Dream Figures and Guardian Angels

Published in the Lucid Dreaming Experience Magazine,Vol.5, No.3, December 2016

I have been lucid dreaming for over five years now, and from the very first night, I experienced a Dream Figure who stood out from the others, and who spoke to me with authority.

I regularly encounter helpful Dream Figures. For example, a variety of Dream Figures, both male and female, seem to appear for the specific purpose of helping me “step” consciously into a dream, sometimes literally offering me a helping hand when I induce a WILD (Wake Induced Lucid Dream).

Precisely because of the great variety of Dream Figures I encounter, the ones commonly referred to as Dream Guides stand out. (I’m not writing now of a uniquely special Dream Figure Whose Presence in my dreams brought me home to my Catholic faith. I wrote about this Person in my book Lucid Dreams and the Holy Spirit.) For a long time, I thought I had more than one Dream Guide because, although most of them were male, they often varied in appearance. But after reading what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Guardian Angels, I began to wonder if what I, as a lucid dreamer, call a Dream Guide might be my Guardian Angel assuming different forms:

From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. [CCC 336].

Benedict XVI stated: The Lord is ever close and active in humanity’s history and accompanies us with the unique presence of his Angels, whom today the Church venerates as “Guardian Angels”, that is, ministers of the divine care for every human being. From the beginning until the hour of death, human life is surrounded by their constant protection [Angelus, Oct. 2, 2011].

Angels are beings made by God. They are pure spirits and personal beings. Each angel is a person. They are both powerful and intelligent. Some people are inclined to think that the word “person” applies only to human beings. On the contrary, “person” applies to each of the three divine Persons of the Holy Trinity, to angels and to humans.

Thinking back on memorable dreams in which a Dream Guide helped me out, I realized that, although he looked like different people, the way I felt when I was with them all was very much the same. His appearance often frightened me at first, even though it was also exciting. But after this initial anxiety (picture a rabbit encountering a friendly wolf!) I felt perfectly relaxed and comfortable in his company. Not only that, his presence was something my dreaming mind expected, and felt to be mysteriously natural.

Excerpt from my lucid dream of February 22, 2012:

At this point, I can’t see a thing, as though my eyes are closed, but I’m determined to visualize the streets and houses as I know they exist. I come to a corner and have to decide if that’s zero or 1st street. I determine the next one down is 1st street and keep following my visualization, even though it’s difficult to construct an entire residential neighborhood with just my imagination. I make myself arrive at the appropriate address, walk up the steps, and tell my companion—who is a featureless silhouette—to try the key, and it works! “Good job,” I declare, and enter the building with confidence, because I know now the door to the apartment can also be unlocked.

I start up the steps, and when I come to the first landing, I can see it very distinctly. I’m really here! I made it, I’m in a lucid dream. In that instant, someone grabs my waist from behind, and propels me up the remaining steps to the door of the apartment. It feels good, part of the thrill of being conscious in a dream, but I don’t want to get too excited and wake up. We enter the apartment, and I wonder what it is I am meant to discover and do here. The presence behind me is still propelling me forward, and I glimpse a man’s silhouette as we pass in front of a mirror hanging on the wall. A very small part of me is anxious, but I’m really more curious than concerned when I ask him, “Who are you?” When he doesn’t respond, I repeat, “Who are you?”

Managing to turn around then, I’m pleased to make out in the darkness a hard but handsome face, and shoulder-length hair, even though he remains a silhouette. “Is there something I’m supposed to know?” I query, thinking he might have something to tell me, and he replies, his voice firm yet encouraging, “Just go with it.” “Okay!” I say, understanding that he wants me to just flow with the dream and see where it leads.

