Copyright (C) 1998 by William Mistele. All rights reserved.
The Dialogue Method
Dialoguing is way of processing our experience. It connects us with
archetypal and spiritual energies. It gives us a chance to respond
personally to an encounter with magical beings or god/goddess images and
also with nature. Even when we may move into a sacred space during the
conversation, our own thoughts and feelings remain central in the
Conversations can take place on many levels. We can interact
verbally and also non-verbally. We can talk to a friend in a casual,
everyday setting. We can talk to God with the same casual familiarity.
We can also enter into a meditative trance or speak from the center of a
magick circle after preparing ourselves in a ritual manner. In each case,
there is a different quality and strength to in the connection and the
level of concentration we employ. Eventually, dialoguing becomes magick.
It naturally turns into telepathy, clairsentience, clairvoyance, and
evocation. At the same time, it is a helpful tool reminding us to stay
centered within ourselves.
To get a feel for dialoguing, imagine being welcomed by
old friends. Recall moments of giving and receiving,
of support and love. What are your best experiences with establish-
ing rapport or empathy with others? Recall when someone really
listened to you and when you did the same for someone else.
Also recall moments when you felt so close to other individuals
that you could feel their energy flowing through you.
Recall times when the unexpected happened, when people
showed you an unseen side of their personalities. What
have been your most magical moments with others, when the interaction
was delightful and they continuously surprised you?
After quietly recollecting these experiences, see
if you can bring together the feeling in all these different
experiences. Hold them within your mind at the same time and
allow them to blend and fuse together. Then answer the question,
"What is it like for you when you have attained intimacy and your
strongest sense of connection to another person?" Answer this
question in terms of your own experience.
To go further, notice briefly each of your five senses and
their involvement as you remember these experiences. How clear a
picture can you get of the other person? How well do you recall
the sound of the other person's voice? Do you remember the way
you felt at the time? Can you recall a touch, a kiss? Can you
recall any specific smells or tastes which accompanied these
experiences? Each of us has our own style of interacting with
other people and our own perceptual way of recalling personal
encounters. Notice whether some of your senses are stronger than
At this point let's try a brief dialogue activity. Imagine
one of your friends is standing in front of you. Get a sense of
this person being actually present. As you do this, notice any
change in your physical sensations, feelings, or mental attitude.
Simply by imagining the presence of the other person there has
already begun an interaction on some level--there is, e.g., at
least a faint exchange of energy occurring. One way to give form
to this interaction is by imagining the two of you talking back
and forth to each other.
Try this. After you have a sense of the other's presence,
spontaneously greet this person, ask a question, or sense a way
in which the other responds to you. Imagine you can hear what
the other person might say. Of course, in dialoguing, the
interaction does not need to be verbal. There can be a pure
exchange of feelings, visual images, or any combination of
Dialoguing with Nature
Choose something in nature which is full of wonder, beauty,
mystery, light, and/or spiritual energy for you. This
could be the moments of dawn or twilight; it could be a lake,
river, or ocean; it could be a rock, a stone circle, or mountain;
a wind, a cloud, a rainbow, the sky, a star, or the moon. It
could be a plant, an animal, or an elemental or spiritual being.
In the druid tradition, it is customary to ask permission to enter
into communion with nature. Asking permission is a way of connecting
and attaining empathy. It offers respect and indicates your intent to be
fully present and alert. To illustrate how dialoguing works, I will now
begin a dialogue with a Cottonwood tree.
Dialogue with a Cottonwood Tree
I approached the Cottonwood tree and raise my hand to
feel her energy. I then say, ""I request your permission to work with
you." I feel a very rich, vibrant energy returning to me in response
as the tree opens her aura to me.
Next, I contemplate the life of this tree. I
visualize and sense all aspects of its life, from its birth as a
seed, through its years of growth, and its experiences during
those years--days, nights, winds, storms, rains, droughts, and the
seasons. In my mind I follow the seeds it has released into the
I enter into a period of silent communion with the
the tree as it exists both inside and
outside of space and time--I am focused on its being, its exper-
iences, and its way of working with energy. In doing this, I
have brought into focus a whole constellation of sensations,
feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and energies.
