Tending Dreams


Many years ago, I was drawn to learn the language of the dreams and the way they spoke to me. Over the years, sitting in circles with women and listening to dreams, I came to understand a feminine way of being with dreams.

The images that come to us are unique to us – our ancestry, our cultural heritage – for we are each so individual. If we can trust and be patient and not quickly impose and try to decipher an image, then it will unfold in our lives.

I have always felt that the dreams taught me how to listen to them. How to hold a dream. How to receive it.

I learned that it might be days, months, sometimes years, but the meaning and energy contained in an image will be true to our own makeup. I’m convinced that we have this knowledge inside of us that knows how to be receptive to an image, knows how it will speak to us.

Listening to a dream, welcoming it, aware that it doesn’t have to be understood right away. Looking back on it, reflecting on it over time, it will unfold. Dreams have their own rhythms. Give them some space. Allow them to touch your heart.

What if we listen to our dreams in this way? What if we hold a dream with care and attention, and not make it into anything? It’s a very feminine way to work with dreams. Just to listen. To hold it in our heart, like prayer. I wait. I listen.

One of the early origins of the word ‘hold’ means to keep, to tend, to watch over, as you would with cattle, or sheep.

Holding an image that comes in a dream, you will how it comes alive. Even if we can’t remember the whole dream, just holding an image can bring into life a thread, a feeling, a quality, that mysteriously becomes woven into one’s life.

Leaning into holding a dream is strengthening, so that with the anxiety and uncertainty of these times, we seek less outwardly, and garner a deeper understanding, a knowing, within.

Our relationship to this deeper knowing, a deeper wisdom that allows for change within ourselves, that allows for healing, is deeply connected to the greater web of life and to being of service to the whole. It’s difficult to comprehend with the logical mind but it is understood in biology and physics, of our wholeness, of our inter-connectedness in our own lives to something much bigger.

Just as one tree can nourish and inform surrounding trees through an interconnected root system, this healing work is much bigger than we can ever imagine. If we want to be of service in our own lives, in the greater life, it means knowing that our day-to-day life, our deeper understanding, has implications to a larger healing.

I love what Helen Luke wrote about the simple things of daily life. Through her writing you can feel that she’s describing a similar quality of attention for one’s everyday life too. She wrote:

In my life-long impatience, how much I have missed. Last night, washing the dishes, I really looked at my iron frying pan in the dishwater. The light made visible for a moment a tiny rainbow—a light through water revealing all the colors of life. It is so easy to miss the tiny symbols. Finding them is quite different from the business of trying to hatch up big symbolic experiences. It is recognition, not pursuit, of meaning—recognition of the sacramental, of the intersection of the two worlds, breaking through unsought because one is attending.

“You are a mediator between the worlds,” I once heard in a dream. Being a mediator is not rare, but belongs to each of us. We watch over, we hold a dream, like tending sheep in the fields.

This way belongs to a natural, feminine wisdom.

Tending Dreams
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Susan Stedman
7 months ago

This is so beautiful, Anne. Just the flow of your prose puts me in that feminine flow of consciousness that can access the intricate world of the subconscious through the gift of the dreams it sends us. And I have been on a very long desert of no-dreams, that I hope is coming to an end soon. Ironically, I start teaching an online class on dream work next month, and I feel like the worst kind of hypocrite right now with such a dearth of dreams on my horizon. But maybe having put my focus there, it will stimulate and charm my dream world back into existence.

7 months ago
Reply to  Susan Stedman

Thanks Susan. I sense that it’s the intention behind your offering of an online class that’s important, and not so much the amount of dreams you experience. If one simply waits, listens, and offers oneself to be in service, then people will feel the sacredness of a space in which they feel safe to share. I wish you well.

7 months ago

I am just so grateful Anne to read this today, to be called into the present where the eternal lives and reminded of how this comes through in this precious moments, the Helen Luke quote is beautiful, especially as we are aging, paying attention to the language of soul. I have found recently that allowing more space to be receptive before sleep and upon awakening, to slow down whenever possible and listen, the dream pictures come back, and i feel more whole and connected. It is as if a vital part of me returns to life to offer this fullness and remembrance. Even as the heart is breaking to be with what is, love opens itself this way, like a seed pod.

7 months ago
Reply to  tracey

Thank you Tracey, for you share what is sometimes such an inexpressible mystery. It touches so deeply.

7 months ago

Thank you so much Anne for opening this blog and with it the opportunity to “practice” a different way of connecting the worlds, seeing the outer being reflected in the inner in dreams and the dream’s response to what happens in the outer…
I recently had a dream which I would like to share here as it brought to my consciousness something about the feminine, not so often discussed: the act of hiding…:-)))))
The dream: “I am in a big house, with very bright rooms, full of baskets of laundry. There are many people around, which I cannot actually see, but I know that they are moving around. Llewllyn is supposed to come and I realise that I am naked. So I try to grab something to dress, but I do not find anything and when Llewllyn comes, I hide behind a laundry basket opposit a door. Llewllyn passes by and I try to sneek through the door, Llewllyn is following me, I open the next door and realize that I am trapped because there is no way out. I hear Llewellyn laughing in the first room and I woke up quite puzzled…:-)
Sitting with the dream it was almost impossible to get to the underlying energy – as it was hiding… I knew that there is no point in hiding, as we are all naked in front of our higher self – and therefore in front of HIM… and still… So I am now trying to sense what that part is, that is hiding. Going down inner levels it seems to me that this is a very feminin quality – hiding – which has has its good parts because it can hold / hide / and contain – as long as it does not hold back… I am trying to find out what it is about the hiding and the holding back…
These days the question came, whether this hiding is the quality that enables the feminine to hold new life, create a container for it before it is strong enough to be born…
In the same time I also see women hiding part of their power, their potential because they have been shamed…
Maybe it is time to realize the importance of the quality of holding – at least for me it seems so important in our time, when everything is falling apart, holding a space for the new to come?

Thank you for this space!
Much love

6 months ago
Reply to  Ursula

Hello Ursula,
Your reflections are so rich, and thank you for following the thread of holding, of hiding, of power, and holding space for the new. It does seem that there are different aspects to this feminine way of holding, of allowing, and the element of not hiding. I think that for each of us, we experience these qualities in unique ways.

Many years ago I heard in a dream, “I know you want to remain hidden, but please, speak about life, its magic and wonder.” And then came a period of time when what was so hidden needed to become more accessible, more conscious. And this does have to do with the feminine, in each of us, to be wiling to hold, to listen, to especially hold the new to come.

So grateful for what you wrote!
With love,