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Dreams

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S4E11 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts, Yucca,

Mark: And I'm Mark.

Yucca: and this week we're going to talk about dreams.

Mark: Ooh.

Yucca: Actually can't believe we haven't talked about dreams yet.

Mark: It is kind of surprising. We were, we were both kind of mystified as to why we haven't done that yet.

Yucca: Yeah, and I'm quite curious because we've never had this conversation. Not only have we not had it on the podcast, but we haven't had it off of recording either. So I don't know what your thoughts, opinions, experiences with dreams are. So I look

Mark: Oh, well, I, I, I hope, I hope they're shocking.

Yucca: Shocking. Okay. Well, I think a good place to start is def definitely with what are dreams.

Right?

Mark: Yeah. And I, as you say, I don't know whether we'll have a similar perspective on this. I tend to think of dreams as kind of like the, the brain running a screensaver, drawing on bits of memory and themes of concern, and. Things that are kind of weighing on your mind, whether it's your conscious mind or your unconscious mind, and then putting together these fantastical sort of stories in a.

In a very, in an almost random sort of way. There's a lot of random generation in, in dreams that you can see. So that's what I think is the brain doing that and contributes to imagination. It solves problems. You know, we have so many examples of people who have discovered things waking up in the middle of the night going, aha, it out.

Right?

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So that's what I think it is. How about you? Yuck.

Yucca: Yeah. Your, your understanding. It really reflects mine as well. It's something that I haven't dug into research on. Right. I don't have a deep understanding of neurobiology. You know, I certainly have read articles here and there and things like that, but it's not something that I've really done a lot of research in.

But, but what you were saying about it being basically our, our brains. Processing stuff, right, our experiences, putting together ideas and there being a randomness to it. But I think there's also sometimes parts of it that aren't quite as random though, because we are trying to figure stuff out.

Mark: Yeah. Oh,

Yucca: we're definitely trying to figure stuff out, piece it together, and there's definitely. There. I mean, there's different kinds of dreams that we can get into. But that sometimes it's just our brain rerunning through the stuff that we're doing during the day. Right. And sometimes it's working on, you know, particularly difficult experiences that we had, you know, running through trauma or things like that is, but I, I think it's a way that, that our.

that our brains are trying to make sense of what's going on. And it seems like there's something in there tied in with the sleep that we don't really understand a lot of the mechanisms for yet. We know that sleep is really important for us. We know that it evolved. Really early on because we see it in lots of other species.

We see it in very, very different species than us. I remember a few months back there was an announcement about a scientist suggesting that they had recorded what appeared to be spiders having r e m sleep, which is. Type of sleep that we have dreams in that of course they're not inside of the, the minds of these creatures, but that looking at the way that they behaved seemed to match with what we thought other creatures did at the same time that they were going through r e m.

And so if it is so widespread, there has to be a really important purpose for it.

Mark: Right, right. Well, there's no. . Well, there's two questions there, right? I mean, the first one is, what's the point of sleep? And we have really not very good answers

Yucca: Yeah, we know what happens when you don't get it though.

Mark: Yes, we, we know that all kinds of things go very, very wrong when you don't sleep. So apparently it's staving that stuff off, but we're not entirely sure why those things go wrong.

So that's still a point of investigation. And then on top of that is this layer of. Well then these dreams happen and, and what's that about? I tend to agree that I think it's the brain. Some of it's just random. Some of it's just sort of, you know, rerunning stuff that it's experienced before or imagined before.

But some of it is the brain chewing on naughty problems that, that just. You know that aren't easily solved and that are bugging us,

Yucca: Right. And we should say before going too much farther, that not all sleep has dreams and not all types of, so there's different stages of sleep and then there's different types of dreams as well. There's these sort of surface level ones and then there's, we were talking about the REM sleep a much.

Deeper, more vivid kind of dreaming, so,

Mark: Right. And RM sleep tends to be more narrative as well. There tends to be a story, whereas in lighter phases of sleep, it can literally just be flashes of different kinds of scenes and events that don't really tie together. And even though the story can be very fantastical there can be a kind of a line that you can draw through it, and then you can try to figure out what's going on there.

And that's, that's part of the age old human attempt at interpreting what dreams mean.

Yucca: Right. So that's a nice segue into the next section, which is, you know, what are they mean to us

Mark: Mm-hmm. yeah. My answer to that is uncharacteristically vague. Cuz I tend to have very, you know, kind of concrete opinions about things, but I think sometimes they can be very meaningful in very concrete kinds of ways. They can be telling us something. Our subconscious wants us to do or thinks is the right thing to do or you know, or expressing a fear or an anxiety or an anger, you know, something that, that relates to something real in our lives.

And then other times, as I said, it's just screensaver and there may not be a lot of content there.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And part of the trick is differentiating between those categories.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, I think. There's a component to dream interpretation that's very popular. You'll find lots of books about it where it has certain symbols mean certain things. And I don't buy that on a universal level. I don't think that when you see a Blue Falcon. Flying through a cloud that to every single person that is going to mean the same thing because that I think that each person is going to have a different association with those types of symbols.

And I think there might be things that specific cultural groups might have, certain associations with things that would be more likely that, oh, well if you grew up in this particular, Culture and in this particular religion or something like that. There, the symbology might be very different to you than it would be to somebody else.

And so, you know what a snake means to somebody who grew up in a Baptist family. You know, there, there might be some similarities between those people, but not that snakes u mean this, like it's a code that we can translate.

Mark: Yeah, I, I agree with you. I don't think that there is a lexicon of. Of things that can be experienced in a dream that have direct correlations, like a dictionary that, that doesn't, has never made any sense to me. And I think it's one of the places where Freud really went off the rails.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: it just, I mean, there were a lot of ways that Freud really went off the rails, but but that was one of 'em,

Yucca: Yeah. But with all of that, I think that within our own minds that there's a lot, a lot to be discovered there. And as you were saying, the trick, figuring out which is which there's lots of different tools, but a classic one is a dream.

Mark: right.

Yucca: And keeping a dream journal can give you the opportunity to be able to go back through some of the dreams that you are having.

Now for me and my experiences, dreams fade very quickly unless recorded. Once I write a dream down, I norm, I usually remember having that.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: back through and I reread that journal, I go, oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, of course I remember that. But if I hadn't written it down, it would just be gone. I don't know that every dream is worth writing down.

I certainly, there were times in my life that I wrote everything down, but now someti, if it, it seems particularly important to me, I'll write it down. Or if, or if I notice that I'm having repeating themes and particular dreams, then I'll write that down and reflect on that.

Mark: I don't remember my dreams very much. They have to be pretty vivid for me to remember them. And what that has done among other things, is make a dream journal really difficult for me because I decide, okay, I'm gonna do a dream journal, and then three weeks later when I finally have a dream that I, that's vivid enough to remember I've forgotten all about the fact that I decided to have a dream journal.

So, you know, that's just sort of a. Particular quirk of mine. But I say this because many other people also have a very hard time remembering their dreams or they don't dream in a way that's conscious enough to capture very often. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just kind of the way we're built.

Yucca: Yeah. And it's, if it's, if it's useful to you, right? It's not, once again, you're not a bad pagan if you don't roll over every morning and record down exactly what it was that you, that you dreamt. There's, it could be useful for you and, and maybe not, right?

Mark: Yeah, and one of the things that I try to keep in mind when I'm interpreting dreams is that, Even if the symbols and things that I've captured and I'm trying to interpret were relatively random, that doesn't really matter because a random symbol set can be very provocative of subconscious discovery.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: like a, just like a Toro deck. The cards, the cards are random, but the symbols on the cards will provoke associations for you because of your particular consciousness that will, that can help you to learn things, so,

Yucca: act of you trying to interpret it is what's going to help you actually figure out what's going on.

Mark: exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, it sounds like you have more of an active and available dream life than I do. What, what sorts of things do you do with your dreams in terms of interpretation?

Yucca: Hmm. So there's a, there's another piece we're going to get to later on, which is the lucid component. I. Don't do a lot with the interpretation component unless it's something that, that is really reoccurring. Like, and there's certain kind of classic ones that, that people have of like the falling ones or the this or the that.

