Strephon Kaplan-Williams is one of the Titans of
the Dream Movement. His Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork collections provided a map for a
generation of dreamworkers, bringing Jungian, holistic and transpersonal themes
to the common person as well as many professional therapists. He was the founder
of the Jungian-Senoi Institute in Berkeley in 1977 and one of the initial
founding fathers of the Association for the Study of Dreams in the 1980's. His
development of the dream cards, tarot like cards for dreamers, has shifted the
emphasis of dreamwork from talking interpretations to a more imagistic approach
that is more in align with dreaming itself. All of this work is an intensely
personal experience for Strephon as well, and includes fifteen years of Jungian
analysis, ten years of intensive training as a therapist and workshop leader in
the Jungian tradition, a masters in counseling psychology, four years as chief
therapist at an innovative treatment center in California, eight years of
bodywork and ten years of on the mat Aikido. You can now find him doing clinical
work as a Dream Therapist and providing Dreamwork Leadership and Dream Therapist
training programs in Netherlands and Norway since 1991, as well as lecturing and
providing workshops around the world.
His current most recent creation is the Dreamwork2000 project which provides
not only education and interactive dream forums, books, dream cards and other
productions, but also sets the stage for a conscious bridge into the 21st
Richard Catlett Wilkerson for Electric Dreams [RW]: Hi Strephon, and welcome
Strephon Kaplan-Williams. [SK-W]: Thanks Richard and to all of you. I never
expected such a hearty welcome when I finally arrived in Cyberspace! As you
know, I have been inhabiting Dream Space for a long time and now I seem ready at
age 65 to enter Cyberspace. What great unknown will I find here?
[RW]: Before I ask you about the specific programs of Dreamwork2000, I wanted
to ask you about the general intentions and orientation of the project, how the
project came about and the like. In the past you have created grassroots
movements, international organizations and professional training centers. How do
you see your presence on the Net?
[SK-W]: So far I love being on the net, and I am saying this without even
getting a significant response yet. We had over 1000 hits the first week when
Ineke, our designer, threw it up on the web just for some of us to see. This
probably is not unusual. You found me right away. I think you have some dream
spider at work out there keeping track of things.
But seriously, I am committed to the net because it is free-form
communication and creation. I have a lot of experience now and have close
experiences with my students but through the net I can share some or much of
that experience so that I am more part of that WorldForm being created. I am
committed to being interactive and bringing on line as many of my students as
When I have to tell a long-term student that I can no longer read and comment
on his dreamwork I get this immensely sad feeling because I know now I am slowly
closing down my life and leaving behind only the knowledge that my students and
I have developed. The internet may be my true graveyard of the spirit. Don't
bury me in the earth. Stash me somewhere on the internet.
I experience Cyberspace as similar to Dream Reality. In Dream Reality we
participate through our dream egos, the presence of our personal selves in the
dream, in interactions with significant figures, issues, potentials, and
consciousness ideas. The same seems to be happening in Cyberspace!
A developed Dream Reality traveler should be able to travel and contribute in
Cyberspace as well.
[RW]:. The Dream Cards are a featured focus of your new site. These have been
globally successful and popular with many people. Can you tell the Electric
Dreams readers a little about the cards? How you decided to do them? What was it
like doing the art on them yourself and what did it mean to you? Why
[SK-W]: I feel very lucky to have the Dream Cards come through me and through
Roger and Linda Garland, their illustrators, lakeside-gallery.com. What I did
basically was give them a detailed but rough design with word descriptions for
each image, they then did the professional sketch which I corrected where
necessary and they did a final oil painting the same size as the Dream Cards.
Almost no changes were made after that. The project took two years.
We worked with Eddison-Sadd, a packager who produces and prints and resells
to a major publisher. So I got very little money for the 100,000 sets sold so
far, less than 25 cents each set for the two years work. The Garlands took more
than a year off from other projects to do the Cards and got paid separately.
Originally I approached Eddison-Sadd from California with my idea for an
archetypal tarot based on my Ego and the Seven Basic Archetypes model. We had
correspondence but no decisions and they said the artist I was working with was
not of professional quality.
Then in 1988 I got the inner call at age 54 to give up everything in
California, the Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Institute and friends and community to
move to England and work in Europe. I had nothing developed in Europe but I made
the move. There I called Eddison-Sadd and said, 'I'm here.' With surprise they
asked me to come in and told me they would do my archetypal tarot but would I
please consider doing the first dream cards ever published. I said give me a few
hours to be with it. I meditated and found that using the same Seven Archetypes
basic model I could indeed arrange dream symbols in a schema which would account
for all dream symbols and prove useful in working with any dream or life
This was of course The Impossible Task. For who in their right mind would
even attempt a symbol system as a tool to account for the meaning of each and
every dream symbol dreamed in the past, the present, or the future?
I designed the first Dream Card, Journey #37, the Garlands painted it, and we
sold the whole project to Simon & Schuster for the advance needed.
During the development of the project I had to have several breakthroughs,
not only for each Card but also in the design of the Cards. My editors, Nick
Eddison and Ian Jackson, would sometimes ask, 'but how do the Cards work?' I
would have to say, 'We don't know yet since they don't exist yet.'
I had to trust the greater dream source and Dream Reality. I had to trust
that there was an overall schema built into Dream Reality, the Symbolic
Universe, which could be known and modeled. I had to be ready for the whole
project collapsing if some fatal flaw developed. For I would maintain
intellectual and scientific integrity at all costs. I would not knowingly hoax
the general public with a symbol system which did not hold together and which
did not work.
This was my big chance to get out into the world the first dream cards and a
whole new symbol system.
The Dream Cards are not in any way based on the symbol system of tarot cards.
I deliberately did not study tarot.
