• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

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    1. Three Houses (DILD)

      by , 06-22-2015 at 11:02 PM
      Ritual: Slept from about 1:45 to 6:15am, woke to record a vivid NLD, decided to turn it into a WBTB and try to get lucid. I wanted to use some light supplements but nothing powerful, only alpha-gpc and bacopa... but after wondering why one of the bacopa capsules I'd just swallowed was white, I realized, oh shit, when traveling recently I had put some galantamine in the same bottle! I had no interest in taking galantamine this morning but now it seemed there was nothing to be done. Then I had an idea: since piracetam counters the more unpleasant effects of galantamine, and since it now frequently acts for me as a lucid trigger on its own, what might happen if I took the two at the same time? It had never occurred to me to try this before.

      Writing this up after the experiment, I feel like an alchemist who has just stumbled across the philosopher's stone. Wow. After going back to bed 7am I did some prep before falling asleep and then found myself dreaming lucidly for over an hour, waking at 8:30am, probably my longest stint to date. Then I wrote up everything I could remember, lay back in bed to remember and write down some more, went back to sleep, and found myself in another semilucid that presented itself as building on events from the previous dream (though I'm not convinced it actually was). At 10:30am I woke again, feeling thoroughly surfeited and satisfied with so much dreaming.

      DILD, "Three Houses": The dream lasted so long that there was even a point midway through it where I thought to myself, "With everything I've already experienced, how am I ever going to remember all this? There's just no way, especially if I keep going. Should I just wake up?" But the answer came readily, "No way! I want to keep experiencing it, even if I can't remember everything later." There were a number of shifts and transitions that might normally have destabilized the dream and woken me, but I felt confident in my ability to navigate them safely.

      Although I don't clearly remember the beginning of the dream, I'm sure it was a DILD because I recall having one of those thought sequences like, "Hey... I think I might be drea—yes, of course I'm dreaming. Duh. I knew that." Experiences like these confirm for me that lucidity goes beyond mere dream awareness (which in itself can be non-lucid, as I've experienced many times) to encompass that awareness of dream awareness, a kind of meta-awareness, that enables agency. Once I had agency, it was on to my tasks. I had two main tasks planned, working on the "intellego" technique from Ars Magica and trying this month's bonus TOTM. I prioritized the latter because it is time sensitive.

      Random house: Although I was upstairs in a house when I got lucid, I decided that to do the task properly I should start with a fresh one. I went out to the balcony, which looked out over some tall pines bordering the backyard, and easily levitated into the air. I was floating over a residential neighborhood with numerous houses to choose from, so I tried to let instinct guide me. Although the outside of the house I picked didn't inspire any sense of connection—it was an ordinary two-story suburban home in blue-grey clapboard—I figured I should look inside.

      My first distinct impression was how heavy the front door was, one of those old ones made of solid wood. I had to manually lock it behind me and the bolt was hard to turn, though even at the time this struck me as mere DR, since the sensation of forcing the bolt was identical to what I have to do currently with my patio gate in WL. After entering, I found myself in a short plain white hallway, and started wandering through and trying various doors.

      Although my intention had been to find house that represented me, and I even muttered something to this effect aloud a few times as I wandered through this one, I still didn't feel any connection with this place. All the rooms on the ground floor were vacant and a bit dirty, as though someone had moved out in a hurry. I wondered if I was seeing an empty house because I've never actually owned a house of my own in WL, having always rented, so I never had experienced a house that truly did represent me. I opened one door and it led into an enclosed porch or sunroom, also empty. I went back inside and found an interior room with no windows. I thought that if I did live here, this would be a great place to build bookshelves, something I've always wanted to do if I had a house of my own. This house, however, didn't look like a place would ever really want to live, much less a place could represent me in any meaningful way.

      I was annoyed with how empty and uninteresting the ground floor was, so as I went upstairs I reinforced my intention for the house to represent me. At the top of the stairs were two rooms, and these were cluttered with scattered boxes of junk. Might this represent a cluttered state of mind? I looked around at the seemingly random stuff, but once again I felt no connection with it. There were big boxes crammed with vinyl record albums... but I've never owned any vinyl, having grown up in the era of cassettes and then CDs. There was a smaller box containing smaller records, and I tried to remember what that format was called. "Eight-tracks" was what I came up with—clearly I didn't have full access to WL memory, because I'm well aware that eight tracks are those big chunky early cassettes, and only after waking did I remember that the miniature records are properly called "singles." I've never owned any of those either. When I saw that another box on the floor contained an open bag of what appeared to be maxipads, I started to get annoyed. This is just random junk! Sure, I'm a woman, I occasionally use maxipads, but I really don't think they have any special meaning for me... apparently the dream is not cooperating with my intention. That part, at least, is nothing new. My dreamstate has never been entirely cooperative.

      I went back downstairs and out through a garage. It was mostly empty, but there was a chest of drawers there, where I began to try out my second task. "Intellego," I said, touching the wood (I wasn't sure if the Form should be "Corpus," so I left it blank.) All I could read from the chest of drawers was a vague impression of the craftsman's hands, and a feeling that it might have been made in India. That made sense, I figured... how much information could I expect out of furniture, anyway?

      I went outside and looked up into the sky. It was full of fluffy, almost cartoonish clouds. "Intellego auram!" I shouted. I got no response, even when I repeated the command several times and focused specifically on the wind. Well, what did I expect to learn from the sky? The current strength and pattern of wind currents? What possible meaning could that have for me? I suppose it was a failure of imagination, but "intellego auram" produced no impressions at all.

      Aspirational house: I wasn't happy with my first house attempt, but figured I should try again. I tried to find a house that looked more like something I would actually want to live in. Stone walls, of course, something old and solid and dignified. I "located" such a house but it felt a bit fake, like I was forcing the issue, maybe even creating an overlay of what I wanted to see over what was actually there. I tried to remind myself this is dream, nothing is "actually" there, and went through the front door.

      This front door was also pleasingly solid and heavy, and it latched shut on its own, a big improvement over the last one. I found myself in a little coatroom or antechamber, and from there passed through another door into a spacious kitchen. As I walked in I was still determined for this to be the house I was hoping for, so at first I felt like my impressions were driven more by imagination than dream. But after a moment dream took over, and my vague wishes solidified into a magnificent kitchen. It was long and narrow, and over to my right I had the impression of a stove range where a woman was cooking. To my left was the food storage area, consisting of a large refrigerator, floor-to-ceiling stainless steel doors that turned out to be the cupboards for dry goods, and the glass doors of a built-in freezer that also occupied a whole section of the wall. Although I had created the basic structures through my own deliberate imagining, as I now opened the doors and peeked at the contents, I was satisfied that dream had followed through and spontaneously filled in the details. When I opened the door of the refrigerator, there was even a beautifully frosted white cake, and although I thought I heard the woman across the room warning me not to touch it, I couldn't resist lifting up a corner of the plastic cover and using my finger to swipe a bit of the frosting. The vivid taste made me glad of my mischief... just like real buttercream!

      I don't remember the other rooms of this house as clearly as the kitchen, though in contrast the last house it was furnished and even peopled. Upstairs I ran into a guy with a beard and mustache and decided to work on my ongoing attempt to summon game characters. I wondered if it would work better if I started with a character I had less interest in, so that I'd be less concerned about "getting it right." Last night in DA:I I had some conversation scenes with Blackwall in which I basically friendzoned him, so I tried to transform this DC into him by visualizing the scene I remembered. The voice was easier than the face; it wasn't a complete success but not a complete failure either. Unexpectedly I ended up kissing the DC (which was not in the original scene), and it was at this point that he seemed most like the game character, though I didn't take our interactions any further.

      In further exploring the upstairs of this house, I opened a closet door and found myself in—I'm not sure what to call it, maybe "the labyrinth," a kind of claustrophobic dream space that perpetually replicates itself. In the past I've experienced it when I've portaled and accidentally found myself trapped in a seemingly endless series of tiny doorless rooms. This time it wasn't even rooms, just a texture like pebbly pastel-colored styrofoam that was pressing in on all sides. Wherever I pushed through in any direction, I found myself in another identical space. I even "airlifted," a technique of rising vertically that usually extricates me from unpleasant or threatening situations, but was still stuck in the labyrinth. In the past, the only way I've gotten out was to wake up, but this time I was determined to keep cool and persevere. Sure enough, eventually the sense of claustrophobia receded and I found myself in a new scene. Maybe the labyrinth is no more than a virtual rendering of unconstructed dream space.

      I was now outdoors on a street far too narrow for cars, and cobbled. It was pleasingly archaic, and I wondered if I could work on the DA:I theme some more. The only distraction was the brightly colored balloons that were attached everywhere for some reason... a festival? At the end of the street I climbed a steep staircase to the second floor of an unpainted wooden building, and on an inspiration, I thought, "When I turn the corner, I want to see my dream lover." (I've been thinking it over in WL, and decided that I might prefer this over a mere "guide." But my DCs have been so inconsistent that to date I've identified neither.)

