Mutual Lucid Dream Event
© 1997 E. W. Kellogg III, Ph.D. (Published in Dream Time, 14(2), 32-34, (1997)
"If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke - Ay! - and what then?" Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In our culture, most people see dreams as just a subjective fantasy, a personal experience that has no relation to "objective reality". Hence the phrase "just a dream", meaning an experience that has little or no importance in the "real" world.
Some western researchers act as if current neurophysiological theory, which posits that dreams consist of purely subjective productions of the sleeping brain, constitutes a fact, rather than a theory. To many experienced dreamers, such an attitude seems both limiting and naive. Many other cultures consider dreams to take place in a spiritual realm, just as "real" as the physical world. Rather than confusing theories with facts, it makes sense to adopt a phenomenological viewpoint, which gives priority to the territory of experience. This means that we revise our maps to fit our territories, instead of distorting our perceptions to fit our preconceptions.
What if the dream world did not seem quite so subjective and solipsistic as that presupposed by current neurophysiological theory? What if we do somehow connect in some way with friends and strangers while our physical bodies sleep? What if after waking up tomorrow, you compared dreams with a friend you had not seen in two years and found that you had both dreamed of the other, in a way that simple coincidence could not adequately explain? What then? Perhaps you might begin to question whether a dream really does seem such a "fine and private place" after all.
On December 20, 1994, Harvey Grady and myself experienced such an event, in a mutual lucid dream.
Ed Kellogg's Lucid Dream
"In a sort of archeological dig - in Mexico - I see people digging for gold, peasants, in a sandy Sonoran type desert. We find huge old wagons on the side of the road, from a circus or something, which had bones of elephants and/or lions, etc. I go with the group - realize that I dream, but don't know if they realize it - a sort of virtual reality field trip. I talk with the leaders and they respond. I see [Harvey Grady], and tell him to give me a collect call on waking up to WPR (waking physical reality), if he recalls this dream, and to let me know if he really does participate in a WPR tour at this time. [Harvey] looks like he just shaved off his beard. He shows me some old airplanes in a museum, and I look forward to virtually flying them, although I wonder what would happen to my physical body if I crash. ...(my lucid dream continues, but I leave [Harvey] behind)."
I had my dream with [Harvey] in the early morning, probably between 5 and 8 a.m. In this dream I remained open to the possibility that the dream [Harvey] might (or might not) exist in a consensual sense comparable to physical reality. I therefore gave Harvey a long distance call to check for confirmation, (after waiting a bit to see if he would call me collect as I had instructed). I connected with his answering machine, and left a message telling him only that I had dreamed of him the night before, and to please get back to me. Harvey and I then played telephone tag on our respective answering machines. I finally talked with him on the phone , carefully avoiding questions that might "lead the witness". Harvey gave me a brief account of his dream in which he related that he met with me, and with a small group of people, and that we headed into a range of old mountains, somewhat desolate and broken down, like in the Holy Land, or Nevada, or parts of Arizona and New Mexico. At this point I confirmed that his dream seemed very similar to mine, and asked if he had participated in an archeological expedition (the only detail I shared from my dream), and he said he did not recall this. I asked him to please write the dream down in detail, which he finally did on Feb. 11, 1995.
Harvey Grady's Lucid Dream
"I remember Ed and three or four other men, whom I knew in the dream but not in daytime, talking about an expedition to explore for probable archeological records, then traveling to an arid desert area with desiccated hills and twisted arroyos, where we split up to search the surface soil for possible artifacts. We also watched for caves. We were dressed appropriately with hats for shade, a little reminiscent of Indiana Jones.
The land in the dream was similar to Israel hill country, or arid portions of Arizona, Nevada, or New Mexico. We were searching for ancient artifacts, like (from) Atlantis or Mu. I recognized that the dream dealt only with one part of an ongoing series of the search for evidence of ancient civilizations.
In the dream, I felt that we were going through the motions of the search in the astral plane in order to establish energetic templates for the persons who would conduct the search on the physical plane. The energetic templates created from our experiences would guide the search of some physical explorers. Therefore, we went through the motions of the search like actors playing out roles, in order to generate thoughts, emotions, and desires for the template.
In the role of explorers, we acted as though we were ignorant and blindly searching for something we had only slight reason to expect might be there. On a higher level, as actors outside of the role, we knew what would eventually be found. We were well aware of the ancient civilizations and their contributions to history and had accepted tasks in helping reveal them to the physical plane. This double level of awareness made the dream more interesting to me."
Comment Unfortunately, at that time, aside from the holiday season, Harvey also underwent an IRS audit and did not have a lot of time to spare for dreamwork. However, because Harvey rarely dreams of me, he says that my presence in the dream helped him to remember it when he awoke. He experienced the dream at about 5 A.M. on December 20, 1994, but did not write the dream down until he sent me his letter on February 11th, 1995.
