Introduction

I found myself in a series of corridor-like caverns, aware that I was dreaming. Examining my surroundings, I saw a small alcove near the ceiling, not far from where I was. I was curious to see what was in it, so I climbed the wall. When I got there, however, I saw that the alcove was empty.

A thought occurred to me: I said to myself that it wasn’t empty after all, that something was there, only it was invisible. I reached in, and I actually could feel something there: many little keys in the dust. My mother called to me from below, asking what I had found.

“Balance” I said, happy. I threw a key down to her, and grabbed a handful to take back to the house.

–Excerpt from a dream

‘Liber Clavicularum’ means ‘Book of Little Keys’. I chose this as the name for my blog because it expresses the most profound truth I have discovered about dreams in more than seven years of working with them: their inexhaustibility. A dream is meaningful in as many ways as we have of finding meaning, and no matter how convincing an interpretation may be, there is always room for another. The possibilities are endless.

The flip-side of this inexhaustibility is that there can be no final interpretation, no comprehensive theory of dreaming, no capital-t Truth concerning particular dreams or dreaming in general. There is no big key, only many small ones.

All theories of dreams have at least a little truth in them; anyone who values their dreams can add to our knowledge of dreaming, no formal qualifications required. These are some of the implications: another is that there is no natural place to begin writing about dreams, and no place to end that wouldn’t be arbitrary, which makes a blog an especially good medium for writing about them. The best way to approach dreams is from a hundred different directions.

I don’t intend to offer advice for those who are beginning to work with their dreams, or learning to lucid dream, as there are already plenty of good guides available. Nor do I intend to prove that dreams are meaningful: I don’t think it’s possible to remain skeptical about that without isolating yourself from current research and from your own dream life. Most of all, I will not be speculating on the spiritual dimension of dreaming—not because I don’t believe it to be important, but because I lack the qualifications. (It doesn’t stop me from picking on the researchers, but their claims are exoteric rather than esoteric, and so fair game for public critique.)

In spite of the lofty-sounding Latin, what ‘Liber Clavicularum’ represents is actually quite modest: a collection of useful truths, a toolkit for the perplexed, the curious, and those who find themselves at an impasse in their dreamwork. It is a source of information on how to live with dreams, which, although it is the prerequisite to understanding them, is discussed far less frequently.

For me, it also represents the righting of a balance. After seven years of keeping a dream journal, I have a lot to share, and I have never shared most of it before. There’s a part of me that would prefer to keep my dream exploration a solitary pursuit, but I would not only be refusing others the chance to learn, but refusing to learn from them myself.

That’s why I want to get everything out into the open, rough though it may be in its early stages. I am inviting readers into my workshop—or, rather, taking it out to them. There have been times in the course of my studies when I thought I had a finished theory of dreaming on my hands, but I always found later that I had underestimated dreaming: it was always more than I had imagined.

In the end, what I have to offer consists of analysis, anecdotes, connections I have made, and other insights—but what I really hope to share is the experience of unexpectedly discovering something about the workings of your own mind. It’s an amazing feeling, even when the insight itself is a small one.

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