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33 Eggs

Dreamed before 1963 by Anonymous #12 as reported by J.B. Priestley


In 1963, writer J.B. Priestley put out a request on a BBC show for examples of strange experiences with time, whether waking or dreaming. Over a thousand responses came: predictive dreams and visions of varying clarity, accuracy and credibility. The following year he published many examples (though withholding most dreamers' names for privacy reasons) in his book Man and Time. This is one of the thousand.

--Chris Wayan


Deaths, terrible accidents, disasters of one sort and another, loom and threaten in... about 45% of these dreams. Another 45%, at an opposite extreme, are concerned not with matters of life-and-death but with trivialities. Scores of letters begin with an apology for the apparent triviality of the dreams they are about to offer; it is obvious though that their writers, mostly not worrying about any Time problem, cannot escape the feeling that somehow these dreams are important. They are happier, I suspect, when they have got them down on paper and have sent them off to somebody. It is this feeling that compels people to send a stranger an account of some very trivial dream and the tiny incident afterward that confirmed it.

And I thank heaven they do, for within this Time context these dreams and tiny incidents are anything but trivial. They are to my mind better evidence against our familiar concept of Time than most of the dramatic blood-and-thunder previsions of accident, catastrophe, death. They are all the more likely to be true because no strong personal feelings are involved in them. The fact that so often they seem rather silly, hardly worth mentioning, is in their favor.

In themselves they are not dramatic, they are not wonderful, they are not miraculous; they are described because they are true. But if they are true, and if they have to be explained in terms of Time, then in the end they may turn out to be dramatic, wonderful, even miraculous.

Let us take a small but clear example from one of these piles of letters.

A woman tells three people, with whom she is breakfasting, that she has just dreamed that as they were finishing breakfast a farmer arrived with 33 eggs in a bucket, and that later, as she was standing halfway up the stairs, three more eggs were handed to her. That was her dream.

Shortly after breakfast, a farmer arrived and handed her a bucket containing eggs, telling her that there were three dozen. She put them in a basket, paid the farmer, and gave the basket to her husband to take upstairs. (They were packing for a journey.)

A few minutes later, her husband called down to say that her dream was correct because there were only 33 eggs instead of 36 and asked her to go up and count them herself. As she was counting, she was called below, then met on the stairs a woman who said there had been a mistake, three eggs having been taken from the bucket, and now handed her three eggs.

Thirty-three and then three eggs in the dream; 33 and then three eggs in the real event. You can call it coincidence just as you can call it boojum or anything else. It is only a matter of a few eggs, very far removed from anything like a world-shattering event. But if you stop clinging to coincidence and try explaining this trumpery affair, you might shatter one kind of world.


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