Dreaming: An Essential Skill

November, 2018


In “Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing,” I wrote a lot about my personal connection with my Dreamer. What follows is a sample from the book that is relevant to this article’s theme:

It was by practicing and studying shamanism that I learned to hear and identify the true voice of my own spirit, also called “Dreamer” or “Higher Self.” Through journeys, I met this luminous being and got to know her more intimately throughout the years. At first, I found it hard to believe that there was a part of me that could never be broken, hurt, screwed up, or depressed. I had the tendency to see her at first as something other than me–the way I saw Jesus or Mary as enlightened prophets. Her benevolence, beauty, and compassion bowled me over time and time again. You see, shamanic cultures have always known that there is a part of our beings that is pure spirit and they trained people to tap into the wisdom of the dreamer within. Our Dreamers know what our life purpose is in this lifetime and are the only ones who can guide us perfectly on our journey in order to accomplish our purpose.

At first, I had a lot of resistance to the idea that there is a part of me who absolutely knows what I am meant to be doing, how to do it, and how to accomplish it. I would follow my ego’s idea of what I should be doing and totally neglect to consult with my Dreamer to see if this plan of mine was even worthwhile. I learned the hard way that refusing to go in the direction that my Dreamer was sending me in was counterproductive and often painful. When I didn’t listen, I had a lot of messes to clean up in my life that took energy away from living my dreams.

Winnie the Pooh famously said: “Doing nothing leads to doing something.” Contrary to what most people believe, dreaming is not an idle activity. Whether we realize it or not, we are living in a spiritual soup of energy containing many layers of experience and knowing that we can access if we are able to quiet our inner worlds to listen. Dreaming is a vital practice for our time. The world we’ve created collectively as humans is in chaos. If dreaming unconsciously is how we created this mess, dreaming consciously–aware of the impact our thoughts, feelings, and actions are having on the dreaming matrix–is what will begin to turn around the reality we’ve created. The solutions to these problems are not outside of ourselves where we normally look to resolve issues: they are inside of us, accessed through our ever-present connection with the spiritual matrix of life.

While shamanic dreaming might sound like a New Age fad to some, this practice is, in fact, ancient and known to shamanic practitioners throughout the world. To give you a flavor of what this practice is about, I offer an Incan perspective by Alberto Villoldo on dreaming from his article “How Shamans Dream the World into Being”:

Whether you realize it or not, we are all dreaming the world into being. What we’re engaging in is not the sleeping dream we’re familiar with, but the waking dream we craft with our eyes open. When we’re unaware that we all share the power to co-create reality with the help of the Universe itself, that power slips away from us and our dream turns into a nightmare. We begin to feel we’re the victims of an unknown and frightening creation that we’re unable to influence or change. Events seem to control us and trap us. The only way to end this dreadful reality is to awaken to the fact that it, too, is a dream, and recognize our ability to write a better story, one that the Universe will work with us to manifest. The nature of the cosmos is such that whatever dream you have about yourself and the world will become reality. As soon as you awaken to your power to dream, you begin to flex the muscles of your courage. Then you can dream bravely: letting go of your limiting beliefs and pushing past your fears. You can begin to create truly original dreams that germinate in your soul and bear fruit in your life.

What Villoldo describes here takes practice; just like any other skill, we must re-learn dreaming by putting our attention on it again. We live in a busy outer world. We inadvertently train the natural ability to dream out of our children when we tell them they don’t have time to dream, play, or rest. We keep them overscheduled and overtired in a continuous stream of doing so that there is no time for being. If we want to find the treasures hidden in our inner worlds, we must slow down, quiet ourselves and really listen deeply with our whole beings. This is why the world’s spiritual systems have built in practices that train reflection into our harried lives. Introspection takes us into the heart of dreaming. These reflective practices are the things people do every day to consciously interact with the spiritual aspect of life in order to learn more about the sacredness of living and their place within the Dream of Life. In order to connect with the spiritual aspect of the world around us, spiritual practices are embedded into daily living so they become habits as natural as brushing our teeth every day. Practicing spiritual hygiene is just as important as that of the physical variety.

Many spiritually-minded folks I’ve talked to feel they simply get sucked into mainstream reality unless they practice connecting to Great Spirit/God/Creator/Goddess/Allah/Yahweh on a daily basis. These folks set aside part of their day to tune into themselves. These intuitive practices that lead us straight into the healing arms of our Dreamers can include: singing spiritual music (i.e. chanting), meditation, contemplative practices (i.e. walking labyrinths and journaling), working with totem animals and spirit guides, drum journeys, prayer sessions and vigils, studying and discussing spiritual texts and teachings, playing instruments (i.e. drums, rattles, church organs), spiritual dances (i.e. Powwow and Sufi dances), working with archteypes presented in dreams to derive personal spiritual meaning, interpreting omens in nature, ceremony, ritual, rites of passage, pilgrimages, vision quests, and making spiritual art–to name a few.

