LDE Quarterly Lucid Dreaming Challenge
by Ed Kellogg
((c)2005 E. W. Kellogg III, Ph.D.)
(This feature provides an unusual lucid dreaming task for LDE readers with
each new issue. Participants agree to accept personal responsibility for any
risks should they choose to undertake these tasks, which may possibly bring
about mental, emotional, and even physical changes. We invite those of you
who accomplish these tasks to send your dream reports either to Ed Kellogg,
at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to LDE.)
Exploring the Bizarre Physics of Dreamspace Part 2: "Dreamlight"
"Light seeking light, doth light of light beguile; So ere you find where
light in darkness lies, Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes."
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) (in Loves Labour's Lost)
Do the laws of optics for light composed of electromagnetic waves/particles
in the physical universe also apply to the light we experience in dreams as
well? When we look at an image in a dream mirror, does the angle of
incidence equal the angle of reflection? Do dream mirrors actually reflect,
or do they simply serve as an appropriate symbolic medium for what the
dreaming mind projects? Or might they do something entirely different? Does
dreamlight travel at 3 X 108 dream meters per dream second?
Mainstream scientific theory promotes the idea that dreams seem a kind of
virtual reality, and that what we experience in dreams has no material basis
as such. Historically however, most cultures believed that the dream world
seems just as real as the physical world, and that the matter that makes it
up simply seems much more subtle. Interestingly, cutting edge theories in
physics, such as superstring theory, introduces the idea that our universe
may have many more dimensions than the usual four. This opens up the
possibility that dreams could take place, in a material way, in higher
In dreams we see and experience 'light', but in my experience 'dreamlight'
differs in a number of ways from waking physical reality light, and I doubt
very much that it belongs anywhere on the accepted electromagnetic spectrum.
How does dreamlight differ? Well, in lucid dreams I've noticed that most
of the time neither I, nor the dream objects that I see, have shadows. And
as best I can recall, this also holds true in my ordinary dreams. Now
according to one widely accepted "scientific" theory of dreaming, the world
we see in dreams derives from visual imagery, etc. stored in memory.
According to this theory, some memories can emerge in dreams relatively
intact, but most usually show up in distorted forms, transmuted and combined
with other memories. I personally do not subscribe to this theory, as I
have noticed many discrepancies between what this theory predicts, and what
I actually experience in my own dreams. (For my own theory, see
"Psi-Perception in Dreams: Next Stop - the Twilight Zone." - a 2003
PsiberDreaming Conference Presentation - at
For example, although my waking physical reality experiences include the phenomena of
light and shadow as an almost omnipresent way, in my dreams shadows show up
more as a special effect, rather than as an intrinsic part of the
My experiences have led me to propose the theory that dream objects do not
reflect, but instead emanate, dreamlight, and that 'dreamlight' and
'physical reality light' have rather different properties. And essentially
linked to the phenomenon of dreamlight, we also need to consider the
phenomenon of 'dreamsight'.
Physical sight depends on the absorption properties of specific chemical
pigments in the rods and cones of the retina to visible light, on the
geometry of the physical eye, the shape of the lens, and so on. Could we
possibly have dream eyes, made up of dream matter, that do something
similar, on the 'as above so below' principle, or does dreamsight work in an
entirely different way? Can we do anything to find out?
If I hold my dream hands over my dream eyes, my vision becomes dark -
similarly if I close my dream eyelids. If I put on a pair of dream glasses
my vision becomes sharper - when I take them off, my vision may blur. Of
course dreamsight may work on entirely different principles and each of
these effects may happen simply because I unconsciously and habitually
expect them to. However, I also unconsciously and habitually expect to see
light and shadow effects - yet these rarely occur despite similar
expectations. Through careful observation and considered experimentation,
lucid dreamers can learn something about how they see in dreams, and what
they see in dreams. And perhaps by comparing notes, and taking note of
unexpected commonalties and differences in the results of such experiments,
we can begin to lay the groundwork for an understanding of dream reality
based on first hand evidence, rather than on theories and opinions of
armchair philosophers and scientists.
