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    1. 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

      lucid , side notes
    2. Fortune Cookies and Patronus Charm (WILD + FA)

      by , 09-16-2014 at 09:51 PM
      Ritual: WTB 1am, woke 4:20am, got up and read, drank spice lassi (yogurt, water, turmeric, cumin, salt), did 12 minutes seated meditation incorporation SSILD technique before returning to bed at 5:50am. Before going to bed I affirmed several times, "I vow to lucid dream," reflecting on how a vow is much more serious than an intention, a little nervous that I might inadvertantly break my vow, but reminding myself that I didn't dare, failing to go through on an intention is one thing, but you're never supposed to break your vows. I wanted to avoid supplements for the most part as that hasn't helped much lately, but I did use a few drops of Calea Zacatechichi tincture, because although I can't say for sure if it actually works, I thought the distinctive taste might contribute a useful placebo effect. I lay on my back in bed and did a series of tension-relaxation exercises, then cycled in random order through several affirmations ("I am aware / I do / I dream"). Drifted off, woke up a little, realized it was getting too bright out and my mind felt sufficiently wakeful that this might be an obstacle to sleep, so I put on my sleep mask (a device of last resort as I don't like wearing it), turned on my left side, and continued the affirmations until I fell asleep. I got a lot of distinct hypnagogic imagery and sounds every time I started to drift off, but I did not feel the physical signs of transition.

      WILD, Part 1: I woke up again, thinking I might have transitioned successfully, and got out of bed. I could still distinctly feel myself wearing the sleep mask so I wondered if I was really dreaming, but realized that since it wasn't obstructing my vision, then I must be. I was tempted to rip off the mask but decided to just ignore it, and soon the sensations disappeared for the duration of the dream. Now that I was sure I was dreaming, I wanted to get started right away on my tasks. I reached behind me for my wand, a gesture familiar from a few years ago when I had been playing a lot with Harry Potter style magic. I got used the idea that my wand was sheathed just behind my right hip, so I could just reach back there at any time to draw it. However, this time I came up empty-handed. I realized that this was probably because, having just gotten out of bed, I wasn't wearing any clothes. Nevermind, I can work on that task later. By this time I'm in the kitchen, so it should be an easy matter to procure some fortune cookies!

      I walk toward the kitchen counter, expecting to find a bag of fortune cookies ready to hand. Sure enough, there is a clear plastic bag right where I expect, but as I reach for it I see that it contains... what are those, pierogies? I laugh because they look almost like fortune cookies and are anything but, and it is just like dream to bait and switch this way. I pick up the bag and reach into it anyway, focusing my expectations around pulling out a proper fortune cookie, and by the time my hand closes around something, I can tell that it is falling into line: it has the dry smooth surface, distinctive shape and ridges of a fortune cookie. I pull it out and break it in half to get the fortune. I remember that I'm supposed to eat the cookie too, so I start nibbling at it while extracting the fortune, which was wedged inside the cookie in a crumpled up wad. As I smooth it, I see that the little strip of paper is covered with what looks like dabs of herb butter mixed with little shreds of nori seaweed, a kind of east-west fusion of ingredients. I'm disappointed to see that there is no writing on the paper at all, just the seasonings.

      No problem, the bag contains several cookies. I'll just get another. I try again, and fortunately the next cookie contains a larger slip of paper, one that comes out properly this time and contains actual text—quite a lot of text actually, four or five lines of it. I start to read it, murmuring aloud to help fix it in memory. It starts something like: "And earth her allies rift..." It goes on from there, not making much sense, and worse, by the time I get to the second line the first one is already changing, now "her allies" looks like it has been replaced by something in German, "die Beile."

      (Weird, according to my German dictionary app "die Beile" means "axes, hatchets." I've studied a bit of German, which is why I have the app, but I'm not aware that I've ever learned that word and didn't even know if it was a real one until I looked it up.)

      I continue reading the fortune, and by the time I get to the end the first line has changed again even more, and I'm pretty sure so has everything else. I realize this is somewhat hopeless, the fortune was so long that it would have been hard enough to remember even if it were static, much less track all the changes, so I just determine to remember the part that I read initially, since I think I can keep at least this much in working memory: "And earth her allies rift."

