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Recurring Dreams

Classic recurring dreams return again and again, basically unchanged, just polished over time into an artifact of stark emotional power. They're fairly common, although personally the only vivid set I've had was in childhood--nightmares of being tortured. They turned out (years later) not to be symbolic at all, but memories. But not my memories--a relative who really had been tortured had told me about it, in detail, when I was very small. Not all recurring dreams are entirely about the dreamer!

Today, I tend to have semi-recurrent dreams, in which a theme reappears with variations, mulling over a problem, trying new solutions--or just playing with an image, in different contexts. I'm a restless person, and I like change. And even my recurring dreams show it.

In the ancient world, a dream recurring (often thrice) in a tight cluster was thought to mark a practical warning, NOT an internal issue. Once action's taken, such a dream vanishes. See Goblet of Gold, The Pen, Perceval's Murder, Stephenson and Bell and Agassiz's Fish.

I also list a few dreams that could be called re-entry or replay dreams--after waking, you dive back in. Often the replay goes differently, and this can be deliberate--a course correction! Band-Aids is a fine example. On the other hand, some replays seem just to confirm your first take< as in Direct Action.

RELATED TOPICS: episodic dreams (a recurring dreamworld where time progresses between dream-installments) - false waking, and dreams within dreams - epic dreams (whole lives in a night) - dreams about dreaming and dreamwork! - dreamwork in general - nightmares - recurring dream characters and types: shadow figures - twins and doubles - guides and animas - topdogs: cops, authoritarians, and rule-enforcers - what they did to Uncle Hugh - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

The World Dream Bank has 2300 dreams plus 1000 more pages on dreamwork, shamanism, surrealism, fantasy, worldbuilding, creativity and genius. Site © Chris Wayan 2001-2013.

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AGASSIZ’S FISH: by Louis Agassiz, ca. 1840: subliminal, psychic, or just a great guess?
Agassiz, faced with a fossil he had to crack open, was unsure where to strike. But for three nights he dreamed...
AIR OASIS: by Wayan; 1984/4/15, a dream of marginality.
Why'd I have to get my big inspiration deep in a lake in the Land of the Lizard People high in the Andes?
ALPINE GUINEA PIG & SEXLESS CHILD, or, I'M EITHER A GREAT MOM OR A TERRIBLE MOM: by "Veronica Franco"; 2006/8/19, a dream of penned creatures and those who love them.
Alpine deer-hamsters, pigs, birds, children, even fundamentalists' daughters grow up and want to fly free...
ANOTHER DREAM OF BURIAL: dreamed before 2009 by W.S. Merwin; poem of recurring dream
The garden varies, but I have always turned away and walked into the whole world. So far...
THE ARMY ORGY: by Charles Scoy; late Sept. 2008, a recurrent nightmare that changed
Another Army nightmare suddenly switched gears! My enemy kissed me, and we started doing every kind of sex...
CAUTION: GAYS IN THE ARMY? DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL!
AVENUE OF TREES: by Anonymous #34; July 1911?, early 1924?, March 30, 1934, and January 1947; four death-omen dreams, one predictive
Every decade or so, I dream a loved one says farewell and walks down an avenue of trees. I wake to find that person's dying...
BAND-AIDS: by Bagheera Pardus; c.1985, a lucid re-entered nightmare turned to joy.
Giant snakes chased me, but I went lucid, turned and slew one. As I woke, the snakes were crying. So I re-entered the dream and...
CAUTION: SNAKES, BEHEADING, REHEADING
BARN BURNING: by Denise Levertov; 1929?; a childhood nightmare
I'm in a barn full of peaceful animals lit by a golden glow. And then they all blacken, crinkle, and corrugate like burnt paper...
THE BEES' ANSWER: by Wayan; 1994/8/2, a diagnostic dream.
A bee-doctor in the city of Propolopolis diagnoses me as having a rare syndrome, Ambition Denied...
THE BOAT IS SINKING: by Mrs Griffiths; 1734/8/6, a recurrent warning dream
Mrs Griffiths has the same nightmare three times before she asks her nephew to skip a fishing trip...
BOY BODY: by Wayan; dreamt 1960, drawn 1996; a dream and comic on body image
A recurring childhood dream on how weird a boy-body is when you've been a girl too many lifetimes.
