Posts tagged #dreams

On Goes the Endemic Dream: An Experiment in Contagious Dreaming

Note of Introduction: Meg Rivers is an Evolver sporganizer in Columbia, Missouri.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Evolver Convergence this year.  She shared with me the freshest theory of dreams I'd ever heard, so I asked her to write this post to bring it to you.  - Love, Carolyn

The Endemic Dream is an ongoing international scientific dream experiment, intended to culminate in a quantifiable result.

We know very little about the actual mechanisms behind our dreams, puzzled by complex and eerie stories that unfold in our minds at night without our knowledge or consent. From where inside us do images, emotions, ideas, and events that we have never encountered originate?

Carl Jung called this place the collective unconscious; The Endemic Dream seeks to quantify one method of its collection, and believes part of the answer may lie in the scent trail.

No one knows how long a dog can track something in a forest, though some scent hound trainers claim their dogs can follow a trail for up to a year assuming conditions are wet enough. Why would conditions need to be wet for your trail to be detectable? It is because the pieces of yourself that you leave behind live independently of your body, and need water to survive. The scent trail carries with it information of which we are consciously unaware, information that our bodies use in ways we seem far from understanding. Everywhere we go we leave much more than a way to be found if we are missing. We leave thoughts, ideas, and dreams behind that other people and animals are able to interpret by various methods.

We accept that foreign thoughts and images are random accumulations, information our minds piece together from things we have already learned. The Endemic Dream proposes a different hypothesis, that these foreign concepts appearing in our dreams [sights, smells, sounds, tastes, knowledge and emotions we have not experienced in waking life] are in part composed of information we have contracted from other people and places. Just as a virus may not always express itself immediately following contraction, the information we accumulate (through sensory experience and contagion) might not express itself immediately as an element in your dreams. It may take time to interpret the results of this study.

At this time in Columbia, Missouri, we are experimenting playfully, looking for variables to control and make future experiments quantifiable. The hypothesis of infection came about from a series of synchronistic dream events that occurred over a short period of time, too amazing to be a coincidence. This is a short synopsis of what occurred.

A friend of mine dreamed of me and sent me an email about it. That night, my mother came to visit. In the morning, she woke up and reported a dream to me, the same dream my friend had had the night before.  Later that week, I called this friend’s mother to discuss an unrelated topic, and that night she dreamed I called her mother and phoned me to tell me so, though they had not spoken of the call.  The next week, the same friend emailed me again with a new dream that was seemingly insignificant. That evening, my mother came to visit me again, and when she woke up in the morning, reported exactly the same dream my friend had written me about, but with different people playing the character roles

After a process of elimination, I hypothesized that microbial contagion was the culprit, the medium by which dreams were being shared, and that information can be more than just learned, that it is absorbed, innate, environmental, and continuously processed through our orifices. We are a gyre and every seal we leave open brings things in, whether or not we are aware we have received it.

The first experiment I conducted to test this theory was in 2009 between myself and a friend of mine, let’s call her Samantha, who works at the University of Missouri in Soil Science. She was a good candidate, logical, skeptical, someone after scientific truth for truth’s sake. She was also the wife of my partner’s friend and our close neighbor, which made it easy to experiment with her. The first night, I told her my theory and asked her if she would be willing to conduct a rather nasty biological experiment; she agreed that in the name of science, she would do it.

A leaf had recently dropped off an orchid someone gave me for a gift; I ripped it in half. I instructed Samantha to put the piece of orchid leaf in her mouth and completely soak it in her saliva, and I did the same with my half. We then traded, and agreed to sleep with the other’s saliva-covered half-leaf under our pillow cases all night, directly under our nostrils.


A few days prior to this, I had a very vivid dream. After a post-apocalyptic dream bus ride, I woke up in a windy, hot desert where three wise men dressed in biblical attire materialized and handed me a map. When I looked at the map, it was deep midnight blue, so blue that it looked like a piece of the night sky. It was printed upon a strange type of parchment, and I flipped it over, pinched at the corners, at every turn trying to figure out what it was made of. I realized it was made out of skin, and that the map was a tattoo taken from something - or someone’s - back. Ahh, “Important,” I thought at the three men, my eyes wide. “Yes, very. Do not lose it” was the message. I was pulling my son behind me in a ramshackle wagon made out of loose boards and pieces of trash, he was an infant and was unconscious, feverishly tossing and turning in the heat. I pulled him painfully through the desert as I tried to read the map.


