A description of an online group approach to dream work that can give
deep insight into the unconscious. Use of the Internet can add a dimension
to dream work that was not possible without it. The Internet presents
us with features that enhance and reveal the psychological depth of the
work. The DreamEvents are private and confidential so publicly
available and generalised material are used in this
Charles, HipBone Games, and Magister-L
Psybernet and Psyber-L
Confluence of Psybernet and
Invitations and Description of the Events
the HipBone Game
on a WaterBird Board.
experience of the DreamEvents
Solitary Reflection in a
Patterns and the
DreamEvents as I call this approach to online dream work has many streams
of influence, I'll mention the two most important ones:
One influence is from group psychotherapy. I have learnt through many and
workshops using Psychodrama and other modalities to have a thorough respect
for the group as a window to the soul. A group, when it is consciously
shaped through shared purpose and commitment forms a container in which the
alchemy of soul work can happen.
The second influence is Charles Cameron's Hipbone Games.
The games can be used to inter-relate and comment on group members' dreams.
The HipBone games are natural to the medium of the Net. In 1996 I was
fortunate to co-facilitate a Dream Event with Charles
The DreamEvent approach grew out of the affinity between Charles and my
Charles, HipBone Games, and Magister-L
Charles, a poet
and professional writer in the USA, developed the HipBone Games: a family of
games inspired by the fictitious"Glass Bead Game" described in Hermann Hesse's
Nobel Prize winning novel, *Magister Ludi*. In Charles' own words:
"These games explore "associative" or "lateral" thinking
-- a style of thinking which is of great importance in creativity-- and
provide a number of boards which allow players to "map" ideas in such a way
that the links between them can be seen and articulated. Purely verbal
associative thinking has a long history within psychology: Sigmund Freud's
system of psychoanalysis makes use of it, for instance, and Carl Jung wrote
a book on Word Associations, while the "amplification" of dream symbols by
chasing down their associations and noting symbolic parallels within such
realms as mythology and alchemy is an important part of the Jungian approach
to "dreaming the dream forward"... The HipBone Games offer a means for the
notation of these associations and parallels,while focusing them down into a
"tight" form -- and thus offer an innovative tool for dreamwork."
Charles has an internet mailing list, MAGISTER-L, not just for
the discussion of HipBone Games, but to address the wider issues of
spirituality in games.
At about the time of our first Dream event there was an article in the Washington Post about the Glass bead Games and Charles
describes his game and uses the beautiful phase: "a virtual music of
Walter, Psybernet and Psyber-L
I have been
working on the Psybernet project for
some years, exploring the psyche and cyberspace. This has included providing
psychological professional services on the net.
I am the host of a mailing list, Psyber-L . The aim of the discussions in this group is
to help us become conscious of the effects of cyberspaces on the psyche. The
group is a starting point for professional depth psychological work on the
Net. The explorations can be deeply personal and group membership is by
application and has closed archives.
Confluence of Psybernet and HipBone
Charles and I
first met as a result of a conference to which we both submitted papers, the
European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research, EMCSR , one theme in 1996 was
"Theories and Metaphors of Cyberspace". Each of us submitted papers involving
metaphor and the Internet. Coming from different backgrounds we had a similar
feel for the psyche that enabled us to work together easily. Our projects
formed the basis for the 1996 DreamEvent and for the development of this
approach to dream work.
There have been two full DreamEvents. The first was in 1996 and
another event took place at the turn of the millennium. We used an
Internet mailing list for the group, and also made extensive use of the Web,
especially in the second event. Each group had about sixteen participants
each who had subscribed to the group via a listserver.
Listservers are computer programs located on computers scattered across the
Internet, which take email sent to a "list address" by a "subscriber" and
repost it automatically to all the other subscribers to that particular
"list". The second DreamEvent used a free service called eGroups, funded
by ads on each posting. Thus a dozen or five hundred people who share a
common interest in a particular topic area can "post" messages to others who
share their interests -- and when those others respond, the
dialogues can themselves spark further responses, and open up new
topics within the list's area of interest. Each new topic is called a
The DreamEvent, then, "consists" of the hundreds of messages posted to a
server which distributes these emails to the sixteen participants, over
the course of a couple of months.
Individual threads include
the members introducing themselves and making contact with each other,
dreams and the participants' comments on them, the nature of dreams in
general, discussions of the HipBone games which will be played on the list,
the function of form in relation to dreams and the arts, and more...
