by Melinda Powell © 2018
The stars are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
And they’re there for you
For you alone, you are the everything.
— R.E.M. “You Are The Everything”
The moment we pause and look up in wonderment at the night sky, we enter the mystery of gifts freely given and openly received. Entering our lucid dreams with a similar spirit of gratitude, we may find that the light of Being reveals itself through a profound sense of spiritual Presence, as in one of my own dreams entitled “Daylight Stars”:
I feel very tired and in some pain from an inflamed disc in my spine but manage to say a few prayers before drifting off to sleep. Then, with great gentleness and tenderness, it feels as if my inner being goes out of my dreambody onto an infinite field of luminous blackness.
The black light has a delicate quality. A wind on the darkness arouses a sweet desire. I feel lucid and deeply aware of how much my being needs this and wonder what will happen next. “Nothing” does, except the gentle, refreshing filling, which seems really more than enough.
The shimmering blackness opens to an amazing, azure blue that teems with star clusters of great beauty — like a beautiful tapestry of light. The blue appears both bright and deep as in a twilight sky strewn with countless stars. The constellations radiate life and intelligence. In contrast to the subtle vibrancy of the stars, I become vaguely aware of the denseness of my own life and the responsibilities I carry, the weariness of my body and being, though the details of my life remain unclear to me.
I have the strange impression that each star has a connection with my own being and my waking life in some fundamental way — that the light of each star longs to be unveiled in the physical world through my life. I feel very grateful for this impression and the beauty of the daylight stars. Once I have this awareness, my being is again lifted gently onto the velvety black into wakefulness.
This dream highlights the parallels between night stars of the outer world and the star-like celestial beings of the inner.
When we bring a spirit of gratitude to our dreams, this can lead to a deepening awareness of mysterious Presence. I have called such an attitude of heart and mind in lucidity, “Lucid Surrender.”
Surrendering to gratitude, grace, and praise in our dreams may bring increased wellbeing much as it does so in waking life.
In terms of our mental health, research has shown that if a depressed person simply writes down three things for which they feel thankful, even just once a week, then, after a few months, they will feel markedly better for it. Imagine a world where everyone included “dreams” on their list of what they feel thankful for! But people often discount their dreams, thereby losing out on the positive potential therein.
To illustrate our human tendency to disregard our dreams, the Jungian analyst Anne Baring shares a Sufi story of an Emperor who receives gifts on a daily basis from all those seeking his favour. Day after day, a poor beggar approaches the emperor’s throne and leaves some kind of fruit — an apple, orange, or pear — asking for nothing in return. Each day, the Emperor, looking increasingly bored, receives the beggar’s gift, as decorum dictates, but then orders his servant to throw the offending fruit away.
After many years, when the beggar has become an old man, a monkey sitting on the shoulder of an envoy from another land, jumps down and steals the beggar’s apple, takes a bite and tosses the fruit on the floor in front of the Emperor. Everyone gasps as a ruby hidden at the apple’s core shines. Suddenly, the aging Emperor realises his mistake and cries out in despair. The servant, who had been responsible for throwing away the fruit, rushes down into a cellar at the base of a chute where, for decades, he had been throwing the unwanted gifts. There he finds a pile of jewels: rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and gold left in the wake of the decayed fruit.
This story highlights that gratitude, often considered one of the highest virtues, also requires humility to be received fully. Gratitude, hand in hand with humility, opens the heart to the experience of grace and develops our capacity to receive and, in turn, to give. Every dream, even if previously neglected, ignored, feared, or tossed aside, can potentially give us a psychological or spiritual insight of great value.
Practising gratitude through Lucid Surrender can also sustain and deepen the lucid experience. Lucid dreamers, at the moment of lucidity, often experience a profound sense of joy and excitement described as the Lucidity Effect. Distracted by the intense affect, many dreamers then pop out of lucidity. Instead, if the dreamer can become aware of a sense of gratitude at the core of their joy and humbly express their gratitude towards the mysterious Presence infusing the dream, then this opens up a deepening experience of Lucid Surrender as illustrated in the following dream:
I enter a room at twilight and find myself teaching English to a French man. I sit on a bed and he on a chair next to me. As evening falls, the room becomes covered in shadow and his form a silhouette. Softly he says in French, “Ou es tu?” (Where are you). I respond, “Je suis ici” (Here I am). He leans forward to kiss me and as our lips touch, I realise I dream. Again, I feel jubilation and gratitude for this recognition.
