I've just launched a new podcast, titled DreamStar Institute Presents "Dreamwork with Dr. Scott Sparrow." My first episode is a monologue, "An Introduction to Co-Creative Dreamwork," but my second episode will feature a conversation with Ryan Hurd, founder of Dreamstudies.org, and author of Sleep Paralysis, for which I wrote the Foreword...
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
I was recently a guest of Melanie Alberts, host of "Psychic Playdate" podcast, who interviewed me on the topic of Co-Creative Dreamwork. She's a gifted interviewer, perhaps because she's a psychic, too! It was a fun interview. Melanie is an enthusiastic proponent of the FiveStar Method, having experienced a FSM dream sharing group firsthand.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Hi all, I just did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) appearance in the Dream community. You can view the conversation here.
Here's what Jason LeBord, the moderator and dream author and expert said of the event:
"It ended up being a successful event and we appreciate you engaging with the community and sharing what you know. Your approach to understanding dreams is the most accessible I know of, and that makes it especially valuable for a community like Reddit Dreams. They need what you offer. We can talk all day about theory and psychology and in the end it doesn't really help people understand their dreams, or help them understand themselves better through their dreams. I will take what I've learned from you going forward, and I hope you will consider dropping by again."
I recently published a paper in the International Journal of Dream Research titled, "The Construction and Analysis of Metaphors from the Standpoint of Co-Creative Dream Theory." It can be downloaded here.
This was a paper that was long in coming! I hope you find it meaningful!
Sunday, January 19, 2020
I have flyfished now for 56 years, beginning on a small artesian pond in the Texas brush country. I started tying flies in my teens, and have always found flytying to satisfy my creative impulses. When I started fly fishing the Blue Ridge, I tied my own patterns, hoping that they would succeed. And they did, with the tiny brook trout that populated the streams in the upper elevations of Shenandoah National Park. They had survived over the millennia by being willing to seize the moment. But when I had the opportunity to flyfish Henry's Fork of the Snake River, I struck out entirely with my motley collection of homespun flies. The fish wouldn't touch them. For the first time in my life, I did what most flyfishers do as a matter of course when fishing new waters: I visited a fly shop and purchased a dozen flies, most of which were variations on a single bluewing olive hatch. That day, I learned that no matter how inventive you are, you must still muster the humility to look at what's going on around you.
When I began to flyfish my home waters of the Lower Laguna in my early 20s, I was able to unleash my creativity, mainly because the fish didn't care. I created poppers from deer hair, discovered that they would sink after a few casts, and began experimenting with various ways to keep them afloat. I ended up discovering closed cell foam, and married foam with spun deer hair to create the earliest iterations of the VIP popper, the subject of the second article I wrote for Fly Tyer. It's been one of my top three flies ever since, mainly because the fish don't care much about how the fly looks, as long as it doesn't misbehave. Many anglers, who have tied the VIP, agree.
In fisheries such as the LLM, a fly is successful mainly because of how it performs; that is, its castability in wind, how it lands on the water, its sink rate, how it performs in seagrass-filled water, and its hookup rate. But in a cold water fishery populated with wild, spawning populations of trout, these variables don't matter as much. Instead, the fly is usually effective if it imitates a naturally occurring insect that the fish are keying on at that particular moment. Tying flies to match the hatch takes considerable discipline and "imitativeness," as opposed to inventiveness. Of course, there are non-imitative flies that are successful, too, such as the Wulff patterns, and Western attractors such as the Stimulator. Attractor patterns are, by definition, invented by anglers who are willing to think outside the box of imitative fly tying, and conceive of a synthesis of qualities that may not occur in Nature. In a sense, the inventive tyer taps into an archetype that has no literal physical expression, at least as yet, but somehow appeals to the fish's sense of propriety, or provokes its indignation. We really don't know what a fish thinks when it sees what is clearly divorced from all recognizable life forms.
Inventiveness comes at the beginning and the end of an angler's learning curve. When I fished the Jackson River in western Virginia, I learned that attractor patterns were, by and large, ineffective on that tailwater fishery. I learned one day from fly fishing guru Harry Steeves, who happened to be fly fishing below Gathright Dam one morning, that I had to know precisely the size and shape of a particular midge pupae in order to hook the largest trout I'd every enticed the following day. But while fishing in the same spot one day not long after this humbling lesson, it suddenly occurred to me--don't ask why--that a particular synthesis of two popular dry fly patterns would prove successful, even though the pattern did not match any natural insect on that difficult fishery. I went to my hotel and tied the pattern that night, and it became the "Jackson River Special." My buddy Bill May and I caught a lot of trout the next day on that pattern, and it continued to be my most effective fly for that fishery.
