An Active Dreamer Gives Thanks to the Speaking Land

By Robert Moss

One of the things I learned - after being required to learn the Mohawk language to understand my dreams - is that giving thanks is THE Indigenous North American way of prayer.

From this perspective, everything around you is alive and conscious, and you should mind your manners and thank everything that supports your life. You do this knowing that you are talking to family. The more you do it, the more that orenda – the Iroquois term for the power that is in everything and beyond everything – gathers around you.

It is good to do something every day, in any landscape, to affirm and give thanks to life in all that is around us. This may be especially important on days when the world seems drab and flat. The First Peoples of North America remind us that the best kind of prayer is to give thanks to all our relations, to everything that supports life, and in doing so to give our support to them.

In the United States, we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, my favorite American holiday. We did not celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, the country where I grew up. But the Aborigines, the first people of my native country, say that we live in the Speaking Land, where everything is alive and conscious and will speak to us if only we pay attention. That understanding lives in my bones, so it was not hard for me to understand the way of the First Nations of North America, which is to acknowledge, with thanks, the gifts of life and the powers that support our lives.

At Thanksgiving, I rarely think about the Pilgrim Fathers getting through a rough winter with the help of red people who did not yet understand what the irruption of pink people into this continent would mean for them. But I often think about how, for the First Peoples of America, prayer is often a practice of returning thanks for life, and all that supports life in our conscious, inter-connected universe, and how this is not just a part of one big turkey day, to be followed by Black Friday, the day of all-out shopping frenzy, but of the everyday practice of gratitude.

As an active dreamer, my practice actually begins before sleep. I make it my game, on lying down, to go over the events of the day, good, bad and mixed, and give thanks for what I have learned. This clearing prepares me to dream without being cluttered by “day residue”, though it still leaves me free and clear to dream with intention on the issues and themes on which I need guidance.

I find that after this practice of gratitude, my dreams give me helpful messages. And that when I stir from the first phase of “industrial sleep” – the sleep that restores the body – I am ready to enter wonderful adventures in lucid dreaming in the liminal space between sleep and awake.

When I rise in the morning, after recording my dreams, I go out into the day to walk my dog, alert to the life around me, ready to notice the signs and symbols the world will give me.

I speak to the sun and the rain, to the trees and the wind. And I say:

I return thanks for the gifts of this lifetime

and for its challenges

I seek to walk in balance between earth and sky 

Robert Moss is an esteemed faculty of The Shift Network. To listen to his free talk on The Shamanic Power of Active Dreaming, click here.

Robert Moss is the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of modern dreamwork and shamanism. Born in Australia, he survived three near-death experiences in childhood. He leads popular seminars all over the world, including a 3-year training for teachers of Active Dreaming. A former lecturer in ancient history at the Australian National University, he is a best-selling novelist, poet, journalist and independent scholar. His nine books on dreaming, shamanism and imagination include Conscious Dreaming, The Secret History of Dreaming and Dreaming the Soul Back Home. His latest book, The Boy Who Died and Came Back, is a personal narrative of his adventures in multi-dimensional reality since an Australian doctor told his parents, when he was three, “Your boy died and came back.”


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This article appears in: 2015 Catalyst, Issue 23: Thanksgiving and Gratitude