When I was nine years old, I was rushed to hospital in Melbourne, Australia after complaining of a pain in my lower right abdomen. They found that my appendix was about to burst. The doctors were worried about my ability to survive the operation, since I had just barely survived the latest of many bouts of pneumonia. “You'd better give up on this one,” one of the doctors told my mother. “He's never going to make it.”
Under anesthesia on the operating table, I stepped out of my body, decided I did not care to watch the bloody work with the scalpel and flowed through the door where the molecular stuff seemed to stretch like toffee before letting my energy body through and along the corridor to where my mother sat hunched and weeping, my father's strong arm about her shoulders
I flowed to a window, to the brightness outside, to the colors of spring and the laughter of young lovers seated at a sidewalk table, drinking each other's smiles. I felt the pull of the ocean. I could not see the beach from the hospital window, so I floated through the glass and out onto a ledge where a blackbird squalled at me and shot straight up into the air. I followed the bird and sailed over the rooftops.
Soaring over the city, I saw a huge moon-round face, its mouth opened wide to form the gateway to Luna Park, a popular amusement park on the water. I swooped down through the moongate and plunged into darkness. I tried to reverse direction, but something sucked me downwards. It was like tumbling down a mineshaft, mile after mile beneath the surface of the earth.
I fell into a different world. It was hard to make out anything clearly in the smoke of a huge fire pit. A giant with skin the color of fine white ash lifted me high above the ground, singing. The people of this world welcomed me. They were tall and elongated and very pale, and did not look like anyone I had seen in my nine years in the surface world. They told me they had dreamed my coming, and raised me as their own. For the greater part of my schooling, I was required to dream to dream alone, in an incubation cave, or to dream with others, lying in a cartwheel around the banked ashes of the fire in the council house.
Years passed. In the highest festival of the year, when the bonfires rose higher than the bird-headed finials of the council house, I was ritually joined to the favorite niece of the shaman-king of this people. As I grew older, my recollection of my life in the surface world faded and flickered out. I became a father and grandfather, a shaman and elder. When my body was played out, the people placed it on a funeral pyre. As the smoke rose from the pyre, I traveled with it, looking for the path among the stars where the fires of the galaxies flow together like milk.
As I spiraled upward, I was entranced by the beauty of growing things, plunged into the intoxication of green, burst through the earth's crust into a world of hot asphalt and cars and trams - and found myself shooting back into the tormented body of a nine-year-old boy in a Melbourne hospital bed.
From this and other experiences in early childhood, I have known for as long as I can remember that there are worlds beyond physical reality. Growing up in a military family in a conservative era, I found there were few people in waking life with whom I could safely share experiences of this kind. The first person I met who could confirm and validate my experiences was an Aboriginal boy, raised in a tradition that values dreaming and teaches that the dreamworld is a real world. I met Jacko when I was living with my family in a rough inner suburb of Brisbane. We rode the trams and walked in the bush and told each other our dreams. Jacko confirmed that dreaming is traveling: we routinely get out of our bodies and can travel into the future, or into other dimensions, including realms of the ancestors and spiritual guides. Jacko's uncle, a popular artist, got the ideas for his big paintings the ones that were not for the tourists by going into the Dreamtime.
In my dreams, other guides came to me. One of them was a radiant young Greek who insisted on using the difficult vocabulary of the neo-Platonic philosophers; he taught me that true knowledge comes through anamnesis, “remembering” the knowledge that belonged to us, on the level of soul and spirit, before we entered our current lives. One of my dream visitors was a dashing Royal Air Force pilot from the era of World War II. Another of my dream friends was a large man with white hair who seemed like a benign uncle. During my successive crises of illness, he would turn up to promise me that despite everything, I was going to make it through. He told me, “This may seem strange, but a day will come when people will not only listen to your dreams, they will be eager to hear them.” He had an odd request; he wanted me to put salt and pepper on my crumpets when my mother took me to the caf in Myer's department store for afternoon tea in the midst of her shopping expeditions. This was noted as just one more of my boyhood oddities.
My Greek visitor showed me a serpent of living gold, wrapped around a staff, and told me that this sign would heal me. Walking home from school, aged eleven, I saw a stormy sky open to reveal the same image blown up to colossal proportions. After this, my series of life-threatening illnesses ceased.
As I followed my dreams in adult life, I found that it was possible to journey into multidimensional reality without undergoing the ordeals of my boyhood: that every night, in our dreams, gateways open into realms of limitless adventure and possibility. Many decades later, I returned to Australia from my new home in upstate New York to teach dreamwork techniques to large audiences.
At an exhibition of Aboriginal art in a Sydney museum, I found myself in front of a wall of paintings that depicted, rather exactly, the beings I had encountered when I went flying through the moon-gate of Luna Park. They were the work of an Arnhem Land artist, who called the pale elongated forms he had painted “mimi spirits”. He said that when he gets sick, he goes to live among these spirits; when he gets well, he returns.
In Melbourne, I went to Myer's department store, to eat crumpets with salt and pepper in the caf. I discovered that crumpets are no longer on the menu. But as I glanced at myself in a mirror, I saw the big man with white hair who had visited me in my childhood, and I realized he had kept his promise.
Robert Moss is a world-renowned dream explorer, a shamanic counselor, a novelist and a former professor of ancient history. His fascination with the dreamworlds springs from his early childhood in Australia, where he survived a series of near-death experiences. He teaches Active Dreaming his pioneer synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism all over the world and is the founder of a contemporary Dream School that offers a three-year training for dream teachers. His many publications include Conscious Dreaming, Dreamgates, Dreaming True, the audio training course Dream Gates and the new video series The Way of the Dreamer. For more info, visit Robert's web site: www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss 2003