- 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.
INSPIRATION THROUGH DREAMS
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!
CAN DREAMS PREDICT THE FUTURE?
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 décor 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.
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".
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.
SCIENCE AND DREAMS
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.
YOUR TURN - Have you ever had a dream that turned out to be true?