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Calvin S. Hall and Edgar Cayce on Dreaming
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Late Night's Dreams May Show You Learn

Edgar Cayce on dreams and dreaming, fronted by Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee by Salvdor Dali
Salvador Dalí. "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening". (1944)

Edgar Cayce on dreams and dreaming Everyone dreams, every night, sleep research shows. Dreams are a series of images, sounds and feelings in the mind during sleep, accompanied with rapid eye movement. Dreams typically last between 5 to 45 minutes.

In humans, other mammals and many other species, regular sleep is essential for survival. During the recurrent sleep phase where there are Rapid Eye Movements (so-called REM sleep), there are dreams. Those who are woken up from their REM sleep, report they were dreaming. Dreaming mostly occurs during the REM phase of sleep.

Speaking of humans: During a normal night of sleep, there are about 4 or 5 periods of REM sleep - roughly 1 1/2 hour or so may lapse between the dream sleep phases; they are quite short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. Most memorable dreaming occurs in this sleep phase. Normal adults spend 20-25% of their total sleep time in REM sleep. Sleep itself is related to memory, in that the dream flow may help the brain strengthen the linking and consolidation of semantic memories.

Dreaming has its functions. REM sleep fulfills important physiological needs vital for survival. Recent research claims that sleep has the overall role of consolidating and organising synaptic brain cells connections formed during learning and experience. It is also probable that in many times of stress, dreams have more work to do in resolving our problems and thereby get more salient and memorable. [Horne, 2007:128-47; Wikipedia sv "Sleep"; "Rapid Eye Movement Sleep"; "Dream"]

Calvin S. Hall's Dream Studies

From the 1940s to 1985, Dr Calvin S. Hall (1909–85) at Western Reserve University collected more than 50,000 dream reports. It shows up that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. Also:

  • Personal experiences from the last day or week are frequently incorporated into dreams.
  • The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety.
  • Negative emotions are more common than positive ones.
  • The US ranks the highest amongst industrialised nations for aggression in dreams with 50 percent of US males reporting aggression in dreams, compared to 32 percent for Dutch men.
  • The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10 percent of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid teens.
  • The content of most dreams is dreamt only once, many people experience recurring dreams - that is, the same dream narrative is experienced over different occasions of sleep. Up to 70% of females and 65% of males report recurrent dreams.
  • Today, 4.4% of the dreams of under-25 year-olds are in black and white.

Common themes in dreams. Hall focused his study of dreams on the content: Content-analysis studies have identified common reported themes in dreams. These include: situations relating to school, being chased, running slowly in place, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, a person who is dead being alive, teeth falling out, flying, future events such as birthdays, anniversaries, etc. (with different scenarios), embarrassing moments, falling in love with random people, failing an examination, not being able to move, not being able to focus vision, car accidents, being accused of a crime you didn't commit, suddenly finding yourself naked, going to the toilet, and many more.

Explanations. Dreams are in a way or at bottom ideas that are enlarged on as a sort of video, or cognitive process. Accordingly, dreams provide a map or route to deeper and perhaps otherwise unrecognised areas in your mind, that is.

Hall believed dreams are the best way to discover personal thoughts and to explain one's behavior. Dreams can reveal things about yourself, and do not necessarily hide them, once you know the "dream basics". Hall systematised dreams into five types, and a dream commonly belongs to one of the five dream types, which reflect and/or respond to five "principle areas of life".

  • Concepts of Self refer to roles you play in your dreams.
  • Concepts of other people refer to roles other people play in your dreams. Consider your feelings toward them and how you interact with them.
  • Concepts of the world represent the dream surrounding and landscape. The adjectives you use to describe your dreamscape is how you view the world.
  • Concepts of impulses, prohibitions and penalties indicate your behaviour and how it is driven by impulses and urges, and regulated by punishment.
  • Concepts of problems and conflicts symbolize the key struggles, issues and problems you are facing in your waking life. These dream may well signal insights and resolutions to many a conflict - coming from your deeper sides at least.

