Saturday, May 18, 2019

Paper Just Published in IJODR

I have authored a paper that might interest you was just published in the International Journal of Dream Research, 12, 1, (April, 2019), titled "Fading Light and Sluggish Flight: A Two-Dimensional Model of Consciousness in Lucid Dreams." You can download the paper from the IJODR site, at Enjoy!

When You Are Ready

When I was about 22, I dreamt that I awoke to see a bright white light descending into our side yard, 20 feet outside the window. I was frightened, so I got up and ran from my room, but not before a dark form flew toward me. As it touched the ground, it became a beautiful blond woman dressed in a blue jumpsuit of the kind you might see in a science fiction movie. I asked her what she wanted. She said, “We have come for your brother. You are not ready yet.” Glad that they had not come for me, I went to inform my brother of their arrival. I found him kneeling tearfully in prayer. His head was shaved, and he wore a saffron-colored robe. He accompanied me to where the woman was waiting outside our bedroom window. She and her travel companions laid my brother down and slid his body through an opening in the luminous craft. Before they left, the woman told me that they had put something inside my wrist that would serve as a beacon to them. She said, “We will return when you are ready.”

Between that moment and this juncture in time I have been the recipient of countless experiences of spiritual ecstasy and religious encounter. I have written a book on lucid dreaming, a book on face-to-face encounters with Jesus, a book on visions of the Holy Mother, and a memoir on fly fishing as a spiritual journey that was inspired by luminous dreams. But throughout these important developmental stages, I have never forgotten the woman’s promise to return “when you are ready.”

One sign that I was nearing readiness for her return was an experience I had a decade ago aboard my fishing skiff, while spending the night alone on the Lower Laguna Madre, my home waters from childhood where I have flyfished since my 20s, and guided flyfishers for the past 18 years. I’d already spent several nights on the bay during the full moon, and I decided to do it one night while a tropical storm brewed over the open Gulf to the south of where I anchored.

  I lay there for a while, savoring the view of a clear, starry sky above me, and golden thunder heads to the south lit up with lightning, until I began to drift off to sleep. Passing into the realm between waking and sleeping, I heard something that I had not experienced in months. It was a familiar interior sound — like ocean waves or a rushing wind — and it had often preceded the coming of the Light or the onset of an out-of-body experience. A well-known Tibetan treatise refers to this phenomenon as the “gift waves,” and says that it indicates the presence of a spiritual master who is assisting in the development of the recipient. 
Regardless of its source, I have always considered it an auspicious event, so I surrendered to it without resistance or fear. A few minutes later, I lost consciousness briefly, but not before I felt myself rocking back and forth on the verge of leaving my body.
The next thing I remembered, I was sitting with a group of men in a wide, open work boat that was about 25 feet long. It was a very bright, cloudless day. I was fully conscious and acutely aware that I had somehow been transported from the Shoal Cat to another place. I wasn’t sure that the men could see me, so I remained still and just watched what was going on around me. Where was I? I wondered. I gathered somehow that the men were waiting to go to work inside a building that towered above us in the middle of an ocean. They all wore similar blue-and-white work clothes. I also observed several strange, otherworldly-looking boats passing by, each of which appeared to be exquisitely crafted and personally tailored to its owner’s tastes. 

Then I realized with a start where I was: I was on another planet, and the sun above me was another star! Reeling from this insight, I was suddenly back on lying on the deck of my boat, looking up at the stars again and listening to the retreating sound of the gift waves. 
It was another 15 years before the "portal" between this world and the stars opened up more completely. I have visited so many  planets in faraway star systems, and have said goodbye to countless loving souls whom I will probably never see until I am no longer tethered to this world. There have been so many experiences that I only write down the most memorable ones, some of which are included in this blog. Someday soon, I hope to write about them in a book-long treatment on the subject. But suffice to say, I know that we're not alone in the universe, and that there are countless worlds and souls who will welcome you as a long-lost friend ... "when you are ready."

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Guru's Invitation

I had meditated at 4:30 am, and left my body after lying back down around 5:15. After being out for 30 minutes or so, and encountering numerous beings, ostensibly from another star system (a regular experience), I left them, and walked along alone. I looked up at the sky and prayed that I might receive some help in my writing and be guided or taken someplace where I would receive that help. Suddenly the clouds parted and a huge mandala began to form in the sky. It was beautiful and very ornate. Perhaps it was an ancient Indian mandala or yantra, because there did not seem to be any Buddhas in the mandala.  I was drawn up into it and as I got closer to it, I could see that it was textured rather than two-dimensional, kind of like a quilt. 

Some of the panels was actually mirror-like or metallic and others were more like silk or lustrous material, but it was exquisitely beautiful. Then it seemed that the mandala was draped over a large table or platform and I knew that it had been created by a woman. I was on the platform, on the mandala and then lowered myself onto the floor around this platform. I found myself in what appeared to be on ashram store or a place where spiritual items were sold that were associated with some spiritual tradition. There were vendors all around the periphery of a square room and I walked around greeting each of them and seeing what they had to offer. Each of the vendors was a woman, and they seemed to be overjoyed to see me. They greeted me with great compassion and joy, and it just made me feel happy, on the edge of ecstasy myself. Then someone mentioned that the Guru was coming and I turned, and he came. He stood beaming only a couple of feet away.  He was fairly young and radiant and happy and clearly pleased to see me as if I was a long lost friend or someone he expected.  He had black hair, with white hair or light on the edges of his hair. He then embraced me. 

Then he had his followers bring me an abundance of gifts of various types and they inundated me with bags and boxes full of things. He was so happy, and he would lean over to tend to the gifts. At one moment, he said, "this is for your bath," and he took something out of one of the containers and brought it to my attention and smiled and as if he was taking great care and making sure that I understood how all of the gifts could be used. Finally I asked him, “Who are you?" And he said that his name was like two names starting with s and he used the acronym s a m as if somehow Sam was a short name that described his longer names. But as usual, it’s hard to hear words distinctly in the OOBE.