I wanted modern symbols from modern dreamers. I invited a number of advanced
dreamers to contribute their greatest dreams and I took the chief symbols from
these and my great dreams, meditated on the energy of the symbol and the Card
and then came up with the basic design which the Garlands in their wonderful
imagination and skill put into images.
In effect, the Dream Cards are produced by the Great Unconscious and the
Dream Reality that emerges from this core stratum of archetypes which underlies
The greatest proof that the Dream Cards work was unexpected. While designed
for use in working with any dream to gain meaning from it, nine out of ten
people immediately used the Dream Cards to do life readings. The synchronicity,
meaningful coincidence, of drawing one or several Cards around a life issue
always seems to work and to give new insight and meaning. I have even been able
to 'read' with public audiences according to the Card they pick when someone is
suffering a severe illness.
So the Cards work to bring Dream Reality into Waking Reality and to teach
people how to understand and relate to a universal symbol system.
Jung re-discovered synchronicity and I was lucky enough to have come through
me in the meditative state an amazingly powerful synchronicity tool based on the
Seven Basic Archetypes model. This model itself is amazing since it also came to
me intuitively. My Jungian analyst teachers said Jung said you could not
classify the archetypes since they are in the unconscious.
So immediately I started modeling the archetypes to answer a basic question a
fellow student had, How many archetypes are there? Jung listed about 13 but what
came to me when I went to a Cistercian monastery for a week of silent
contemplation on the model was that Jung did not understand yet the functional
nature and interrelations between archetypes which a model must have to be
coherent and whole.
This is important because the Seven Basic Archetypes model is the basis for
classifying all symbols in dreams and life based on their functional nature. The
model works to explain how archetypes function in similarity and contrast
obeying the fundamental law of opposites. The model works based on the powerful
synchronicity that results in using the Dream Cards both for life readings, the
waking dream, and for night dreams in breakthrough insights. Everyone reports
this and I have interacted with hundreds of people now in using the Cards. Some
guiding force that is very powerful in evoking meaning is at work through these
Cards and the archetypal model behind them.
Interestingly enough, the conservative world of Jungian analysts does not
recognize the importance of the Seven Basic Archetypes model or the Dream Cards.
One non-orthodox Jungian writer even attributed the model to Jung!
I guess like a rain forest shaman my ways and whereabouts are hidden from the
world. It does not matter just so the results are out there and useful for
people to use.
If I have founded the first dreamwork institute, co-founded the first dream
association, written the first comprehensive dreamwork manual, authored the
first dream cards, presented the first workable archetypal model, given the
first full three to five year professional dreamwork training program,
originated certain dreamwork techniques, it has not been me personally but the
Source which works through me because I am committed to following its prompting
I seem never to have done what I wanted to do but had to follow where the
most energy was. How I would have liked to be a novelist, a master teacher, a
great tennis player, a rich man with a home in nature near a California beach, a
person who has large audiences come to hear what he has to say, a teacher with
students who stay.
Instead I live a fairly alone life in an obscure place in a small country
with modest income and very modest standard of living, with no savings and no
real estate, and very little recognition in the world and almost no intimate
friends I can share my real self with. This is reality. What I have accomplished
is in balance with what I have not been able to accomplish. The opposites rein
supreme in my life and work. So be it!
Back to dreamwork after this personal aside.
The first language we all learn as babies is the language of imagery. As
adults through Dream Reality we can return to the universal language through
participation in Dream Reality and learn our way there and then connect to
Waking Reality as well.
The Wisdom Cards which go with the Dream Cards are my meditations on the
images once the Garlands produced their final painting for that Card. This idea
also came out of meditation in the trance state, the same trance state I entered
to have the images come into their rightful place for that particular Card. I
felt we needed some help for people in relating to their imagery without being
too interpretive. The Wisdom Cards hopefully evoke a dreamer's own personal
And so the Dream Cards were born into this world. Here I am in the
Eddison-Sadd office and Nick Eddison says he has had this idea for dream cards
for ten years and would I do them?
The idea had to come from an imagery man to a dream man because the dream man
was too close to this key idea to originate it himself. Thus the first dream
cards ever were born into this world.
How often can one be there at the right moment in time at the creative
gateway when really new things emerge into the world? I feel privileged to be
assisting at that gateway. For myself the use of Dream Cards has had major
importance, not only for certain dreams but to do Card spreads based on the
archetypal model at key events in my relating and life.
I must tell you also that in first talking with my editor he reported that
two authors of other card projects had committed suicide in the final stages of
their projects and their wives had to complete the project for them.
This is truly the dark side of bringing something terribly new into the
world. I survived my own suicidal feelings in the final stages since I have
helped others with suicidal symptoms and had been for-warned. So I paid the
price to bring in the Dream Cards but not the total mythic sacrifice sometimes
demanded of creators by the mythic gods and goddesses of antiquity and the Great
Unconscious. There is a price for everything and everything has its price. This
aphorism stays with me.
[RW]: Could you explain briefly how the cards are generally intended to be
[SK-W]: To continue the story of the first years of the Dream Cards, they
were born in 1991. I had to write the book on how they were to be used before
they even existed. The readings in that book are all authentic. We used the
mock-up versions of the Cards to do readings. Now, eight years later I have done
many trainings and readings with the Cards so I know better how to use them.
Use the Dream Cards to bring in meaning from a deeper guiding source than ego
by doing dream and synchronicity readings with them.
Redfield has popularized Jung's idea of synchronicity with his emphasis on
synchronicity connections but with the Dream Cards you do not have to be out
there relating to others all the time to seek guidance through synchronicity.
Do it with the Cards. Find guidance with dreams as well. Develop intuition
through inner work and not just outer work.
James Redfield is a spiritual extravert. He has to have people kill each
other in his Celestine Prophecy. On the Dream Cards is also adversity and
killing but with inner meaning and healing.
