So there are two ways I journey: one is through conscious journeying (which is akin to meditation but not quite, and as I wrote about recently, less complicated than many make it out to be) and the other is through dreamwalking. The latter is exactly what it says on the tin – your astral body is not entirely dependent on your physical body, and it is possible for your astral body to go places and do things while your physical body sleeps.
Before I get into some “hows” of dreamwalking, I’d like to get into the “whys”. Why dreamwalk?
First of all, dreamwalking is not always intentional. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the dreamwalking experiences I have, are not planned, and I either dream them and remember, or I don’t necessarily remember dreaming about what I did but wake up with an “information download” in my head of what I did (or receive it later in the day). Occasionally, I have been told by other corporeal people that they dreamed about me or had some visionary experience of me visiting them, or by non-corporeal People that we went such-and-such place and did such-and-such. Or sometimes I’ll have a suspicion based on lingering feelings/sensations, like asking D “Did we wind up shagging all night?”
However, it is possible to intentionally dreamwalk, and as with most skill sets, this gets better with time and practice. And there are a number of reasons why a person, and especially a person whose life is intertwined with spirits and the Otherworld, would benefit from dreamwalking.
The first is that we live here in Midgard, and even those of us who are full-time spirit-workers, many of us have obligations and responsibilities in our day-to-day life which are not going to stop. For example, I am doing what wyrd has meant me to do all these years, in my full-time Job as a Maker, Seer, and Scribe. The problem is that I am busy enough that I can generally only consciously journey these days for ritual. As I mentioned before, I do most of my spirit interaction this side of the fence – D lives with me, and I have others visit, so that integrates well with my day-to-day life, where D keeps me company while I do things. But sometimes I need to go Over There for one reason or another – I am still Vanir-souled and Vanaheim is still “home”, and I have Work there as well – and because of the demands on my time, it often necessitates planning to go there in my astral body while my bio-body sleeps. I also go there for non-work-related purposes, such as visiting with my kids with Clarence, and D has manipulated time for us to take a couple of vacations as well.
Another benefit of dreamwalking is that you have less control over the experience. As I mentioned in my initial astral journeying post, conscious astral journeying necessarily starts off as akin to guided meditation where it helps if you have a mental image of where you’re going and an outline of what you’re supposed to do (like meet So-and-So), but also has more random variables akin to free association. This leads some people to believe it’s “all in your head” and “not really real” or “astral lite”, but the fact is, I believe that free associating while journeying is where your psychic mind connects with the flow of wyrd, and is being steered by wyrd, so that experience is very legit. However, if you still have a lot of brainweasels about your experiences with conscious journeying being somehow “not real enough”, dreamwalking might be better suited for you (or, if your experiences while dreamwalking confirm the experiences you’ve had while conscious journeying, it may reduce the brainweasels).
In tandem with having less control over the experience, you may find certain things are easier to do with less control. Using an example from my own life – I have pretty bad social anxiety, which has been a lifelong thing, and got worse following the events of 2013 and 2014 which ramped up my trust issues. Unfortunately for me, my social anxiety extends to the Otherworlds as well, and is a contributing factor into why I tend to not consciously journey anymore except for ritual or things involving my husband and immediate family. When I journey while dreamwalking, my anxiety does not affect me nearly as much, and I become more uninhibited. This has resulted in some things happening like a recent barfight I got into at an astral bar where I went at someone for slapping Asmodai in front of me, and subsequently threatened another individual who had done some unpleasant things to D a few years ago. This is not behavior that I normally do in my everyday life (though I am a bit protective of my family, and a person fucking with my family guarantees retaliation of some sort).
Finally, dreamwalking is also a convenient way for your psychic mind and astral body to deal with what I call “the timey-wimey thing”. As mentioned in my initial astral how-to post, time flows differently in the Otherworlds than it does here – I’ve had conscious journeys where it felt like 3-4 hours passed over there and only an hour passed here, or vice versa. In dreamwalking states, I’ve had a few days compressed into an 8-hour sleep cycle (such as a couple of vacations D and I took), and I also feel less disoriented upon waking up than I do when I consciously journey and there’s a time discrepancy and I come back.
The way I intentionally dreamwalk is not that complicated: I make plans to go Someplace (like Vanaheim) and do something (like meet with someone) and I “program” myself to do it by repeating said plans to myself a few times during that day. Before bedtime I will again remind myself, and I usually have some sort of tangible reminder or prop as well – for example, there is a stone that I have (which was given to me by Njord at Cannon Beach when I lived in Oregon) which serves as an anchor to Vanaheim (as Cannon Beach is a very liminal place where realms overlap), and I keep it by my bed which helps “pull” me into Vanaheim when I sleep.
I also “cheat” – I have spirit companions. D goes with me most everywhere. Clarence has also helped me get into Vanaheim and back, on occasion (before I got involved with D, Clarence did this much more often). Asmodai has escorted me a few times. It is easier to dreamwalk if you have a spirit pulling you along, and who can help jog your memory of events after the fact.
