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The Secret History of Dreaming Hardcover – December 16, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This splendid book is destined to become a classic, one that transcends disciplines and provides an agenda for the role that dreams can play in ensuring human survival.”
— Stanley Krippner, PhD, coauthor of Extraordinary Dreams and How to Work with Them

“Erudite, brilliant, and delightful...the first history to pay serious attention to the sacred art of dreaming as practiced worldwide by women as well as by men.”
— Barbara Tedlock, PhD, author of The Woman in the Shaman’s Body

“Robert Moss is dragging us, kicking and screaming, into a new vision of consciousness, space, and time. Our understanding of consciousness can never be adequate without taking into account the dream events chronicled by Robert Moss in The Secret History of Dreaming. Moss describes how we can acquire accurate information in dreams about future and distant events. This terrific book strikes the perfect balance between information and entertainment. Moss is a storyteller par excellence.”
— Larry Dossey, MD, author of Healing Words

The Secret History of Dreaming is a masterly survey and exploration of how inner, dreamed realities have generated core historical realities across time and space. A great and very informative read.”
— Iain R. Edgar, PhD, professor of anthropology, Durham University, and author of A Guide to Imagework

“Robert Moss is a dynamo in dreaming. A modern-day Waymaker, he guides us as travelers through the sea of dreams, starting at the source in ancient times, and challenges us to a consciousness shift into a future safe harbor as a dream-appreciating culture. Robert’s research reveals a treasury of secrets never before published in any book on dreams. Robert makes dreamers such as Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc, Mark Twain, and Winston Churchill come alive. A brilliant, must-have book!”
— Rita Dwyer, past president and executive officer, International Association for the Study of Dreams

“Robert Moss is a brilliant teacher of the immense and intimate field of dreaming. Nearly anything imagined, from invention, to strategy to poetry, has its roots in dreams. Moss deftly and powerfully demonstrates that dreams are the spirit body from which this world emerges. The Secret History of Dreaming is an essential text and should be included alongside any study of human history or scientific inquiry.”
— Joy Harjo, poet, musician, and author of How We Became Human

From the Inside Flap

Evolution, Science, Religion, Literature, War, Politics, Medicine, and Survival — How Dreams Drive the Human Adventure

What do the first major oil discovery in Kuwait, Mark Twain’s fiction, and Harriet Tubman’s success conducting slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad have in common? They were all experienced first in dreams.

Dreaming is vital to the human story. It is essential to our survival and evolution, to creative endeavors in every field, and, quite simply, to getting us through our daily lives. All of us dream. Now Robert Moss shows us how our dreams shape world events and why deepening our conscious engagement with dreaming is crucial for our future. He traces the strands of dreams through archival records and well-known writings, weaving remarkable yet true accounts of historical figures who were influenced by their dreams.

In this wide-ranging, visionary book, Moss creates a new way to explore history and consciousness, combining the storytelling skills of a bestselling novelist with the research acumen of a scholar of ancient history and the personal experience of an active dreamer. With eloquent prose, Moss describes beautiful Lucrecia de León, whose dreams were prized by powerful men in Madrid and then recorded during the Spanish Inquisition, as well as the fascinating dream correspondence between Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli. Building on the foundation of decades of original scholarship, Moss explores the past yet also reveals lessons that can help us create a better future. The Secret History of Dreaming addresses the central importance of dreams and imagination as secret engines in the history of all things human, from literature to quantum physics, from religion to psychology, from war to healing.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library (December 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157731638X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577316381
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Moss is the pioneer of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of shamanism and modern dreamwork. Born in Australia, he survived three near-death experiences in childhood. He leads popular seminars all over the world, including a three-year training for teachers of Active Dreaming and lively online courses for The Shift Network. A former lecturer in ancient history at the Australian National University, he is a best-selling novelist, journalist and independent scholar.

His many books on dreaming, shamanism and imagination include Conscious Dreaming, Dreamways of the Iroquois, The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination, The Secret History of Dreaming, Dreamgates, Active Dreaming, Dreaming the Soul Back Home, and "The Boy Who Died and Came Back: Adventures of a Dream Archaeologist in the Multiverse." His latest book is "Sidewalk Oracles: Playing with Signs, Symbols and Synchronicity in Everyday Life."

Moss is also the author of Here, Everything Is Dreaming: Poems and Stories (Excelsion Editions, 2013).

Moss describes himself as "a dream teacher, on a path for which there has been no career track in our culture." He identifies the great watershed in his adult life as a sequence of visionary events that unfolded in 1987-1988, after he decided to leave the world of big cities and the fast-track life of a popular novelist (already the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including Moscow Rules) and put down roots on a farm in the upper Hudson Valley of New York. Moss started dreaming in a language he did not know that proved to be an archaic form of the Mohawk language. Helped by native speakers to interpret his dreams, Moss came to believe that they had put him in touch with an ancient healer - a woman of power - and that they were calling him to a different life.

Out of these experiences he wrote a series of historical novels (The Firekeeper, Fire Along the Sky, The Interpreter) and developed the practice he calls Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of contemporary dreamwork and shamanic methods of journeying and healing. A central premise of Moss's approach is that dreaming isn't just what happens during sleep; dreaming is waking up to sources of guidance, healing and creativity beyond the reach of the everyday mind.He introduced his method to an international audience as an invited presenter at the conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams at the University of Leiden in 1994.