I extend my mind also downward into the ground and feel
the lay of the land, its richness, moistness, its
compilation of organic material--the soil, rich in the
memory of fallen branches, leaves turned to dirt, streams
flowing, fields bare and waiting beneath the snow.
And deeper beneath the topsoil, the pathways of ancient
rivers, large rocks, the presence of forgotten ice ages,
mountains come and gone.
I focus again on the tree. Touching her is like
touching a living, breathing being.
I travel down into the ground again and pause among the
tree's roots and feel how they surge and uncoil in strong
growth during springtime. Here, there is so much life in the
soil between the roots I feel like dancing a dervish--while
the roots dig deep and are welded to the earth, above, the
stars spin circles in the sky.
And there it is again, I have heard this song before:
the roots of this tree hear the silence deep in the
earth--the near groaning and reverberating, the mantra the
earth sings to the stars and planets. Listen. Though
Tibetans chanting in saffron robes high in the Himalayan
mountains faintly echo this sound, it comes from far deeper
than the roots of mountains or the voices of men. Scientists
would call it the gravitational pull of the planets, but it is
far more subtle, multifaceted, and full of life and energy.
At the surface, the land is quiet and still. Yet I
can sense deep in the earth the fire and the will
which moves continents. In currents and tides,
this fire stirs ceaselessly in mysterious cauldrons.
I ascend now into the branches of the tree and linger in the
cold stillness amid the silvery touch of the moon and the
occasional brush of the wind. Like the infant bird in a
nest, I lie on the branch swaying with the wind and feel
myself embraced by both the earth and the sky. I feel too in
the trunk strength and stability.
As is my custom, I lift my hands up to collect energy.
Between my open palms, I gather together the life force,
the energy of earth and sky, of light and darkness, and the
elements into one shimmering ball of energy. I shrink then
shrink this ball down into the size of a grapefruit.
I gently guide this energy and it floats into the trunk
of the tree as a gift. Immediately, the tree awakens.
A tall, thin women appears in front of me. She is fragile
and gentle. She is both distant and near. She is the light
which casts shadows in a dream. She is the cry of geese
over water and beneath clouds lit by the ascending moon.
Her eyes touch me from an inner space as silent as winter
and the quiet longing of the Earth.
I join with her and we become one. With the fluidity of a dream,
I enter her body and form and join with her mind. And now I look out
at the world through her eyes. Although a part of my brain
remains familiar and can still think human thoughts, I see
with the eyes of the tree spirit.
My body is as still as a rock and I feel the earth
sleeping beneath the cover of the snow. I have entered into
a place between thoughts, not a silence, but a satisfaction
and contentment which is more than human will can know. I
feel her smile upon my lips and the fire burning within her
She then speaks to me in my mind. Her words, somehow
bearing sound and weight, say, "Come with me further, to the
the Center." And with her, without hesitation, I go. This
place is the heart of the year, of the cycle of time.
And I see the seasons are a necklace she wears.
And too, I feel the passion rise within her body, the
warmth in her hands, the blush in her cheeks. This...it is
the passion of Life joined with perfect stillness--a
knowledge that is one with the flow of time. And now her
voice sings this song:
Oh you, Sun above me,
You who awoke me when I was a seed
Hidden in the womb of darkness,
And you Mother,
Out of whom is woven my body and my soul,
With the Seasons are my seeds and leaves born,
And with the Seasons do they give birth and die,
And yet ever do I grow closer to You (the Earth and the Sky)
And turning again to me she says (with the vision of
passing seasons, a vine adorning her words) "Receive my gift,
you whose tongue gives voice with human breath to my song.
Know and be a part of this: in my heart, the heaven and the
earth are joined and round about me play their offspring
and children, the Seasons."
I stay here for a time, sheltered in her heart and in
her love, a traveler carried by and drifting on an ancient
river of the soul.
And from this space I now depart.
As we separate one from the other, I hold her hand and
touch her cheek. And in each other's eyes, a mirror
reflecting ourselves. We separate without sorrow or loss.