    [Main sources of this section: Go to Dreams 2015]

Hall believed that by using these five concepts you may be able to analyse the dream content and trace your way toward the inner workings of deeper mind, also called the unconscious. What if the five are not enough, not inclusive for that undertaking? "How strongly felt a dream sequence is, reflects how you feel about the issues hinted at," could well be added to them, since intensity is a factor reckoned with in such as Jungian dream analysis, where the most intense dream scenes (sequences) are noted down and drawn to get a clearer view. The memorable scenes are like hilltops in some foggy valley. If you remember something from a strongly felt sequence, it may help you recall more, and so the "hilltops" may serve as a help to come up with a lively and open-ended interpretation.

Cultural outlets. Dreams have a long cultural history. Throughout it, people have sought meaning in dreams or divination through dreams. In modern culture some researchers regard dreams as indications of the dreamer's deeper working problems, and the problems may lie on several levels. And some dreams evidently contain symbolic depictions. [Cf. Hall, 1966]

A few proposed functions of dreams

  • Ferenczi has proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
  • Dreams create new ideas, and some of them may be perceived as valuable and therefore retained.
  • Hartmann thinks dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place", allowing us to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.

Dreams have been used for healing (as in ancient Greece), for guidance, and for inspiration.

Both Sigmund Freud (1913) and Carl Jung (1974; 2007) identified dreams as an interaction between the unconscious and the conscious. Jung argued that the dream's bizarre quality is an efficient language, comparable to poetry. [Jung on Dreams]

[Cf. Wikipedia sv "Dream"]

Try to benefit from dreams

In order to benefit from dreams, they have to be understood heuristically and much on their own terms, that is, as expressions of the deeper sides of us. Parts of the content from a dream, if not all of it, may contain crypted or plain insights about physical, mental, and spiritual conditions. By skilled interpretion of the dream we arrive at estimates of what it may be about.

Proficient dream analysis can help us diagnose health problems, encourage us in the decisions we make, or reprimand us for negative behaviour. Dreams can be instructive and practical, lighthearted fun or spiritually uplifting, depending on what we could need most there and then.

Typically, dreams from the first long hours of the nightly sleep reflect the day that passed, in that they work with residue from it. Late at night more deep-going forms of dreams may appear, dream researchers affirm.

Dreams may contain symbols, although they tend to be highly individual, just like the dreams themselves are. For all that, knowledge of typical dream cues and also outside feedback can be valuable.

Those who write down their recurrent dreams on awakening, may also go on to look at the dream from different levels: job, health, interpersonal relationships, and any circumstances being dealt with in waking life.

Dreams that are worked on can add to our conscious understanding if given time to impress the mind well enough. Dream work is a form of growth process, and may result in deeper and clearer level of insights to be instructed in, and some of them may be helpful if worked on. In such ways and many others, the study of dreams can help us develop higher potential. Give it a try and see for yourself whether such work suits you.


Derive Benefits from "Higher Dreams"

Late night dreams may inspire, encourage, confuse or much else. Much depends on interpretations. There is good reason to let them be quite open-ended.

Many people came to Edgar Cayce to have their dreams interpreted. In 1924 Edgar Cayce was asked while asleep: "What is a dream?". He replied that the best development was to give the greater increase in knowledge of the subconscious, soul or spirit world. Develop meant going toward the higher forces, etc. When we tune into these higher levels, as we may in dreams, we become aware of what is being built.

He also said that dreams should be interpreted depending on the physical condition of the individual and on what produced or brought about the dream. Dreams can give valuable information about the status of the body.

Some dreams may foreshadow happenings, or warn against them so that the person in question may abort the bad things to come - perhaps by glimpses and be warnings that what we are building now may come into fruition later.

Recall and Analyse Your Dreams

Some tips from the Cayce readings to help you in the analysis of your dreams:

  • Keep a notebook, a dream journal, beside your bed. Record your dreams as soon as you wake up.
  • Suggest to yourself at night as you fall asleep, "I want to remember my dreams."
  • If you wake during the night and remember a dream, write down the key points of it, including the great and impressive symbols, and the entire dream may come back in the morning.
  • Practice keen observation in your dreams through nice self-suggestion prior to sleep.