When I noticed there's a, there's a couple of them that I have that are in the reoccurring, and when that starts to pop up, it's part of a pattern in my life that I recognize of, Ooh, that's that particular. Area that I really struggle with, that I have a lot of stress around. And when I start getting the dream about it, it means, at least for me, my interpretation has been that I'm not giving it the attention that it needs by the time it creeps into reoccurring dream territory.

I have left it unde with for too long. So that.

Mark: very reasonable.

Yucca: Yeah, . But when it comes to the active dreaming, which we will come to in a little bit, that's something that's, that's really central in my practice and something, a tool that I've used for my whole life. So, but before we get there, what about for you with the interpretation?

I know you said that you don't really remember your dreams that much,

Mark: I, I don't very often, and so really more what I reach for. As I'm waking up and remembering bits and pieces of, of these dreams, what I reached for is what was the feeling associated more than anything else, because that tells me what's likely to be going on underneath the surface of my day-to-day operation.

If there's a feeling of shame or a feeling of fear, Or a feeling of happiness. Although for some reason dreams tend to be more warning and work on stuff that's a problem than they, than they are just sort of celebratory.

Yucca: Do you think that that's a, those are the ones you remember because we are. that there would be an advantage to focusing on the worrisome, dangerous stuff or do you think it is? Yeah.

Mark: it could be. But I think also, What tends to happen is that the, the more joyous dreams that I have tend to be dreams where I'm lucid and I'm making choices. So, you know, and we'll talk about that in a minute. But I do find that I can learn a lot just from kind of the vibe of a, of a dream and maybe some of the more prominent symbols that emerged from that. There have been a few times when I've been killed in dreams

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and those have always been very powerful. And I've interpreted them as meaning, you know, major dislocations or transformations. Sometimes they've come at times in my life when I was in a major transition and so that kind of made sense.

Yucca: Was there, did you wake immediately from those, or was there dream after being killed? In the dream.

Mark: Both depending. Yeah, there was one where I got killed right at the beginning of the, the dream, and so I had the, there was an earthquake. At San Francisco State University and I was in the Student Union, which is a concrete building, and it cracked and collapsed and killed me and a lot of other people.

And we all had to go into the basement of the student union, which didn't have a basement,

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: to to stay there then, because we were dead and we couldn't go out in the daylight and we couldn't interact with anybody who was alive. We were still, for all purposes alive, we just had to stay down there because we were dead and some.

People were trying to figure out what they could do other than hang out under the student union. And so at night they would go out and explore. And I finally went with one of these exploring groups and we walked to the Pacific Ocean, to the, to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Big, bright, full moon.

Beautiful. And I dived because we were going to live under the sea since we didn't need to breathe anymore. And then I realized as I was diving that the salt water of the ocean was going to be incredibly caustic to me because I was dead and it was just, it was going to burn me alive. And then I woke up.

Yucca: Oh wow.

Mark: Yeah. So sort of double death dream. That's, that's, that's one that stuck with me. But I woke up before I hit the water.

Yucca: Oh wow. of that? Yeah. Mm-hmm.

only times that I can remember ever dying in my dreams. I've always been shot.

Mark: I've been stabbed, I've been drowned. I've I've a bunch. I, I, now that I think about it, I don't think I have been shot.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: But on the other hand, you're in New Mexico, which is one of the most heavily armed states in the country.

Yucca: Yeah. I mean, yes, like, but the, unless you're in like the urban areas, the, there isn't actually the, like statistically the gun violence is not

Mark: oh no. I'm not saying the gun violence

Yucca: yeah. I mean, yeah, I mean, we're all, everybody, you know, I grew up around guns. I, yeah. But no, it's never, it's always been . I think it was more influenced actually by seeing TV with like,

Mark: Oh

Yucca: like movie type of, yeah.

It would be real interesting to look into where that is. But that, I mean, that's certainly, yeah, something I grew up around and it's not. It's kind of a, it's a, it's a normal part of life in the, the rural areas. So, but I've never had any, like the roof collapsing on me or, you know,

Mark: Well, I'm an earthquake country, of course. So that's, that's something we think about. You know, whenever the, whenever the earth shakes, we think about the roof coming down on us.

Yucca: Right. Well, and I guess that makes sense that different people are going to. . You know, I've also never had dreams about a boating accident, not something we do a lot of out here. I don't

Mark: Ah-huh.

Yucca: of, you know, boating experience,

Mark: open water.

Yucca: But somebody who grew up on the coast and, you know, went sailing every weekend during their childhood, maybe they'd have a different experience with that.

Mark: right.

Yucca: so plenty of flying dreams though.

Mark: Me too. A lot of flying dreams. Yeah. Lucid Flying Dreams are my favorite.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Cuz then you can go where you want to go. Right. It's really fun.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, let's talk about this lucid.

Mark: Why don't you define that for folks first? I.

Yucca: sure. So a lucid dream is when you are aware that you are dreaming and you're still dreaming.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Then there's different levels. You can be lucid but not be. Consciously influencing what's happening, but you can also be lucid and be influencing what's happening. So a lot of times when people say lucid, they mean you can control your dreams, but technically it is just being lucid, being aware of that dream.

So there's different levels to that.

Mark: Yeah, the, the awareness is necessary. You have to be aware that you're dreaming in order to be lucid dreaming. The degree of agency that you have may vary.

Yucca: Right. So, and this is something that people can just naturally do. It's also something that, that you can learn and train yourself to do. and that's, and people have different levels of comfort with that and techniques for trying to stay in the dream when you realize that you're dreaming, because a lot of people struggle with, once they realize they are dreaming, they wake themselves up.

Mark: up. Yeah.

Yucca: So for me, I, I've always been a lucid dream. And that's just something that's been part of my life my whole life. But when I was about nine or 10 years old, I started to. Purposefully cultivate it and use it as a tool. And that was something that, you know, I talked, I had interest in and was talking about that with my father and he got me books and things like that.

So a lot of what I know about for other, for learning how to lose the dream just comes from having read those books. But I never taught myself to lose the dream. It was just something I always. Did. Which I actually think, I don't know if, if it was something that I always did or if it was taught, because I do remember being very little and having nightmares, and the response that my parents would give me would be about how to change it, right?

If I was being chased by the monster, they'd say, okay, we'll go back to. And then you tell the monster that this is your dream, not the monster's dream. And imagine something funny happening instead, right? Like the monster's chasing you, but all of a sudden now you're jumping on the big balls and now you're giggling and laughing together.

They were always very specific about, Hey, when you change a dream, don't, don't change it into something hurt, harmful. Right. Don't imagine, you know, the monster getting hurt or blowing up or something like that may get something that is, that is funny or twisted or like in a, in a positive way. Because the implication, they never said this straight out, but the implication was that the monster was me.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: All of that was just me. Whatever I'm doing in my mind is, is affecting me. So don't make it into like a hurting yourself. Make it into a transformational experience. So I remember doing that, my parents doing that, and I do that with my kids. which is easy because we live in a one bedroom , so anytime they're having a nightmare, I know, I know what they are.

And so it's something that, that I think is just really helpful to, to never have the belief in the first place that you can't control your dreams so that you can't influence your dreams because you can't. Right. We're, we're taught that we can't. And the media around it and all of that, it's like, oh no, you, you don't, you don't influence, you don't have control over it, but you do.

Right. But do you always want to, is a very, very different pick is a different question. So for me, the dreams that I'm, most of my dreams, I choose to not be con, to be lucid in because I don't feel as rested from. So I will choose, it will, I'll be going to sleep and I'll decide, am I gonna be lucid or not?

I'll realize I'm dreaming and go, okay, so let go. I, I literally tell myself, let go and just let the dream happen and let go of that. The lu lucidity. Lucidness

Mark: Lucidity. Yeah.

Yucca: Yeah. But when I do lucid, I, I do a lot of work when I need to. In that dream state is a, is a really powerful state to go into. I will work through problems that I'm having, I'll do actual ritual in that state and I actually do a lot of work in that state too.