CAUTION: PUBLIC HUMILIATION, NUDE MONSTERS, SILLY GENITALIA
BUT AS YESTERDAY by Nancy Price; 1948, a dream of being sacrificed
Our gods demand sacrifices. I let Mother mutilate me so I'd be unfit. But the priests turn out to be blind...
CAUTION: YOU CAN FEEL PAIN IN DREAMS
CAT DANCER: by Wayan; 1996; statue of dream figure; clay, wire, acrylic, 15"
I have recurring dreams of this sexy feline anima or familiar who loves dance.
CAUTION: MILD NUDITY
CENTAUR BEACH: by Wayan; 1990. Two images from a set of recurring dreams.
Me and my sisters at the beach. Strangers rarely think we're related, and you can see why...
CHRYSALIS: by Wayan; 1999 acrylic painting of two dreams, 1997/10/6 and 1997/11/8.
Ballooning over Middle Earth with a metamorphosing butterfly-girl, we drift into forbidden territory:
CITY OF BEES: by Wayan; 1994/8/2, a diagnostic dream-comic.
A bee-doctor in the city of Propolopolis diagnoses me as having a rare syndrome, Ambition Denied...
CLAN TAUR: by Wayan; 620K total, suite of tinted pencil studies of dream-family, 1998-2002.
I keep dreaming I'm in a multispecies family full of centaurs and satyrs, having a reunion at the beach...
CAUTION: NUDE BEACH, STRANGE RELATIVES
COLLAR OF GOLD: a Welshman of Kemmeis District; 1180s? A recurring dream of treasure
A rich man dreamt thrice that hidden in St Berner's Well near his house was a golden collar. He reached in and...
CAUTION: OW
A CONVERSATION WITH ANOREXIA: by Wayan; 1994/6/25; two wild shamanic dreams.
That day I read Hilde Bruch's "Conversations with Anorexics" and face the fact I am one.
That night, in the land where anorexic horses heal, I enter the Kiva of Shamanic Pamphlets, and...
CRUISE: by "Michelle", 1990s; a recurrent predictive dream
I never go on cruise ships but I keep dreaming I'm on one and meet the same man, and marry him--or his brother...
CRUSHED BY NETLEY ABBEY: by a Mr Taylor; 1704? A warning dream.
A carpenter named Taylor demolishes Netley Abbey in England despite dreams he’ll be crushed by falling stones from a window...
DANCING WITH EMILY BRONTE: by Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree; 1943?, a lesbian literary love-dream
Alli/Tip could only imagine loving the strange, intense, and unavailable--and Bronte was all three..
DIRECT ACTION SAVES THE SHIP: by Alder; 2006/11/5; a dream-fable with instant replay.
A bomb's planted on our ship! But when a teen finds it, rather than fetch a responsible adult...
THE DREAM TO LAST YEARS: by Elizabeth Church; 2004? to March 2008; recurring encounters with a protector--in and out of dreams!
For about five years now I have been dreaming of this guy. Different dreams, same guy...
EDITORS: by Gavin Ewart; late 1970s, recurring nightmares of censorship.
My new editor starts rejecting my poems. My new new editor rewrites them for me. I feel lucky not to be arrested...
THE ENTWINED CHILD AND MADAM PURR-SAY: by PurplePurplePurple; 2013/7/5, two mirroring poem-dreams the same night
I dream my autistic son, miraculously high-functioning, recites a math-poem to a crowd...
Then I become cartoon cat Madam Purr-Say and chant my own defiant poem at the dream gods...
CAUTION: FIRST POEM AUTISTIC, SECOND PISSY
EVERLASTING AND PERPETUAL NIGHTMARE: by Shawn King; c. 2009/2/10; two installments of a lifelong nightmare
Lucifer throws firebolts from a Montreal tower as monsters stalk people on the streets; then a great flood washes us away...
FAIRY PRINCESS PALACE: 1992-, by Kavitha Subramaniam; a recurrent dream of prosperity
Ever since I was a little girl I've been dreaming of this luxurious bright-colored mansion...
FISHERGIRLS: by Wayan; 2.6M, 42 illus.; 1996/7/15; a sexy dream epic.
I had a spectacular dream one night, that lasted many days in dream-time--a true other life. It wasn't Earth, and we weren't human.