Dreams are the reaction of the inner self to daytime activity and often show the way out of the dilemma. So relate them to current activity, because dreams may be retrospective as well as prospective.

Dreams are primarily about self.

If dreams are illogical, three reasons are possible: (a) Only the fragments of the dream have been recalled. (b) The dream is reflecting something illogical in the dreamer's life. (c) Mental blocks have erased your recall.

Look for these components in your dreams: the setting, the people, the action, the colour, the feeling, and the words.

Be practical in your interpretations. Always look first for a lesson. What have you refused to face or been ignoring?

Work on analysing your dreams every day, otherwise their progression will be difficult to assess.

Dreams can be either literal or symbolic, also as warnings. Observe carefully recurrent dreams, as well as the serially progressive ones. These often illustrate progress or failure.

If you are unable to decipher an important dream, suggest to yourself, before your next sleep, that the dream repeat itself more clearly.

Dreams come to guide and help, not to amuse. They direct your attention to errors of omission and commission and offer encouragement for right endeavors.

If you receive an unusual message, reduce it to common terms. See if a handy dictionary of symbols (dictionary of symbolism) can be of help in interpreting the dream. However, there is a great chance that such stereotyped interpretation do not fit the individualised "mind movie": a person's dream. Dream dictionaries may over-simplify, label things amiss, and misinterpret, so it is fit to ask for goood evidence that things are as they purport. Calvin Hall's research offers clues in that respect. Otherwise the individualised "terrain" is difficult and hardly clear-cut. Symbols that appear in your dreams are better tailored to you and your situation, is the general understanding. You are supposed to react sensibly.

Look for former experiences and settings in weird dreams. They may caution against repeating ingrained mistakes; certain people and places; and enable you to better understand life. Only a few dreams relate to family, friends, and world events.

Calm persistence is necessary to learn any new language, and dream symbols are the forgotten language of the subconscious.

Meditate if you feel for it.


Related pages

Edgar Cayce on dreaming, Literature  

Bro, Harmon H. Edgar Cayce on Dreams. Reissued ed. New York. Warner Books, 1988 (1968).

Cayce, Edgar. Dreams and Visions. Virginia Beach, VA. A.R.E. Press, 2008.

Dee, Nerys. Understanding Dreams: What They Are and How to Interpret Them. New ed. London: Thorsons, 2000.

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. 3rd ed., tr. by A. A. Brill. New York: Macmillan, 1913. Online.

Hall, Calvin. The Meaning of Dreams. New ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.

Hamilton-Parker, Craig. The Hidden Meaning of Dreams. Ill. ed. New York: Sterling, 1999.

Hobson, J. Allan. Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction. Paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Horne, Jim. Sleepfaring: A Journey Through the Science of Sleep. Chap 16. Paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Dreams. Translated by by R. F. C. Hull. Princeton, NJ: Bollingen / Princeton University Press, 1974.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Drømmetydninger. Utval og omsetting ved Ove Steen. Oslo: Pax, 2007.

Peirce, Penney. Dream Dictionary for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2008.

Robinson, Stearn, and Tom Corbett. The Dreamer's Dictionary: Understand the Deeper Meanings of Your Dreams. London: Element, 2003.

Snowden, Ruth. Exploring Your Dreams: How to Use Dreams for Personal Growth and Creative Inspiration. Oxford: How To Books, 2011.

Stearn, Jess. Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet. New York: Doubleday, 1967.

Ullman, Montague, og Nan Zimmerman. Working with Dreams: Self-understanding, Problem-solving and Enriched Creativity Through Dream Appreciation. Reprint. New York: Tarcher/Perigree, 1979.


[1] A. R. E. Edgar Cayce on Dreams. 2002.[]

[2] Kevin Williams. Dreams - a gateway to the spirit world - a 2002 excerpt from Mary E. Carter et al. Edgar Cayce on Dreams (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1988). On-line. []

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