      By this point the fortune has transformed into a large plastic wrapper like the sort that might have wrapped a whole box of cookies, and as I continue to look at it, I'm surprised by how much additional text is written on the side in small print: mundane details like the address of the manufacturer, etc. I see a date, "1945," and note that the place of manufacture is San Francisco, which makes sense (wasn't the fortune cookie invented there?) but by now the date has already changed to "1929."

      FA: Around this time I wake up and grab the notebook I keep next to the bed to start writing things down. Something's wrong, though: even though I normally open it to a blank page before sleeping, it is now open to a page wholly printed with graphics resembling some type of manga. I don't remember the notebook having graphics! I flip through to find a blank page quickly while my memories are fresh, but all the white pages are already filled with previous notes, and they are interspersed with the manga pages, like a cross between a notebook and a graphic novel. I find a space of blank color on one of the manga images, just enough room to scribble, "and earth her allies rift," but then I feel guilty about spoiling the drawing. I don't even remember what the story is, but if I write all over it I might end up regretting it.

      While I'm still trying to figure out where to put down the rest of my notes, my husband comes into the room carrying two boxes wrapped in paper, like presents. Apparently this is some new game that has just arrived that he wants to play together, a console game. I remember him telling me about it earlier: the plot has something to do with cartoonish kids and their gorilla allies. It seems that the game can only be played in two-person mode, so he has come in to try to wake me up. I'm still lying in bed, so he sets the two boxes down right on top of me and starts to rip off the paper wrapping. The boxes are cubes measuring about a foot on each side, and at first I wonder why they are so large, but as he tears off the paper I can see from the box art that they contain individual devices like Playstation controllers.

      Although I do want to play the game at some point, I'm annoyed at this disruption because I was in the middle of a lucid dream attempt! After jotting down my notes I had been planning to try to re-enter the dream state. However, I already vaguely suspect that this might not be a real awakening because everything seems so exaggerated, from the problems with my notebook to my husband's rude attempt to wake me. He may not share my hobby, but he's aware of it, and would be unlikely to disturb me while I'm still sleeping, much less set boxes on me! This remains only a suspicion, and I don't become fully aware of the fact that I'm still dreaming. Rather, I conclude only that I'm still on the verge of it, since I can still feel the heaviness and tingling in my limbs that lets me know that I can probably re-enter the dreamstate once this distraction has diminished. So I quietly grumble at my husband until he leaves, careful to keep calm and not lose my temper since that could wake me up too much and make it impossible to to return to the dream. After he goes out of the room, I get myself settled in the bed again and prepare to re-transition. This is amusing in retrospect because evidently I was fully dreaming the whole time—I had the impression that I was DEILDing back into the dream, but obviously if this had been a real awakening DEILD would have been impossible after such a chaotic interlude! When I felt confident I was dreaming again, I got back out of bed.

      WILD, Part 2: Having done fortune cookies, I thought I should put all my focus now into completing the Patronus TOTM. Once more I reach for my wand and once again come up empty-handed. No matter, I've used a chopstick as a wand before with great success, and I keep a jar of those right on the kitchen counter, so I walk up to it and pluck a nice sturdy one. Although the jar is mostly full of delicately-pointed Japanese chopsticks, I choose a sturdier one of the Chinese type, cut half-square and half-round. It looks just like one of my real chopsticks, from a simple and practical set I acquired many years ago in Nonthaburi because I didn't know I was supposed to give them back to the door-to-door noodle vendor, and it feels comfortable and familiar in my hand.

      I figure that it would be most appropriate to summon a Patronus if there were a real threat, but I don't want to over-complicate things by going to look for one. I reason that since my husband was annoying me just now with the boxes and almost woke me up, this could serve as a sufficient stand-in. So I find him in the living room, point the wand toward him and say firmly, "Expecto Patronum!" I hear an audible "pop" like something bursting but see no change in the visual field. I try again and nothing happens at all. I strengthen my resolve, try a third time, and... what is that?... I look closer... it's... moths! The air between us where I was aiming the wand is now occupied with a cloud of small shimmering moths!

      I'm delighted with these results because they were so unexpected. I figured my Patronus would turn out to be something predictable like a type of animal I like, maybe a cat or an owl or a raven or even a horse, but moths had never crossed my mind! However, I had intentionally left the form of the Patronus unspecified, because I was hoping the dream would collaborate with me creatively and come up with something interesting and unanticipated, and in this respect it fulfilled its role splendidly.