You don't have to put violence into a spiritual novel to get people to read
it. There are no enemies to your living spiritual principles except those in
Seek inward to go outward. Inner is prior to outer. So give me dreamworking
and Dream Cards working any time over having to do so much outer relating to
find significant meaning in life.
It's not out there! The fire burns inside. What a lesson!
For instance, in working with a dream, pick one Card to represent you in the
dream and another Card to represent the key issue or potential you are dealing
with in the dream. You can choose these Cards consciously by looking through the
deck or looking up key dream symbols in the 5000 item symbol glossary and then
going to the Card indicated.
Through dreamwork and Dream Cards work you are developing meaning, you are
better understanding the issues in your life and how to use spiritual principles
to deal with them in a meaningful way.
Once you have your two Cards then shuffle the Dream Cards and pick from
anywhere in the deck a third Card without looking and that often is the
breakthrough Card or connector with the other two.
With dreams there often seems to be a key insight or meaning that unlocks the
whole imagery. Through using the synchronicity of the Dream Cards you can often
get this special insight.
In fact I discovered that the Cards work far better at helping people to
insights than I do. I may be an expert by virtue of experience with thousands of
dreams but my forte is to help a person develop their dream issues and then the
insight or key which unlocks the dream must come from a deeper source than the
personal ego of the dream ego or the personal ego of the dreamer.
Just as a dream seems to come from a core wisdom source, so too does the key
to a dream's meaning seem to come from a greater source than ego.
One thing that seems off in those who say the dreamer is always right as to
what his or her dream means is that often the dreamer, because of personal ego,
is the last to know what his or her dream means.
I am amazed at other dreamwork writers who love to quote Jung in their own
work and use the word, archetypes, yet when it comes down to it completely
ignore Jung's point that the dream most often functions to compensate the biased
ego-view of the dreamer. Or why else have a dream if you are not going to learn
from it and shift your viewpoint fundamentally.
Too many dream egos don't really look at their dream egos.
I hope I am consistent and trust-worthy in analyzing and compensating mine as
the dreams reveal my real self to me. Beware of those who quote Jung but don't
really follow his consciousness principles!
I take the view that dreams are meaningful because when we objectify their
issues and teachings we are always challenged to new learning about others and
We could also say that the Dream Cards are so rich in universal modern
symbols that it is easy for a dreamer to project meaning into the symbols.
Yes, this is certainly one level. But I have collected examples of true
synchronicities in which the connections seem far stronger than just projecting
personal meaning into a symbol. Test this out for yourself. One time after
seeing a deeply tragic and moving documentary on the German concentration camps
and the Jews I felt such a dark feeling I just knew that I could pick a card
blindly from the Dream Cards and it would be the Adversity Card, Destroying,
which has a concentration camp symbol on it. Sure enough this card came right
out in my hand. I still felt certain about such energy, such presence, that I
put the card back in the full 66-card deck, shuffled the deck several times and
again blindly pulled out the same card. Many people have reported to me a
similar phenomenon of pulling the same card twice when a certain energy needed
I don't think projecting meaning is the only or final explanation for why
Dream Cards work is so strikingly meaningful. Is it some psychic power to read
blindly at work or is there a guiding synchronicity force working directly
through an open person using the Cards? We don't have to know the answer if we
use the Cards and find them effective. American pragmatism at its best added to
European Jung's theory. I love it!
The other way many people use the Dream Cards is to create the waking dream.
You have an issue you are dealing with. Shuffle the deck and choose one to
three or five Cards in a special Dream Cards spread. Since the images of the
Dream Cards came out of people's major dreams then the waking spreads you create
will have many dream-like qualities and you can go from there.
In fact, and this is important, the Dream Cards use modern people's dream
symbols and are therefore more relevant and powerful often than a traditional
tarot card reading which is based on symbols from the past, often masculine and
full of potential violence, and not in balance for modern times. Many people
have indicated their preference for the modern symbolism of the Dream Cards and
their powerful synchronicity over tarot cards and readings. I'm not selling! I
am just pointing out reality.
So I can only say that I am full of joy that the Dream Cards exist to help
people dream travel and to become more conscious of what symbols may mean and
how to work with them. Let's say that someday in every school all children will
be learning the universal language of symbolism, or re-learning it, and from
that day onward there will be a tremendous leap in consciousness for the entire
world. One major result would be of course that humans will not act out so much
their dynamics, such as the machine warrior who acts out in outer wars and
killings. What young man does not have the fantasy to drive his car like a tank
or airplane breaking all the rules of an over-civilized society?
[RW]: I have heard from group leaders and dreamworkers online who are very
enthusiastic. One dreamworker told me that during a dream group they had a
visitor who was a very difficult group member and by shifting from the "If
this were my dream..." approach to using the cards, the tensions
dramatically shifted and the imagination began to flow.
[SK-W]: I have already said what I think and feel about the "If this
were my dream" issue. The reality point is that your dream is not your
dream! You did not create it with your possessive and controlling waking ego so
how can you claim it as your own production once you are awake again? Some of
this is just plain old sound thinking. The dream is not a product of waking ego.
We are asleep. One definition of sleep is that it is a condition in which the
waking ego function lets go of conscious control of the body and its emotions so
that other non-ego centers can function including the dreaming source, what I
call the dream source, and there is no better word for it!
I can see why the Dream Cards might work with both passive and difficult
people. For they do bring out recognition of a greater source than ones personal
Yes, it seems that if we are caught in our own limited pictures of reality
and ourselves we need to enter the greater realms where imagery, wisdom and
imagination can more freely flow.
Let synchronicity handle difficult people, since this is a greater or outside
source other than the personal ego with all its restrictions and
The dream owns itself. We do not own the dream. Therefore greater source
experiences like dreams can help us get out of our personal egos.