Then it seemed I was coming out of that particular episode and looking around for him and didn't see him anymore and I asked somebody if a man that I was standing next to was the Guru and the man I asked said, "no, no, he's down the hallway sitting in his chair." So I walked down the hallway and there was a woman kneeling in front of him with her head bowed to the floor. Meanwhile, he sat in the chair and in a very stately, meditative pose. The woman got up and then I took my position in front of him and he said something like, “Do whatever feels comfortable for you," as if to say "you don't have to go by our traditions." Nonetheless, I bowed down and put my head to the floor and it felt very right to do that. When I stood up, I aked him, “How can I find you? Can I visit with you again?" He said, "certainly you are always welcome." And then he said, “ Come to Montreal." And then I began to come back to my body.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dream: The God Within the Garden

I awoke at 5 o’clock, and took 4 mg of galantamine before returning to bed without meditating. My goal was modest, that is, to just remember a dream. But I had a dream in which I became lucid and began flying. I considered going up and heading for the stars, but for some reason I stayed in the world, feeling that my out-of-body condition was fragile.  Then, I was with many people who were involved in ARE. We were in a rural setting, which had been endowed by some donor at the tune of $10 million or more, which was facilitated by Charles Thomas Cayce before his death. We were exploring the area. At some point, we became aware that the plant life of the earth  had been struck by some kind of force or disease that caused it to wither. Somehow we were aware that there was an ancient being who was underground, and we hoped to find that being so it could assist us in addressing the problem that the world faced. We used what looked to be a metal detector that we swept over the ground seeking for some signal of the being’s presence. After we had swept a garden area, a lettuce plant begin to vibrate, as if to signify that something was beneath it. I took a shovel and began to dig gently into the soil, eventually exposing a red light, which we knew to be an eye or sensor for the being. The being emerged from the ground in a non-humanoid form, looking like a plant made of flesh or non-woody material. It came close to me, and touched me. I knew that it recognized me. It then transformed into a little male child who was on my back with his arms around me. It seemed to be morning, and we were all eating outside. I fed the child buttered toast while we visited with the people around us. Then I addressed him more formally, asking him if he could do something for us to save the world from the dire situation it faced. He seem to rise up into the air and address the problem globally and taking a while to do so. Then, upon his return, he and I were face-to-face, and I was feeling deep, almost unbearable love. I told him I loved him and he told me the same. I asked him, "Where have we known each other?" He replied, “Everywhere.” And then I gradually awoke in my bed.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Working with Imagery

I've been working on writing a definitive paper on how to approach the analysis of dream imagery from the standpoint of the co-creative dream paradigm. This is a work in progress, and I will update this paper when I've completed it. But I think it's useful as it is now.

Understanding and Working with Dream Metaphors from the Standpoint of
Co-Creative Dream Theory
G. Scott Sparrow, EdD


            During the dreaming experience, the images exhibit an autonomy independent of the dream ego, apparently taking their cue from some unconscious source. In any story created by a missing author, the images become imbued with meaning only to the extent that we can intuit the author’s intention in communicating some underlying truth. We thus tend to believe that the dream image is the carrier of meaning that extends beyond its outward appearance; that is, it is always more than what it appears, and alludes to some underlying meaning.
            Given these implicit assumptions, the central task in content-focused dream work has been to analyze the dream images. The word “interpretation” was once used universally to describe this activity, but it has fallen into disfavor because it implies that dream work involves translating the dream images into equivalency statementsthat make sense to the conscious self, much in the way that foreign words are simply translated into one’s dominant language. But modern dream analysts have favored a more sophisticated and less reductionistic approach, believing that the dream image is never merely a stand-in, nor a sign for something or someone in the waking state. While it may be tempting to believe, for instance, that a snake might represent a body part, or one’s ex-spouse, most dream workers endeavor to assist the dreamer in understanding how the image-as-metaphor renders a broad domain of experience in relevant and specific form, and that this domain might be expressing itself in intrapersonal and interpersonal ways, alike. For instance, a snake might be seen as a metaphoric representation of the broad domain of primitive, instinctual impulses. Still, the question remains, What does one do with the image to derive the greatest benefit to the dreamer?

The Presentational Paradigm
            In conventional content-oriented dream work, the dreamer’s report is treated as a given, and the imagery as the carrier of meaning. We might refer to this approach as the “presentational paradigm,” wherein the principle aim is to discern the relationship to one’s waking concerns conveyed by the characters, objects, and scenarios depicted in the narrative. The organizing questions around which the presentational paradigm revolves are, for example, “What does this image or dream refer to? and “How does the dream image express some aspect of my life?” Both of these questions effectively reduce the complexity of a dream metaphor into a stand-in for some familiar waking person or situation. No wonder that Hillman once said if one interprets the snake, one kills it.
            Following the traditional search for a waking equivalent, it is commonly accepted, at least implicitly, that the dream is fixed from the outset by the “unconscious mind,” or some equally autonomous source. Freud’s approach embodied this prevalent assumption, as expressed more recently in Kramer’s approach to analyzing dreams as “strictly determined” (Kramer, ***). Freud believed that the manifest dream was completely determined by an unconscious process that balances the impulses of repressed impulses with the rules of acceptable conscious expression. It accomplishes this task by sufficiently disguising—through various defense mechanisms such as condensation and displacement—the raw sexual and aggressive impulses in order to arrive at a compromise that permits sufficient release while circumventing conscious censorship. Not only does the conscious ego presumably play no role in the manifest dream’s formation, but the images in the dream––however distorted they may be by the unconscious “dream work”–– bear a one-to-one relationship to objects and familiar persons in the dreamer’s waking life. Thus, the dream images are, according to Freud, partially disguised stand-ins for conscious referents. Freud’s view of the psyche in general, and dreams, in particular, relegates human beings to passive participants, as Ullman states:
The model [Freud’s] is that of energy transfer within a closed system with the dreamer limited in his expression of novelty to his own particular repertoire of artful camouflage. True novelty is drained out in the insistence on the role of unchanging instinctual energies linked to infantile wishes in accounting for the fact of dreaming. Followed to its logical conclusion what emerges is an image of man as an impotent reactor - "a complicatedly constructed and programmed robot, perhaps, but a robot nevertheless (Chen, 1962).”