I looked up trying to match the constellations on the map with the sky, and realized that I could not recognize my surroundings, possibly was in the southern hemisphere or on a different planet. I looked to the map trying to identify something I knew, but I could not remember what I identified to help me find my way. I saw it up in the sky and set out for my destination, certain that when I arrived we would be rescued.


The day after the saliva-leaf experiment, Samantha and I sat in my living room and she reported what she remembered. This is a compilation of what she and I recall:

She woke up and she was in a kayak sailing through the ocean at night. Someone gave her a map, which she looked at intently. “What color was the map?” I asked. “Blue,” she said, “a map of stars, blue like a piece of dark blue sky.” “What did you do with the map?” “I turned it around and around in my hands like it was upside down or something.” “Why did you turn the map around?” “I was trying to see which way was up. It was printed on a kind of mammal skin.” I asked, “What were you looking for on the map?” “Constellations, a star system. I looked up and realized that I wasn’t in a familiar place, and used the Big Dipper to help orient myself on the map. I knew that when I got there, something would happen.”

The Big Dipper! That was what I had not remembered in my dream, Samantha’s power of recall was different than my own. The experiment had seemingly worked on this first occasion, and I looked closely at what elements came through. Color was one that transferred, as well as action, images, and overall directives. Personal thoughts about those items did not seem to transfer as well. I was turning the map over to see what it was made of, but Samantha was turning it around and around abstractly, with no real thought behind the action except to explain away why it was happening. Her dream seemed an empty copy of mine.

The way we both remember the dream is different, and the way we remember the telling is different as well. I do recall for certain the fact that we were both made to spin the map, and that it was the deepest midnight blue. She recognized immediately what the map was made of and attempted to determine which way was up, while I was unsure of what it was printed on but certain of its orientation. Was her dream authentic or inauthentic? Was it mine, or was it hers? Was she replicating my actions, or was I predicating hers? Was she turning the map because it was an inherent part of what transferred over, or does it merely demonstrate the differences in perception when the map was received?

In the Theory of Megamind [a theory of evolution currently evolving, posted here:], body and mind are separately intelligent entities cooperating for survival, though body knows this and mind does not. Body is operated by a group council of cells in the intestine, “the gut”, and mind is a singular entity, “I”, which can be likened to Freud’s respective “ego + id” and “super ego”. Body’s governing council has access to one’s audio, video, and other sensorial files and can use them as it sees fit: sometimes to warn the mind of a perceived danger, often to gauge reaction to a particular stimulus. More frequently though, dreams seem only to be the mind’s perception of collected information crossing the cerebral cortex, and being filed into archives for later recall.

So if the Dream World exists in the world of the cell, and our world is exponentially larger, what translates from the Big Action World into the Dream World? What do they understand from the great beyond? Is it more than we understand of the cosmos? The members of the Dream World are so small, those little darlings, always setting the stage for us to skate upon, like when you dream you are in an exact replica of your home, but you know it is not real, because the details are minutely skewed. They must know nothing of the cosmos as we see them, considering the size differential between the two dimensions. Those pranksters think they know us but alas, they are only grasping for straws.

Though one-on-one experiments through the Endemic Dream have been successful, group experiments have yielded few significant results. On September 7th, 2012, a Dream Team is being assembled in Columbia, Missouri that will begin seriously testing and documenting this hypothesis of dream contagion, isolating variables for future experiments, and recording what occurs, so stay tuned for information as the Endemic Dream unfolds. For now, I’ll leave you with this story:

Last week on Monday my friend Samantha, with whom I first experimented at the beginning of the Endemic Dream, realized at work that her building was infested with cockroaches, her poverty-stricken childhood phobia. She turned over several boxes from which roaches spilled out to frighten her, and subsequent traumatic roach events occurred throughout the day. Later that night, she and her husband shared a margarita out of the same glass at a restaurant. The next morning on Tuesday, her husband woke up and said, "I haven't remembered my dreams for like a year, weirdest thing. But last night I dreamed all night long that I was turning over boxes full of cockroaches that spilled out. Oddly I was terrified, and screaming."

Good night, sweet dreams, and don’t eat after anybody you don’t want swimming in your subconscious. It’s always good advice,


Meg Rivers

Posted on August 28, 2012 and filed under Dreams.

