Ask A Witch
This is Ask A Witch, NYLON’s column with Indigenous healer and herbalist Napaquetzalli Martinez that answers your questions on the esoteric, the spiritual, and so much more.
In dreams, anything is possible. Obstacles are overcome, truths get revealed, and physical limitations are suspended. Although often the visions are fleeting, our dreams offer an endless inner resource for healing, growth, and manifesting our best lives. Lucid dreaming happens when we “wake up” within a dream, realizing we are sleeping despite being conscious. Depending on our lucidity, we can control our senses and even alter or direct the course of the dream. For some, this comes naturally, and for others, it's a skill that can be honed with practice. Lucid dreaming has many benefits, but as with anything that expands our consciousness, it should be done with mindful awareness and guidance.
Since time immemorial, humans have used dreams to not only to connect to unseen forces and access higher wisdom, but to inform their waking lives as well. Renowned healer Sergio Magaña explores this in his book The Toltec Secret: Dreaming Practices of the Ancient Mexicans, where he shares long buried techniques for lucid dreaming. As Magaña writes, “your dream is what you have become. Observe your life and you’ll know what you dreamed.” The truth is that the dreamworld and waking reality are two halves of the same whole. We incarnate on Earth to travel along our unique life journey, all eventually meeting the same fate in the end.
The art of dreaming is a step in self-mastery along this path. If we can navigate and consciously travel through the astral realms, this power is mirrored in this waking reality and beyond into future lifetimes. This alignment of spirit and purpose comes from being able to master ourselves, and our actions, no matter what state of consciousness we are in. Asleep or awake, it’s important to know where we are going and the tools to get us there.
Balance Your Sleep
Sleep is a truly underrated medicine that heals and restores us on every level, from the physical to the subconscious. If we spend approximately one-third of our lifetimes sleeping (or attempting to), clearly this time is valuable. In our hustle and grind culture, insomnia and sleep issues are all too common. Aside from recalling our dreams, in order to maximize our health, we have to heal our relationship with sleep. Remembering dreams is hard enough, and even more difficult if our sleep pattern is chaotic. There are many simple ways to practice good sleep hygiene and get a better night's rest: reduce harsh lighting a few hours before bed, avoid electronic interference or turn off Wi-Fi at night, and increase sunlight exposure in the morning and daytime to balance circadian rhythm. All of these tools benefit overall mental well-being, increase energy levels, and heighten intuition.
Write It Down
Take time to process your dreams in the mornings. These visions can quickly evaporate, so writing them down first thing upon waking is critical if you’re trying to retain them. If possible, do this before scrolling social media or talking to your partner or relatives. As soon as we enter the (physical) world, we are inundated with information and external influences, so taking time to reflect and meditate alone will help us understand the messages being revealed to us. Recording dreams helps increase recall, and over time may help you piece together the stories your subconscious is weaving. If you have a traumatic or stressful dream, use this moment of quiet self-reflection to energetically cleanse your psyche. Record the dreams that excite or strike curiosity, and expel any unwanted visions by imagining yourself surrounded by protective light.
Face The Mirror
We all know that dreams can expose deep triggers through nightmares, recurring dreams, and other sleep disturbances. Since the dreamworld mirrors reality, this is where we explore and process emotions on a subconscious level. As we tap into our intuition, we can work through and heal problems in dreams first, or even receive visions that can direct us away from conflicts or danger. Ancestors and spirit guides may warn us or reveal what we cannot see. Guides can take many forms in the dream realm, such as past loved ones, animals, and even the elements and weather reflected in our dreams. Pay attention to the guides that frequently pop up in your dream space. Prophetic vision is something we can all access and often occurs when we least expect it. Trust your intuition, and listen to your dreams!
Explore The Landscape
Most people have their own unique landscape or dream space. Do you have recurring dreams about specific places or landscapes? Oceans, forests, a specific city, or location? What do these places symbolize or represent to you? Notice the common elements that present themselves. All of these are vital clues when learning to interpret the language of dreams and our own inner landscape. As our inner sight sharpens these places come into focus and can be explored. The more we recognize and get familiar with our dream space, the more it is revealed to us.
Increase Your Intuition
There are many herbal and magical tools that are used to expand psychic vision. Herbs can be burned as incense, smoked, used in a ritual bath or tea blend, or simply tied in a bundle or pouch and placed above or near the bed. Blue lotus and mugwort are powerful herbal allies for increasing psychic vision and lucid dreaming; both have been used ritually for centuries to open the third eye and move stagnant energy. Anima Mundi Apothecary, an herbal brand based in New York with South American influence, makes a delicious Lucid Dream Tea and Elixir that increases intuition and aids healthy sleep. If you suffer from nightmares or psychic attacks, use herbs like mint, rosemary, and yarrow to increase energetic boundaries. These attacks can manifest as persistent nightmares, negative thought patterns, or toxic energy in home, which is why cleansing and protection is needed. Crystals can also be used to help our astral travels and protect us on the journey. Labradorite is a great crystal for tapping into different realms, while selenite purifies the energy in your space. Obsidian is the quintessential tool for dreamwork, as it represents a mirror into the shadow self and deflects unwanted entities. Try putting your favorite crystal underneath a pillow or near the bed for extra energetic guidance and protection.
The dreamworld is where we heal ourselves, and beyond that, it’s where we plant future goals. Visualize all that you wish to manifest or become in this lifetime. Meditate on this before bed, and imagine planting those intentions like seeds. Through dreams we work through emotions, heal ancestral wounds, and explore the scope of possibility. All of those surreal adventures and dramas we experience nightly help us grow and integrate lessons, whether we recall them or not. When we integrate the physical and spiritual selves, we move with total awareness, follow our gut instincts, and build trust with higher powers. Dreaming is a lifelong practice, and there is so much to learn through the messages that we receive. Every night, our spirits travel through different worlds gaining knowledge and experience to prepare us for life’s journey, as we gradually wake up to our truest selves. Travel safely, and sweet dreams.