The Co-Creative Paradigm
            In recent years, the presentational paradigm has come under challenge from those who have observed that the dream ego exhibits the capacity for self-reflection and choice, and that the visual imagery, in turn, often adapts to the dream ego’s changing subjective stance (Rossi, 1972; Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow & Thurston, 2010). Along these lines, the dream outcome is co-determined by two somewhat autonomous mechanisms or structures—the dream ego and the emergent dream content––that interact in real time over the course of the dream. While Jung focused on articulating universal content, he was one of the first to articulate the premise that dream imagery derives from the interplay of two sources rather than one, when he said that the dream image…
…is the result of the spontaneous activity of the unconscious on one hand and of momentary conscious situation on the other. The interpretation of its meaning...can start neither from the conscious alone nor from the unconscious alone, but only from their reciprocal relationship (Jung, 1966; p. 386). 
            Jung’s view of the dream image as the product of the reciprocal relationship between conscious and unconsciouschallenges the position that the manifest dream imagery is formed without the influence of the conscious self. It also implies that the dream image resides, not in a fully formed predetermined state, but in an indeterminate state that assumes a specific form during the dream. Along these lines, Jung asserted that an archetype is not an image (citation here), but rather a pattern that takes form depending on the personal and cultural context. A metaphor that describes this co-creative process is to describe the archetype, or the emergent domain-level issue, as a “manikin” that provides the contours of the domain’s qualities until “cloaked” by the observing dream ego that draws from memory to achieve this co-created product.
            Over the past century, the case for the co-creative paradigm has been slowly emerging in a variety of disciplines. Trends in philosophy, psychology, and physics have moved away from classical Realism, which views the world as independent from the observer, toward Idealism, or the belief that reality is ultimately constructed and mediated by the perceiver. Social Constructionism blends these two classical paradigms by avoiding the solipsistic extreme of Idealism by affirming the existence of the world. But it avoids the absolutism of Realism by asserting that the observer’s beliefs, values, and experiences influence our perception of the world. 
While it is difficult to appreciate the math and physics that supports an indeterminate view of reality, one can easily grasp how this principle governs relationships at macro levels of organization. In interpersonal exchanges, for instance, we can easily grasp the concept that our beliefs and attitudes influence how we perceive and react to others, and that others will, in turn, will react to us from their own subjectivity to create a unique, reciprocal, intersubjective exchange mediated by synchronous feedback. This principle of reciprocity is the central concept of systems-oriented family therapy, which is built around the premise that “reciprocity is the governing principle of relationships” (Nichols, p. 37). Of course, this sophisticated view of relational dynamics breaks down when conflict erupts and individuals resort to the blame game, or what Bateson referred to as “punctuated communication” (citation). This occurs when two parties in conflict assign blame to each other by interpreting the other’s actions as the first cause. Systemic therapists, such as Bowen (1978), endeavor to reestablish mutual responsibility by describing the problem in the form of “process statements,” such as, “So, when you do x, he does y, and then you do z.” The therapist may also use “process questions,” such as “What do you think he would have done if you’d done x instead of y?” This form of communication between therapist and clients replaces the convenient, self-serving linear causality with a circular causal, or reciprocal framework, which serves to promote personal responsibility in both parties.
            Among empirical researchers, the principle of systemic reciprocity is inherent in the concept of the “experimenter” effect, in which the experimenter’s expectations and biases threaten to contaminate the objectivity of the scientific process. The “double-blind” model, in which both experimenter and subject remain unaware of the experimental conditions, is the preferred way to safeguard the data from experimenter bias and participant compliance with perceived experimenter expectations, referred to as demand effects. 
            While most disciplines have shifted away from a purely objectivistic and presentational paradigm toward a reciprocal, co-created view of reality, the conventional content-oriented approach to dream interpretation still preserves the belief that the dreamer is somehow removed from the creation of the dream experience, and is merely a witness to the drama. It is perhaps ironic that dream content should be treated as independent from the dream ego when each manifests within, at least through, the dreaming mind.                      
            The idea that the dream’s construction may partake of more than one source has been intimated in the field of neuroscience, as well. The recent debate over the neurological substrate of dreaming has pitted the activation synthesis theorists (Hobson & McCarley, 1977; Hobson et al., 2000)—who originally asserted without qualification that dreams originate in the random neuronal firing in subcortical structures—against the cognitive theorists, who have argued that dreams evidence coherent structure and bear a meaningful higher-order continuity with waking concerns (Domhoff, 2010). Solm’s (2000) finding that dream recall ceases when portions of the prefrontal lobe are damaged has been hailed as a felling blow to those who have held the position that dreams are nothing more than meaningless, random subcortical activation. But the question remains, how do these structures interact in the course of a dream’s formation? Hobson alludes to a systemic, and possibly reciprocal paradigm when he states that we have to treat the dreaming brain as a unified system whose complex components dynamically interact so as to produce a continuously changing state” (Hobson, et. al, 2000).  Such a statement aligns with a reciprocal, co-creative model of dreaming. 
            More recently, researchers (Kahan and LaBerge, 2010; Kozmová and Wolman, 2006) have demonstrated empirically that we are by no means passive and non-reflective during our dreams, but rather exhibit the same metacognitive capabilities as we do in the waking state, albeit to a lesser degree. Other studies have shown that reflectiveness can be enhanced in ordinary (non-lucid) dreams through various pre-sleep exercises (Purcell, 1987; Purcell, MoffittandHoffmann, 1993) such as “dream reliving,” or reliving in fantasy a past distressing dream as if one is lucid (Sparrow, 1983; Sparrow, Thurston & Carlson, 2013). And, of course, there are abundant studies attesting to the capacity of individuals to attain lucidity (Stumbrys, Erlacher, Schädlich, and Schredl, 2012) through a variety of pre-sleep interventions. Taken together, these empirical findings provide a sound basis for an interactive, relational model for understanding the construction and meaning of the dream experience. 
            In essence, the co-creative dream paradigm is based on the increasingly supportable premise that dreaming is an interactive process that results in one of many contingent outcomes based on the dream ego’s moment-to-moment exchanges with the emergent dream content. From this standpoint, the dream imagery can be viewed, not so much as the content itself, but as a third element in the dream experience that stands between the dream ego and emergent content — as the “mutable interface” or “moment-to-moment vectoring” (Sparrow, 2013) of the unfolding relationship between dream ego and emergent content. That is, if the dream ego brings an emotional response to the dream content, and the content is the “manakin,” then what the dreamer perceives is a clothed mankin, conditioned by the dream ego’s emotional state that draws upon relevant memory for associated imagery.
            In addition to the increasing empirical support for the co-creative paradigm, the reciprocal relationship between dreamer response and imagery change can often be discerned in the dream narrative itself. However, dreamers will often underreport their reflective agency in their original dream report, and may need to be questioned further in order to tease out the presence of reflectiveness and volition. The low frequency of reflective statements in dream narratives may be due, in large part, to the fact that dreamers minimize their own subjective processes in the retelling of the dream because of the traditional emphasis on interpreting the visual imagery alone (Kozmová and Wolman, 2006). From this standpoint, researchers and participants alike may have unwittingly conspired in producing dream reports bereft of reflectiveness and volition. In the future, researchers should endeavor to offset the unexamined demand effects of any dream theory paradigm, and allow dreamers to report the demonstrated agency of the dream ego, or the absence thereof.

