Tag: Dreaming

Naked in Public, by Katherine and Patrick Andries

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Dreaming, image by TC MorganNaked in Public, by Katherine AndriesNaked in Public: Dream Symbols Revealed, by Katherine and Patrick Andries
Ozark Mountain Publishing, 9781886940499, 112 pp., 2014

There’s a well-known episode of NPR’s This American Life called “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About.” One of those things: dreams. Why? Because, as the main guest explains, “Nobody cares about your dreams.”

A bit harsh, maybe, but at the very least, dreams are a double-edged sword. To the dreamer, they may manifest as fascinating, glorious, terrifying, or even life-changing adventures. To the person listening to them, on the other hand (or reading about them), they are too often simply exercises in ennui and narcissism. After all, how often has somebody’s self-proclaimed “craziest dream ever” sounded merely banal to your own ears? If you’re anything like me and the folks at NPR, it’s happened a lot — which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the Andries’ dream glossary, Naked in Public: Dream Symbols Revealed, an utterly enjoyable and educational book that rarely thrusts the reader unwilling into the someone else’s tedious sub-psyche or allows itself to get bogged down by extraneous details.

The first thing you might notice about Naked in Public is that it is, unlike so many other dream compendiums, it’s quite light at just 112 pages, and not weighed down by the kind of overly academic psychobabble that pervades so much dream literature. This isn’t a book for someone with a PhD-like grasp of dreamology; it’s a book for the rest of us. Continue reading

Psychic Dreamwalking, by Michelle Belanger

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Psychic Dreamwalking: Explorations at the Edge of Self, by Michelle Belanger
Weiser Books, Weiser Books, 205 pp. (incl. appendices, excl. bibliography), 2006

Dreaming is something we all do, whether we consciously remember our dreams our not. Belanger defines dreamwalking as “the art of sending forth a part of the self in order to make contact with others through the medium of dreams.” I like her approach to the material; she frequently uses anecdotes to describe her personal experiences and explorations, and then lucidly deconstructs them to illustrate her points.

A wide variety of exercises are offered, from the more basic, such as creating dream haven, a ‘gate of dreams’ (essentially a ‘portal’ through which is the dream world), and fashioning an eidolon (one’s dream-self), as well as more complicated explorations, such as creating dream landscapes and techniques for lucid dreaming. At the end of each exercise brief checklists aid the reader in determining whether or not one has performed the exercise successfully, offering suggestions for what to look for and tips to correct technique. Continue reading

Examining Astral Projection

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In working on a book on dreamwalking, I ran into some interesting puzzles concerning the technique of dreamwalking and its relationship with astral travel. The issues inspired me to embark on a comprehensive study of astral travel, which in turn demonstrated that many sources on astral travel diverge on key points about this ability. The following article attempts to resolve the conflicts in information regarding astral travel, then address the related issue of dreamwalking.

In my Psychic Energy Book, I explored the idea of chakras and all the conflicting information that exists about them. Many different traditions address the notion of these subtle body energy centres, but quite a few of them disagree on a number of salient points about them. Depending on which tradition you consult, you will learn differing opinions on the exact number of energy centres, their placement in the subtle body, or even their overall purpose in the mind-body-spirit complex.

In order to sort through all the conflicting information, I introduced a method of critical analysis to my readers. Critical analysis helps students and researchers develop the best interpretation possible of existing information, especially when much of that information disagrees. Critical analysis is especially useful when you are working with subjective reports, where each individual’s presentation of the facts can be influenced by personal expectations and perspective.

Astral projection is a technique that has a lot of conflicting information written about it. As we have seen in the previous chapter, not only do different writers seem to be presenting different techniques under the label of astral projection, others seem to confuse matters by inventing new words for the same technique. Before we can really address is issue of dreamwalking and astral projection, it is necessary to review all the information at hand and develop a working definition of astral projection. As part of that task, we need to figure out why there is so much confusion in the first place.

With all of this in mind, let us turn back to the problem of astral projection. When we look at the conflicting information we have about this magickal technique, there are a few key points we must consider:

  • Perception: People’s perceptions are different, and therefore they will report similar experiences in vastly dissimilar ways
  • Technique: Magick directs the Will using symbols and symbolic actions as a focus, and each person’s symbol set is different
  • Experience: Differing situations and skill levels can have a distinct impact on the end result of any technique
  • Language: Magick has no standardized language; terms and definitions often vary from system to system – sometimes wilfully so
  • Worldview: Historically, we have failed to agree on the nature and definition of any non-physical aspect of the self – or even the existence of a “soul”

Can we explain the differences in reports and interpretations about astral projection in terms of perception, technique, experience, language, and worldview? First we have to consider what all of the reports have in common. The common ground is a sense that some non-physical aspect of self can be extended beyond the limits of the physical body. This extension of self is distinct from telepathy, because instead of just thoughts and images, an actual point of consciousness and perceptual perspective is projected beyond the physical body. This non-physical projection then travels beyond the body, sometimes simply into the room also occupied by the body, and sometimes to more exotic locations still.

At the very core, this is what is meant by the term “astral projection.” It is the essence that is held in common throughout all the techniques explored in the previous chapter. From this simple foundation, however, details of astral projection – including the terms some use to describe it – diverge.

Aside from conflicts in terminology, there are two major points where many of the reports seem to disagree. The first involves the precise nature of this proposed non-physical aspect of self. Some systems, as we have seen, believe it has a form of its own. Others allow for no form, just a disembodied point of perception. Several other systems fall somewhere in between. The secondary issue, no less important than the first, involves a matter of direction. Once this non-physical aspect of self moves past the bounds of the physical body, where else is it able to travel? Some systems limit it to what amounts to the energetic echo of the physical world – what I call the subtle reality. Other systems, from the Golden Dawn to modern shamanism, seem to accept endless possibilities that involve strange, new worlds, different planes of existence, and even internal landscapes.

Lokas and Body Memories

Given our five criteria of perception, technique, experience, language, and worldview, can we develop an explanation for the disparity in both what is being projected and where that “something” ultimately projects?

We’ve talked a lot on why individual perceptions vary, and so I think this will be the easiest difference to address. If, on a basic level, our perceptions vary from person to person, it should come as no surprise that different individuals report different perceptions of the projection experience. In this respect, the perception of a second body may be precisely that: an individual perception, dictated by individual differences in approaching the world. It is not impossible for someone to report the impression of a second body even when nothing is actually there, particularly if that individual expected to possess a second body during the projection experience. Expectations can influence our perceptions. Similarly, a projector who does not report the presence of a second body may simply have overlooked it. If we consider the often dire circumstances under which spontaneous out of body experiences occur, it’s not entirely unfair to suggest that an OBE experiencer’s attention might be focused on other things.