I was a teenage lemur, sailing with two friends into unknown waters--a rite of passage. I woke on deck deep in the night, my friends curled around me, and realized I didn't WANT to pass the test, be declared a grown woman, marry and have pups. I loved my girl friends. In a world lacking the very word, I was groping toward queerdom. Sailing into unknown waters! "Here be dragons," the old maps say. And they were right...
If 2600K is too big to load, try it in parts: 1: HOME, 650K, 2: VOYAGE, 1200K, 3: BACK 750K.
CAUTION: NUDITY, SEX, QUEER TEEN ANGST, ANTI-FUNDAMENTALISM
FLY, DANCER!: by Wayan; 1993/4/2; an advisory dream.
In my ballet class, we were learning to leap. But I wanted to FLY. So I went outside alone...
FLYING MACHINE: by George B. Burgin, c.1860 on, a recurrent flying dream
Whenever I'm stressed, I build a set of luna-moth wings and fly invisibly. Though once a blind man caught me by ear...
FOLLOWING THE ELEPHANTS: by John Goldhammer; 1990s, a ten-year series of short dreams.
Dream-elephants slowly bring John to terms with the early loss of his dad--and lead him out of a cult he’s outgrown..
FOUR LOVERS: by Wayan; 1992; digital painting based on recurrent dream
A recurring dream of a fourway marriage of animal people. I don't think it's symbolic, but predictive...
CAUTION: FURRY SEX
GENNADIUS: by Gennadius, ca. 415 AD, apparently the first recorded lucid dream
Gennadius re-dreams a previous dream, prompting him to notice he’s dreaming. His guide points out the spiritual implications...
GOBLET OF GOLD: by Sophocles, between 450-406 BC; a detective dream.
A huge gold cup had been stolen from the Temple of Hercules. Sophocles repeatedly dreamt Hercules told him who'd done it...
GOSHEN: by Percy Konqobe; 1940s-1960s?, a lifelong recurring psychic dream
I hear voices: "The road to success is in Kafkat, in a place called Goshen." I look back, and see seven male shadows...
GRAVESTONE: by "Miss S."; late 1930s-1946, a recurring clairvoyant/predictive nightmare
I'm walking up a churchyard path. My long hair clings to me, damp. Horses wander aimlessly. I'm irresistably drawn to a graveside...
GREEN DAY DREAM: by Cristy C. Road; early 1995. A recurring dream.
Green Day singer Billie Joe hocked a lugie on me in concert. I felt blessed...
CAUTION: EWWW
HAUNTED BUT HAPPY: by Wayan; 1990/9/13, a labyrinthine dream.
Some Christian oneirologists barge into the Haunted Firehouse. But I pose for nude unicorn photos, and...
CAUTION: DUMB CHRISTIANS, EXHIBITIONIST UNICORNS, ETC.
HIDE THE LIST!: by Anonymous; c. 1550, a recurrent warning dream.
One of London's last Protestants dreamed Bloody Mary would find the congregation's member-list and burn them all...
HUNTERS' FIRE: by Wayan; 1997/9/8, a nightmare that may be a memory.
I'm an orphan shot at by hunters. They shoot my sister! But no one believes me...
CAUTION: VIOLENCE
HYPNOGOGIC ASSAULT: by Dr Simon Forman; 1559-63, recurring hypnogogic images.
From age six on, Simon nightly climbs mountains and faces roaring floods in a sort of naptime bootcamp...
I AM THREE: by Wayan; 1957-58, my three earliest dreams.
My first memory is of being a wild horse and waking up to find I was suddenly a human child...
I FIGHT FOR BEAUTY: by Wayan; 125K, 6 illus, 1990/1/1, an incubated dream within a dream within a dream.
From Hawaii to Wyoming, I fight for beauty, always waking to find I'm someone new...
ILLUSIONISTS DON'T RULE: by Wayan; 1996/8/26, a dream on the strength of logic.
I read 'The Closing of the American Mind," and dream I'm a pilot who suspects an illusionist in my plane...
IT MUST BE SOMEONE SHE ATE: by Sorcha; 2008/10/11 and mid-Jan. 2009, a recurring comic news-nightmare
Cilda Spitzer and Hillary Clinton sentence America's bimbos to a shitty fate. But what of their cheating husbands?
JAKE'S MAGIC CARPET; 2006/12/12 by Zhea Zarecor; a poltergeist experience and a reconciliation dream that grew to something more
Not long after Jake died, I dreamed he took me on a magic carpet ride. Since then, I've been flying...
