Extraordinary Realms Unknown
It is challenging to integrate traditional dream language to the concept of astral visitation. Most dream researchers discuss this type of alternate reality in terms of the unconscious or realities occurring in the dreamer’s mind (e.g., Bulkeley, 2019; Johnson, 1986). Theories abound about dreams and the unconscious (e.g., Bulkeley, 2019; Holecek, 2016; Johnson, 1986; Krippner, Bogzaran, & Carvalho, 2002). Thus, my quest is to rethink the transpersonal approach to dreaming so that its language unmistakably includes new realities where “spiritual oneironauts” (i.e., us in spirit form; Holecek, 2016, p. 3) astrally engage with deceased loved ones, spirit guides, and other forms of ethereal beings.
Otherworldly “Dream” States
Johnson (1986) addressed the idea of the unconscious, which I intrinsically attribute to otherworldly events. Clearly, not all unconscious material is of paranormal origin, but it is important to begin to restructure the language to accommodate anecdotal spiritual visitations (i.e., spiritual/ethereal beings who interact with us when we are most receptive to their interferences be it through dreams, meditation, creative flow, etc.) as more than just “visitation dreams” (Krippner, Bogzaran, & Carvalho, 2002, p. 148).
I agree with Johnson that “dreams are mosaics composed of symbols that express movements, conflicts, interactions, and developments of the great energy systems within the unconscious” (p. 19), yet to label all nocturnal experiences as unconscious or dream material is limiting the vast mystery of consciousness. Neurological research into the “dreaming” mind is merely one exploration, albeit valid and important. Nevertheless, where the mind actually wanders, we cannot at this point fully know, but merely speculate, theorize, and measure what is within the bounds of our technological knowledge.
In Search of New Language
In truth, on most nights, I am “dreaming” and often partaking in what Bulkeley (2019) identifies as “imaginative play in sleep” (p.2), or what Johnson (1986) refers to as “dream reality” (p. 19), resolving internal conflicts, confronting demons, or processing material from my waking state.
But during those beautifully rare and transformative moments when Hans pulls my ethereal body elsewhere, offering guidance, love, poetic bliss that transcends any form of dream experience----these inexplicable encounters in this other reality that I label as the astral plane cannot be merely reduced to “imaginative play in sleep” or “dream reality.” The universe is vastly numinous and I would argue significantly spiritual.
Anchoring such experiences to practical terms is a challenge, and yet it is my desire to help rethink the language of visitation dreams and other "dream" experiences in the evolving pursuit of dream research.
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Bulkeley, K. (2019). Dreaming is imaginative play in sleep: A theory of the function of dreams. Dreaming, Vol 29(1) (p. 1 -21).
Holecek, A. (2016). Dream yoga: Illuminating your life through lucid dreaming and the Tibetan yogas of sleep. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Johnson, R.A. (1986). Inner work: Using dreams & active imagination for personal growth. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Krippner, S., Bogzaran, F., & Carvalho, A. P. (2002). Extraordinary dreams and how to work with them. Albany: SUNY Press.