The difference between the novice fly tier and the seasoned one had to do with several things, including: the countless days of immersion on my Virginia home waters, the humility to learn from masters such as Harry Steeves, and the willingness to listen to what Nature was whispering to me. When you embrace all of those ingredients, then you become eligible on the far end of the learning curve to innovate effectively. Houston Smith, who wrote Forgotten Truth, and was known for his books on comparative religions, came up with a concept that resolved the conflict over Darwinian evolution and Creationism. Pointing to events in nature that cannot be reduced to the forces of natural selection--such as nonadaptive coloration among birds--he coined the term, "the descent of the archetype" to explain the playful creativity of the divine expressing itself in the world.
I believe that inventiveness at the fly tying vise can be, at the pinnacle of one's learning process, a moment of an archetype's descent into expression. It can be the fly tying equivalent of a Coppery Tailed Trogan or a Painted Bunting, both of which make no sense in a world governed in large part by survival of the fittest. It can mirror a pattern in the mind of God, which exists only as a creative expression capable of arousing an answering response in the mind of fish. Flies such as Bud Rowland's Numero Uno, and perhaps my own VIP Popper, look strange and idiosyncratic, but are endowed with something beyond the rational, imitative mind. When the VIP made the cover of Guide Flies several years ago, I was admittedly embarrassed to have the VIP pictured beside Harry Murray's Mr. Rapidan, a fly that has become immortalized as a Blue Ridge classic. I have always realized how odd the humble fly looks, but how effective it can be. In one sense, it wasn't my creation as much as a gift of momentary inspiration informed by years of failure and yearning. It was the utterance of another realm finding a fertile place in my imagination.
The other day, Ryan said, "I want to invent a new fly." As a relatively old man, I thought, as all fathers do, "Learn more first." But then I remembered the endless winter nights of inventiveness at the tying vise as a young man. So I said nothing, knowing that Ryan's creativity would, in time, merge with prodigious on-the-water experience to spawn original creations, the broad shape of which had been known for all eternity in one mind alone.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Friday, May 17, 2019
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Friday, March 8, 2019
Neuroscientists have their own answers, but I'm a phenomenologist, and therapist, so I'm looking at the initial moments in a dream to provide hints pertaining to the background reason for its emergence.
I believe that the first cause is the experience of dissonance between the status quo dream ego awareness, and some discordant or emergent feeling that collides with it.
In the Gospel of Thomas, it says, "When the one becomes two, what will you do?" In essence, consciousness depends on dissonance; for otherwise, there would be no other, no awareness of difference, only a kind of immersive, formless awareness.
If you study the first sentence or two of any dream narrative, you will usually find some sense of edge or uneasiness that lays the groundwork for everything that follows. It doesn't have to be unpleasant, only sufficiently "different" to evoke awareness upon which the imagery then populates the dream interface as an expression of the evolving sense of difference or dissonance. I know this sounds abstract, but it provides very practice ways to structure effective co-creative dream work.
Take for instance the opening words of a dream that a dream group member once shared. "I heard the howl of a wolf, and realized that my chickens were vulnerable to attack. I grabbed a hoe and ran out the back door in order to protect them." One ways to structure the dream work is to reflect on the fact that even before the dreamer heard the fox howl, she was aware of a sense of uneasiness and threat, and the wolf's howl and everything that transpired thereafter provided an experience of confronting and resolving (if possible) the sense of threat.
I will be writing further about this, but consider a couple of dreams of your own, and see you can come up with an initial sense of dissonance, and describe it. Then proceed to work on your dream using the FiveStar Method, and see if this preliminary step aids you in conducting more effective dream work.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Whether we see ourselves as one who consents to our calling, as Mary did, knowing frightfully little about what the future holds -- or as one who suffered to love deeply as Mary Magdalene probably did -- we, too, will surely flower if we can bring ourselves to follow our soul’s calling without regard to the consequences.
Monday, January 28, 2019
As the sun bore down, I once again felt tricked by the dream of catching the big one. I skirted the yucca-covered shoreline of Rattlesnake Island, and wondered if perhaps the snakes were stirring from their wintry slumber. I felt some relief when I finally spotted my boat anchored off the south shore, and knew that I'd be there soon enough.
There have many promises and prophecies, since the time of Christ, that have convinced countless believers that dramatic change was indeed imminent. For instance, as we approached the new millennium, I know that many of us expected that the close of the century would bring changes, the likes of which the world had never seen. At least that is many people came to believe from Biblically derived prophecies, or from the Biblically inspired prophecies of such from one of the best-known seers of our times -- Edgar Cayce. Steeped in a life of devotion to his Master, and informed by prodigious Biblical study, the Sleeping Prophet described scenarios, similar to those found in The Revelation, that would unfold from 1958 through 1998 that made spiritual sense, and which provided a motivational basis for innumerable seekers during the last half of this century. Other modern seers concurred with Cayce's assessments, and offered their own flourishes to his compelling millennial vision.
