your dream story is (you can read more about this perspective here). A lot of people who are involved in dreaming are against lucid dreaming. A dream should take its natural course. Don’t mess with it because that would be messing with the natural psychological process that dreams are made off. But Robert simply asked “Does the sailor control the sea?” and shows us that no lucid dreamer ever fully controls the content of the dream. And he has some other thought-provoking suggestions and experiences to share.

 

Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #6
Dream books tip #6: Lucid Dreaming Robert Waggoner

 

I have not read his newest book ‘Lucid dreaming plain and simple’ yet.
He wrote it together with Caroline McCready. But it is on my list. I plan to do an interview with him and put it on this blog, so stay tuned!

Mindfunda.com: dream books runner-up
Dream books runner-up: Lucid dreaming plain and simple Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready

 

  • Dream books tip #7: Robert Gongloffs’ book ‘Dream Exploration’ changed my way of working with dreams because he taught me to take a step back. In this book you will find a matrix that enables you to look at the theme of a dream. Not focus so much on the meaning of a single symbol but look at the greater picture.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #7
Dream books tip #7: Dream Exploration Robert Gongloff

 

  • Dream books tip #8: I used to think alchemy was mighty interesting but beyond my understanding. So many old manuscripts, very hard to read and even more difficult to understand. Then a friend of mine gave me a copy of Monika Wikmans’ ‘Pregnant Darkness‘. She leads you through the alchemical process using dreams and symbols. Reading this book gave me so much more understanding of the path of transformation we all have to travel in live. It is well written and the examples she shares with us make us reconsider our own dream material.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #8
Dream books tip #8: Pregnant Darkness Monika Wikman

 

  • Dream books tip #9: Communing with the Gods’ is a well documented anthropological exploration into dreams. Charles Laughlin takes the reader on a journey to explore his neuroanthropology of dreaming. An attempt for a cross-fertilization between neurology, psychology, sociology and anthropology. Ambitious yes, but very interesting. I wrote about this book before you can read it here. The way Charles Laughlin builds the evidence for his Neuroanthropology of dreaming will give you a new way of looking at dreams.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #9
Dream books tip #9: Communing with the gods Charlie Laughlin
  • Dream books tip #10: Last but not least, my translation of Vasily Kasatkins’ classic ‘A theory about Dreams’. You can hear my presentation about it in this link. The reason why this book will change your vision on dreams is that it makes the relationship between the body and the dream content crystal clear. Even a hard-core scientist as psychiatrist Vasily Kasatkin was convinced that dreams are the early indicators of physical illness. A dream can safe your life.
Mindfunda.com: dream books tip #10
Dream books tip #10: ‘a Theory about Dreams’ – Vasatli Kasatkin translated by Susanne van Doorn

Did you enjoy this list of Dream books? Please use the comments box below to share your thought!