The Role of Metaphors
            As Kuhn has asserted,when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them,” and thatscientists see new and different things when places they have looked before” (1962, p. 110). He goes on to say that the emergence of a new paradigm raises new questions that have never been asked, and addresses problems that have never been solved. This is certainly true of the co-creative paradigm of dreaming. And yet, the practical question of how to analyze dream imagery remains in the forefront of of any effective dream work method, and must be addressed. 
            In recent years, the language used to describe dream imagery has shifted from “symbol”–– which too easily accommodates the single-referent assumption of the presentational paradigm––to “metaphor.”  Simply defined, a metaphor uses concrete imagery as a way to reduce anabstracttruth or broad realm of human experience to something concrete and specific. Comprised of two elements—the domain and a relevant image––we can appreciate the cocreative process produces metaphors in real time when the two co-creators of the dream interact.
            Montague Ullmann (1969) worked on this angle in a paper titled, “Dreams as Metaphors in Motion.” Just as Jung’s statement about the reciprocal relationship between conscious and unconscious in the (co)creation of dream image could have started a revolution, but did not, Ullman’s paper could have, if taken further, transformed the entire field of dream work by introducing the co-creative paradigm by focusing on the way that metaphors are constructed in real time. In this paper, Ullman expresses ideas in line with co-creative dream theory, but thereafter neither he nor his followers aligned his group dreamwork method with this radical premise.
            In his seminal paper, Ullman suggested that the dream ego, when encountering the emergent dream content, gives the content specific form based on prior experience. This moment-to-moment rendering of a broad domain of experience represented by the dream content is the centerpiece of co-creative theory.Ullman actually took our understanding of metaphor beyond Lakoff and Johnson (2003)’s, in my opinion. Both sources acknowledge that metaphors synthesize 1) an abstract domain (i.e. “target” a la Lakoff and Johnson) which, in its abstractness is difficult to comprehend, with 2) a repository of personal experiences that enables a reduction of the content domain into a concrete, personally relevant representation. The authors point out that this process is, at once, clarifying and reductionistic. That is, while it makes the target understandable in concrete terms relevant to the individual’s experience in the world, it reduces the dimensionality of the target domain, thus discarding other ways of experiencing it. For example, if “success” is the domain of consideration, then two discrete approached to rendering of success in a way that we can understand it might be to say, “Success is winning the game,” or “Success is reaching the summit.” Since we all are familiar with playing games, and climbing mountains, both metaphors capture elements of success, the first by introducing competition and failure, while the second points to an arduous process devoid of competition.
            One might ask, what determines the specific form that the domain-level content assumes in the dream? That, is what determines the appearance of the manakin once it becomes visible in the dream window? In presentational theory, one might conclude that the construction/reduction goes on outside of conscious awareness, much as Freud contended, and that the dream metaphor arrives as an a priori construction. To use the parallel of website development, designers work with server-based web software that has a “backside,” and “frontside.” The designer accesses the backside, and builds the textual and graphical features (i.e. “clothed content”) prior to displaying the content on the frontside, i.e. via a browser window. The viewer cannot modify the page sand “clothe” the image from the frontside interface, so the website becomes a “view-only” experience. Similarly, conventional content-oriented dream theory treats the dream as fixed from the outset without any backside dream ego involvement, remaining impervious to input during the dream experience. From the perspective of the co-creative paradigm, in contrast, our need to to grasp an abstract dimension renders the content in mutable form as we observe its emergence on an interactive frontside interface.  In Ullman’s words…
…the dreamer, forced to employ a sensory mode, has to build the abstraction out of concrete blocks in the form of visual sequences. The resulting metaphor can be viewed as an interface phenomenon where the biological system establishes the sensory medium as the vehicle for this expression and the psychological system furnishes the specific content.
            If the metaphor is constructed prior to observation, and arrives in consciousness as a fixed image––a la the Presentational Paradigm––then one might ask, What accounts for metaphoric transformations over the course of the dream? Such transformations are commonplace through the course of a dynamic dream exchange. Indeed, the best phenomenological evidence that the dream imagery serves as a mutable interactive interfaceis the observation that a given dream image often changes dramatically over the course of the dream. 

Of course, one can try to extend the utility of the presentational paradigm by arguing that the transformed image is actually a second metaphor that was anticipated and created during the “backside” construction process, such that the second metaphor appears according to some prearranged wholly unconscious program. But what turns this view on its head is the observed synchronous relationship between imagery transformations and dreamer responses. That is, imagery often evidences dramatic shifts at the moment or shortly after  the dreamer experiences an internal shift in mood, choice or awareness, as if the image effectively mirrors the dreamer’s new subjective state, and then, in turn, may alter the dream ego’s subjective stance. Parsimony favors the obvious conclusion: that the dream ego and dream imagery are tetheredin an interactive reciprocal exchange between somewhat freely responding entities. As Tarnas (2006) says, “In a relationship of true reciprocity––the potential communication of meaning and purpose must be able to move in both directions” (pp. 484–485). This “true reciprocity” is evident in many, if not most dreams that evidence any degree of interaction between the dream ego and the emergent dream content.

A Systematic Approach to Co-Creative Dream Work: The FiveStar Method

            In practice, working effectively with dream imagery involves deconstructing the dream metaphor by 1) understanding the dreamer’s “momentary conscious condition” (Jung, 1966) that renders broad developmental tasks into specific form, and then 2) clarifying the life domain (Lakoff and Anderson’s “target”) expressed in the imagery. Once the respective contributions of dream ego and life domain are understood, then the dreamer can appreciate the unique metaphorical synthesis that partakes of both sources, and come to an understanding of its relevance.
            In order to access the dreamer’s response set, one must analyze the dream ego’s feelings, assumptions, beliefs, choices, and behavioral responses (if any). This preliminary work highlights the dreamer’s global response set that, from the standpoint of co-creative theory, serves to render the content domain into specific metaphorical form. Before proceeding with the step-by-step process of the FiveStar Method (FSM), let us consider the following dream that was reported in an online dream group setting by a middle-aged woman. In the narrative, one can observe significant reflective awareness, as well as underlying assumptions that may have influenced the dream’s unfoldment.
It is night time. I hear a wolf howl, and realize that he threatens my chickens, so I grab a shovel and run out the door into the back yard, where I see the wolf on the edge of the lighted area. At first, I am not only worried about my chickens but also concerned that he might attack me. But as I stand there defiantly between the wolf and the chickens, I then notice that the wolf is actually a coyote, who is missing a leg. While I have compassion for the coyote, and I no longer feel any danger to myself, I am wary because I believe he intends to attack my chickens, nonetheless. I see that the chicken coop has no roof, and that the coyote can see the chickens through the chicken wire. Then I become aware that a raccoon is beyond the fence, as well, and also threatens the chickens. I never see it, but know somehow that it’s there.

