I listened to a wonderful audio lecture called “Healing Dreams” by Marc Ian Barasch from the Institute of Noetic Science. In the lecture, Barasch tells the story of how his dreams alerted him to thyroid cancer; an experience that lead him to write the book, Healing Dreams in 2000. The lecture can be streamed or downloaded for free at the link above. Barasch’s insights got me to think about my most profound dreams and to consider a new dream type that I haven’t yet heard anyone else describe: Derivative Dreaming.
Anyone interested in dream interpretation is used to categorizing their dreams based on their experience. To the best of my knowledge, there is no universally accepted categorization method, but if you dream regularly you can probably identify which dreams are significant and which are simply a regurgitation of what happened the day before (junk dreams as I call them.)
I want to discuss a specific dream type that is a highbred of recurring dreams, progressive dreaming and lucid dreaming. I’ve been calling it Derivative Dreaming, but I’m open to suggestions here.
Derivative dreaming is when you have a recurring dream about a place or situation, except the details change substantially based on your knowledge of the dream space. To clarify, allow me share my own profound example (profound to me at least).
Over the course of many years I dreamt about a haunted mansion filled with a dozen hidden passage ways, just as many ghosts and a glass atrium on the top floor. The first time I dreamt of the place, I was frightened of the ghosts and tried to hide from them in the passage ways. The mansion was huge and confusion and I kept getting lost in the secret passages, often ending up in the dark at dead ends.
The next dream involving the mansion was similar except it was partially lucid. I was aware that I had been to the mansion before. The dream’s plot had changed but I remembered the mansion’s floor plan a little better and could maneuver through. Over the years, I became very comfortable in the mansion and its ghostly inhabitants. When I’d approach the mansion in my dream, I would recognize it immediately. The last time I dreamt about the mansion, it was my own home. I loved the place and I had become close allies with the ghosts inside. There were people trying to get into the mansion to do harm but I fought them off. I ran through the passages ways effortlessly. I could slide down banisters with ease, like I had done it a hundred times before. I defended the ghosts like they were my own family. I felt strong and bold and had no fear of the intruders because I knew I had the home-field advantage. I was always one step ahead of them.
So you can see there are many aspects to this type of dream. There is the repetitive aspect, yet it’s not truly a recurring dream. The plot, and in my case, the location of the mansion changes significantly. There is lucidity (an awareness that I am dreaming and have been to this place before). Though I was lucid in my dreams, I don’t know if it’s necessary so long as one is aware when they wake. Most importantly, there is a progression. It does not meet the typical definition of a Progressive Dreaming, which is a dream that picks up where it left off in a previous session. In my experience, the sense of my own personal growth from the first to the last dream seemed important, possibly the most critical element in evaluating the dream after waking.
What I Learned from This Dream
My haunted mansion dreams lasted for many years and I believe they acted as a curriculum for navigating dark unknown places. Through repeated exposure, I went from being insecure and frightened to confident, and truly quite fond of the darkness. The unknown became known and fear faded away. By the end of this dream series, I felt empowered. My confidence transcended the dream world and I no longer feared energies I didn’t understand. In a way, this experience was critical in establishing the confidence I needed to explore my spiritual side. It allowed me to seek council from spirit guides through meditation. Honestly, it allowed me to meditate at all without concern for the creeks and rattles that come with sitting quietly alone in my house. There really was this sense of starting as a nervous freshman and coming out on the other side of a journey, a poised graduate ready to go out into the world.
I wonder if I’ll ever have a dream like this again. Have you? If so, what did you get out of it? What do you feel the message was? Also, if you have another idea for what to call these dreams, I’ll open to it. ∞