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Dream Divination with Shadow Magic by Nikki Van De Car

Photo of author Nikki Van De Car. Credit to Johanna Reimer.
Author Nikki Van De Car / credit Johanna Reimer

Deepen your shadow work practice with bestselling author Nikki Van De Car’s forthcoming book Shadow Magic: Unlocking the Whole Witch Within.

Within these pages, you’ll learn how to uncover, understand, and celebrate your shadow through explorations of sigil magic, divination, the moon, protection magic, and more! Each section includes three spells for you to try: one for creativity, one for intuition, and one for self-love. And along the way you’ll encounter profiles of witches and women throughout history who embraced their own shadows, even when it wasn’t popular.

Start befriending your own shadow with this exclusive excerpt from Chapter 5: Dream Magic, covering dreaming rituals, lucid dreaming, and nightmares. Plus, learn how to make a spell jar to support the creativity of your lucid dreaming. Shadow Magic goes on sale on September 26th. Pre-order your copy at your favorite bookseller today.

Photo of "Shadow Magic" laid above starry background decor

Dream Magic

Interpreting your dreams requires little more than paying attention. But you can increase your understanding of them by being a little more intentional with your dreaming—through connecting with your dreams and making them an important part of your life. Start by keeping a dream journal, a notebook that you store by your bed and use to write down anything and everything that you remember as soon as you wake up, while your dreams are most clear. Once you’ve written everything down, you can begin to process and work to understand what your dreams were trying to tell you. Pay particular attention to recurring dreams or even just recurring themes within dreams, including dream locations that may or may not exist in waking life. When you dream the same thing over and over, your shadow is definitely trying to get something through to you.

You can create more intention by committing to rituals around your sleep. Here you’ll find one intended for before you go to bed and another for right when you wake up.

Pre-Dreaming Ritual
• Light a silver candle and do a brief meditation, letting go of the weight of the day.
• Spritz your face or your pillow with a gentle spray—one part water, one part witch hazel, and a few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oil (or any essential oils of your choice, whatever feels comforting and restful to you).
• Give a little tap on your dreaming spell jar as a little reminder to it and to yourself of your intentions for your night’s rest.

Post-Dreaming Ritual
It can be helpful to mull over your dreams during your morning meditation or while sipping a cup of tea. Write down any insights you find in your journal, and let your mind continue to ruminate over the course of the day. You don’t have to sit there and really think. Simply allow your intuition and understanding to grow. Pay attention to the details of your dreams, including:

• Events, like whether you got lost or couldn’t breathe, etc.
• Locations, including whether they exist in your waking life or only in your dreams
• Any emotions you felt
• Any people you interacted with, whether real or imaginary
• Any powers you had
• How you felt upon waking (rested, anxious, happy, etc.)
• When the dream occurred, including the time of night, the point in the lunar cycle, or under which moon or astrological sign

Eventually you will find that dream interpretation comes more easily as you become more fluent in the language of your dreams.

Illustration of a butterfly, from Shadow Magic by Nikki Van De Car

Lucid Dreaming

Once you have a handle on understanding your dreams, you can begin to control them. One step beyond intentional dreaming is lucid dreaming, where we don’t simply allow and seek to understand our dreams but instead actively choose them. This isn’t something you would want to do every night, as ordinary dreaming is an important way for you to look within and process the complexities of your life. But every once in a while it can be quite magical to explore this power.

To control your dreams, you need to be aware that you are dreaming while it is happening. The more you practice intentional dreaming, the easier this becomes, as simply paying attention to your dreams helps you become more aware of what a dream state feels like. Start by trying to recognize it and state to yourself I’m dreaming before attempting to change anything.

This is easiest in those moments when you’re just barely drifting off, like when you’re taking a nap or in the early morning hours. Once you notice you’re dreaming, see if you can choose a direction for the dream to go. If it’s a stressful anxiety dream, see if you can redirect yourself, perhaps by finding the hidden room you’ve been searching for over and over in your dream or by regaining control of a car you’ve lost the ability to steer. If it’s a gentle dream already, sweet and pleasant, see if you can explore a little. If it’s a heavily plotted adventure of a dream, see if you can make the story go the way you want it to. Lucid dreaming allows you to have agency in your dreams.