            The FiveStar Method (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010) is a systematic approach to co-creative dream work that involves three initial steps leading up to the analysis of the dream imagery: feelings, process narrative, and dreamer responses. Let us review these three steps before considering how one should approach metaphor deconstruction in co-creative dream work.

Step One of the FiveStar Method: What are the dreamer’s feelings?
            I have discovered that the first question one should ask in effective dream work, regardless of the particular approach, is, What are the dreamer’s feelings? It is tempting to assume that the first recollected “fact”—in this case, the wolf’s howl—sets the stage for the ensuing drama, but according to Ullman, a dream begins as a state of dissonancethat gives rise to a visual interface between dreamer and dream content. In Rossi’s developmental model, the awareness of “the new” precipitates a crisis in the dreamer’s ordinary passive and resistant state of unreflective awareness (Rossi, 1972). Thus, the dream ego’s initial feelings about the wolf’s howl establishes the nature of the dissonance, however subtle it may be in some cases, with the emergent dimension of life that stimulates the arousal of the dream imagery. Ullmann, alludes to this state of dissonance when he says, 
The day residue, reappearing in the dream, confronts the individual either with new and personally significant data or forces a confrontation with heretofore unrecognized unintended consequences of one's own behavior. There follows an exploration in depth with the immediate issue polarizing relevant data from all levels of one's own past in an effort to both explore the implications of the intrusive event and to arrive at a resolution. 
The felt dissonance, and the commensurate need to resolve it, also concurs with Hartmann’s view (1998) of the dream. He argues that the dream imagery contextualizes unintegrated emotion with the purpose of facilitating its association with previous emotional experience that has been effectively resolved. In the case of the sample dream, we can sense the dreamer’s perceived dissonance with the dream content when she reports feeling threatened at the beginning of the dream

Step Two of the FiveStar Method: The Process Narrative
            The broad relevance of the dream may be lost to the dreamer if he or she becomes fixated on interpreting specific visual content too soon in the process without regard to the generic process or structure of the dream. Relational therapists are trained to recognize the importance of analyzinghow people interact vs. whatthey are saying to each other, because the solutions that clients need depends on changing the ways they view and relate to each other vs. eliminating the problem as it’s initially framed. Extracting the process narrative in the FiveStar Method (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010) similarly clarifies the relational process by temporarily setting aside the consideration of the specific imagery. In the case of the sample dream, the process narrative could be stated as: Someone becomes aware of a threat to something vulnerable and for which they have responsibility. She takes action to protect the vulnerable, and briefly perceives the threat as less than before, but nonetheless still significant. This generic analysis allows the dreamer to treat the process narrative as a template through which to consider parallels in various areas of one’s life, and lays the groundwork for the next step, which involves analyzing the dreamer’s responses to the emergent content, and the impact the responses seem to have on the imagery. 

Step Three of the FiveStar Method: Dreamer Response and Imagery Change Analysis
            What the dreamer feels, thinks, believes and does in the dream is considered the centerpiece of dream analysis from the standpoint of co-creative dream theory. Inthis step, the dream work revolves around the questions, What are the dreamer’s responses to the emergent content, and how do the responses impact the imagery? In turn, how does the dream imagery change in response to the dreamer’s state of mind? In the example above, the dreamer’s bold defense of her vulnerable chickens seems immediately to precipitate a transformation of the central image from a healthy wolf to an injured coyote. It is parsimonious to conclude that her courageous response accounted for the transformation of the wolf into a less threatening predator; but all that one can definitively say is that the dream ego response and the image change were correlated. 
Obviously, the word “cause” presumes a degree of functional autonomy between dreamer and dream, along with sufficient linkage between the dream ego and the observed content to allow for reciprocal mirroring. But interestingly, the dreamer then imagines, without any justification, that the threat is, once again, at a high level due to the presumed presence of a raccoon in spite of the absence of any evidence to support of this conclusion. According to the co-creative paradigm, dreamers often do this. That is, they project their emotions and expectations, however unsupported, into the dream, and the dream content often mirrors this subjective attitude.  In this dream, while the dream content accommodates the dream ego’s firmness by precipitating a less threatening predator, it does not go on to mirror her secondary state of alarm. That is, the dreamer’s resurgence of anxiety does not precipitate the appearance of the hypothesized raccoon. This imperfect correlation between dreamer response and imagery change demonstrates that the emergent content of the dream is not enslaved to the dreamer’s subjective state, but retains its autonomous quality even in the presence of an active and reflective dreamer. Why the imperfect accommodation? The correlation is never perfect in the dream or in the waking state, because the interacting parties are, to some extent, functionally autonomous. That is, the emergent content may override and thwart the dream ego’s subject state. Or conversely, the “resistance” of the dream imagery’s to the dreamer’s renewed state of alarm may be due to the robustness of the dream ego’s original courageous response.
            At this point in the process, the dream worker engages the dreamer in order to assess the quality of his or her responses over the course of the dream. The dream worker (and group member) should not presume to know whether a response is new (and thus facilitative of integration), or chronic and regressive. By drawing on the dreamer’s waking life values and goals, the dream worker and dreamer can explore whether the responses in the dream were developmental (Rossi, 1972), or chronic responses (Sparrow, 2014) that may have arisen earlier in life as reasonable adaptive strategies, but which may have lost their utility in one’s present life context. The dreamer is the ultimate authority on the desirability of his or her responses in the dream, and needs to determine if new responses are called for in future dreams of a similar nature, and in parallel waking relationships. In the case of this specific dream, the dream moves toward integration as the threat initially subsides, but then escalates once again as the dreamer imagines that there is a second source of threat.

