Otherworld and Dreams
Otherworld and Dreams(dreams)
The basic idea of one or more “spiritual” other-worlds existing alongside the world of our ordinary, everyday experience in what we might call a different “dimension” exists in almost every religious and cultural tradition. For many of these traditions, the spiritual realm is more important, and often more real, than the physical realm. Cross-culturally and across many different historical periods, there is widespread agreement on certain important traits of this otherworld.
One broad area of agreement is that communication between the everyday world and this otherworld—between the living and the dead—is possible, although such communication is often not viewed positively. Dreams, which often seem to be experiences of a confused parallel world, are frequently the medium of communication. It has been hypothesized that one of the principal sources of the idea of a spiritual world distinct from the physical is dreams. During dreams, one has the sensation of traveling to other realms, interacting with people, and doing various things. Even though the dream realm is shadowy and even surreal, it nevertheless feels like a real place, apart from the world of everyday experience. Thus, it is not unreasonable to speculate that during dreams we travel to a real alternative world.