Ten ways to work with dreams (5 tips, 4 types and 1 outlier)

By Marjorie Morgan

I have been a very active dreamer my whole life, but my night-time, other realm activity really took off soon after a dear friend suffered a traumatic event. I wanted to help her and all of my usual off-site tools (Reiki, prayer, intentions) didn’t seem to be doing much at all. So I reached out to the universe in a way that I never had before. I said very clearly, “Please give me new tools to help my friend.” And almost overnight, my dream life went bonkers. I started lucid dreaming. I was able to connect to guides in my dreams. I could pinpoint locations, people and situations I knew nothing about in a way that helped to unravel important details connected to my friend’s trauma. I started having other people’s dreams. And I quickly became overwhelmed. It was if I had unleashed a huge power that I had no idea how to work with. I knew I needed some help. 

On a quest to find something (anything) to teach me how to use my new “tool”, I wandered into a local store. In the back were several shelves with old books at reduced prices. I scanned the titles for anything that had to do with dreams and there it was: The Book of Dreams by Sylvia Browne. Although graphically out-dated and filtered through Browne’s connection to Catholicism, I bought it. And I learned a lot, mostly all about different categories of dreams and to how to work with them. Some of what I’m about to share is inspired by this book, and some is from my own experience and methodologies. 

And if you are wondering what the heck this has to do with the deck…

Active dreaming led me to my personal guide,

who helped me to recognize my creative guide,

who summoned me to create Magical Nature Tarot.

First let me share some helpful tips and then I’ll go into four common types of dreams.

Tip 1:

Write down your dreams as soon after you have them as possible.

I avoided doing this for years, and when I finally started doing it, I was stunned with how much this actually helps.

Include as many details as you can remember. Every tidbit is important.

If I’m in a heavy dream cycle, I keep my phone handy (and on airplane mode) and then jot down dream details in the notes section. Afterwards, I usually go right back to sleep. My brain is calmer when I am not trying to remember the dream or figure out what it means. And then I do the untangling later, sometimes even after a day or two.

Tip 2:

Trust that your dreams are created by your “higher self” or “soul self.”

This is what was explained to me by my extremely wise guide, Ken (more on Ken in future blog posts). This means that the one who curates your night experiences has access to your entire life, and past lives as well. They access that knowledge to create and customize your dreams. If you have access to the internet, so do they. They know every book, tv show, movie, childhood crush, secret thought and hidden insecurity. They know it all. Trust that they want you to figure it out. Trust that they want to help you heal and grow.

Tip 3:

Your dreams are about you. It may seem like they are about other people or situations, but every piece of this puzzle is designed to create a vision for you… some kind of guidance or map for your path. So keep bringing the focus back to you. Your higher self is invested in your growth, not your friends’, not your family’s or colleagues’… yours. Remember, everyone has their own higher self and their own dreams. This is a great opportunity to center and nourish yourself. It doesn’t mean that you are selfish.

Tip 4:

After you’ve written down your dream, take a pause (as in several hours or even a day or two) before deciphering it. It will be easier to figure it out when you have some emotional distance and the heat of the dream has cooled down. The information you gather will still be relevant, even after some time has passed.

Tip 5:

Do your research. Look up the symbolism for as much of the dream as you have the time and/or patience for. Write down anything that resonates. Discard the rest. 

There are many ways that dreams are sculpted and shaped. 

Here are four types of dreams that are fairly common.

1. Stress dreams (also known as “release” dreams, or “nightmares”)

These dreams help your nervous system (which includes your big, beautiful brain) release tension in a way that you are unable to do in your waking life. They tap into your fears and insecurities and let scenarios play out and hormones release. The body can metabolize these overnight so that (once you let the dream go) you can live a little bit lighter. It is extremely helpful to write these dreams down because the act of writing will create a little distance and help you to understand that this is just a release valve and not your waking life. And hopefully, you will start feeling some relief right away. 

Gather details and then look up their meanings. For example, cars in dreams often refer to your life journey. Who is driving? What color is the car? All of these details are important. Feel free to Google away and write down or copy anything that “lights you up.” Also remember that this dream is meant for you. Most people in your dreams represent different parts of you.

If you are having repeat Stress Dreams, I suggest either engaging in the dream or setting an intention before falling asleep. To engage, give yourself agency to confront, leave, escape, talk back or even fight back. If it is a scene you are watching and you are not in the action, ask your higher self questions such as “what is this?” or “where am I?” This kind of engagement led me to my personal guide. To set an intention, ask your higher self for a break or some kind of resolution. Experiencing too many stress dreams can be exhausting and/or disorienting. Give yourself some power and step into the process.

2. Hook-up dreams (the kind of dream in which you are sexually involved with a friend, colleague, etc; and then you feel panic, confusion or longing when you wake up)

The big reveal about these sexy and guilt-inducing dreams is that you are really hooking up with yourself. If you are getting hot and heavy with a particular person, think about what qualities they have and what those mean to you. Those qualities are most-likely ones in you that need some real love and attention right now. You are actually longing for deeper connection with those parts of yourself. Hook-up dreams are actually amazing tools for self love. Dig deep into the meaning of these (as in, don’t settle for easy or simple answers) and they can be very healing and fulfilling.