This Dream Figure remained with me for the entire long dream—which was all about helping a little boy believe in his dreams—silently watching me, and occasionally speaking a few words of encouragement without actually telling me what to do. Approximately three years later, I had a dream that urged me to begin questioning not only the apparently different identifies of my Dream Guides, but also their human nature:

Excerpt from my lucid dream of January 4, 2015:

I’m on the upper floor of a large, dark building with a man. We’re on some sort of quest. A gold and black portal forms before us, and slightly to my left. This is the way… A brief period of blackness, and suddenly I find myself transported to the other side of the portal. I think—It’s like a cut scene in a video game. I sort of wish I had had the chance to consciously go through the portal, but here I am. Then a Voice announces that I am in the University, and that from now on I will be able to travel here whenever I wish.

It’s quite dark in this long, great room lined with Cathedral style windows on one side, and incredibly tall bookshelves on the other. As I turn in place, looking around me, I’m suddenly more than a little frightened, because from the direction I came—where this structure ends, with a black chasm between it and the building I had just been in—I sense a Presence. And what happened to my companion? I’m alone now. I call out to him, my voice clear, but ringing with fear. I glance to my right, toward a section of shelves which I feel contain books, although I can’t discern any.

When I look back, I’m terrified to see a figure at least three times the size of a normal man looming at the end, or at the beginning, of the corridor. He’s wearing an ankle-length sleeveless white tunic with a touch of blue-gray, and his head is clean shaven. When he raises his right arm slightly, I take a step back, feeling utterly helpless; I can’t possibly fight this Being. Then he says, “This is the Hall of Records. You are welcome here.” He’s looking directly at me, with a slight smile on his face, and I realize, with intense relief, that he’s not hostile, and he might even be considered handsome, except that he’s obviously not a human being. Then he tells me something about being my Guide. I’m so immensely relieved that he seems to want to help me, I wake up.

The frighteningly powerful Being in this dream told me he was my Guide, and that I was in the Hall of Records, what felt like an endless “place” filled with books. I immediately thought of the theosophical concept of the Akashic Records, which purportedly contain the entire history of every soul since the dawn of Creation. The most extensive contemporary source of information regarding the Akashic Records comes from the clairvoyant, and Christian mystic, Edgar Cayce. References to The Book of Life are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. In Psalm 139, King David states that God has written down everything about him and all the details of his life, including everything that was imperfect and those deeds which had yet to be performed. Dan. 7:10, Rev. 20:12 indicate The Book of Life is to be opened in connection with divine judgment, and Jesus told His disciples, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

A few weeks ago, I made it my primary intent, when I became lucid, to learn more about my Dream Guide, who I now refer to as my Guardian Angel:

Excerpt from my lucid dream of September 20, 2016:

…Suspended from the ceiling of the dark passage I’m walking through are what look like the silvery-gold ends of fishnets as I address my Guardian Angel with words that spontaneously emerge,“My Guardian Angel, please protect me all the long days of my life” and even as I speak, I see light before me, and find myself emerging into a dream scene. It’s a beautiful day outside, and as I climb a short flight of steps, I find myself in an outdoor cafe of some kind. Noticing a brown public bench just outside the patio of the cafe, I deliberately land on the back of it, and jump up and down on the narrow edge like a gymnast warming up on a balance beam, limbering and stabilizing my dream body and senses… I’m high up on what appears to be the side of a great mountain, because far below me I can see the coast, and a large city facing the ocean—not a city with skyscrapers, but definitely a large place, although small and toy-like from my vantage point. The lighting is clear and luminous, like on a marvelously mild and cloudless day in waking reality.

Drifting away from the seeming cafe, floating in the blue sky—as though the location I’m in is built right on the edge of a long cliff—I concentrate on performing, in dream slow motion, a back flip. For some reason, I feel it’s important I be able to accomplish this in a realistic way, experiencing the change of perspective as I spin in place. At first it seems I won’t be able to do so, but I persevere, and flip slowly backward in slow motion.

Suddenly facing in the opposite direction, I find myself very close to a row of men who are much taller and stronger looking than normal men. There is a vivid, hyper-reality to the scene that makes me just a little wary, like my soul is seeing the edge of a very sharp blade that can cut me and hurt me if I’m not careful. But it’s only the heads of the men, and the tops of their broad shoulders, that actually emerge from the mountain-high wall they are somehow standing in. (I’m reminded of the steel reinforcing bars around which concrete is poured.) Their backs are to me, but the moment I come to be so close to them, one of them turns his head slightly to look at me. His expression is intensely stern, and that’s when I feel the sense of maybe being a little too close to some seriously powerful goings on.