      I turned the corner and... sitting in a rocking chair was a drab, ugly old woman. (I already mentioned how perverse my subconscious can be.) I didn't want to be rude, so I approached her with questions. At my wondering why she appeared in this form, she answered, "We take different appearances." I had the feeling that the "we" included both of us. Although I was not attracted to her in this form, I thought there was something familiar in her eyes, so I kissed her anyway. Around this time another DA:I character, Sera, came climbing up a rope onto the balcony of the room, and I thought perhaps the dream was suggesting that we take a stand for lesbian love. I was up for this, so I yelled at the young man pursuing Sera up the rope that he had better climb down as quickly as he could, if he hoped to stand a chance of surviving when I cut it. I pulled out my knife and let the taut rope brush against the sharp blade, severing some of the strands to show my threat was serious. The man started climbing down again, but the rope was not as durable as I thought, and my knife hadn't cut through more than a third of its width before the rest of it broke and unraveled, dropping him to the street. I peered down anxiously but was relieved to see him stand up again, apparently unharmed. "Sorry!" I shouted, and genuinely meant it.

      Things only got weirder from here, and at the point where the jockey told me, "They should tape our warm hands to the wheel," and I was going over this line trying to make sure I would remember it, I started to wonder if I should wake myself up. Hell no, I decided. So there were more things I don't remember clearly, and I'm not sure how I found myself in my old house.

      Old house: I was in the house where I lived from the age of ten until I left for college. This was so far into the dream that I can't be sure if it was another attempt at the TOTM that brought me here, but once I found myself in the house, it definitely felt relevant to the task... of all the places I've lived in my life, this was the one I felt the most connection to, and it lives very intact in my memory. I floated through it like a disembodied spirit, mostly impressed by the accuracy of what I saw. But there was something drab and empty about it, too, perhaps because I was aware that everything I was saw no longer existed: the house was sold shortly after I finished college, so although it still stands, it is no longer the home I remember.

      I started in my bedroom, floated through the upstairs playroom I shared with my brother, drifted down the stairs, and then made a circuit through the dining room, into the parlor, through the closet that connected the parlor to my parents' bedroom, and through the adjoining bathroom. Everything looked ordinary and intact until this point, when I saw the first oddity: a white enamel woodburning stove, a kitchen model, was in the bathtub for some reason. I continued floating into the kitchen, where we did have such a woodstove—original to the house—though the real one was black cast iron and much too large to fit in any tub. I concluded my tour in the living room, having made a complete circuit of everything but my brother's room, the pantry, and the workroom.

      There was something festive about the decoration of the living room, perhaps because of the many wonderful Christmases we had enjoyed there, and another oddity: a giant pair of elk horns, which when I looked closer appeared to be attached to an actual elk, although it was standing as still as a statue. I assumed the elk horns were DR, since I had recently been impressed by pictures of the giant Irish elk, an extinct species (neither specifically Irish nor actually an elk, to be pedantic) that sported massive antlers. It reminded me of the elk that Thranduil rode, and my earlier successes inspired me to attempt another thematic summoning. I clambered on the back of the giant elk and rode it outside (conveniently ignoring the fact that there is no way its antlers would have fit through the the ordinary-sized door that led outside from the living room.)

      for americans-giant-irish-elk.jpg

      Outside it was winter, everything covered in snow, and I found myself in a hilly landscape with no connection to my old yard. I focused on finding Thranduil and saw him up ahead on his own elk, actively battling a pack of large winter wolves. He was alone and I feared that if I did not intervene I would lose the chance to talk to him, so I charged ahead using fire magic to clear the pack. When the battle was done and we stood alone again, surrounded by the fallen wolves, he gave me an imperious look and said coldly, "No Lothian tickets will be given to see me." Although I wasn't sure what he meant by "Lothian" (or why I feel like it should be capitalized), I had the impression that he was telling me that he was not someone to be summoned at whim by a mere dreamer. So I changed tactics, presenting myself as his sister. According to the lore I don't even think he has a sister, but it worked.

      "So, our father in the middle of a storm brought anzu fruits for our hunters," I informed him, pointing to a cache of green and orange spheres buried under a patch of ice. Thranduil accepted my new identity and greeted me with a prim brotherly kiss, to which I responded with somewhat more than sisterly affection, though I tried not to go full Lannister on him. It was here that I awoke at last, delighted to have finally made some progress in the character summonings that, to date, I have found the most difficult type of tasks.
    2. Experiment with Kava Kava (notes) / Creating a Cat (DILD)

      by , 04-26-2015 at 11:02 PM
      Ritual: Last night I experimented for the first time with kava kava root (Piper methysticum). I had read many anecdotal reports that it instigated vivid dreams and perhaps even lucidity, so I thought it was worth trying out. I ordered some dried powdered root from an online herb and spice supplier that I trust. I don't have any doubts about the freshness and quality, as the package confirms that it was packed earlier this month and sourced from Vanuatu. I had read many reports of people complaining about the taste, describing it as "muddy," so I was surprised when I opened the package and encountered the most extraordinary and delightful fragrance. The plant is related to pepper, so it made sense that the scent would be peppery, but there was also something delicately floral about it and even a hint of wintergreen.

      I had abstained from alcohol all day, since the two should not be consumed together, and my plan was to drink the kava before bed. I had a late dinner, ending at 11pm, so my plan was to give myself two hours to digest, then start drinking the kava at 1am and go to bed a few hours afterward (unless it made me too sleepy before that, which seemed like a distinct possibility). I don't like cold drinks late at night, but I read that you could warm kava gently without destroying its properties, so I adapted a recipe for "Mexican Hot Cocokavachocolate," blending two tablespoons of powdered kava kava (half what the recipe calls for, as I didn't want to overdo it my first time), two tablespoons of cocoa powder, agave syrup, a spoonful of cinnamon, and a generous pinch of cayenne with about two cups of almond milk (I skipped the vanilla extract suggested by the recipe because I didn't want to use even a tiny amount of alcohol). I blended this until it was frothy and then separated it into two mugs, putting one in the fridge—I planned to start with a minimal dose, and work up from there if it felt warranted. The other mug I heated briefly in the microwave, just enough to warm it, and then topped it with a dusting of grated Himalayan salt and freshly made whipped cream.

      Okay, I'll admit I have a slightly weird palate (for instance, I *love* the taste of wormwood), but this was one of the most delicious dessert drinks I have ever tried in my life! It was so much better than regular hot chocolate; the spices and kava gave it exceptional depth of flavor and an unusual aftertaste. I didn't even need to strain it: I don't know if my powder was ground unusually finely or if the almond milk held it in suspension better than plain water, but it only added body, not grit, to the concoction.

      I'm glad that I had done enough research to anticipate the curiously numbing, analgesic sensation that spread from my mouth all the down my esophagus, because that's the kind of thing that would really worry you if you didn't know it was supposed to happen! I sipped the kava very slowly over the next hour or so, to make sure my stomach didn't have any problems with this new experience. Everything was fine, and the onset of bodily relaxation came quickly, though my mind remained clear. After the first mug I felt like it would be fine to drink the second one I had reserved, so I slowly consumed that too. Despite the heavy feeling in my body, it never did make me drowsy, so I played SWTOR until 3:30am and then read DV and some LD books to prep for bed, retiring at 4:30am. I should note that I never felt any trace of euphoria, either, an effect that some had noted. That didn't bother me, though: my only interest was in enhancing my dreams.

      Unfortunately, in that respect, the kava kava was a total bust. It was no different from any ordinary night of crappy dreaming: I was vaguely aware of dreaming most of the night, but my recall was terrible and what details I could specify were mostly mundane day residue. There was no sense of complex overarching plots, just lots of little random scenarios. Lots of people have written that kava helped them sleep more deeply and wake refreshed, but I didn't experience that either: I woke three times in the first several hours of sleep, which is typical, except that I felt much groggier than usual during those brief wakeful periods. At 9:00am I woke up and felt so unpleasantly lethargic, mentally as well as phsyically, and the dreaming had been so disappointing, that I decided to try to clear my head with an ample dose of piracetam. That stuff is amazing: to preserve its efficacy I save it for special occasions, but it always works really well to clear up any "brain fog."

      Within fifteen minutes I was feeling complete mental clarity, so I decided to turn it into a proper WBTB. I added some L-theanine, alpha-GPC and bacopa and returned to bed using WILD technique. My focus was still subpar and I couldn't count effectively, so I initially fell into non-lucid sleep, but gradually became more aware of the dream as it progressed. There was no "aha" moment of lucidity, but I was definitely lucid by the end.

      In conclusion, the kava kava didn't seem to improve my dreaming in the slightest, but at least it didn't suppress it either. If anything helped me get lucid, I believe it was the piracetam and other supplements I took at WBTB, because those I've had success with many times before. My recall was poor for most of the night, and even after waking up from the LD only the last scene was initially clear; recollection of the earlier incidents revived only after I started tracing back the course of events.