Our first criterion, then, can tell us why different people report different experiences in regards to the secondary body. However, knowing how radically individual perceptions can diverge, this does not allow us to judge the objective reality of any of these reports.

As far as where an individual projects, the difference in perceptions is minimal enough that we can draw some solid conclusions about the objective reality those perceptions encompass. While individual perception may influence how a particular locale is described, it seems to have much less of an impact on the actual journey itself. Once they had achieved projection, both Monroe and Muldoon described nearly identical experiences with the physical world around them. Significantly, records in the literature on OBEs contain countless similar accounts. Although the sense of an actual second body will vary, the way in which the projected individual interacts with physical reality remains almost precisely the same.

The ability to move merely by thinking it is a detail recounted in event after event. Individuals travel through physical reality by focusing on a location or person, and then suddenly finding themselves there. Variations in individual perception seem only to come into play when the experiencer attempts to describe exactly how this miraculous method of travel is achieved. Some hover, some levitate, some fly, some feel as if they walk to the target location, but each step covers hundreds of miles, as if they were wearing a spiritual version of thousand league boots. It’s easy to see that all of these different descriptions add up to more or less the same thing: non-physical travel happens rapidly and with little more than a thought.

For individuals who report the ability to travel to exotic, distant planes, the method of travel also remains consistent. The projector focuses on the desired destination, and somehow, usually with a perception of rapid flight, the distance is closed. Interestingly, an identical description of travel between realities occurs in an ancient and well-respected text: the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The text describes what it is like to be a spirit, explaining that an individual who has achieved this state of being will be able to:

“move hither and thither everywhere, through walls, houses, land, rocks, and earth…In a split second, you can circle this four-continent planet with its axial mountain. You now have the power just to think about any place you wish and you will arrive there in that very instant. You can reach anywhere and return just as a normal man stretches out and pulls back his arm.”
(Thurman, 169-170)

According to the Tibetan system there are many layers of reality all stacked on top of one another, and if differences in language and other matters of individual perception are taken into account, these different layers of reality, called lokas, sound very much like the various locations occultist describe as part of the astral plane. These contiguous yet separate locations also sound like the various worlds one can visit by mastering the arts of shamanism.

The distinct similarities between reports of these locations in the literature of astral projection, OBEs, and even Tibetan Buddhism and shamanism strongly suggest that there is an objective reality behind the subjective perceptions. Still, some people seem unable to access these exotic levels of reality. If we must account for the different reports of projection locations, we will have to turn from the issue of perception to one of technique.

Technique and Experience

Certainly the disparity in reports about the presence – or lack of – a second body is influenced by the natural differences between individual perceptions. Because one person might impose the perception of a second body on their experience while another just as easily might not even consider this body worthy of note, we cannot say for sure, based purely on issues of perception, whether or not a second body really is involved in astral projection. However, the presence or absence of a second body may very easily be a matter of individual technique. One of the truths about magick and psychic experience is that there are almost as many ways to achieve certain effects as there are individuals who practice them.

Rather than concluding that people simply report their experiences differently, what if we consider that there is more than one method for achieving more or less the same thing? Our basis for astral projection is the projection of some non-physical aspect of self. What if it is possible both to project this into a second body of energy and, under different circumstances or with a different set of skills, also achieve the same manner of projection without the medium of an energy body? This can very neatly explain why some very reliable writers relate an experience that involves the separation of a second body while others seem to circumvent this step entirely.

Technique can also account for the difference in “where” an individual projector can travel. Individuals who are trained in the traditions of the Golden Dawn or Madame Blavatsky are taught that it is possible to travel to more than just this ordinary world. The techniques these individuals learn involve methods for projecting farther than just one’s bedroom. Sylvan Muldoon and Robert Monroe both hit upon their abilities to astrally project by accident. They had no formal magickal training, and therefore they were never taught that it was possible to journey further than just this level of reality. Considering this, it is significant that Monroe eventually did learn how to travel to “otherworldly” locations. Monroe doggedly experimented with his abilities, pushing himself to expand both his understanding and his control, and so refined his technique over time.

Just as technique can impact the exact expression of astral projection, so does the individual experience itself. There are both internal and external factors, many of which can change from instance to instance, that will inevitably influence the way in which a learned technique works. These variables can include, but are not limited to, environmental issues, a shift in mindset, a change in personal or local energy, or distractions that interrupt the exercise. In addition to the influence of environmental factors, there is the fact that each person’s skill level is different. A beginner is likely to achieve a different result than a more advanced student, and someone who’s had practice may even be able to overcome certain environmental issues with enough effort and focus.

If we consider the possible influence of environmental factors and individual expertise, we can see that both the manifestation of a non-physical aspect of self and the ultimate destination of this self could easily be impacted by such variables. Certain influences from the environment might make the projection of a perceptible second body much easier to achieve. The calm quiet of a bedroom is likely to be more conducive to a full projection, complete with a perceptible second body, whereas the chaos of an emergency room may demand too much attention for an individual to achieve much more than a dim shadow of this extension of self.

As for the actual location of travel, internal and external factors at work in each experience will also have an impact on how that experience ultimately manifests. External factors like location, the degree of distractions, and ambient energy may very easily make it harder to project over increasing distances. Internal factors such as expertise will also come into play. If there is any kind of quantifiable “distance” between the subtle reality and the exotic worlds of the so-called astral plane, it only makes sense that a more advanced practitioner would find it easier to traverse this distance. A beginner might be limited to what amounts to astral baby-steps, wandering around his or her room or projecting only to known locations.

Language and Worldview

We have already established that due to individual differences, people tend to describe similar experiences in different terms. Our criterion of language, then, will inevitably have ties to individual variations in perception. Perception is the internal way in which we process a particular experience. Language, then, is the way in which we attempt to communicate that experience to the world.

The first thing we must consider with language is how much a person’s unique way of thinking will influence the way in which an experience is described. A person with a very visual nature is likely to astrally project and return with vivid descriptions of what was seen on the journey. The language that presents such a description will focus on things like visual imagery, light, shape, and colour. Someone who has a more emotional intelligence is going to return and describe the experience in terms of how it felt. The language this particular person is likely to report in will involve feelings, impressions, and sensations.

