As a strong dreamer myself, I was immediately drawn to Nimue Brown’s latest book, Pagan Dreaming: The Magic of Altered Consciousness, curious what new insights she would offer. I was delighted to read her unique and detailed approach to a part of our lives that is often either ignored or glorified, even by those who should perhaps know better. I highly recommend this excellent book for anyone who has ever wanted to explore their dreams and their inner world more deeply.

While the book includes the basics of working with dreams, like keeping a dream journal, establishing your sleep space as sacred, and interpreting your dreams based on your own personal symbols, it goes far beyond the usual advice on dream work. In clear and compelling language, Brown examines several philosophies about what dreams are, where they come from, and what purpose they serve in our lives. She lets the reader come to his or her own conclusions, while offering ideas and suggestions rooted in both science and spirituality. I love how she leaves plenty of space for various ways of looking at dreams. “How we understand dreaming is very much a part of how we understand the nature of reality,” she writes.

My favorite part of the book is when Brown shared examples from her own dream diary. Reading her notes on dreams, and how she chose to interpret them in the context of her life, provided useful clues for working with my own dreams. I loved the sections on dream magick, personal dream symbols, and dreaming as a spiritual practice, too.
The book also covers practical and useful ways to deal with insomnia, the history of how humans have viewed dreams, and how your waking emotions affect your dreams. Brown offers ideas for doing dream magick, while cautioning against letting your ego run rampant. We may certainly receive divine guidance in dreams, she posits, but it is rare and may not be at all clear-cut. She questions the desirability of lucid dreaming, asking whether we wouldn’t rather receive insights from our unconscious self than learn to control every little detail of our dreams.

Brown’s down-to-earth approach to dreaming is refreshing, and at the same time she leaves the door open to magickal experiences and visitations. Her most powerful advice is that there are no right and wrong answers when it comes to dreaming. She deftly leads the reader on a journey of individual dream exploration, bringing her Druid background to bear on the fascinating final chapter, called “Into the Wilderness,” which is all about “re-wilding” your sleep and dreams. Her conclusion is poetic and inspiring. This book is not to be missed.

~review by Nikki Starcat Shields

Author: Nimue Brown
Moon Books, 2015
pp.220, $16.95

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