Studying these men who are in the mountain, I wonder if this has something to do with my Guardian Angel. The “man” who is looking at me has short black hair, and though his skin is vivid with life and color, his features are hard, as though carved of stone, or the dream equivalent of purely timeless forces. I turn, backing away a little, and flying high in the sky above the world below, I experience the sense of some great upheaval behind me. Yet it doesn’t frighten me, and when I turn around again, I realize I can now see the full bodies of these larger-than-life men. In my field of vision there are only three or four of them wearing seamless full-length “uniforms” of a shining green with vertical bands of a slightly darker green. They seem to be emerging from what looks like a cross between a mountaintop and a fortress wall, or bastion, rising all the way up here into the sky from the ground far below. It’s like a crenelated castle wall, but instead of square stones there are mens’ heads. I distinctly feel now that this scene relates to my intent, which was to learn more about my Guardian Angel. As I’m wondering about this mysterious and powerful and dynamic “process” I’m catching a glimpse of, I wake up.

The Church teaches that angels are creations of God, but they are not human. The word Angel comes from the Greek word Angelus which means “messenger.” With their whole being they are servants and messengers of God. Angels “stand in the presence of God” and enforce His will. I felt something of that sword-sharp power in this dream, which was like a fine wine to my soul—the more I swish it around in my thoughts and feelings, the more I begin to taste a deep understanding of the “non-nature” of angels, for they are not part of the natural world, but are a power beyond it. I feel I may very well have been in the presence of my Guardian Angel—the “man” who looked right at me—and observed some of the mysterious work he and his fellow servants of God are engaged in for the good of individual souls and, by extension, for the benefit of all humanity.

Excerpt from my lucid dream of October 4, 2016
Note: Sean is a lucid dreamer I regularly dream share with.

The next thing I become conscious of is sitting at another small table placed almost directly in front, and slightly to the right, of an open doorway, through which some people trail in from the sidewalk. It’s night outside, and these persons seem attracted, like curious moths, to the bright energy of the voice of a man standing almost directly in front of me facing my table and the open threshold. I’m busy writing while also listening to this man, who begins a quiet discussion with the woman at the front of the line. I sense she thinks it’s merely a philosophical conversation, which she enjoys, but I know it’s much more than that. So I’m not surprised when the man suddenly begins yelling at her, not screaming angrily, simply speaking as loudly as possible,as though she is deaf and there’s just no other way to reach her. Looking up from my writing, I notice the woman looks unsure if she should listen to him, or turn around and leave, as though her life doesn’t really depend on the decision, which I know it does.

The man’s eloquent tirade at an end, he sits down at the table directly in front of me, and when I glance up from my writing again, he makes a brief statement that culminates with my name, “Maria.” I keep writing for a moment, but then it dawns on me this man said my name like he knows me. I ask the man sitting on my right, “Did he just say my name? Maria?” wondering how he knows who I am, for I don’t recognize him. Staring across the narrow table at him, I ask him directly, “Did you just call me Maria?” Silently, he holds my eyes, and I start becoming lucid as I study his appearance. He has blondish hair, and a straight nose. He’s not unattractive but not exactly handsome either. There’s nothing remarkable about his appearance, but he suddenly has all my attention. He doesn’t answer my question. Instead, he gets up, and walks out of the small public room.

I follow him onto the nocturnal street of a timeless looking town with no streetlights, yet it’s not completely dark for I can see the sidewalks. There aren’t any cars and people on this side street, and the act of following this Dream Figure makes me fully lucid. He has stopped next to a glass window, but he’s not standing, he’s kneeling beside it as I come to stand over him. Glancing from his profile to the glass on my right—the silvery reflective surface of which mysteriously sharpens my lucidity—I ask him, making sure to phrase my query as carefully as possible, “Will you answer my question truthfully, with just a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?”