The different descriptors an individual chooses to report an experience in are the least complicated aspect of language we need to consider. Another issue in the arena of language is the use and development of lingo. Every specialized area of human endeavor inevitably develops its own particular language. If you sit a computer programmer down with a linguistic specialist and add a molecular biologist into the mix, then ask them all to talk about their respective jobs, it will sound as if each person is speaking a completely different tongue. Language is something that evolves and mutates as we use it, and the more specialized the use, the more specialized the language can become.

Consider the development of slang, how certain expressions are regional, and how time will alter the list of “in” words. Even within our private social circles, the mutation of language can be tracked through the development of inside jokes and figures of speech. Many of these, given enough time, will reduce themselves down to one or two word statements that only those in the know will understand.

The magickal subcultures are no different. Although Pagans, Wiccans, vampires, occultists, and chaos magicians all practice “magick,” their terms and particular expressions regarding this practice can vary widely from group to group. This problem of language becomes even more pronounced when you move to traditions that prefer the concept of psychic abilities over the use of the term “magick.” New Agers, lightworkers, paranormalists, and even ghost hunters often refer to techniques and experiences that are identical to things experienced within the magickal communities – and yet the language is so different that an outsider would rightfully conclude that they are talking about radically different things.

To some extent, this gulf in language and terminology results simply from the different perspectives of these communities, but some of the variances in terms are very intentional. Many of the New Agers I’ve met are leery of Pagans and Wiccans and any practice that might fall under the label of “witchcraft.” Therefore, in my experience, they are very quick to draw lines of distinction between their psychic techniques and so-called “magick.” Even when the techniques are essentially the same, different terms exist to maintain the lines of identity between ideologically distinct groups. This function is at work in the conflicting terminologies applied to various techniques of projection. “Out of body experience” is a term many psychics and parapsychologists find more palatable. It has a slightly more clinical and less esoteric sound than “astral projection.” Those with an even more distinctly expressed scientific approach are likely to prefer the term “remote viewing.” Occultists, of course, are more likely to use “astral projection” because this is the term that the technique has been presented under in the writings of foundational occultists such as Fortune, Blavatsky, and the Golden Dawn.

If you are “in the know,” then you understand that all of these terms describe similar, if not identical, techniques. For someone coming into these communities from the outside, without the benefit of that inside understanding, it is only natural to take the definitions presented at face value, thus concluding that each term describes a separate and distinct technique. And yet different systems have their own pet terms. New writers often enjoy making up their own terms to set their teachings apart as something unique, or, like Robert Monroe, they create a new language to describe their experiences because they simply had no background in what had been established before.

The mutation of language and terminology is also sometimes intentionally harnessed to confuse, or to allow a group or individual to stake a kind of intellectual claim on a technique. Occultist Aleister Crowley decided that he was going to spell “magick” with a “k” to distinguish his practices from the magic of prestidigitation and sleight of hand. Although this was a completely arbitrary move, enough time has passed that the affectation has passed into common usage. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I employ Crowley’s spelling myself.

This intentional mutation of language is still at work within the modern magickal subcultures. In the vampire community, for example, it has been the practice of some individuals to distinguish between “vampire” and “vampyre.” The lines of demarcation between these two terms are entirely artificial. Someone decided that “vampyre” should be used to distinguish between people who believe themselves to be real vampires, and that “vampire” should be left for creatures of myth, folklore, and fiction. Possibly taking this affectation for inspiration, I have now encountered several individuals who make a distinction between a psi vampire and a psy vampire. Apparently, the difference is that one feeds on psi energy, also known as prana or chi, while the other is a vampire who happens to be psychic.

My mind boggled when I encountered this latest permutation, because if one has the ability to feed upon and therefore sense psi energy, then one also happens to fit the qualifications of being psychic. There is no difference between these two terms save one that has been constructed by exchanging a “y” for an “i.” Somewhere, someone felt the need to establish a special distinction to set him or herself apart, and now we have terms circulating on the Internet that will do nothing more than confuse newcomers and create more lines of definition than are logically necessary. And, if Crowley is any indication, given enough time, these new words, however artificial, may nevertheless establish themselves as separate, recognized terms.

It is through the evolution of language, the development of lingo, and the arbitrary creation of redundant terms that we have ended up with some of the confusion between bilocation, astral projection, remote viewing, out of body experience, and even shamanic journeying. Although there are shades of difference between all of these, each term essentially describes the same thing. This can be a major source of confusion, and given enough time, the original meanings can become lost or blurred.

As we saw with New Agers who prefer “psychic” over “magick” because types of witchcraft have negative connotations to them, worldview plays a role in the confusion as well. Both the “what” and the “where” of astral projection are predicated on fairly profound spiritual concepts. First, the idea that we can project some non-physical aspect of the self relies heavily on the notion that there is more to us and our world than ordinary, physical reality. The idea that there is a subtle reality, an energetic echo of our physical world, that we might be able to interact with, is radical enough to many modern thinkers. Positing the existence of other worlds, other planes of existence requires a serious expansion of the average person’s worldview.

The question of whether or not the physical world is the only reality takes us into speculative territory often reserved only for world religions. We swim even deeper into the waters of religious belief when we contemplate the possibility of a second, non-physical body. There is not getting around the fact that the idea of a second body is intricately connected to the belief in a soul. Historically, humanity has been unable to agree on whether or not we even have souls, and when we accept that we do, the nature of that soul is hotly disputed. Traditional Western thinking allows that humans have one soul, and this survives the death of the physical body. And yet the Chinese allow for several different types of soul. Each of these, like the hun, performs different functions for the individual. The ancient Egyptians also had a composite vision of the soul, and these different non-physical aspects of self were so distinct that several of them went to different places in the afterlife.

So our final stumbling block in the issue of astral projection – and just about any other magickal technique – is the issue of belief. Our individual worldviews have a profound impact on what we are willing to accept and what we are driven to deny in our experiences. Belief not only has a powerful impact on how we expect reality to function, but it also helps to dictate the symbols and even the methods we might use to achieve certain techniques. A Kemetic Orthodox practitioner who attempts astral projection will very naturally focus on sending forth his or her ka, or body double, in keeping with ancient Egyptian beliefs. A fundamentalist Christian may have trouble accepting that he or she even had an out of body experience, because only God can call the soul from the body. Given sufficient belief in a particular worldview, it is not uncommon for an individual to completely discount or re-interpret certain experiences in order to fit them more neatly into that worldview.

