The information here is just a taste of each of these lineages and cultures. I will by no means cover all of Earthen spirituality.
Neither I, nor most of you, can claim to teach the ancient ways in their original form. However, we can learn, grow and find new ways to commune with all beings through exploring those paths. In my deepest heart I resonate with and believe in each of these, in different ways for different reasons, even if it is not socially acceptable to declare oneself as such. I find that exploring each path below (and others) is fruitful, enlightening and empowering, for my connection to the Divine within and all around us. I say, Why limit yourself? Just make sure you’re considerate of the peoples and secondarily the cultures, that’s what really matters. It will benefit us all for you to have fun with this, learn, and explore the ancient teachings for yourself!
You might find something that resonates with you, and you’ll be offered new ways to decode, encode and navigate your own dreams.
Above all, listen to your own inner voice. When things are silent and still, you will commune with Source for yourself – we are all equally capable of this. It is always just a matter of tuning yourself to it, and finding your own beliefs, your true self, in those experiences.
Feel free to jump around, do one column per night, read the whole thing before you touch a single tea, or ignore this completely!
Sections without links are under construction.
This page is organized by reading flow, not chronology and not by importance to me.
- “Aboriginal” Language Groups
- Africa- South of the Sahara
- Ancient Pre-Mono Kemet
- Daoism + South Asia’s Lore
- Pre-Colonial Sumer + the Crescent
- Slavic, Rus + North Asia
- Pre-Colonial Celtic + Teutonic Europe
- First Peoples of “North America”
Lineages • A lineage is an oral tradition. Usually it is passed through genetic lines, but this definition isn’t complete. A vast amount of knowledge must be remembered and integrated into the group or individual to preserve it. One of a particular ‘race’ may claim that lineage but follow none of its teachings, and so fail to be of that lineage. Meanwhile another born into a different ‘race’ may find their soul called, and the elders of that lineage initiate and teach them. This is paradoxical to our modern notions of identity. Yet, it provides us with an ancient and forward-thinking notion: you are what you are. Whomever and whatever you are called to is to whom you belong. Those who act with integrity towards a lineage, learn from the elder keepers, and are deeply committed to learning on that path, are the next keepers of that path. Personally, I cannot claim title to most of these lineages, as I have not committed myself to any one. I can still learn from my spiritual peers throughout eternity, integrate and share their knowledge. Reverence for the many keepers is dear to me, and so I offer this page.
Land of the Dead • Dreaming is frequently, possibly universally associated with the dead and the land where they reside. Most human cultures that correspond the Land of the Dead with a direction do so with the North. Frequently, the West is known as the direction of dying itself. I have not found any who do so with the South or East. Death is the eternal question, and dreaming is the recurring question. Both seem to lead to other realms, which fills us with more questions. These two concepts direct us towards self-reflection of our hidden depths and connecting with that which is outside of our identity. This is a common thread between cultures with little to no contact during recorded history. Common threads point us towards the truth.
Underworlds • Most cultures do not interpret the Underworld as a “hell” in the Christian/Manichean/Zoroastrian sense. There are common threads in human cultures, correlating these realms with aspects which can cause fear if we aren’t ready to face them. However, the metaphysics, cosmology and mechanisms involved vary too widely to translate most notions to the English “hell”. When in doubt, search it out. Always question terms and your assumptions about what they mean. Assumptions are models, virtually inevitable, but they are only useful when questioned.
Heavens • Like Underworlds, definitions, metaphysics, cosmology and mechanisms vary. It’s useful to ask yourself if you yet understand how a given lineage actually defines the world that a given text terms “heaven”. When in doubt, mentally replace this word with a neutral word like “place” or “realm”.
- In Kemet, we find Anpu (Anubis), arbiter of the dead and patron of afterlife candidates; and Wepwawet who is his counterpart (later fused with him) representing victory, both as canines opening the ways.
- In Mexico we find Quetzalcoatl’s (the god of life and wisdom) nahuel or dream-self is Xolotl, the dog god of death.
- In Ancient Ireland, dogs are found as primary remains near burials and non-grave unidentified structures which had mysterious religious significance.
- In Kato legend, the creator’s partner in creation is a dog.
- In Christian European folklore, dogs are widely considered healers, and were symbols for the Dominican order.
- In China, the New Year is the birthday of all dogs.
- In France, we find Saint Guinefort who was a dog himself.
- In Voudun (Voodoo, both Western and West African) we find Papa Legba, the keeper of the crossroads between worlds, accompanied by his faithful dogs.
- In India, the five-day festival of Tihar celebrates dogs.
- In Greece, dogs are associated with Hecate, Artemis and Ares, while a three-headed dog guards the Underworld.
- The Judaic ancestor Caleb, whose name means dog, is one of two out of twelve surveyors who was willing to see and share the facts, face fears, even at risk to his own status. His tribe is frequently associated with rebirth. In Judaism, people are prescribed to feed dogs before themselves.
