Can Dreams Predict the Future?

"A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read."
- The Talmud

Humans have been fascinated by dreams for thousands of years. In many ancient cultures,  dreams were accorded great respect and actively used in decision-making. The Bible, the Talmud and the Koran contain hundreds of passages about dreams and dream interpretation. Today, not much has changed. A study published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that most people believe that their dreams are sources of meaningful insight, revealing hidden truths about themselves and their world.
Most psychologists agree that dreams are often filled with symbols, subconscious indicators of what you really think and feel. A dream of being lost for instance, of being unable to find your way, can mean that you feel unprepared for something in your waking life. A dream of drowning can show that you feel overwhelmed. However, a dream dictionary is of limited use because symbols can mean different things to different people – dreaming about being naked in public can point to a fear of ridicule or a fear of having secrets exposed. But it can also mean an effort on your part to present your authentic self.

Dreaming about spiders can be positive for some. They’re often a symbol of creativity or good fortune. Psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote that spider webs were like mandalas, a symbol of wholeness because of their circular shape and complexity. For me, if I’m dreaming about spiders (which I freely admit scare the bejeebers out of me), I know that my stress levels in my waking life are off the charts and I need to do something about it.

Many scientists and inventors have experienced inspiration through their dreams. Albert Einstein was inspired by a dream whereby he was sledding down a mountainside ever faster, watching the appearance of the stars change as he approached the speed of light. The result? The theory of relativity. Frederich Kekule discovered the chemical structure of benzene in a dream. He later said: "Let us learn to dream, gentlemen, and then we may perhaps find the truth."

Countless artists and writers have also been inspired by dreams. Edgar Allan Poe based many of his works on dreams (or perhaps nightmares). In her 'Introduction' to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley revealed that the story was inspired by a dream. Best-selling author Stephen King says that dreams have been the source for many of his unique plots. Former Beatle Paul McCartney reported that the tune for Yesterday came to him in a dream in 1965. Even legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus, discovered a new way to hold his golf club in a dream!

It’s possible that in some cases the subconscious mind has observed and pieced together clues that the conscious mind hasn’t noticed. But that only works with things you’ve seen. What if you dream about something you’ve never seen or heard of before?

This is something that has happened for me since I was a small child. Many of my most vivid and memorable dreams have been about places. Eventually I go there – sometimes days, sometimes years later – and see it in real life. I really wish I’d dream about Hawaii or Africa or some exotic locale like that, but usually it’s fairly pedestrian. For instance I dreamed of a restaurant/bar that was painted forest green. It had an odd stairway leading inside, and the doorway was cramped. Inside, the d├ęcor and furnishings were very distinct, right down to the chalkboard with the day’s specials. Within a month, I went to visit one of my older daughters in another part of the country and we went on a road trip to an area I’d never been. She took me to a restaurant that she wanted me to try – and it was the one from my dream.

My youngest daughter also lives a long way from me. She has very dark hair, and just this week I dreamed that I had “her” hair (I’m blonde). I was sitting in a beauty shop and an unseen hairdresser was putting vivid red streaks through the dark brown hair. I thought it was a pretty peculiar dream – until I phoned my daughter and told her about it. It turns out that she had just had red highlights put into her hair.

Precognitive dreams don’t necessarily mean anything – there was no action that needed to be taken in the above two cases for example. Sometimes, however, they have a purpose. I remember one incident in particular where a friend had taken me to the mountains where we were going to spend a day on horseback. I was excited about it – I love horses – but also terrified because of some riding accidents I’d experienced. I hadn’t been on a horse in a few years. That night I dreamed about a tall bay horse with white socks. He was on the thin side and had a very unusual blue and white checkered halter. In my dream, this horse was gentle and responsive, and I had a wonderful ride. The next morning I told my friend about the dream as we traveled to the ranch. When the ranch hand assigned us our horses, he brought me the horse from my dream – and his bridle had been buckled on over a blue and white checkered halter! I will never forget the look on my friend’s face when she saw that. And yes, I was able to completely relax and enjoy one of the best rides ever because of my dream.

Are all of my dreams precognitive? Not at all. In fact, most of them aren’t. But I’ve had enough of the predictive ones to recognize, as do many people, that precognitive dreams tend to feel different. In fact, I usually experience them as dreams within dreams – where I’m already dreaming and then have a period of heightened awareness in which I know that what I’m seeing is different from the rest of the dream.

Many famous people have seen the future in their dreams. One of the most notable was Abraham Lincoln, who experienced a number of such visions. The most well-known occurred in 1865, just two weeks before he was assassinated. In his dream, Lincoln saw a funeral at the White House. He asked someone who was in the casket and they replied, "the president of the United States".

American novelist Mark Twain had a dream in which he saw the body of his brother, Henry, in a metal coffin in his sister’s living room. There was a single bright red flower on the casket. Soon afterwards, his brother was killed in a riverboat accident. Most people were buried in wooden coffins, but a stranger raised the money to furnish a metal one for Henry. Mark Twain was shocked to enter his sister’s home and see everything as it had been in his dream. As he watched, a woman placed a bouquet of flowers containing a single bright red rose on the coffin.

After the Titanic sunk in 1912, hundreds of people came forward to report their dreams of disaster. In some cases, the dream had kept them from booking passage on the ill-fated ship. Likewise with 9/11. Many people reported experiencing dreams up to four years in advance of the tragic event.

Mainstream science doesn’t yet accept the concept of precognition. But some people are now theorizing that psychic abilities could have a sound basis. During sleep, when our minds are less cluttered, perhaps we can sense things that elude us when we’re awake. We may be able to tune into a subtle frequency or a resonance when our minds are quiet. After all, according to Einstein, the future already exists. Perhaps, accidently or intentionally, some people can plug into it.

Maybe all of us can, if we just knew how.

Dani Harper

YOUR TURN - Have you ever had a dream that turned out to be true?

1 comment:

  1. Wow tht sounds creepy yet awesome :-)


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