What spiritual practices do you already do on a daily basis? How do you use the information intuited from these sessions to take action to change your waking dreams? What is not working in your life? Take those problems into your contemplative practices to see what solutions your Dreamer can show you. Consider trying some of these other practices listed in this article to see if they work better for you. For example, some people do their best introspective work when they are moving their bodies, in which case sacred dance or walking ceremonies like labyrinths might be a better fit. Most importantly, when you need motivation, remember the intent behind the practices stated so eloquently by Villoldo:

Courageous dreaming allows you to create from the source, the quantum soup of the Universe where everything exists in a latent or potential state. What science is now discovering describes what the ancient wisdomkeepers of the Americas have long known. These shamans, known as the Earthkeepers, say that we are dreaming the world into being through the very act of witnessing it. Scientists believe that we are only able to do this in the very small, subatomic world. Shamans understand that we also dream the larger world that we experience with our senses. Like the Aborigines, the Earthkeepers live in a world where the dreamtime has not been pushed into the domain of sleep like it has for us. They know that all of creation arises from, and returns to, this dreamtime. The dreamtime, the creative matrix, does not exist in a place outside of us. Rather, it infuses all matter and energy, connecting every creature, every rock, every star, and every ray of light or bit of cosmic dust. The power to dream is the power to participate in creation itself. For the Earthkeepers, dreaming reality is not only an ability but a duty, one we must perform with grace and love so that our grandchildren will inherit a world where they can live in peace and abundance.

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon


About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life by Imelda Almqvist

April, 2018

Book Review: Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages by Imelda Almqvist

In 2008 when I set out with my co-authors to write a book about doing shamanic ceremony with children and families, there was almost no literature on the topic–save Starhawk’s landmark “Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions.” Since our book was published in 2012, many more authors have been responding to the immense need for these resources, thankfully. When I discovered Imelda’s book “Natural Born Shamans,” I was thrilled to see another shamanic practitioner working with children and youth who was also dedicated to adding to this body of knowledge responsibly. Throughout the book, readers are warned of some of the pitfalls in doing shamanic work with children, as well as, how to work around those thoughtfully and with respect for both the child’s sensibilities and the family culture. Indeed, I use Imelda’s book as a reference today for my own work with children and families. This book achieves its stated intent:

All existing societies and cultures were preceded by shamanic cultures, where people lived in close relationship with the Earth, the ancestors, and the Spirits of Place. Connecting with Spirit is our own birthright and the birthright of our children. As I hope this book will demonstrate, it can give young people an exceptional spiritual toolkit for life in the 21st Century.”

Imelda explores key spiritual concepts and tools in ways that children and families can understand. Some of these include: shadow work, death and change, shapeshifting, dreaming, forgiveness, divination, and taking one’s power– learning to wield it responsibly. Imelda brings her substantial experience working with children of all ages to this book. I’ve worked as an educator for two decades; it’s easy to see how certain activities can be adapted to children at different developmental stages. Parents who have raised children through different stages will, also, likely find this easy to do. In addition, Almqvist speaks at length about the importance of offering rites of passage ceremonies to children to support them in the many transitions they make during childhood. She, also, describes the adult’s role in guiding children on their spiritual path:

If we do not offer Rites of Passage, children will either fail to complete crucial developmental stages or they will place themselves in risky situations trying to create communities and initiations for themselves, such as through street gangs, joyriding, drugs, crime or alcohol.”

This book provides a compassionate and extensive look at issues facing parents and children in today’s world. It offers ideas for how to look at these challenges through a shamanic lens, introducing new possibilities for transformation that are holistic, healthy, and healing. Imelda’s approach enrols children in their own healing and shows them how to become more confident in who they are at their essence. Through Imelda’s personal stories, parents receive understanding and wisdom from someone who has guided her own children through spiritual and developmental transitions. If you are a shamanic practitioner interested in working with children and families, this book is a “must have” for your resource collection! It is full of great ideas and links to the work of other shamanic authors that inspire her work. It will spark your own imagination and creative juices! “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life” is published by Moon and widely available online. International shamanic teacher, Sandra Ingerman provides a wonderful foreword to this important book.

For Amazon Information Click Image


About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For Amazon Information Click Image

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Art Video

July, 2017

Winter Sleep

This short art video is about the Dreaming of a Mother Bear presented by My Bear Self!

It was made spontaneously while we were in Sweden in April and unexpectedly experienced a White Easter (rather than the White Christmas we had hoped for a few months earlier in the same location).

One of my long-standing dreams was to put on a bear costume, roam in the forest and hibernate in a cave – so I took the opportunity to do just that.