Dream Interpretation: Acting on Your Night-Time Dreams

All of us do dream interpretation as soon as we wake up each morning.  Even if our dream interpretation is only, "That's meaningless nonsense I can forget about."

Some dreams pack an intense emotional punch: we not only remember them, but we feel their images and energy throughout our waking day.  These are the dreams that we don't want to dismiss.  Instead, we get curious.  We want to know what's behind those gripping images and sensations.  What's alive inside of me that could have created that? Unless you've been trained as a Jungian or Freudian psychologist, it's likely that your method of dream interpretation is rather haphazard and loose.

You may have seen dream dictionaries and have gotten the idea that decoding a dream is just a matter of looking up its symbols. While it's true that some dream elements have universal connotations that you'll want to be aware of, dreams are subtle and slippery creatures.  If you really want to do dream interpretation you have to learn to think as your dreams think.

Along the way, you'll discover the symbols (people, places, objects) that have deep significance for you.  This is the process of discovering the myth, or spiritual adventure story, that you're alive to live.

Taking action on your night-time dreams

In order to discover and live your spiritual adventure story, you need to not only interpret your dreams but also to take action on what you learn from them.  Dreaming is a process of spiritual evolution that requires our active participation. Most people, by paying no attention to their dreams and doing nothing to act in response to them, squander an unbelievably valuable opportunity for developing their consciousness and thereby expanding their enjoyment of life.

So many of us go through life without an awareness of our own myth.  This lack of awareness makes us hungry and leaves us without a sense of our own rich power; we go seeking for a story outside of ourselves.  We become attached to movie stars and musicians, attracted to consumer goods, fixated on the physical.  Not knowing our own purpose and our own power, we look for it elsewhere.  We end up weakening ourselves in this process; we become sick, depressed, tired.

Ancient people didn't live this way.  It used to be common for both men and women to undergo intense rituals and quests that would bring them directly in touch with the mysteries of their own soul.  They would go out into the wilderness, dream great prophetic dreams, and then base their names and their paths in life on what they learned from their dreams. Now, our society doesn't support such quests.  If we want to be in touch with our soul power, we have to do it ourselves.  And this, among other things, means paying attention to our dreams.

The physical body and the energy body

We all have a physical body.  What's more difficult for us to understand in this day and age is that we also all have an energetic body.  This energetic body holds traces of all we've ever experienced or felt, just like our physical body holds scars and bumps. Our energetic body needs nourishment and exercise just as does our physical body.  We neglect it at our peril.

During the waking day time, our physical body is in motion and our energy body is in a less active state.  During night-time dreaming, our physical body is at rest and our energy body is alive and wandering about.  Where is it wandering about? Well - let's see. Our physical body moves in the physical world -- and it just so happens that our energetic body moves in the energetic, or subtle world.  This subtle world contains numerous layers and locales; it's not a single unified "place" but rather a field of possibility.

Mundane dreams

It's important to realize that most of our dreams happen at an energetic level that's fairly close to our physical body and experience.  These are the "boring" kind of dreams.  They play out anxieties or simple wish fulfillments.  They may contain some metaphoric images, but mostly they're rather literal and don't require all that much thought to interpret.  For example, you may have had dreams like these:

  • You're standing in the grocery store check-out line, and the clerk has just finished ringing up your order.  You reach for your wallet to pay, but realize you don't have it.  You're embarrassed in front of the other patrons in line.
  • A really sexy person in your acquaintance gives you a long, charged kiss.
  • You sit down to a nice campfire with a group of your friends and eat roasted marshmallows.

These mundane dreams feature people and locations from your ordinary life.  It doesn't take much pondering to realize that they're about simple anxiety, desire, and love.  These dreams serve a rather straight-forward teaching purpose: they make you aware of what you're feeling.  They give you an opportunity to come face-to-face with how you see yourself in the world.

 The most important action to take with these kinds of dreams is just to acknowledge them and use them as reminders to deal honestly with the emotions that they emphasize.

For example, after you dream about lacking your wallet in the check-out line, you may want to admit to yourself (without judgment and without trying to 'fix' it) that you really do care a lot about what other people think of you. You really would feel mortified if you ended up forgetting your wallet.  Just take a deep breath and sit with that.  That's who you are right now. Another example - if you dream about kissing some sexy person, you may want to admit the sincerity of your attraction.  Again, just breathe it in.  You don't have to act on it or do anything about it, you just need to know it and honor it.