Core techniques of Active Dreaming include

The "lightning dreamwork" process, designed to facilitate quick dream-sharing that results in helpful action; the use of the "if it were my dream" protocol encourages the understanding that the dreamer is always the final authority on his or her dream
Dream reentry: the practice of making a conscious journey back inside a dream in order to clarify information, dialogue with a dream character, or move beyond nightmare terrors into healing and resolution
Tracking and group dreaming: conscious dream travel on an agreed itinerary by two or more partners, often supported by shamanic drumming
Navigating by synchronicity: reading coincidence and "symbolic pop-ups" in ordinary life as "everyday oracles".
Dream archaeology: melding the arts of shamanic dreaming with scholarship and detective work to access other times and cultures and bring back fresh and authentic knowledge that can be tested and verified.
Exploring the multiverse and the multidimensional self.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Trailblazer Robert Moss has written a masterful combination of scholarship, story, historical fact, and guidance for living in our turbulent current times. It's an important addition to his previously published books, all of which I've found to be excellent. The "understory" of how dreams have shaped history not only makes for fascinating and enlightening reading, it also fosters imagination about how we can create a positive future by tending to our dreams in a consciously active way. I'm especially inspired by the chapter about Joan of Arc and the Tree-Seers, with its story about how this remarkable peasant woman drew her strength from nature and dreams. And the epilogue left me feeling encouraged and empowered by the power of dreaming--humanity's common denominator.
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Format: Hardcover
This fascinating and entertaining book is for everyone, and is especially informative for anyone who may doubt the value of dreaming. These are true accounts of amazing events, many that have directly influenced the lives of countless people in complex ways. If you believe in the power of dreams and the importance of taking action on your "Big Dreams", you will be inspired. If you haven't taken your dreams seriously, after reading this book you will find yourself introduced to a world of possibility you've never imagined, a real source of wisdom within us all. A beautiful read.
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Format: Hardcover
THE SECRET HISTORY OF DREAMING is an absolutely "must have" brilliant book that touches that place in our soul that most wants to understand all that is and all that has brought us to where we stand today and where we are going tomorrow.

Robert Moss - standing firmly on the foundation of original scholarly research - peels back the shallow skin of history, made dry and brittle in the omission of dreaming, and reveals the secret places in the mind where the creative imagination comes alive. Robert synthesizes a vast repertoire of historic records from the oldest dream of Dumuzi through a fluid time-line of spies, statesmen, writers, scientists, warriors, and creative artists, restoring the roots, rhythm and role of dreaming as the missing dimension that drives our understanding of science and literature, war and religion, medicine, romance and intrigue, the most beautiful and the most terrible events that chronicle our survival and the survival of our world - and with superb clarity delivers the past we need: the lessons and knowledge that will serve and sustain humanity and further its evolution.
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Format: Hardcover
The Secret History of Dreaming gave me so much concrete information on people we know who used their dreams to change history. I had no idea how much Harriet Tubman used her dreams for the underground railroad. Mark Twain and Winston Churchill and many others really paid attention to their dreams and the happenstances of their lives. It was so interesting. I also learned a lot about going to my own dream library and seeing what is there and what I can use in my own life. Thank you , Robert Moss, for another great book.
Valerie McCarney
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is brilliant! Being a dream scholar and former professor of ancient history, Robert Moss is the perfect authority on this subject. No wonder the book is fascinating, entertaining, easy to read, and hard to put down. What more can you ask for?
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Format: Hardcover
Robert's book brings to life the rich history of how dreams have shaped our cultures and our world throughout history. It brilliantly details many cultures and individuals who honored their dreams and honored the gifts they were given. By detailing this rich history we can fully understand that we, today are just like these individuals in history. Dreaming is a gift of spirit and a way for us to connect to our deeper self and our souls desires. By understanding the deep, rich history of dreaming we can better understand how desperately we need to bring a dreaming society back into the now. Robert is a creative story teller and detailed historian. He knows how to bring history to life. It's hard to put the book down.
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Format: Paperback
Let me say first off I appreciate the fine job Robert Moss did researching and writing the Secret History of Dreaming. Stories which include Synesius of Cyrene, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Aleksei Remizov, Joan of Arc, Lucrecia De Leon Harriet Tubman, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and many others will definitely keep your attention. I found myself wanting to read more of their histories.

There are many nuggets in this book related to dreaming which resonate with me. For example, "Working on a dream is not about laying bare some hidden message, but about giving a pitch-perfect voice to what is there, in front of you (117). Like many of those featured in the book, I keep a dream journal or at least try to reflect on my dreams upon waking. No need to go to a dictionary of dream symbols.

Problem for me is, this book has less to do with what I normally associate with normal dreaming than it does with divination, visions and visitations (angelic, demonic, visitations from the dead, etc.). Dreams according to Moss transport one out of the body, can frequently be vehicles for prophecy and predicting the future, for spying in wartime and political situations, image healing, etc. Often the dreams of the dreamers include dream guides. But who or what are these guides in reality?

In the epilogue Moss concludes with how "we need to revive and nurture the true art of seership." This includes those who function in the role of 1) "receivers" (waking or sleeping) who communicate with dream guides which often include the deceased 2) "travelers" who literally go to other places in this world or possibly other dimensions in their dreams and 3) "far-seers" with expanded perspectives.
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