Our dreams display a number of interesting congruencies
1. Harvey and I appeared in each others dreams (on the same night, at about the same time).
2. We dealt with multiple levels of awareness in ourselves, including lucidity.
3. Desert locale.
4. An organized group effort of a small group of men.
5. We both saw the dream as a "rehearsal" for a physical reality event.
6. Bones or other evidence of ancient existence.
7. Digging or searching for something hidden in the earth.
Of course, aside from the similarities, many differences also exist in the two dream reports. In my experience, the dreamscape functions like a sort of Rorschach, in which dreamers selectively notice, perceive, and idiosyncratically identify some elements while ignoring others. Selective, or fragmentary, recall of the dreams afterwards further compounds the difficulties involved in making valid comparisons. Given the inconsistent nature of human observation documented in accident reports, one can no more expect an exact agreement in description for two participants in a dream event than one could expect it for a physical event which involves far fewer confounding variables. This makes the similarities shown in the two dream reports even more significant. Also, although Harvey had not shaved his beard physically, I wonder whether he in this case dreamed of himself as clean-shaven like Indiana Jones. The appearance of my dream body often differs markedly from my physical body.
The Possibility of Artifactual Contamination
Other reported mutual dreams also have many similarities, but fail to address the possibility of contamination of one dream account with the other. I will try to deal as forthrightly as possible with this issue. From the beginning, I intentionally tried to keep such contamination to a minimum, by withholding details from my dream until I had heard them independently from Harvey. Harvey confirms my telling him that I did not want to influence his dream recall by saying anything more than that I had dreamed of him.
Unfortunately, I found it necessary to get some of the details of Harvey's dream from him on the phone, when it appeared that because of the heavy constraints on his time, that he might not write down his dream account at all. After he related a number of congruent details with my dream, I asked if he had seen us on an "archeological expedition" - Harvey said he did not recall this. However, when I received his written account, the word "archeological" did show up in his account, seemingly showing at least some degree of unconscious contamination resulting from my question. At the time Harvey found himself too busy to write down his dreams, and he eventually only wrote down this specific dream because of my request.
How does Harvey explain the discrepancies between his brief verbal account given to me on the phone and his later very detailed written account? He explains it this way "Once I make a mental note about something, similar to a flag on a file, I can access the memory in detail, like opening the file and viewing the documents in it. When Ed called me, I made such a mental note and, when I had a few minutes to spare from the IRS audit, recalled the dream in detail. When Ed mentioned archeological dig on the phone, I did not remember details of the dream. I did not, at that moment, access the detailed memory. All I could remember then was a general sense of the group, including Ed, in the desert. Later, when I had time to access the dream memory, it supplied details that I could relate to Ed's comment about archeological dig. My basic impression of the dream had formed a gestalt of rehearsal in the astral plane, not a gestalt of archeological dig. So when Ed mentioned archeological dig, I didn't seem to fit my general memory of the dream."
Although I earned my Ph.D. in biochemistry, I have devoted much of my time over the past 20 years to the study of dreams. I have recorded and indexed over 10,000 of my own dreams, hundreds of these belonging to the fully lucid category. I have presented and published a number of papers on my work in this area, covering topics from lucid dream phenomenology (Kellogg 1985, 1989b, 1992), to applications such as lucid dream healing (Kellogg 1989a, 1996). I have a long-standing commitment to the disciplines of phenomenology and of general semantics, and I have applied these to my work in many different areas.
"I remembered many dreams in childhood, and at the age of fourteen read Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams". I occasionally wrote notes about powerful or puzzling dreams from my mid-teens on. At the age of seventeen, I read about Edgar Cayce, who interpreted dreams in ways that seemed much more appropriate to me than did Freud's approach. Starting at age twenty-seven I participated in an Edgar Cayce dream study group for twenty years. Today, when appropriate, I use dream interpretation and dramatization techniques in counseling others. Presently, most of my dreams belong to the semi-lucid to fully lucid categories."
My Relationship with Harvey
Although I had met Harvey years earlier, I worked most closely with him as a consultant on a project in 1986 and 1987 when Harvey served as the Director of the Fetzer Energy Medicine Research Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona. Harvey and I shared a number of interests, including a long term study of our own dreams. Since that time, I have seen him very infrequently, and had not seen, phoned, or even corresponded with him for two years or so when I had the dream in December of 1994. I also dream of (or with!) Harvey very infrequently. In fact, my rather comprehensive dream index shows only six entries up to the time of the dream, of which a dream on 8/3/1993 precedes the one given here. Harvey wrote that since we met in the early 80's, that he recalls only three or four instances in which he dreamed of me, mostly when we worked together at F.E.M.R.I. By chance alone, not even looking at dream content, one must consider a night in which Harvey and I dream of each other as a very improbable coincidence in itself.
Despite my infrequent contacts with Harvey, I do consider him one of the few people that I trust, and with whom I can share my interests freely. Linda Lane Magallón had contacted me in the Fall of 1994 about some dreams of mine that she wanted to include in her book on mutual dreaming, which brought the subject to the forefront of my attention. As a dedicated lucid dreamer with a long-standing interest in mutual dreams, I judged it as worthwhile to place a long distance call to check for confirmation. I find the similarities in the dreams amazing, and under these particular circumstances, one can not only eliminate day-residue from personal contact as a factor, but even year-residue.