      DILD, "Creating a Cat": I was hanging out with a friend, JM, and her young son. [DR: yesterday I had seen a picture of this kid that she had posted on Facebook.] The little boy was telling us a story about a butterfly who took care of him in the place he used to be. It sounded like he was talking about before he was born, and this reminded me of a book I had learned about last night, about a project to compile and investigate accounts of young children who claim to have memories of past lives. [DR: Jim B. Tucker, Return to Life, 2015.] After I mentioned the book to my friend, she told me about the time she took her son to an island off the coast of Wales (the named started with a 'T', something like "Tirnagal" or "Tiriagal") and he had started talking about how he used to live there. As she describes this, suddenly we both turn and stare as we hear the boy start speaking another language with the somber intonations of an adult. I have no idea what Welsh sounds like, but what the boy is saying definitely has the structures of a formal language—it is not just childish babble. The experience is so uncanny that I feel the hairs on my arms rise. Before I leave, I say to my friend, "The only thing I regret about not having a kid is the way it can sometimes provide unexpected insights into the human experience." [DR: This comment might also have been inspired by something I was reading last night, on p.163 of The Ego Tunnel, by Thomas Metzinger (2009), where he describes a toddler who falls and looks to his mother for social cues about how to emotionally react.]

      I leave my friend's apartment and go outside. Now I'm on a beach. This is one of my most distinctive and common dream signs, despite the fact that I have little interest in beaches in WL and rarely visit them. I think it is related to the tide, a phenomenon that has always unsettled me. Despite the frequency and distinctiveness of this dream sign, for some reason it is one that I always have trouble recognizing as such. On this occasion I already have some degree of dream-awareness, but I lack awareness of that awareness, the metacognition that is characteristic of true lucidity.

      As I'm walking along the beach, the sand looks soft and warm and comfortable, and I can't resist the temptation to lie down in it. Initially I am lying on my stomach, but then I roll onto my back, and feel as cozy as a kid making snow angels. I pause to reflect, why do you never hear of kids making sand angels? My comfort is soon disturbed by rippling in the sand... I notice that the whole beach is now billowing and subsiding, the dunes rolling like great waves. "Is it supposed to do that?" I vaguely wonder, and then a particularly large dune threatens to bury me, forcing me back on my feet to keep my balance. Though not quite lucid at this point, I have instinctive awareness of my mastery and control in this environment: I find it easy to "surf" these sand waves as they roll by underfoot. But they are getting even bigger, and I have the impression that the water is now rising rapidly as well, so I decide to find higher ground.

      At the edge of the beach I find a stairwell leading up into a building. Getting into it takes some creative climbing, as there are various panels of transparent plexiglass serving as barriers, but I manage to circumvent them and get inside. The stairs emerge into the center of a dim, semi-industrial space, with narrow walkways on all four sides surrounding the wide pit formed by the stairwell in the middle of the room. No sooner have I gotten my bearings than a round hatch covering the end of a large pipe poking through the wall opens, and a humanoid creature crawls out. It is gollum-like, with huge bulging eyes. I don't want to be spotted, so I hold still and focus on being invisible. I feel a moment of relief as the creature initially descends the stairs, but it comes back promptly joined by a second person, a male human. As they approach the spot where I'm standing, I retreat into a corner to avoid them: even if they can't see me, they might blunder into me by accident if I'm not careful. On the bright side, having to strategize in this tense situation is improving my lucid awareness.

      I reflect that my "invisibility" is just a mind trick: I am willing the DCs not to see me, and from their lack of reaction I assume it is working, but I can still see my own body plainly. This bothers me—at this point I'm a fairly experienced dreamer, so shouldn't I be able to dispense with a body? I've had no dearth of NLDs where I'm just a disembodied perspective, so surely I should be able to accomplish the same thing in my LDs. I decide to try to eliminate my dream body.

      My body does obediently disappear from my field of vision, but the trouble is I still *feel* like I'm in a human body, with two legs, two arms, and two eyes located frontally in my head. If I have really transcended the body, I should no longer feel like I am mapped onto a human being. I conclude that I should begin subverting the pattern, and my first attempt is to try to shift my visual apparatus to floor level. This seems like it should be a fairly easy, basic task, but I find that I have trouble with it, maybe because I get caught up in questions like, well, if I'm not seeing out of physical eyes, then shouldn't my vision be even more radically different—unconstrained by frontality, for instance?

      Meanwhile the man and gollum-like creature disappear into a side door, still apparently oblivious to my presence. I retrace my steps to the top of the stairs and examine the hatch that the latter had crawled out of. I consider going in there to explore, but decide that from the look of the creature and the size of the hatch, it will probably just be a cramped and uncomfortable network of tunnels. Instead I decide to follow the two through the side door.

      I find myself in a large, open exhibition space with various vendors and booths. I pause for a moment to wonder why spaces like this are so common in my dreams. I don't know if this was a product of false memory or else better access to dream memory than I have in waking life, because at the time I was under the impression that I encountered such rooms on a regular basis; now that I'm awake I don't feel like they're especially common. At first I was just wandering around with no specific purpose, when it occurred to me that I shouldn't waste this opportunity to work on some tasks. There are a ton of things on my docket, but nothing especially pressing, so I thought over a few possibilities and decided to work on my Ars Magica forms and techniques—the other day I printed out the whole list of combinations and decided I should make it a long-term goal to try out all of them eventually.

      I recalled that "creo animál" was the first one on my list that I had not tried, so I started intoning, "Creo animál!" I lengthened the syllables in a resonant voice, putting emphasis on the first syllable of "creo" and the last syllable of "animál." I repeated the invocation a few times in this manner, staring at an empty patch of floor. I didn't have a clear idea in mind of what kind of animal I wanted to create, but I thought I could leave that open for the dream to surprise me. However, nothing was happening. I thought perhaps I needed some raw materials, so I telekinetically lifted a nearby booth (hoping this wouldn't be too much inconvenience to the vendor) and pulled it into the space where I was working, then focused on compacting its form and shape into something suitable to my purpose. It folded itself up obediently until it was much smaller. However, I felt like I needed to impose a pattern on it since the dream wasn't responding with anything, so I arbitrarily chose the form of a cat. People started gathering around to watch the show as the booth finished its transformation, and now there was a short-haired black and white cat sitting stiffly on the floor. [In retrospect, the technique was closer to "muto" than "creo," since I adapted existing material rather than conjuring it from thin air.]

      The newly-created cat was not moving, and did not seem capable of movement; it was like an empty shell of a cat, a living doll. This made sense, since I had created the body but not endowed it with sentience: I concluded that this would require a separate effect. Luckily this concurred with another task I needed to work on. "Creo mentem," I said, directing my words at the cat, and this time the effect resolved quickly: now the cat seemed to be capable of moving and perceiving its environment.

      I wondered if "mentem" alone was sufficient: wouldn't that create something with the bland mental workings of a robot? Wouldn't I need to add "imáginem" to endow it with emotions and imagination, the "spark of life"? I wasn't sure, but I thought I'd better throw that in for good measure, so I intoned "Creo imáginem," focusing on giving the creature the capacity for emotions and inner life. Immediately I had doubts about whether this was wise. I don't know if my doubts were caused by the cat's behavior or if the cat's behavior was conditioned by my doubts, but whichever it was, the creature did not look pleased. It was lashing its tail in the way cats do when they're annoyed, and its face was contorted into a savage snarl. I wondered if throwing in "imáginem" had been overkill—emotions are not always pleasant, after all, and a creature so unexpectedly brought into existence might well be feeling upset and disoriented. Plus, I didn't even know if "imáginem," was necessary for a complete being; perhaps sentience was sufficiently specified by "mentem." [Consulting the Ars Magica rulebook now, I see that I misremembered the scope of of the Form: "imáginem" deals with sensations and illusions, not emotions and imagination. Though actually that makes the whole Form seem superfluous to the dreamstate, where there is no obvious difference between creating a thing and creating an illusion of that thing.]

      I knelt down to have a closer look at my creation, and felt even more disturbed. There was something awful and abject about its face, a wound or rot-like distortion of its jaw that left the teeth clearly visible through its cheek. [DR: I realize this might also be day residue, because recently I was reading articles about the so-called "zombie cat" which came with graphic pictures of a similarly disfigured animal.] I decided that I should try to understand what this cat was experiencing, so I said, "Intéllego animál." I felt impressions of fear and rage coming from the poor creature, and guiltily realized that I must have screwed up somehow. It made it even worse that it was a cat, a kind of animal for which I feel a great love and sympathy.

      Pot - Worse than cigerates?-zombiecat.jpg

      With a sweeping gesture I willed all the effects I had invoked to disperse, effectively uncreating the cat. I didn't have a clear visual sense of the result (did the body simply disappear or did the vendor's booth revert to its former shape? I'm not sure), but at least I felt that the spell had ended. I looked up at the spectators who had been watching the whole event and sheepishly apologized: "It didn't want to be a cat. I'm sorry. It just didn't work out."

