dream melt magic: how to find yourself within a magical reality

image by cassandra oswald

It wasn’t until I sunk through a mattress in middle Tennessee that I understood magic.

Heavy through to a sudden lofty dispersion, my spine meeting unfelt space, I buoyed briefly on a pull from above. The final sinews of another world’s gravity snapped clean from me, and my head dipped farther down.

Without a blink, my knees tucked into my chest and I twirled backwards. I unfurled to greet the open sky and my arms were not arms at all. Below me a thousand pines peaked. New bones swung in their sockets, and with a thwack I dove.


Peculiar gravity

I was seven when I first awoke inside a dream.

It was my birthday party, and I was careening through the living room on top of a mylar balloon. The gentlest lean sent me soaring from one ceiling corner to another.

Mid-giggle, weaving infinities above the maroon rug, the joy made sparklers of my spirit and new eyes opened for the first time.

I was dreaming.

This wasn’t real.

Mylar balloons wouldn’t really let me fly around on them. Even if it was my birthday. Some new friction slowed my float.

Not ready to touch down, I stuffed logic deep in my dungarees and kicked off the carpet to send myself up again.

Many swoops later, I veered towards the kitchen to show my sister what I had going on. I tokyo drifted around the corner and that’s the last thing I remember.

My body can recall that particular lightness — swift cuts through the air, belly-down like a boogie boarder, rebounding off the walls.

I held onto that dream as proof for something.

Where you go when you fall asleep

Waking life is a dance of choice.

Most of the time, it’s more of a tap dance. Hopefully pleasing, mostly rhythmic, and painful when you can’t take five.

Your mind habitually filters and selects sensations and memories to serve your path through the day. This keeps you from stimuli overwhelm, which is a lovely safe guard. Good job, brain.

Social constructs like time, gender, class, and the 9-5 demand you to concentrate on certain things in order to obtain that slippery fish called Success. Your path narrows. Your blinders affix. Tiddle-tee tap tap.

When we dream, the shoes dissolve. You can’t take a pocket watch with you.

Time immeasurable becomes pure experience. Events morph and meld. Sensations and memories are woven, unraveled and braided in endless combinations.

Dreaming grants access to the imaginal realm.

Mundus imaginalis, y’all

It’s not a Hogwarts-sanctioned incantation, but it should be.

French scholar and mystic Henri Corbin introduced mundus imaginalis to the curious masses at the Colloquium on Symbolism on June 1964 in Paris.

This phrase was created to specify something apart from the concept of imaginary (something modern man loves to dismiss as fantastical and inconsequential.) I’ll let Corbin explain himself, in his charming way:

“…an intermediate world, which our authors designate as ‘alam al-mithal, the world of the Image, mundus imaginalis: a world as ontologically real as the world of the senses and the world of the intellect, a world that requires a faculty of perception belonging to it, a faculty that is a cognitive function, a noetic value, as fully real as the faculties of sensory perception or intellectual intuition. This faculty is the imaginative power, the one we must avoid confusing with the imagination that modern man identifies with “fantasy” and that, according to him, produces only the “imaginary.”

Henri, you beautiful creature!

Latin is surely the way to go in creating a name for something which requires unmistakable specificity (and a certain flavor of righteousness.)

The imaginal realm lives between the material realm and the spiritual realm. In this place, archetypes emerge from the aether and symbols dance innumerable.

Let’s go to our grandpa Carl Jung for an explanation of archetype:

“The archetype is an inherited tendency of the human mind to form representations of mythological motifs — representations that vary a great deal without losing their basic pattern.”

Archetypes come in all sorts: objects, situations, figures, and personas to scratch the surface. They are the typical modes of perceiving; distilled essential forms echoed through eternity, woven within the human experience.

And then there are symbols. Symbol is the language of our cultural and personal experience, gathered ad infinitum from our sensory navigation through life.

This realm, the mundus imaginalis, allows creative imagination to interact with and interpret sensory experience from the material world. These interactions deliver archetypal themes, and the interpretations speak in symbol. Some folks call this the language of the soul. I have a hard time disagreeing with that.

I drank up Henri’s words with a desert thirst. My Jungian persuasion pushed me further into belief quicker than I expected. And belief, my friends, grants you invitation to the bridge.

Maiden voyage into the deep

Exhaustion set my space.