In the end, we can conclude that there are vast differences in individual language, interpretation, perspective, and technique that impact how astral projection and its related practices are presented. Individual beliefs can also shape how we choose to approach a technique as well as how we choose to interpret the experiences resulting from that technique. After covering all of this ground, and it has been extensive, I think we can draw a few conclusions about the nature of astral projection:

  • During projection, some aspect of consciousness is projected beyond the limits of the physical body
  • Circumstances and individual technique determine whether or not projection involves the manifestation of a second, energetic body
  • Travel in the subtle reality or near-astral is common and may be seen as the easiest “place” to reach with projection
  • Some individuals seem to possess the ability to journey beyond this first “layer” of reality to very different realms
  • Practice often allows individuals to develop the ability to extend the range of the journeys
  • Projection has been practiced under a variety of terms. Some differences in terminology are arbitrary. Others attempt to encompass differences in either destination or technique

If these are the qualities of astral projection, how does dreamwalking measure up? Dreamwalking is a technique that bears much in common with astral projection – including some puzzling conflicts in how each individual experiences the technique. As we saw with astral projection, arriving at solid answers is not always easy, but the process of analysis provides a deeper understanding of what’s involved.

Dreamwalking and Astral Projection

In the early nineties, when I was writing out my first notes for the Codex, I made certain to distinguish dreamwalking from astral projection. As far as I understood the two techniques, they were very different from one another. The obvious distinction, of course, was one of destination. Astral projection involved projecting a second body to traverse the astral plane. Dreamwalking had nothing to do with astral journeys: it aimed at projecting into another person’s dreams. The very term “astral travel” seemed to separate the two techniques. Astral projection is all about going somewhere. The journey itself is often both the goal and the reward. Dreamwalking, on the other hand, uses the medium of dreams to achieve another purpose: contact and interaction with people. The whole point of dreamwalking, especially from the perspective of a psychic vampire, is to reach out to another human being and interact with them on a non-physical level that is nevertheless real.

When I was first writing the Codex and outlining the technique, there was another detail that I felt distinguished dreamwalking from astral projection. At no point during the set-up phase, where a dreamwalker reaches out to make contact with the target person, is there a sense of creating or separating a second body. Dreamwalking does not feel like any kind of travel. It feels like you are stretching a part of yourself out to connect with another being. Place and distance are not considerations in this activity. The focus and the goal is the other person. Everything else involved in the technique is peripheral.

At this point, I feel that we can define dreamwalking as separate from both telepathy and astral projection. It differs from telepathic communication in that there is a distinct sense of direct interaction between the individuals involved in a dreamwalk. This connects it in concept to astral projection, because some non-physical aspect of self is extended to that other person in order to accomplish this direct interaction. And yet the focus, destination, and some aspects of the method separate dreamwalking from astral projection.

Dreamwalking shares some common ground with both astral projection and telepathy. Like telepathy, dreamwalking seeks to reach out over distances in order to convey messages to another person. Like astral projection, dreamwalking extends a non-physical portion of the self in order to do this. Although there can at times be crossover, such as dreamwalking leading into astral projection, dreamwalking remains distinct from both of these other techniques. We can define dreamwalking as separate and distinct because:

  • It uses another person as both a focus and a destination
  • It connects to the target through the medium of the dreamspace
  • It does not involve the projection of a second body during the set-up phase

These are the qualities that distinguish dreamwalking from astral projection. This is not to say that the two techniques are not related. They are actually related in ways that sometimes still surprise me.


Note: This selection originally appeared as Chapter Five in Psychic Dreamwalking but was cut from the final edition of the book for considerations of space.

The Dragon’s Brain and Wormhole of Daath

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The Qabbalistic hidden sephirah of Daath can be aligned with the throat area of Adam Kadmon whose spinal column is the trunk of the neural network of the multiverse world tree of knowledge around which the fire serpent winds as a bio-photon lightening strike of illumination. The serpent flashes up and down the tree constantly, being ones lightening strike of consciousness which assembles a world of a synchronicity mesh of a cooperative creative existence being ones experiential reality of fixative inertia.

One is usually unaware of this process of fixation, betwixt and between the mental piloting field of the branches that touch each and every star of far flung futures beckoning back and that of the past roots of matter calling to one through deepest memory. However one can shift the fixation of consciousness by becoming aware of Daath.

By becoming aware of ones inborn ability at Daath one can shift ones fixative awareness into assembling another synchronicity mesh of experiential phenomena by tuning into another reality. Daath is that of the reptilian brain stem at a physiological level and is the oldest part of the brain. It evolved more than five million years ago and inextricably links us all to our reptilian amphibious ancestors.

Because it resembles the entire brain of a reptile, it is often referred to as the reptilian brain. The brain stem determines the general level of alertness and warns the organism of important information. The brain stem also controls the basic handling of the bodily functions necessary for survival such as ones breathing and heart rate.

Located at the centre of the brain stem is a core of neural tissue that travels its full length known as the ‘Reticular Formation’, it contains a number of nuclei, which are part of the reticular activating system RAS. The RAS acts akin to a telephone bell, which alerts the cortex (the thinking area) about arriving information such as “visual stimulus on the way”. There are areas in the reptilian brain stem associated with ones sleeping processes known as the ‘Locus Coerulus’ being a small patch of dark cells which is thought to produce a secretion that initiates REM sleep in which we dream.

Should one be able to catch that point between waking and sleeping, where one is at the periphery of going into deep sleep, known technically as the hypnagogic state, one can gain conscious ingress into ones dreams. The technical term for ones egress out of ones dream between sleeping and waking is called the hypnapompic state. One will then have the sensation of being sucked into a void of a torsion tunnel as ones conscious awareness is introverted into that of the dreaming state via the captured hypnagogic state.

The experience of the void was known to the ancient Qabbalists as the experience of the Abyss over which Daath becomes as a bridge, being that of the pathway, which links the two sephirah of Tiphareth and Kether. The Hebrew letter associated with the pathway that links Tiphareth and Kether is ‘Gimel’ that means a ‘Camel’. The ancient Iranians associated the Camel with the Serpent Dragon, which the Qabbalists see as being the vehicle, which carries ones awareness over the desert of worlds and through the Abyss at Daath.

The Tarot card associated with the pathway of Gimel is that of Priestess of the ‘Silver Star’. The ‘Silver Star’ is associated with the star of Sirius. The image of the Priestess is depicted seated upon a throne between two pylons one ‘White’ the other ‘Black’ forming a gateway of a stargate. The two pylons are associated with the two main chains of nerves that are on either side of ones spinal column being that of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system are the two parts of the Autonomic Nervous System. The Parasympathetic Nervous Systems nerve fibres emanate largely from the upper and lower part of the brain stem.

