Mysterious Realities: A Dream Traveler’s Tales from the Imaginal Realm
by Robert Moss
Novato, CA: New World Library, 2018
272 pages, CAD$21.88, GBP£12.30, USD$15.95
Reviewed by Kate Clark
Robert Moss welcomes us to the imaginal realm, “a fundamental ground of knowledge and experience…. In this realm human imagination meets intelligences from higher realities, and they coconstruct places of healing, instruction, and initiation” (xiii). He invites us to consider that in our dreaming and “the drifty state near sleep,” we may indeed be aware of other aspects of ourselves, able to live “on the mythic edge,” encountering past, future, and parallel selves, as well as archetypal figures, and we can explore these realms as a traveler.
This book is a collection of stories prompted by dreams of the author’s and others. While they read as short stories with more than a hint of magical realism, they glean the wisdom of dreams and so offer messages from the imaginal realm, perspectives and choices offered to us here from there. Some of the chapters are prefaced with an indication of how the reader might work with the material in the story. For instance, the second story is described as a modern fairy tale about a lost girl, and Moss invites us to enter the dream story, saying, “To reclaim our lost girls and boys, we must prove to them that we are safe and we are fun. Listen to Lorelei tell her story, and consider how much of it is about you” (15). A later story begins, “Don’t you think there might be consequences for waking up the old gods?” (96), while another imagines folding time to visit a young W. B. Yeats as he seeks to raise high excitement, and yet another considers the affliction by the ghosts of war who blame one for their deaths. Thus, in reading these stories, the reader is engaged by the imaginal realm on multiple levels; one can just read for enjoyment or one can use the stories as prompts for deeper reflection.
Those who are familiar with dream work will appreciate the wise and skillful companionship of Moss, who has written other books about dreaming and shamanism. From the cover, author Jean Houston says of the book, “Using words as wands, this magus of the imaginal realm accompanies the reader on visionary journeys, soul-capturing dreams, and encounters with once and future archetypes.” Physician and author Larry Dossey writes, “Robert Moss removes the veil separating us from the underlying patterns and processes that provide meaning, direction, and joyful wonder in life.” Because he tells his stories so simply and engagingly, he makes the deeper exploration accessible.
This book could be used by individuals and groups doing dream work or by any discussion group interested in exploring a range of issues about the human condition. The way most stories are framed with a focus or a question would make them useful prompts for journaling or telling one’s own imaginal story. A spiritual director might offer a companion one or more stories to help deepen exploration and the basis of contemplative conversations.
Kate Clark is a spiritual director in Akron, Ohio, USA, and a professor in the School of Communication at the University of Akron, where she teaches and researches intercultural communication and how communicating brings the spiritual into everyday encounters. She received her Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California, USA. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.