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Shamanism is a spiritual healing tradition and a way of life with a deep connected to nature. In shamanic tradition, dreams play a huge role in how we fit in with the natural world and the universe on the whole. However, many of us are too quick to forget our dreams and assume that it is little more than just a random collection of images our brain has put together.

The shamanic approach to dreams teaches us how important our they are to understanding our past and future. Rather than just forgetting our dreams or laughing off the absurd aspects of what our brains are telling us, we can have a more fulfilling spiritual experience by accepting just how important our dreams are to us.  

Whether our dreams are happy, terrifying or surreal, they are a tool for accessing our intuition and instincts. By tuning into this energy and recognizing symbols, we can begin the process of interpreting them. Often the symbols that we regularly see in our dreams are future versions of ourselves attempting to guide our path and destiny.nigh

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In western culture, we have been taught that dreams hold no importance. However, shamanism sees sleep as the opportunity to release our energy body from our physical body for it to explore the universe. The energy body is not bound by the principles of time and space, ensuring that it is free to roam without limitations. This is how ‘time travel’ can occur and we can see into our future.

Types of dreams

There are two types of dreams that are critical to understanding and interpreting the direction your energy body takes as your physical body sleeps.

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Lucid dreaming – this state of dreaming often occurs shortly prior to waking up. It is at the stage when you become aware that you are in a dream but are powerless to come out of it. As your brain wave frequency increases, you can alter the direction of the dream and investigate your surroundings.

Nightmares – although most of us want to shake the feeling we have after having a nightmare as quickly as possible, this type of dream is equally as important as lucid dreaming. The feeling that we are left with is as a result of waking before the dream is finished. By remembering the dream, you have the potential to re-enter it and alter the outcome, and you can change your negative emotions about associated with it. 

Ten core principles of shamanic dream interpretation

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One of the world’s leading shamans, Michael Harner, put together a list of the ten core principles of dreams. The principles are used to help guide someone through the messages and symbols of their dreams.

  1. Spirits are real – every part of understanding your dreams is based on accepting that spirits exist in a variety of capacities.
  2. Spirits produce dreams –  whether it is your own soul or another spirit that you have become entangled with, all dreams are created by spirits
  3. Spirits have a variety of characteristics and differing preoccupations – the differing spirits that influence your dreams will all be trying to tell you a different message, each one is concerned with a different aspect of life which they will communicate to you with a mix of literal symbols and metaphors.
  4. Spirits that produce dreams can be personal souls such as guardian spirits, or they can be non-helping ones such as suffering spirits – the suffering beings that can affect your dreams are usually people who have died suddenly or traumatically and haven’t come to terms with their new state of being yet. Dreams containing these spirits will usually be nightmares, leaving you scared when you wake.
  5. Nightmares can be helpful warnings or simply the sign of a suffering spirit – following on from the previous principle, nightmares can be either evidence of a suffering spirit becoming entangled with you or can be a warning from a guardian spirit that you could have an underlying health issue.
  6. People with a high spirit power are more resistant to suffering souls – if you work on the health and power of your spirituality you will reduce the risk of becoming entangled with a suffering spirit. Your spirit power will act as a protective force field for unwanted and harmful spirits.
  7. Guardian spirits manifest themselves in big dreams – big dreams are those which either repeat themselves or even overwhelm you with a strong waking dream. They will often offer clear life guidance, with the power to alter your the course of your life.
  8. The principles apply to every type of dream: sleeping, waking, daydreams and visions – the shamanic principles of dreams can be applied to any vision that you do not intentionally guide, daydreams that happen spontaneously and without your control fall under this category.
  9. To learn the meaning of your dreams you can merge with a helping spirit or shamanic teacher – by sitting with someone else and both reimagining your non-voluntary dream you can begin to pick up the symbols and insights that are crucial to understanding its message.
  10. Any attempt to understand dreams should be accompanied by a serious study of metaphors – interpreting your dreams is never easy. Doing so without understanding the spiritual power of metaphors is impossible. Learn the power of symbols to tell a different story from the one explicitly stated.

How to catch your dreams and begin interpreting them

You have to be able to train yourself remember your dreams before you can start interpreting them. To do this follow these nine steps that will serve as a base to understanding your dreams.

  1. Write down an intention before you go to sleep.
  2. Start a dream journal that you keep close beside your bed, so that you can write down your dreams as soon as you wake.
  3. Take time before you leave the house to think about the dream you wrote down in your journal, add any small details you remember.
  4. Note down key words and images at the heart of the dream.
  5. Focus on what you have remembered, even if it is just one tiny aspect such as colour or feeling.
  6. When you first write down the dream, do not change any details and do not begin interpreting.
  7. Take a moment to accept the dream for exactly what it is, even if it makes absolutely no sense to you right away.
  8. Ensure that how you felt during the dream and upon waking are noted in the journal.
  9. Take action – research a keyword or image from the dream or share it with someone else. This will get your mind working as to what the dream might mean for you.

Trying to make sense of our dreams is nothing new. Shamanic dream traditions span back to the beginning of humanity’s existence. The first human beings tried to understand how their dreamed influenced and were influenced by the world they lived in. The traditions from these times have been largely forgotten in Western culture. However, they are as important today as ever. Don’t allow yourself to mindlessly forget your dreams; they could be trying to guide you to the next big step in your life.

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