The two pylons on either side of the Priestess that form a gateway are called the pillars of severity and mercy. These two pillars one can be equate with dual aspects that the ancient Babylonian Goddess Ishtar whose nature was that of war and love and thereby the Priestess becomes as the ‘gate of Ishtar’. The priestess is the stargate into the Implicate Order of the dreaming mind and she is often depicted as being veiled representing the hypnagogic hymen veil.

The hypnagogic hymen veil acts as a filtering system. This filtering system, blocks off any conscious access at first by reflecting back ones confused emotive states. One will initially encounter a kind of white noise that tugs ones consciousness to either side of her veiled Yoni stargate of a captured internal wormhole due to ones emotional emphasis in relation to the pylons on either side of the Priestess.

The Priestess is also associated with the ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis whom represents the star Sirius and was artistically represented by effigies from Cyzicus, a city opposite Byzantium as a half woman and half Fish thereby indicating an amphibious nature of consciousness that she can bestow.

The star Sirius is commonly known as the Dog Star and the Dog is associated with the 13th Qabbalistic pathway of Gimel being the ‘guardian of the threshold’. The Dog is also that of the ancient Egyptian God Anubis. Anubis is the lord of mummification and embalming and especially that of the death trance. The Dog is also that of the ancient Greek three headed Dog of the underworld known as Cerberus and that of Dr John Dee’s Choronzon of the Enochian magickal system who is the intelligence of the veil of the Abyss. The Dog also represents the Mammalian brain of the Cerebellum, which resides atop of the reptilian brain stem and is the headquarters for the Autonomic Nervous System. Betwixt and between the hemispheres of the Cerebellum one will find the vestigial eye of the pineal gland, which is symbolically associated with the apple of knowledge for its elixir of serotonin determines the fine tuning of ones neural net. The pineal gland is activated by light, however the serotonin that it produces determines what ones nervous system tunes into. One of the methods employed in order to overcome this problem was to retreat into darkness such as that of a cave for example for initiation purposes so that to retune the nervous system. The other method employed besides that of hallucinogens was via engineered dreams.

At the point of capturing the unconscious automatic process via consciously accessing the hypnagogic state one will become aware that one is being carried along by a natural ongoing automatic mechanism as ones consciousness spirals through an internally caught stargate of a wormhole at Daath. Ones dreams are as storms of electrons imbued with bio-photon light and it is conjectured that at a sub-atomic level one can find mini wormholes whereby at the level of the dream ones introverted consciousness can access such mini wormholes into other realities.

The experience of consciously accessing ones dreams gives one an insight into the formula of the Tetragrammaton, which in the Hebrew is IHVH and in translation, Yod, He, Vau, He being the name of God.

When one gains conscious internal ingress via the hypnagogic veil one becomes as the fertilising seed point of the spermatozoic serpent of consciousness and that of the fiery ‘Yod’ of the energetic emotive charge. It is here that one encounters the Father whom calls out the ‘word’ into the void so that to split the Egg of the dream.

Then one is sucked into the hypnagogic Yoni portal of a wormhole at ‘He’, whereby one experiences the process of informational associative patterning. It is here that one encounters the Mother principle of the fertilized womb. The informational streams emanating from a myriad number of alternate realities existing in a myriad number of parallel universes that flow through the Yoni portal of the internal wormhole are spun into filtered associations of informational retrieval.

The spun informational streams then become as a vaginal star barrelled torsion tunnel upon ones energetic emotively charged ingress. The filtering of the informational streams emanating from a myriad number of worlds both past and future are filtered through ones internally imprinted symbolic interface of an emotively charged dialogue that one has with ones self.

The spun informational streams are then cohered and organized around ones emotive charge into an interference pattern, which is nailed down at ‘Vau’. It is here that the Son is at the midst of conditions crucified upon the cross of four directions whom squares a circle. At the greatest point of torsion one finds the informational streams are nailed down into an informational associative fractal dream domain of fixative inertia for one becomes as the ‘strange attractor’ nailed down to ones own fixation.

The ‘interference pattern’ of the fractal dream domain that one finds ones self within is that of the Implicate Order of the ‘mental’ dreaming reality. The symbolic information that one encounters within the dream is the distillation of encrypted symbol knots of information being the sum total of many associative minds.

One will find that the symbolic interface of the dream is somewhat akin to a mirrored bowl for it reflects back ones nailed down energetic emotive charge into an associative fractal pattern of symbolic triggers.

At a certain point one is then drawn out of the Implicate Order of the dreaming mind into that of the Explicate Order of ‘material’ reality via the hypnapompic yoni portal of a wormhole at ‘He’. What one will then experience at ‘He’ upon ones egress out of the Implicate Order of the dreaming mind is that of the phenomena of synchronicity within the Explicate Order of reality. It is at this point one will encounter the Daughter dancing the seven veils of illusion, which reflects back ones own self. One then finds that the trigger symbols of synchronicity experienced within ones Explicate Ordered reality will correlate with the internally experienced symbols of ones prior Implicate Ordered dream.

The synchronicities experienced within ones Explicate Ordered reality generate an energetic emotive charge of a Yod within ones self, which again is fed back into ones internal yoni portal of a wormhole, one then becomes aware that it is a continuous feed back loop of a serpentine lemniscate of phenomena.

One can look at the lemniscate as being two triangles on their sides facing each other, whose two points can be seen to touch. At each of the four cornered points around the figure one can place the Hebrew letters Yod, He, Vau, He. At the mid-point where the two points of the triangles meet can be found the hidden name of the deity.

At the mid-point of the lemniscate one becomes aware of the lightening flash of the serpent of seven seals that one feels as shimmering up and down ones spine constantly, which fixates ones consciousness into a chosen synchronicity mesh of an experiential reality. As one gains conscious ingress into the yoni portal of a wormhole at Daath one can consciously fixate ones consciousness into another lemniscate of an alternate ‘mental’ reality and thereby tune into a corresponding alternate ‘material’ reality.

The name of the deity is the ‘word’ that one consciously utters into the void as one is sucked into the Yoni portal of a wormhole at Daath into then consciously generating the phenomena of synchronicity. The word uttered will determine the nature of ones ingress into a fractal dream domain as well as the symbolic triggers reflected back at ones self within the Implicate Order of the dream. This in turn will determine the correlating symbolic expression of the phenomena of synchronicity experienced within ones Explicate Ordered reality whereby one will find ones own self as the deity sought for. One might also become aware that one be as a fallen Angel into the realm of inertia but it be just one of many worlds to explore when to win ones wings again as a World Walker.