- Dog burials are also found all over Mesopotamia and Southwest Asia.
- In Islam, it is haraam (forbidden) to keep a dog on a short leash or in a small cage for a long time or habitually, or otherwise abuse one.
- In Norse cosmology, Fenrir is the wolf chained during the reign of Odin, who will be unleashed at the time of Ragnarok.
- In Russia, we find Hela/Myda the godess of death, depicted either with a lion head or as a crouching dog.
- In my house, and maybe in yours, we find personal, familial dogs. My companions protect me as I sleep and frequently appear in my dreams, helping me to have courage, earnestness and optimism:
The list goes on and on and on… Researching dogs or another prominent common thread is a great way to practice an integrative approach to spirituality. An integrative approach asks ‘what is common or compatible’ and ‘what resonates with me‘ rather than comparing or contrasting two peoples or perspectives.
Cats • There is also a wide array of lore about cats from around the world.
- In Kemet, it was considered murder to kill a cat, one of the guardians of Underworld.
- In Ancient Ireland, cats were Otherworld gatekeepers, who could return wholeness to a human (presumably by retrieving something from the Otherworld).
- In Norse tradition, cats are sacred to Freya, the fertility and healing goddess who grants magic.
- During the period of Vatican erasure of older European cultures, mass hunting of cats coincided with persecutions of heresy and sacred site destruction, since cats were sacred to many. This led directly to an overpopulation of rats during the Dark Ages.
- In Japan, cats bestow good fortune and guard against evil spirits.
- “Legends from Thailand (Siam), Burma, and other Asian countries, have cats as the vessel that transports a monk’s or royal person’s soul to heaven after death.”
- According to Polish legend, Pussy Willows got their name because their ancestor rescued kittens from the river by reaching her branches.
- The oldest statue in Germany is a lion-headed person.
- Hindu deity Vishnu originally appeared lion-headed.
- “According to folklore, Mohammed’s cat once fell asleep on the sleeve of his robe, and rather than awake the cat, the Prophet cut off the sleeve of his robe.”
- In Mexico, jaguars could pass between worlds. They and their associated gods were of the Underworld/s. And yet, there, jaguar symbolizes day and fertility.
- In modern physics, we find Schrodinger’s Cat, the metaphor used to explain the indeterminate nature of quantum physics – as the cat within the box is both dead and alive until the box is opened and observed by a consciousness!
- In my house, and maybe in yours, we find familial cats. My mom’s cat (and mine when I was young), protects her when she sleeps, is attracted to her when she feels powerful and seeks her out to empower and enliven her when she doesn’t feel it as much.
The incorporation of the dual aspect of a given figure is a common thread in all spiritual, dreaming and deep practices. It cannot be overstated the tremendous benefit of being able to hold a true paradox, unsolved, in one’s awareness. A being can be both things that are the opposite of one another, and usually is.
Of all the ancient human lineages, the Mexihca, Toltec, Aztec, Mayan and Olmec could be considered specialists of lucid dreaming. Knowledge of many dreamworlds, the energy bodies of dreaming, and practices for developing a wide array of dreaming-related experiences and powers, have been refined over tens of thousands of years. In the last half century, fortune has favored public exposure to this knowledge. From Carlos Castaneda in the 60’s (though the source of his info is debated), to Ocelocoyotl Sergio Magana today, dozens of books have been published. Such lineages focus “to envision the possible before they envision the probable” rather than interpret dreams, though accurate universal symbologies are also present.
Three of many insights from this lineage, that stand out in this context, are the use of the mirror/water bowl as a dreaming practice, lucid dreaming for manifestation, and an organized knowledge of the dreamworlds.
The use of a black obsidian mirror or black bowl of water, and a regular glass mirror, facilitate a great number of techniques.
The general dynamics involved with both mirrors are self-reflection, identity deconstruction, presence, lucidity, shape shifting and achieving higher states of dreaming. Glass mirror practices while awake are also highly therapeutic. A few of these practices have been included elsewhere on this site.
Secondly, the Nahual path is elso exceptional in its use of practices specifically related to dreaming which result in manifestation in this reality. Miraculous healing can occur following this path. Jobs can flood in where there were none. If approached with reverence and commitment, virtually anything can been sown in your dreams and bear fruit in your life.
Thirdly, the Mexicans have an organized knowledge of the dreamworlds. Many cultures provide knowledge of cardinal direction realms, nearby underworlds and heavens, but the specific worlds of dreaming (which overlap those) are described at length by Ocelocoyotl (and explained by anthropologists with limited knowledge). He says in his book focused on the subject, that the first Dreamworld we enter, and where most of us dream for most of our lives, is Mictlan – the Land of the Dead.
