World Dream Bank home - add a dream - newest - art gallery - sampler - dreams by title, subject, author, date, places, names

Sudden Death

Dreamed 2008/3/1, 3/3 and 3/14 by Cory


I'd like to offer some dreams about the sudden deaths of close friends. So many people have told me of "knowing" or dreaming when a friend or family member passed on... but although I am a shaman, I usually don't recognize how my own dreams react to a close one's death--not until after the fact.


Nearly twenty years ago, my friend Karen was raped and murdered. No one was ever convicted. Shortly before I found out she'd been killed, I had this brutally straightforward dream:

Karen got flushed down the toilet.
Straightforward afterwards, I mean.


About two weeks ago, my close friend D killed herself. It's brought Karen to my mind again. I've been looking at two dreams I had around the time of D's death, but before I knew.


I am moving my luggage from one place to the other (I was doing this at the time in waking life). I realize I am missing something. I'm upset about this, but my father says "Hey, it's only money." (Something he has in fact said before.) But I feel that something important was stolen from me, and the feeling persists when I wake.
A day or two later I dreamed...


I'm travelling, and I've come to a place where I just can't go on. I'm camping on the outskirts of a city in the desert. It seems like a former French territory--Algeria? I ask about bus connections, but I find there is no bus or train; I feel stranded. Uneasy, too. When I ask, people are not helpful--even unfriendly. It feels like hostile territory. There is more to this dream that I can't remember. Waking up felt like a climb out of very, very deep sleep, and all the while I was thinking of Paris, the exact opposite of this dry dream-city. Even after I think I'm fully awake, images of this desert kept flashing into my mind. It seemed like Palestine--a place of suffering.

INTERPRETATION (before I learned about D's death)

I thought "Stranded in the Desert" expressed anxieties around my upcoming travel plans. Will I make the right connections? Should I even travel at all? I'm joining the Longest Walk, a group of Native Americans walking from California to Washington. The group will be in the desert by the time I meet with them again. I wonder if I can stand the rigors of the walk. And there is a fair amount of suffering attached to Native sites and communities in this land.


Now I wonder.

Of course, I may just be reaching for connections between her life and my dream here. Suicide tends to leave survivors saying "I should have known" or "I should have done something", and this may be my way of convincing myself that on some level I did hear her call for help even if I couldn't do anything for her.

And yet... while I do see elements of myself in the dreams, the imagery also had a "foreign" quality I associate with psychic dreams. For instance, Algeria isn't a usual part of my inner landscape. Ink sketch of woman with face turned to side, looking down, sad: Cory the dreamer. Sketch by Wayan.

3: JU-JU

I've wondered if D might show up in my dreams, as other people sometimes have after their death.

Last night I dreamed of a teenage girl who was doing some kind of ju-ju around me. I was not entirely comfortable with it. I woke up feeling that it was okay to communicate with D for a while after her death, but unhealthy to cling to her; it might slow her down, make her hang around here too long.
And who knows, maybe she, from wherever she is, did the ju-ju on me precisely so I would reach that conclusion?


I've decided to stay here in San Francisco for a day or so more, to cope with D's death before I take off to join the walk. My intuition is still telling me to go, but to take my time.


Right: ink sketch of Cory by Wayan


One argument against ESP is: "If we can see the future, why don't we see clearly and prevent more disasters?" Cory's dreams seem typical--they sense trouble, but they weren't a clear call to action.

But some warnings are clear; Sally Rhine Feather's book The Gift studies over 400 dreams & visions clear enough to act on. Yet only a third really were acted on! Why? Fear of mockery, distaste for superstition, lack of opportunity (you can't halt a scheduled plane flight). But when warnings were acted on, two thirds of the time, action paid off. Clear warning-dreams can save lives--if heeded!

What if there simply is no action? The Stroke is a powerful example how a clear, accurate psychic dream can be futile--except to prepare you for an unavoidable loss.

What if others don't want action? In the famous case of Ferdinand's Assassination, Bishop Lanyi dreamt he got an animated postcard from his ex-student Ferdinand stating baldly "I'm going to be killed today"--and asking the bishop to pray for him. Not to save him! The prediction was detailed, showing Ferdinand's risky behavior (an open car driving narrow streets in a hostile town); Bishop Lanyi could have to tried to prevent the assassination. He didn't. He took the dream at face value. Ferdinand knew he was going to die, and embraced it, and didn't ask to be saved. He trusted his friend to act only to save his soul, not his body.

Maybe ESP seems rare because we often look away, forget, or fail to act so as not to save "victims" who in fact embrace their deaths, need to move on? (This applies to warnings of nonfatal trouble, too. Character-building experiences?) I've had hundreds of predictive dreams; some are clear and useful, some indirect and useless, and some clear yet with no possible action; the only model I can frame that fits my data is this "veto power" over ESP.

If I'm right, useful warning dreams only come through if no one objects to action! The rest of the time, we may be denied useful details precisely because we might interfere. Metaphoric dreams are one solution--they prepare us emotionally without letting us meddle. Karen gets flushed down the toilet--and notice the metaphor's more than a disguise. It expresses anger and disgust too, over the failure to catch her killer. It's not a newsflash; it's a bitter editorial. Meaningful, after the fact. Jung proposed this for non-psychic dreams too, challenging Freud's idea of dream-distortions as disguise. The symbolism isn't noise--it's signal!

If I'm right, you'll get clear, usable dream-warnings only when you...

  1. can't change the outcome
  2. can act to change the outcome, but no one minds that
  3. can refrain from action if others object. That takes a rare restraint in our can-do era! I doubt I could have done as Bishop Lanyi did.
The famously inconsistent nature of dream ESP may an artifact of a political problem--disagreement among affected parties!

It's enough to make you give up on the whole can of worms and go back to being a skeptic--unless you've had one of those compelling, detailed dreams that is unambiguously psychic. Cory mentions a distinct sense of "outsiderness" an experienced dreamworker gradually learns to associate with such dreams. I concur. A few psychic dreams flag themselves; but many are identifiable by their feel, even if their images give you nothing useful--useful to convince skeptics, OR useful in helping to save a friend.

Who may not want saving.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: death - suicide - friendship - apparent predictive dreams - apparent telepathic or shared dreams - ESP in a skeptical culture - self-flagging dreams - giving and helping in dreams - more dreams by and about Cory - portraits - ink drawings -

World Dream Bank homepage - Art gallery - New stuff - Introductory sampler, best dreams, best art - On dreamwork - Books
Indexes: Subject - Author - Date - Names - Places - Art media/styles
Titles: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - IJ - KL - M - NO - PQ - R - Sa-Sh - Si-Sz - T - UV - WXYZ
Email: - Catalog of art, books, CDs - Behind the Curtain: FAQs, bio, site map - Kindred sites