© Mark Dunn 2005

The Skullfuck: An Exercise in Dream Recall

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Date: Sat, 25 Dec 93 07:06:28
Subject: Exercise to aid Dream Recall
From: Sri Palindrome.151

Purpose: This is an exercise to aid in the recollection of dreams through the use of visualization and tactile imagery. It is best performed at the times that one begins to fall asleep.

  1. Relax; take a few deep breaths, and concentrate on the present sensation of the extremities.
  2. Allow yourself to feel the gradual decrease in sensitivity of the limbs as you drop off to sleep.
  3. Switch your attention rapidly from limb to limb, but block out extraneous thoughts as completely as possible.
  4. When nearly all sensation is lost in the extremities, switch your attention to the spine; localize your attention to the sensation at each vertebra. Send a current of energy up from the base very slowly to the top.
  5. When the current reaches the top, visualize the entire spine as a penis, and the point where it enters the skull as the sexually-oriented orifice of your choice.
  6. Concentrate now on the sensation of the spine-penis entering the foramen magnum-orifice. When bringing the sensation to the concious level, recall that it is your penis and/or your orifice; a great deal of sensation is being generated.
  7. Hold the images and sensations in mind until you do, in fact, fall asleep. Attempt immediately to hold up your dream-hands in front of your eyes.

By practicing this daily, near total dream recall is achieved in a relatively short time.

I’ve sent this out because I’ve found that better access to one’s dreams often equates to finding a lot of excellent raw material for personalized magickal work, insofar as many of the archetypes to be worked with can be found there. It took about 30 days of work before I actually got this functioning correctly, but my own dream recollection is approximately 90% now, and I often remember several dreams from the same night. Also, my lucidity is at around 10% of total.

Merry Reproduction in a Barn Day!

MCP, TempleBabel
Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud
Sri Palindrome.151

Lucid Dreaming: Awake in Your Sleep?

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From Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 15 Summer 1991, pages 362-370

What could it mean to be conscious in your dreams? For most of us, dreaming is something quite separate from normal life. When we wake up from being chased by a ferocious tiger, or seduced by a devastatingly good-looking Nobel Prize winner we realize with relief or disappointment that “it was only a dream.”

Yet there are some dreams that are not like that. Lucid dreams are dreams in which you know at the time that you are dreaming. That they are different from ordinary dreams is obvious as soon as you have one. The experience is something like waking up in your dreams. It is as though you “come to” and find you are dreaming.

Lucid dreams used to be a topic within psychical research and parapsychology. Perhaps their incomprehensibility made them good candidates for being thought paranormal. More recently, however, they have begun to appear in psychology journals and have dropped out of parapsychology – a good example of how the field of parapsychology shrinks when any of its subject matter is actually explained.

Lucidity has also become something of a New Age fad. There are machines and gadgets you can buy and special clubs you can join to learn how to induce lucid dreams. But this commercialization should not let us lose sight of the very real fascination of lucid dreaming. It forces us to ask questions about the nature of consciousness, deliberate control over our actions, and the nature of imaginary worlds.

A Real Dream or Not?

The term lucid dreaming was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in 1913. It is something of a misnomer since it means something quite different from just clear or vivid dreaming. Nevertheless we are certainly stuck with it. Van Eeden explained that in this sort of dream “the re-integration of the psychic functions is so complete that the sleeper reaches a state of perfect awareness and is able to direct his attention, and to attempt different acts of free volition. Yet the sleep, as I am able confidently to state, is undisturbed, deep, and refreshing.”

This implied that there could be consciousness during sleep, a claim many psychologists denied for more than 50 years. Orthodox sleep researchers argued that lucid dreams could not possibly be real dreams. If the accounts were valid, then the experiences must have occurred during brief moments of wakefulness or in the transition between waking and sleeping, not in the kind of deep sleep in which rapid eye movements (REMs) and ordinary dreams usually occur. In other words, they could not really be dreams at all.

This presented a challenge to lucid dreamers who wanted to convince people that they really were awake in their dreams. But of course when you are deep asleep and dreaming you cannot shout, “Hey! Listen to me. I’m dreaming right now.” All the muscles of the body are paralyzed.

It was Keith Hearne (1978), of the University of Hull, who first exploited the fact that not all the muscles are paralyzed. In REM sleep the eyes move. So perhaps a lucid dreamer could signal by moving the eyes in a predetermined pattern. Just over ten years ago, lucid dreamer Alan Worsley first managed this is in Hearne’s laboratory. He decided to move his eyes left and right eight times in succession whenever he became lucid. Using a polygraph, Hearne could watch the eye movements for sign of the special signal. He found it in the midst of REM sleep. So lucid dreams are real dreams and do occur during REM sleep.

Further research showed that Worsley’s lucid dreams most often occurred in the early morning, around 6:30 A.M., nearly half an hour into a REM period and toward the end of a burst of rapid eye movements. They usually lasted for two to five minutes. Later research showed that they occur at times of particularly high arousal during REM sleep (Hearne 1978).

It is sometimes said that discoveries in science happen when the time is right for them. It was one of those odd things that at just the same time, but unbeknown to Hearne, Stephen LaBerge, at Stanford University in California, was trying the same experiment. He too succeeded, but resistance to the idea was very strong. In 1980, both Science and Nature rejected his first paper on the discovery (LaBerge 1985). It was only later that it became clear what an important step this had been.

An Identifiable State?

It would be especially interesting if lucid dreams were associated with a unique physiological state. In fact this has not been found, although this is not very surprising since the same is true of other altered states, such as out-of-body experiences and trances of various kinds. However, lucid dreams do tend to occur in periods of higher cortical arousal. Perhaps a certain threshold of arousal has to be reached before awareness can be sustained.

The beginning of lucidity (marked by eye signals, of course) is associated with pauses in breathing, brief changes in heart rate, and skin response changes, but there is no unique combination that allows the lucidity to be identified by an observer.

In terms of the dream itself, there are several features that seem to provoke lucidity. Sometimes heightened anxiety or stress precedes it. More often there is a kind of intellectual recognition that something “dreamlike” or incongruous is going on (Fox 1962; Green 1968; LaBerge 1985).

It is common to wake from an ordinary dream and wonder, “How on earth could I have been fooled into thinking that I was really doing push-ups on a blue beach?” A little more awareness is shown when we realize this in the dream. If you ask yourself, “Could this be a dream?” and answer “No” (or don’t answer at all), this is called a pre-lucid dream. Finally, if you answer “Yes”, it becomes a fully lucid dream.