So I do a lot of so I'm. Trying to take a whole bunch of information and construct a lecture of how do I take these complex ideas and put them together anytime I need something that's creative but builds it. So I'll go to, so I, I teach a bunch of classes and I need to build a class. I'll go to sleep and then work on the actual outline and structure in the dream state, and then wake up and I'll write it down immediately and I've got the structure. but if I do that too much, I don't rest . So it, it's a, it's a, you know, you're not, I don't know what's going on on a physical level there, but I do not feel as rested when I, losed dream is when I just let myself dream.

Mark: Yeah, I don't either. It lucid dreaming feels like effort.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: To me some of which is some, some amount of effort to maintain the dream

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And some of which is just to, you know, I'm, I have to pay attention, I have to make decisions, I have to do all that kind of stuff. So yes, my experience as well is that a lucid dream is not as restful.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I also. Do lucid dreaming? It's relatively rare because I'm usually just not aware of my dreams. But not, I mean, not infrequently with the dreams that are really impactful for me. I will realize, you know, I'm trying to read something and it's gibberish and oh, I'm dreaming,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: or Something happens that's impossible.

Well, you know, being a naturalistic pagan when something that's physically impossible happens, I go, eh, I think I'm dreaming.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And. I, I, I have a lot of fun in lucid dreaming. I don't really use it for ritual work or even for, I mean, I suppose I should, given that it's kind of down there in the subconscious, but mostly I just use it to have The one thing that I do do that is kind of self-referential is I like to go and look in the mirror

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and I can't really describe what I've seen. , but it hasn't been my face. It's been, you know, deeper layers of who I am. So that's a very powerful exercise. If you find yourself in a dream and you wake up, go in the bathroom and look in the mirror.

Yucca: or pull out the hand mirror that you happen to have in your pocket because it's your dream.

Mark: Yeah. Pockets in me, in dreams are like pockets in cartoons. You can pull anything out of.

Yucca: They're bigger on the inside. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Well, and the, the looking at a mirror, this, that's one where when people are trying to develop the, to be able to wake up in their dream, that's a classic one is to check whether you're dreaming or not look at a mirror. Another one is to look at writing.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Look away, look back at the writing.

Has it changed? And. We tend to do in our dreams, the things that we do when we're awake. So if you have a habit in your, like waking life where you always push your, the glasses up on your nose or you have a habit where you look at your phone or your watch, or you do you think something throughout the day those are things that you'll tend to repeat in the dream.

And so one of the things that people can do to try and learn to lose a dream is to ask yourself throughout the day, am I dreaming? And check if you're dreaming, but you have to actually do the things so that you repeat that in your dream. Because if it's not actually a habit, you won't actually do it in your dream.

But yeah, you check and you go, okay. I look at my watch and right now I look at my watch and there's actually the time on it. I look back and it's the same time, so I go, yeah, I'm, I'm awake. Right?

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: But then once you're in the dream state, you mentioned this, this maintaining yourself in the dream is the next challenge, right?

Is to not wake up immediately. For me, it feels like when I start to wake up, it feels like I'm almost being pulled backwards through like a gel. The image that I think of is if you've ever watched Stargate, There was a movie for it and there was a delightfully campy TV show for a while. Whenever they go through this, the Stargate is going through this, like this jelly plasma thing.

I always feel like I'm getting pulled back through that and I feel like I can't breathe when I'm traveling through that, but if I can just pull myself back. I just like step back into it that I stay in the dream state. But if I let myself go back all the way through, the moment I get through that jelly, I'm awake. But I can go, okay, I'm gonna go right back to the same spot in that dream. That dream's still there as long as I don't fully get up, right? If I have to get up and go do something in the house you know, the cat broke something on the table or the. I go up to go use the restroom like that, then I'm, then I've left the dream.

But if I haven't gone that far from it, I can go right back to the same spot.

Mark: Right? Right. Well, that's cool. My feeling about being pulled out of the dream is much, it's much more vertical than it is horizontal.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I feel like going deeper into the dream is literally sinking going lower. Whereas I feel like it's, it's like scuba diving in that it's about buoy.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and your natural buoyancy is to go back up and come out of the dream.

And so the challenge becomes to make the motions or do whatever the effort is to stay down.

Yucca: Interesting.

Mark: So that's, that's more of how I experience it. Scuba diving is very dreamlike anyway. Just being down there or, or, or skin diving, snorkeling, same kind of thing. Being down there with all those fish and stuff in that very slow moving language environment because of the density of the water is very dreamlike to.

Yucca: and your body being able to move in ways that you couldn't on dry land.

Mark: Right. And it's a full body

Yucca: twist around and move and, yeah.

Mark: and it's a full body sensation. So, which is, you know, we tend, we tend to just sort of experience with our hands and faces and, you know, not, not have the rest of our bodies engaged so much. Yeah. So that's. That's a cool thing that I enjoy doing. The but, and, and this, this struggle to stay down happens when I realize that I'm dreaming.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: That's the, that's the crisis point where it arises. And then I either win or lose, you know, I either stay down or I don.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: But if I do, then I feel I have a lot of freedom to just explore and to do thing, to fly and to jump off high buildings cuz I'm afraid of heights and stuff like that. So I have a, a catalog of many impossible experiences that I've had that are as vivid in my memory as my actual memory.

Yucca: Right. Well, those are actual memories. But they aren't memories of things that you physically did. They're memories of things that, that your brain still thinks you did.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: Yeah. It's, and it's amazing how the, how powerful the feelings. Can be, I mean, probably most of you have experienced, have you ever had a fight with someone in your dream and then woken up and you're still mad at them and you know that they didn't really say the thing, but you still feel it.

You're still so mad at them. And it's like they, they would've never done that thing, whatever it was ever. Right? But, but you still experienced that. I think that's just so fascinating with, with dreams and, and I hope we. To learn more about why our brains do that.

Mark: Yeah, that, I mean, that's the big question to me, the, I mean, the fact is we do it. There's a lot of descriptive literature about what it is, and. kind of patterns of how it works. But the big question of, but why, what exactly are we accomplishing by doing this? Even though I know in my own personal life that I do accomplish things in dreaming you know, I, I have experiences and I learn things.

Yucca: And, you know, as you're saying that, it, it, it makes me think about other places in our lives where we have tools that we use, like meditation, like ritual. These are things that we're, we have some insight into with science. But largely we really don't understand them, but we can still, even though we, we don't yet understand them on that level, we can still figure out how to use them because they still exist.

And that's, that's where the art part, that's where the craft part comes in. These are tools that we're using,

Mark: I think of it as,

Yucca: why. Yeah,

Mark: oh, I'm sorry to

Yucca: go. No, please.

Mark: Well, I think of it as rather like the domestication of fire. We didn't understand what fire really was for. Hundreds of thousands of years, but we were still using it. We were making it, and we were transmitting it, and we were using it to cook our food and to illuminate our dwellings and to, you know, create heat in the wintertime and all kinds of stuff.

And you know, I mean, I've heard it said that the most sim, the most mysterious and complex thing that humanity has ever discovered is the human brain. You know, there are the, the range of possible manifestations of behavior that come out of human brains is just astounding, and we don't understand very much about it at all because it's very hard to observe it while it's.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And to translate the experience of it working, which is consciousness into some kind of objective data about what that process is. So, yeah, I mean, I would, I, I believe we will learn more about that. I don't know that it'll ever be completely done and dusted, but

Yucca: I don't think science works that way, frankly.

Mark: No.

Yucca: that the more we know, the more questions we have, and that is beautiful. That is just amazing.

Mark: About simple things like how fireworks, you know, we, we, we can get pretty good answers that don't leave. A lot of questions left.

Yucca: To on a certain scale. Right, right. We can go. Okay, so we're talking about the splitting of molecules and the recombination of, but let's start talking about, okay, those, but why were those molecules bonded to each other in the first place?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: What are they made of?

Mark: is a molecule and, and what's that made of? And then what are those made of? And then what are those

Yucca: Right. And why? Okay, so why so it's doing this because of this particular force.

Why does that force exist? Is that force connected to something else? You know, there's all, it just keeps going and going and maybe, maybe there's a simple answer to all of it, but I think we're a ways away from finding that if it

Mark: Well cer certainly all the quantum stuff, there's plenty of questions left, plenty of vast. Vast acreage of unknowns. But as you say, within a given scale context, you can understand how something works, and I doubt that we will understand why the human brain works even at its own scale, much, much less at deeper levels.