One fifteen hour trek in the wobble wagon made everything (delightfully, confusingly) wavy. I collapsed on top of a Best Western queen mattress somewhere in middle Tennessee.

Cloud-cradled and content, my body softened and my mind set itself to indigo. I slipped easily into hypnagogia — the hazy bridge between awake and asleep.

I watched twinkling flecks spiral around in front of my eyelids; phosphenes happy to see me. They pulled me in, tranced me out, and I forgot about my eyelids entirely.

I heard familiar crackles and pops. Voices flew past me in hyperspace doppler.

An orb floated across my field, asking me to focus. I tried to find the edges but I couldn’t. It had a softness which felt like the bed.

My awareness jumped between the orb and the bed, connecting to create a pathway from my waking world to my dreaming world.

Everything was so incredibly soft, I could just sink right through.

And then I started sinking.

A conscious melt into dream space

My awareness traveled down with me down through the mattress, which, for a while, had no bottom side.

This was the first time I’d consciously found a path from one world to another, and it took a breath to realize I was indeed traveling into a dream world.

Without a clue as to where in the multiverse I was going, my material mind decided I’d better figure it out for myself.

Dream-ramblin’ me remembered reading about the wake-induced lucid dreaming sequence, and so I quickly went about the business of casting the scene.

I recalled one of my favorite visualizations: flying above a pine forest. I’d exit the mattress at the top of the sky.

As above, so below.

And so I flew.


I crossed into the imaginal realm, casted my desire, and received what I was looking for.

Fittingly, I was delivered to that desire by way of shifting into an owl. What an archetype to activate — boundless travelers between worlds; unafraid of the dark unknown; familiar in my mythological mind and my favorite woods. Of course this was the way.

I held imaginal space and created my experience by steeping desire, a potent energy, into symbols and senses.

In this moment the mylar balloon floats across my mind and asks to be involved here. That balloon has a point to make.

Even in the midst of the material world bursting at the seams of my dreamscape, even under the sudden application of gravity, lil me was able to intend and insist upon a different way. (Note: always choose antigravity.)

In both of these experiences, I was intimately connected to the outcome by providing intention.

This is magic.

It’s the quick and dirty distillation, sure. But there you have it.

Not so fast

Anything can happen in your dreams. It’s true.

But it doesn’t make your experience any less experienced. Your body sweats from a terrifying nightmare chase. You get …ahem… stimulated from dreamtime throes of carnal passion. You plop safely onto your bed right before you would’ve smacked bottom in a doomed fall.

No matter how fantastical your dream scene may be, your body will respond. This magnificent vessel in which we navigate the physical world responds physiologically to dream experience.

I’m going to trust my body on this one. Real enough to sweat is real enough for me.

If our bodies are capable of experiencing the fantastical, and our minds are capable of choosing surreality, then we have both the faculties and ability to call forth a magical reality in any realm.

It all depends upon what you’re willing to believe, and how empathetically you’re willing to understand the realm in which you’re practicing.

The physical world, the material realm, this place we travel through during the agreement of time— this is where the challenge lies.

This realm is where the ties of society keep us from regarding the imaginal more than a moment at a time.

But you can’t say you haven’t felt it.

It happens when a child giggles. When the afternoon light bathes your brow in gold. When your body melts into a sea of dancing creatures, music pulsing into you and out through a thousand sky-thrust fingertips.

These are brief, precious moments of the infinite. The channel opens just long enough to wrap us in the divine.

It’s everywhere. Peeking at me in smiles.

I’d like to get more acquainted.

incantation I

barn owl takes flight

grand libraries. white candles.
silver rings. a portal.
blooming tea. book binding.
milky pages. ink. film spools.
midnight colored anything.
murakami reality. oliver poems.
kaleidoscope camping.
baroque acoustic. filthy bass.
wine on rooftops. folklore.
the wild. augury. revelry.
letters by hand. apothecaries.
smoke plumes. spirits.
a cabin by the lake. unkept hair.
room-sized paintings. postcards.
crackling vinyl. dancing tails.
a silent flutter of wings in the dark.

voyager’s guide to Sheringham

Sheringham sea gate

This is a guide for the voyager (me and you), curated from notes in my travel diary and camera. I hope this is the first of many.

Welcome to Sheringham, an English village twixt sea and pine (it even says so on their seawall). Enjoy and explore.