As we pay attention to them, our dreams serve the function of widening our knowledge of ourselves.  Mundane dreams, though rather dull and not all that thrilling to interpret, are still important because they prevent us from getting stuck in denial.  The more we become acquainted with our own daily fears and longings, the more intimately we know our own humanity.  We become less likely to judge someone else's anxiety or lust.  We understand that those same feelings live within us.  This knowledge gradually makes us more loving.

Psychological dreams

The more fully we know ourselves and the more loving and accepting we become, the more we start to have a second kind of dream.  This second kind of dream we can call a psychological dream.  It shows us something about our own psychological make-up that goes deeper than just surface fears and wants.  Psychological dreams often strongly invoke the past in some way: we dream of our parents or of people we knew long ago.

These dreams feature symbols and settings that are a good deal stranger than our mundane dreams.  What's the reason for this strangeness? It's that psychological dreams represent what the energy body finds when it wanders farther away from the physical body.  The further the energy body moves from the physical body, the more fantastic become its adventures.  The land of the psychological dream is often a land that still throbs with our childhood perceptions and emotions.

Psychological nightmares are much more terrifying than mundane anxiety dreams.  In psychological nightmares we are faced with replays of the traumas we endured growing up.  No matter how wonderful our upbringing, we all suffered some kind of trauma in the journey from childhood to adulthood.  This hurt lives on in this second layer of energetic territory.  For individuals who were abused as children, this is an extremely difficult place to confront.  Our psychological dreams compel us to make real peace with our pasts.  Until we do this, these dreams take us again and again to dark and ugly territories.  Psychological dreams demand more subtlety of interpretation than mundane dreams.  This is because they're speaking to us about events, places and feelings that we have done our best to forget.

In order to understand your psychological dreams, you'll have to be very honest with yourself about what happened to you in the past. This is a natural process: just consider the content of your dream and allow it to "connect the dots" within you.  In order to move through this level of dreaming, you'll have to nurture in yourself a strong intention to forgive and heal.  Here are some examples of psychological dreams:

  • You're being chased down a dark alley by a menacing figure in a white mask.
  • Your parents have laid out their table for a fancy dinner - and you're the main course.
  • The girl who was mean to you at school puts a red snake in your bed which turns into a dragon.

These kind of dreams are more symbolic and require more figural (i.e., metaphorical or tropic) thought to unpack.  For example - you're the main course in a fancy dinner your parents are eating - could it be that your parents once "fed" on your energy and accomplishments? Did you feel at some level threatened or overwhelmed by their attention to you?

How to Think Like Your Dreams Think

Dreams think in metaphors, puns, story, and drama.  In other words, they think in poetic devices.  In order to understand your dreams, you also have to be willing to think poetically.

To think poetically means to consider elements of the dream in terms of all their connotations and associations.  It means encountering the dream as a holistic experience and meeting it with your whole heart rather than coming at it as a problem to be solved with your mind alone.  Instead of asking yourself, "What does this mean?" try asking yourself, "What kind of metaphor is this? What does this symbol make me feel? What does it invoke in me?"  For example, you may realize that the red snake put in your bed by the mean girl from school makes you think of the blood of your first menstrual period and how threatened you felt by the changes of puberty.

But menstrual blood is not what the red snake means - it's a possible symbolic association for the red snake.  The red snake is not just a dramatic stand in for "menstrual blood" - it's also a red snake - something slithering and alive and startling.  Something possibly dangerous and definitely strange to find in your bed.  What feelings does its presence evoke in you?

Psychological dreams are more challenging than mundane dreams to resolve through action.  Often it's not enough to simply acknowledge the feelings that a certain dream tells you about: you usually have to do something to show your energy body (i.e., your soul) that you "get" what it's showing you.

For example, if you've thought a lot about the dream of your parents eating you at a fancy dinner table, and you've realized that the dream is about your feelings of being consumed by your family life, you may need to take the steps of learning how to set and enforce more appropriate boundaries with your family.  Such a process could take months or years.  No matter how much work it is, you need to do it if you want to progress on your journey.

Another example: if you realize that the red snake in your dream makes you think of your first period and the trouble of transitioning from childhood into adulthood, you may need to re-examine your thoughts about your feminine identity.  Do you need to revise or expand your beliefs about what it is to be a woman?  Do you need to inwardly forgive the mean girl at school who teased you for your pimples and awkward clothes?  Do this, and you'll heal the unease that the dream points to.