But even at its own scale, there's. When you have trillions of informational connections working at incredibly fast speeds, I just think it's gonna be impossible to ever chase those things down.

Yucca: Yeah, well, and each one being, as far as we know, very different The way that the, which connections my brain makes versus your brain.

Mark: Well, right. I'm, and I'm just talking about one brain. I'm not talking about brains in general. I'm just talking about one brain.

Yucca: but we have, there are things that we have learned, right? Like learning about the different, you know, kinds of connections and neurotransmitters and the, you know, which particular elements do we use in order, you know, all that stuff.

Mark: Sure,

Yucca: so much progress.

Mark: tend to be associated with particular senses or particular processes?

Yucca: Oh, but then they go and change on us because that's what we find. That's amazing. When, and not in all the cases, but there's many cases where we found when someone's had brain damage in one area and then another part of the brain starts to perform the function that usually would've been in that part of the brain and wow.

Mark: I read a, a fascinating article by a woman, God, where was this? The Atlantic, I think. And she literally has half of a brain.

Yucca: Hmm. Okay.

Mark: it was discovered in adulthood when she had an m r I, that one in,

Yucca: born this

Mark: she was born this way and she's of perfectly normal intelligence. She, you know, she has an absolutely ordinary life,

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: but half of her brain never developed.

Yucca: What's filling in the physical space where the other half would be. Okay.

Mark: Yeah. To reverse spinal fluid.

Yucca: Yeah. Wow.

Mark: Pretty awesome,

Yucca: pretty popular now.

Mark: Yeah,

Yucca: a lot of

Mark: lots of studies and, and all that kind of stuff,

Yucca: yeah. How interesting. Hmm.

Mark: and I mean, that's fully coordinating both sides of her body. That's, you know, doing everything that a brain does and it's just doing it with half as much.

Yucca: Wow. Have they checked in with siblings to see if they, that

Mark: don't, I don't remember honestly, it, it was a while back, but it was a pretty wild article. I should try to find it.

Yucca: Yeah, that's, that's interesting. This stuff is fun,

Mark: It is, it is. And one of the places where we encounter the mysteries about the brain is in dreaming.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Because dreaming is a mysterious process. Why am I being shown these images? Why am I finding my, yeah, why am I finding myself immersed in, you know, these particular situations and these particular, you know, colors and objects and characters and plot lines, and, you know, what, what is all that?

Yucca: Why are those two people actually one person, I don't know how this happens for you, but sometimes characters in my dream are not really, they're rarely one person. There's several different people at once.

Mark: I don't have that at all.

Yucca: no, you'll have a, there'll be someone, okay. For me, they're, they will be several different people and sometimes they'll think about, so why was it that so-and-so was also so-and-so?

Like what overlap am I seeing there? Or did it not really matter for the dream, who the other person

Mark: are, these are recognizable people from your life or they are characters that were created in the dream,

Yucca: Well, people from my life, but also movie characters and think characters. Either a, a human, there's somebody, whether that's somebody is a real person or not. Right. Like there could, there, for instance, is making up there could be Santa, right? Like there's, you know, never met Santa. There's, as far as I know, no real Santa, but Santa can show up in my dream and Santa can also be my second grade teacher at the same time in my. But that's just, you know, why, right? That's one of those interesting things to think about. What's there's, there's gotta be some connection there, or maybe not, but me trying to figure out what that connection is might reveal to me something about my feelings about my second grade teacher, you know? Or why am I thinking about, why am I thinking about her right now?

You know, how many decades later?

Mark: right.

Yucca: So,

Mark: Yeah, it's really fascinating stuff, and I'm sure that our listeners have a very broad range of different kinds of experiences as well. You know, if you want to email us at the wonder podcast cues gmail.com or comment on this

Yucca: you're listening to it online?

Mark: listening to it on

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: You can go ahead and comment there.

You know, what was your most vivid dreaming experience? What's been your most amazing experience? In the dreaming realm because it really is a pretty remarkable thing that we do. We spend a lot of our time asleep and,

Yucca: It's glorious.

Love it.

Mark: we don't spend as much, I don't spend as much time asleep as I wish I did,

Yucca: and that's one that I, that I have looked into the research on, which is very distressing about the sleep deprivation especially in the United States. Very worrisome with, with teenagers in terms of what's happening with their sleep deprivation. It's

Mark: my local school districts here just made a ruling that they were not going to start classes until I think, eight 30 in the morning, maybe nine,

Yucca: Oh good.

Mark: classes had been starting at seven 30 and it's just, that's not good for a developing marine.

Yucca: it isn't. Well, and, and then this is one area where there's research as well into chronotypes. And it, this seems to be pretty universal across cultures that the, that teenagers. Will naturally stay up later and wake up later. That seems to be, that's not just coming from our, like our cultural stereotypes that seems to be across cultures.

And getting less sleep than we need has a negative impact on so many different levels for us, and it increases risk of all kinds of things. So I, I think it's ridiculous to. To be making teenagers get up and be being sleep deprived because of that. And I know we can go, oh, we're supposed to be teaching them, you know, responsibility and all of that, and it's like, hmm.

Not at the cost of their physical and emotional wellbeing and their ability to learn, because you're not gonna learn as well when you're sleep deprived.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And what, what are we teaching them that them fitting into? These particular hours that we've for some reason chosen that probably have more to do with like the hours of operation of factories.

We care more about that than their wellbeing. I don't know. That's, there's my soapbox. Sorry, I'll

Mark: Well, I don't dis, I don't disagree with any of it. It, it certainly,

Yucca: frankly, eight 30 is still

Mark: I'm just glad that at least. I'm just glad that some of the more progressive districts are starting to pay attention to this research and to think about, and parents complain because parents want the childcare, right?

They, they want to get out of the house in time to get to work. And I mean, you know, just the whole system is interconnected. Levels of dysfunction.

Yucca: Yeah, that's a whole nother area.

Mark: It is, and it's not a particularly cheery area, so let's move on.

Yucca: We should. Yes. Now actually there was a very cheery, exciting thing that you wanted to announce.

Mark: Yes. We've talked about this before, but tickets for the atheopagan Web Weaving online Conference, which will be June 4th of this year. The tickets will go on sale next Saturday. April 1st. Tickets are from 10 to $50. There are scholarship tickets for nothing to spend anything. Nobody's turned away for lack of funds.

We're encouraging giving at least 20 so that we can cover the expenses of the conference, but you can get information about it at. AP society.org/a WW 2023 and we'll put that in the,

Yucca: And the show

Mark: in the podcast

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And you can download the program there and look offerings of workshops and activities and all that kind of stuff, it's gonna be a really great opportunity. To see other people that are following these paths and exchange information and learn stuff. So I really hope you'll take a look and consider coming.

Yucca: and both of us are doing workshops, so.

Mark: That's right. I'm doing one on the clerical path. And you're doing one for kids, right?

Yucca: I am, yeah. I'm gonna do a kids circle, so, yep.

Mark: great. Yeah. Exciting.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: yeah that's two months away, but tickets will go on sale next week and you can look at the program it's downloadable in either PDF or format.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: You can look at those,

Yucca: And it does always help us to get people to know ahead of time how many people to be expecting.

Mark: That's right. If, if all the registration comes in at the last minute, it could be complicated for us. Our current Zoom account, this will be done over Zoom. Our current Zoom account allows a hundred attendees. If we have 98 attendees three days before the event and then another 300 people register in those last couple of days, we're gonna have to call Zoom up at work capacity and you know, all that kind of stuff.

So,

Yucca: So we'd of course love to have

Mark: ask you to get your tickets early.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yes. Yeah, for sure. We would be, You know, arrange for more, more seats with Zoom. But it would be a lot better if we could do that a week in advance rather than two days in advance. So get your tickets early.

Yucca: Yeah, and we'll see you there. And as always, thanks for hanging out with us on today's episode, and we'll see you next week.

Mark: Have a great one.

