This year’s first Writer of the Month is Tree Carr; dream guide, death doula, artist and writer. We spoke to Tree about her new book, DREAMS, her adventures into lucid dreaming and the history of dreams.
What interests you about dreams, and lucid dreaming in particular?
Dreams interest me because they are experiences of consciousness. I’m fascinated by consciousness exploration and the realms of perception, and in my personal experience, dreaming is an extension of this. Lucid dreaming holds a particular fascination because it’s a state of consciousness within the dreamstate that is acutely aware and present just the same as it would be in waking reality. Having the ability to achieve lucidity within the dream-state lends itself to incredible exploration. You begin interacting with your dream-worlds and open up new zones of insight, inspiration, healing, learning and the evolution of your own consciousness.
What is your most vivid dream experience to date?
In the last couple of years I’ve been exploring mutual dreaming. This is the act of connecting with another dreamer in dream-space and having a shared or similar dream experience. The mutual dreaming experiences I’ve had have been lucid (fully aware and in control) and absolutely mind blowing to the point where they’ve completely changed my views on the construct of ‘reality’. My most vivid mutual dreaming experience was with the incredibly gifted Dreaming Mentor, Jenniffer ClarOscura (you can find her channel on YouTube). She taught me how to connect in dreams by creating a ‘third eye vortex’ in the hypnagogic state before falling asleep. The first time I tried, we connected. The experience was fully aware and vivid. I travelled through a vortex in the mirror of my room, I ended up in flying around NYC (where she lives). There was telepathic communication with her the entire time: encouragement, guidance and laughing in amazement. I woke up from that experience with my mind blown. In fact the first words that came out of my mouth were, ‘Life is fucking amazing!!’ This woke up my partner, Adam, who then audio recorded my experience. Later on in the day, Jenniffer shared her dream experiences from the night before and there was definite shared and similar content to our mutual dreaming experience.
Do you think dreams can be viewed as alternative realities?
In physical terms, reality is the totality of the universe, known and unknown. There is so much we don’t know, so much to explore and so much to discover. I embrace the hypothesis of a Multiverse. The concept of a Multiverse inspires me to contemplate the current laws of science, on the ultimate nature of existence and it fuels my exploration of evolving consciousness. Having said all of this, I feel like dreams are part of the Multiverse because I see the Multiverse as including all forms of consciousness. So effectively, yes I am open to the concept that dreams can be viewed as alternative realities.
Historically, who has decided what symbols to attach to our dreams?
As human beings, we have an ancient timeline when it comes to dreaming: from the Indian Upanishads of 6th century BCE through to the scientific proof and ‘discovery’ of lucid dreaming in a sleep lab by Dr. Keith Hearne in 1975. Throughout this very long timeline we’ve had various people deciding what symbols to attach to our dreams: shamans, sages, mystics, high priestesses, witches, philosophers and psychoanalysts. I see all these historical and cultural roles as valid because their insights have all helped shape our understanding of the subconscious realms of dreams. Alongside this, I think it’s important to trust your own intuition regarding the symbolism of your own dreams.
Are there common trends in dreams across different historical periods?
In my research, I have discovered that societies which experience collective trauma, such as war, will for the most part share similar dreams. There was a study done at Tufts University School of Medicine and Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Boston that sought to answer these questions. They collected data on the effects that the airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers had on people’s dreams. Results showed an increase in anxiety dreams and nightmares that featured content of being ‘attacked’.
When did you decide to write DREAMS? What was your process like?
I was approached out of the blue by a publisher who had heard about my Conscious Dreaming workshops and then it all unfolded. I used the content of my workshops as the content of my book. The writing process was interesting and transformative. I committed to writing 500 words a day and I used my dreams for guidance. I was having recurring dreams of spiders building webs and decided to use these dreams to help me build the structure of my book. I built a huge spider web mind map on my living room wall. This helped me build the chapters and connect the content. I also see the spider web dreams as symbolic for a web of ideas going out into the world
I really liked your tribute to Ren. Can you tell us a bit more about your adventures with him?
Even though Ren died, I’m still having adventures with him! Ha ha. I see him from time to time in my dreams. This has been very healing because of the shock/grief of his sudden death. He has taught me a thing or two about ‘letting go’. He also recently had a word with me about how I shouldn’t ‘turn him into a saint just because he died’. This brought on a profound and positive shift of freedom within me concerning the concept of his death.
Can you talk us through your dream workshops?
In my workshops you can expect: dream sharing, a dream tea ceremony, hypnagogic meditation and lots of info on: sleep hygiene, brain waves, sleep cycles, dream genres, dreaming plants/herbs, lucid dreaming tips, dream journaling and you receive a kick ass dreaming kit!
How important are dreaming herbs?
Just like dreams, human beings have an ancient timeline when it comes to working with plants. There are many different plants, worldwide, that can assist with dreaming. They are known as ‘oneirogens’ (from the Greek: oneiros: to dream / gen: to create) I see these plants as helpers. They help you to kick start your dreaming. I don’t see them as the end all key to dreaming because the key is your own personal intent to become a conscious dreamer. In other words, it is best to not become reliant on these plants but work in partnership with them. Some dreaming herbs can help a lot with achieving lucid dreams but it’s advantageous to also be incorporating other elements of a conscious dreaming practise such as: dream journaling, proper sleep hygiene, meditative intent, reality checks and loads of other tips that are all outlined in my book.
Can lucid dreams ever go wrong? If so, how do you get out of them?
I’ve had lucid dreams turn into lucid nightmares but it’s all good with me. However, in the past, I would abruptly wake myself up if my lucid dream turned scary. Now I work beyond the fear and I ask the ‘scariness’ what it in fact represents. I see nightmares as our biggest teachers and great opportunities to transcend fear, trauma and emotional pain.
DREAMS by Tree Carr is published by Aster Books, £10.99, and is available to buy here. For more information on Tree’s dream workshops visit her website or follow her on Instagram at @lucid_dream_tree.