Dream Group

Led by Stephen and Robin Larsen, assisted by Jessica Koock (Yiskah):

This year our Stone Mountain Dream Group enters its 15th season. The group meets for 3 hours every second and fourth Saturday of the month, from 10AM to 1PM. There are two semesters, the first beginning in September and ending at the end of January, and another beginning in February and finishing in June. Bagels and coffee or tea are customary.

The group is consolidated by the second meeting each semester. People may apply on this website, or call for an interview (845-658-8540) with Stephen or Robin. Participants are expected to be emotionally mature spiritual seekers who are interested in going deeper with dreamwork. Membership is determined by mutual agreement of leaders and participant, and participants are expected to hold confidentiality for other participants and the events that may take place in the group. The first two groups of each semester are for people to see if they feel like a good “fit” with the dreamgroup and find the work beneficial.

The Stone Mountain Dreamgroup was an outgrowth of a clinical dreamwork group led by Stephen Larsen and Robin Scherm, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. Those early groups, dating back to the 1980’s, were primarily oriented around clinical dreamwork, giving mental health therapists, psychologists and social workers supervision for their own dreamwork with clients. In the early 90’s Robin Scherm moved her practice to the Woodstock-Phoenecia area (where she still practices, as well as at Maverick Health Center). Robin Larsen, PhD, Stephen’s wife, an exhibiting artist and fellow student of Joseph Campbell, joined Stephen in leading the group.

The Gifts of the Dream
The Gifts of the Dream

Over the years, our emphasis shifted from the clinical to the creative–without losing sight of the fact that dreams can be enormously helpful to people on the personal and psychological levels. Joined in the early years by art therapists, artists, writers and other cultural creatives, the group evolved its own unique style. Our members have studied with Jeremy Taylor, Native American dream teachers such as Ron Evans, Robert Moss, and Ione of the Deep Listening Foundation (in Kingston). Stephen and Robin studied with mythologist (and dream interpreter) Joseph Campbell for twenty years; while Stephen studied for the same length of time with Edward C. Whitmont, MD, training analyst at the CG Jung Institute (during that period Stephen also completed 5 years of clinical supervision).

Carl Jung said the best way to understand a dream was to learn every possible theory and method, and then when you are in the presence of the living dream, forget them all. This is the underlying method of the CSS dream group. The ancient ways in which our ancestors learned their dreams (and created their cultural mythologies) were sharing of dreams in groups. Intellectual interpretations are avoided, and responses are offered in the spirit of “if this were my dream.” The group also produces spontaneous enactments, drawings and poetry, which are shared; and as a long-standing tradition, each three hour group finishes with a spontaneous poem offered by each participant. Poetry allows for non-judgemental and yet empathic responses to dreams and their images, that help to stir-up the creative juices for participants. In this way in a sense, each person’s dream becomes the dream of the other, and a stimulus to insight–and more productively–to each person’s creativity.

Dream Poem, Based on a dream group session Oct 8, 2005
(L’s and T’s dreams combined)

Stephen Larsen

If there’s one thing we need to keep in mind,
It’s that death is all around us
As we walk. We don’t have to go
To that high cliff that pulls us with
Vertiginous curiosity—it’s in that little mushroom
That rose thorn, that careless swallow
Of the wrong food or drink.

And how shall I ritualize death’s moment?
What talismans to bring? Do small creatures
With expectant eyes, circle round?
If there be music for my crossing, let it
Be pure and holy, so everyone who hears
Drops down inside, and touches sacred ground.

In this moment all moments are drowning
And the vortex is pulling.
We are drawn deeper, to the fundaments of things
I fill myself with the song
Of the radiant Child-God who stands at my bed foot
The hurrying universe holds its breath
I’m tripping on grace.

While the private writing of our dreamwork has the same confidentiality as the meetings themselves, and is only open to visitors with a password, some dreamers (writers, artists) have chosen to share their dream-inspired creativity on the public section of this site. We hope you enjoy, and that it gives you a little of the flavor of what this sub-community of the Center for Symbolic Studies is about.

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