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S4E11 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts, Yucca,

Mark: And I'm Mark.

Yucca: and this week we're going to talk about dreams.

Mark: Ooh.

Yucca: Actually can't believe we haven't talked about dreams yet.

Mark: It is kind of surprising. We were, we were both kind of mystified as to why we haven't done that yet.

Yucca: Yeah, and I'm quite curious because we've never had this conversation. Not only have we not had it on the podcast, but we haven't had it off of recording either. So I don't know what your thoughts, opinions, experiences with dreams are. So I look

Mark: Oh, well, I, I, I hope, I hope they're shocking.

Yucca: Shocking. Okay. Well, I think a good place to start is def definitely with what are dreams.

Right?

Mark: Yeah. And I, as you say, I don't know whether we'll have a similar perspective on this. I tend to think of dreams as kind of like the, the brain running a screensaver, drawing on bits of memory and themes of concern, and. Things that are kind of weighing on your mind, whether it's your conscious mind or your unconscious mind, and then putting together these fantastical sort of stories in a.

In a very, in an almost random sort of way. There's a lot of random generation in, in dreams that you can see. So that's what I think is the brain doing that and contributes to imagination. It solves problems. You know, we have so many examples of people who have discovered things waking up in the middle of the night going, aha, it out.

Right?

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So that's what I think it is. How about you? Yuck.

Yucca: Yeah. Your, your understanding. It really reflects mine as well. It's something that I haven't dug into research on. Right. I don't have a deep understanding of neurobiology. You know, I certainly have read articles here and there and things like that, but it's not something that I've really done a lot of research in.

But, but what you were saying about it being basically our, our brains. Processing stuff, right, our experiences, putting together ideas and there being a randomness to it. But I think there's also sometimes parts of it that aren't quite as random though, because we are trying to figure stuff out.

Mark: Yeah. Oh,

Yucca: we're definitely trying to figure stuff out, piece it together, and there's definitely. There. I mean, there's different kinds of dreams that we can get into. But that sometimes it's just our brain rerunning through the stuff that we're doing during the day. Right. And sometimes it's working on, you know, particularly difficult experiences that we had, you know, running through trauma or things like that is, but I, I think it's a way that, that our.

that our brains are trying to make sense of what's going on. And it seems like there's something in there tied in with the sleep that we don't really understand a lot of the mechanisms for yet. We know that sleep is really important for us. We know that it evolved. Really early on because we see it in lots of other species.

We see it in very, very different species than us. I remember a few months back there was an announcement about a scientist suggesting that they had recorded what appeared to be spiders having r e m sleep, which is. Type of sleep that we have dreams in that of course they're not inside of the, the minds of these creatures, but that looking at the way that they behaved seemed to match with what we thought other creatures did at the same time that they were going through r e m.

And so if it is so widespread, there has to be a really important purpose for it.

Mark: Right, right. Well, there's no. . Well, there's two questions there, right? I mean, the first one is, what's the point of sleep? And we have really not very good answers

Yucca: Yeah, we know what happens when you don't get it though.

Mark: Yes, we, we know that all kinds of things go very, very wrong when you don't sleep. So apparently it's staving that stuff off, but we're not entirely sure why those things go wrong.

So that's still a point of investigation. And then on top of that is this layer of. Well then these dreams happen and, and what's that about? I tend to agree that I think it's the brain. Some of it's just random. Some of it's just sort of, you know, rerunning stuff that it's experienced before or imagined before.

But some of it is the brain chewing on naughty problems that, that just. You know that aren't easily solved and that are bugging us,

Yucca: Right. And we should say before going too much farther, that not all sleep has dreams and not all types of, so there's different stages of sleep and then there's different types of dreams as well. There's these sort of surface level ones and then there's, we were talking about the REM sleep a much.

Deeper, more vivid kind of dreaming, so,

Mark: Right. And RM sleep tends to be more narrative as well. There tends to be a story, whereas in lighter phases of sleep, it can literally just be flashes of different kinds of scenes and events that don't really tie together. And even though the story can be very fantastical there can be a kind of a line that you can draw through it, and then you can try to figure out what's going on there.

And that's, that's part of the age old human attempt at interpreting what dreams mean.

Yucca: Right. So that's a nice segue into the next section, which is, you know, what are they mean to us

Mark: Mm-hmm. yeah. My answer to that is uncharacteristically vague. Cuz I tend to have very, you know, kind of concrete opinions about things, but I think sometimes they can be very meaningful in very concrete kinds of ways. They can be telling us something. Our subconscious wants us to do or thinks is the right thing to do or you know, or expressing a fear or an anxiety or an anger, you know, something that, that relates to something real in our lives.

And then other times, as I said, it's just screensaver and there may not be a lot of content there.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And part of the trick is differentiating between those categories.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, I think. There's a component to dream interpretation that's very popular. You'll find lots of books about it where it has certain symbols mean certain things. And I don't buy that on a universal level. I don't think that when you see a Blue Falcon. Flying through a cloud that to every single person that is going to mean the same thing because that I think that each person is going to have a different association with those types of symbols.

And I think there might be things that specific cultural groups might have, certain associations with things that would be more likely that, oh, well if you grew up in this particular, Culture and in this particular religion or something like that. There, the symbology might be very different to you than it would be to somebody else.

And so, you know what a snake means to somebody who grew up in a Baptist family. You know, there, there might be some similarities between those people, but not that snakes u mean this, like it's a code that we can translate.

Mark: Yeah, I, I agree with you. I don't think that there is a lexicon of. Of things that can be experienced in a dream that have direct correlations, like a dictionary that, that doesn't, has never made any sense to me. And I think it's one of the places where Freud really went off the rails.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: it just, I mean, there were a lot of ways that Freud really went off the rails, but but that was one of 'em,

Yucca: Yeah. But with all of that, I think that within our own minds that there's a lot, a lot to be discovered there. And as you were saying, the trick, figuring out which is which there's lots of different tools, but a classic one is a dream.

Mark: right.

Yucca: And keeping a dream journal can give you the opportunity to be able to go back through some of the dreams that you are having.

Now for me and my experiences, dreams fade very quickly unless recorded. Once I write a dream down, I norm, I usually remember having that.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: back through and I reread that journal, I go, oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, of course I remember that. But if I hadn't written it down, it would just be gone. I don't know that every dream is worth writing down.

I certainly, there were times in my life that I wrote everything down, but now someti, if it, it seems particularly important to me, I'll write it down. Or if, or if I notice that I'm having repeating themes and particular dreams, then I'll write that down and reflect on that.

Mark: I don't remember my dreams very much. They have to be pretty vivid for me to remember them. And what that has done among other things, is make a dream journal really difficult for me because I decide, okay, I'm gonna do a dream journal, and then three weeks later when I finally have a dream that I, that's vivid enough to remember I've forgotten all about the fact that I decided to have a dream journal.

So, you know, that's just sort of a. Particular quirk of mine. But I say this because many other people also have a very hard time remembering their dreams or they don't dream in a way that's conscious enough to capture very often. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just kind of the way we're built.

Yucca: Yeah. And it's, if it's, if it's useful to you, right? It's not, once again, you're not a bad pagan if you don't roll over every morning and record down exactly what it was that you, that you dreamt. There's, it could be useful for you and, and maybe not, right?

Mark: Yeah, and one of the things that I try to keep in mind when I'm interpreting dreams is that, Even if the symbols and things that I've captured and I'm trying to interpret were relatively random, that doesn't really matter because a random symbol set can be very provocative of subconscious discovery.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: like a, just like a Toro deck. The cards, the cards are random, but the symbols on the cards will provoke associations for you because of your particular consciousness that will, that can help you to learn things, so,

Yucca: act of you trying to interpret it is what's going to help you actually figure out what's going on.

Mark: exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, it sounds like you have more of an active and available dream life than I do. What, what sorts of things do you do with your dreams in terms of interpretation?

Yucca: Hmm. So there's a, there's another piece we're going to get to later on, which is the lucid component. I. Don't do a lot with the interpretation component unless it's something that, that is really reoccurring. Like, and there's certain kind of classic ones that, that people have of like the falling ones or the this or the that.