If we do sometimes connect in some way with friends, relatives, and strangers in dreams while our physical bodies sleep, why do evidential reports occur so rarely? A number of factors contribute to the scarcity of such reports. For example
Factors 1- 5 seem fairly obvious, but factors 6 and 7 need some additional explanation. Factor 6, that our appearance in dreams can differ markedly from our physical appearance, makes a confusing situation even more confusing. In the physical world we habitually use appearance to determine identity. In the dream world this habit serves us poorly, as one's appearance can change, from moment to moment, and from dream to dream. I usually assume (when fully lucid) that a dream character may embody the "dream self" of a physically based friend according to how they "feel" to me, if they "feel" like my friend, rather than if they just look like them. To discriminate in this way while dreaming requires a high degree of lucidity on my part, but it can markedly reduce uncontrolled variables. The fact that lucidity played a role for both Harvey and myself in this mutual dream event may seem more than coincidental. Informed lucid dreamers might make the best population for a study of the phenomenon, because as lucidity increases so does the potential for discernment.
Factor 7 refers to the fact that the dreaming mind often shows very poor discrimination by identifying unfamiliar dream people, or things, with familiar and somewhat similar physical reality counterparts. In 1974, I had a lucid dream that led to my personal discovery of this tendency, which I called "the substitution phenomenon" (Kellogg, 1984, 1989). Lucid dreamers have experienced at least one blatant example of the "substitution phenomenon", when they realized while dreaming that they had mistakenly identified (substituted) dream reality as physical reality. But the discovery of this misidentification only begins the process of unmasking the pervasive nature of "substitution phenomena" in even the most lucid of dreams.
For example, I dream of my brother, but when I wake up to a more critical awareness in a lucid dream, I usually find that my dream [brother] does not really look like, or "feel" like, my physical reality brother, and I encounter instead a substitute whom I had misidentified as my brother in the dream. Similarly, I often dream of my home, yet on attaining lucidity I notice that my dream [home] differs in many ways from my physical home. I find the same "substitution phenomenon" in my non-lucid dreams, in that I routinely find that my interpretation of the characters and events of a dream while dreaming does not correspond to the more critical identifications I make when I review the dream after waking up. My dreaming mind seems to take the path of least resistance by identifying unfamiliar people, objects, or locales with familiar ones, quite often fitting square pegs into round holes.
In my experience, dreams, like plays, occur on at least three qualitatively different levels. First, the structural level, that consists of the stage settings and props, the raw dreamscape before we project meaning onto it. This level makes up the substratum of the dream, dream phenomena qua phenomena. Second, the meaning level, in which symbols, feelings, and the relationships of the dream characters and objects predominate.. And finally, and most superficially, the labeling level, where we verbally interpret and identify what happens during a dream.
Written and oral accounts usually focus on describing the labeling level of dreams, where we often boil down a multilevel experience into a few simplistic identifications. Many dreamworkers probe deeper and focus on the underlying meaning level of the dream. The structural level of the dream, the substratum, usually remains either unnoticed or ignored, but it may prove the least idiosyncratic level of them all. As such it may hold the key to providing the best evidence for dream mutuality. For example, although both Harvey and I dreamed of ourselves in almost identical desert dreamscapes, I identified it as Mexico, whereas Harvey first identified it as the Holy Land in Israel. Those who wish to investigate the possibility of mutual dreaming may need to pay more attention to descriptions of the structural level of dreams, rather than to the identifications made by the dreamers on the labeling level. A similar effect exists in "remote-viewing" experiments, where researchers find that when subjects focus on the structural content of their perceptions, as opposed to the verbal identifications made from that content, that the probability of their achieving a "hit" on a remote-viewing target improves markedly (Swann, 1991).
To upgrade the phenomenon of "mutual" dreaming from an unlikely possibility to a probable reality requires more than anecdotal evidence; it requires a formal and controlled study in which informed participants make use of specified procedures and documentation. Evidential cases of mutual dreaming have significant implications not only to the nature of the dream, but also to that of human nature as well. I look forward to the results of future research in this area.
Kellogg III, E.W. (1985). The substitution phenomenon. Dream Network Bulletin, 4(5), 5-7
Kellogg III, E. W. (1989a). A personal experience in lucid dream healing. The Lucidity Letter, 8(1), 6-7
Kellogg III, E.W. (1989b). Mapping territories A phenomenology of lucid dream reality. Lucidity Letter, 8(2), 81 - 97.
Kellogg III, E. W. (1992). The Lucidity Continuum. Presented at the Eighth Annual Conference of the Lucidity Association in Santa Cruz, June 28, 1992. Paper available from the author.
Kellogg III, E. W. (1995). Lucid Dream Healing. Presented at the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Dreams in Berkeley, July 11, 1995. ( For an update of this work go to http//www.asdreams.org/documents/1999_kellogg_lucid-healing.htm )
Swann, I. (1991), Everybody s Guide to Natural ESP Unlocking the Extrasensory Power of Your Mind, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles.
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