      Moths! I would never have consciously arrived at this solution, but now it makes perfect sense: I am very much a night person, after all, and these are definitely night moths. I watch them for a few moments, entranced by the glitter and sparkle of their silver bodies in flight. They are relatively small, with wingspans of roughly three-quarters of an inch, but there is a whole cloud of them, many dozens filling an area several feet on either side. Although we are indoors, they appear to be illuminated by moonlight. It is incredibly beautiful. And they've fulfilled the function of a Patronus, it seems, in that they have averted the "threat" (such as it was) and completely defused the tension in the room. My husband is watching them too, and appears just as enchanted with them as I am.

      After admiring the moths for a while, I notice a rabbit on the living room floor. It is wonderfully well-articulated, closely resembling Dürer's famous drawing of a hare. (Probably WLR because I briefly saw that drawing yesterday.) Since I'm still holding the wand, I figure I might as well try out another HP spell. I recall that there's one that ends with "leviosa," and although I can't remember the first word, I figure it is unimportant because clearly "leviosa" is the operative term. So I point the wand at the hare and say, "Leviosa!" Sure enough, it rises right off the ground into the air. I set it back down and pet it fondly.

      I now feel satisfied that I have accomplished both the tasks I had intended, and I know I should wake up now and write promptly before I forget any details. But the dream is going so well, so clear and stable and responsive... it would be a shame to leave it so soon... I give in to the temptation to take a quick look outside, just for a minute, before coming back in to wake up and begin my report.

      Walking back through the kitchen, I open the screen door to the back patio. Sometimes my WILDs become more unstable after I leave the house, probably in large part because I've developed the expectation that this can happen, but in this case I plan to wake up soon anyway, so I walk outside without hesitation.

      It only takes a step or two before the environment no longer resembles my backyard. I encounter a group of four DCs, a mix of men and women who appear to be in their twenties. They begin to approach or accost me in a vaguely threatening manner. I try the Patronus charm again, but it is not as effective this time: the cloud of moths is much smaller and the DCs appear unimpressed. I'm not sure if I actually see them holding wands, or only rationalize that they might be, but I figure this would be the perfect opportunity to try another HP spell. "Expelliamus!" I shout, aiming at the guy on the far left. Sure enough, his wand jumps right out of his hand toward me, and I catch it neatly. You'd think this would give the others enough warning to prepare their defenses, and indeed they seem to be scrambling to try, but I promptly disarm them all using the same technique.

      I walk on a little further, and encounter a few more DCs sitting on a low brick wall and chatting. The initial four have followed me, and I get the impression that the new ones are their friends. I wonder if they are going to retaliate at me for having taken all their wands, so try the Patronus charm yet again: "Expecto Patronum!" This time only a scattering of moths appear, a half dozen or less. I feel a bit embarrassed at this poor showing. "It must be out," I muse, wondering if the wand can only conjure a limited number of moths in a given interval.

      Nevermind, I've got more tricks in my arsenal, and I want to intimidate these DCs so they'll back off. I wonder if I can levitate the whole group of people? "Leviosa!" I command, trying to make them all rise in the air at once. It doesn't work, and I speculate that maybe this is like game mechanics, where it is easier to perform such effects on simple creatures like animals, but harder on a more intelligent creature like a person, since they get a free roll to resist. I think it over and decide, well, maybe so, but... I have all the wands! Their combined power should be enough to counter any resistance. Is it possible to use more than one wand simultaneously to cast a spell? Only one way to find out!

      Standing in the center of the DCs, who form a ring around me, I levitate myself initially—partly to cement the idea of levitation more firmly in mind, and partly because some of them look like they might want to make a grab at me at any minute. Hovering in the air just above them, I arrange all the wands together in my right hand so that I am gripping them evenly, and try again: "Leviosa!" This time I am pleased to see the whole circle of people around me—about six or seven now I think, the initial group plus their friends—rise simultaneously several feet into the air until they are almost even with my own level. They all look discomfited and alarmed by this change of circumstances, so to reassure them that I mean no real harm I let them sink gently back down to the ground and come down as well myself, satisfied with the results of my experiment.