Indeed, there is good evidence that God -- or whatever you choose to call that power that sustains us and beckons us forever onward -- engages in at least two types of deception. First, He seems to makes promises that may be spiritually true -- and which inspire us to do the work we need to do -- but that never come to pass in this world. Second, He seems to withhold information that would undermine our willingness to to do the work we need to do.
Christ said that even Suso may have hesitated.
If it's still hard for you to accept the idea of God withholding the truth from us, then consider the example of a loving father who must decide whether to tell his child a devastating truth, or to deceive him in a way that will keep his dreams alive. More specifically, consider the example of a father who dearly loves his son who suffers from an incurable disease. As the father sits by his son’s bedside, feeling the anguish that only a parent can feel when his own child faces death, what does he say when his son asks,
When I reached the boat, the tide had receded so much that I had to push it two hundred yards to deeper water before I could start the motor and head back home. Straining against the weight of the boat, I recalled another "promise" that had come to me as I wrote and rewrote a little book, titled The Perfect Gift. Almost as soon as I began writing the Christmas story in late 1997, I began having visions in meditation of a Christmas tree ablaze with lights. My wife, too, began to have the same vivid experience. From this, we believed that the book would succeed, and so we never gave up hope, even when a major publisher almost bought it, but ultimately did not. We went on to publish the book ourselves, and she wrote a screenplay for it, believing that the story would, in time, win wide recognition. But while a new agent has high hopes for its eventual success, it still has not sold. We are thousands of dollars poorer, and I sometimes wonder if we were foolish to believe in it.
But then I realize that we tend to measure the fulfillment of our dreams by the wrong criteria. Like Peter, who wanted to erect a booth and sell tickets when he witnessed his Lord transfigured, we tend to evaluate the meaning of our lives in crude, numerical terms, and then find ourselves either acceptable or not on the basis of this assessment. To God, I am sure, it's not the number of books we sell that matters -- but the lives we touch.
Now I am not so naive as to think that every time we feel tricked by fate, or by God, or by whatever seems to pull the rug out from under us, that God is up to his tricks again. No, in most cases I would agree that our sense of God's betrayal stems from holding onto the reasonable expectation that good things should happen when we do the right things. It makes sense, but that's not the way the world works, at least not at first. We usually have to wait a long while for some of our efforts to bear fruit But the human proclivity for expecting to be rewarded for doing the right thing does not account for all of the promises and phophecies that have been made -- and that remain, as yet, unfulfilled. No, there is something far greater than our own active imaginations operating to keep us expecting things that do not come true.
In the end, if we feel betrayed when certain things do not come to pass, let us remember that even Jesus trembled in Gethsemane, and that Edgar Cayce reportedly doubted the value of his life work in the final days of his life. It is essentially human for us to hope that the great Dream will manifest in its fullness in this world, and in our own time. And, it is essentially human as well, to weep when it does not.
Sunday, December 23, 2018
So I got up and meditated for about 40 minutes before going back to bed. Instead of leaving my body before going back to sleep, I fell asleep and became lucid a while later. I had three possible directions, and chose the one with the most light. I ran down a wooded path, and turned west, flying toward a meadow and a bright sky. Suddenly, a small being took my right arm and flew with me. It seemed to be covered with hair and feathers, and it was a male child. Then, above me his father joined us, looking down at me as we flew. He looked like a cross between a golden eagle and a human being. His gaze was regal and kind.
Later, I turned and flew upward toward the "portal" where I often enter into planetary domains, or parallel domains. In this case, I emerged into a enclosed environment where I met with five persons, two women and three men, who announced that they were from the earth, but far in the future. We spend a long time discussing climate changes that had occurred over millennia, and they laid out maps of the world and the continents, showing how the ice caps had advanced southward. I realized that the continents were so different that we had to be hundreds of thousands of years in the future. We visited for a long time--over an hour from what I could tell upon my return. When I left, I told them that I'd begun to be able to return to the places I'd visited before and that I wanted to find them again. I spent a while memorizing their names, and affirming that their "address" would be duly recorded in my psyche. As I began my return to my body, the memory of our time together began pouring out of my mind to the point where I could recall only a small part of what I'd experienced. I did recall the name of one of the persons--the woman who was the last one to tell me her name.
The hardest part of these rich, engaging experiences, is knowing that I may never see my new friends again, and that the memory of our fellowship is all but forgotten.
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