Suddenly it feels as if I have been pulled between the man’s lips into a long, darkly shining tunnel at an incredible speed. To keep centred, I repeat a Holy Name. The wormhole tunnel goes on and on … Then I begin to sing a hymn to Jesus — it comes to me spontaneously, and as I repeat the hymn, I move at an increasing hyper-velocity through the tunnel. Finally, the journey ends in a silent, illuminated space. My dreambody has disappeared, and I sense myself as a point of consciousness. I think to myself, “This time I won’t try to see!” A vast, iridescent darkness surrounds my being. I wait and then a shimmer of lights falls over me. I feel the Presence of Spirit and wonder if these lights are angels. Then, suddenly, I feel myself returned via the same tunnel. I can’t say how I return. It feels as if Beings guide me. When I awake, it is 4:00 in the morning.
In lucidity, I have found that focusing on gratitude and praise towards the Divine centres me.
In the dream excerpt that follows, such focused gratitude arises spontaneously:
Around 8:30 a.m., I wake up but feel so weary I decide to stay in bed. I attempt to say the Lord’s Prayer but begin to fall back asleep. Suddenly I hear a familiar whirring sound, a high, insistent pitch. Immediately, I feel my being is lifted onto the black. (This hasn’t happened for some time and I feel deep joy and gratitude rise up through my weariness.) I sense a “chord” of white laser light around my neck but “see” nothing as deep waves of emotion rise up. Aware that the last time the chord appeared in a dream, I attempted to pull it away, this time I cry out in my thoughts, “Yes! Whatever you want me to do, say, be . . . Yes! Yes! Yes!”
While the spirit of thankfulness pervades most of my Lucid Surrender experiences, in some dreams, I have occasionally been moved to give thanks to the invisible or manifest dream Beings who have carried me to a sacred space through wormholes or intense fields of dark light winds. For example, in one extended lucid dream an invisible Being carries my being ever further into the inner reaches of a sacred space:
Then it feels as if my being is gently set down on a great platform or ledge. I wonder if I stand on the edge of God’s throne. My “feet” feel awakened as they touch the soft and sacred “ground” shrouded in dark light. It has been ages since this has happened in a lucid dream and I feel very curious about what will come. It amazes me to “see” a long eel-like beam of dark laser-light release from my midriff, and I bow my head and say, “Thank you for bringing me here, Holy Being.”
As I wait in stillness, there comes a deep sense of Presence and of being observed, but “nothing” happens for some time and my mind begins to kick in. Although my earthly life doesn’t feel present in a detailed way, I do know that my physical body is on the bed at “home” and I become afraid that my partner might wake me inadvertently. This concerns me because the experience is not yet complete; I seem so “far away” that it may be hard to come out abruptly, even harming me in some way. Then the unseen Presence says, “You are safe.” I take a step to turn towards the sound, and with my turning, the “ground” under my “heels” kicks up into a velvety jet-black cloud around me, as though a massive octopus had spewed out its ink, but this blackness feels rich and deep, full of light and a profound Presence, exceedingly subtle and sweet. My consciousness finally rests in this fullness and love.
Time loses any sense until the black, shining cloud recedes, and I know it seems time to return “home,” wherever and whatever “home” is. I go to the edge of the platform and call out to the darkness, “Please take me home now.” Again, my being feels lifted onto the black winds full of wonder at what it has just experienced. The return journey seems very long as I reflect on what has just happened, feeling grateful for the support of the unseen Being that carries me.
The Holy Beings often appear as light but sometimes take on a more concrete form, as in this dream:
In the night, I awake and sing the Psalm, “You my God are my heart’s desire and my heart cries out to Thee…. ” It feels spontaneous, pure. In my mind, I go over the day in reverse, righting the “wrongs.” Suddenly I feel the spirit in a rush, a mighty whirring and “lift off” onto the black, shining winds, feeling full of gratitude as I enter lucidity.
