Dream Experience

From The SpiritWiki

A Dream Experience is a type of Connection Experience that occurs in a dream while the Physical Unit is asleep. Dream events are marked by their "abnormal" character, and the transmission of useful insight, awareness, and information.

List of Connection Experience Types

Connection Experience > Activation Experience, Aesthetic Experience, Birth Experience, Clearing Experience, Completion Experience, Death Experience, Deep Flow, Diminutive Experience, Dream Experience, Flow Experience, Forced Connection, Healing Experience, Nadir Experience, Peak Experience, Plateau Experience, Push Experience, Rebirth Experience, Restorative Experience, Union Experience, Unity Experience, Zenith Experience


Swami Akhilananda reports several dream events that contain

  • prophetic content (predicting the onset of a disease, remote sensing a disaster),
  • spiritual or practical guidance (religious instruction),
  • Initiatory experiences
  • visionary experiences of "spiritual joy and realization," and so on. [1]

and which can lead to permanent changes in life course, mental health, and so on.


Innumerable artists and filmmakers have depicted images that came to them in their sleep. Mary Shelley dreamed the two main scenes that became Frankenstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson did the same with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Ludwig van Beethoven, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel all awoke to discover new tunes ringing in their minds. Mahatma Gandhi’s call for a nonviolent protest of British rule of India was inspired by a dream.[2]

The Huron (originally Ouendat, in Oklahoma as the Wyandot) - a horticultural people.

Dreaming is a central feature of the "formation and dynamics of the Huron religious worldview..." [3] Indeed, amongst the Huron, dreams are "regarded as a religious phenomenon." Dreams are an essential aspect of communication with the spirit world (see Huron cosmology)

"Dreams provided one of the most fundamental means by which communication was maintained with the various sacred beings, either mythic or animal, that constituted the ultimate sources of spiritual empowerment in the Huron cosmology. Through dreams traditional values and teachings were validated and functioned to sanction the immediacy of a mythically defined cosmology. Dreams also3 provided a basis for ceremonial enactment and social interactions that reinforced the sacred character of the Huron world order."[4]

C.G. Jung

Psychologist C.G. Jung gleaned many "radical insights"[5] from his many dream experiences. "Day after day we live far beyond the bounds of our consciousness....Without our knowledge, the life of the unconscious is also going on within us ... communicating things to us ... synchronistic phenomenon, premonitions, and dreams. [6]

Harold Johson of the Woodlands Cree notes that the Cree had institutionalized the pursuit of dreams/vision as Connection Events. "In our traditional society, each person is allowed to experience being a spirit in a physical body and to grow their own understanding of what that means. We don’t tell each other how to be. Everyone is free to go up on a high hill or some other isolated place to fast and pray and develop their understanding....the understanding that we receive is uniquely our own. The dreams and the visions we sometimes receive are given to us to help us along our path."[7]

Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota have a special place for dreams/visions. "The word 'dream' is used to describe visions, but visions are more intensely real than ordinary dreams and can come to people when they are awake or asleep. Most male visions granted powers to heal and defend. Female visions enabled healing and skill in the arts."[8]

The Ojibwe have (had) institutionalized the connection dream experience in the selection of "Dreamers," or girls with a special ability to connect in dreams and draw insight. [9]

One morning in the summer of Oona's seventh year there was a piece of charcoal by her morning meal. She knew the time had come when she must take serious thought of life. She must either pick up the charcoal and go into the forest to learn whether she had a special gift, or she could ignore the charcoal and eat her morning meal. This was the custom of the people, to learn which girls would be Dreamers or Medicine People."[10]

The Maori give space for spiritual communication in dreams. In dreams, they may receive warnings, visit dead relatives, identify and assess threats, and so on. [11]

The Maori's arrival in New Zealand is predicated on the dream of an Irakewa whose spirit (wairu) travelled to New Zealand during his sleep and returned with instructions on how to move from Tahiti to New Zealand.