StepFour of the FiveStar Method: Working with the Dream Imagery
            In previous articulations of co-creative dream work (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010), we have recommended traditional non-intrusive methods for analyzing the dream imagery, including amplification and Gestalt dialoguing. However, regardless of how useful they have been in guiding modern dream work, they are not derived from the co-creative paradigm, but are nonetheless effective methods that reveal elements of the co-creative model, without embracing it fully. For instance, Jung’s method of “amplification” allows the dreamer to access the ways that his or her associations provide insight into the dream ego’s unique contribution to the specific imagery, but stops short of viewing the dream image as a real-time, evolving synthesis of archetypal domains and the “momentary conscious condition.” Similarly, Perls’ use of dialoguing captures the interactive quality of the dreamer-dream relationship, and he places the responsibility for the dream on the back of the dreamer, but worked only with the reported dream without emphasizing that the dream itself was a real-time co-creative process that should be revisited with this seminal premise in mind. To be fair, he considered most dream as unfinished, and that the dream work process should facilitate a deeper connection with the imagery, resulting in greater awareness of disowned parts of ourselves. However, he believed that achieving greater awareness through interacting with the dream characters and objects would activate integration through “organismic self-regulation” without any need to utilize analyze the imagery from the standpoint of understanding them cognitively.            
            An In-Depth Approach to Step Four of the FSM: The Deconstruction of Dream Metaphors. Over the course of the last several years, my own dreamwork methodology has emphasized the investigation of the reciprocal relationship between response and imagery change, with an eye to modify chronic responses that may have preserved an undesirable status quo. This, of course, is imminently useful from the dream ego’s side of the equation. However, two questions must be considered in order to complete the picture is: 1) What lies on the other side of the dream interface? Are there stable categories or domains of content that define and constrain the range of phenomenal expression through the imagery? And 2) why does the dream ego’s interaction with the emergent content render it principally as metaphor?
            Conventional methods of dream imagery analysis depart from co-creative dream paradigm by removing the images from the phenomenal context, and working with them without regard to the way that they are tethered to, and modified by the dreamer’s responses. It also overlooks how the images may be derived from underlying content domains that become relevant and specific onlywhen encountered.
            Thus the next step, and final piece, in the development of co-creative dream theory and practice, is 1) to identify the range of possible content domains that the dreamer encounters and perceives on the visual interface, and 2) assist dreamers in understanding how their responses to these content domains precipitate metaphors that reflect both the developmental challenges of the content domain and the dreamer’s current state of relationship with it. The content domains can be understood as broad a prioriconstants, or archetypal domain that lie behind the changing interface of the dream, and which constrain the range of expression of the imagery along predictable themes. While these content domains may represent generic constants, the specific imagery can be seen as the sequential “mapping” (Lakoff) in real time into resultant images conditioned by the dreamer’s “momentary conscious condition” (Jung, 1966). 
            The Nature of the Content Domains. The delineation of content domains can be done from the top-down, or from the bottom up. That is, we can draw from systems that delineate essential domains of human experience, or we can derive them phenomenologically by examining dreams with this in mind. Or, of course, we can do both: That is, We can approach the dream with an open mind, endeavoring to avoid reductionistic assessments while acknowledging the accumulated wisdom available from several related traditions. As for top-down theoretical systems, we have Jung’s archetypes and the chakra system of Buddhism and Hinduism, to name two respected systems that delineate broad content domains. Ullman’s view of major and minor metaphors, and Lakoff and Johnson (2003)’s conceptual metaphor theory both posit two levels of metaphorical expression, but do not offer structured systems that delineate systematically the major a prioridomains of human experience. 
            Identifying the Nature of Dream Content. Beginning with Jung, the identification of the underlying “deep structure” of the dream has occupied us. Jung drew a distinction between the archetypes of the collective unconscious—shared by all peoples everywhere—and the accumulation of personal experiences, some of which remains conscious and some of which becomes the personal unconscious. This categorical distinction between a prioriarchetypal components of the deep psyche and the historical record of the individual—conditioned by idiosyncratic belief, experience, and cultural context—has had the effect of assuming that there are mutually exclusive categories of dream imagery in the analysis of dreams. It is common to hear dream workers deliberate over whether an image is personal or archetypal, as if they are mutually exclusive. And yet, Jung’s statement that the interpretation of the image “...can start neither from the conscious alone nor from the unconscious alone, but only from their reciprocal relationship,” conveys a different picture, at least potentially, in which a given dream image partakes simultaneously of two independent sources or “feeds.” From Jung’s formulation, it is a small step to assume that the dream image is, as I’ve asserted, a mutable interfacebetween conscious and unconscious, personal and universal, such that the convenient distinctions of personal and archetypal, conscious and unconscious, are convenient, but ultimately inaccurate distinctions. As Jung often said, one cannot talk about what is unconscious. So, the dream image is not so much a product of the unconscious aswhat manifests on the dream interface during the encounter between the dream ego and the emergent content. 
            Lakoff, in his analysis of dreams, suggests that there are “supraordinate” or generic conceptual metaphors that are derived from our embodied experience and stored within the mind. According to Lakoff (1993), these overriding, broad linguistic metaphors are “mapped” through the course of the dream into contextually appropriate, specific representations of the supraordinate metaphor. While Ullman wrote about dream metaphors before Lakoff and Johnson (2003) published their first works on conceptual metaphor theory, he alludes to the same general-to-specific mapping process of the dream, and refers to the dream imagery as the “interface,” which is a word that I have also used in co-creative dream theory—more specifically, the “mutable interface” and of the encounter between the dream ego and the emergent dream content. (Sparrow, 2013).
            Hartmann (1998) doe not allude to embedded generic metaphors, or archetypes, in his dream theory. Nonetheless, he observes that the dream serves to “contextualize” unintegrated emotional experience into a generic metaphorical image that captures both the emotional content of the immediate experience, as well as an array of previous, similar emotional experiences that have already been integrated and resolved. The central image thus works by uniting past with present through associative neural networks, thus enabling the self to integrate the current distressing experience with similar experiences that have already been dealt with successfully. Hartmann reveals his psychoanalytic background by overlooking the dreamer’s metacognition or response set as a facilitative factor in this process, and he does not mention the changes that the dreamer perceives in the imagery through the course of the dream. By implicitly dismissing the dreamer’s metacognition as a possible accelerant in the process of integration––or the existence of underlying domains that are mapped through more specific imagery/metaphors as Jung and Ullman allows, Hartmann’s theory cannot resolve the problem of where the contextualizing imagery originates, nor why some dreamers successfully integrate traumatic memory, and others do not.  
            In contrast to Hartmann, who leaves the dreamer out of the equation, Ullman anticipates the emergence of co-creative dream theory, when he states;
Our main thesis is that dreaming involves rapidly changing presentational sequences which in their unity amount to a metaphorical statement (major metaphor). Each element (minor metaphor) in the sequence has metaphorical attributes organized toward the end of establishing in a unified way an over-all metaphorical description of the new ideas and relations and their implications as these rise to the surface during periods of activated sleep. 
            Clearly, Ullman sets the stage for the role of dreamer metacognition, but does not embrace an approach that acknowledges the dream ego as the catalyst in the “rapidly changing presentational sequences.” Although he remains lightly tethered to the Presentational paradigm, he distinguishes between major metaphor (similar to Lakoff’s “suprordinate metaphor,” and arguably Jung’s “archetypes”) and minor metaphor, which raises the question of how the major metaphor is translated “downward,” or mapped into a series of minor metaphors. Of course, co-creative dream theory offers a solution: The dreamer’s overall response to the emergent novelty of the dream content precipitates the spontaneous production of metaphorical imagery, some of which may seem more obviously impactful or universal in nature. 
            It is significant to note that neither Ullman (1969), nor Lakoff and Johnson (2003)seem to share Jung’s seminal view that the unconscious or “backside” repository consists of indeterminate patterns that become specific in the context of a person’s unique experience. That is, while Jung insists that the archetypes are patterns, rather than images, Ullman refers to the backside repository as containing fully formed “major” metaphors, while the dream presents “minor” metaphors that reflect a personal conditioning or moment-tomoment mapping of the major metaphor. Similarly, Lakoff and Johnson (2003)refer to “supraordinate metaphors” to describe what is stored within memory, and which then are “mapped” into our experience as more specific, personally relevant metaphors. The problem with referring to supraordinate, or major metaphors as fully formed background or unconscious components is that the construction of a metaphor by definition partakes of two sources.That is, a metaphor is defined as an implied synthesis of a generic target realm of experience with anchoring experiences derived from one’s personal history. How can there be an “unconscious” metaphor if the metaphor, by definition is forged in the crucible of personal anchoring experience? Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of  metaphoric creation without considering, at least in its original construction, the reductionistic contribution of consciousness. Thus, Ullman, as well as Lakoff and Anderson (2003)does not explain the way that the repository of superordinate metaphors assumes metaphoric form in the first place. Only Jung tacitly acknowledges the possibility that the metaphors assume form in relationship with an observer, not independently, thus leaving open the possibility of a real-time co-creative view of dream metaphor construction. Rossi alone as a modern theorist alludes to the parallels between dream imagery and quantum mechanics, which explains the way that reality only becomes manifest in the presence of an observer.

