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Related to Dreams: Lucid dreams


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

It was the custom in ancient Britain, when a guest retired for the evening, to bestow a blessing upon him: "May the Gods send you a dream." It was understood in Celtic times that dreams were messages sent from the spirit world.

This belief seems to have been almost universal. Even in New Testament times, no one raised an eyebrow when the Magi, "being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, returned to their country by another way" (Matthew 2:12).

"An angel of the Lord, who appeared to him in a dream" (Matthew 1:20 and 2:19), regularly guided Joseph, husband to the mother of Jesus.

The urbane, educated apostle Paul had a dream one night wherein a man who seems to be Luke, the physician, appeared and called him to Macedonia (Acts 16:9).

Even in light of modern dream interpretation, there are still those who believe God communicates with us through our dreams, revealing the future or interpreting current events. The Australian Aborigines' whole concept of "Dreamtime" postulates a spiritual plain accessible through dreaming.

The latest theories tell us dreams come from our subconscious. When we have surrendered our conscious thought to rest and sleep, our subconscious is free to make known to us what we have experienced without our realization. Much more information comes to us each day than we can possibly process, so dreams originate in the intuitive, nonverbal portions of our minds. Viewing symbolic images thrown up on the screen of our relaxed consciousness, we can often discover in dreams what we already know but haven't yet visualized in a conscious manner. Inventions have come into being when a dream supplies the clue necessary to discovering the key ingredient of a new technology. Personal relationships come into focus when we suddenly discover something about an acquaintance that we saw but didn't quite process.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

All people dream, though not everyone remembers his or her dreams. Frequently dreams seem ridiculously involved and mixed up. This is because only the highlights of several dreams are being remembered. The average person experiences a large number of dreams during the course of a normal night’s sleep. These dreams actually may be the remembrance of astral projections; journeys undertaken by the unconscious while the conscious mind is at rest. Suppose that in the dream state—more correctly, on the astral plane—your astral body takes a trip to Scotland and does some salmon fishing. From there you travel to the Orient and have a pleasant journey in a sampan. Then there may be a visit to the pyramids in Egypt before rounding out the night reenacting a battle of the Civil War. On waking, there may be only a confused recollection of what seemed like one long, very strange, dream. In it, you were drifting down the Nile River in a Chinese junk that suddenly disappeared and left you fighting Confederate soldiers with nothing more than a salmon-fishing pole!

The steps to remembering astral journeys start with remembering dreams. These should be written down in as much detail as possible, immediately upon waking. Very little may be remembered to start with, but perseverance will provide more and more details. Slowly the various separate dreams will be remembered until they can all be noted in detail.

Many times in dreams you meet with friends and loved ones who are actually deceased. These dreams usually seem very real. In fact you are meeting with these “dead” people. Nandor Fodor describes the astral plane as, “The first sphere after bodily death. It is said to be material but of a refined texture. There are many speculations concerning this world of existence. Theosophy claims definite knowledge of its conditions and denizens. Many descriptive accounts are to be found in Spiritualistic after-death communications.” There are, indeed, many Spiritualist writings and records of communications received from spirits describing the “Summerland,” as that first sphere is often called. The writings of William Stainton Moses are a good example. The Summerland is where the dreamtime meetings take place between your astral body and deceased friends and loved ones.

Many people have received evidential messages in their dreams, confirming that there is a continuance of life after death. Many people have also dreamed of something that is going to happen in the future. There are innumerable examples of prophetic dreams. Lewis Spence says, “By the ancients sleep was regarded as a second life, in which the soul was freed from the body and therefore much more active than during the waking state.”


Crookall, Robert: The Study and Practice of Astral Projection. London: Aquarian, 1960
Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
Fox, Oliver: Astral Projection: A Record of Out-of-Body Experiences. London: Rider, 1939
Hart, Hornell: The Enigma of Survival. London: Rider, 1959
Spence, Lewis: An Encyclopedia of the Occult. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1920
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



subjectively experienced mental phenomena that occur periodically during natural sleep.

Throughout the history of human culture, dreams have evoked interest and a conviction that they have practical meaning for life and should be interpreted. However, the approach to dreams has changed fundamentally in the course of history. Many works of ancient literature provide evidence that the interpretation of dreams played an important role not only in religious rituals but also in everyday life and even in military and state decisions (in the ancient East and China, for example). Dreams were regarded as the revelations of gods, the intrusion of demons, and a means of contact with the “invisible” world. The oldest extant book of dreams, an ancient Egyptian work (c. 2000 B.C.), contains interpretations of 200 dreams and a description of magic rituals to “protect” the sleeper from harmful spirits. The interpretation of dreams to determine curative methods was important in remote antiquity, when medicine had not yet been separated from religious and magical practices, including dreaming in temples, or dream incubation.

The first attempts to interpret dreams rationally were made by the ancient Greek philosophers, including Democritus. According to Plato, dreams can be a source of creative inspiration. Aristotle was the originator of the psychological approach to the explanation of dreams, which he regarded as a continuation of activity during the state of sleep. In the second century A.D., Artemidorus systematized the Greek, Egyptian, and Eastern interpretations of the symbolism of dreams in his Oneirocritica, the source for many later books of dreams. A religious, moralistic interpretation of dreams prevailed during the Middle Ages, inspired by biblical ideas. During the Renaissance the interpretation of dreams was closely connected with occultism. The rise of rationalism pushed the interest in dreams to the periphery of culture.

