1-8-00 21:14:06 -0400 (EDT)
I had a lot of dreams as a child and remember three to this day (two nightmares and one of a visit from my recently deceased mother). I remember enjoying my dreams and having hardly any nightmares. I am told I talked a great deal in my sleep and also sleep-walked occasionally. So nighttime seemed to have been a busy time for me!
The adults in my family were basically kind to and tolerant of me when I would tell of a dream. Much the way they were about my drawings and paintings (I was slated to be the family's visual artist). They never discouraged me and would listen (or look), but I never felt deeply engaged by them. So I would only share when impelled by enthusiasm.
I have no idea what the larger community's attitude was about dreams. But that statement probably says it all ... dreams weren't taken seriously enough to even be talked about. Except in that usual way of "I had the strangest dream last night ... (laugh, laugh)."
I started writing poetry in my teens and found dreams to be a great source of ideas /images. This has stayed true to the present ... over 50 years later.
In my middle 20's, I went into psychotherapy and, of course, found further reason to pay close attention to dreams. For the first time I was seriously analyzing my dreams. (Up to this point, I had basically only related to them as a creative source.) This was when I began carefully recording my dreams and what I felt about them.
Then, when I was 38, I was introduced to The Tarot and immediately began using the cards to explore dreams. This upped the amount of time and energy I put into my dream journals.
I continued this way (recording, analyzing, writing poetry about dreams) until my late 40 's, when I heard about the ASD Convention that was to be held in New York. I attended and found my commitment deepened even more. In the years after, I offered a class on exploring dreams via poetry and Tarot, and eventually produced a (paper format) dreams /dream-based poetry journal. This journal is now a web-site for dreams, poetry and Tarot -- "Pegasus Dreaming."
This is a difficult question, because at any given time with any given dream, any aspect you mention could be my operating definition.
Additionally, I think of some dreams as possibly (gasp!) having no inherent meaning but what we attribute to them. Sort of sophisticated Rorschach tests. But this understanding shouldn't minimize some dreams importance ... we need ways to connect with those parts of existence that are beyond/outside our daily, ego selves. So maybe its our capacity to find meaning in them that gives some dreams their value. Only a thought. And I do not mean to say here that our dreamworld may not also be a spiritual doorway, nor to say that dream telepathy and clarivoyance does not occur, and so on. These things I certainly believe, as I have experienced them myself in dreams. I'm simply tossing another way of understanding some dreams into the stew.
Dreams are of great benefit to my life. As mentioned above, they are a source of inspiration for creative writing. They tell me things I need to know ... recently two dreams (on different nights) pointed me toward taking belly dance classes ... and I have, and I'm very glad I did! They are a way I share intimately with friends.
Dreams will take up as much time in my life as I let them! There are times when I have been overwhelmed with 5 to 7 big dreams a night. Well, having those dreams is not the problem. But recording them and exploring them is ... I simply do not have the time for that much journaling. These are the times when I stop recording for a little while, and my recall slows down ... until I start recording again. Then there's all the time I give to my web site. That, too, will take up as much time as I permit it to.
I occasionally make attempts at dream incubation (I have mixed results) and have sporadically over the past 7 or so years tried to develop lucid dreaming skills (minor success).
I've always had a very "soft" definition of dreams. It changes as I learn and change. But I am always grateful for the treasures that dreams offer.
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