When I noticed there's a, there's a couple of them that I have that are in the reoccurring, and when that starts to pop up, it's part of a pattern in my life that I recognize of, Ooh, that's that particular. Area that I really struggle with, that I have a lot of stress around. And when I start getting the dream about it, it means, at least for me, my interpretation has been that I'm not giving it the attention that it needs by the time it creeps into reoccurring dream territory.

I have left it unde with for too long. So that.

Mark: very reasonable.

Yucca: Yeah, . But when it comes to the active dreaming, which we will come to in a little bit, that's something that's, that's really central in my practice and something, a tool that I've used for my whole life. So, but before we get there, what about for you with the interpretation?

I know you said that you don't really remember your dreams that much,

Mark: I, I don't very often, and so really more what I reach for. As I'm waking up and remembering bits and pieces of, of these dreams, what I reached for is what was the feeling associated more than anything else, because that tells me what's likely to be going on underneath the surface of my day-to-day operation.

If there's a feeling of shame or a feeling of fear, Or a feeling of happiness. Although for some reason dreams tend to be more warning and work on stuff that's a problem than they, than they are just sort of celebratory.

Yucca: Do you think that that's a, those are the ones you remember because we are. that there would be an advantage to focusing on the worrisome, dangerous stuff or do you think it is? Yeah.

Mark: it could be. But I think also, What tends to happen is that the, the more joyous dreams that I have tend to be dreams where I'm lucid and I'm making choices. So, you know, and we'll talk about that in a minute. But I do find that I can learn a lot just from kind of the vibe of a, of a dream and maybe some of the more prominent symbols that emerged from that. There have been a few times when I've been killed in dreams

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and those have always been very powerful. And I've interpreted them as meaning, you know, major dislocations or transformations. Sometimes they've come at times in my life when I was in a major transition and so that kind of made sense.

Yucca: Was there, did you wake immediately from those, or was there dream after being killed? In the dream.

Mark: Both depending. Yeah, there was one where I got killed right at the beginning of the, the dream, and so I had the, there was an earthquake. At San Francisco State University and I was in the Student Union, which is a concrete building, and it cracked and collapsed and killed me and a lot of other people.

And we all had to go into the basement of the student union, which didn't have a basement,

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: to to stay there then, because we were dead and we couldn't go out in the daylight and we couldn't interact with anybody who was alive. We were still, for all purposes alive, we just had to stay down there because we were dead and some.

People were trying to figure out what they could do other than hang out under the student union. And so at night they would go out and explore. And I finally went with one of these exploring groups and we walked to the Pacific Ocean, to the, to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Big, bright, full moon.

Beautiful. And I dived because we were going to live under the sea since we didn't need to breathe anymore. And then I realized as I was diving that the salt water of the ocean was going to be incredibly caustic to me because I was dead and it was just, it was going to burn me alive. And then I woke up.

Yucca: Oh wow.

Mark: Yeah. So sort of double death dream. That's, that's, that's one that stuck with me. But I woke up before I hit the water.

Yucca: Oh wow. of that? Yeah. Mm-hmm.

only times that I can remember ever dying in my dreams. I've always been shot.

Mark: I've been stabbed, I've been drowned. I've I've a bunch. I, I, now that I think about it, I don't think I have been shot.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: But on the other hand, you're in New Mexico, which is one of the most heavily armed states in the country.

Yucca: Yeah. I mean, yes, like, but the, unless you're in like the urban areas, the, there isn't actually the, like statistically the gun violence is not

Mark: oh no. I'm not saying the gun violence

Yucca: yeah. I mean, yeah, I mean, we're all, everybody, you know, I grew up around guns. I, yeah. But no, it's never, it's always been . I think it was more influenced actually by seeing TV with like,

Mark: Oh

Yucca: like movie type of, yeah.

It would be real interesting to look into where that is. But that, I mean, that's certainly, yeah, something I grew up around and it's not. It's kind of a, it's a, it's a normal part of life in the, the rural areas. So, but I've never had any, like the roof collapsing on me or, you know,

Mark: Well, I'm an earthquake country, of course. So that's, that's something we think about. You know, whenever the, whenever the earth shakes, we think about the roof coming down on us.

Yucca: Right. Well, and I guess that makes sense that different people are going to. . You know, I've also never had dreams about a boating accident, not something we do a lot of out here. I don't

Mark: Ah-huh.

Yucca: of, you know, boating experience,

Mark: open water.

Yucca: But somebody who grew up on the coast and, you know, went sailing every weekend during their childhood, maybe they'd have a different experience with that.

Mark: right.

Yucca: so plenty of flying dreams though.

Mark: Me too. A lot of flying dreams. Yeah. Lucid Flying Dreams are my favorite.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Cuz then you can go where you want to go. Right. It's really fun.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, let's talk about this lucid.

Mark: Why don't you define that for folks first? I.

Yucca: sure. So a lucid dream is when you are aware that you are dreaming and you're still dreaming.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Then there's different levels. You can be lucid but not be. Consciously influencing what's happening, but you can also be lucid and be influencing what's happening. So a lot of times when people say lucid, they mean you can control your dreams, but technically it is just being lucid, being aware of that dream.

So there's different levels to that.

Mark: Yeah, the, the awareness is necessary. You have to be aware that you're dreaming in order to be lucid dreaming. The degree of agency that you have may vary.

Yucca: Right. So, and this is something that people can just naturally do. It's also something that, that you can learn and train yourself to do. and that's, and people have different levels of comfort with that and techniques for trying to stay in the dream when you realize that you're dreaming, because a lot of people struggle with, once they realize they are dreaming, they wake themselves up.

Mark: up. Yeah.

Yucca: So for me, I, I've always been a lucid dream. And that's just something that's been part of my life my whole life. But when I was about nine or 10 years old, I started to. Purposefully cultivate it and use it as a tool. And that was something that, you know, I talked, I had interest in and was talking about that with my father and he got me books and things like that.

So a lot of what I know about for other, for learning how to lose the dream just comes from having read those books. But I never taught myself to lose the dream. It was just something I always. Did. Which I actually think, I don't know if, if it was something that I always did or if it was taught, because I do remember being very little and having nightmares, and the response that my parents would give me would be about how to change it, right?

If I was being chased by the monster, they'd say, okay, we'll go back to. And then you tell the monster that this is your dream, not the monster's dream. And imagine something funny happening instead, right? Like the monster's chasing you, but all of a sudden now you're jumping on the big balls and now you're giggling and laughing together.

They were always very specific about, Hey, when you change a dream, don't, don't change it into something hurt, harmful. Right. Don't imagine, you know, the monster getting hurt or blowing up or something like that may get something that is, that is funny or twisted or like in a, in a positive way. Because the implication, they never said this straight out, but the implication was that the monster was me.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: All of that was just me. Whatever I'm doing in my mind is, is affecting me. So don't make it into like a hurting yourself. Make it into a transformational experience. So I remember doing that, my parents doing that, and I do that with my kids. which is easy because we live in a one bedroom , so anytime they're having a nightmare, I know, I know what they are.

And so it's something that, that I think is just really helpful to, to never have the belief in the first place that you can't control your dreams so that you can't influence your dreams because you can't. Right. We're, we're taught that we can't. And the media around it and all of that, it's like, oh no, you, you don't, you don't influence, you don't have control over it, but you do.

Right. But do you always want to, is a very, very different pick is a different question. So for me, the dreams that I'm, most of my dreams, I choose to not be con, to be lucid in because I don't feel as rested from. So I will choose, it will, I'll be going to sleep and I'll decide, am I gonna be lucid or not?

I'll realize I'm dreaming and go, okay, so let go. I, I literally tell myself, let go and just let the dream happen and let go of that. The lu lucidity. Lucidness

Mark: Lucidity. Yeah.

Yucca: Yeah. But when I do lucid, I, I do a lot of work when I need to. In that dream state is a, is a really powerful state to go into. I will work through problems that I'm having, I'll do actual ritual in that state and I actually do a lot of work in that state too.