Once you've worked through a large quantity of your psychological dreams, you arrive at the third layer of dreaming: spiritual dreams.  Tune in soon to learn just exactly how those kinds of dreams work and what interpretive tools you need to meet them.





image: [jurvetson]

Posted on April 18, 2012 and filed under Dreams, Uncategorized.

Soul Sustainability + the Temples of Humankind + the English Opium-Eater

[Whenever I send out a new letter full of gems and updates, I post an old one here.  Sign up now to get the gems hot and fresh as I find 'em.]  

Hello wonders,

This week we've got a deep meditation on soul sustainability, a tour of the Temples of Humankind, and the first best-selling addiction memoir ever.


Soul Sustainability (pdf)


Soul Sustainability from Evolve Deep

Rhina Ju is a dynamic visionary artist and lifestyle concierge (the word means "keeper of the candles"!). This week she offered a beautiful meditation on her philosophy of sustainable soul culture. Check it out if you need some nourishment.

Damanhur - The Temples of Humankind (youtube series)

Damanhur Temple Dream Intentional Community

Deep beneath the earth in Northern Italy, an intentional community has built an astounding, gigantic network of chambers dedicated to honoring the fullest potential of humanity and divinity in concert. Built over decades by dedicated artisans as a labor of devotion, hese halls and temples are visually stunning and profoundly inspiring.

Confessions of an English Opium Eater - Thomas de Quincey (pdf book)


Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

"I am too much a eudaemonist," the erudite Thomas de Quincey lamented. He meant, "I really want to feel good ALL THE TIME." This, of course, is a hallmark of an addictive personality. De Quincey shocked the world with his loopy, brilliant, and touching memoir of his opium addiction -- the first that the genteel world had ever seen. De Quincey, a prolific and well-respected political economist, suffered terribly during his youth as a homeless orphan in London. He began taking opium first to ease the horrible stomach pains he acquired after too many years of hunger damaged his digestive system. After a time, he noticed opium's entertaining side effects and began taking it for visionary exploration. Sadly, his fondness for the drug led him into terrible despair and paranoid delusions. (He came to believe that a Mongolian warrior was visiting him at his cottage in the cotswolds and threatening the purity of his maidservant.) As far as I'm concerned, one of today's addiction memoirs touch De Quincey's for sheer lyrical wonder and emotional intensity. Read it to better understand the addict in all of us.


My first low-cost coaching sessions ($25 each) have been going amazingly well. Here's a testimonial from the brilliant Abigail Amalton, artist and photographer at The Silent Infinite:

"Carolyn’s approach spoke to my soul directly. When I spoke of my difficulties with finding my audience, she knew exactly what I had to heal in my own psyche in order to connect better with others through my work. I’ve had negative past experiences in the field of life coaching that have left me feeling condescended to, being forced into a specific ideology and like I needed to be fixed. Not so with Carolyn: she spoke to me as a friend and kindred soul on the same path, extending a hand and rooting for me. I experienced total acceptance in her presence and as a result of the compassion she extended me, I learned how to be kinder to myself. In my conversation with Carolyn, I felt truly appreciated, listened to and valued as an artist and a human being. Months later, I’m still amazed at how just one experience of true compassion can so positively shift one’s self-perception."

Thank you, Abigail! You can schedule your own soul-shifting session with me here.

Also, Part 4 in the series Surrender Your Addiction to Suffering is up.



Iron John + Leo Tolstoy's nonfiction + Buddha in Suburbia

(Whenever I send out a new letter I post an old one here to the blog. To get the gems and updates all hot & fresh, just sign up here to my mailing list) Hello wondrous creature,

I always get extra-reflective on snowy days like today in Pittsburgh. I've got a handful of discoveries for you to share that reflective vibe, and exciting news about my work.


Iron John by Robert Bly (audiobook on youtube) 

In addition to being an amazing poet, Robert Bly is also the leader of the Mythopoeic Men's Movement, a movement dedicated to reclaiming conscious masculinity via ritual and myth. In Iron John, Bly offers an in-depth exploration of a fairy tale story that holds important wisdom about what it takes for a man to free his psychic energy from that of his parents and the culture at large, and to integrate as a fully life-giving individual. I found out about the book via the brilliant hip-hop artist Eric Venuto aka Bamboo, who recommended it to my partner, Dey. As soon as Dey mentioned that the book had a heavily Jungian point of view I couldn't resist digging in and reading it myself. I finished it in an afternoon because it's just that good. This audio version offers the distinct pleasure of Bly's soothingly gruff voice and the advantage that you can "read" it while washing the dishes and otherwise doing tasks around the house. (I would NEVER clean my apartment if not for audio books-- I'd be too busy reading!)

