turtles all the way down

The Ash Yggdrasil by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1886)
This is about one of the two* weirdest dreams in all my days. And by weird I mean memorable and vivid, full of high significance, and fraught with emotional affect.

A friend of mine believes it wasn't a dream at all but rather 'astral projection'. According to someone else, it was 'just a flying dream or maybe lucid dreaming'.

In theory it could have been all of the above: a dream in which I was aware of being in a dream that involved flying via astral projection!

Or maybe it was none of the above. I don't know for sure, but I lean toward: 'just a flying dream'.

Whatever it was, it was a dream of the cosmos, of Yggdrasil (pictured), the tree that supports the Everettian multiverse! Or not a tree, more like a beanstalk. No, more like a ladder. No, a magic rope. No, not a rope either, just an infinite series of turtles all the way down! (Wikipaedia attributes this to Stephen Hawking but it was Richard Feynman, I believe.)

Blue. Deep, unending blue. Infinite cerulean. Cosmic ocean (with quantum foam). A perfect sky/space containing everything. Or, to put it another way: Every Thing.

Within the blue I saw cosmic planes/levels: each a dimension, a world, a universe, a cluster of universes. And yet a neighbourhood.

I lived on the bottom level, the mundane level as it was known in the dream: the level of 'everyday' existence. In the dream I felt that on the mundane level, life was hard. Grey. Meaningless. Which is why it it was so great to be able to escape into the deep blue mystery between the worlds, like having a 'get out of jail free' card!

But I couldn't do it on my own; I had a friend who helped me. He never travelled with me, just helped me, somehow, or was involved in some way. His face was scarred and pock-marked. He was Brazilian, I think, or Cuban.

The travelling between the levels was like flying, like soaring on the thermals of the infinite (!), looking on from an incalculable and unknowable distance at universes threaded like so many beads on a cosmic string, with trillions of light years of blue between them.

[Before I tell you the next bit, I have to provide some context/background. In the years before the dream, I had believed myself to be an atheist: had even thought I knew what the word means! For a number of years after the dream, that belief continued. Until it came to its inglorious end.]

The top level was where a god and some angels hung out. There was a large white mansion set on a lushly green lawn within a beautiful and spacious garden. In front of the mansion was a large pool in which were angels swimming, laughing, having fun.

I swam in the pool briefly. It was wonderful. Indescribable (yes I know I'm repeating myself but there's no other way of saying it [or not saying it to be precise]). It was swimming, but somehow it was learning, gaining knowledge. It was Swimming in Truth. Swimming in the Real.

But being inexperienced and unprepared I wasn't able to gain the full benefit. In fact, I only gained little, but more than enough to make me feel very sad when I had to go.

And then I was once again in the void, the Blue, soaring through infinity. I didn't return immediately to the mundane level: I stopped off at an intermediate universe on the way. Just happened to be in the neighbourhood, as it were. This level consisted of a luxuriant jungle, full of life: birds, animals and insects. In the jungle was a natural pool of clear water. And in the pool was a beautiful young girl, with long dark hair and gentle eyes.

Gently she encouraged me into the pool, and slowly began to teach me how to swim, a similar kind to that I'd tried to do in the pool by the white mansion.

[The friend who said that what I'd experienced was astral travel also said that the young girl in the pool was a goddess helping me learn how to be One with The All. The Landlord of the White Mansion. (As the Buddhist said to the hotdog vendor: "make me one with everything!")]

And then suddenly--but still dreaming that I was dreaming--I was 'back' on the mundane level. And that's all I remember of the dream. But here's something I stumbled across that may be of interest. Or not. I haven't actually looked it up myself (lazy sod that I am), but it sounds as if it could perhaps maybe possibly potentially somehow be indirectly relevant to the above, (below):

Deirdre Barrett, Flying dreams and lucidity: An empirical study of their relationship. Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Vol 1(2) 129-134, Jun 1991.


Flying dreams have anecdotally been suggested to be related to lucid dreams, either by general proximity of occurrence or by flying directly triggering lucidity. The present study of 1910 dreams from 191 subjects found flying dreams were likelier to be reported by subjects reporting lucid dreams or any of three related categories: "pre-lucid" dreams, dreams of sleep, or "false awakenings." When flying and lucidity occurred in the same dream, lucidity preceded flight rather than being triggered by it. Possible bases for this relationship of lucid and flying dreams are discussed in terms of their psychological and physiological commonalities.

* The other one of the two most memorable dreams of my life also involved flying, and 'lucidity' in the technical sense (above), and (in theory, if you believe that sort of thing) astral travel.


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Antares said...

Too bad we don't carry cellphones with video capabilities in our flying dreams. Yours would have easily drawn a couple million hits on YouTube! In any case, stuff like that doesn't happen every day... glad you recorded it in a blogpost, at least :-)

masterymistery said...

Hi Antares, as you can see I've resorted to posting dreams to maintain my self-imposed requirement to keep the site regularly refreshed with new content!

Still, the particular dream in question made a huge impression on me at the time.

Also, the dream highlights the metaphorical nature of language and of reality..

The label "astral travel", for instance. Many of the characteristics it is said to include can be easily understood and accepted if viewed from a metaphorical perspective.

A characteristic of "Travel" for instance is that it involves movement. Which can be in terms of "distance" in the "material world", but which is not limited to that interpretation.

The changing of a person's mind involves change, yes, but also involves movement from one "position" to another, eg as in the statement: "...previously I was an atheist, now I am a pantheist..."

And movement involves travel.

So for astral travel to be "correct" it is not necessary for the travel to involve movement in the material world. Though it would help.

Does any of that make sense?

Thanks for your comments.