      One woman spoke up in reply. Her words were uttered very calmly and slowly, emphasizing each of the adjectives, and I felt like she was subtly criticizing my actions: "People want to be fair, and dominating, and controlling, and diverting."

      Updated 04-26-2015 at 11:20 PM by 34973

      side notes , lucid
    3. Castle Infiltration (WILD)

      by , 04-24-2015 at 07:52 AM
      Ritual: WTB 12:45am, woke 6am and felt rested enough to do a solid WBTB and WILD attempt. Read LD books for an hour then returned to bed at 7am. I took bacopa, L-theanine, alpha-GPC, and even ventured to add a little galantamine to the mix, breaking open a Galantamind capsule and adding half the powder to my alpha-GPC solution. I lay on my back and counted, also deciding on my intended tasks: muto herbam and my lucid dare. For the hell of it I added in a short mantra on the off-counts: inspired by the DC's weird question last night ("Who is your mantra?") I was using the name of an intriguing DC from a prior dream. I started losing the count quickly and after picking it back up a few times, drifted off somewhere in the 30s. Eventually I woke back up, used the bathroom, and checked the time before lying down on my left side to sleep. It was 7:30am. Woke up at 8am with dream.

      WILD: I quickly started to feel promising bodily sensations, able to move in ways I was sure weren't "real." At one point I felt my husband's face very close to mine, thought I could feel his breath against my face, and was afraid this distraction was going to wake me. Feeling a bit rude, I pushed him away. After that he got up and I hoped he had understood my reasons—recognized that I was in the middle of a dream attempt—and wasn't annoyed. Of course in retrospect, I'm sure that none of this actually happened; not only does the geography of the bed make it physically unlikely, but my husband was still fast asleep on his side of the bed when I woke up to write this report.

      As soon as I felt I had full bodily control, I started trying to get out of bed. I threw caution to the winds because I've started to suspect that a lot of the barriers to transition are self-imposed. So I got out of bed as soon as I could manage it, and although I felt awkward at first, moving very herky-jerkily as I tried to walk out of the room—a bit like a marionette whose puppetmaster is still figuring out the right use of the strings—I soon got back into the feel of it.

      I walked into the kitchen, where my attention was caught by what looked like a big wad of gauze or lace, about 18 inches in diamter. In shape it resembled those scrunchies you use in the shower, but it was much larger and made of lacy white gauze with silver sparkles. The texture was wonderfully detailed, more distinct than anything else in my field of vision, so I decided to pick it up and use it for my first experiment. The simpler of the tasks I had planned was to practice a bit with transformation and with plants, so I held the gauze in my hands and commanded, "Muto herbam," envisioning the form of a long-stemmed red rose.

      The material was resistant at first, so I repeated the command a few times and intensified my will. Eventually it shrank compliantly into a red flower, but the blossom appeared to be that of a tulip, so I continued staring at it sternly until it manifested more layers of ruffled petals. I studied it to make sure it was a proper rose and not just an ambitious carnation, and when I was finally satisfied with its form, I lifted it to my nose to smell it. It actually did smell like a rose! This impressed me all the more because I so rarely have any olfactory impressions in my dreams. (Then again, I guess I don't spend much time sniffing things.)

      I wondered if I should leave the house to perform my next task. I'm still working on my lucid dare, which requires me to find an camp of elves in the forest and join them in making music. My initial impulse was to leave my house and look for the forest, but that hasn't worked well before, so this time I thought I would to try a different approach and transform the environment around me rather than bodily leaving it. I looked around the room for another plant suitable for my experiment and was pleased to discover a spindly sapling with lots of thin twigs tipped with narrow yellow flowers growing in a pot. I went over to it and commanded "Rego herbam," commanding it to grow into a tall tree. Nothing happened at first, but eyeing its numerous twigs I had another idea for how to use it.

      The sapling was slightly taller than I was, so I backed up against it and pulled its flexible branches around me to create the visual impression that I was surrounded by a thicket, once again commanding "Rego herbam." The trick worked! The twigs filling my field of vision became a real thicket in which I found myself hiding on a hillside, trying to remain unseen as I peered down at a large camp of about two dozen people occupying a cleared basin just below me. I hoped they were elves! But they didn't seem merry, and I didn't hear any music. They were dressed in muted earthtones and went about their business grimly.

      I can't remember if I actually observed the camp being raided, but by some means I understood that this was a camp of rebels whose people were being oppressed and frequently captured and sold into slavery by the inhabitants of a nearby castle. I was aware that had several been taken away recently, and decided that the best way to ingratiate myself with the camp would be to rescue them. So I transported myself into the castle dungeon and began to search for the captives.

      The first door I opened led to an empty room, though it definitely looked like a classic dungeon, with rough-hewn and filthy stone floor and walls. Returning to the corridor, I saw that there were lots of identical doors, and I didn't think I had time to try them all, so I let instinct guide me to another door across the hall. At first this seemed promising: there was very little light filtering in through the tiny windows high in the wall, and in the shadows I thought I saw four figures manacled to the walls around the room. As I walked in, planning to free them, I found that either my eyes had decieved me, or the dream had shifted: the manacles were there, but this room was just as empty as the last. It made me wonder if what I had seen were the ghosts of past prisoners.

      As I went to leave the room, I was startled to discover that the door was now half-blocked by a chest-high mound of stone rubble. I started to climb over but it was too steep, and afterward the blockade looked even higher, taller than I was. If I didn't act soon I would be completely walled in! So I mustered my concentration and simply pushed through the pile of rocks. The stone felt very resistant and I had to use all my strength, but finally burst through into the hallway. I was surprised how exhausted I felt after this feat. Given that it was a dream, it shouldn't be any harder to move "rocks" than anything else, but I felt completely spent. While I paused to regain my strength, I heard people approaching from around a corner to my left. There was no time to get away, so I simply held very still in the doorway and concentrated on being invisible to them.

      There were three people in all. One person passed by without giving any sign of seeing me. Two others followed, walking together, and to my consternation they stopped at the door, right in front of me. Although they didn't seem to see me, something appeared to have caught their attention (the dislodged rocks?) because one of them pulled out a handheld device and started waving it in my direction as though scanning something. I wondered what would happen if they tried to walk through the doorway. I still seemed to be invisible, but would they be able to pass right through my body? Or would they bump into me? I decided not to risk it, and I was also a little worried that the scanner might detect my presence, so I reached out and grabbed one of the people with each hand. I willed them both to fall unconscious, and they slumped to the ground. The one to the left was a woman dressed in "business casual," while the guy to the right appeared to be a uniformed security guard. I immediately knelt down and hastily stripped the latter of all the tech I could find on his body: earpiece, cellphone, and a few other little widgets that I didn't recognize. I thought I heard another person coming down the hall, so I transformed into a bird and flew out one of the small barred windows high up on the walls.

      The castle was on a gently sloping hillside, and I was now flying over a wide rural landscape. At the base of the hill was a wooded region, and far beyond that I could see the curve of the ocean shore. I figured I would still be able to find my way back to the camp, since I had just come from there, so I let memory or instinct guide me. Meanwhile I focused on making sure I was flying properly, since I haven't spent much time in bird form. I alternated between flapping my wings and holding them stiff and outstretched so that I could glide on the wind. I felt like a large bird of prey, and I was clutching the tech I had just stolen in my talons.

      I flew over the forest until I saw a clearing below that looked familiar. Descending felt very realistic, because I was circling just like a raptor would, wide at first and then in a narrowing spiral until I landed. To get the attention of the people in the camp, I decided that I should not be an ordinary brown eagle, but a white eagle. Apparently this drew a little too much attention, because on the way down I discovered that someone was shooting arrows at me. I decided I could use this to make my entrance particularly impressive, so at the very moment that I touched the ground I not only turned back into a woman, I also grabbed an arrow that was about to hit me right out of the air.

      Earlier I had not made sure whether or not the people in the camp actually were elves, and now that I look around at closer range, I see only round human ears. I approach a couple people who are talking authoritatively, like leaders of the group. One is a capable looking woman with short, dirty-blonde hair. I ask her if there are any elves in the camp, thinking to myself that if I do find some, I'll give them the tech I stole as a friendly gesture. No one can specifically point to any elves, so I ask, well, who was shooting at me? I figure that if there is an elf, it might well have been the one lobbing arrows. The woman points across the camp. Following her gesture, I notice a slight figure huddled on a bench, completely wrapped in a dark grey blanket.

      I walk over and lean down in front of the figure, trying to gently tug the blanket aside to reveal its face. It seems shy, hiding its face under the blanket like this, but I soon discover the reason. As I begin to reveal its features, they are the last thing I would have expected. The head is made of molded transparent plastic, with a suggestion of human features on the outside and circuitboards within. It is an android!