Crucial to the success of any group is the "warm-up" created by the initial
invitation. Also important is the framework and guidelines for the group
that participants agree to by joining. For groups going deeply into the
psyche the container for the unconscious processes is important. The
descriptions of the group are the foundation of the "space" for the dream
work.Invitations and Description of the Events
invitation to the first event, cooperatively written by Charles and myself,
formed the basis for this way of working. It described our roles as
facilitator, the place and purpose of the HipBone Game and the three main
phases of the group; preparation, linking dreams and closure. It concluded
with a statement of intent as well as a disclaimer:
"We intend to use this process as a vehicle for honoring the dreams and
the dreamers. We look to making this event a celebration. There will be a
place to attend to feelings as they arise in the work. These are our aims --
this dream event is the first of its kind, and we are in the hands of the
gods as to how things will turn out."
The invitation to the second
event , which I facilitated on my own, is based on the first.
It has a new way of looking at the overall duration of the group based less on
chronological time, but more on the group reaching of certain mileposts.
"As facilitator, I will structure the phases according to the group's
life and the completion of each phase and not according to chronological
time. Bearing in mind that times are a rough guide, three months is
offered for the three phases. The times to guide the phases are 3, 6 and 3
It is important that there is no rush and also that we do not have
unhelpful pauses. Some periods of silence may well be part of the natural
flow of the group."
We used the Web to record the game, and this involved the role of an
"The discussions will be in a mailing list using plain text and here will
also be a place to post graphics or other multimedia files. A hypertext
"Dreamevent Document" will be created as part of the group's work."
The Net is a vast interlinking not
only of machines, but of people. It has become a cliche to note that the net
is not about "information" but about people, knowledge, relationships and
conversations. When people link and connect in any group, psychological
dynamics manifest. The Psybernet Groups make that
aspect a conscious feature and we consistently address the art and science of
approaching the collective psyche in cyberspace.
Basics of the HipBone Game
Early on in these games we
describe how the game works. Instructions describing how to
play the game and make moves are posted to the list by the facilitator.
Important in this process are the resources on the HipBone website
and the game that Charles wrote to demonstrate the game to the Psyber-L group; the Bear Madonna
Each game uses a board on which to place the moves. In both the
DreamEvents we used the WaterBird Board. I see a similarity between the
Hipbone games, using a board such as the Waterbird board and the Psychodrama
stage as developed by J. L. Moreno. Both the empty board and the empty stage
give impetus to our creative drive, and provide a medium, a form for a
performance of the groups underlying hidden cohesion.
Fig.1 WaterBird Board
The HipBone game can be used to link dreams. Here is an example of
some moves in a DreamEvent. I will show just two moves here, though the
game can be seen on
the Web where it will be played on to completion.
Imagine I am in a DreamEvent with all the writers who ever
lived. We will use a dream for the content of each move and then the next
move, also a dream, will describe the associations to the moves that it links
to. A writer or I can make a move any time, it is a cooperative
game, we use the WaterBird board. I make the first move, and use
the format that is used in the DreamEvents:
Moved By: Walter Logeman
A Dream: Thu, 22 Jul 1999
I make my way up
to the fourth or fifth level of an old building, a hotel. There is a
conference, of elite people, some in tuxedos, others in hi-tech mountain
fashion clothes - beards. I am being chased, or simply wanting to get
out of the room and climb out of a window into the night, the window then
shuts, so it can't be opened again. I don't want to get back in
I am on an iron ladder of a fire escape, two or three lengths are folded
together and impossible to untangle while I am on them, but even if they were
unfolded, they lead nowhere, there is only a 5 story drop. I am content
enough on the ladder, but also unable to go anywhere.
This dream was important to me at the time. I felt
stuck. It also has a part to play in the story of the Dreamevent that
was to follow the following December.
Links to other
None, as this is the first move on the
Sunday, April 02, 2000
Move Two: Tempted to die, Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende describes a dream her mother had, and how she later
also had that dream.
"She would dream that she was in a boat in the middle of the ocean and
there was a tempest. The boat sank and she had to save the kids. She could
only save one. And she had three. She would be swimming from one kid to the
other trying to keep them above the water. But she knew that she would have to
make up her mind and save only one. That was her recurrent dream.
"I had a similar dream for a while that I had to save one of my two kids.