On another level this art video is about dissolving separation between humans – animals, self – other, ancestors – future generations, inner world – outside world, life -death and so forth.

In the final reckoning this short film is my living will as it communicates my wishes for my own death and beyond. 

Imelda Almqvist


About Imelda

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 



Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True


And she will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth


Witches Soul Work

December, 2015

Dream Magick and Healing at Yule

Yule Candle


My thoughts on Yule are comforting, family together and sharing what we have, eating together and exchanging gifts. The Winter Solstice is a powerful doorway into magick and we can connect to this energy through dreams. Here’s an idea for a gift of dream healing. Make a home-made card for your dearest friend and offer her a dream healing as a gift for Yule. In the days leading up to the Solstice dress a green candle in Yuletide scents such cinnamon, cloves, orange and pine. You can also put a few drops on the card so when she opens it the smell of Yule will bless her! Before bed light the candle and spend a few minutes connecting with your friend. Don’t forget to blow the candle out before you sleep!

We all dream, although some cannot remember their dreams when they awake from the hidden land. During dreams everyone astral travels, sees the future, gets messages from spirit and travels to other places in the dreaming. Shamans and Witches learn to remember their dreams and interpret them. They use lucid dreaming as a method of spirit work and healing. They contact their ancestors and guides during dream to help themselves, family and community.

Dream magick takes practice and time, but since we spend eight hours a day sleeping there is plenty of time to work on it! Tonight I light a candle and do a meditation for Sylvana* to ask for healing and guidance from her guides and mine. I finish the meditation and extinguish the flame, falling asleep quickly to the sound of the soft snoring of my little dogs curled up with me under the warm blankets. The room is completely dark and the light from the full moon does not penetrate the thick curtains, although the moon energy affects my dreaming and my sleep.

I dream that I am walking through a field in the country. I’m wearing an old fashioned dress and carrying a basket. At my feet is wild grass and many weeds but I am looking for something. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a movement and turn to see a plant glowing. I carefully take some of the leaves while singing a soft crooning song to the plant that seems to make it sleepy. Suddenly my basket is half full of herbs and I’m at the edge of the field in the shadow of a forest. Out of the forest a darkness is moving towards me and I’m afraid! I am rooted to the spot and I can’t run. The darkness moves closer and I see something writhing in the dim shadow. Awareness comes to me! I’m dreaming! I am asleep! I can wake up now! But I can’t wake up and I can’t run in the dream. The monster is coming!

A ringing noise sounds, like a singing bowl being struck softly. Where is that sound coming from? It is coming from my basket of herbs and looking down I see that the leaves are glowing with green light. Without really thinking I snatch a handful of the herbs and throw them into the darkness. As they fly through the air they seem to catch fire, spinning and dancing like crazy fireflies! I hear a scream and then the shadow is gone and sunlight pours down onto the trees. I wake up from the dream with the feeling of fresh leaves in my hands and between my fingers.

The next morning I sit in the garden listening to the birdsong and wondering about the meaning of Sylvanna’s dream. I was wearing old fashioned clothes and collecting healing herbs so I think that this was a message from the ancestors. I’m trying to think what kind of plant it was that I was gathering. It seems familiar! Sylvanna is dealing with depression so I think that the darkness and the monster were her illness. Has she received a healing from this dream? I woke with the feeling of the herbs in my hands so I think that I have brought them back with me for her.

I finish my tea and go for a walk around the garden. There are wild parts and cultivated parts, hidden plants that come and go. I know it well but it is always changing, like a dream! At the back near the blueberries I see the plant from my dream. It has bright yellow flowers glowing brightly in the morning sun; a St.John’s Wort! This is a plant that is connected to the sun and protection. It is also the herbal remedy for depression! Now I understand my dream. First of all I fought the illness for Sylvanna using the magick of the herb. Because I brought it back with me, she is meant to connect with the plant in some way for her depression. I know it is proven to help mild depression or the blues, but not deep suicidal despair.

I call Sylvanna and she says that she woke feeling hope! This is a very good sign. I ask her if she has ever tried St.John’s Wort and she says that she has heard about it but cannot take it with the medication she is already on. I suggest a dream pillow with St.John’s Wort, camomile flowers and lavender to help her sleep well and to connect her sleeping self with the energy and magick of the herb. During the day I create the dream pillow for her and energize it with the healing of the Sacred Earth and the Ancestors.

A few days later she tells me that she is feeling much better and that she has turned a corner. Now she really believes that her terrible depression and darkness is finally lifting. She feels hopeful that soon she will be able to come home to the land of happiness and the land of normal!

Dream magick can be done by everyone because it is natural to dream. Let us walk in the dreamtime together and meet the spirits and guides who are ready to help us.

(*Name changed and the story is a composite of more than one person.)