What is Dreamworking?
Our conscious minds are busy. Crazy. Even distracted, at the best of times. Often our ancestors, spirit guides, and deities reach us best in our state of rest. Sometimes you won’t remember a dream right away: you might find yourself looking for something you thought you had, but then you’ll remember that it was only in a dream; you may even remember conversations that you don’t realize, sometimes for years, never actually took place, you only dreamt it.
Dreams remind us that reality is fluid, subjective, and far from simple, and it also is a reminder that the world around us is constantly being shaped by our own reality. We can use dreams as a tool and be changed by our dreams in turn.
Dreamworking is practiced in every spiritual culture and is strongest in the time of Samhain, when the veil is thinnest. This full moon comes just a few days before Samhain, so this ritual can be the opening of a gateway of greater ancestor work.
All you’ll need for this ritual is a comfortable place to sleep, your dream journal, and an item that will help you connect to your ancestor that you’d like to hear from in your dreams. You can choose to ask more than one person to come to you, but it is a clearer request if you only ask one person. You can repeat this on other nights for other people.
Who are the ancestors? As a reminder, your ancestors are not just the blood relatives you have, but also the mentors, family friends, adopted family, chosen family, and past life family — anyone who has had an impact on the you you are today.
If you’ve never met the ancestor you’re calling on, that is ok. If you have a photo of them, or anything they owned or that is similar to what they owned or liked, like their favorite flower, that will be a good connecting item.
When you have your item and are ready for bed, place your dream journal and a pen or pencil at the ready right next to your head, so you can record anything you experience right away. Take the item and hold it in your hands. Look at every part of it, feel it fully, embrace it, kiss it even if that feels appropriate.
Then call on them. “[name of person], I am [your name, and your relationship to them]. I seek your companionship tonight, and ask that you visit me in my dreams.” Then, after some deep breaths to relax you, lay down and place the item either under your pillow, or if its too big and bulky, right next to your head. TIP: If it’s jewelry, wear it! Then, as you fall asleep, repeat their name and “visit me”. You should fall asleep on the 3rd or 4th repetition.
Your visit might be long or short. It might be an adventure dream in which they’re by your side, but a common dream you might experience is a simple visitation. This often feels like my ancestor is sitting on the bed with me, in my room, and I’m simply sitting and having a conversation. Sometimes there’s no words: we just clasp hands, or hug. This is often the most fulfilling type of ancestral visitation.
Beyond the Ritual
When you wake up the next day, you might choose to keep the item with you to further the connection and keep it alive longer. You can place this item on your altar, or better yet, create an ancestor altar of pictures of them, items of theirs, or things that remind you of them. I often place my ancestor’s favorite flowers on mine when I can.
You also, as an offering to the ancestor, may wish to cook their favorite meal or bake their favorite cookies to be close to them, and then leave a portion for them on their altar. You can even set a plate for them and have a dumb supper, welcoming them to your world even further. Invite other family members if you feel called to do so. Like I said, this might become the gateway for a larger week of Samhain-themed activities. Even the non-magical might be interested to know you’re having dreams and visiting with your loved ones. Visiting their grave is another way to connect, especially if you are responsible for tending the flowers or grass of that headstone like in some countries. Beautifying their resting place is another act of love for your ancestors, and will enhance their relationship with you.
However you choose to engage beyond the ritual is up to you: a dreamworking is also enough on its own to let your loved ones know you’re still connected to them, still thinking of them, and always honoring their legacy.
Elyse Welles © Seeking Numina 2023