So I do a lot of so I'm. Trying to take a whole bunch of information and construct a lecture of how do I take these complex ideas and put them together anytime I need something that's creative but builds it. So I'll go to, so I, I teach a bunch of classes and I need to build a class. I'll go to sleep and then work on the actual outline and structure in the dream state, and then wake up and I'll write it down immediately and I've got the structure. but if I do that too much, I don't rest . So it, it's a, it's a, you know, you're not, I don't know what's going on on a physical level there, but I do not feel as rested when I, losed dream is when I just let myself dream.

Mark: Yeah, I don't either. It lucid dreaming feels like effort.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: To me some of which is some, some amount of effort to maintain the dream

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And some of which is just to, you know, I'm, I have to pay attention, I have to make decisions, I have to do all that kind of stuff. So yes, my experience as well is that a lucid dream is not as restful.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I also. Do lucid dreaming? It's relatively rare because I'm usually just not aware of my dreams. But not, I mean, not infrequently with the dreams that are really impactful for me. I will realize, you know, I'm trying to read something and it's gibberish and oh, I'm dreaming,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: or Something happens that's impossible.

Well, you know, being a naturalistic pagan when something that's physically impossible happens, I go, eh, I think I'm dreaming.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And. I, I, I have a lot of fun in lucid dreaming. I don't really use it for ritual work or even for, I mean, I suppose I should, given that it's kind of down there in the subconscious, but mostly I just use it to have The one thing that I do do that is kind of self-referential is I like to go and look in the mirror

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and I can't really describe what I've seen. , but it hasn't been my face. It's been, you know, deeper layers of who I am. So that's a very powerful exercise. If you find yourself in a dream and you wake up, go in the bathroom and look in the mirror.

Yucca: or pull out the hand mirror that you happen to have in your pocket because it's your dream.

Mark: Yeah. Pockets in me, in dreams are like pockets in cartoons. You can pull anything out of.

Yucca: They're bigger on the inside. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Well, and the, the looking at a mirror, this, that's one where when people are trying to develop the, to be able to wake up in their dream, that's a classic one is to check whether you're dreaming or not look at a mirror. Another one is to look at writing.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Look away, look back at the writing.

Has it changed? And. We tend to do in our dreams, the things that we do when we're awake. So if you have a habit in your, like waking life where you always push your, the glasses up on your nose or you have a habit where you look at your phone or your watch, or you do you think something throughout the day those are things that you'll tend to repeat in the dream.

And so one of the things that people can do to try and learn to lose a dream is to ask yourself throughout the day, am I dreaming? And check if you're dreaming, but you have to actually do the things so that you repeat that in your dream. Because if it's not actually a habit, you won't actually do it in your dream.

But yeah, you check and you go, okay. I look at my watch and right now I look at my watch and there's actually the time on it. I look back and it's the same time, so I go, yeah, I'm, I'm awake. Right?

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: But then once you're in the dream state, you mentioned this, this maintaining yourself in the dream is the next challenge, right?

Is to not wake up immediately. For me, it feels like when I start to wake up, it feels like I'm almost being pulled backwards through like a gel. The image that I think of is if you've ever watched Stargate, There was a movie for it and there was a delightfully campy TV show for a while. Whenever they go through this, the Stargate is going through this, like this jelly plasma thing.

I always feel like I'm getting pulled back through that and I feel like I can't breathe when I'm traveling through that, but if I can just pull myself back. I just like step back into it that I stay in the dream state. But if I let myself go back all the way through, the moment I get through that jelly, I'm awake. But I can go, okay, I'm gonna go right back to the same spot in that dream. That dream's still there as long as I don't fully get up, right? If I have to get up and go do something in the house you know, the cat broke something on the table or the. I go up to go use the restroom like that, then I'm, then I've left the dream.

But if I haven't gone that far from it, I can go right back to the same spot.

Mark: Right? Right. Well, that's cool. My feeling about being pulled out of the dream is much, it's much more vertical than it is horizontal.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I feel like going deeper into the dream is literally sinking going lower. Whereas I feel like it's, it's like scuba diving in that it's about buoy.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: and your natural buoyancy is to go back up and come out of the dream.

And so the challenge becomes to make the motions or do whatever the effort is to stay down.

Yucca: Interesting.

Mark: So that's, that's more of how I experience it. Scuba diving is very dreamlike anyway. Just being down there or, or, or skin diving, snorkeling, same kind of thing. Being down there with all those fish and stuff in that very slow moving language environment because of the density of the water is very dreamlike to.

Yucca: and your body being able to move in ways that you couldn't on dry land.

Mark: Right. And it's a full body

Yucca: twist around and move and, yeah.

Mark: and it's a full body sensation. So, which is, you know, we tend, we tend to just sort of experience with our hands and faces and, you know, not, not have the rest of our bodies engaged so much. Yeah. So that's. That's a cool thing that I enjoy doing. The but, and, and this, this struggle to stay down happens when I realize that I'm dreaming.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: That's the, that's the crisis point where it arises. And then I either win or lose, you know, I either stay down or I don.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: But if I do, then I feel I have a lot of freedom to just explore and to do thing, to fly and to jump off high buildings cuz I'm afraid of heights and stuff like that. So I have a, a catalog of many impossible experiences that I've had that are as vivid in my memory as my actual memory.

Yucca: Right. Well, those are actual memories. But they aren't memories of things that you physically did. They're memories of things that, that your brain still thinks you did.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: Yeah. It's, and it's amazing how the, how powerful the feelings. Can be, I mean, probably most of you have experienced, have you ever had a fight with someone in your dream and then woken up and you're still mad at them and you know that they didn't really say the thing, but you still feel it.

You're still so mad at them. And it's like they, they would've never done that thing, whatever it was ever. Right? But, but you still experienced that. I think that's just so fascinating with, with dreams and, and I hope we. To learn more about why our brains do that.

Mark: Yeah, that, I mean, that's the big question to me, the, I mean, the fact is we do it. There's a lot of descriptive literature about what it is, and. kind of patterns of how it works. But the big question of, but why, what exactly are we accomplishing by doing this? Even though I know in my own personal life that I do accomplish things in dreaming you know, I, I have experiences and I learn things.

Yucca: And, you know, as you're saying that, it, it, it makes me think about other places in our lives where we have tools that we use, like meditation, like ritual. These are things that we're, we have some insight into with science. But largely we really don't understand them, but we can still, even though we, we don't yet understand them on that level, we can still figure out how to use them because they still exist.

And that's, that's where the art part, that's where the craft part comes in. These are tools that we're using,

Mark: I think of it as,

Yucca: why. Yeah,

Mark: oh, I'm sorry to

Yucca: go. No, please.

Mark: Well, I think of it as rather like the domestication of fire. We didn't understand what fire really was for. Hundreds of thousands of years, but we were still using it. We were making it, and we were transmitting it, and we were using it to cook our food and to illuminate our dwellings and to, you know, create heat in the wintertime and all kinds of stuff.

And you know, I mean, I've heard it said that the most sim, the most mysterious and complex thing that humanity has ever discovered is the human brain. You know, there are the, the range of possible manifestations of behavior that come out of human brains is just astounding, and we don't understand very much about it at all because it's very hard to observe it while it's.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And to translate the experience of it working, which is consciousness into some kind of objective data about what that process is. So, yeah, I mean, I would, I, I believe we will learn more about that. I don't know that it'll ever be completely done and dusted, but

Yucca: I don't think science works that way, frankly.

Mark: No.

Yucca: that the more we know, the more questions we have, and that is beautiful. That is just amazing.

Mark: About simple things like how fireworks, you know, we, we, we can get pretty good answers that don't leave. A lot of questions left.

Yucca: To on a certain scale. Right, right. We can go. Okay, so we're talking about the splitting of molecules and the recombination of, but let's start talking about, okay, those, but why were those molecules bonded to each other in the first place?

Mark: Right.

Yucca: What are they made of?

Mark: is a molecule and, and what's that made of? And then what are those made of? And then what are those

Yucca: Right. And why? Okay, so why so it's doing this because of this particular force.