What to bring

Your trusty boots. The shores are pebbled, the streets are cobbled, and the jagged climb to the cliff requires steady feet.

A scarf. The North Sea seeps into your bones.

Pennies for the arcade. If you’re lucky, you might bring home a rainbow-maned troll.

Fiction. Johnathan Livingston Seagull to earn your wings.

Sheringham Beach Cricket
Penny Arcade
Sheringham bunting

What to do

Make a pebble tower offering. First, stop at the chip shop. Stroll down to the sea, chips in hand, nibbling away. Be sure to save a few for the gulls. Balance beach pebbles (at least eleven high) and set some chips on top. Watch a gull collect your gift on-wing.

Greet the winds above town. Climb to the cliff at dusk. Twirl in the currents as twilight cloaks the shore. Watch the lights in the houses turn on.

2nd Hand Books & Antiquarian
Twilight over Town

Watch the winged seafarers from the shelter. Discover shearwaters, skuas, eider, scoter and the mighty arctic tern (the farthest-traveled animal on Earth). Seabirds live dangerously. Resolve to brave the gale winds. Delight in the easy float of a gentle breeze.

Take tea with page of poems. Tea grants access to the place between time, where language is supple and spry. Let violets fall from your mouth. Play with some words while your insides are warm and fuzzy.

Ride the steam train to Holt, home to the coziest noshery of your life. Munch on flapjacks & fridgecakes at wobbly wooden tables. Sink your spine into threadbare cushions while bitty disco balls twirl above. (Could it get better? Never.) When you’re good and full, walk over to the secondhand bookshop. Scale the four winding staircases (some are hidden behind closet doors) and tuck yourself into the esoteric section. Consult geomancy journals for the nearest ley lines. Draw a map on the back of your hand to remember.

Tea Fever

Steam Train to Holt

Disco balls above

oraculum for the new year, 2013.

Oraculum 2013

1. a divine announcement
2. a prophetic declaration
3. an imperial rescript

January first, two thousand thirteen. I present to you my oraculum. Held in glass and kept on the bookcase in my bedroom, I can greet my intentions each morning, and thank the little oracles echoed in my day before sleep.

I’ve spent many December 31sts scribbling my resolution list in notebooks, planners, or odd slips of paper. I’d remember them for three-ish weeks, until they lost themselves; buried behind pages, underneath the stacks of the everyday.

My intentions, though admirable (learn origami! read the tarot! become a yogini! write a book!) waned to shadows on the edge of my periphery. I frustrated myself.

Why wasn’t I capable of achieving good, honest goals? Why didn’t these things matter to me a month into this whole new year thing?

It took me a good two or three glasses of wine before I realized I was speaking the wrong language twice.

Goals and achievements are the language of metrics: measurements, quantitative assessments, production parameters. I don’t even use measuring spoons when I’m in the kitchen. It’s a pinch here, a dollop there, a feeling for when it’s right or ready.

A feeling. Yes. A state of being. That’s what I’m seeking in this new year. A gorgeous, resonant handful of those, please.

Instead of asking myself what I wanted to achieve, I asked what I wanted to feel, and how I wanted to move through this year. It began as a hand-scrawled entry in the journal.

Then I read The Alchemist.

The fable lit my way. To communicate with the world, I must learn to speak the language of the world. Omen. Metaphor. The layer cake meaning of all things.

I needed a divine declaration, spoken not with words on paper, but with symbol.

I spent my afternoon collecting the curios which spoke to my new year, and placed them inside a glass jar so I could easily view my little terrarium of oracles.

Oraculum, 2013

quartz: clarity
magpie feather: boldness
golden key: access to the secret world
humpback whale: ecstatic expression
blackbird feather: channeling
mood ring: merry-making
melted marble: revelry
freyja headpiece: sovereignty
heiner luepke photograph: grace
owl: ease of travel between worlds

I’m ready for you, 2013. Let’s dance.

If you really knew me, you’d know…

Minister's Treehouse: Biggest Treehouse in the US

I met a teepee-dwelling, wild-horse-breaking son of a Minister cowboy at the biggest treehouse in the United States. He was fixing his pickup and building a fire in tandem when we met. His father built the treehouse. I climbed it with a twin soul.

I share my birthday with Salvador Dali. Fanciful departures from reality are a cosmic gift given to both of us.

