Monday, 16 November 2015

Clouds and Dreams

Nature talks to us, and often reveals to me something about what’s going on in my own mind. Clouds have caught my attention over the last week, especially the wispy kind that drifts in a clear blue sky. In Scotland where most days are marked by an overcast sky, these light clouds are pleasing to the eye. To me clouds represent dreaming, and reflecting on them I gained insight into the relationship between ideas and action.

Clouds vary in shape and form. They represent illusion in the sense that they appear soft like cotton, but consist of water. They are continually in motion, moved by currents that are invisible to the eye. It is easy to see a vision in clouds, signifying the uniqueness of each person’s point of view. The perceived shape is never true to the actual shape of the cloud, and since it changes all the time, it reminds of the fluid character of dreams. Clouds vary in tone, more so when the sun is shining. Where an endless blue sky can become monotonous, clouds that reflect the interplay between light and darkness give character to the heavens. The overcast aspect of clouds indicate the collective nature of thought and reality: while each perspective is unique, we also co-create the world through the way we dream together.

Representation of the World Tree:
the Shamanic Model of the Spiritual Realm
In the shamanic model of the spiritual world, there are three aspects which are connected to one another through the symbolic world tree: the upper, middle and lower worlds. In my experience, the upper world is the realm of wisdom, guidance and creativity, and often the place where inspiration is found. The middle world is the one where we assert ourselves, and the lower world signifies power and earth energies. To reach the upper world, a shaman needs to move his consciousness up the world tree and through a boundary that indicates the limit of the middle world. From there she has access to the universe of light represented by the sun, the moon and the stars, marked by freedom from the heaviness of the earthbound realm. Perhaps because of their dreamy attribute, I see the border between upper and middle worlds as a layer of clouds. The realm of the upper world is marked by infinity, but the creative energy of the universe can only take unique expression within boundaries, otherwise it becomes lost. From this perspective, clouds represent the thought processes beyond which we have to move to get inspiration, but to establish these ideas, we have to return to the material world where we act. Clouds contain the elements of air and water, indicating that intellect and emotion work together in the creative process. The light or fire on the other side of clouds signifies Source that acquires depth through the individual perception of its contrast with the shadows.

One element that is missing from clouds is earth, which represents the material reality. When it comes to dreaming, the biggest challenge is often how to give structure to our visions in a world ruled by restrictions. Clouds can never be captured, and by the time their substance reaches the earth, their form is lost. The dreamer can, however, plant seeds, and build on what he would like to see grow. When seeds are planted and nurtured under the right conditions, at least some of them will find a way to grow, aided by the sun and the coming down of the clouds. There is a lot that the planter has no control over, and this illustrates that although working with love is necessary, trust is also required. While dreams can reveal something of our connection to the universal mind, the matter that we work with doesn’t truly belong to us, and sometimes it’s best to let the universe decide how and in what way our dreams will come to fruition. The dreamer is an instrument of universal will as much as the entirety of creation is an expression of something we cannot know or understand.