The Challenge: Exploring the Properties of "Dreamlight"
When you next become lucid in a dream (where you know that you dream while
you dream) pay attention to the manifestations of light in your dream
environment. Look for "a source of dreamlight" - a dream sun, a dream moon,
a dream lamp, even a dream fire (does it feel hot?) . . . If you can find a
source of "dreamlight", do you find dreamshadows behind objects that it
illuminates? If you pick an object up that has a dreamshadow and move it
about, does the dreamshadow behave similarly, or differently, to the way a
shadow of a physical object would?
If you can find a dream lamp, try turning it on, and off. Does it go on
immediately, or after a delay? (I've experienced both). When you turn it
on, carefully observe what happens to the dream objects nearby. Do they
become brighter? Do they cast shadows? Do the shadows disappear when you
turn the dream lamp off?
If you can not find any obvious dreamlight source, simply pay attention to
objects in the dream environment. Does light appear to come from within
dream objects, or does the object appear illuminated from the outside? Does
one side of the object have more light than another? Do you see any
dreamshadows? If so, what kind of properties do they have?
Record your experiences and interactions with dreamlight sources,
dreamshadows and dream objects in your dream journal in as much detail as
possible - include colored drawings and diagrams.
Bonus Challenge: Exploring the Properties of "Dreamsight"
Although I've found it rather difficult to bring reliable scientific
instruments into the dream universe, one can perform meaningful experiments
using one's dream body as the instrument and one's lucid dreaming mind as
the recording device. For example, I came up with some experiments in regard
to the mechanism of seeing in dreams, to determine whether I do in fact
'see' in three dimensions using binocular vision. In physical reality a dry
run of the experiment works like this:
Part 1. With both eyes open look in the distance. Move the palm of your
left hand towards your open left eye. As it moves closer it will begin to
block the view. When it comes fairly close (but does not yet cover the eye
tightly) the view to the far left will disappear - however the right half of
the hand will appear transparent, as for this area the visual fields from
the right and left eye overlap, usually giving complementary - but in this
case providing competing - images. When you hold the hand closely covering
the eye, blocking all light, you will see only the visual field of the right
eye. Repeat this procedure for the other eye.
Part 2. Now with both eyes open, hold your right index finger - pointing up
- a few inches in front of your nose at eye level, in the middle of your
visual field. When you focus on the finger with both eyes you should see
only one finger. However, if you look in the distance (not at the finger),
you will see "two" fingers, an apparent doubling due to binocular vision.
Close one eye, continuing to look in the distance, and you will now see only
one finger. Open that eye, and you will see two fingers. Close the other
eye instead, and you again only see one finger, but it will appear to have
moved slightly depending on through which eye you view it, as each sees the
finger from a slightly different perspective.
I've succeeded in performing this experiment on more than one occasion while
fully lucid. In one dream I went out into a forested area, which certainly
looked as three dimensional to me as a physical reality counterpart, and I
performed the procedure outlined above. For example, looking in the
distance with both eyes, I saw my dream finger doubled - when I blocked the
vision from one of my dream eyes I only saw one dream finger.
Although the results of this experiment seemed almost the same when
performed in a dream as when done physically, it did have one difference -
in the middle of my repeating this experiment my finger turned into a twig
of about the same size with buds! However, with the same results - when
seen through both eyes looking in the distance I saw two finger-twigs, with
one eye I perceived only one finger-twig. (Incidentally, I did
intentionally change the twig back into a finger for the last trial run.)
Now this experiment does not prove beyond doubt that I see through 'dream
eyes' with 'binocular vision', but it certainly offers evidence that
supports this theory. I encourage any lucid dreamer who wants to try this
experiment to do so and report on their findings. Simple experiments of
this kind can yield intriguing and fascinating results. Do you have
binocular vision in your dreams? Monocular? Triocular? Omniocular?
As always, we invite those of you who accomplish this quarter's challenge(s)
to send your dream reports either to Ed Kellogg, at email@example.com, or to
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