I’ve seen 276 species of North American birds. My UK list is 94.

My camera family rolls fifteen wide. Two of ‘em are digital SLRs, the rest are film. Analog forever.

A humpback whale taught me the magic of personal photography.

I was born a creature somewhere in the deep forest beside an eternal festival.

I taught myself to design n’ code websites out of necessity — my Neopets market shop sold rainbow & invisible paintbrushes, obviating the need for a kickass storefront to echo the beauty and rarity of my stock. HTML was allowed in the edit box. I made it snow to the sounds of S Club 7 on my storefront page. Childhood was radical.

My Neopets shop served as better preparation for my current career than my college degree in Geography. Neopia Central was where I trained in entrepreneurship, web design and development, and interactive graphic design alongside my Cybunny named ArmedInn0cence (a decorated Battledome contender), and a peace-keeping Kau named DaffodilDream3r.

Cabin cozy is a lifestyle choice I support with my entirety.

I played the french horn from ages 8 to 18 in concert/symphonic band, and was the drum major for our school’s marching band. I wrote my college app essay on the transcendent beauty of synchronized music and mass body movement.

In another dimension, I’m an herbologist with a courtyard keep.

I was blessed by a barn owl at sundown on a cliff over the North Sea in Sheringham, England. Fo real.

Secret libraries are at the top of my potential house requirements list, followed by a hammock loft with a pillowed floor and a sturdy rooftop for sunsets & sunrises.

Electronic music is the most beautiful math I’ve ever heard, and I’ve got an unbridled voracity for new sound. Sonic gluttony is a dear vice of mine.

I’m always scanning my periphery for beautiful light.

I come from a farm family, where I learned the art of the Full-Love Bear Hug.

This post sparked by
Alexandra Franzen.

in which I start a blog and thank The Internet

How does one thank The Internet?

This omnipresent entity in my life has delivered an education so perfectly mine, I want to thank it. Honor it. Have it over for pad thai & whiskey gingers.

Of course, it’s really the folks behind screens across time and space I ought to be thanking. Humans are excellent in that way. They taught me how to develop websites, design graphics, bake puddle cookies, throw hoop tricks, take photos with all my cameras, navigate by seasonal constellations, and make galaxy playdough.

For free.

Because they could, and because they knew, somewhere in the infinite expanse of cyberspace, there was a me who wanted to learn.

THANK YOU, kind human. This playdough is magnificent.

Beyond the practical education is where I get all teary-eyed with gratitude. There’s a handful of digital citizens I’ve lovingly lurked around for years, without whom I’d be twice as lost and half as awesome.

Who they are and what they’ve taught me:

Jamie Beck.  She’s living proof of one of my best loved theories: you can create your own dream life through photography.

Jessica Hische.  Freelance creative careers are immensely fulfilling as an authentic, talented member of the art & design community.

Susannah Conway.  She teaches me about the freedom in vulnerability and the art of sharing your life.

Danielle LaPorte.  Self-realization is a practice, not a moment.

Havi Brooks.  Secret names for everything is a wonderful way to live. Asking for what you want is how to actually get what you want, even if you’re asking the air.

Jessica Mullen.  Daily gratitude will always, always, always  remaster your mind. Lifestreaming is a process of loving your life out loud.

Nikki Pamani.  It’s okay to be awesome on a regular basis. Also: Life is usually ridiculous and mostly hilarious. Celebrate accordingly.

Alex Franzen.  She took me under her technicolor wings and led me on the magic neon carpet ride of digital entrepreneurship. True Life: I was a Franzian minion. (& The Weissness, too!) Her brilliant tutelage made Youngblood Sourcery possible. There aren’t enough thanks in the multiverse to give my sensei.

Hillary Weiss.  She’s the word-weaving half of Youngblood Sourcery. Together, we make digital magics of an assorted variety, and IRL mischiefs of an unprecedented volume. She’s taught me too much to attempt listing, though if I had to sum it up, it’d be filed under “Ways to Be a Magnificent Friend” and “How to Keep Shit Real.”

I want to practice being a photographer, painter, digital creator, muse, curator, and writer.

Most of all: I want to share my journey and gathered learnings. Somewhere, out there, there’s a you who wants to figure it out, too.

This is me signing up for all of it.

Welcome to my treehouse in digitopia. Hi mom!