The dream, like a child, has the right to exist in itself. Our job as dreamer
is to relate to the dream, to serve it, to help heal the dream or develop its
Instead of asking others for the meaning of a dream, ask the dream itself, do
work with it, re-enter the dream in some form, use methods with the dream. I
long ago reacted against all the dream interpreters out there because I saw how
much ego projection even dream group leaders and writers were doing on their own
and other people's dreams.
So the Dream Cards through synchronicity bring in another point of view for
the ego to consider. That is one of their chief functions. I would love to do a
workshop just for dreamwork writers and leaders to help them purify egos through
Dream Cards work and the method, Following the Dream Ego. But will this ever
[RW]: One of key values that I see running through your site is
consciousness, or self-awareness. This is particularly brought into focus with
the Dreamwork2000 & Millennium2000 notion of being "dream and life
conscious." What do you mean by this?
[SK-W]: Have I failed? Have I not made it clear yet on the site? Of course on
the site I ask, "Are you dream and life conscious?" and you ask the
question right back!
Consciousness is such a difficult issue. Jung talked about it takes ego to
have ego. I also say that it takes ego to observe ego. The hardest thing for an
ego, a personal identity to do, is to objectify itself. So this is why I
discovered the technique, Following the Dream Ego in which you analyze
specifically how your dream ego, the image of yourself, is acting and not acting
in a dream and what attitudes might be motivating your actions or non-actions.
Consciousness is the ability to reflect upon how we are reflecting upon
ourselves. Consciousness is the ability and commitment to get beyond our pure
subjectivity into a place of objectifying ourselves and not just others or what
is out there.
When we dream we are waking up only we find we are dreaming we are awake yet
can't seem to truly wake up by getting out of bed or writing our dream down,
then we see this beginning ability to see ourselves seeing ourselves. What is
the difference between waking reality and dream reality? Depends on whether you
are at the time in dream reality or waking reality. Our ability to discriminate,
to distinguish inner from outer, dream reality from waking reality, projection
from actual direct experiencing, the unconscious from the conscious, is a
practice in consciousness. We reflect on ourselves and we reflect on our
reflecting on ourselves. I reflect upon myself reflecting upon myself, therefore
I exist. Not "think therefore I am." But, "exist therefore I
am." I know I exist both because I am existing and I know it and because I
am reflecting on the process of knowing I exist.
I am a being observing myself being a being. Or in the ancient Chinese
butterfly dream: I know I am a dreamer dreaming of a butterfly because I know I
am not that butterfly but a dreamer. Now how can I also be a dreamer dreaming
myself alive, dreaming myself into existence?
Is this not why we are interested in our dreams?
[RW]: The forum includes a Character Inventory, which champions such values
as discipline, courage, reality function, comparison and understanding. The
Dream Cards support a wider range of values and encounters. How did you pick
these as the values you wanted to emphasize?
[SK-W]: Ah, a switch! These character values came to me because I realized in
a flash that many of us are out there in life having experiences but not
building character. The modern humanistic, hedonistic point of view is to
enhance human living via technology and quality culture. But at the same time we
have breakdowns in these values in dark side incidents and little wars. No
amount of culture or technology in itself will build character. You can build
outer walls and houses but do you use your life to build yourself?
The above traits are chosen traits, not inherent traits. You can only develop
them if you commit to develop them and make every sacrifice to do so.
In terms of dreamwork it concerned me that beginning dream egos are quite
lazy and non-interactive in dreams. To the dreamer in the dream things happen
but the other characters besides the dream ego are often more interesting and
dynamic. Why is this? Poor training! No Dream Warrior training to speak of! It's
one thing to become conscious or interactive in a dream and quite another to
know what you are doing being there. Therefore have real values and purpose in
dream and life exploration. And build your character. Make yourself an effective
tool for meaning in this life and don't get caught up in petty fights and unreal
imaginings but do something worthwhile, not just in life but with yourself. I am
very concerned in the people I meet how little them have put themselves through
a purification process riding themselves of too much subjectivity, feelings,
hysteria and egocentricity's, so that they can be an effective force in life.
The greatest opportunity that most people miss in life is not meeting the
frequent challenges in dreams. When you fall asleep your dream ego is most often
under constant and real challenge, challenge to integrate, interact, give up
control, change your point of view, develop yourself, become more real, and work
to serve and heal the dream itself and its issues. What a brave task true
dreamworking is! Dreamworking at this level becomes life working as well.
[RW]: One of the most interactive forums is the Consciousness Forum, where
Cyber-travelers can discuss dreams and consciousness. Can you tell us a little
about this area and what is intended?
[SK-W]: In the design of the Consciousness Forum I did not want people simply
spilling out their dreams and opinions. As I say, we live in a narcissistic age
in which people are very concerned about their subjective selves and not at all
about their objective selves. Therefore it is that I ask contributors to also do
some work on what they share as a dream or life experience by pointing
themselves to their dream's issues and how they are responding to them. You saw
this in your own dream contribution and your responses to my responses that
raised some important dream issues that I see now in a new light.
I have been warned that some people just spill their guts out on the web. I
hope this does not happen here.
[RW]: I noticed that you are not afraid of discussing dreams and their
meanings here. What do you feel will be the limits and potentials of dreamwork
[SK-W]: As a beginner to Dream Cyberspace I already feel that Cyberspace is
developing well as a separate awareness reality just as dream reality is a
separate reality in some ways. We tend to exist at several levels of reality
experience, so it is moving to see how Cyberspace can be developed.
Cyberspace seems to be developing as a free and open space for all sorts of
awareness and images. Images evoke energy whether dream or erotic. What is
hidden must be revealed. The more we reveal our levels of imagery the more
dynamic and aware we can become.
Pornography is only revealing what we have kept hidden beneath our clothes,
the life of the genitals but also the inner life and fantasies of our erotic
life nature. Dreams likewise reveal our erotic nature. One dreamer described
dreaming of her boyfriend's penis inside her but partly seen in public and she
felt embarrassed. Yes, her training was to feel embarrassed about certain outer
behavior but also about sharing her inner erotic nature and her inner dream
nature. But she shared it because of the safety of dream group sharing. We have
many aspects to our nature. Why not share them all and thus come more into the
reality of who we really are?
