Ever wonder what your dreams are trying to tell you? Welcome to the general confusion as a planet of sleepers struggle to decode the symbology and sometimes just plain silliness of their dreamscapes.
And what do we make of the fact that in this culture, these mental movies often have universal subjects: exams where you realize you haven't been to class all year, crumbling teeth, flying, finding new rooms in your apartment and you're all "Holy cow! How come I never knew these were here?"
Then there are precognition dreams. Everyone has had them - at least I've never met anyone who hasn't. While they may predict a big event (someone I know dreamt an intruder was waving a gun around her workplace, and the next day the place was robbed at gunpoint), that's not always the case.
More often than not, you just walk into a building you've never been to before and think, "Hey I dreamt about this last night."
What does any of this mean? And is there a way to make slumber time's psychic happenings work for you?
What the experts say
"Dreaming is highly influenced by the moon, its location and phase and relationship to the dreamer. When the moon is in the sign it was in on the day of your birth, the dream can be particularly powerful. Or on any given night if the moon is crossing near one of the planets, you're going to want to look at how that dream might be speaking to you. We absolutely do have prophetic, clairvoyant and telepathic dreams. This could be either tuning into something about to happen or something that has already, though you have no way of knowing. Or the event might not happen for a year or two, but you might realize then that you prophesied it. The best way to know if you are dreaming prophetically is to pay attention to the lunar influence. All dreamers have their own patterns, so you have to do a little homework, but when the moon is in the phase and sign that works for you, you can have the Big Power Day dream."
CONNIE KAPLAN, Turtledreamers, Santa Monica, California
"Westerners are sleep-deprived, and we are just as dream-deprived. Our lifestyle factors, cultural values and alcohol consumption suppress dreaming, as do lots of medications. Most antidepressants suppress dreaming. The loss of dreaming is a primary overlooked cause of depression. We say metaphorically that depressed people have lost their dreams. The way we wake up affects whether or not we remember dreams. Grogginess is a very important altered state. I recommend awakening slowly and letting yourself linger in the groggy state. Don't go searching for the dream. It will come to you."
RUBIN NAIMAN, clinical psychologist, professor, U of Arizona, Tucson, author, Healing Night: The Science And Spirit Of Sleeping, Dreaming And Awakening
"You really need to know the feelings that go with the dream and to connect those with issues in your life. The one about the exam you haven't studied for is an anxiety dream, but this is what you have to decode. Anxiety dreams run worst-case scenarios, and their function is to alert you so you can be better prepared. Dreams are thoughts of the heart. They tell us what's on the cutting edge of our most important feelings. Keep a dream journal. The most important book you'll read about dreams is the one you write yourself."
ALAN SIEGEL, psychology professor, U of California - Berkeley, author, Dream Wisdom
"There is good scientific research supporting the existence of precognitive dreams. Something will happen that is so similar to the dream, it's hard to believe it's just a coincidence. It's easy to imagine that there is an evolutionary purpose to this ability. I'm not aware of any person who has any control over or understanding about when this is going to happen. It's not something we can manipulate. When we were hunters and gatherers, and in tribal groups today, shamans used visions or what we might call remote viewing to get information like where the herds were or what enemies were up to. Some dismiss such things as superstition and some believe this is a rudimentary skill, part of our basic survival equipment. I look at it as a reminder that there's something bigger going on."
DAVID VAN NUYS, professor emeritus of psychology, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California
"Dreamland is a rich and complex spirit geography. Dreams can be interpreted on multiple levels simultaneously. One level could be about your day-to-day life, another your personal psychology and yet another interacting with spirit beings trying to guide your life. Not every dream can be interpreted on all levels. Symbols have multiple layers as well. Anyone can interpret anything in any way, and multiple interpretations can all be true. Everything is a dream, and all dreams are real. You can shift circumstances through dreamweaving, where you re-dream the dream of your life and re-weave the fabric of reality."
DAVID LANG, shamanic practitioner, Eugene, Oregon