As I feel again my human blood flowing within my body
and not the sap of the tree, her presence slowly fades.
And yet something clearly still lingers within me--her
wintery, still contentment, the sheltering protection of her
heart, and her passion for the Mystery.
Comments on Dialoguing
When I dialogue, I first exchange an energy gift with the
part of nature with which I am working such as a tree or a
stone circle or an elemental being. I interact with
the image (which usually appears in human form).
For me, the most exciting part of dialoguing is being silent
in my mind as the feeling of the tree unfolds new perceptions,
energies, and memories within me. With partners in love, there
is such an attunement that one energy begins to flow right
through the core of both partners. This same experience happens
in dialoguing. And, as with lovers, it is inevitable that one
must put aside one's own identity to enter more fully into this
state of mutual energy and shared perceptions.
What often accompanies such an interaction is an emotional
release. This occurs as the energy exchange connects each partner
to a larger state of being. This happened to me in the dialogue,
because the tree was sharing its far more grounded and organic
connection to the earth than what I know through my own body.
The encounter reminded me graphically and kinesthetically
of the unnecessary mental clutter and emotional baggage which
I can let go of when I feel grounded.
The most challenging part of maintaining a receptive state
of silence in attuning to a tree is when I feel the energy
connection but I am unable to bring it into focus. Then I begin
to shift through my senses and memories as I freely
associate images. This requires a very light touch. It is like
being awake yet flowing among dream images, waiting for the one
to appear which is harmonious and reflective of the experience.
Thee visual image of what I see can be considered part symbol
and part spontaneous use of the imagination. The preliminary
generates strong feelings, sensations, and energies within my body.
I then take these experiences and translate them into a visual image
and real enough to me to embody their qualities.
In the above example I also shifted into a state of oneness
with the tree in which we briefly shared a common
energy field. In some situations, to facilitate a deeper experience,
it is possible to shift over to the other side and imagine
myself becoming the very thing I am visualizing.
The other crucial aspect besides visualizing a kind of human image
is transferring a gift of energy. This can be done through
chanting, singing a song, reciting a poem, breathing, etc. In
the above example, I imaginatively gathered energy from the air
and earth, condensed it into a ball, and offered it to the tree.
This energy apparently serves as a medium which the tree
spirit uses in creating images my mind can understand. It also
gives the tree spirit the charge of energy it needs to transport me
into different states of awareness. Long ago in reading Tolkein,
I loved the part where he says the elves woke up the trees
and give them voices with which to speak. This is my way of
joining the enchanting power in imagination with a little magical
In any case, consciously exchanging energy vastly magnifies the
depth of the interaction.
At the same time people who are very sensitive and receptive
may close he dialogue but still feel a strong influence from
the contact. In this case it can be helpful to imaginatively dissolve
any left-over, excess energy when you are done dialoguing.
Unless it is your intention to do other work such as healing, the
energy given was to further the dialogue process and not to
create a prolonged and direct energy connection. Otherwise, the
energy you put outside of yourself into something may continue to
magnetically influence you and possibly disturb your vital and
Other Points in Dialoguing
In dialoguing, it is necessary to maintain the full tension and
dynamic of two different things, bringing their whole being into
relationship with each other. If one side of the relationship
becomes either dominant or passive, the encounter is lost. In
dialoguing with nature, if individuals rely too heavily on their
own imagination instead of maintaining a focus on the other, the
dialogue turns into fantasy. This fantasy can be exciting or
nightmarish, but it is not transforming.
By contrast, if the other takes over the interaction, there
can be new information and discovery, but, again, there is no
transformation. The experience is passive. Like reading a
fascinating book, the experience can be very enthralling but
it remains vicarious. You play no part in the action.
When both sides of the dialogue are equally active, there is
a newness and unpredictability. The experiences may be familiar
and friendly, but there remains an awareness of being in the
presence of a sacred power and there is a profound clarity.