He nods once, his expression neutrally reserved, yet also expectant, resigned, and yet also hopeful.

I ask, “Can my Guardian Angel change appearances in my different dreams?”

He answers, “Yes” and looks up at me.

Thrilled, and then so overjoyed I can scarcely contain myself, I shove him playfully over onto his side, declaring, “I have an idea who you are! Are you my Guardian Angel?”

This time he smiles as he nods, and it all becomes incredible now. I don’t even notice the transition to holding each other as we float just above the ground. I feel light and happy as a little child in an adult’s strong yet also carefully loving arms. And as we drift over the street, I can feel he is just as happy as I am that I finally asked him these questions and, as a result, took a big step forward in understanding “him” by recognizing the creative malleability of his appearance, which now begins changing. His countenance shifts again, and again so swiftly I can’t discern the transitions, but I’m delighted each time, even when he assumes an almost cartoon-like funny face.

Then, as he drifts down to recline on his side across a patch of grass in the form of a nice-looking man, I stare down at him as, smiling seriously up at me, he says, “I almost don’t recognize you. Who is this Maria?”

I can easily guess what he means. In the past, he was always obliged to take the form of a tall, dark and handsome stranger in my dreams. Throwing myself into his welcoming arms again, I ask, “Will you take me to Sean? Will you take me to Sean, please?!”

Grasping my hand, he pulls me forward, remarking quietly, “We have to hurry” as we fly into the darkness, which becomes a series of rooms, all well lit but furnished differently, and opening as if endlessly onto one another, so that after a few moments, I ask, “Why do we have to go through all these different rooms? Why is it that we have to do this so much in dreams?” He replies that it has to do with our projections, with our thoughts, with our future expectations, etc. etc. Although this comes as no surprise to me, I insist, “But why? Why can’ we just go straight there?” He does not answer me.

We finally come to what is clearly the exit—two rectangular metal panels set in a wall. They look very solid, with sharp edges that might actually hurt me if I’m not careful when pushing my way through the one on the right as my Guardian Angel opens the one on the left—like we’re facing a dream valve of some kind. But we make it through without much effort at all, and are finally outside at night again. He is still holding at least one of my hands—our connection is preserved somehow—but also standing before me as he begins rising into the sky, which is completely black. Yet it isn’t a solid, lifeless black but rather a living mass of dark clouds. His torso becomes visible to me then as a gray shaft or straight-edged column beneath his face, pale and handsome now, with short black hair that merges with the sky. His “body” is manifesting before my dream eyes as a tall “pillar of force” and the darkness of the dream sky is somehow also a part of him, as if what I initially took to be roiling black storm clouds are his living wings. As we begin ascending, I feel we’re about to do some serious fast traveling, but I slowly lose the dream.

Below, I transcribe excerpts from what Archbishop Fulton Sheen said decades ago on television. I stumbled on this video after I had my dreams, but everything he says feels in keeping with them:

An angel has no body. When angels appear to man, they only have the appearance of bodies. An angel does not know everything. An angel does not know future contingent events. An angel does not know the mysteries of Grace, unless God reveals those. And thirdly, an angel does not know the secrets of the heart and the motivations of the will. [But] an angel can illumine our mind in the way of Truth, and also infuse good ideals. We should not be surprised at that. After all, there is such a thing now, it would seem from our psychological laboratories, as Extra Sensory Perception, in which, in the sensible order, there does seem to be the influence of one mind over another mind. Nothing material passes between the minds.