A definite but invisible Being carries me purposefully in its arms and then, after some way, pushes me from under the balls of my unseen feet. After a very long time of an incredible, sustained ecstasy, we begin to descend, and the Being cradles me in his arms. I wonder where I will be brought down.
Suddenly we enter a hall so large I cannot see its end. What appears to be layers of flat hard stones shaped like shale or slate in deep sheens of copper and black cover the hall’s floor. Although in other lucid dreams I have felt these stones under my “feet” I have not seen them. I associate the stones with holy ground and usually some powerful light form emerges in the space above the stones. This time, the stones are visible and surround immense dark boulders, hundreds of which spread across the hall like an endless Zen rock garden.
As we slow down, I wonder if I will be able to see the Being that carries me. Just as we touch down, I take on a dreambody and the Being becomes visible. “He” looks very slim or two-dimensional, like the flat stones. He has a long trapezoidal head and a featureless face that nevertheless communicates a strongly felt Presence. His broad shoulders taper down into a kind of triangle-tip waist. He has massive muscular arms and legs, a bit like a medieval knight wearing armor. At first, I feel so surprised by his form and its unusual nature, I feel disoriented, but then realize he has carried me and I say, “Thank you, Holy Being, for bringing me here.” At this, he bows low from the waist towards me, revealing that he is only about half an inch thick, apparently made of a substance similar to that which covers the hall’s floor. He is so thin he looks as if he could easily be snapped apart, but I know the substance forming him is unbreakable. I feel rather taken aback that he should bow as if in deferential service to me, but then I manage to collect myself and bow in turn. After this, he walks away to my left without speaking.
My eyes follow him as he walks away. When I look again at the hall opening up before me, I see a group of three or four unnaturally large, magnificent tigers circling on the large boulder nearest to me.
They have beautiful, shiny fur and evident power and intelligence. They walk so closely and smoothly together they look almost like flames swirling. Beyond the first cluster of tigers I now see that on each of the boulders there have appeared similar clusters of tigers — the scene repeats exponentially. The further I look, the more suddenly materialize.
For a moment, I feel afraid that the tigers might leap off the boulders to devour me. Then I recall the Biblical story of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” and realize the tigers could easily overpower me, in which case I will have no choice but to surrender. Instead, they remain focused on their circling in close formation, communicating a steady willpower and creative energy. I begin to feel that these tigers represent celestial beings that have revealed themselves to me.
The largest tigers, nearest to me, feel the most powerful, and I experience them as a representation of the Divine and the others as angels…. I feel very matter-of-fact about the situation, wondering what the tigers will do and if they will speak or silently share with me their awesome beauty and contained, instinctual power. This goes on for some time.
Then, the lucid dream comes to a sudden close as the knight-like Being again carries me back across the black light. I wonder if I have been taken from the scene with the tigers because the “aim” was achieved, though I would have liked to spend more time with the magnificent creatures!
While it feels important and natural to give thanks to the Beings that help transport and care for me in the dreams, once their role has been fulfilled, these particularised Beings give way to a deeply felt reciprocity with a more universal or transpersonal sense of Presence that dwells in the holy spaces to which the Beings take me. In these encounters, the dream’s purpose feels fully realised as in what follows:
In my dream, my being slips out of my physical body with great delight and I smile within to enter lucidity. As the speed increases, I am taken swiftly through a field of octagonal structures made of light filaments.
Eventually, the abstract forms give way to a tunnel that appears about my height and width with my arms outstretched, although, at this point I no longer have a visible, physical body. As my being goes through this, I note that the sides look made of a “wet” shiny black light that spins or pulsates very quickly. Suddenly the thought comes, “A wormhole!” My mind begins to feel concerned about where this wormhole takes me. It bends to the left and I cannot “see” ahead of me. I haven’t experienced a wormhole that looks quite like this and it makes me nervous. I wonder if the wormhole might collapse as my own concentration gives way. Fearful, I forget about singing a sacred song. Just at the point where it feels my fear will overwhelm me, the tunnel opens up into a still space full of black light.
