A string of lucid dreams lately got me wondering whether I am a dream walker in the making. Some people say that a dream walker is someone with the ability to manipulate and control their own dreams, while others claim that it is someone who can visit other people’s dreams.
Dream walkers can be attributed to Shamanism. This is a religious practice centered around the Shaman, who is a person believed to achieve special powers through astrophysical experiences. Shamans believe that we all have the ability to leave the body and walk through dreams, and that through dream walking we can interact with the spirit world. By journeying into the dreamscape, Shamans can seek guidance from spirits or healing for themselves or others. In some cases, Shamans may even enter a state of dreaming while they are awake, allowing them to explore the spiritual realm. Dream walking is considered a sacred power that requires great humility and discipline.
So, it turns out I do not have the makings of a dream walker considering that there is more to it than lucid dreams. However, it occurred to me that less known than the Shamans are the dream walkers of Africa. I hail from a tribe in Sub Sahara Africa, and speaking from personal experience, I am often blown away by the metaphysical concepts that govern some of our traditional beliefs.
When it comes to the nature of life and existence, nothing is white and black as far as our ancient wisdom is concerned. One does not experience life in a linear way. Rather, it is believed that life and existence take the shape of a circle. It is a cycle where there is no beginning and no end. Sometimes the beginning is where the end is. The elders of my clan claim that other dimensions exist alongside our dimension. Un-perceptible to mortal senses, they exist on the threshold of our dimension. Here, in the spirit realm the ancestors are alive and well.
The elders frequently talk about the Halfway Land. They claim that it is the bridge between our dimension and the spirit realm. It is an intermediate state between life and death, awake and asleep. The dream walkers are the only mortals who can enter this liminal world. They speak a cosmic language with which they commune with the ancestors, carrying messages across the bridge from the spirit realm to the world of mortals.
Unlike in Shamanism where it is believed that anybody can be a dream walker, the elders say not just anyone can become a dream walker. You must be gifted and have the ability to distinguish between a regular dream and a spirit dream. Spirit dreams are messages from the ancestors and are taken seriously since what is proclaimed in the spirit realm has consequences in the real world. The idea of dreams having far-reaching consequences in the real world is fascinating, if not scary. What if the barriers between spirit dreams and the waking world were to crumble? Dreams and real life would blend all together. We would never know if we were awake or asleep, and maybe spirits too would begin to wonder whether they were dead or alive. This concept intrigued me so much that I created a web game based on it. Titled The Halfway Land, it’s worth checking out considering it is not every day you get to play an interactive web game based on African dream mythology.
Not to give away too much, the story begins when a city boy attends his uncle’s funeral in the village. Watching him lie there lifelessly while mourners gather around his casket, the boy recalls how superstitious his uncle was in life. He claimed that spirit realms existed alongside the world of the living. He also talked about the Halfway Land, which he described as a bridge between this world and the spirit realm. The boy can’t help but wonder if his uncle now walks in this so-called spirit realm. After all, in death he has officially joined the constellation of ancestors.
After the burial rituals are done silence falls upon the village as the mourners go to sleep, save for the boy who is awake in the small hours of the next morning, scrolling on his phone. Suddenly his phone emits a bright, white light that sucks him in. It swallows him whole, and the boy finds himself in a strange realm.
Play the game here to find out what happens next.
This game is free for you to play because it was made possible with the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council of Canada. By unreservedly sharing my game with you, I am simply paying it forward. So, thank you once again Ontario Arts Council of Canada.
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Feature Image: Photo by Kellepics