It could be that once there is sufficient cortical arousal it is possible to apply a bit of critical thought; to remember enough about how the world ought to be to recognize the dream world as ridiculous, or perhaps to remember enough about oneself to know that these events can’t be continuous with normal waking life. However, tempting as it is to conclude that the critical insight produces the lucidity, we have only an apparent correlation and cannot deduce cause and effect from it.

Becoming a Lucid Dreamer

Surveys have show that about 50 percent of people (and in some cases more) have had at least one lucid dream in their lives. (see, for example, Blackmore 1982; Gackenbach and LaBerge 1988; Green 1968.) Of course surveys are unreliable in that many people may not understand the question. In particular, if you have never had a lucid dream, it is easy to misunderstand what is meant by the term. So overestimates might be expected. Beyond this, it does not seem that surveys can find out much. There are no very consistent differences between lucid dreamers and others in terms of age, sex, education, and so on (Green 1968; Gackenbach and LaBerge 1988).

For many people, having lucid dream is fun, and they want to learn how to have more or to induce them at will. One finding from early experimental work was that high levels of physical (and emotional) activity during the day tend to precede lucidity at night. Waking during the night and carrying out some kind of activity before falling asleep again can also encourage a lucid dream during the next REM period and is the basis of some induction techniques.

Many methods have been developed (Gackenbach and Bosveld 1989; Tart 1988; Price and Cohen 1988). They roughly fall into three categories.

One of the best known is LaBerge’s MILD (Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming). This is done on waking in the early morning from a dream. You should wake up fully, engage in some activity like reading or walking about, and then lie down to go to sleep again. Then you must imagine yourself asleep and dreaming, rehearse the dream from which you woke, and remind yourself, “Next time I dream this I want to remember I’m dreaming.”

A second approach involves constantly reminding yourself to become lucid throughout the day rather than the night. This is based on the idea that we spend most of our time in a kind of waking daze. If we could be more lucid in waking life, perhaps we could be more lucid while dreaming. German psychologist Paul Tholey suggests asking yourself many times every day, “Am I dreaming or not?” This sound easy but is not. It takes a lot of determination and persistence not to forget all about it. For those who do forget, French researcher Clerc suggests writing a large “C” on your hand (for “conscious”) to remind you (Tholey 1983; Gackenbach and Bosveld 1989).

This kind of method is similar to the age-old technique for increasing awareness by meditation and mindfulness. Advanced practitioners of meditation claim to maintain awareness through a large proportion of their sleep. TM is often claimed to lead to sleep awareness. So perhaps it is not surprising that some recent research finds association between meditation and increased lucidity (Gackenbach and Bosveld 1989).

The third and final approach requires a variety of gadgets. The idea is to use some sort of external signal to remind people, while they are actually in REM sleep, that they are dreaming. Hearne first tried spraying water onto sleepers’ faces or hands but found it too unreliable. This sometimes caused them to incorporate water imagery into their dreams, but they rarely became lucid. He eventually decided to use a mild electrical shock to the wrist. His “dream machine” detects changes in breathing rate (which accompany the onset of REM) and then automatically delivers a shock to the wrist (Hearne 1990).

Meanwhile, in California, LaBerge was rejecting taped voices and vibrations and working instead with flashing lights. The original version was laboratory based and used a personal computer to detect the eye movements of REM sleep and to turn on flashing lights whenever the REMs reached a certain level. Eventually, however, all the circuitry was incorporated into a pair of goggles. The idea is to put the goggles on at night, and the lights will flash only when you are asleep and dreaming. The user can even control the level of eye movements at which the lights begin to flash.

The newest version has a chip incorporated into the goggles. This will not only control the lights but will store data on eye-movement density during the night and when and for how long the lights were flashing, making fine tuning possible. At the moment, the first users have to join in workshops at LaBerge’s Lucidity Institute and learn how to adjust the settings, but within a few months he hopes the whole process will be fully automated. (See LaBerge’s magazine, DreamLight.)

LaBerge tested the effectiveness of the Dream Light on 44 subjects who came into the laboratory, most for just one night. Fifty-five percent had at least one lucid dream this way. The results suggested that this method is about as successful as MILD, but using the two together is the most effective (LaBerge 1985).

Lucid Dreams as an Experimental Tool

There are a few people who can have lucid dreams at will. And the increase in induction techniques has provided many more subjects who have them frequently. This has opened the way to using lucid dreams to answer some of the most interesting questions about sleep and dreaming.

How long do dreams take? In the last century, Alfred Maury had a long and complicated dream that led to his being beheaded by a guillotine. He woke up terrified, and found that the headboard of his bed had fallen on his neck. From this, the story goes, he concluded that the whole dream had been created in the moment of awakening.

This idea seems to have got into popular folklore but was very hard to test. Researchers woke dreamers at various stages of their REM period and found that those who had been longer in REM claimed longer dreams. However, accurate timing became possible only when lucid dreamers could send “markers” from the dream state.

LaBerge asked his subjects to signal when they became lucid and then count a ten-second period and signal again. Their average interval was 13 seconds, the same as they gave when awake. Lucid dreamers, like Alan Worsley, have also been able to give accurate estimates of the length of whole dreams or dream segments (Schatzman, Worsley, and Fenwick 1988).

Dream Actions

As we watch sleeping animals it is often tempting to conclude that they are moving their eyes in response to watching a dream, or twitching their legs as they dream of chasing prey. But do physical movements actually relate to the dream events?

Early sleep researchers occassionally reported examples like a long series of left-right eye movements when a dreamer had been dreaming of watching a ping-pong game, but they could do no more than wait until the right sort of dream came along.

Lucid dreaming made proper experimentation possible, for the subjects could be asked to perform a whole range of tasks in their dreams. In one experiment with researchers Morton Schatzman and Peter Fenwick, in London, Worsley planned to draw large triangles and to signal with flicks of his eyes every time he did so. While he dreamed, the electromyogram, recording small muscle movements, showed not only the eye signals but spikes of electrical activity in the right forearm just afterward. This showed that the preplanned actions in the dream produced corresponding muscle movements (Schatzman, Worsley, and Fenwick 1988).

Further experiments, with Worsley kicking dream objects, writing with umbrellas, and snapping his fingers, all confirmed that the muscles of the body show small movements corresponding to the body’s actions in the dream. The question about eye movements was also answered. The eyes do track dream objects. Worsley could even produce slow scanning movements, which are very difficult to produce in the absence of a “real” stimulus (Schatzman, Worsley, and Fenwick 1988).