I feel aware of an unseen, all-pervasive, Holy Presence. It feels that this Presence supports me from below, hovering in space. Although I don’t have a body in a physical sense, I feel conscious of a pressure on what I perceive as my invisible “wrists,” as if someone holds me there. Then, without any warning, a deep ecstasy begins to move up through me. I look down to see what holds me.
A large hand illuminated from within appears out of the blackness holding my own illuminated forearms, the way two trapeze artists would link arms, but I can see only the Being’s hands. I have the thought that this Being makes love to me from below and this also worries me somewhat, but again my fears get overridden by ecstatic pleasure. The power rises up, filling me, and finally causes me to completely relinquish my fears as I give into the profound feeling. It feels as if the Being holds and contains me while this happens. Finally, the energy moves up through my head with an indescribable fullness and richness that spills over into the blackness around me.
Even then, I wonder in rather typical fashion for me, “Well, why the forms of light, the wormhole, the black light, and Being of light just for this?” And I sense the Being say silently and simply, “Because you need filling.” With this understanding, I feel quite humbled and grateful and realise the filling comes in relation to how the Spirit moves through my life and the dreams for its own purpose. For some time, it feels as if my being remains held there tenderly in the stillness on the black light, taking in the experience. This goes on for some time before I re-enter the dream state.
I experience many of the dreams as bringing a profound infusion of life and the love needed to fulfill tasks in waking life.
A similar infusion of gratitude results in a profoundly re energizing dream:
I wake up in the night and pray, repeating the Lord’s Prayer. Eventually, curled up on my side, I drift off to sleep and begin to see the light forms and feel the lucid space open within me. A voice says, “Turn to me” so I turn over onto my back in response.
I breathe deeply out of my mouth and with this I suddenly feel myself move onto the black light through the opening between my lips. As the separation from my dreambody has never happened before in this way, I find it hard to find my focus. On the black, my being abruptly falls “back-first” like a feather ever downwards, reminding me a bit of Alice in the rabbit hole. On and on this goes with me feeling the same despondency and loneliness I felt in my prayers. Finally, I recall from other dreams that I actually do not seem alone, and I call out to the angels: “Do you angels seem there?” With my query, two beings of swirling strands of red light appear in the blackness before me. They twist and turn gracefully like two hourglasses of spiraling red light. It seems they accompany me as I fall.
Seeing them both amazes and comforts me, but even so, the long descent and my weariness begins to concern me again. Just then, we burst into a vast luminous dark space at the center of which appears a solid black obsidian cylinder a few feet across in diameter like a well. My being ends up deposited at the base of the form. I see that the black surface appears full of star-like pinpricks of light. I think with great joy, “The Divine?!”
Now, finding myself with a dreambody, I stand up and, bending down, place my hands on either side of the cylindrical form, peering into its mysterious beauty. With this, the form pulls me headfirst into its Being as my dreambody falls away into the now infinite pool of star-laced blackness. Wondrous filaments of white light move through my being. “Oh, fill me!” I cry out longingly, feeling immensely grateful and relieved.
After some time, I feel myself deposited next to the cylindrical form, curled up on my side, peering at the structure. As I look, dancing silver stars now spin to the left around the circumference. Kneeling again before the form, I place my hands on either side along the silver stars to both aid and feel their spinning. “Sweet silver angels!” I think with wonder, feeling my hands alive with the spinning movement. The spinning creates a music to which the stars-Beings sing. I begin to sing along joyfully. Eventually, I awake with the hymn of praise on my lips. How I wish I could recall the music to share in waking life!
Such dreams feel like living Presences of light shining out against the backdrop of the dark and sacred night — like stars that fill us with a deep sense of gratitude and awareness of grace — a reminder that the stars are there for all of us.
Melinda Powell, née Ziemer, MA Psychology of Religion, Adv. Dipl. Psychotherapy, Past IASD Vice President and current IASD UK Regional Representative, is Co-Founder and Director of the Dream Research Institute in London, and former Director of the charitable counselling service HELP. Her lucid dreaming exploration has led her to develop and teach “Lucid Surrender.” Email: DRImelinda@ccpe.org.uk