Fortunately the dream is gone. The worst year in my life was probably 1978. I
usually say that it was I973, because that was the year of the military coup
but the consequences of that event were apparent to me only in 1978. In I978 I
realized that all my life had been destroyed. I thought at that time that I
wouldn't have another opportunity. I'd been struggling all those years to
survive and then, in 1978, I gave up.
"I wanted to die. And so I started having that dream my mother's dream the
dream that I had to save one of my kids. I had to make a choice. And in the
dream I was tempted to die in order not to make that choice. I would rather
drown myself and let everybody drown so that I wouldn't be forced to make the
choice of saving one of them.
This dream is from the marvelous book of interviews by Naomi Epel,
Writers Dreaming. Bookman Press 1993, Melbourne. Pages 17
Isabel Allende goes on to say:
"By thinking about the dream and writing about the dream I realized that I
was escaping from them and from everything. It helped me a lot. I could start
again. I got a job and I started working because I'd decided that my only goal
was to educate my children."
Links to other positions:
Hanging Ladders:While the Hanging Ladders dream does not have the life and
death choices of the Isabel Allende's dream it also a dream about a dead end,
about having nowhere to go. Death is an option in both dreams.
Added: Monday, April 03, 2000
Move Three: Sophie's Choice, William Styron
The obvious move to link with Isabel Allende's dream is this dream
or vision from William Styron. The dream is from the same book of
interviews by Naomi Epel, pages 272 -273.
I'd been working on a book that was not coming together for me
at all. I had been slaving away at it and was getting very upset over the
fact that it wasn't proceeding well. And one morning I woke up with this
lingering vision. I don't like to characterize it as a dream, although I
think it had the aspects of the remnant of a dream. I think there was a
merging from the dream to a conscious vision and memory of this girl named
Sophie. And it was powerful because I lay there in bed with the abrupt
knowledge that I was going to deal with this as a work of fiction. That I
had to abandon the other book I was trying to do and, because of her,
because of all of the resonance surrounding her story, I was suddenly going
to have to write the book which later became Sophie's Choice. That very
morning, I remember I walked over to my studio and wrote down the first
words just as they are in the book, and went from there to the end without
any deviation to speak of. So, in a sense, you could say that the whole
concept of the book was, if not the product of a dream itself, the product
of some resonance that a dream had given me.
Links to other positions:
One, Hanging Ladders: The dead end of the book that was being written at
the time of the dream, the abandoned project has a similar feel to the dead
end at the end of the chase.
Tempted to die, Isabel Allende: Isabel Allede and her mother before
her dreamt she had a Sophie's Choice.
Monday, April 03, 2000
Move Four : A Glass in
Moved by: Walter Logeman
A dream: Tue, 21 Sep 1999
I've not had dreams I'd call prescient. I sometimes have
dreams that I seem to give me advance notice of my own direction and where I
am at in myself. For example I had a lot of dreams for a while where I
was hanging in a stuck place. No way out except for a big drop.
Then I dreamt:
I slipped on a wet, natural, rounded stone floor, landed on my
side, quite gently, and was holding a glass in each hand. I looked at
the glasses with surprise; I had not dropped them in the fall, or used my
hands to break the fall.
I had no idea what the dream was about, until I realised it was on
river bed rock. I was no longer hanging. I'd made a shift. I felt
the shift then in many ways in my life. One of the results of that dream
was to set up the DreamEvent!
Links to other positions:
Hanging Ladders: This dream was in my mind the resolution of the earlier
dream. What seemed an impossible state in the other dream has an almost
Tempted to die, Isabel Allende: I saved both the glasses. They
represent two of my creations, if not my children. In both dreams there is an
emphasis on the number two. I have a sense of saving the two offspring in my
dream and no longer being stuck. Isabel Allende also moves in a flash from
being in the impossible situation, to "educating her children"...
which again relates to nurturing the creations I associated with my two
Three: Sophie's Choice, William Styron: My sense of clarity
and creativity as a result of my dream is well summed up in William Styron's
So, in a sense, you could say that the whole concept of the book was, if
not the product of a dream itself, the product of some resonance that a dream
had given me.
Tuesday, April 04, 2000
These four moves are by way of example of the Moves on the board. The
example, though it alludes to my process in deciding to conduct the DreamEvent
later that year, can only show us the Game aspect of the DreamEvent not the
actual life of a group. In the privacy of the group the process can be
intense, complex, personal and immediate. Those dramas should remain
private. It is only in the privacy of a group that they can actually
occur in their fullness.