Cyberspace, like dream sharing, can help all of us in the world share more of
who we really are, whether at times we love erotically, or kill hatefully, or
whatever we do. Let's be real. Let's be totally in reality about all of who we
are and share and process that through. What a dynamic and amazing thing this
will be when the World Culture is truly sharing all of itself with itself.
[RW]: Besides the interactive forum, there is also a basic dream
interpretation guide and a free monthly course. This month's featured topic is
"Objectifying Dreams & Following the Dream Ego." Do you have
overall plan for this course or will it follow a more organic path?
[SK-W]: I hope I can keep the commitment to presenting a monthly course on
the different dreamworking methods so the regular visitor to the site can do
dreamwork even on a daily basis if they so feel inspired.
My simple goal, as always, is to present dreamwork as a viable consciousness
tool for enhancing life and purpose in the world. I have used and taught these
techniques for many years at beginning and advanced levels. So now through the
internet people can practice dreamworking. I don't charge for this because I
like the concept of contributing free information and inspiration as so many
sites do. I am sure I can earn my basic money through books and teaching. Let's
hope the Big Bucks Boys don't try to take over the internet and make it
[RW]: One of the ongoing debates about dreams and consciousness, is whether
we can become too conscious and destroy the quality of dreams that is Other with
too much lucidity. Where do you align yourself in this controversy?
[SK-W]: I had a private conversation with Stephen LaBerge on this issue. He
knows well my position that developing your ego choice-making function to
control the dream's production of imagery can be defeating of the naturalness of
the dream and possibly damaging to the dreamer's own psychology who needs to
dream of things from a non-ego controlling point of view. Stephen did
acknowledge with me that there is a moral or integrity position in the fact that
when you do achieve some sort of dream awareness and choice you do not
necessarily then go on to demonstrate your powers by making things you want to
happen in the dream happen.
In one of Stephen's earlier books he met in his dream persons hostile to him
as his dream ego perceived them. He then proceeded to be aware that this was
only a dream and therefore since it was his dream he made them into friends and
thought he was successful.
I pointed out that it might be more effective to deal with threatening
characters as threatening characters because your dream source presents them
that way to you. Why not simply change yourself and your approach in the dream?
Why try and change the other person, in dreams or life? Is this not too
controlling and dominating?
Stephen acknowledged with me in the private conversation that there was a
point, when lucid in a dream, to changing your own attitude and behavior rather
than trying to change the dream situation or character.
I have done this with myself and others for years through dream reentry,
simply closing your eyes and going back into the dream itself and there
interacting differently and more in congruence with the rest of the dream. Dream
Reentry by the way is not from Jung as I understand it. He did not in any way,
shape or form advocate changing your dreams since they were a direct expression
of the central archetype of the self. He did advocate carrying the dream forward
by starting at the end of the dream and letting the images unfold further.
So again I say, become active in your dreams, not to control what happens
there but to integrate more with the dream and its issues. Develop your dream
ego behavior more. Take on characteristics of other characters in your dream and
live them yourself. Also use your dream ego to do things which help resolve the
dream's issues. Become congruent with the dream as a whole. Help the dream
itself become more congruent and whole by developing your dream ego there.
I felt then that Stephen LaBerge was now more open, and not the fresh young
radical he used to be, to making conscious choices on what you actually do in a
dream when you are more aware in it.
I don't think it is any great shakes to become lucid in a dream in the sense
that you know you are dreaming while you are dreaming. In fact I think you can
destroy your sense of dream reality being a full reality in itself. When we
dream of meeting a person who as recently died is that the spirit of the actual
person we knew? Or is it a part of oneself as the Gestalt people claim? Or is
the spirit of a person recently died some essence left of them in actual
communication with us through the dream state?
Without being able to answer such an ultimate question definitively I can say
without a doubt that people who have such dreams are deeply moved at a feeling
level and with a sense of certainty that there is something there of the other
person. So I say that at a feeling level dream experiences are at least as real
to us as outer experiences. So why become a lucid dreamer in which you wake up
in a dream and in effect say, "I am only dreaming, I can change this if I
want." This makes your dream experience terribly subjective and controlling
and I think you lose something of the real reality of the dream experience and
its ability to deeply affect you and your consciousness.
Don't then lucid dream by saying, "This is only a dream." If you
must lucid dream at least tell yourself, "I am awake and alive in this
dream which is very real to me." Keep your dream reality while at the same
time developing your conscious awareness in the dream. We train dreamers in this
by lots of dreamworking and especially Guided and Direct Dream Reentry. We then
have dreamworkers with much more dreamwork activity than when they first
Since I have at last demonstrated hundreds of times the effectiveness of
dream reentry to produce more active dream egos it could now be time for
university people to come in and do their before and after content analysis
studies of dreams which have been dreamworked by using dream reentry.
I am for anyone who wants to make the dreamworking process at any level more
conscious but not ruining its natural ecology through controlling and
manipulative interactions which scientists are also fond of doing.
[RW]: Dream Reentry has also been an area you have developed extensively and
written about. Much of the inspiration comes from the Senoi that have also been
hotly debated in the last few years. For some time after Domhoff's book and
reports from Delaney and Garfield, the Senoi were seen a mythic creations of
Stewart Kilton rather than historic influences. Now Stewart's wife's second
husband (Allen Flagg) has come forward and said that this is just not so, and
Kilton's experiences with the Senoi did take place as recorded. Do you have a
position on this?
[SK-W]: When did I present at the last ASD conference? There I listened in on
a panel on the Senoi and heard something new. A woman university researcher has
gone and learned the Senoi language and lived with the people today and found
that they did use their dreaming for cultural artifacts like making and singing
dream songs which had wisdom in them.