During the 19th century the interest in dreams gradually revived, with the development of empirical research in psychology, especially on the problem of the unconscious. At the same time, anthropologists discovered the important role of dreams in primitive cultures, the connection between dreams and myths, and the universal character of a number of dream images and symbols. Beginning with the romantic period, the significance of dreams in the psychology of the creative process was emphasized.

S. Freud was the first to try to establish a systematic psychological theory of dreams (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900; Russian translation, Moscow, 1913). He and his psychoanalytic school accumulated a great deal of clinical data characterizing the types of dreams, the regularities in their course, and their ties with archaic or infantile thinking, neurotic symptoms, and fantasies. However, in interpreting dreams Freud exaggerated the role of sexual motives and early childhood memories. According to Freud, dreams are the illusory fulfillment of repressed desires.

In depth psychology and psychotherapy special significance is attached to the analysis of dreams as a method for penetrating unconscious mental processes. Emphasis is placed on the function of dreams in compensating for deficiencies in real life (A. Adler). Dreams are seen as foreshadowings of future tendencies in the development of the individual (C. G. Jung) and as the reflection of the unconscious, collective “generic” experience. Among the diverse disciplines studying dreams are ethnology, cultural history, medicine (dreams as diagnostic means), and experimental psychology.


Dreams are characterized by coherent subject matter, emotionality, whimsicality, fantasy, and unreal events and relationships. Their sensory aspect involves the experiencing of lifelike, usually visual images. The sleeper may dream that he is either a witness or a participant. There are “passive” and “active” dreams. In adults, dreams do not usually include events of the preceding day. Consequently, dreams should be distinguished from subjective, thoughtlike sleep experiences, which may involve thinking over the events of the past day, but which are realistic in content and not very emotional.

Most dreams (80–90 percent) are recorded when the subject awakens from REM (rapid eye movements) sleep or within minutes after the end of REM sleep, because dreams are quickly forgotten. Several dreams may be experienced during one period of REM sleep. Their richness in events and emotions is usually associated with the strength of the phasal manifestations of REM sleep. However, research has not confirmed the supposition that eye movements and other signs of visual activity during REM sleep are connected with the perception of visual objects in dreams.

Dreams may also be experienced during non-REM phases of sleep. Thoughtlike activity is usually observed in subjects awakened from non-REM sleep. Because the REM and non-REM sleep phases alternate in regular cycles, dreams may be experienced several times during the night. As waking time or morning approaches, dreams become longer, in conformity with the increasing length of REM sleep. They also become more sensual, more saturated with events and emotions, more whimsical, and more fantastic, and they include events from the more distant past.

It is believed that the physiological mechanisms of dreams are determined by the complex interaction of limbic, somatic, and neocortical formations during REM sleep. The involvement of the brain’s mechanisms for memory and emotions apparently accounts for the unusual combinations of ordinary memories in dreams. Children typically have pleasant dreams more closely connected than adults’ dreams with the events of the preceding day and the fulfillment of wishes. Particular features of the dream experience depend on the individual’s nervous system, the state of his health, and physiological cycles, such as the menstrual cycle.

Sometimes, “creative” dreams have provided poets with rhymes or scientists with the answers to difficult problems, the solution of which has led to scientific discoveries. There is no entirely accepted theory of dreams. Research has led to the refutation of the ideas that dreams reflect the chaotic processes of a brain disorganized by sleep and that dreams are analogous to the pathological mental processes caused by brain injuries or intoxication. Dreams have a regular character, and their subject matter is coherent. During dreams the electrical activity of the brain is similar to that of wakefulness and unlike that of deep sleep. It is believed that dreaming plays an important role in adaptation to emotional stress by forming psychological defense mechanisms.


Latash, L. P. “Neirofiziologiia sna i snovidenii.” In Klinicheskaia neirofiziologiia. Leningrad, 1972.
Woods, R. L., and H. B. Greenhouse. The New World of Dreams. New York, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
"Chaka dreamed this also," I went on: "that one of you, the princes, held his royal spear."
"The Prince Dingaan held it--in the dream of Chaka--O Umhlangana, sprung from the root of kings!--and it dripped blood."
"Chaka dreamed this also: that I, Mopo, your dog, who am not worthy to be mentioned with such names, came up and gave the royal salute, even the Bayete."
"I gave it to both of you, O twin stars of the morning, princes of the Zulu--in the dream of Chaka I gave it to both of you."
"I saw it differently in my dream. She raised her hand--not the hand that was nearest to you, but nearest to me.
In common justice toward Miss Dunross I ought surely not to accept the conviction of her deformity on no better evidence than the evidence of a dream? Reasonable as it undoubtedly was, this view left certain doubts still lingering in my mind.
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Robb neatly uses her own and others' dream experiences to introduce current research, including how dreams help us learn and remember, recover from trauma and stay mentally healthy.
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Many today are running with the wrong interpretation of their dreams.