3. Epic dreams (the sweeping, movie-like dream that feels huge and meaningful)

I love untangling epic dreams! They are often quite complex and are embedded with incredible guidance. When looking at epic dreams, I try and remember every possible detail: numbers, time of day, location, weather, people, animals, feelings… everything. I look up their meanings and then I start piecing the puzzle together. And again, I try to keep it focused on me. 

4. Animal dreams (a dream in which an animal is prominent)

Animals often show up as guides or protectors. They want to help you on your life path when you are scared or stuck or lost. Or they may be a link to other spirits. Connection with an animal in a dream is a true blessing, so be grateful for these dreams and spend the time to research your own ancestry and the symbolism of specific animals. Animal dreams are extremely important in many cultures worldwide. My own ancestry is part Celtic, so I often look up specific animal dream symbolism from that culture. You may build a connection with certain animals in your dreams that last for years. I’ve had incredible animal interactions and relationships in dreams that are close to my heart and that continue to guide me regularly. 

And, for the outlier, let me rewind back to the beginning of this blog in which I said, “I was able to find locations and information that helped to unravel some important details connected to my friend’s trauma.” This kind of activity is not dreaming. It is an astral projection. 

As a tween, I was obsessed with books by Lois Duncan. One of of my favorites was the YA novel, Stranger with My Face. It’s the story of a teenage girl, Laurie Stratton, who is having a strange problem. Folks in town are seeing her in locations where she could not possibly have been. I think she even ends up getting in trouble or being misunderstood by a boyfriend. It turns out (spoiler alert), she has an evil twin. Not just a regular evil twin, but a secret evil twin! The twin can astral project and she sneaks into Laurie’s physical body and takes over while Laurie is sleeping. The evil twin comes and goes as she pleases. And then, she is having such a good time in Laurie’s body (and I vaguely remember that she was also having a really good time with Laurie’s boyfriend), she decides she wants to stay and somehow blocks Laurie from reentering her own body. Creepy! 

So what really is astral projection?

It is ais an out-of-body experience that occurs by choice. Some folks feel that we have a subtle body that can travel and explore in the astral plane. This plane exists between our life on this planet and the spiritual world. We can leave our physical body and exist in an astral body. I’m not sure I really understand it, but I have absolutely experienced it. Every time I astral project, I am in a relaxed, theta state… kind of like Laurie when she was sleeping. So it can feel like dreaming, but it is more conscious and by choice. Lois Duncan took some liberties with her characters’ experience of astral projection, most likely in order to scare the bejesus out of young teenage girls. I’ve never heard of it just happening (like with Laurie accidentally vacating her body while sleeping), nor can another astral body jump into your physical body and take over. If that was possible, it would probably happen all the time. Imagine the chaos and confusion.

Luckily, I do not have an evil twin, nor do I think astral projection is dangerous. But my experience that I mentioned above was pretty creepy.I had the experience of traveling to another physical location and retrieving information from the past. I was able to overhear conversations, identify types and colors of cars, and describe the interior and exterior of a building that I had never been to before. The situation I was “investigating” was pretty messed up, and even though I knew I wasn’t in danger (because my physical body wasn’t there and the event was in the past), it was scary and kind of freaked me out. Now I am more careful and respectful of this form, and I astral project with healthy boundaries. 

In the words of Maryam Hasnaa:

“For highly sensitives, everything we do is a practice in boundaries.”

And this brings up an important issue when it comes to working in collaboration with the spiritual realm:

How to stay grounded, safe and healthy in spiritual work.

There are a few things I recommend:

Work with some kind of therapist or healer so that you can get help separating out personal history and emotional issues from your spiritual work. And if they are connected, a this person can assist you in understand how and why. Find someone who understands the kind of spiritual work you are doing. I sometimes fear that others will doubt me and my mental stability because of my spiritual experiences, but I know that my therapist “has my back.” That means a lot to me. Also, it is very common for spiritual work to uncover personal wounds that you may need to heal. Get support with that healing from someone who really knows what they are doing. There are a lot of amazing folks doing trauma-informed work, so if that is something you need, start researching or asking around.

Find a community of humans who are doing similar work so you can stay grounded and connected. As humans, we need to relate to other humans. If you are a sensitive or an intuitive, it can be tempting to spend an excess of time in the spiritual realm. This is not always a good idea. It’s important to be in community with human beings to help your stay grounded. Your community could be a local bookstore or tea room, a yoga studio, an online class… any collection of human beings that helps you to feel understood and seen. One virtual community that I am part of is New Earth Mystery School. It is run by Maryam Hasnaa (whom I quoted above), and is a treasure trove of information and training specifically for sensitives. You can find them at https://www.maryamhasnaa.com/new-earth-mystery-school

Journal so that you can get experiences and ideas out of your head and into this physical world. Journaling can be a great way to investigate your questions while being fully conscious and awake. I journal a lot.

Read books and blogs by known and trusted humans who write about spirituality or a connected field. If you are just starting out, you may go through a period time that feels “hit or miss” until you find your peeps, but you will find them. And if you are having a hard time finding material that resonates with you, reach out to your community. 

And speaking of community, we have community here at Magical Nature Tarot. Click on the Community tab at www.magicalnaturetarot.com to find ways to connect.

And for those of you who are curious for more stories and information about astral projection, I have an blog in the works, “Why you never need to worry that you will die alone.” It is an intense, sweet and extremely reassuring tale, so keep an eye out for that in upcoming months.

In the meantime, ‘sweet dreams!

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