This for me cut through all the skeptics. The critics of the Senoi concepts
are university supporters and trained. Who pays you often determines what you
preach. Domhoff was just a couple of hours away from me and could have
interviewed me in person before he wrote his damning criticism of others the
American Senoi dreamwork movement and me. University professors want to preserve
their high status, good living conditions, good salaries, not having to live in
the real world of making it on your own, so naturally the go on the attack when
something really new emerges which is not university controlled and generated.
The historical fact is that the ASD was born, not because of university
people but because of innovative grass roots people born from Kilton Stewart's
innovative and feelingly presented intuitive reporting. Kilton Stewart deserves
almost single-handedly the recognition as the innovative causative agent for the
American dreamwork movement. Dream groups arose all over the country in the
Seventies because of his paper on the Senoi. There would be no lucid dreaming
movement without the Senoi concepts though this embarrasses the university
The fundamental flaw in the university skeptic's condemnation of Stewart is
that they make references to the past without ever having been there. Stewart at
least was in Senoi territory in the thirties and Gayle Delaney, Patricia
Garfield, and William Domhoff were not. They act as if they can know what
happened then fifty years later. This is poor thinking. Domhoff did himself in
as a university thinker in my mind when he reported gossip about Stewart from
ex-girlfriends. Now if you have any experience with sexual relationships, your
own or other peoples, you know how distorted an ex-lover's picture of you or
some other lover can be. I am trained as a professional marriage counselor also
and one fundamental is never to take what one lover says about another lover as
what actually happened in reality.
Domhoff had to make a case and he used charming writing, gutter gossip and a
university press to do so. His motives are suspect. As a dream worker in the
field I have a whole caseload of incidents of university people attacking those
of us trying to do innovative work and be culture changers. And they get paid
with our tax dollars! Let there be an end to the Senoi controversy with a proper
recognition of Kilton Stewart's positive contribution to America and the world's
revived interest in dreams.
I am simply tired of these university type skeptics who tried to take over
ASD so they could have conferences every year at their universities and get
university credits to keep their jobs by presenting papers at our ASD
Let's be a bit more honest about the whole Senoi dreamwork issue in America.
If anyone should be awarded a founder's plaque, as I was, for helping found the
Association for the Study of Dreams it should certainly be Kilton Stewart who
probably did more for the American dreamwork movement than any other one person.
Why not simply acknowledge our spiritual ancestors and be done with it? The
important point is that the American dreamwork movement was born and Kilton
Stewart's one paper did the trick.
[RW]: You have said publicly on your site and in your writing that you have
spent more than a few hours with the Jungians, not only in analysis, but also
teaching Jung and in bringing Jung to popular culture. Will Jungians continue to
influence grassroots dreamwork, or will his work remain in the background and in
[SK-W]: What Jung pointed to was the inherent nature of symbolic experience.
In pointing to the energy dynamic behind symbols called archetypes Jung was
emphasizing the universal nature of the archetypes.
Jung seemed to try and restrict the term archetype to inner experiences of
the psyche, the personal and collective unconscious. But I have taken it one
step further in maintaining the philosophical position that the archetypes are
universal energy functions that are inherent to existence itself. Long before we
evolved archetypal dynamic were at work, the generative function of the feminine
the causing function of the masculine, the destroying function of adversity, the
achieving function of the heroic, the cyclic function of death-rebirth, and the
developmental function of the Journey archetype. All these functions then are
coordinated and connected by the integrative function of the archetype of
center, the greatest archetype of them all or this universe would not hold
together as one whole.
What has come to me is that doing dreamwork is in fact learning the First
Language, the universal language of symbolism. We have got to understand
symbolic experience and behavior or we will continue to act out the archetypes
as individuals and groups, nations and one world.
So it is not Jung the pioneer as such which is important but that world
culture recognize and study symbolic experience, the nature of core reality
itself. Jung personifies this study but its implications are more universal than
Jung. Don't worry about a few exclusive and narrow-minded Jungian analysts
around the world who try and control what it is to call oneself Jungian. See the
larger picture that what is essential is the study and working with the nature
of symbolic experience. So many of us are only partly in reality because we do
not understand the difference between a symbol, its projection, the beliefs we
use to contain a symbol's energy, and what it fully means to turn symbol into
function and so vitalize ones life and make it both meaningful and effective.
Jung is not the important focus. How we relate to our symbolic experience is!
[RW]: How do you feel about the Archetypal school as promoted by James
Hillman and its influence on dreamwork?
[SK-W]: What I heard from my Jungian analysts who were part of the Zurich
Jung scene is that Hillman when head of the Jung Institute there tried an
experiment of having his students and clients living all in one house. Sex
happened between him and someone. Hillman lost his license and had to leave the
Institute and the country. Then he wrote a book against Jungian analysis. And
the story goes on. When you feel that personal tragedy motivates a person's
intellectual life then their intellectual positions are suspect. Hillman is so
mind he needs the body. His position seems to be to act out the archetypes. He
seems to belong to the school of Jungians, similar to Robert Bly, who act out
the archetypes, their symbolism, dream and mythic but without taking personal
responsibility in what Jung called the individuation process.
Jung pointed to the danger of groups because groups can evoke mass archetypal
feelings that no one takes responsibility for. In a nutshell, the archetypal
school wants mass experiences of the archetypes, as in Bly's groups of
"wild men" drumming, the collective dream, but does not take personal
responsibility which individual dreamwork requires. Group dreaming and group
rituals of a symbolic nature evoke great energy but they weaken the individual
ego in its individual ability to cope with the great forces of the unconscious.
Individual dreamwork, first under guidance, keeps the individual grounded in his
or her own relation to the archetypal sources of symbolic experience, including
dreams. However, individual guided dreamwork, as in Jungian analysis, can become
dry, boring and possessive, lacking the essential spark and over
intellectualized. So let us then open the field for dream expression both
individual and in community, but do it all somewhat consciously.