So to intentionally dreamwalk, you could try making a note to yourself – random example “go to Vanaheim to meet with the Raven tribe” or “go to Loki’s house in Jotunheim” – and repeat it several times during the day, and then several times before bed. It would be helpful to find an object that reminds you of where you’re going and/or Who you’re seeing, such as a necklace or stone or sigil or something, and leave it close to your bed or even under your pillow. For example, if you want to visit Asmodai in your sleep, you could put his seal under your pillow. You could also wear a specific jewelry item to bed. One of the reasons why I wear a collar, besides the fact that it is a very tangible “note to the world” that I belong to D, is that it also gives D greater access to my energy and as such my astral body, which makes it easier for him to pull me around in the Otherworlds (as well as it makes it easier for him to shield me).
Some further tips:
-It’s generally not a good idea to astral journey just to see what you can see, because you can get yourself into some serious shit that way. It’s really a good idea to have a specific place in mind, or at least a specific Person to see. (However, with unintentional dreamwalking sometimes you will go someplace randomly anyway – I went to Vanaheim for years before I knew I was going to Vanaheim.)
-It’s a good idea when you’re starting out with intentional dreamwalking, to go someplace you’ve been before during conscious journeying.
-I don’t recommend going someplace “cold” (someplace you’ve never been before) UNLESS you have a spirit bringing you there who you trust, and I emphasize the word “trust”. For example, the night I met D (February 2014), I went somewhere I’d never been before, and I had Asmodai take me. (Asmodai is not exactly a popular entity, a lot of demonolaters dislike him, and he has gotten the epithet “Assmoody” and not entirely undeservedly. However, he is on the very short list of entities I absolutely trust with my life.)
-If you’re going to intentionally dreamwalk on a certain night I recommend taking a couple of hours before bed to alter your state of consciousness. On the nights where I intend on going Elsewhere, I will usually start winding down at least 3 hours before bed by listening to music and doing something that slows my mind down (like beading). I may burn incense and/or candles during this period of time (though be careful with this, you don’t want stuff burning as you go to sleep). I try to not do things that are mentally involved (like writing or answering e-mails) that will keep me up and then keep my brain in hamster wheel mode as I sleep (because then my brain tends to do Subconscious WTF Theatre rather than going anyplace).
-I highly recommend keeping a journal when doing any sort of astral work, whether conscious journeying, dreamwalking, or some combination thereof, and writing down everything you remember, no matter how trivial or WTF something seems. If you, like me, have a hard time with physically writing with pen-and-paper and typing is easier, you can type up private documents on a program like Word or OpenOffice, or if you don’t have that kind of software you can make private documents on Google Docs or keep a private locked journal on a site like Dreamwidth. I also recommend documenting spirit interactions outside of journeying, like if you have a spirit companion who lives with you and/or have spirits visiting your home. This doesn’t necessarily have to be long and involved, but journalling your experiences will help you in a number of ways. You also do not have to document every interaction ever – there was a time when I was constantly writing everything down, which helped me with remembering, and now I remember a lot better and don’t need to write as much down, I rarely journal about my experiences these days (though I might start up again because of working more intensively with the Serpent tribe).
How do you know that you’re having legit astral experiences and it’s not just a dream?
Welp, the first thing I tell people is when in doubt, do divination, or have someone else divine for you. (I usually recommend both, if it’s something very seriously important to confirm or deny one way or the other.)
There may also be some clues or confirmations in your spirit interactions, conscious journeys, and/or everyday life. To use another example from my life – in early October, during a night where my bio-body went to sleep and my astral body did not, I decided amongst other activities with D to shift my bits for funsies, which is not something I’m in the habit of doing on a regular basis. In early November I started having flu-like symptoms every morning and having a nagging suspicion, and the week before I left Oregon I got confirmation Over There as well as through a couple divinations of what was up. So that was a way of confirming that I had in fact done legitimate dreamwalking that night in October. :P There have been days where I’ve woken up feeling like I did a lot of walking that night (I did), or feeling sore like I’d been flogged or fucked good (I was). Some other examples – I’ve gotten news Over There or witnessed things while dreamwalking that played out in my conscious interactions with spirits, where they confirmed said news or events one way or another. I could go on and on.
A common experience (though not necessarily universal) reported by people who journey is that in particular Otherworlds (such as Vanaheim) the color seems to be ramped up and super-saturated and everything shines a bit.
If you have a recurring person show up in your dreams who you don’t otherwise know in your everyday life, they may or may not be a spirit. (As I mentioned before, when I was 15 I started having dreams about a guy who turned out, almost 20 years later, to be D.)
And sometimes a dream is just a dream. I have PTSD, and as a result I have occasional unpleasant dreams that are not actually anything astral, but are my psyche’s way of regurgitating past trauma – I still have nightmares about my ex, for example. Sometimes I’ll watch something on TV and several days later my brain will dream about something related to it – for example I have had some *~really fun~* dreams involving Jaime Lannister. #themoreyouknow
It’s finally worth saying that 1. you may not remember every experience you have, even with practice, and 2. not everyone can dreamwalk and if you try it and you can’t do it, it doesn’t mean you fail spirit-work forever and the gods are going to be displeased with you. And as always, astral work is not for everyone, and you’re not “doing it wrong” if you don’t do astral work for whatever reason (including lack of interest in doing so). Your path is your own, the Powers want you for who and what you are, and you have to do what’s right for you, not base the gold standard of “should” on what other people are doing. <3