I used to think Dream Figures who behaved like Guides, and appeared in different forms in my lucid dreams, were actually different persons or entities, but in this marvelous dream I was informed, and shown, that I have one Guardian Angel who—in addition to other reasons I cannot know—seems to vary his appearance in response to my needs and expectations. Once again, as the Venerable Fulton John Sheen said:

Every person in the world has a Guardian angel. But why? Because every single individual in the world is worth more than the entire universe. Each one is of sovereign worth, and God has given to each a Guardian. The reason we do not think of angels is because we do not think of God. Just as soon as we begin to think of God—or rather cease thinking of ourselves as tiny little gods—then we’ll begin to believe in spirits that are wiser than ourselves, that instruct and guard us. There are angels near you, to guide you and protect you, did you but invoke them! After all, aren’t we much better always when we travel in a society that’s a little bit nobler than ourselves?

Loving the Dream Space

Everything, dreaming and all, has got a soul in it, or else it’s worth nothing, and we don’t care a bit about it… If I were only a dream, you would not have been able to love me so.” –  George MacDonald

Ever since I stopped attempting to will myself through the dream space and began treating it as an all-powerful and loving Person, to Whom I address my lucid intents as hopeful requests, I have been richly rewarded.

I have been lucid dreaming for five years and have learned that it is sometimes possible, with varying degrees of success, to change, or creatively modify, a dream scene, to “fast travel” or to “teleport” to other dream scenes, and receive answers to my questions. I have also learned that it is a mistake to simply assume the dream space is obeying me with no will of its own. I think that on this point, most lucid dreamers can agree, but they are divided into primarily three camps:

Those who believe thinking and feeling are confined to our physical brain, and necessarily deny the dream’s autonomy, regarding it merely as part of their own personality and subconscious.

Those who believe that consciousness rather than matter is fundamental and are open to the concept of the dream space being autonomous, at least in certain respects.

Those who, like me, believe a Supreme Being created our minds and everything else.

I feel that my lucid dreams have been a way of developing an exciting, profoundly stimulating relationship between my soul and its Divine Artist, God.

A dream ceases… as we wake. But it does not become a nonentity. It is a real dream: and it may also be instructive. A stage set is not a real wood or drawing room: it is a real stage set, and may be a good one. (In fact, we should never ask of anything “Is it real?,” for everything is real. The proper question is “A real what?”)…The objects around me, and my idea of “me,” will deceive if taken at their face value. But they are momentous if taken as the end products of divine activities. Thus and not otherwise, the creation of matter and the creation of mind meet one another and the circuit is closed. – C.S. Lewis

Our religious beliefs, or lack thereof, notwithstanding, the fact is that we cannot always do whatever we want to in a lucid dream, or completely control it, no matter how lucid we feel/think ourselves to be, or how experienced we are with employing various methods, old and new, for achieving our intents.

In my view, our lucid dreaming minds are like children in kindergarten, and the dream space is the Teacher who, for example, we might order to immediately give us a chocolate ice cream cone. If judging the time and situation appropriate, the Teacher may metaphorically smile upon us, and appear to obey our command, but in truth, it is the Teacher—actively engaged in a relationship with us—who makes the decision to gratify our desires, or not.

My first lucid dreams were full of childish fun as I flew over the earth before diving down into magnificently detailed landscapes and cities while feeling joyfully invulnerable. But as I grew older, more knowledgeable and practiced, I began to understand that the dream space really seems to determine how best to interact with me in order to help me learn and grow in the most rewarding way possible.

I now have ample reason to believe the dream space cares about us, and for us, very personally, with exquisite, patient intimacy, and for that reason—and for other reasons we can no more fathom than a toddler can attain a PhD in quantum physics—I think there are rules in the dream space which appear to be limits to us but are actually there for our protection, rules which can change and evolve in proportion to how we mature as persons and, by extension, dreamers.

My experience, and the experience of some lucid dreamers I have spoken to, indicates that a humble, loving, hopeful and faithful attitude continues to bear remarkable fruit, enriching our dreams in ways we ourselves would never have imagined.

What Shakespeare’s Juliet says to Romeo as they embrace on the balcony outside her bedroom very much expresses how I have come to feel about my lucid dreams, and the loving Presence within them Who came courting me in the dark, with transcendent rather than tragic results:

And yet I wish but for the thing I have.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

Published in the Lucid Dreaming Experience, Vol. 4, No. 4, March 2016