[RW]: What is your own favorite dream?
[SK-W]: If you mean my favorite dream of mine then among several I would have
to say the one dreamed on my birthday in 1976 in which I dreamed that my
spiritual leaders were giving away their furniture because they were closing
house. I was one of several who was allowed to take one thing which I could
choose. However, in the middle of the night I awoke realizing how important this
dream was and wrote it down and worked with it. Then I fell asleep again and
re-dreamed the dream, much to my amazement. This time I chose a cut-glass
mirror, half of a whole long mantle mirror that had twelve cut-glass squares
around its borders. My wife did not want me to take it. She said we have no room
for it in the house. That year of celebrating the American revolution I left the
treatment center where I was chief therapist, I left the organization I had
trained with and worked in for ten years, and I finally left my unworkable
marriage. Within two years I had founded and developed the Jungian-Senoi
Institute and was on my own in the work I most loved and was committed to. This
dream showed me that I had the necessary connection with source and could trust
in going my own way that I was not operating simply from ego but from a sense of
Interestingly enough, I had discovered dream reentry without knowing it by
falling asleep again and reentering the same dream and carrying out its dream
task, which was to make a fundamental choice and take the symbol of wholeness as
my personal life's work, the square cut mirror with the twelve facets of
consciousness to reflect back to the eye of the beholder the multiple levels of
reality so as to work with them. Speak about dreams of destiny, I have had a few
amazing ones at this level.
[RW]: What is your favorite dream quote?
[SK-W]: We dream to wake to life!
While this came through me it is not mine. It simply states what I have
experienced as a major function of dreams. Imagine what it is really like to
wake up to what oneself and life is all about? What other major life experience
is such a good reflection back to oneself than dreams? Intimate relating is a
close second but even here the dream dreams us as we really are in our intimate
relating. But will we really face the truths in our dreams? Do we dream our
dreams or do our dreams dream us?
[RW]: Do you have any advice for people who would like to become
[SK-W]: To become a professional dreamworker in my experience you need to
also educate the public in the value of doing dreamwork. You need to risk being
on your own. You need political savvy since your fellow dreamworkers are
political animals as well who are ambitious and sometimes kind and sometimes
not. You need to organize on an everyday level with all those phone calls and
details that have to be dealt with. Then finally if you are successfully
organized you get to have your dream groups and your workshops, the high point
of being a dream worker. Here as a dreamwork leader you are called upon to guide
your dreamers to work with their own dreams and discover meaning there. This
takes real objectivity so you are not projecting your own symbolism and
unconscious into someone else's symbolic experience, the dream and its dreamwork.
As far as training to be a dreamworker I make it an absolute requirement in
my training's programs which last three years or more of around three hundred
hours of direct dreamwork a year that you work with your own dream journey first
before helping another person with theirs. If you don't relate to your own dream
source how can you possibly have the integrity to work with someone else's
dreams? Then you start working in guiding others in their own dreamwork. This is
very rewarding because other people's dreams are as rich in issues as your own.
A more fully realized person is one who does work with other people's dreams
while still working with ones own. Why? Because the dream world is so rich in
meaning we can easily gain from other people's dreaming. This is also why small
dream group experience often has the edge over individual dreamworking, say in a
I must make it clear that while I was first introduced to dreamwork in
personal Jungian analysis which totaled fifteen years of work then ten years of
additional training in the Jungian approach I gradually realized that dreamwork
is not exclusively a tool for psychotherapy but that dreamwork exists in its own
right. Since everyone dreams then everyone can learn dreamworking methods for
working themselves with their own dreams for life insights and consciousness.
Dreamwork as an art and a science has a right to exist in its own right.
When I first conceived the idea of bringing together dreamworkers of varying
points of view to form a first conference and a first association of
dreamworkers I was already operating at the level that dreams and dreamwork had
a right to exist in itself as a profession. Gayle Delaney, one of the original
four was not working as a psychologist but thinking of being a fundraiser for
Princeton University. Patricia Garfield was our only university trained
psychologist but chose to write original and popular books on dreamwork in
itself, as in her classic, Creative Dreaming. Jeremy Taylor was not a
psychologist but a community organizer who brought dream sharing to that field
and was later voted in as a Unitarian minister in Berkeley California. A few
months later we included Stephen LaBerge, a dream scientist, radical in his own
way but part of the Stanford University system and another community organizer,
John van Dam, who was a complete original in himself. Then there was me trained
in an innovative Jungian organization with work in Jungian psychology, mythology
and the spiritual aspects of religious experience, especially the historical
Jesus and his wisdom. I also had a Masters in literature and one in counseling
psychology at the university.
So if you want to be a dreamworker then train hard on working with your own
dreams and changing your life thereby, then also work with others. Organize and
educate. We are just at the beginning of the modern dreamworking movement. Focus
on the dream and its life as a life-long passion. Deal with your other
dreamworkers yet make your own way. You don't have to accept all points of view
or even some of the disruptive personalities you will come across but you do
need to include them all. Don't let any one person or point of view claim
exclusive right to doing dreamwork.
This is most obvious as an issue when you come across the view from
psychologists that you must be very careful and qualified in working with
someone's dream or you may damage them. Well, I have been as horrified over what
trained psychologists did in working with other people's dreams as when an
independent lay person who has been through no training themselves may work with
a dream. Dreams themselves have resiliency. Just keep the dream out there,
re-experience it, learn from it, love it, move forward in life with your dream,
and help others with their dreams. Don't be so Goddamn careful in life. Get out
there and experiment, live, make mistakes, get upset, upset others, love the
dream, love others, experience amazing things, fight the great battles of the
spirit, involve yourself fully in life. Don't become a dried up old fig narrowly
defined and over-controlling.
