Inhabiting the Dream World

One of my very favorite things in the world to do is to dream; the stories my psyche creates while I sleep are mysterious and fascinating to me. I’ve read quite a few books on dreaming over the course of my adult life, and The Transformational Power of Dreaming by Stephen Larsen and Tom Verner is right up there in the top five.

This book is a comprehensive study and practice of dreams and dreaming. It begins by exploring the history of dreaming as we know it, all the way up through modern scientific theories about the purpose of dreaming. Lest that make it sound dull, let me assure you, this book captivates the reader and takes one along on an exciting journey.

Throughout part one, the authors take turns offering sections heavily sprinkled with personal stories and dreams, quotes from literature and myth, poems, and even some pictures and artwork. They are both highly educated and extremely experienced in the realm of dreams. Their wisdom is on par with that of author Robert Moss, a well-known dream expert and another of my favorites. The in-person dream workshops and retreats that they have been leading for years sound amazing and intriguing. Both of these dream sages are truly “walking their talk” in their careers and personal lives.

It’s the second part of the book that is my favorite. It begins with a chapter titled “Precognition, Telepathy, and Synchronicity in Dreams,” and the historical thread continues to weave through the narrative. In a section on Edgar Cayce, the authors sum up his philosophy (and that of other dreamers through the centuries) by writing “attention to our dreams is a valid spiritual path, one that is available to us all. It is a corrective for our inflation, a kindly light for our blind spots, an aid in assimilating the shadow, and a beacon that not only shows us what lies ahead but also illuminates our way home!”
For the rest of part two, the authors share useful exercises and techniques for dream incubation, lucid dreaming, and using dream imagery to inspire your creativity (and much more). As a writer who is always open to interesting influences, some of their techniques and teachings inspired new book ideas for me. I also love that they sprinkle plenty of book recommendations, including fiction and children’s literature as well as nonfiction, throughout the book.

The techniques the authors offer up are creative and powerful. For example, they describe a particular method of working with dreams using a poetic structure that they learned from Robert Bly, which is based on Malaysian oral tradition and Persian meter. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated - all of the exercises are explained in easy-to-grasp instructions and sprinkled with real-life examples.

I plan to work closely with this book in the months and even years to come. As Larsen and Verner write (and demonstrate throughout the book), “Dreamwork connects us with our soul. This is the real work of our lives, the work of psyche, the work of that deep imagining part of who we are, both awake and asleep. This is the slow, patient work of a lifetime.” This book will help you to more fully inhabit your own dream world, and will teach you to navigate it skillfully.

I recommend that this tome packed with wisdom be added to every magickal library.

~review by Nikki Starcat Shields

Authors: Stephen Larsen and Tom Verner
Inner Traditions, 2017
pp.338, $19.95

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