Review by Patricia Grace

“She Who Dreams: A Journey Into Healing Through Dreamwork”by Wanda Easter BurchNew World Library, Novato, CA 2003$14.95 ISBN 1-57731-426-3
“She Who Dreams”is one woman’s awe inspiring journey through breast cancer into cure, using a “healing cocktail”of dream work, and surgery and chemotherapy. Of this partnership that Burch develops she says:
When the body is dealt a serious physical blow, doctors often take advantage of the situation, providing healing ‘options’that define healing within the narrowest of definitions. It is up to the individual to turn illness into a spiritual exercise and to bring dreams –and other alternative healing methods of choice –into the healing process. (1)
Burch’s astounding story is clearly of importance to those faced with cancer, and their families and friends. For instance, her paraphrase of Paracelsus:
The doctor is within each of us; we are our own physician and within ourselves we find all we need for healing. The power of the imagination is incomparable. It can both cause disease and cure disease. (2)
Her book has even farther reaching implications as a source of inspiration for using our night dreams for healing of all kinds, and for more effectively and consciously engaging our dream world with our waking one. And not only for dream work for ourselves, but for “dreaming for others,”a technique shared in the book, in which one dreamer’s healing dream provides a framework or springboard for others’dream work.
The story reverberated for me so deeply, on several different levels, that it was a slow read. I frequently felt impelled to stop and look through my own dream journals and Tarot reading notes to see how I might apply one of her insights or techniques to my own transformation, through which I have come about halfway. (3) I am endlessly encouraged and supported in this on-going journey by her statements like:
Healing within a dream is magic, because it is born in a space lacking the boundaries of physical reality. In that space miracles and magic are normal; the magic can be transferred to waking reality and to the physical body. (5)
“She Who Dreams”starts with Burch’s childhood, relating stories of her past so that we might better understand and relate to her journey, especially to the profound, magical relationship she has always had to the dream world. Later, the story of her trip to Africa, just prior to the medical diagnosis that would confirm what she already knew from physical symptoms and her dreams, is amazing and deeply moving.
The dream techniques Burch has developed in her healing process are clearly outlined, plus much, much more, including a resource-filled appendix. She outlines, step-by-step, how her dreams warned her, early on, of her disease and how at first she did not hear their messages. But once she does, how she and her dreams form an intimate partnership to help support her medical treatment and recovery. Resulting in a dream “renegotiation”of her soul contract for continued life, not death at 43 years of age as a very early dream had indicated. All of which is why at the end of her story Burch can truly state: “I’m not only alive because I dream, but I am the dream I choose.”(4)
Those of us who work with our dreams (6) are familiar with the term “big dream.”(7) That is, a dream that can change lives when honored and acted upon in waking life. After reading this book I am tempted to say that there are also “big dreamers.”Those whose dreams, dream, techniques, teaching about dreams, and dreaming for others can help others change their own lives. Burch, in my opinion, is just such a “big dreamer.”
Our dreams are real. We must look at them as another room in our life where we share and learn lessons for living, playing, communicating, healing and even dying. We must learn from our dreams and create space for them so they can speak to us in waking and sleeping. We not only see the future in our dreams, but dreams about the future give us the ability to make choices and shape the future for the better. (8)
For anyone concerned not only with healing –physical, emotional, or spiritual –but with how we can more deeply engage our night dreams in our lives’processes, this book is a must read.

Notes:

  1. Burch, p. 130.
  2. Ibid, p. 113.
  3. After struggling with obesity most of my adult life, I developed osteoarthritis in both knees and was a prime candidate for Type II diabetes. When I became almost totally housebound due to knee pain, I began my own healing journey and have, among other changes, lost over 100 pounds in the past year. Dream and Tarot work, along with friends and my M.D., serve as my own “healing cocktail.”I have been able to work since late summer 2003, and continue to heal and change.
  4. Burch, p. 285.
  5. Ibid. p. 204.
  6. Even if one does not remember their dreams “our ‘daytime imagination’is as powerful as a sleep dream”(Burch, p.264) and can afford us the same opportunities to explore and heal.
  7. This is not to belittle other sorts of dreams. All have their places in our lives. E.g., Burch describes how listening to her smaller dreams and learning how to trust them made her more able to hear and trust her big dreams.
  8. Burch, p. 41.

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I would be delighted to correspond with anyone reading this book about her or his own experiences and thoughts concerning it. I can be emailed at patriciagrace@yahoo.com
Originally published as:http://www.suite101.com/mybulletin.cfm/ PegasusDreaming/11768

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