      The android has a high, almost childish voice, and evidently feels very bashful about its unusual appearance. It tries to prevent me from pulling back the blanket, protesting, "I look repulsive."

      I completely disagree, and tell it so: "No you don't. You look amazing." It reluctantly lets me tease aside the blanket to reveal its whole head.

      At this point a man walks up to us. He looks to be in his forties, balding, a bit stocky in build, and with rounded features, kind of resembling Rob Corddry. From his dress and demeanor, I immediately intuit that he is the creator of this android. I realize that he would be the ideal person to give the tech I stole from the castle guard.

      "I have something for you," I say without preamble, and fill his hands with the little pile of objects.

      He looks delighted. "This will be really useful."

      We start chatting a bit about the android, and I ask if he knows where to find any elves. He's not aware of any in the camp, but I overhear a snippet of conversation from people standing nearby that I think might be relevant to my question; one of them mentions a place called "Junkyard Bay" and I resolve to check it out.

      "What's your name?" I ask the inventor. I feel a bit silly always asking this of DCs, but I like to know.

      "Dira," he says. That's how I assumed it was spelled, but from the pronunciation it could just as easily be "Deera." He asks mine, and I tell him.

      Dira is looking at me like he finds me really familiar, but can't figure out where he knows me from. "We haven't spoken before this? No beer? No comfort?"

      I am perplexed by his laconic queries until I realize that he's asking if he might have met me in a bar or a brothel. I might have been offended at the implications if I weren't so fascinated by his distinctive manner of speaking, so unlike my own speech patterns. How could a DC, a projection of my own mind, demonstrate linguistic traits so utterly unlike my own, to the point where it took me a moment to make sense of what he was saying? It was one of those moments that make me wonder if my reductionist assumptions are correct, but I'm not ready to go down the path of madness without better evidence than this.

      I shake my head, since I'm pretty sure I've never met him in either dream or waking life. He asks my name another time, and I repeat it. I've been using my WL name, having forgotten my former resolution to use an alias with DCs.

      Dira starts explaining something about the locals: "What's particularly important for the native Ukaran communities is the..." there was more, but it was complicated, and I was still trying to figure out what was going on.

      "Ukaran?" I ask, to make sure I heard correctly.

      "Yes, the Ukaran and the Utankaran."

      I had the impression that he was implying that the Ukarans were the people in this camp, and I'd already seen the problems that they were facing—oppression and human trafficking on the part of the people in the castle. I wondered if the oppressors were the Utankarans. The similarity in their names suggested that they were closely related but (in the manner of such things) probably deeply opposed social groups.

      Updated 04-24-2015 at 08:50 AM by 34973

      lucid , memorable
    4. Climbing Beanstalks, Getting Nowhere (NLD + DILD)

      by , 09-24-2014 at 01:18 AM
      Ritual: WTB 1am, WBTB 4–6am. Plenty of hypnagogic imagery but hard to fall fully asleep, last noted time at 6:45am. Woke at 7:30 with dream as follows.

      Alchemy: First experiment with phenylpiracetam, 100mg. Stacked with 300mg Alpha-GPC (50%), and 200mg L-Theanine. Took in first hour of WBTB (in retrospect, I think this was too early and interfered with sleep). In second hour of WBTB, drank yerba mate tea (this was also probably overkill, as it turned out).

      NLD: I was in a big auditorium. No memory of what was going on there, but I was trying to climb a big pole in the center (maybe I was already prospectively thinking of Jack and the Beanstalk?) However, I felt weak and uncoordinated, and couldn't make it up very far.

      Later, I ended up in conflict with a guy. He was lean and wiry, small-framed, with a short trimmed greying beard. He and my husband had been in tiny vehicles on an indoor track and this guy, for no apparent reason, started aggressively crowding my husband into the side of the track. I was so angry I chased him. He got off his vehicle and disappeared into the crowd. I kept watching his movements and followed up until I was finally able to catch up. At the last minute I wondered if I was really going to go through with my intention to beat him up when I caught him... and decided yes, he needed to learn a lesson. So when I got close enough I immediately threw a punch, dodged his return blows, and finally knocked him down to the floor.

      He had a dream device on him—I took it to be his journal, but it resembled a long strip of chromed metal, several inches wide by about sixteen inches long, with some holes running along the center area. I took it away from him as a punishment. I wanted to hide it somewhere it would be hard to find, so I took it into the women's bathroom, where he presumably wouldn't think to look. There was an incinerator in there as well as a garbage can, but I decided that I couldn't destroy his journal, no matter how much I disliked him, because dreams are too important, even his. I just wanted to inconvenience him for a while, so I put the device in an inconspicuous shelf where I figured someone would come across it eventually. There were a lot of dream herbs and supplements on the shelf, apparently free for the taking, but I reminded myself that this was a public place and anyone could have tampered with them, so I'd better leave them alone, and stick to my own at home which I know are clean.

      DILD: It was around this point that I remembered to RC and realized I was dreaming. My goal was to work on the fairy tale TOTYs. I had actually come across a sandwich bag containing a handful of Giant White Beans in my RL kitchen the other day, and thought that these would be ideal to plant outside to grow the beanstalks. So after getting lucid, I headed straight for the kitchen and grabbed the bag, then went outside to plant them in the little plots of soil that abut the wall of the house. I felt like I was rushing, but the dreamstate felt shallow and unstable so I was motivated to act quickly.

      In the dream it was drizzling lightly, so the soil was soft and easy to work. I planted the beans by hand, three in the first plot, and then went to the next plot to plant three more. But by the fourth bean I realized that they might take a long time to germinate if I didn't hurry things along. Fortunately I had a plan for this. I had been meaning to work with the Ars Magica Form "Herbam" for a while anyway, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Would "Creo" or "Rego" be the proper technique for this case? I decided to go with "Creo" since I was growing the beanstalks from seed.

      I held my hand over the soil where I had just planted the fourth bean and intoned, "Creo herbam." After a little concentration it readily responded, a thick sprout emerging from the earth. It didn't look so much like a beanstalk as a huge stalk of asparagus, at least six inches in diameter. I figured that would be okay, as it would turn out sturdier this way... and I like asparagus. I quickly planted the other two beans in the second plot, but the stalk was growing rapidly and was already a few feet tall. There were still two more beans in the bag but I decided to save them... what if I needed to plant another stalk to get back down? Jack probably saved a few beans if he was smart.

      Remembering how much trouble I had experienced attempting to climb in the previous NLD, I came up with a better idea. While the stalk was growing past chest height, I grabbed onto it and let it lift me as it grew. I wondered if this would still count for the TOTY, but figured probably, in terms of altitude I was certainly climbing, even if the stalk was doing all the work!

      We went up and up. I was waiting to reach some kind of surface or platform that I could step off onto. How did this go in the story? I don't think I've ever actually read the original, and started to regret that I hadn't done a bit more research, because it was hard to imagine what kind of solid ground Jack could have encountered at the top of the stalk. Did he step onto the upper surface of the clouds? Or was there some kind of floating island? I may have been overrationalizing, but it annoyed me that I couldn't remember how this was supposed to work.

      The dream seems to have responded to my confusion, because the space around me became ambiguous. I had started outdoors but now felt like I was indoors again, still on the beanstalk, which was still growing. However, it was now "growing" through what was effectively a visual loop: I noticed the same attic space passing by again and again in front of my eyes, like a skip in a record. I attempted to wait it out but it just kept repeating, so finally I figured, okay, I'll take the hint, I'll get off here.

      Around this point the dreamstate was feeling very thin and shallow, and my senses felt poorly integrated. I had to focus my attention for a moment on just on staying engaged in the dream. When this awkward passage resolved, I was back in a room that somewhat resembled my RL bedroom, only now the beanstalk seemed to be growing from the middle of the bed and burst right through the ceiling. I didn't have the impression that any giant was in the vicinity. Maybe I needed to climb it again? But the hole in the ceiling was only big enough to accommodate the beanstalk. I would have to widen it if I wanted to crawl through.

      This reminded me of my separate and fallback intention to work on Hansel and Gretel if the beanstalk idea went awry. My new strategy involved breaking off pieces of a house and eating it, to encourage it to turn into the gingerbread cottage of the story. I reached up with my hand to tear a piece from the edge of the hole in the ceiling. It broke off easily in my hand like rotten wood. I took a bite: it has the texture of a dry crumbly cookie but not much flavor. I tried to conjure the taste of gingerbread but I don't notice much change. I went wandering through the house looking for a witch but there's no one else home.

      There's a vague section here. I can't remember if I actually ended up climbing the first stalk to end up outside on the roof, or if I just walked outside to check on the other beanstalks, but at some point I am outdoors again, and I observe that the other beanstalks I planted also grew at some point but are now brown and withered. I can't remember what became of the first one, but evidently it couldn't get me any farther than the roof. Still no giants, but I see what looks like a higher platform on top of a neighboring building. I break off a length of one of the dead stalks and try to use it to pole vault myself up onto the platform. It gets me almost to the top but not quite.

