Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Growing Spirit with Dream Interpretation

Workshop Number: 
Larry Kelly-Mahaffey, Katya Walter
Who may register?: 
Adult Only (high school with permission)
Experiential Activities: 
part time-attenders welcome (can come any one day)
half gathering attenders welcome
First half (Monday-Wednesday)
Second half (Wednesday/Thursday-Friday)

Does it help to examine dreams? How? Dreams bring waking self-knowledge from our unconscious. Do they have greater meaning beyond ourselves? “Dream Groups” answer these questions. This workshop is a hands-on exploration of participants’ actual dreams and shows how exploring our dreaming can expand our understanding of self and God.

Workshop Description

Some of our greatest spiritual challenges in this time are:
• fear of the “shadow” which manifests as bigotry
• fear of the “feminine” which impedes the development of both men and women
• what it means to be “masculine” in a time when traditional male roles are changing
Unexamined these challenges separate us from God and prevent us from achieving serenity. In our dreams we encounter representations of the “shadow”, the “feminine” and the “masculine”. By examining our dreams we are able to integrate these parts of ourselves and allow our authentic Selves to emerge.

Our dreams are created in our own psyches, and left to ourselves, most of the time we, the dreamers, are “uniquely blind” to the meanings of our own dreams. Anyone who has some understanding of the Group Projective Process of dream exploration, however, can start doing responsible, productive dream work with others, anywhere, any time. Using the process known as Peer Projective Dream Analysis, Friends can help one another to understand the profound messages every dream sends to the dreamer.

In this workshop, using the 6-point "Basic Dream Work Tool Kit" laid out by leading dream analyst Jeremy Taylor, participants review, actual dreams they bring with them to the meeting. As a dreamer recounts a dream, each person in the group takes on that dream as her/his own. It is understood that all dreams are in the interest of health and wellness; what is this dream trying to tell me?

While most dreamers cannot interpret our own dreams because our conscious waking ego blocks our understanding, others in the group can perceive many layers of meaning as they experience the dream themselves. Each of us listens and takes ownership of the dream; by reporting my understanding of what is now my dream to the dreamer, I find meaning both for that Friend and for myself.

If my interpretation resonates with the dreamer, a new understanding can take root in her/his consciousness, from which it was previously barred. I, too, have learned some new truths from this dream, about me. These new understandings become the basis for personal spiritual growth for us both. As we grow individually, the collective grows. As we reach higher levels of spiritual awareness, the collective level of spiritual awareness is heightened.

A fundamental to productive dream work is developing an understanding of “archetypes”, the universal symbols of dreams. Although essentially a Jungian framework, the beauty of this method is its functionality without massive amounts of scholarly learning. I dream of a cat, a mother, a storm… What does cat mean to each of us? Mother? Storm? These are archetypes about which we all have common vision and can reach common conclusions. As we discuss the levels of meaning in the dream, each of us grows in our capacity to connect to the collective unconscious, a higher level of spiritual union which some call God.

Participants are asked to bring a dream (ideally, but not necessarily, typed with 20 copies, written in the present tense. The workshop is closed at 20.) Initially, we will draw names to see which dreams get used. Since all dreams become everyone’s, it is not essential that everyone’s dream be read, but we will attempt to do as many as possible. Depending on the will of the group, we may break into smaller groups to cover more material.

By the end of the week, everyone can have a working knowledge of a dream group and an understanding of how to establish an on-going group. This includes having a very basic picture of the Jungian map of one’s psyche, i.e., S/self, Shadow, Animus/Anima, Persona, etc. -- the personal and the collective conscious and unconscious.

Our work, however, will stay away from much of the theoretic and will focus on dreams themselves. We will begin and end with worship, as well as having silence between dreams. Most of our activity will be in hearing and interpreting dreams. There will be handouts and a bibliography for those who wish to do further dream study. It is not necessary, but those wishing to read in advance may read:

Jeremy Taylor’s The Wisdom of Your Dreams: Using Dreams to Tap Into Your Unconscious and Transform Your Life, 2009, Penguin/Tarcher

This workshop will not have lengthy, philosophic discussions. The bulk of class time will be spent as a group in dream study.

Dreamers may wish to bring a dream journal with them to Gathering, as the stimulation of the workshop usually prompts active dreaming.

Leader Experience

This workshop was first offered by Jude Filler in Greeley CO, in 2013 with Larry Kelly-Mahaffey as her companion in ministry. It was a marvelous experience (supported by enthusiastic evaluations) and the fact that the group asked for and attended extra, unscheduled sessions before leaving the campus.

The workshop objective which was to give the participants the practical skills to set up their own Jungian Dream Groups, was achieved -- with several participants reporting in from their homes the success of new groups. The work the group did was really remarkable.

Jude is unable to lead the workshop this year and her Spiritual companion, Larry, will be leading the group. Larry is a retired software developer, who early on realized the necessity of balancing his intensely “left-brain” work life with “right-brain” activities such as dream work. Larry has been a member of Austin Dream Group for 12 years and has studied with Jeremy Taylor at a workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He became interested in dream work after reading The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda, and has been recording his dreams for over 40 years.

Larry’s companion in ministry at the workshop will be Katya Walter. Katya Walter has an interdisciplinary Ph.D., plus five years of post-doctoral work at the Jung Institute of Zurich and a year of post-graduate study in China. Katya also studied with Jeremy Taylor at a workshop in San Diego, California. She holds a ministerial license. Dr. Walter taught in colleges and universities in the USA and abroad for sixteen years before focusing on writing, lecturing, and workshops. She has conducted dream groups and workshops in the United States and Europe. Her workshops in the Austin area include Friends Meeting of Austin, Hyde Park Baptist Church, Trinity Methodist Church, and Unity Church of the Hills, Austin Unitarian-Universalist Church, Austin Police Department, Lockhart Women’s Correctional Facility, Austin Alternative Middle School, and the Austin Breast Cancer Resource Center. Dr. Walter is author of a 6 volume series of books. She also authored a handbook on the messages carried in the deeper structure of dreams. Currently, she writes and sees clients in Austin, Texas.