Go with the dream. Live the dream. Honor the dream. Experience amazing
discoveries. Your passion may be slightly or a lot different from someone else's
but live your passion for dreams and dreamwork fully. The figs dry out and drop
off the tree yearly but the tree of life itself lives on. Go with the tree but
eat its fruit.
[RW]: In taking consciousness into the next Millennium, you made several
predictions on your site which could be the topic of another full interview. But
generally you summarize that " One thing is clear. We live by the
perspective we have of the world and ourselves or we do not live at all."
Can you tie this in with dreamwork and how it can provide a bridge in this
[SK-W]: Even a rock has consciousness of itself, pointed out Teihard de
Chardin, the great Catholic evolutionary thinker, because in order for a rock to
be a rock part of its inherent character is to turn back on itself to enhance
its rock nature.
Thus the reflective process is essential to evolutionary formation. We not
only live life, we re-dream the living of life. Do we first dream our life
possibilities and then live them? Or do we first live a life experience and then
re-dream it to make it more relevant to our own personal evolution. Dreaming
re-capitulates living and living re-capitulates dreaming.
Living life is easy. Just give in to your instincts while following the
collective norms. Live unconsciously. Eat, try and have good meals in life.
Fornicate, try and have good sex and good children. Work, try and make effective
things that are new in this world. But it is all world. When you die it makes so
little difference how you have lived. Someone else will move into your house,
into the arms of your wife or lover, into the thoughts of people where once you
dwelled. This is the impersonal stream of life and experience. You are born, you
exist, you live, you die, you don't exist. So why get so excited about things?
Now we come to the question, What is important in life since life itself is
simply life itself and only concerns you while you are alive?
The best you can do with your life is to align yourself with that which is
greater than yourself. If you actively participate in yours and others' dreaming
you are contributing with each act of dream recognition to a greater whole that
I also call the Dream Source.
It seems like there is a numinous body, or a core reality, of shifting and
developing archetypal energies that you can contribute to with your dreamworking
focus. The source gives to us and we give back to the source. But what do we
give? We give consciousness of course. We reflect the source back to itself. We
are re-dreamed by the dream and we in turn through our conscious dreamworking
then re-dream the re-dreaming process so that the source itself becomes almost
imperatively different through my conscious participation in it.
Quite possibly, every sincere effort and dreamworking does make a small put
significant contribution to the whole, which is so much greater than any one of
If you have received and benefitted from the source through the dreams which
make a difference in how you live your life, then you can acknowledge this fact
by contributing back to the universal source your own participation in it
through your own active dreamworking. This affects the whole. The whole is
different, is even more source for all those new nights and new dreamers who are
continually coming into re-existence each night and day in which the new dreams
Make your contribution. Use your life for what is most worthwhile. You can
still suffer all sorts of hardships and inadequacies but you are still at your
task helping turn the Great Wheel of Life and Death into a pathway that has
Dreamwork is source working when we get our personal egos to serve the
greater source rather than try to dominate or control it or our dreams.
[RW]: What are the future plans for dreamwork2000? I noticed you have the
dates for a worldwide tour coming up.
[SK-W]: What a lot of work to go on a worldwide tour. I already work in
several countries one way or another and I am 65, which means retiring more and
more from the world. However, my agent says I have to be out there, especially
in America, and so I follow suggestions and go where the energy is. Dates can be
revised until an absolute commitment is necessary. I am open to doing the best
presenting and teaching I can and so now have Dreamwork2000.com and Georgia
D'Antonio who is the virtual assistant behind it.
Dreamwork2000 is organic. It will develop or die according to the energy and
purpose available to it. In vision one thing I see is a dream symbol data base
available to all based not on telling what a simple means, the act of
interpretation which itself is suspect, but based on real life dream experiences
from people and their most significant symbols, similar to what I have been able
to do with the Dream Cards and now my new book, the Dream Alphabet. I conceive
that there will become available dream curators who will supervise and select
for the database so that as the internet lives on so will this dream symbol
database live on when I am not around.
I may not be smart but I am not dumb. I have used my life so far to help
create a system for consciousness based first on Jung and other spiritual
insights, such as the historical Jesus, and based first and foremost on the many
dreams from others and myself.
The amazing thing is that now via the internet this information can live on
and grow if it remains viable for others. When I and my body are gone I no
longer function as a living human being but the consciousness I represent can
live on via the internet if it is important and useful to others. Books grow
moldy and die and cease to be read. Internet information is more immediate,
viable, useful, subject to change, and progressive. This web, what Chardin
called the Noosphere, can live on and develop indefinitely.
People live their lives either unconsciously or according to the perspective
they achieve. Consciousness helps people have perspective on life. What your
perspective is on life is how you live your life, no matter what happens to you
or what you can create.
A twenty-seven year old woman at a consciousness fair in Norway came up to me
and said, she picks a Card blindly every day from her deck of Dream Cards and it
always highlights something important in her day. And with that slightly
embarrassing statement she left. I saw her two minutes and then she was gone
forever. But the Dream Cards and their ability to evoke wisdom remained with her
and obviously are making a difference in how she is living her life. I don't
matter personally to her. I am not needed. Dreams and consciousness are what is
important. In this sense I am already dead. To be dead is not to be needed. If I
can already be dead, be not needed, before I actually die, then I have
accomplished myself. I am the dot at the end of the sentence and not the
To not be needed is the teacher's greatest accomplishment.
Dreamwork2000 offers many forums on dreams and dreaming, as well as
information on the Dream Cards and several other publications including: The
Dream Alphabet, Dream Working, The Elements of Dreamwork, the Jungian-Senoi
Dream Manual, The Dream Cards Recipe book and many other Journal Press
publications. Be sure to drop by the site and see when Strephon will be visiting
YOUR area, either in dreams or life!
Interview copyright 1999 Strephon Kaplan-Williams. All rights