THE KEY TO HIS LIFE: by an English rebel's wife; 1745; a lifesaving oracular/psychic dream.
Twice a condemned man's wife dreamt of a key hidden in rubble below a wall. The second time she went out and found it...
KIOSK: by Wayan; 1994/5/1, a 4-page dreamcomic on the power of song (or illustrated text version)
I'm a sexy singing beast, the Krelkin, trying to lure the Reading Man out of his Moral Kiosk...
CAUTION: NUDITY, INTERSPECIES FLIRTATION
KRELKIN CAMOUFLAGE: by Wayan; 1981/4/21, three versions of recurring dream image
A sexy dream-creature hides by splitting her body visually, her red mane and tail matching her background...
LEAN ON ME: by Wayan; 120K; 1987, 1992. Recurring dream image..
This couple keeps appearing in my dreams--as equals, as mount and rider, as friends, as enemies, as lovers...
CAUTION: NUDITY
THE LONGING TO BE SAVED: by Maxine Kumin; 1980? a poem based on recurring nightmares
I save our horses from a fire, but they run back in. Then it's my family I must save from themselves. At last, it's my turn...
THE MEGARA INN: by an Arcadian Greek c.200 BC; two dreams that don't prevent a murder but do solve it
A traveler dreams his friend's attacked, but he discounts it. Next he dreams his friend begs him to expose the killer at least...
ONCE A HERO: by Wayan; 185K total, 9 images, 1998/10/22, a raw dream-series.
Sexy dreams of Chinese archeology, authorized by the fairies, make me face that my family abused me...
MR. PERCEVAL'S MURDER: by John Williams; 1812/5/2-3, a recurrent predictive dream.
Thrice I saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer shot in the House of Commons. I nearly went to London to warn him, but...
MOVING: by Roswila, 2007/10/13 and 2007/10/23; a recurring dreamku
My dreams support a radical break from my past--to let go of possessions and friends in a cross-country move...
THE PEN: by Elector Frederick of Saxony; 1517/10/30, a predictive political dream.
Frederick dreams a monk writes words on the door of Wittenburg’s church with a pen so big it pokes the Pope. The next day...
PIANOS IN THE SKY: by an Illinois woman; before 1948, a happy recurrent dream come true
My heart's desire was a new piano, as hopeless as owning a yacht. The dream: a huge space in the air, full of wonderful...
PRACTICE IS REAL: by Wayan; 1998/1/6, three small dreamtales.
Three teasing sex-dreamlets chipping away at my shyness with women I like...
CAUTION: SEX TALK
QUICKSILVER DREAM WYRM: by Orion Sandstorrm; before 2003/7/27; portrait of a recurrent dream character
A bizarre dragon that runs a toyshop and plans revolution. He has skin and eyes like hematite, black and metallic. His presence instills in you a kind of unsettled awe...
THE RECURRING DREAM (CAT-BABY): by Julie Doucet; 1994/8/23-9/23-12/23, 1995/4/16: variations on a theme
Julie keeps dreaming that she gives birth to a cat, or a part-cat baby...
CAUTION: NUDITY, BIRTH, UNBIRTH, REBIRTH...
RECURRING SCHOOL NIGHTMARE: by Julie Doucet; July 1995, a dream of... oh, read the title!
Trapped in elementary school, Julie is forced to study the alphabet until she declares "I'm a professional cartoonist, goddammit!"...
SABOTAGED BOAT: by C. G. "Chinese" Gordon; c.1861-4, a recurrent warning dream
I recognized the saboteur. If I had neglected that dream warning I and probably all the men with me must have been drowned...
SAURIANS: by Wayan; 155K, 1992, 4 digital dream portraits.
In dreams, I kept meeting a dinosaurian person who was proud, strange, beautiful. S/he introduced me to two sisters I just had to paint...
SEPTIC: by Steve (age 6), before 1961, a recurring predictive nightmare
For three weeks he wakened nearly every night, screaming in fright; he said he "fell in a hole." Then, one snowy day...
SHADOWS ADMIRABLE: by Wayan; 1993/9/28, a dream on dreams.
A dream-lecturer says Shadows aren't just what we hate or fear, but what we admire yet see as "not us"...