      Occupying the center of the wall leading up to this platform is a very tall bookshelf, only about three or four feet in width but running all the way up to the top of the thirty or forty foot wall. After my second or third attempt to pole vault up, I realize that I can't make it all the way to the top using this method, so I get off on one of the uppermost shelves. I don't think I can finish the climb directly from here, but I have another idea. My weight is already destabilizing the bookshelf, pulling it down and me along with it, so I realize that I might be able to use the rebound effect to launch myself onto the platform. As the top of the bookshelf sinks all the way down to ground level, I climb over the top and position myself on the back of the shelf (which is level with the ground and facing up after the bookshelf has fallen all the way down). I anticipate that the whole shelf is going to rebound back into its original place, and sure enough it does. Using the force of its rebound, I jump off when I'm near the top and finally make it up onto the platform... when the dream ended.

      Note: Although I managed to get a fair amount done despite adverse conditions, the dreamstate was low quality throughout. I stayed up during the WBTB about twice as long as I had originally intended, which meant I took the supplements way too early so that they were actively inhibiting sleep by the time I returned to bed, and drinking the caffeinated yerba mate on top of that was evidently a mistake. But it is hard to argue counterfactuals because sometimes if I don't overdo it, I don't get lucid at all, so it's always a tricky balancing act.
    5. An Expected Journey

      by , 08-28-2014 at 08:29 PM
      Type: Paranoia/Evasion
      Perspective: Mixed (initially Self, transforming to Character, male hobbit)

      NLD: The dream began with a long complicated plot set in a futuristic world. The antagonist was trying to find me and some other people; I had the codes to some device of his that would frustrate his plans. At this point my dream character was still me, I know this because enemy agents were using my name and even showing around a picture of me. (The prevalence of this "paranoia/conspiracy" theme in dreams is one of the reasons I suspect—pure speculation—that schizophrenia in waking life is a condition related to dreaming.)

      Enemy forces had located us, were closing in, we knew we had to run. We decided to split into two groups that would flee separately. I was with a group that was going to go on a very long journey. There was no perceptible shift in the dream or narrative, but by the end of the dream this was all entirely a group of male hobbits, and I, going with them, was also a male hobbit. There was no precise "moment" when the shift took place though, the dream narrative was continuous, and the transformation imperceptible: I was still "me' before the start of the journey then woke up remembering that I was one of the hobbits.

      I had anticipated that we would need to flee and already packed a backpack, so while the two group leaders were waiting for the rest of us to prep and join them, I went and grabbed it. I checked inside first to make sure I had the right bag. I saw lots of warm clothes—that was good, I'm always inclined to get cold. I grabbed a few more things from my pile: a fleece jacket, a wide-brimmed hat. I was already wearing a leather pouch around my neck with my ring in it. When I had noticed this earlier I had wondered why my ring was in the bag instead of on my finger; I assumed I had to hide it for some reason. (Source: the dream played out with an increasing LOTR theme, so this could be a nod to the way Frodo carries the One Ring; it could also be day residue, as the other day I had taken off my ring for a long time for some task.)

      On the table with the gear I was choosing from was a sort of talisman made of a round disk of leather, as well as a few masks which I grabbed at the last minute—they weighed almost nothing and might come in handy. I considered the options: should I put on a mask before we left? If I needed to conceal my identity from those who would recognize me it could be useful, but if we were trying to pass incognito among people who wouldn't already recognize me, wearing a mask might draw too much attention and be a disadvantage. But better to have the option than not.

      I was the third one to gather around the group leader, a male hobbit, and we were waiting on about three others. While we were waiting I went through the masks I had grabbed at the last minute to make a more careful selection, trying them on in a mirror. A couple were cheap plastic full-face masks, and I wasn't sure if they would stand up to the rigors of travel, so I set them aside. I kept one, though, because it gave me a scary monster face and I thought it might be handy if we needed to play a trick and scare someone. I kept a plain black eye mask and another one that was just a single sheet of light brown translucent plastic—it weighed nothing and could serve as sunglasses, I figured. For now, I decided to wear the simple black eye mask. When I put it on, I noticed that I was strapping it over the glasses I was wearing: they had huge round lenses. I didn't remember owning glasses like this, but that was just one of many, many clues that should have alerted me to the fact that I was dreaming—I had not an inkling of it.

      When our full group had assembled, the leader then instructed us to get rid of a lot of stuff that he figured we had probably packed. He had a list of very specific things we were supposed to give up, unnecessary objects that he said were a result of "emotional packing." Already on the table were a lot of little boxed games, like dice and tile games (source: Scrabble on Colbert last night). I worried that our long journey would get dull and depressing if we didn't even have a few games with us, but I understood his reasoning—we needed our packs to be as light as possible if we were to outrun our pursuers—so I reluctantly gave up some things as well.

      There was one item that I wasn't sure about, so I went to consult the leader. It was a boxed set (I hadn't opened it yet) containing a special kind of saw blade that could function as a lathe, cutting wood into round or shaped dowels. The leader and I opened the box and inspected it. I felt a tool like this might be useful at some point, though I couldn't think of a precise situation in which I would need to lathe a dowel to survive. The only problem was that the tool was made out of solid metal, a complex shaped piece about eight by eight inches, and it was extremely heavy. "It's about as heavy as a two-liter bottle of water," I estimated aloud. This decided it: the leader reasoned that water was more essential, so if the tool cut down on the amount we could carry, it would have to go. I reluctantly left it behind. Later as we began our journey, I thought back and regretted this: I realized that dowel-shaped wood might be very useful in making traps, and moreover that even if we had only brought the tool with us to sell, we could probably get up to 50,000gp for it, because it was an object from our futuristic world that would be completely unique in the fantasy world where we were going.

      I realized that we were pushing the limits of the time we had left and needed to leave right away. But as the leader and I stepped out from the room where we'd consulted about the saw blade, something caught my eye. It was a tiny fluffy grey kitten sleeping cozily on its back, lying in the hallway against to the wall on our right. "Wait—just two seconds," I said to the leader, "Look!" And we knelt down and tousled the kitten's belly. I explained, "It reminds me of something Sam said: this is what we're fighting for." I was remembering the line late in LOTR where Frodo is losing heart and Sam reminds him "That there's some good in this world... and it's worth fighting for." Naturally my version involved kittens.

      We then rejoin the rest of our group—which was more diverse in the beginning but by this point consisted of the full set of LOTR hobbits plus me as a random male one—and started down a lane. No sooner had we set out then I look behind us and see a group of fierce orcs, at least eight of them, less than fifty yards behind us and moving faster than we are, already closing in. Did we waste too much time with our preparations, losing our head start? I needed to act now, or our journey would be cut off before it began. Fortunately I recalled that I knew Ars Magica magic (all that practice in LDs paying off!)

      Twisting to look back while still running at full tilt, I held out my hand and blasted a frost effect at the group of orcs: it created a slippery ice slick on the ground where they were running and also iced their bodies directly, covering them with a pale layer of frost and slowing them considerably. I knew it wouldn't last forever so I was already trying to decide what my next trick should be. A grease trap on the ground might be useful: the lane was narrow and walled on both sides, so they wouldn't be able to bypass it. Then I was trying to remember the mechanics of Ars Magica spells: were they limited by a specific pre-set quantity (like in D&D) or could they be chosen freely but the rate was restricted by a mana pool, or could they cast at will but it was just really hard to succeed at the roll? Around this time the dream must have despaired of my ability to transform even a thrilling adventure chase scene into tedious decision-making and option-weighing, and I woke up.

      Updated 08-28-2014 at 08:40 PM by 34973

    6. Butterfly Transformations

      by , 07-22-2014 at 09:30 PM
      Ritual: wtb 3:15am, last wbtb 9:15am, woke 10:38am, SSILD: WILD

      Last sleep, last chance. It was already 9:15am, but since I'd gone to bed so late, and all my previous attempts that night had been without real motivation and had resulted in falling asleep before completing a single cycle, figured I could try once more. SSILD: tempted to mix it with other techniques, but if I was going test this properly, ought to do it straight up. My timing was messy and uneven, but remembered that was okay. Did maybe three cycles on my back, uneven length, afraid of waking myself up too much, given that it was already mid-morning, so turned on my side and prepared to let myself sleep. A few times I ran through the cycles very lightly and quickly, just to get back in touch with my senses. At some point in this process the cat jumped on the bed. I was getting closer to sleep but figured I could work with this if he settled down and didn't just start yelling. Fortunately he decided to sleep on me, and I was able to work that sensation into my rotation. I wasn't cycling regularly, just randomly once in a while when I felt I might be losing touch.

