Dreams have always been a part of the spiritual experience from Jacob's dream in the Book of Genesis (or Joseph to Pharoah) to the very early Muslim dream manuals. The Ancient Greeks and Romans took a dream interpreter into battle with them. Oracles used dreaming as a way of communicating with Spirit and the Gods or God. In cultures all across the world, dreamers who could travel to the dream realm have been a vital element of the spirituality of that society. In some Native American traditions, dreamers are said to walk through a gateway into the dreaming dimension where Spirit, ancestors, and humans can meet as equals, learning from each other. As Western society rejected this societal dream work, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung turned it more inward, and have both advanced dream work by helping recognize the great teachings that come from having and understanding a symbolic language of dreaming. Personally, I have been told often that my guides work with me deeply in my sleep, helping me integrate medicine and ritual into my daily life and work by repeated lessons in my sleep.
From a young age, I have had a deeply spiritual and active dream life. I have been a Lucid Dreamer since my teens, which means that I am conscious of being in a dream while in it, and can also change and interact in my dream life as a tool for connecting to Spirit, the spiritual realm, and my Higher Self. I even connect with passed love ones this way, and sometimes have glimpses of the future, albeit in that surreal dream world that makes clarity challenging. Prophetic dreaming has been a source of curiosity and probably the most talked about and accepted psychic phenomenon.
Symbols of and in Dream Work
Because of this personal background, I often talk about dream work, which is what I label the spiritual work, visioning, and remembering of our dreams. I often recommend dream work to my clients who are working with me for my Moon Cycle Coaching services, in Tarot readings or in my mentoring circles. In my readings, a number of Tarot cards have come to represent dream work to me--the Two of Swords, the Four of Swords, and Nine of Swords. Swords naturally represent dreams, because they often associate with perception rather than reality. In the Major Arcana, the High Priestess and the Moon (even the Star) can recommend using dreams as insight. In fact, some Readers see the two pillars in the background of the Moon as the gateway to the dream realm. Any card with nighttime can be seen as opening the door to dream work. While lucid dreaming may seem impossible to you, dream work can be as simple as remembering your dreams and journaling about them.
Like all psychic work, the symbolic language of dream work is individual as each person. You begin developing your symbols and meanings as you begin going more in-depth. There are of course some universal symbols and mythology we all can tap into when we begin interpreting our dreams. This is so similar to my feelings about crystals and Tarot--using a reference book is a great place to start, but eventually, you begin to learn your own language for dream interpretation. Journaling is important in this way, because you can refer back to the dream symbols, and begin to make notes. Remember your psychic language--the symbols you use in psychic readings, oracle card interpretation, and Tarot interpretation--are going to be the same in your dreams. And vice versa. So, when you journal for Tarot, daily reflections, oracle cards and dreams and make connections in your day to day life, you master the symbols your guides, angels and truly your Higher Self speak in. This is your psychic language. You learned it. You speak it. You understand it. So, trust yourself.
A few years ago, I have created a medicine bundle for the year with the intentions--Release, Purify, and Path of Service. I asked my guides for signs of what I need to release or what shadow work I must do. My dreams in the next few days were what I would call, "Anxiety Dreams." You know, those dreams of showing up at school in only your underwear, or trying to get to work in time, but being delayed every moment. I wrote them all down, and began really explicating them. What were these anxieties? Oh, right. This is how Spirit is answering my question. These ARE the things I need to release. They ARE my shadow work. As I reflected on them, wrote about them, I really discovered these deep-seated fears were flying under the radar. So, while at times we have very detailed dreams with our angels and guides, the majority of our dreams are about regular life. Don't expect to see your guide in front of you with a sign, "YOU MUST RELEASE GUILT!" Allow your psychic and symbolic language to be Spirit's voice.
Remembering your dreams requires diligence and dedication, but no special tools. Dream cycles happen every 90 minutes, and you might have read that waking yourself every 90 minutes is the way to go. You certainly can choose to do this, though I know if I did that, I would be a wreck the next day. Honestly, during phases of getting more fully in-depth with dream work (and when I was younger with more stamina and less need for sleep), I have set a gradual alarm every hour and half after my initial three hour early sleep. And it does work to hone your skills as a lucid dreamer. If you decide to do this, try a gradual alarm. There is one for iPhone that gently brings you out of deep sleep with gradual bells. Gradual is the key here, because a shocking alarm can sometimes be the enemy of dream recall.
The most important aspect of dream recall remains getting enough sleep. Self-care in all aspects of psychic work stands alone as your single most important ally--enough sleep, water, movement, clean food, and regular meditation. No matter what happens in the day, I maintain a nighttime routine of face washing, water drinking, prayer, and meditation. Also screen time is a no-no at least an hour before you sleep. Do not neglect yourself when you are trying to do spiritual work. Actually, you'll want to step it up. Also it is best to abstain from alcohol or drugs. You do not have deep, lasting, restorative sleep when you have alcohol in your system.