What is perhaps most important is remaining directly focused
on your own sensations, feelings, and perceptions. If you preserve a
sense of wonder, beauty, light, life, and love and if there is something
you deeply want to interact with, then you have entered into a state of
Once you establish a connection through contemplation and empathy,
you simultaneously feel new energy. Look for it. As you
remain focused on the energy, sensations, and feelings within
you, they begin to move and transform. To follow that movement
it is necessary to avoid clinging to them, shaping them, or being
afraid of them. Our mind needs to be utterly flexible using
images as a means to resonate freely with the energy, following
those which take us deeper into the encounter.
As with a person, we may think we know them, but then we may
resist and become upset when they show us a side of their
personality with which we are not comfortable. We want them to
meet our expectations. When we judge or label a friend, at that
very moment we are not giving them our full attention and we are
withholding our energy from them. Then our past experiences and
future anticipations are determining the course of
the interaction. Therefore, it is critical to not label or judge
what is happening. The encounter needs its own space so it can
unfold in its own way and reveal the new forms through which it
wishes to express itself.
Consequently, dialoguing requires that we constantly cross
over our own boundaries and challenge our assumptions. To do
this, our awareness needs to be flexible, to assume any form, any
feeling, any sensation. We need a level of acceptance able to
receive the unexpected without being restricted by fear or
attachment. When we come upon resistance in ourselves, a feeling
of being stuck, bored, or afraid, we can honor that limit for the
time being. We can also ask ourselves in what way we need to
become more open so we can go deeper into the experience.
Although dialoguing requires a meditative and reverential
state of mind, another ingredient is retaining our own mental
independence, shrewd alertness, and scrutiny. In dialoguing,
the images come alive when we ask challenging questions--
questions which bring to the surface our assumptions about our-
selves and the other. The other's response to a question may be
sarcastic or humorous.
One time, I asked a woman who appeared in relation to the
moon, "Where am I supposed to be with myself?" Her dry, cynical
reply was, "You are already where you are supposed to be with
yourself." Nature is also very playful and full of vast levels
of sensuality. Some favorite questions I often ask are, "What are
deepest dreams?" "Can you share with me your secrets?" "What are
A final note. The dialogue method is practiced in various
traditions with the purpose of understanding our feelings and
exploring various kinds of encounters. By projecting
outward into human form an image of a process unfolding within us, it is
possible to bring all our senses and intellect into contact with
that process and explore it further.
As we become more receptive to nature, the images
we perceive may take on their own life. They will appear
independent of us and dramatically alter the way we are perceive them.
For example, when I initially dialogued with dawn, imagining her as a
the female image was an embodiment of my own personal
sense of awe and wonder. The dialogue between the two of us was
a verbalization of my feelings. But after a while, the woman who now
appears acts with a profound wisdom and a vibrant sense of humor.
She guides me through emotional experiences which are far
more charged with energy than anything I can easily conjure
up through imagination.
For dialoguing to reach its full potential, it is always
necessary to remain objective and retain a questioning attitude.
On the other hand, many encounters may lead us to ask, "Is this a
real being or spirit I am contacting or a projection of my own
feelings and wishes?" Everyone is entitled to their own
answers to this question.
To check, you can try to sense if the other has its own
sphere of responsibility and works independently of your contact
with it. Another check is to evaluate the quality
of the experience. If you are getting power, intense feelings
and sensations, and all sorts of enchanting distractions but are
not becoming more whole, then you need to focus more on what you
are experiencing and avoid attachment to a specific being.
In other words, dialoguing is a process of transformation. This is
it is a way of encountering something both outside of and within
ourselves by bringing everything we are to bear on the experience.
Dialoguing is an I-Thou encounter. It brings out the creator and
the magician within us.
An aspect of psychic perception in the third-eye chakra is
that a person is able to be detached and objective about some-
thing, perceive all its connections to other things, and, in the
same moment, be completely one with it. In dialoguing, there is
this psychic quality of moving freely among dream images, feel-
ings, sensations, and meditations, and yet clarity is never lost.
Dialoguing is like akasha which is the origin of the four elements
or like a life long friend, there is always something new to be
shared or to discovered with each other.
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