Ultimately, Ullman leaves the door open to the co-creative paradigm when he says, 
We have offered very little thus far concerning the laws governing the movement and development of the global or major metaphor of the dream. It is likely that the full exposition of the developmental aspects of the dream process will have to await further investigative effort.

Seven Content Domains
            There are a number of developmental frameworks that have been proposed by a variety of psychodynamic (e.g. Freud and Erickson), humanistic (Maslow), and transpersonal/theorists (Wilber, 1996; 2007). These disparate theorists describe a hierarchy of sequential stages in the maturation, actualization, individuation, or enlightenment of the individual. As stated, the psychoanalytic theories focus on psychosexual development (Freud) or the mastery of psychosocial developmental tasks (Erickson). In contrast, the teleological systems of transpersonal/religious thinkers point toward a higher state of self-actualization or individuation to which we are inexorably drawn. Wilber, in particular, describes the process of evolution according to Hegel’s notion, in which each successive domain of development is transcended through the “death” of the current dominant mode of consciousness, and then recapitulated or encompassed as a mastered component within the next higher, more differentiated level of consciousness.
            The premise that universal content domains produce categories of dream imagery is by no means new. In particular, the ancient chakra system has become a familiar framework in the past 50 years. These sources have drawn from an ancient system that has been thoroughly delineated in Hinduism and Buddhism. Compared to modern Western systems of hierarchical psychological development, the chakra system arguably wraps all of them into a comprehensive system. Indeed, the Western systems can be subsumed within the larger framework of the chakrasystem, and the symbology associated with these Western systems, including Jung’s array of archetypes, can be mapped onto the chakra system with minimal conflict. While comparing the systems would be a valuable enterprise, it is beyond the scope of this paper.
            From the standpoint of the co-creative paradigm, whatever emerges as domain-level (or chakra-level content to the witnessing dream ego coalesces in the form of imagery as it felt or perceived. And from the first moment onward, the dream ego’s subjective attitude and response to it cocreates its specific appearance. The reciprocal exchange accounts for the dynamic mapping of the contentonto the dream interface, and becomes, from the standpoint of the dreamer, the received dream content. Manifesting as metaphorical imagery, the mapped content incorporates the respective contributions of broad domains and observing dream ego, and progresses through time as co-created dream forms that reveal the moment-to-moment dynamic state of the relationship between dream ego and content agenda.
            An important question pertains to whether the content domains are passive arenas for virtual engagement, or have their own independence, autonomy and thrust. This question fueled the debates over the ethical and psychological advisability of trying to control one’s dreams.  Some lucid dream authorities advocated early on for a no-holds barred experimental approach (LaBerge, et. al, in the Lucidity Letter), while others urged caution, given that the nature of the dream content can never be conclusively ascertained (Bulkeley, Sparrow, et. al, in the Lucidity Letter). Theory aside, the phenomenology of the dream regularly reveals that the dream content has an intrusive, surprising quality, and cannot justifiably be reduced the a mere “part of the dreamer,” at least from a subjective, or felt-perspective. Ullmann once referred to the “intrusive novelty” of the dream imagery (Ullman, 1978), and Rossi once asserted that the development of personality as evidenced in the dream process, is “in part autonomous.” Jung, too, saw the individuation process as a teleological process, inherent within each individual as, in the words of Hillman, the “soul’s code,” and working its way into consciousness through the agency of dream and through active waking imagination. For Freud, the dynamic nature of the dream derived its intrusiveness from the bound-up energy of one’s past; but for Jung and Wilber, the process is prospective and endpoint driven, and draws the psyche forward toward a destiny that can be rendered symbolically in dream, vision, and myth, but cannot be fully understood from the ego’s current level of partial development. While Jung declared that “consciousness is the unnatural thing in nature,” and that “nature cares nothing for a higher state of consciousness,” he also asserted that the ego is by no means the center of our evolution, but that the archetypes have an energy and destiny of their own, drawing us into them.  