The Kingdom of God is Within You - Tolstoy (ebook)


Until stumbling around wikipedia the other day I never realized that Tolstoy wrote nonfiction-- but he did -- and quite an important work of nonfiction, too. This is the book that spurred Gandhi to adopt his principles of nonviolence which led to the liberation of India from British rule. In it, Tolstoy explores the radical political dimensions of Christianity and makes the searing (and still extremely relevant) point that Jesus' teachings leave no room to justify violence of any kind, including the violence of war, which many ostensibly Christian leaders in the U.S. and around the world encourage everyday. But his critique doesn't just target those in positions of power-- it also beckons whoever digs Jesus to get way more serious about integrating that great man's disruptive and profound teaching into everyday life. Read it if you're looking for an inspiring jolt for your political and spiritual awareness.

Buddha in Suburbia (streaming documentary film)


Buddha in Suburbia follows exiled Tibetan lama Lelung Rinpoche as he strives to get along in the Western world and to reclaim the lost teachings of his previous incarnation, teachings which are key to the legacy of Tibetan Buddhism. It offers not only fascinating insight into the plight of the Tibetan people, but also the pleasure of watching a man pursue a genuine epic quest for spiritual knowledge. I don't want to trivialize the difficulty or sadness of Lelung Rinpoche's work in the wake of the Tibetan exodus-- but he's seeking the missing scrolls of his ancient people. How cool is that?!


I'm delighted to announce that I'm launching a low-cost coaching program for 2012. Each one hour session is just $25 (that's about $75 less than you'll find most coaches charge). Curious why the price is so low? You may want to read my post that details the spiritual and political motivations that inspire me. I only have 20 sessions available per week, and two of those have already been taken -- so if you're interested in grabbing a slot, I suggest you go ahead and purchase it.



Deep Wisdom + revelatory Pennsylvania folk + free money


Here I go, continuing my new tradition of posting my email letter list updates from five weeks ago here on the blog.  I know you'll enjoy what's below. But if you want the hot and fresh stuff, you best sign up right here, right now:



Hello, great wonder!

The Gems

Today I'm sending out 3 gems that have been helping me to stay sane and buoyant this week while there's so much change and excitement in the air.


Every Path Is - Collected Audio Recordings of Byron Katie

Byron Katie is a transformational teacher.   She lived, miserable and anxious, for 46 years before having a massive spiritual awakening in which she lost the ability to believe her own stressful thoughts and thereby became enormously happy. She offers a process called The Work.  The Work is a stunningly effective inquiry meditation which she developped to share her experience of awakening.  It completely altered my relationship to my mental stories and taught me to be much more open-minded and gentle with myself.  You can learn all about The Work at Katie's official website.  And you can also listen to hours upon hours of her going through the process with people at, a fan's free collection of her audio recordings which she sanctioned.  I like to listen to the recordings on while I do things like wash the dishes and / or play tetris.  Katie's utterly kind, utterly clear, grandmotherly love and radical wisdom have an effect of grounding me like nothing else.


The Awesome Foundation - $1000 grants that are super-easy to apply for

I was thrilled to see a link to The Awesome Foundation in a friend's facebook feed.  Their motto is "Forwarding the interests of Awesome in the universe, $1000 at a time." Clearly, this foundation and I share similar great taste.  It turns out that The Awesome Foundation is devoted to funding-- you guessed it-- awesome projects of all sorts.  In the past they've funded everything from public murals to re-creations of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

You just fill out a super-easy application form (it's the shortest  and friendliest grant application I've ever seen!) and they consider your project for a grant.  There are multiple chapters of The Awesome Foundation in cities around the world.  Each city chapter awards one $1000 grant per month, so it's something you could keep applying for if for some reason you happen to get passed over the first time.  What really rad and far-out thing could you accomplish for your community if someone handed you $1000? Time to tell them about it! The deadline for the next round of applications is November 15th.


