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Monday, March 30, 2009

REVIEW of The Secret History of Dreaming, by Robert Moss


by Robert Moss
Publisher: New World Library
ISBN: 978-1-57731-638-1
Price: $23.95

"[D]reaming is waking up to sources of guidance, healing and creativity beyond the reach of the everyday mind." Robert Moss

When I first spotted an ad for THE SECRET HISTORY OF DREAMING I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. The title alone is hope-inducing for those of us who are long-time dream workers in a society that as a whole still under-values night dreams, coincidence, and imagination, not recognizing their impact “as secret engines in the history of all things human” (p.xi). And I have not been let down by this book by Robert Moss that delves into the ancient and modern cultural history of dreams, as it unearths, explores, acknowledges, and learns from dreams and how various cultures and individuals, both past and present, have related and responded to this vast common arena of human experience.

Many years ago at an Association for the Study of Dreams Conference in New York City, I attended one of Robert Moss’s workshops. I was impressed and encouraged then by the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and moved by his sincerity and dedication. All of which are apparent now in THE HISTORY OF DREAMING, along with his clear writing, careful scholarship, and what I would call intelligent imagining.

That last, intelligent imagining, is what I find most exciting and hopeful about this well-researched book. If anything can help to further open our society to an awareness of the value and impact of dreams and the imaginal realm as a whole, it is this sort of research and writing. Despite some initial resistance on my part (which I go into below), I quickly found Moss’s intelligent imagining of the dreams he explores reveals the value of dreams and the imaginal in a powerful, immediate, and accessible way. This is not fantasy or creative writing, this is diving personally with all of one’s faculties at hand, into a dream archeological dig, if you will, and unearthing new artifacts and/or displaying, revisioning, or appreciating familiar ones. All of this backed by extensive research (e.g., there’s a large, impressive bibliography).

My one concern, alluded to above, is that Moss does assume an acceptance of and familiarity with certain metaphysical and imaginal concepts on the part of the reader, such as “metahistory,” offering little clarification. Although this is not necessarily a book written to teach these sorts of concepts, to leave them only lightly brushed upon and not supported in the notes, might weaken his overall argument for readers not already on board with these understandings.

My deepest hope for his book, given its basically careful, thorough, and scholarly approach, is that it be read by and move the minds and hearts of folk not already inclined to embrace our dreaming/imaginal consciousness and its gifts and possibilities. Another hope is that Moss's book is in the vanguard of many others in a similar vein from other dream explorers, further aiding the opening of our society to imaginal awareness.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF DREAMING is a must read for anyone at all attracted to dreams and the imaginal realm, but would also be of great interest to those drawn to explore human history and states of consciousness. Also to anyone wishing to take a unique journey through a largely unexplored land. I highly recommend THE SECRET HISTORY OF DREAMING.

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‘til next time, keep dreaming,

**** [aka: Patricia Kelly] **** If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)****My other blogs: ROSWILA’S TAROT GALLERY & JOURNAL and ROSWILA’S TAIGA TAROT, and Yahoo DREAMJIN: Group for Dreamku – Haiku-Like Dream Poems ****

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