Why does that force exist? Is that force connected to something else? You know, there's all, it just keeps going and going and maybe, maybe there's a simple answer to all of it, but I think we're a ways away from finding that if it

Mark: Well cer certainly all the quantum stuff, there's plenty of questions left, plenty of vast. Vast acreage of unknowns. But as you say, within a given scale context, you can understand how something works, and I doubt that we will understand why the human brain works even at its own scale, much, much less at deeper levels.

But even at its own scale, there's. When you have trillions of informational connections working at incredibly fast speeds, I just think it's gonna be impossible to ever chase those things down.

Yucca: Yeah, well, and each one being, as far as we know, very different The way that the, which connections my brain makes versus your brain.

Mark: Well, right. I'm, and I'm just talking about one brain. I'm not talking about brains in general. I'm just talking about one brain.

Yucca: but we have, there are things that we have learned, right? Like learning about the different, you know, kinds of connections and neurotransmitters and the, you know, which particular elements do we use in order, you know, all that stuff.

Mark: Sure,

Yucca: so much progress.

Mark: tend to be associated with particular senses or particular processes?

Yucca: Oh, but then they go and change on us because that's what we find. That's amazing. When, and not in all the cases, but there's many cases where we found when someone's had brain damage in one area and then another part of the brain starts to perform the function that usually would've been in that part of the brain and wow.

Mark: I read a, a fascinating article by a woman, God, where was this? The Atlantic, I think. And she literally has half of a brain.

Yucca: Hmm. Okay.

Mark: it was discovered in adulthood when she had an m r I, that one in,

Yucca: born this

Mark: she was born this way and she's of perfectly normal intelligence. She, you know, she has an absolutely ordinary life,

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: but half of her brain never developed.

Yucca: What's filling in the physical space where the other half would be. Okay.

Mark: Yeah. To reverse spinal fluid.

Yucca: Yeah. Wow.

Mark: Pretty awesome,

Yucca: pretty popular now.

Mark: Yeah,

Yucca: a lot of

Mark: lots of studies and, and all that kind of stuff,

Yucca: yeah. How interesting. Hmm.

Mark: and I mean, that's fully coordinating both sides of her body. That's, you know, doing everything that a brain does and it's just doing it with half as much.

Yucca: Wow. Have they checked in with siblings to see if they, that

Mark: don't, I don't remember honestly, it, it was a while back, but it was a pretty wild article. I should try to find it.

Yucca: Yeah, that's, that's interesting. This stuff is fun,

Mark: It is, it is. And one of the places where we encounter the mysteries about the brain is in dreaming.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: Because dreaming is a mysterious process. Why am I being shown these images? Why am I finding my, yeah, why am I finding myself immersed in, you know, these particular situations and these particular, you know, colors and objects and characters and plot lines, and, you know, what, what is all that?

Yucca: Why are those two people actually one person, I don't know how this happens for you, but sometimes characters in my dream are not really, they're rarely one person. There's several different people at once.

Mark: I don't have that at all.

Yucca: no, you'll have a, there'll be someone, okay. For me, they're, they will be several different people and sometimes they'll think about, so why was it that so-and-so was also so-and-so?

Like what overlap am I seeing there? Or did it not really matter for the dream, who the other person

Mark: are, these are recognizable people from your life or they are characters that were created in the dream,

Yucca: Well, people from my life, but also movie characters and think characters. Either a, a human, there's somebody, whether that's somebody is a real person or not. Right. Like there could, there, for instance, is making up there could be Santa, right? Like there's, you know, never met Santa. There's, as far as I know, no real Santa, but Santa can show up in my dream and Santa can also be my second grade teacher at the same time in my. But that's just, you know, why, right? That's one of those interesting things to think about. What's there's, there's gotta be some connection there, or maybe not, but me trying to figure out what that connection is might reveal to me something about my feelings about my second grade teacher, you know? Or why am I thinking about, why am I thinking about her right now?

You know, how many decades later?

Mark: right.

Yucca: So,

Mark: Yeah, it's really fascinating stuff, and I'm sure that our listeners have a very broad range of different kinds of experiences as well. You know, if you want to email us at the wonder podcast cues gmail.com or comment on this

Yucca: you're listening to it online?

Mark: listening to it on

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: You can go ahead and comment there.

You know, what was your most vivid dreaming experience? What's been your most amazing experience? In the dreaming realm because it really is a pretty remarkable thing that we do. We spend a lot of our time asleep and,

Yucca: It's glorious.

Love it.

Mark: we don't spend as much, I don't spend as much time asleep as I wish I did,

Yucca: and that's one that I, that I have looked into the research on, which is very distressing about the sleep deprivation especially in the United States. Very worrisome with, with teenagers in terms of what's happening with their sleep deprivation. It's

Mark: my local school districts here just made a ruling that they were not going to start classes until I think, eight 30 in the morning, maybe nine,

Yucca: Oh good.

Mark: classes had been starting at seven 30 and it's just, that's not good for a developing marine.

Yucca: it isn't. Well, and, and then this is one area where there's research as well into chronotypes. And it, this seems to be pretty universal across cultures that the, that teenagers. Will naturally stay up later and wake up later. That seems to be, that's not just coming from our, like our cultural stereotypes that seems to be across cultures.

And getting less sleep than we need has a negative impact on so many different levels for us, and it increases risk of all kinds of things. So I, I think it's ridiculous to. To be making teenagers get up and be being sleep deprived because of that. And I know we can go, oh, we're supposed to be teaching them, you know, responsibility and all of that, and it's like, hmm.

Not at the cost of their physical and emotional wellbeing and their ability to learn, because you're not gonna learn as well when you're sleep deprived.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: And what, what are we teaching them that them fitting into? These particular hours that we've for some reason chosen that probably have more to do with like the hours of operation of factories.

We care more about that than their wellbeing. I don't know. That's, there's my soapbox. Sorry, I'll

Mark: Well, I don't dis, I don't disagree with any of it. It, it certainly,

Yucca: frankly, eight 30 is still

Mark: I'm just glad that at least. I'm just glad that some of the more progressive districts are starting to pay attention to this research and to think about, and parents complain because parents want the childcare, right?

They, they want to get out of the house in time to get to work. And I mean, you know, just the whole system is interconnected. Levels of dysfunction.

Yucca: Yeah, that's a whole nother area.

Mark: It is, and it's not a particularly cheery area, so let's move on.

Yucca: We should. Yes. Now actually there was a very cheery, exciting thing that you wanted to announce.

Mark: Yes. We've talked about this before, but tickets for the atheopagan Web Weaving online Conference, which will be June 4th of this year. The tickets will go on sale next Saturday. April 1st. Tickets are from 10 to $50. There are scholarship tickets for nothing to spend anything. Nobody's turned away for lack of funds.

We're encouraging giving at least 20 so that we can cover the expenses of the conference, but you can get information about it at. AP society.org/a WW 2023 and we'll put that in the,

Yucca: And the show

Mark: in the podcast

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: And you can download the program there and look offerings of workshops and activities and all that kind of stuff, it's gonna be a really great opportunity. To see other people that are following these paths and exchange information and learn stuff. So I really hope you'll take a look and consider coming.

Yucca: and both of us are doing workshops, so.

Mark: That's right. I'm doing one on the clerical path. And you're doing one for kids, right?

Yucca: I am, yeah. I'm gonna do a kids circle, so, yep.

Mark: great. Yeah. Exciting.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: yeah that's two months away, but tickets will go on sale next week and you can look at the program it's downloadable in either PDF or format.

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: You can look at those,

Yucca: And it does always help us to get people to know ahead of time how many people to be expecting.

Mark: That's right. If, if all the registration comes in at the last minute, it could be complicated for us. Our current Zoom account, this will be done over Zoom. Our current Zoom account allows a hundred attendees. If we have 98 attendees three days before the event and then another 300 people register in those last couple of days, we're gonna have to call Zoom up at work capacity and you know, all that kind of stuff.

So,

Yucca: So we'd of course love to have

Mark: ask you to get your tickets early.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yes. Yeah, for sure. We would be, You know, arrange for more, more seats with Zoom. But it would be a lot better if we could do that a week in advance rather than two days in advance. So get your tickets early.

Yucca: Yeah, and we'll see you there. And as always, thanks for hanging out with us on today's episode, and we'll see you next week.

Mark: Have a great one.

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