      I decide to stop fooling around now and go back into the house to write my report. It seems dream logic has made me forget that I can just wake up whenever I want to, I don't actually have to go back bodily into the house and manually start writing. But as I turn to go, one of the girls who has returned to her seat on the brick wall yells something hostile and sarcastic after me. I figure she's upset over my levitation stunt, so I decide to use friendliness to try to transform her attitude. I walk right up to her and, maybe taking "friendliness" a little too far, kiss her on the lips. Although she just looks startled and confused now, I smile warmly and say with genuine affection, "See you later!"

      Returning to what I think must be the spot where I came out of the building, I go back inside. Just in case the DCs are still feeling miffed and try to follow me in, I lock and bolt the heavy door behind me. This is no longer the sliding screen door to my kitchen, but a large and solidly made wooden door with numerous locking mechanisms. I'm not sure if I came in the right door at all, because when I turn around I see that I'm in what looks like a nineteenth-century boiler room: it is full of heavy, old-fashioned machinery. Nevermind, I'm sure I can find the entrance to my kitchen just a little further on, so I'll go through and look for it.

      As I pass by some of the machines, I marvel at their intricacy and the clarity with which I can perceive how they are constructed. I pass one machine that has a cylindrical body like an old stove. Although it is made out of solid black cast iron, there is a primitive electric cord incongruously coming out of it, so I figure it must be from a period of technological transition in the late nineteenth century. The electricity is driving some kind of rotating grinder that is hidden in the upper part of the cast iron body under a round upper plate, and with a flash of insight I think I know what this is: it must be a mill of some kind! But what is it grinding? I look at it a little longer and see a lower basin, also cast iron, positioned below the cylindrical body to catch drippings of some kind: the drippings resemble hot slag, semi-melted metal. Whatever this thing is milling, it is definitely not flour!

      I continue to make my way through the room, dodging complex pieces of shaped metal and machinery that crowd around closely on all sides, but when I get to the far wall I'm disconcerted to find that there's no door. How am I going to get back into my house? Although there seems to be no exit in the walls other than the door I came in, the ceiling is so far overhead as to be out of sight, and I observe that this is less a room than a vertical shaft filled with industrial machinery all the way up, so I begin to levitate and rise through the lattice of metal bars. When I get about three storeys up I see in the wall what looks like the worn wooden cover of a hatch, arched on the top and with a flat base. There is no handle and it looks like it would be too small to crawl through comfortably, but I figure I can make a portal in the wall here to pass through.

      Aiming my wand at the wall, I intend for a portal to form in the location of the hatch. Although nothing appears that I would recognize as a portal, the wall changes, the area in front of me becoming transparent, and just a few feet beyond I see a vertical transparent sheet of glass, apparently the wall of a neighboring building, a modern glass-walled high-rise. Directly across from me through the glass, I see what looks like the interior of a cafe, the sort of place the people who work in this building might stop for coffee or a snack on their lunch hour. It is dark inside and empty of customers, as it is nighttime, but I notice with mild alarm that several cops are running through the cafe and aiming guns at me! They seem very deliberate, as though this was a sting operation directed at stopping me. If they shoot, they'll surely break the glass and then I'll be exposed.

      I consider making the first move and breaking the glass myself to engage them, but I don't feel like getting into combat. I point my wand toward the cops with the intention of creating some kind of protective barrier between us, but I don't see any change and can't tell if this is successful. I decide to just get out of here. Making another portal directly in front of me seems like a bad idea, because the cops might shoot at any moment, so I get a bit creative and make the portal directly under my feet—all this time I have been hovering in the air, after all—and then I take what feels like a leap of faith and simply let myself fall directly into it. Would any pursuers be able to follow? As I fall, I decide that probably the best course at this point is to let the portal lead me to waking, and so I transition from feeling as though I'm falling through a round tunnel of undefined space to waking up in my bed and scrambling to start taking notes before the memories fade.

      It's interesting how clear and stable my dream memory remains—even of such a complex series of episodes—for as long as I am still dreaming, and it is only on waking that the whole fabric begins to thin and fray unless it is captured immediately. Fortunately there were no problems with my notebook this time so I jotted down the key details quickly by hand and then spent the next hour and a half typing up my full draft of the report while the memories were still fresh in mind. I don't mind devoting the time (and sacrificing the sleep) for it when the dreaming is so good!
    3. 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

    4. 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