Active Dreaming and Messages from the Birds

Photo by Joni Strickfaden

Photo by Joni Strickfaden

By Julie Tumbarello

I’ve been a dreamer as long as I can remember. Not just a night dreamer, but a day dreamer —one who notices signs, synchronicities, and coincidences from the universe. Like many of you, as a child I would share my dreams and experiences to little acknowledgement. For me, the dreams continued to come, and I longed for an understanding of the messages they were delivering. So, over the years whenever I ran across a book on dreaming, I would pick it up. Some I finished, others fell by the wayside. All of them were missing something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. 

Then one afternoon I attended a meditation group, and the leader mentioned Robert Moss. As I had done so many times before, I decided to look up this dreamer. I was surprised to find that Moss, unlike the others I had researched, had written many, many books on dreaming. I decided to read one of his books and was drawn to The Three Only Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination. As soon as I began, it felt like a coming home. This wasn’t just any kind of dreaming practice; it was Active Dreaming, where night and day dreams come together with the interplay of synchronicity, coincidences, and imagination. The best part of it all was that it draws from the strength of shamanic tradition, which focuses on experiences of the dreamer herself. 

As soon as I started the book, I could not put it down. So when a scheduled work trip came up, I packed the book in my carry-on and took it along with me. It was a hot July day and I was on my way from Detroit to Rhode Island. I arrived at the gate a few minutes early, so I took a seat near the boarding area and eagerly pulled out my copy of The Three Only Things. I resumed my reading at chapter 8: “Coincidence and What Wants to Happen.” I started to read: “The Romans were especially devoted to getting messages from the flight and the voices of birds . . .” VOOM! Something passed over my head. I looked around but didn’t notice anything. Back to reading: “Before making an important decision, top Roman officials, accompanied by members of the council of augurs (bird-watchers) . . .” VOOM! The woman next to me exclaimed, “Wow! That was close!” I glanced up from my book just in time to duck as another bird flew right at my head. I looked at the book, then looked at the bird and thought: I am so glad I was not reading about elephants!

We soon packed up our belongings and boarded the plane. But, as sometimes happens, there were mechanical issues. We got back off the plane while the issue was attended to and since it was around lunch time, I decided to get a salad and iced tea. I found another spot in the airport and sat down, placing my salad on my lap and my iced tea on the floor next to my right foot. It was one of those hot, humid Michigan summers, and even though the terminal was air conditioned, it was still quite humid. My iced tea started to sweat as the humidity condensed on my cool cup. Within minutes a small bird appeared, hopped up to the cup and began drinking the refreshing droplets of water. Soon another bird appeared and joined in, then another, and another. Shortly there were a half dozen birds gathered around my cup hopping in and out drinking the water drops. People were stopping and commenting on my “little buddies.” Others stopped to take pictures. This went on for quite some time until it dawned on me that I had my own camera. I gently reached into the bag next to me, slowly pulled out my camera, and hovered it over the top of my cup and snapped the moment. I later reviewed the picture and noticed what I had captured was a round circle with birds gathered around it. I looked at the front cover of The Three Only Things, and the picture on the front cover was of birds, gathered around a circle — a bird bath, and a place for them to drink water. 

Moss has said truth comes with goose bumps. When I saw the pictures of the birds at the airport gathered around my cup and the front cover of The Three Only Things, I was one big goose bump. I knew in that moment that these birds were my messengers and the message was clear. “Through dreams, coincidences, and the workings of imagination, we begin to remember that there is a world beyond the obvious one, and that it is there we reawaken to who we are and what we are meant to become” (p. 3). These dreaming birds reminded me of what I already knew and were pointing me in the direction for reawakening. A reawakening to a life as an Active Dreamer. 

Following the message from these birds and listening to my dreams, I went on to study with Robert Moss and became an Active Dream teacher. I’m passionate about Active Dreaming for many reasons, but most of all because it is about both spontaneous night dreams and being open to all of life’s experiences, including those that play out during the day. These experiences cannot, and should not, be isolated from one another. Active Dreaming means being open to the universe, and life 24/7. When we open up to the powers that speak to us in dreams and messages from the universe during the day, we have access to an amazing resource that allows us to be full active participants in how we create and dream our lives.

Julie Tumbarello, “Dreaming Julie,” is a Level 3 Certified Active Dream Teacher through Robert Moss’ Dream School. Drawing from her own healing journey and background in meditation, psychic development, and Reiki, she leads workshops helping people wake up to life through dreaming. For more information, email or visit For more information on the core techniques of active dreaming, visit

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Posted on August 31, 2015 .