According to Maori tradition, one Irakewa was an influential man of the land known as Tawhiti, some 500 years ago, a land that lies far away towards the rising sun. And, as Irakewa slept, his wairua came from that far land and traversed the great seas to Aotea-roa (New Zealand), and then returned to Tawhiti. When Irakewa awoke, he said to his people:—“There is a land far away which is a good land for you to go to. There is a waterfall there, and a cave on the hill-side, and the rock standing in the river there is myself.” That rock was the kohiwitanga of Irakewa. Then the vessel Matātua came from that land and brought many people to Aotea-roa. And they found the waterfall, the cave, and the rock at Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty, where they settled and where their descendants have since dwelt, even twenty generations of men.[12]

Wiccan Starhawk provides several anecdotal accounts of significant and meaningful dream events, carrying personal messages.[13]

The Ojibway encouraging fasting as a way to induce a connection experience. When a young females begins to menstruate, they "...must go into the forest, build a ba-ca-ne-ge, a small lodge for herself, and fast. There she will stay for a period of ten days, or as long as she can. During this time she has no contact with anyone. She will neither leave the lodge for a long period of time nor go very far from it. The longer she fasts, the clearer will be her dreams of what she will do in life. If she is a Dreamer or a Medicine Person, her visions will confirm this."[14]

"Among some Inuit of the Arctic, one way to have a successful quest for power was to spend four or five days in a special isolated igloo in the depths of winter without food or water. When the specified time elapsed, an elder, usually a shaman, opened the igloo and brought the person home. The igloo did not have even an oil lamp to heat it, so the suffering from extreme cold was combined with suffering from lack of water and food."[15]

Dreams, especially those with animal powers (i.e. jaguar) are often seen as indications that an individual has shamanic potential/power.[16]

Deloria provides extensive examples of dream events experienced by indigenous North Americans. He notes that "the ordinary person had as much opportunity to receive special messages as did the people who sought out the experience in visions."[17]

Further Reading

Irwin, Lee. 1990a  The Bridge of Dreams: Myth, Dreams and Visions in Native North America.  Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.==Footnotes==

  1. Akhilananda, Swami. Hindu Psychology: Its Meaning in the West. Routledge, 1948. p. 66-69.
  2. Barrett, Deirdre. “Answers in Your Dreams.” Scientific American, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericanmind1111-26.
  3. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 260.
  4. Irwin, Lee. “The Huron-Jesuit Relations: Contesting Dreams, Confirming Worldviews.” Religion 22 (1992): 259–70. p. 261.
  5. ———. Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Search. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1989. p. 40.
  6. Carl Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. New York: Vintage, 1968. p. 302
  7. Johnson, Harold R. Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours). U of R Press, 2016. https://amzn.to/2D142T4.
  8. Rice, Julian. Before the Great Spirit: The Many Faces of Sioux Spirituality. University of New Mexico, 1998. p. 6. https://amzn.to/2C9fM5E.
  9. Ignatia Broker, Night Flying Woman: An Ojibway Narrative (Minnesota: Minnesota Historial Society Press, 1983)
  10. Ignatia Broker, Night Flying Woman: An Ojibway Narrative (Minnesota: Minnesota Historial Society Press, 1983: p. 51)
  11. Best, Elsdon. “Spiritual Concepts of the Maori: Part I.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 6, no. 1 (1900): 173–99.
  12. Best, Elsdon. “Spiritual Concepts of the Maori: Part I.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 6, no. 1 (1900): 180-1.
  13. Starhawk. Spiral Dance, The - 20th Anniversary: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess: 20th Anniversary Edition: Starhawk: 9780676974676: Gateway - Amazon.Ca. New York: Harper One, 2011
  14. Ignatia Broker, Night Flying Woman: An Ojibway Narrative (Minnesota: Minnesota Historial Society Press, 1983: 95).
  15. Harner, Michael. Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2013.
  16. Rogers, Spencer L. The Shaman: His Symbols and His Healing Power. Illinois: Charles Thomas Publishers, 1982.
  17. Deloria, Vine Jr. The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing, 2006. p. 1.