So, how to begin this process? Dream work requires simply a notebook and pen, or audio recorder. I love the latter if you are in a place where you won't wake anyone with your possibly incoherent dream talking. If you are going to fumble with it in the morning or be confused by it, don't use it. The scrabbling may throw off your dream recall. Use something easy for you to handle in a half-awake stage. Most people use a notebook. I keep a dedicated clean spiral notebook for my dream work. My friend Rachel designed a cool handmade spiral book for me, and I loved using that as a dream notebook. But alas, I filled that baby in a year.
I begin my work in prayer, as in all my spiritual work, and simply pray for my angels, guides, ancestors to help me fully awaken with the detailed memory of my dreams. I also think it is wonderful to meditate before sleeping, to clear your mind of clutter from your day. There are some wonderful guided meditations that ease you into sleep. I have used the Delta Sleep System. And again, iPhone, Android, iPod and other gadgets must have biaural tones for sleep enhancement.
In my notebook I write the date, and my intention before going to sleep. "Angels and Guides, help me gain insight into my relationship through my dreams," I may write. Or perhaps, "I easily recall my dreams with detail and insight." An affirmation for dream recall. If you have had trouble with dream recall in the past, you may want to pray, "Dear Angels, please work with me in my sleep. Remove any blockages that I have to recalling my dreams."
Again, you can train yourself to wake up, or simply allow your body to ebb and flow in and out of consciousness in the night. When you do wake, stay still. Try to stay in the same position, and ask yourself what you dreamed. Tell yourself the story of your dream. Not shifting quickly, or turning on the light quickly, helps your recall. It is imperative that you write down all your dreams, even just images that you recall. Or even if they seem stupid or unrelated to any depth. You might be right, but just right it down. It is often the catalyst to remember the deeper work. If you think it is boring or a mundane dream, begin writing it anyway. You might find how important those discoveries are. Try desperately not to edit yourself. Get every symbol, image, name, words, phrase down. The more you do this, the more you will remember, and the easier it becomes. It is also helpful to sometimes write in the present tense rather than the past tense. So, rather than saying, " I walked into my childhood home." Say "I walk into my childhood home." Like you are telling a story. That sometimes make it easier to go back into the dream. But you also don't have to write it as a story. Sometimes it is just a symbol, number, picture, animal, friend, place. I often dream of the same places that I do not know in my waking life--a broken down city, an inside mall-like society, a series of roads twisting around a building. After you've detailed these places, you might name them, so you can shorthand your recall in the future.
I try not to turn on a light before writing. Some people, and I think this is a fabulous idea that I have (caveat) never used, is to use a gentle light to wake up in the morning, vs. an alarm. So it is like a gradual light un-dimmer, mimicking the sun rise. That would be ideal for waking, I would think. I sleep with a nightlight (mostly for my children), but it gives me enough ambient light to write in the middle of the night if something comes up for me. If you trust yourself to write without light, do it. I often cannot read my handwriting without light, mindfulness, and careful concentration, so I need all the help that I can get! But that is something I do religiously, write down my dreams after every dream. In the middle of the night. In the morning. Humans have a light sleep between dream cycles. This is often when we wake up in the middle of the night from a noise, or have to go to the bathroom. I would recommend writing down all night if you are serious about dream recall and engaging in dream work.
Tools for DreamWork
Whatever spiritual work I do, I try to create sacred space. This picture is my bedside table. No, how it really looks! The bowl of herbs and crystals, along with how to create a sacred sleep space, teas to drink to enhance dream work, and other cool dream tools. When I am doing moon cycle work, I always sleep with my medicine bundle, as I suggest to all my clients too. And as suggested, I always have a notebook and pen bedside. I use Moleskin now, because I like how it opens. I also adore Himalayan Salt lamps, which incidentally is a great light to keep on all night, if you choose to go that route. The beautiful statue is one I was gifted from my sister, and for me, part of creating sacred space. As a clairvoyant channel and medium, she can see my Spirit Guide, and when she saw this statue, she told me he looks just like this! I love having White Bear there all night, watching over me.
As I mentioned before, if you do wake to an alarm clock, keep it close, so you can stay as close to your original position as possible. When we talked about remembering, we talked about how important it is to keep the original position of your body, keep the light low, not do anything but remember first, which is why alarm clocks can really block dream recall. Gradual alarms, or Zen Alarm clocks, have been around for a while. You can also find them as an app on your phone. I have one called the Progressive Alarm, which wakes with Tibetan singing bowls by gradually getting louder and more frequent. This eases you out of your sleep, rather than shocks you out. I fortunately (or unfortunately) wake before the sun rises in the morning out of my own internal clock, so I don't use an alarm unless I have to get up at an ungodly hour before 5a. I mostly rise 5:30-6a out of my own strange inner timer which craves the sunrise.
