Dreams of the Deceased
Throughout history when the deceased have entered our dreams they’ve frightened us, warned us about imminent events or comforted and advised us. For most, dreaming about loved ones they’ve lost is fairly common. For me, it’s always been dead souls, zombies and figures I don’t know.
As a child I interacted with the dead so often some people (like my mother) would suggest seeing a psychologist. And yes, these nightmares were truly unbearable at one time, especially during early adolescence when I found myself asking the sweet Catholic nuns of yesteryear questions about the afterlife. Their reply: You must have faith, dear girl.
Not good enough.
Nightmares provided me with an avenue in which to question the formation of religion across cultures and their views of death. If our ancestors saw the deceased in their dreams wouldn’t this call into question the conclusiveness of death? Who were these figures haunting my dreams? Were they symbolic stand ins? Or was I seeing the dead in a non physical form?
In her book The Dream Messenger: How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts (Chapter 1), Patricia Garfield provides many examples of how the departed bring messages to the living or warning about events that have not occurred. In other cases, dreaming of the deceased allows the dreamer to participate in the grieving process. It’s remarkable how the departed can provide emotional and symbolic healing.
The departed can also help the dreamer achieve lucidity or “wake up” inside the dream. If you know the figure you see is no longer living, you have at least two options. You can reunite with this person and have a satisfying experience. Or you could write off the whole thing as something that occurs in your mind-it isn’t real.
Robert Waggoner, author of Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self suggests a more interesting alternative. Ask the deceased figure for information you couldn’t possibly know. When you wake up, ascertain whether or not the information is true and you could come to the conclusion you had a valid interaction with the deceased. If the information is incorrect, perhaps the figure was a thought form or symbol.
Unfortunately, the deceased I interact with do not speak. Once my adversaries I found my own way to cope with them. I built a shed in the Land of the Dead and sat and watched them from above. I did this for countless dreams before I could come down and walk amongst them. When I finally did, I noticed the fear did not go away. It’s always there, but I realized whether or not they are thought forms, symbols, or valid interactions I must aid them.
Garfield, Patricia. The Dream Messenger: How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts. New York: Simon and Schuster,1997.
Moss, Robert. Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination, and Life Beyond Death. Novato: New World Library, 2010.
Waggoner, Robert. Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self. Needham: Moment Point Press, 2009.