It was a delight to meet the other "dreamers and
players", knowing that even as we met we were sharing thoughts feelings and
images that might return in our descent into the dream world. The dreams
flowed in, major archetypal dreams with glowing biblical association as well
as single humble images. Rapidly we learnt to make links. The
groups were lively and spontaneous. On each occasion more than a
hundred dreams were posted and as many poems, some original and some chosen
because they amplified our themes.
In both events the group life, as group life does, became more
complex. Difficult for most of us at times, and almost impossible for
some. The complexities in our histories and our psyches made a
potent mix! I noticed that the drama enacted on the board as moves were
made in the HipBone game spoke directly to the dynamics of the group. If
the group was slow and heavy, the dreams shared with the group had slow and
heavy images, and the game's progress itself was slow and heavy. Or it
could be that floods of email mirrored by dreams of floods.
From the first event I learnt that the process takes more time than the six
weeks we allocated. The group closed after a full and thoughtful
sharing, six months or so after we started.
After the first event I had a sense of psychological overuse. It took a
while before I wanted to submerge into the psyche like that. I also knew that
we were on the edge of something new. The medium of the Internet was
enabling us to explore the psyche in a new and revealing way. The
DreamEvent, I can see has a format that can be developed to be as exciting and
fruitful as that first event.
Features of the DreamEvent
The DreamEvents bring a freshness to the exploration of the psyche that I
think is as exciting as the introduction of the couch or the 50 minute
hour. The features of these events are in themselves simple
facts. Each of these facts has a profound consequence. I will
conclude this article with a summation of those features.
There is the Game and the Group. The DreamEvent
combines a cooperative form of the HipBone game with the psychological depth
approach from Psybernet groups. I think of them as twin aspects of the
DreamEvent, twins that work together.
We operate on the Net with some of
our faculties maximized, such as writing and seeing our inner thoughts on a
screen in words. We are already in a place where we are with people who
we partially construct out of our imagination. We meet the dreams in a
place that is close to where they come from.
Solitary Reflection in a Group
The contradiction that
is inherent in the life of some monks in monasteries is that they are hermits
in a commune. Being in a group on the Internet is like that. The writing
up of our dreams and contemplation of them in silence, a natural and
traditional way to explore dreams is not forsaken as we are at the same time
in a lively and busy group.
Patterns and the Psyche
The very stuff of the psyche:
associations, the naming of themes and patterns, the naming parallel processes
are present in the play of the HipBone game which uses these very things that
are traditional in psychotherapy.
We do our dream work within form:
within the form and containment of a closed and private group, within the form
of the HipBone Game and the structure of the WaterBird board. There is also
the definite, though mysterious containment that comes from the contours
provided from dreamworld itself.
Campbell described ritual as the enactment of myth. Dreams may not
be myth. but they are close. They have been called the dreams of a
culture. Through learning to use the precise form of the Games and honoring
the purposeful act of making moves we are in the process of finding
a new ritual that opens the doors into the imaginal and sacred places that
older rituals opened in a past era.
The psyche is invisible without a
medium. The psyche comes to life or some would say only exists once it
is reflected. The DreamEvent is a medium. Participation in
these events has made it clear that such structures as the "50 minute hour" of
psychotherapy are forms of media that enable the psyche to manifest.
My thanks go firstly to Charles Cameron for being a friend, for
his work on creating the HipBone Game, for his involvement in the first
DreamEvent and for his work on the initial drafts of this article, which
originally we thought we might write together and which has phrases throughout
that originated in his mind and came from his keyboard. Thanks to Richard
Wilkerson the editor, for persisting in extracting this article from me. I
need a deadline to get these things done, and he provided several! Warmest
thanks to the participants in the DreamEvents I hop this article does the
process justice, though I know it is barren compared to the riches of the
experience. To all in Psyber-L to whom I feel bound by the contours of that
container as well as the bonds we make.
Version 0.9 Monday, April 03,
2000 revised for ASD Dream Time
Walter Logeman is a psychotherapist in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1993
he began developing the Internet project Psyber-L, a group for experiential
learning about online depth interaction for people doing psychological work on
the Internet. http://www.psybernet.co.nz/