An interesting dynamic to make note of is how radically applicable the Nahual knowledge is to any other lineage with regards to Dreaming. For example, the use of a black bowl of water was also employed in Ancient Kemet (Egypt), where it was used in divination and corresponded to Anpu/Anubis. While the Toltec use is far more complex in its current form, and directly related to dreaming, we don’t know the extent of use in Kemet, or the colors associated. Also, like the first people in Australia and North America, they define life as a dream itself. And, like all peoples from every continent, they partner with dream-inducing herbs – of every kind and potency level across the gamet.
World/dimensional structures, mechanisms and realms; elements; other beings; human energy anatomy; physical techniques; and the nature of self are all defined in this cosmology in such a way that it is in agreement with most other cosmologies.
“Aboriginal” Language Groups of “Australia”
A key aspect that is universal of the “black fella” cultures on this continent is called The Dreaming. The Dreaming is all of our known existence, at the beginning and throughout time. It describes both the origin and structure of this existence, cosmogeny and cosmology.
Early anthropologists used the word dreamtime, but the people prefer The Dreaming, finding it more accurate and less implicative of primitiveness. From a western perspective, we can understand this core concept as a recognition of at least three insights.
For one, this concept shows an understanding of Time which is wholly more accurate than the linearity of the English speaking world. In fact, when you read Modern Knowledge, you will see that this understanding of time is finally being rediscovered by modern physicists. This people just see the world this way, as forever-now being experienced as time paths.
Secondly, this 65,000 year old lineage remembers the beings who were once among us – our non-humans ancestors and helpers – seeders of The Dreaming. Different groups on the continent use different words for them such as spirits, animal-spirits and Wanadjina. Westerner metaphysicists would call them interdimensional beings. But the people of this land remember our deeper, more sacred connection to them.
Thirdly, this concept of The Dreaming indicates the existence of another realm/space/layer under, in and above what we know as reality. This layer is the premise, the root, the deeper reality of the blank canvas filled with infinite creative potentional.
There is so much more we can learn from this culture, these lineages. Their deeply symbolic art, harmonious way of life and insanely accurate astronomical knowledge (they have ancient stories about cosmic bodies that can only be seen through high power telescopes), just to name a few.
Africa – South of the Sahara
In Africa, near her southern tip, …
The connection between dreaming, death and identity is potent in Kemetic spirituality. …
Pre-Colonial European Folklore
Before the Roman colonization of Europe, the clans and tribes of Europe were full of magickal activity. Many of their symbology, interpretations and practices have been preserved through oral history and documented recently.
In the Norse cosmology,
In the Northern Isles,
In Western Europe,
In Eastern Europe,
First Peoples of “North America”
On Turtle Island, a wide variety of beliefs and practices involve dreaming. Deep respect for the prophetic dreams of any of the people is universal in the region. It is believed the origin of Medicine wo/men is in knowledge gleaned through dreams.
It’s worth noting that the telling and retelling of stories must be true to the original occurance, as this is a sacred and solemn practice. Storytellers in Turtle Island culture are vital; and the people have high standards of this fidelity. There are stories, prophecies and practices preserved in high fidelity among these tribes, and there are Dreaming Societies with the same expectation of fidelity, which are active today.
Yet, there is also the divinely wise understanding that New Medicine can and does get called in by the living – as the Field of Plenty, the source of ideas and form, is available to all, at every moment…
One aspect of note is found in accurate etymology. “The Hopi word for “dream” is dimoki. A dimoki is literally a “bundle”. The word is used to describe the bundle containing a dead body, prepared for burial.So dreaming is connected, in the Hopi mindset, with the realm of the deceased, and messages from the deceased.” The Hopi being Kokopelli is a trickster musician with benevolent intent. His magical flute bestows fertility, calling the Thunder Beings, among other impressive effects. He carries a bundle said to contain unborns he wants to bring back to their mothers. So we find that dreaming, death, birth, corn and thoughts can all be thought of as bundles. They transfer between places (worlds) together, so dreams are what we bring back from another realm.
Another Divine insight from this region, which correlates to other cultures, is the use of masks by the Iroquois. “The False Face Society were a select group of Iroquois who wore masks in order to invoke the spirits and befriend them, in order to combat illness, diseases of the mind, and misfortune. In healing tribal members, the False Faces used ritual and curative dances.” The False Face Society also held (perhaps still holds) communal dream interpretations to deal with the most dire of illnesses. The masks are told to represent the First Stranger who appeared to the Creator upon creating existence. (Which we can correlate with his shadow, his shade, his reflection or his nahuel). This stranger was feared too powerful, but allowed to stay on Earth to help its inhabitants.
“During the process of carving the mask and cutting it free, a prayer is addressed to the evolving mask and to the spirit forces which it represents. The mask is then painted and adorned with horse hair. The new mask is consecrated to human service by placing it in the hot coals and ashes of the longhouse fire.