CAUTION: IDEAS
SINGULARITIES: by Wayan, 1995/5/18 etc. (recurrent dream); drawn late 1994.
Black holes can be scary enough outside you, but what if you have dormant ones inside you?
SPORECOUNT: by Wayan; 105K, 1990/1/5, a dreamtale on change-phases.
I'm a hot archeology student till I open the wrong tomb. A plague turns us into green moldy monsters...
CAUTION: DISEASE, DEATH, GRIEF, SHAME
STALAGMITE VALLEY: by Maude Meagher; 1902?-07, a recurring childhood dream.
I found myself upon a stone pillar in a valley. Invisible people sat on other stalagmites, but my voice couldn’t reach them...
STAY GROUNDED!: by Wayan; 1988/2/27, an unexpectedly grounded dream.
I'm playing poker with a dragon. But we barely dare move: we're both crackling with thousands of volts...
STEPHENSON AND BELL: by Matthew Talbot; 1768, a recurring predictive dream.
A man in a blue coat on a white horse delivered papers from a nearby wrecked ship, signed Stephenson and Bell. I awoke, and...
STEVENSON’S BROWNIES: by Robert Louis Stevenson; 1850s-1880s, a series of dreams
Stevenson’s dreams changed over decades: from childhood nightmares to creative allies dreaming whole stories...
STRANGE GIRL STALKING ME IN MY DREAMS: by Mike Hanes; 2010/12/11, a dream pointing out an earlier lost dream
This strange girl reminds me "I rode your bike recently but you've forgotten." She's right--she rode it in an earlier dream...
THE STYGIAN SENTINELS: by SAO (Shawn Allen O'Neal); 1970s, a recurring astral dream.
The couple guarding the bridge over the River Styx, the Crocodile King and the Geisha Queen, rarely seemed to agree...
THE SWAFFHAM TINKER: by John Chapman and a London shopkeeper; 1460s?, two linked, complementary dreams.
Chapman dreams he must go to London and stand on London Bridge; when he does, a stranger tells him "dreams are nonsense! Why, I dreamt of buried treasure a hundred miles from here, in some town called..."
SWIMMER IN BLUE: by Wayan; 1984/4/26 drawing of recurring dream image.
I have recurring dreams of figures broken up by hair the color of the background...
CAUTION: MILD NUDITY
TEN THOUSAND MAD GHOSTS: by Wayan; 1996/9/3, a psychic nightmare.
A toxic site in Silicon Valley isn't a chemical spill, but angry ghosts, killed in a camp and forgotten...
CAUTION: THE CAMP TURNS OUT TO BE REAL
TIME WARP: by "Erwre Qerwgeqwr"; 2010/2/5, a nightmare recurring 4 times in one night
A timewarp started to swallow my house. It looked normal from outside, but inside everyone was in a trance...
TREASURE UNDER STONE, or, OOPS: by Daniel Healy; Jan. 1774, a recurring dream of treasure
Daniel thrice dreamt of money hidden under a great stone in a nearby field. He dug and found a surprise...
CAUTION: IRISH HUMOR
TWO PLANES: by Wayan, 1994/9/6, a multistaged psychic dream.
An assassination plot using two planes triggers an invasion of our kingdom. I'd rather be playing Frisbee...
VIEWPOINT: by Wayan; 1991/6/9, a dream on pastlife amnesia.
I ask to see my past lives, and dream of a viewpoint where I can--but this Mormon ranger...
WHO IS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW?: by Krista G.; 2008/6/25, a recurrent false-waking dream.
Someone's prowling outside my window. I'm paralyzed in bed, but I force myself into action...
WIRES: by Wayan; 1957-1963, a recurrent childhood nightmare resolved by drawing, Dec 1999
I was bodiless but trapped. All I could see were these moving wires. Whenever a knot drifted by...
CAUTION: MADNESS, TORMENT, TELEPATHY, SEXUAL REBELLION
WYVERN: by Wayan; 1997, 22" ceramic sculpture; recurring dream figure.
I dreamed of a dragon-woman on a reef. She was my guardian, but she let me drown! She had her reasons...
CAUTION: SCALY NUDITY
YELLOW CRANE: by Na Liu; spring 1976, a recurrent childhood flying dream.
Each spring my mom took us up to Yellow Crane Tower, and that night I dreamed I rode the crane over the city of Wuhan...


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