Native -  an album of dreams and revelation by Ivory Weeds - free download

Ivory Weeds (aka John Chriest) is a soft-spoken young man from the forrests outside Pittsburgh who blushes easily and has improbably long brown eyelashes.  I have the joy of working with him at YOU=LOVE, a non-profit devoted to making everyone aware of the fact that they are, at their essence, pure love.  Native is the first album Ivory Weeds put out, and it certainly reminds me of the love at the core of everything.  Its shimmering, aching sound meets the grey-clouded sky of late autumn in the Pennsylvania countryside with perfect frankness and tenderness.  I recommend listening to it while drinking your morning coffee on dark mornings -- the music has a magic way of bringing out the mystery and glory in what otherwise feels only drab and cold and making one want to live to bring warmth into the winter.


The News

I've written a post which seems to be resonating and catching on with a lot of folks, much more so than my previous work.  You might check it out if you haven't already: The poetics of occupation: pressing reasons we need to occupy our own cities.

Also, the online gift circle forum is starting to get exciting, with participation from the wondrous Rhina, Abigail, Toni and Tabitha.  I invite you to come check it out-- all you need to do is write a post wherein you offer a gift of your own, express something you'd like to receive, and go ahead and even lay claim to something someone has offered so far (nurturing skype conversation, access to an amazing image library, writing services, graphic design services have all been offered-- don't you want this great stuff? come ask for it!).

Please feel free to write to me to let you know how these resources have served you or how I might serve you better in the future.




End creative writer's block: write fan fiction about your subconscious

I've found a way to get around the writer's block that I've had for a long time around creating original fiction.  

I realized that rather than telling myself that I'm "authoring" stories (something which usually makes me collapse in a pile of guilty defeat-- why? I don't know?), I can just write fan fiction about my subconscious.


I think of fan fiction differently than I think of "literary" or even "original" fiction-- I guess because it's fiction written by amateur authors about characters invented by professional authors or screenwriters.


Though I rabidly read "normal" fiction throughout my teen years, in my early twenties and up to now I started to prefer the somewhat illicit-seeming thrill of fan fiction.  One rather weird example of this is the fact that I've read possibly thousands of pages of Harry Potter fan fic and exactly twenty pages of J.K. Rowling's actual writing.



Why? Well, I'm a well-seasoned reader and it didn't take long for me to notice that most fan fictioners are far better writers than Ms. Rowling and did more justice to the nuances of the characters and world she incepted.  As a pretty fun result of this preference, I have no sense of what the actual canonical Harry Potter plot is. This makes watching the movies really great.


The characters who make repeat appearances in my subconscious (in my night-time dreamlife, in my day dreams) feel to me more like pre-existing TV or movie characters rather than characters that I as an author "make up" perhaps because I "see" them so vividly in dreams. This is probably how it feels for very many "legit" authors-- but when I think of myself as an "author" I get writer's block.  This undoubtedly has to do with some amazing neurotic complex that I aquired somewhere in seventh grade.


In any case, I've started writing that fan fiction about the characters in my subconscious. It comes in little flashes.


I figured I would share it here with you, as an encouragement to us both.  It's a first-person narration from the point of view of the leading male character, Reverie.


Warning: Carolyn's Subconscious is not a G-rated program by a long shot.  It's primarily concerned with eros and thanatos.


Carolyn's Subconscious - Flash #1: The Warehouse

I'm walking in the ruins of a warehouse.  I'm searching for Elsie.  There's a grip in the pit of my stomach because I fear she's dead, her body covered by a pile of plaster and bricks. I must be quite a sight to the eerie gods watching me.  I'm half the man I was, deranged and distracted by the whispers of spirits who had promised to help me and instead dismantled my world and stole the one woman I swore to protect.


The body I'm wearing is young and strong, muscled and at its prime; but inside I'm an old man.  I've failed and my failure has collapsed me.  I keep thinking I can smell her death-- her sweat and her perfume mingled with rot in the dust of the ruins.


Even in the midst of my distraction, my grief and my disgust, the thought of her perfume excites me.  I'm so in love, so in lust.  I can still feel her improbably soft hands touching my chest.  I can still hear her moaning as I moved on top of her, inside her.  She was a sister to me in a never-ending spiritual war; the mother of my child; my charge and my ward.


I was her servant and her master, the priest she confessed to and the man she redeemed.


"Reverie," she would say to me, "I love you," while we walked across a desert; while we bedded down for the night; while I bled; while she held my arm. Moving through the rubble I could hear her voice, the opening velvet of it that always disarmed me. I had wanted to die for her. That would have been a pleasure. But not this, not this stumbling through the ugly detritus crazed with grief and desire. Not her death.