      I must have been already dreaming without knowing it, because I thought I was only thinking, and it never occurred to me that the presence of sustained visuals suggested otherwise. I was replying to posts on some online forum made my a friend—nothing to do with DV, no one even connected with dreaming, just an old friend I haven't talked to in a while (AS). He was posting something about falling asleep a certain way and used an acronym like "TILD," and I wanted to reply snarkily with something like, "Does TILD stand for 'talking to yourself in bed'?" At the time, I was convinced this phrase perfectly fit the acronym, so I was apparently already touched by dream logic. So I was trying to type out my reply, and I simply could not type "TILD" properly. I tried over and over, and my fingers kept slipping and hitting everything else on the keyboard. Technical difficulties like this are one of my dream signs, but since I was convinced I was still awake, it didn't occur to me to RC. On the contrary, I thought I was having this trouble typing because I was getting too sleepy! This was precisely the opposite of a false awakening: instead of losing dream awareness by believing I had woken up, on the contrary, I failed to realize I was dreaming because I thought I hadn't fallen asleep yet! (If there's no acronym for this yet, I propose FFA for "false falling asleep," as it pairs well with the more familiar term FA.)

      Around then the music started. I could hear a Pixies song. At the time I was sure that it was a song I knew, and it was playing perfectly down to the last note, even though I hadn't heard it in years. (I can't remember now what song it was, if it was indeed a real one.) I knew the music wasn't coming from outside me, and figured it must just be hypnagogic activity. The whole time until now I had been aware of lying in my bed, which was part of the reason I thought that I hadn't quite fallen asleep yet. After the Pixies song played in its entirety and then concluded, a new song started. This one intrigued me even more, because I was sure it was a song I had never heard before. It was lively enough to make a good follow-up to the Pixies, but the singer had an accent that sounded African. It reminded me of the song "Rise" by Seun Kuti, one that I downloaded free from Amazon and put on my running mix—but I'm not familiar with his other work. This song, like one before it, was crystal clear... like so often before I regretted that I am not more musical in waking life, because I felt sure if I were musically literate I could wake up and recreate it. But I didn't feel like rousing myself and trying to hum the melody into my iPhone when I hadn't even gotten to sleep yet.

      WILD: At some point around here the transition finalized, and I realized, hang on, I think I am asleep now! I'm in my dream body! I could probably just 'get up' without disrupting anything... so I got out of bed, and even though everything felt extremely lifelike, there was a lightness to my body that I was sure meant I was dreaming. I was impressed how bright and clear everything was, and how mobile I felt, unlike a lot of WILDs where it's dark at first and I'm crawling over the carpet trying to get traction. But perhaps integration wasn't perfect yet, because hardly had I gotten out of bed when I was disturbed by a loud rhythmic noise that threatened to disrupt the dream state and wake me. At first I thought it must be the mailman knocking on the door, because I'm expecting a package. But as it continued without abating, I realized it must actually be construction on the house up the hill. How foolish it was, I chided myself, to do my dream practice so late in the morning! The world wakes up and starts making loud noises; at least during the night it is quieter. (RL: It turns out there's nothing at the door and no construction going on outside, so despite these very reasonable hypotheses about bleedthrough stimuli, the sound appears to have been largely or entirely internal.)

      The sound was extremely disruptive and I felt alarmingly close to being woken by it. But I had just gotten into a perfectly good dream and had no wish to lose it so soon (like that time recently when I was woken from an otherwise fantastic WILD by my own snoring—come to think of it, this is another possible culprit for the sound!) How can I deal with this and remain in the dream? The answer occurred instinctively: dance! So I started dancing to the noise. It was a bit like dancing to the sound of hammers, and my dance was correspondingly jerky and spasmodic, but it did the trick! After a while I felt that the dreamstate was no longer threatened, so I paused and looked at myself in the bedroom mirror. Once again, as in the last SSILD, I was impressed how much like my waking self I looked: the hair was different, shorter, but the same face, same eyes. I smiled at myself and could see the smile in the reflection. Interestingly, even though it was a full-length mirror, I have no conception of what I might have been wearing. I wasn't curious about it at the time I was looking, so I have no impression of it now. If I had to guess, I would suppose it was a loose white summer dress of the sort I've been wearing around the house lately (I don't wear these to bed though).

      Even though I had come to terms with the noise, it was still loud and annoying, so I decided to leave the bedroom and move deeper into the house, hopefully away from it. It might have diminished slightly by the time I got to the kitchen, but only a little, so I keep walking through to the living room. I notice my fluffiest down comforter is heaped up on the couch for some reason. I pull it off, and as the folds of cloth open I see the dark silhouette of a butterfly within them. I am momentarily confused: is butterfly a dream figment, or is it real? That is, just as I thought the sound might have a source in waking life, it didn't seem improbable at that moment that a butterfly might have accidentally made it into the house. Dream logic prevented me from realizing that, even were that so, how would I realize it when I was asleep in my bed? The butterfly flutters up and flies into the kitchen, so I follow it. Around this time I am too distracted to notice the noise anymore, being completely engrossed in the butterfly. When I enter the kitchen, I notice that in place of the little black one I followed, about the size of an ordinary monarch, there are now two very large butterflies, their wingspans about 16 to 18 inches across. One is slightly larger than the other, a very pale greenish yellow. The other one has the same base color, but its wings have black borders.

      I am reminded of the task I had been intending to work on next, "creo animál." However, it seems that the dream has jumped the gun and already created the animal for me, so I roll with it and decide to experiment with "rego animál" instead—apparently forgetting I've already done this one numerous times. I know I should try "intellego animál," as I've never tried anything with that technique, but I'm not sure how to go about it, so I decide to put it off until later. I hold out my hand and command "Rego animál," focusing on the larger, lighter-colored butterfly and intending for it to land on my hand. The butterflies flit around and ignore me. I try again. Doesn't work. What's the problem? They are "animals," aren't they? I mean, in the broad sense of the term, I'm pretty sure insects count. Do I need the "auram" sphere for this, as they are creatures of the air? But I've worked with wind before—I've found it quite straightforward to conjure all the elements directly—yet somehow this is harder. I'm forgetting all the times I have commanded animals very easily in other dreams, and am probably just making it harder for myself by all the Ars Magica rigamarole, but truth be told I like rigamarole... it's more stylish and satisfying than just making things happen in a perfunctory way. I conclude that the main problem is that I'm just not putting enough focus into my intent, and so the third time I sing the command. For some reason, I always get the best results in dreams when I sing to shape them, and sure enough, now the butterfly comes over and lands on my proffered hand.

      What next? I walk the few steps back into the living room, and command the butterfly to fly up again and go land on the small table by the window on the other side of the couch. Again, it takes me a couple tries, but the butterfly finally obeys. As it lands there, it turns into a young light-haired woman. I am distracted from this transformation by a young blonde man who is now at my side. He is not the second butterfly, the one with black-bordered wings: around this time she transforms into a dark-haired woman who is standing near the closet. With all this transformation going on, I am inspired to try "Muto animál," so I direct this command to the young man, intending for him to turn into a butterfly. He stands there looking a bit obstinate or confused, so I sing the command in what I intend to be a very persuasive manner, and he finally complies—sort of. He lies down on his right side in a fetal position. He is not lying on the floor, but on some platform a few feet high that doesn't exist in RL (there would just be a wall there). He produces a bundle of red yarn that he stretches along the length of his spine. I watch, waiting for the transformation, but nothing happens. I command him again, and he respond that he is doing his best, but that it will take a very long time—maybe up to a year!—because the timing isn't right.

      It's possible that the guy is just dicking me around, but he seems sincere, and he does offer that he could transform more easily into a goat. (OMG! I hadn't even realized until I wrote this that my first SSILD also involved a goat... odd coincidence, as I don't remember dreaming of goats under any other circumstances.) I say that this would be fine, so he gets back up, discards the red yarn, and transforms at once into a brown goat of ordinary size. He warns me that when he is a goat, he speaks in a strange high voice—which seems contradictory at first, because he has already turned into a goat and is still speaking in the same voice as before. However, after delivering the warning, his voice does change. From his description of a "high voice," I was expecting him to start speaking in falsetto, but instead he sounds more cartoonish, like his voice has been sped up. With his new voice he introduces himself to me, telling me his name is "Hemm." I find myself wondering how this is spelled. I imagine it with two 'mm's, but having only heard it spoken, I can't be sure. Should I ask? Well it can't hurt, and might help me remember the name better. "Is that spelled H-E-M or H-E-M-M?" I inquire. He replies that there's no way to know: he was just a blacksmith's son and never saw it written down.

      I realize that I should get the names of everyone in the room, because then I'll be able to write a more detailed report when I wake up. So I turn and ask the girl sitting on the small table, formerly the pale butterfly. She tells me her name is "Anna." She is now holding a painting, a vertical rectangle about 24x36 inches, and turns it around to show me the back. "And his name was 'Jakachibe', he was a Japanese thief." I gather that the guy she mentions is represented on the front of the painting, but I barely had time to glimpse the image before she turned it around, and now she is just showing me the back of the canvas, where something like 'Jakachibe' is written in large sloppy pencil letters on a wooden crossbar. I say "something like" because the transliteration of the name is even worse than what I've rendered here—there was another 'h' in it somewhere, maybe even a 'q', something more like "Jaqhachibe," but I can't remember precisely—and I have to bite my tongue to refrain from telling her that "Jaqhachibe" doesn't sound like a proper Japanese name and even if it were, it certainly wouldn't be spelled that way in English. I just smile and nod, then turn to the dark-haired woman who has continued to stand by quietly. She tells me her name is "Caroline." After I hear each name, I am repeating it aloud, to better impress it on my memory.