All of the masks are characterized with distorted features and deep-set eyes. The noses are bent and crooked. The masks are generally painted red and black and have pouches of tobacco tied onto the hair above their foreheads. With regard to the symbolism of the masks, they portray the Great Doctor, dwelling at the world’s rim, whose broken nose and twisted mouth derive from a mythical struggle with the Creator for control of the world. The masks also symbolize the forest-dwelling ‘Common-faces’ seen in dreams. In addition, some of the masks are beggar masks which caricature neighbors and strangers alike.”
These rituals are a big part of the Midwinter Festival, which correlates to the season of the North and the new year, rebirth.
In the tribes of Ojibwe, or Chippawa, are the commonly know makers of dreamcatchers, which catch unwanted dreams. The web within symbolizes both the web of life and web of dreams. Snake was caught in Spider’s web, and raw consciousness was woven into form, as we are woven into the web of this existence, this creation.
In this culture, a boy’s first rite of passage is the Dream Fast. There are many great stories and insights from this people. I wish to share the following story because it teaches us to respect the due courses of time, not to push others, and the virtue of not being greedy for power:
“Long ago, as it still is today, it was the custom for a boy who reached a certain age to go into the forest and wait for a dream. He would build a small lodge and go without food for many days in the hope he would be visited by some animal or spirit of the forest that would take pity on him and give guidance and power.
There was a boy named Opichi who reached that age. Opichi’s father was very respected in the village and he was determined that his son would be given a dream of such power that no one else could compare with him. So eager was the father for his son to get power that he insisted the boy go on his dream fast before the last snow left the ground, even though most boys would wait until the time when the ground was warm and the leaves returned to the trees.
“My son is strong,” said the father. “He will go now. He will gain greater strength from the cold.”
Opichi was a boy who always wished to please his parents and so he did as his father said. They went together into the forest and the father selected a spot on top of a small hill. There Opichi made a small lean-to of saplings, covering it with hemlock boughs. He sat beneath it on the bare ground with a thin piece of deerskin wrapped about his shoulders.
“I will return each day at dawn,” the father said. “You will tell me then what you have seen.”
That night the north wind, the icy breath of the Great Bear, blew cold. Opichi’s mother was concerned, but the father did not worry. “My son is strong,” he said. “This cold wind will make his vision a better one.”
When the morning came, he went to the lean-to and shook the poles. “My son,” he said, “tell me what you have seen.”
Opichi crawled out and looked up at his father. “Father,” the boy said, “a deer came to the lodge and spoke to me.”
“That is good.” said the father. “But you must continue to fast. Surely a greater vision will come to you.”
“I will continue to watch and wait,” Opichi said.
Opichi’s father left his son and went back to his lodge. That night a light snow fell. “I’m worried about our son,” said Opichi’s mother.
“Do not worry,” said the father. “The snow will only make whatever dream comes to him more powerful.”
When morning came, the father went into the forest again, climbed the hill and shook the poles, calling his son out.
“Father,” Opichi said as he emerged, shaking from the cold, “last night a beaver came to me. It taught me a song.”
“That is good,” said the father. “You are doing well. You will gain even more power if you stay longer.”
“I will watch and wait,” said the boy.
So it went for four more days. Each morning his father asked Opichi what he had seen. Each time the boy told of his experiences from the night before. Now hawk and wolf, bear and eagle had visited the boy. Each day Opichi looked thinner and weaker, but he agreed to stay and wait for an ever-greater vision to please his father.
At last, on the morning of the seventh day, Opichi’s mother spoke to her husband. “Our son has waited long enough in the forest. I will go with you this morning and we will bring him home.”
Opichi’s mother and father went together into the forest. The gentle breath of the Fawn, the warm south wind of spring, had blown during the night and all the snow had melted away. As they climbed the hill, they heard a birdsong coming from above them. It was a song they had never heard before. It sounded almost like the name of their son. Opi chi chi. Opi chi chi.
When they reached the lodge, Opichi’s father shook the poles. “My son,” he said, “it is time to end your fast. It is time to come home.”
There was no answer. Opichi’s mother and father bent down to look into the small lean-to of hemlock boughs and saplings. As they did so, a bird came flying out. It was gray and black with a red chest. Opi chi chi. Opi chi chi.
So it sang as it perched on a branch above them. Then it spoke.
“My parents,” said the bird, “you see me as I am now. The one who was your son is gone. You sent him out too early and asked him to wait for power too long. Now I will return each spring when the gentle breath of the Fawn comes to our land. My song will let people know it is the time for a boy to go on his dream fast. But your words must help to remind his parents not to make their son stay out too long.”
Then, singing that song which was the name of their son, the robin flew off into the forest.”
Looking for more? This Abenaki legend tells of how creation began as the Dream of the Creator.