I saw it-- one of her hands.  A great mass of fallen plaster covering the rest of her.


I dove in and dug.


There she was: still.  So terribly still.  There she was: clay. All clay.


I knelt with her body in my arms; I knelt holding her.  The moon beat my back.



Love! Carolyn




Posted on September 28, 2011 and filed under Creativity.

How to build a love-puddle community via creation rather than consumption

  So, I'm a sporeganizer for Evolver Pittsburgh.


Me and my pal Sophie had a talk with Remi Gurak and Jonathan Talat-Phillips, one of the founders of Evolver this morning, about how we're successfully building community in our spore.  He asked me to write an email to send out to the whole world-wide Evolver network about it.


After spending the afternoon writing the email and putting in all the links, I had a feeling like-- hey, this is relevant not just to sporeganizers but to everyone interested in fostering community.


So here, I reproduce the letter for your reading joy.



First, a few quick tid bits about us:

We started around this time last year.  We're going strong now with a core group of about 6 - 8 people who consistently show up to ALL the planning meetings and events and of that core, 3 of us regularly take on leadership responsibilities. We've thrown 3 big consciousness parties-- two events called Interweaves (attendance 150 - 200 -- here's video of our gorgeous fire spinners and live art), and one amazing outdoor live ritual theater fairy-themed Solstice celebration (about 300 souls-- here we are setting up the dark fairy camp -- and here we are in the fiery midst of it). We usually see groups of between 10 - 15 at our monthly events.


So what's working?

Charles Eisenstein's essay, A Circle of Gifts, has influenced us all very deeply.  In the essay, Charles makes an excellent and eye-opening point which I think of now every day- that community comes from creating together and not from consuming together.


1. Parties 

We have such a strong core group in large part because we throw ourselves into doing the big visionary parties.


When we're making a party happen, we're not just sharing information or talking with each other, we're creating something wild and wonderful that's so much bigger than anything we could accomplish individually. We all get a chance to share our deep talents as artists and metaphysicians. We rely on one another to show up and do our parts so that the parties happen.  If someone drops their ball, we all are worse off for it.  If someone does an excellent job, we all benefit.


That reliance- -well, to me it's extremely tender-- and at the risk of sounding like a big old sap, I have to tell you that my fellow evolvers make my heart melt with gratitude again and again as we do this work together -- I've turned into a giant puddle of happy mush while looking at a gorgeous labyrinth that Josh built for Solstice, or an incredibly well-thought-out to-do list that Sophie made for Interweave.


As a result of all this mush-making, I've fallen rather hopelessly in love with everyone in the spore.  So I'm willing to go extra miles to make them feel mushy.  So the happiness spreads.


Also- bonus -- through the big parties more people find out about Evolver, think we're super-cool, and come to our other stuff and help us plan.


2. Gift Circles


Back to A Circle of Gifts again!  Charles also outlines in that essay how to hold gift circles.  With Transition Pittsburgh, we've had some incredible gift circles.


Here's a brief video of one - check out all those hot evolving and transitioning folks. ;)


Through the gift circles, we deepen our reliance on one another-- so not only are we helping each other throw the parties, we're also helping each other learn psychic abilities, get healed through reiki, fix up our organic gardens, clean house, set up websites, etc. etc. in an endless whirling blur of goodness.


Also-- we draw more folks into our orbit-- 'cause man, who doesn't love a gift circle?


3. Potlucks

When we were just all getting to know each other at first in gift circles, one of the main things that people would ask for when stating their needs was just "that we would all spend more time together."
So now we have at least one potluck event a month (usually ends up being more than that somehow-- I guess 'cause we love to eat?).  Sometimes it's part of a planning meeting and sometimes it's part of a spore, and sometimes it's just for the hell of it --  but we eat together while we work on evolving consciousness.  And that makes stuff cozy and a bit more down to earth ('cause man, stuff can get heady - check out this conversation at our Technology spore).

We've got kind of big extended family vibe going on now, and I think we just want to be close to each other. So we go ahead and make that happen.


In Conclusion
I just want to mention, as I did to Jonathan and Remi this morning-- that connecting with folks through Evolver has made my social life richer and more joyous than ever before. "Find the others"-- indeed! I have! And they ROCK!
If any of you would like to talk with us about how to pull off big parties, gift circles, or pot lucks--- please go ahead and do so.  We're really itching to get to know our brothers and sisters all over the network better.