      After talking to each of the women in turn, I notice that the young man who had transformed into a goat has returned to his former human appearance. He is of average height, with wavy blonde hair, short but not too short, a bit tousled, and he has a pleasant, open face. He volunteers that his name—in this form—is "Viryec." Or at least, he says something that sounds like that phonetically, but is probably spelled very differently—"Virjece" occurs to me as the most likely possibility—so I start inquiring more about it. He tells me that his name means something like "sincere effort." This rings a bell—both in sound and meaning, it reminds me a lot of the Pali word viriya, which has been on my mind lately, so I ask him if that term has any relationship to his name. Although he and his name both strike me as coming from northern European stock, perhaps there is some ancient Indo-European etymological relationship with the Pali... but before he can reply, I wake up. I don't know why my dreams so often seem to end just before what promises to be some interesting revelation, but here we are again. Still, I'm not that disappointed because I have so much to write down!

      Updated 08-02-2014 at 10:49 PM by 34973

      lucid , memorable
    7. The Mysterious Goat

      by , 07-17-2014 at 06:09 PM
      Yesterday I came across the SSILD thread on the induction forum, and decided to try it out. Success!

      Ritual: Slept about three hours, woke up with awareness of having dreamed though no recall of specifics, but figured since I had been in REM I might as well give the SSILD technique a try. Doing the sense-cycling delayed sleep onset more than I expected, even more than with my usual WILD technique of incremental counting, even though I kept reminding myself that I wasn't attempting to WILD. Interestingly, when I was starting to get closer to sleep I was experiencing much more vivid flashes of hypnogogic imagery than usual, which I attribute to having primed my attentiveness to it with the technique.

      On the verge of falling asleep finally, when I sense that I'm in an empty room with plain white walls, and that it's substantial enough to enter as a dream space. "I can work with that," I say to myself, and close the door. The handle has a pleasing feeling of solidity and the door closes with lifelike sensations, so I know this is actually working.

      WILD: What to do now? Well, I need traction, so I decide to just use my body a bit until I feel more substantial. Last night my husband showed me a video of a guy doing amazing acrobatic tricks on a pole, and that must have subconsciously inspired me, because without really thinking about it I start emulating him. It's fun because I could never do anything like this in RL (who could? It's real gravity defying stuff) and even in a dream it takes a bit of concentration, so it is a useful way to integrate myself better into this space. As I do it I remember to occasionally rub my hands in front of my face for more traction, and for some reason it occurs to me that it would be a good idea to feel my head, which I've never tried before, but the lifelike sensation of the shape of my head and texture of my hair is very helpful, they make this dream body I'm in feel more like "me." The vividness and clarity at this point is quite high, and I'm wondering what I look like. I see a mirror on the wall (the walls were featureless initially so the mirror seems to have manifested in response to my intention, though not before my eyes... it was just there once I decided to look for it) so all I have to do is position myself properly in order to see my reflection. I'm pleased with how much like me it actually looks, although my hair is different: loose, shoulder-length and with a layered, almost spiky cut. But the face looks just like mine, especially the eyes. It was remarkably like looking into a real mirror, which is not my usual experience of reflections in LDs.

      Given how lifelike my body feels and my reflection looks, I decide to play with it a bit. A couple times in my LDs I've experimented with trying to create an extra set of arms, like you see on some representations of Hindu deities, and I want to try that again. I'm now standing on a sort of balance beam, looking at a second mirror that has manifested on the next wall (a little more conveniently positioned than the first) and I start waving my arms and trying to create a second pair. With a little concentration I have a partial success: I think I can see and feel a second pair, but they are moving in tandem with the first. To be more successful, they would have to move independently, all four arms moving simultaneously in separate directions. I try to get the second set to move independently from the first, but I can't figure out how to do it! I realize that I simply have no mental imprint of what this would be like. Perhaps with a little more creativity or effort I could get this going, but I sense that at this moment the strain might be close to disrupting the dream, so I give up the attempt, amused by how tricky this is, and re-stabilize.

      What next? I remember my current task: "Creo vim." (I've been working through spell combinations from Ars Magica.) I anticipated this would be a fun one because I had no idea how it would manifest, and deliberately tried to avoid anticipating anything in particular, hoping the dream would surprise me. So I hold out my left hand and concentrate on the spell. Nothing happens at first. How should I do this? I wonder if I should be using my right hand (my dominant hand in waking life), but figure that since I instinctively started with my left, I should stick with it. "Creo vim," I murmur, since I've found that saying the name of the spell aloud can be an effective focus. A tiny bubble manifests in the air above my open palm. It looks like a soap bubble, and as I have this thought, it bursts like one. But I'm emboldened by the fact that something is happening, so I keep concentrating, and another bubble appears. It grows larger and slowly sinks until it is a half sphere sitting on my palm. From there it keeps growing, getting larger and lumpier and turning grey in color, but still completely weightless and seemingly inflated with air. When this mass is about a foot and a half in diameter, it lifts from my hand and sinks gently to the floor, and transforms into a small white goat.

      The surroundings have changed around me while I was focused on the spell. I am no longer standing on a balance beam in a white room, now I am outdoors at night, standing on the ground, looking at this goat that has inexplicably appeared. My husband is lying next to me, asleep. Standing in front of me is a horse harnessed to a cart. I ponder the goat, wondering what it might signify. On the one hand, it is an extremely cute little goat, with long white fur and two straight horns that are only a few inches long. On the other hand, it subtly disturbs me for some reason I can't identify. I remembered a trial take of a commercial that I saw many years ago. The commercial was intended to advertise a financial services company, and was showing clips purporting to be the customers. The most memorable one was a dignified elderly gentleman who for some reason was accompanied by an equally dignified white goat. It was so random and surreal, elegantly and subtly satanic, that the image always stuck with me—though I learned later that the scene was cut from the final version out of concerns that people might be disturbed or distracted by the goat. So what to make of this little goat in front of me now? The goat itself was just standing quietly and not revealing anything, until before my eyes it abruptly transformed into a few pieces of ripe and runny brie cheese on a plain white plate. This was even more mystifying.

      I wanted to ask someone's opinion about the goat and its transformation, but I looked around and couldn't see anyone else in this landscape. There was just me and my husband, but he was fast asleep and I didn't want to disturb him. Finally it occurred to me to ask the horse, as the only other creature around. I figured the question of the goat's moral status could be answered by how the horse responded to the cheese, so I picked up a piece from the plate and offered it to the horse to sniff. "What do you think?" I asked. The horse readily accepted the cheese and ate it with apparent relish. This seemed to speak well for the goat! "Want more?" I asked, offering the horse a second piece, which it consumed as eagerly as the first. I decided to try a bit myself, and found the taste and texture very much as I would have expected from a runny brie.

      There was a cemetary nearby, surrounded by a low wall. I could see the tops of gravestones over the upper edge of the wall, and I instinctively knew that one of them was connected with the goat, so I should investigate it to find out more. The entrance to the cemetary was just across the lane on which the horse and cart were standing, so I walked around them and went inside. From my original glimpse across the wall I had made a mental note that the relevant gravestone was the fourth one in, so I counted the stones I passed until I reached the fourth. It was an old style of slab carved from reddish stone, only about two inches in width, about three feet tall, and with a simple curved top, unadorned except for the text that was carved on it. I knelt down and looked at the inscription. I was pleased to discover that I could read it easily, and one phrase that immediately caught my attention was "Ghast of Vail Light." I took this to be the title of the mysterious goat. It sounded a bit spooky after all, but I loved this phrase! I immediately determined to remember it. "Ghast of Vail Light," I repeated to myself several times, and even said aloud to myself, "Remember that." I wanted to get it just right. Was it spelled "Vail" and not "Vale"? I looked again at the inscription. The letters were remarkably stable, and the spelling was distinct: "Vail."

      I hadn't done any tactile stabilization in a while, so I decided to run my hands over the face of the gravestone. It had the cool touch of real stone, smooth overall but a bit gritty in texture, like sandstone, and I could feel the indentations where the letters were carved in. I was still muttering to myself "Ghast of Vail Light." I didn't know how much longer the dream would go on, and wanted to make sure I wouldn't forget. But I concentrated so hard on the idea of remembering this phrase when I woke up, that it woke me up! I wasn't disappointed, though, because I had plenty to write about already.

      Updated 08-02-2014 at 10:50 PM by 34973

      lucid , memorable