What do you want to explore?

Illustration of a bedspread, pillow, and journal and pen, from Shadow Magic by Nikki Van De Car

Nightmares and the Shadow

It makes sense that we would most often want to turn to lucid dreaming when we are faced with a nightmare. Who wants to experience the terrors we often encounter while we sleep—and ones that can feel no less real even after we are awake?

And yet, nightmares are extremely valuable. They help us understand and process fears and worries that we aren’t consciously aware of. Our worst nightmares—the ones that haunt us in our waking lives—are a direct line of communication with the shadow. As painful as they can be, these nightmares are also the best way to understand how to accept and integrate the parts of ourselves that we fear the most.

Instead of trying to lucid dream your way out of a nightmare—particularly if it’s a recurring nightmare allow yourself to get closer to it once you’re awake. Journal about it, paying attention to the details, and spend as much time thinking about what it might mean as you would with any other dream. In some nightmares we are being harmed, and in others, we are the ones who cause harm. The first doesn’t make you a victim, and the second doesn’t make you a perpetrator—remember, everyone and everything in your dream represents some aspect of you, and your dreams are a way of helping you work out how to love and accept all the parts of yourself.

• If you are being chased, who or what are you running away from?
• If you are losing control, who or what are you trying to subjugate?
• If you are being harmed or harming, what are you frightened of and trying to protect yourself from?

Dreams aren’t always about what they appear to be. That’s what gives them magic—whether for their ability to enchant us or their ability to reveal the deepest parts of ourselves. Take a look under the surface to determine what your dream is trying to tell you. It may well be something you already know but haven’t wanted to accept.

This is difficult work, but it can be so valuable. Understanding ourselves with complete love and acceptance is the most powerful magic we are capable of.

Illustration of candles and essential oils, from Shadow Magic by Nikki Van De Car

Creativity Spell

To support the creativity of your lucid dreaming, consider making a spell jar to keep by your bed while you sleep. Spell jars are a form of folk magic that dates back to the seventeenth century, and they are essentially a physical representation of a spell. Your spell jar is something you’ll want to refresh relatively often, depending on what recurring dreams you’ve been having and how you want to impact your own internal dream state. Start by considering what you want to bring to your dreaming. Do you need more peaceful sleep? More power? More courage? Or perhaps simply more understanding?

Into a small mason jar, put the following:

For peace:
a sprig of dried lavender, chamomile, or lemon balm
moonstone, azurite, clear quartz

For power:
dried mugwort, wormwood, holly, or calendula
opal, lapis lazuli, amethyst

For courage:
dried mint, cinnamon, or yarrow
amber, carnelian, garnet, red jasper

For understanding:
dried marjoram, rose, or sage
rose quartz, turquoise, malachite

Consider your intentions for your dreams as you add each item to the jar, imbuing it with your own energy, power, and desires. Take a piece of paper and write out your intention, being as specific as possible. Fold the paper three times—or any other number that feels right to you—and then place it in the jar.

If there are any items specific to your intention, like a touchstone you’ve used, add it to the jar as well. Sprinkle a little salt over everything, then seal the jar tightly. Anoint it with a little essential oil, using the following:

For peace:
lavender or chamomile

For power:
frankincense or ginger

For courage:
myrrh, cinnamon, or sweet orange

For understanding:
rose, sage, or bergamot

Place your jar next to your bed, allowing its energy to work on you while you sleep.

Dive Deeper

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Nikki Van De Car

About the Author

Nikki Van De Car is a blogger, mother, writer, crafter, and lover of all things mystical. She is the author of ten books on magic and crafting, including Practical Magic and The Junior Witch’s Handbook, and the founder of two popular knitting blogs. Nikki lives with her family in Hawaii.

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