If you haven't noticed, I love ritual. For those who have had readings with me, you know I often recommend ritual or meditations with my readings. I am currently working on an oracle deck to help bring ritual and meditation into the reading. It is all about cycles. Through the years, my dream rituals created my nighttime routine. I eat half of a banana before bed (potassium helps your memory). And often I drink Dream Tea. I blend my own dream tea, but there are quite a few awesome dream teas on the market. One tea I like is Dream Tea by Mountain Rose Herbs, which has my favorite dream herb Mugwort in it. Mugwort is a key herb, in my humble opinion, for dream work. In my younger days, I would smoke Mugwort before bed (when smoking wasn't a big deal to me.) If you smoke chanunpa, or a sacred pipe with Kinnikinnick , you can add some mugwort to the mix. Since I do not smoke anything these day, I add it to my own blended dream tea. Other herbs that aid in dreaming, lucid dreaming, and dream recall are lavender, chamomile, and valerian--these are all good for falling and staying asleep and achieving good restful sleep. It seems obvious, but good sleep is the most important element of dream recall. Peppermint is a good blender for mugwort, which is not that good on its own. I have read a great deal about Calea zacatehichi, as well as other shamanic herbs for lucid dreaming, but have not used it personally. Very simply, but also delicious and effective, combine lavender, mugwort, peppermint, damiana, and chamomile for a gorgeous dream tea.
Beyond drinking (or smoking) herbs, you can use them for dream pillows--small, easy to construct pillows filled with the herbs that rest next to your head while you sleep. You can also add crystals to these pillows for added vibrational medicine. Another great idea--put herbs in disposable tea pouches (you can buy these at Mountain Rose too), or reusable muslin tea bags, and put them in your bath. Warm baths ease you into a dreamy state, so adding dream crystals and herbs to your bath, keeping lights low, and sipping dream tea enhances your susceptibility for spiritual dreaming and spiritual remembering. Remember all these ideas are just starting points, you can build and work with anything here. You might find that you connect more with valerian as an herb for dreaming, or you might want to hunt around the internet for your own rare Shamanic herbs for dream recall. Awesome, go with it.
I also keep a small pottery bowl on my bedside table. In it, I use Athena's dream recall set with her dream herbs and If you have never used her products, I urge you to try anything. She has another Dream set which looks amazing too. I use all her oils for my ritual work, and if you have worked with me, so have you. I love this little set, and the crystals are magic too. I have talked about this before, but keeping crystals in your environment does not have to be complex. Having small bowls of herbs and crystals is not only gorgeous, but a great way to interact with your crystals on a day-to-day basis.
Speaking of crystals, let's talk about some great crystals for dream recall. Amethyst probably remains the most popular, easily obtained and effective crystal for crown and third eye work. And actually, those are the chakras we are focusing on in dream work. We stimulate those two chakras--one for our inner vision and seeing and the other for our connection to the Divine, angels, our guides, and the universe. So, you can work with any of those third eye stones that you like--Azurite, Sodalite, Lapis Lazuli, Dumortierite, and Blue Kyanite. Sugilite is a highly recommended dreaming stone. Both Green and Purple Jade are often used for dream work.
Some magical and moon time stones also aid and assist dream work like Moonstone, Labradorite and Black or Grey Moonstone--they are highly effective if you are using the moon cycles to work with your dreams. I have found the Black to be particularly effective as a dream aid. Prehnite is a wonderful psychic ally for dreaming, and I have used it for lucid dreaming. I have been working with Azeztulite and Spirit Quartz at night these past few months. Clear Quartz is always an ally, and is often good to enhance the work of another stone. So, if you have a small Sugilite, (which is all I seem to have right now) you might want to use Clear Quartz with it.
I often focus my dream work on crystals or other tool, so I take a crystal, Tarot card, Oracle card, or other tool to bed with me for dream work; that is, I ask my guides to give me more information in my dreams about this tool, card or crystal. In that way, I love to work with Smoky Quartz or Garnet to help ground my dreams, or Fluorite to help me focus on this one tool, rather than have a chaotic, surreal dream. Some other crystals I have enjoyed working with for dreaming are Crown Chakra crystals like Selenite, Stilbite, Herkimer Diamond, and Scolecite. You can refer to my Crystals for Angelic Communication blog post for some recommendations for crystals for Angelic dream connection.
It would be remiss of me not to mention some crystals for astral traveling and projection--Moldavite and Tektites are great ally for this work. Be careful sleeping with these, as some of them are very high vibrational. I was working with a Moldavite at night, and my son slipped into bed with us. He was two at the time, and all night, he was jumping in his sleep! It was like his body kept traveling and popping back into his body. I finally had to move the Moldavite to my ground floor so he could sleep! So, work with them in meditation and waking life before taking it to bed with you. It is a very far out crystal.
Whew, now that is a ton of crystals to go and find. But I recommend reading this list and working with one of these crystals that you already own. Or just letting one jump out at you, and search for that. There is absolutely no need to purchase all of these. let your intuition guide you. If you have a good idea of mixing crystals for work at night, then do it! But mostly, I recommend working with one crystal for two to three nights/days. See how effective it is, or not. It would be good to note in your dream journal what crystals you are working with.