The Incorporation of Content Domains into Co-Creative Dream Theory and Analysis
            The concept of content domains is, as countless dream workers have discovered, a useful supplement in dreamwork, whether one practices from the Presentational paradigm or the Co-Creative Paradigm. In other words, dream imagery can be conveniently and accurately associated with various content domains, and the meaning to the dreamer can thereby be enhanced by understanding the nature of the developmental tasks at each domain. However, by downplaying the influence of the dreamer upon the unfolding imagery, the Presentational Paradigm constrains our assessment to an array of static images unrelated to the dreamer’s subjectivity. In contrast, the co-creative model treats the dream imagery as an elastic, mutable interface that coalesces and mirrors one’s relationship with particular content domains. By examining how the dreamer’s initial response initially “maps” the domain into a specific image, and then tracking the changes in both, we can obtain a contemporary view of the dreamer’s relationship with that level of development, and help the dreamer to troubleshoot current responses, and define ways to accelerate one’s development at that level.
            Returning to the dream of the fox and chickens, one might say that the content domain involves an encounter with power, or the third chakra, in the form of the various predatorial animals. In the first moment of the dream, the dreamer perceives power as threat, and takes action to protect what is vulnerable:
I hear a wolf howl, and realize that he threatens my chickens, so I grab a shovel and run out the door into the back yard.
There is so much to be gained by analyzing this initial statement. By identifying the content domain in generic terms, and then examining the dreamer’s subjective felt stance, we can assist her in seeing how her assumptions “map” the domain into a threat, thus justifying her fear. But the mere howl of a wolf does not, in itself signify a threat, so we have to explore why she “rendered” the domain issue as threatening. As it turns out, she literally raises chickens, so her life experience predisposes her to interpret a predator’s presence as threatening to what is precious to her. Her robust response signifies the courage that she needs to intervene at some risk to herself, which is an issue worthy of consideration. That is, it reveals a great deal about the dreamer’s assumptions and willingness to take action. The wolf synthesizes her assumptions and the domain into an image that captures the elements of power with a certain beauty, nobility, and suffering (given the threat of civilization to the wolf), as well. But of course, the connotation of “nobility” and “suffering” has to be ratified by the dreamer. Her own associations will help us understand why the wolf captured her “momentary condition” in a form that perfectly expressed her lived experience with the realm of power.
            This may seem overly complicated, so let’s look at how the dream worker’s use of language can translate the first four steps of the FiveStar Method into a brief, effective intervention that opens up a conversation with the dreamer. The dream worker combines step 1 and 2 of the FSM, showing how the method unfolds in a seamless fashion.
            Dream Worker:  (Process Narrative) So in this dream, you are initially alarmed (feelings) by the presence of something powerful, and it created a sense of dissonance, and then alarm. Then you feel protective (feelings) of something vulnerable that, without your help, could be hurt or destroyed. You are also concerned (feelings) about your own wellbeing. As you confront the threat, it seems to become less threatening, and weakened, and you experience compassion; but then you imagine that it still represents a threat, and that there is even a new threat that is not fully evident, as yet. Does this summary (Process Narrative) capture your feelings and your sense of the dream process?
            Dreamer: Yes, exactly. I went from fear to relief and then back to fear again, albeit to a lesser extent. I raise chickens, so this scenario is a familiar one, but I don’t think I would have felt personally threatened by these animals in real life.
            Dream Worker: You certainly countered the perceived threat without hesitation, with firmness and courage. Is that like you, I wonder? I noticed how your fear returned, and wondered if it accounted for your suspicion that a new threat lurked. Do you get a sense that this resurgence of fear made you think that the raccoon was lurking the darkness?
            Dreamer: Yes, I think that I usually respond quickly and fearlessly if something or someone I love is threatened. But it was if I snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. I mean, the wolf was no longer a threat, and the coyote needed help more than he threatened my chickens or myself. I am puzzled as to why I inserted more fear into the picture.
            Dream Worker: I’m wondering what would have happened if you’d stopped short of imagining more threat. Do you think the dream would have ended on a more positive note? What could you imagine having done differently?
            Dreamer:Yes, I wish I would have reached out to the coyote. It was a wild animal, but sometimes wild animals come for help. It could have brought about a very different outcome if I’d reached out to the coyote.

Step Five of the FiveStar Method: Applying the Dream Work
            The final step of the FSM involvesencouraging the dreamer to imagine new responses in the dream as a way to 1) resolve the unfinished conflict in the dream, 2) prepare for future dream encounters with this content domain. It also includes a free-ranging exploration of where this kind of encounter may be occurring in the waking state, and whether new responses are called for. Of course, the dreamer leads the way in determining any course of action, but is encouraged to overturn chronic ways of responding in favor of implementing new, more creative and functional ways of relating.

Useful Questions To Use

I have found that there are several effective questions that can be implemented into the framework of the FSM:       
What is the dreamer’s first emotion? This will reveal the initial dissonance that gives rise to the dream, and how the dreamer’s felt sense sets the tone for the dreamer-dream encounter.
What are the most significant moments of dissonance between dream ego and emergent content? The points of dissonance indicate places where the dreamer is resisting the intrusive novelty of the dream, and thus resisting integration of what the dream content represents. The co-created imagery is likely to reflect this dissonance by awakening a sense of insecurity in the dream ego, and showing the emergent domain-level developmental need as a threat to the dream ego.
What is the first significant perceived image? The first significant image reveals the initial co-creation that captures both the content domain and the dreamer’s unique rendering of it.
What is the dreamer’s first response? The first response usually determines whether the dream moves toward integration and synthesis, or toward conflict.
How does the imagery change? The imagery alterations reflect how the content domain is adjusting to the dreamer’s response set, and reveals whether the dream process is moving toward dream-dream synthesis, or not.
How do changes in imagery mirror changes within the dreamer’s responses? This consideration helps the dreamer become aware of his or her agency in influencing the dream imagery, and demonstrates the extent to which the dream imagery is tethered to the dreamer’s reactions, or acting somewhat independently of them.
What is/are the content domain(s) depicted by the context and category of metaphor? It’s important for the dreamer to understand what life domain is being constellated in the dream. Often, the specific domain is activated by parallel waking concerns, but not always.
Does the dreamer/dream content relationship move toward, or away from integration? By assessing the trajectory of the dream process, the dream worker assists the dreamer in determining if he or she is working in concert with the developmental process, or thwarting it through non-facilitative responses.
What is chronic in the dreamer’s response, and what is (or would be) a creative and facilitative response? This analysis can trace dreamer emotional responses to earlier experiences, which made sense at the time, but are no longer serving a developmental need.
            In summary, my global intention in this paper has been to articulate how we can work with metaphors wholly within the co-creative paradigm, viewing their creation as a real-time synthesis of generic content domains with the dream ego’s subjective stance in relation to it. Further, my specific intent has been to work toward finalizing the dreamwork methodology that I have previously introduced as the FiveStar Method (Sparrow, 2013; Sparrow and Thurston, 2010). By adopting this approach to metaphor co-creation and deconstruction, we can assist dreamers in understanding the broad content domains expressed through the dream imagery, and how a dreamer’s “momentary conscious condition” (Jung, 1966) renders and reduces the broad domain into personally relevant metaphorical images.
            While many students I have worked with have asked more specific, traditional questions about the meaning of a particular dream image, I always caution them by saying that the meaning will usually become clear, or clearer, to the dreamer once the first three steps of the FSM are completed without reference to the imagery. Most of my students are amazed by how easy it is to understand its relevance without resorting to “equivalency statements” that overly simplify the imagery, and rob the dreamer and dreamworkers of a rich, unfolding relationship to the dream’s brilliant, creative, and life-sustaining imagery.


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Paper Just Published in IJODR

I have authored a paper that might interest you was just published in the International Journal of Dream Research, 12 , 1, (April, 2019), ti...