LaBerge was especially interested in breathing during dreams. This stemmed from his experiences at age five when he had dreamed of being an undersea pirate who could stay under water for very long periods without drowning. Thirty years later he wanted to find out whether dreamers holding their breath in dreams do so physically as well. The answer was yes. He and other lucid dreamers were able to signal from the dream and then hold their breath. They could also breathe rapidly in their dreams, as revealed on the monitors. Studying breathing during dreamed speech, he found that the person begins to breathe out at the start of an utterance just as in real speech (LaBerge and Dement 1982a).

Hemispheric Differences

It is known that the left and right hemispheres are activated differently during different kinds of tasks. For example, singing uses the right hemisphere more, while counting and other, more analytical tasks use the left hemisphere more. By using lucid dreams, LaBerge was able to find out whether the same is true in dreaming.

In one dream he found himself flying over a field. (Flying is commonly associated with lucid dreaming.) He signalled with his eyes and began to sing “Row, row, row your boat….” He then made another signal and counted slowly to ten before signaling again. The brainwave records showed just the same patterns of activation that you would expect if he had done these tasks while awake (LaBerge and Dement 1982b).

Dream Sex

Although it is not often asked experimentally, I am sure plenty of people have wondered what is happening in their bodies while they have their most erotic dreams.

LaBerge tested a woman who could dream lucidly at will and could direct her dreams to create the sexual experiences she wanted. (What a skill!) Using appropriate physiological recording, he was able to show that her dream orgasms were matched by true orgasms (LaBerge, Greenleaf, and Kedzierski 1983).

Experiments like these show that there is a close correspondence between actions of the dreamer and, if not real movements, at least electrical responses. This puts lucid dreaming somewhere between real actions, in which muscles work to move the body, and waking imagery, in which they are rarely involved at all. So what exactly is the status of the dream world?

The Nature of the Dream World

It is tempting to think that the real world and the world of dreams are totally separate. Some of the experiments already mentioned show that there is no absolute dividing line. There are also plenty of stories that show the penetrability of the boundary.

Alan Worsley describes one experiment in which his task was to give himself a prearranged number of small electric shocks by means of a machine measuring his eye movements. He went to sleep and began dreaming that it was raining and he was in a sleeping bag by a fence with gate in it. He began to wonder whether he was dreaming and thought it would be cheating to activate the shocks if he was awake. Then, while making the signals, he worried about the machine, for it was out there with him in the rain and might get wet (Schatzman, Worsley, and Fenwick 1988).

This kind of interference is amusing, but there are dreams of confusion that are not. The most common and distinct are called false awakenings. You dream of waking up but in fact, of course, are still asleep. Van Eeden (1913) called these “wrong waking up” and described them as “demoniacal, uncanny, and very vivid and bright, with … a strong diabolical light.” The French zoologist Yves Delage, writing in 1919, described how he had heard a knock at his door and a friend calling for his help. He jumped out of bed, went to wash quickly with cold water, and when that woke him up he realized he had been dreaming. The sequence repeated four times before he finally actually woke up – still in bed.

A student of mine described her infuriating recurrent dream of getting up, cleaning her teeth, getting dressed, and then cycling all the way to the medical school at the top of a long hill, where she finally would realize that she had dreamed it all, was late for lectures, and would have to do it all over again for real.

The one positive benefit of false awakenings is that they can sometimes be used to induce out-of-body-experiences (OBEs). Indeed, Oliver Fox (1962) recommends this as a method for achieving the OBE. For many people OBEs and lucid dreams are practically indistinguishable. If you dream of leaving your body, the experience is much the same. Also recent research suggests that the same people tend to have both lucid dreams and OBEs (Blackmore 1988, Irwin 1988).

All of these experiences have something in common. In all of them the “real” wolrd has been replaced by some kind of imaginary replica. Celia Green, of the Institute of Psychophysical Research at Oxford, refers to all such states as “metachoric experiences.”

Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist from the University of Alberta, Canada, relates these experiences to UFO-abduction stories and near-death-experiences (NDEs). The UFO abductions are the most bizarre but are similar in that they too involve the replacement of the perceived world by a hallucinatory replica.

There is an important difference between lucid dreams and these other states. In the lucid dream one has insight into the state (in fact that defines it). In false awakening, one does not (again by definition). In typical OBEs, people think they have really left their bodies. In UFO “abductions” they believe the little green men are “really there”; and in NDEs, they are convinced they are rushing down a real tunnel toward a real light and into the next world. It is only in the lucid dream that one realizes it is a dream.

I have often wondered whether insight into these other experiences is possible and what the consequences might be. So far I don’t have any answers.

Waking Up

The oddest thing about lucid dreams – and, to many people who have them, the most compelling – is how it feels when you wake up. Upon waking up from a normal dream, you usually think, “Oh, that was only a dream.” Waking up from a lucid dream is more continuous. It feels more real, it feels as though you were conscious in the dream. Why is this? I think the reason can be found by looking at the mental models the brain constructs in waking, in ordinary dreaming, and in lucid dreams.

I have previously argued that what seems real is the most stable mental model in the system at any time. In waking life, this is almost always the input-driven model, the one that is built up from the sensory input. It is firmly linked to the body image to make a stable model of “me, here, now.” It is easy to decide that this represents “reality” while all the other models being used at the same time are “just imagination” (Blackmore 1988).

Now consider an ordinary dream. In that case there are lots of models being built but no input-driven model. In addition there is no adequate self-model or body image. There is just not enough access to memory to construct it. This means, if my hypothesis is right, that whatever model is most stable at any time will seem real. But there is no recognizable self to whom it seems real. There will just be a series of competing models coming and going. Is this what dreaming feels like?

Finally, we know from research that in the lucid dream there is higher arousal. Perhaps this is sufficient to construct a better model of self. It is one that includes such important facts as that you have gone to sleep, that you intended to signal with your eyes, and so on. It is also more similar to the normal waking self than those fleeting constructions of the ordinary dream. This, I suggest, is what makes the dream seem more real on waking up. Because the you who remembers the dream is more similar to the you in the dream. Indeed, because there was a better model of you, you were more conscious.

If this is right, it means that lucid dreams are potentially even more interesting than we thought. As well as providing insight into the nature of sleep and dreams, they may give clues to the nature of consciousness itself.


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Susan J. Blackmore is with the Perceptual Systems Research Centre, Department of Psychology, University of Bristol, and the School of Social Sciences, University of Bath.

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