Electric Dreams

A View from the Bridge
December 2006

Scrambled Contest or Outstanding Group Dream?

Joy Fatooh

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Fatooh, Joy (2006 December). View from the Bridge: December 2006.
Scrambled Contest or Outstanding Group Dream? Electric Dreams 13(12).

There's a great, worldwide, multicultural tradition that our thoughts - prayers - meditations - focused intentions have actual power and influence. Another vast school of thought says we're all interconnected in subtle and profound ways; our true self is the entire web. Then there are those of us who most readily access that web in our dreams, transcending distance and boundaries to share experiences while we sleep.

Where these ideas meet, we find the World Dreams Peace Bridge - a group brought together by the notion that we can bring our focused intentions into our dreams, dream together, and magnify our will to promote peace so that it radiates throughout the web. At least that's the way I see it. Our founder Jean Campbell, author of Group Dreaming: Dreams To the Tenth Power, explains the title as reflecting the idea that if "people could dream together, we would be suggesting that dreams can be augmented in an exponential manner." It's a leap of faith to think we can thereby change the world. But - dream with intention, dream as a group, share information, influence one another on the profound levels on which dreams operate? We do that all the time!

A remarkable group dream took place a few weeks ago, disguised as the Psiberdream Telepathy Contest. The contest is part of the International Association for the Study of Dreams' annual online conference. Several participants were Peace Bridge members - or joined soon after.

The rules: An unnamed person selects four dissimilar pictures and seals them into opaque envelopes. A set is provided to a person acting as "sender" who secretly selects one, leaving the others sealed, then spends the night attempting "to establish mind-to-mind, awake-to-sleeping connections with the dreamers participating all over the world.... Dreamers are encouraged to incubate the intention of seeing or connecting with the sender and the picture, writing down all dreams they have." The next day, all four pictures are posted online, and contestants post their dreams and choose which picture they seem to match. Judges award prizes for the dreams best matching the target picture.

The contest night was a Thursday. The sender was the renowned and talented Beverly D'Urso. I wrote down a plethora of dreams. In one I realized I was dreaming, gleefully called out "Beverly, show me the picture!" and took off flying. Below me was a snowy landscape. A bare patch of earth opened in the center. Suddenly "a very large dog" leaped into the scene, followed by another; later I dreamed yet another dog.

Once I saw the potential targets, I zeroed in on Picture #1, a snowy scene with a bare patch of earth at the center, in which two elf-like characters - one tall and young in a pale, belted outfit, one short and old and bearded in a red-orange Santa-like hat - gaze up into an evergreen tree. Bits and pieces of my other dreams fell into place: Two figures, one tall, one short. A figure in a pale belted outfit. An evergreen tree. Boys or young men looking up at what I'd described as "something like a pickle?!" which in fact resembled one of the branches. Asymmetrical apples and carrots, the color and shape of the red-orange hat. My white cat leaping toward a little animal, which I related to a white snow-shape curving toward a small oval hollow that could be an animal's burrow.

One convincing bit for me was that I twice dreamed a stair-step line from lower right to upper left, which corresponded to the "implied line" created by the elves' heights and direction of their gaze - something only an old art student might care about!

But there were no dogs in the picture. And I didn't dream of an elf or gnome - the main subject, really.

But Dolores did! She dreamed of "two dwarfs in tall red caps, sitting on a shelf with downcast eyes, hands on their knees and their white beards flowing over their knees between their hands. They looked like the red-capped fellow in picture #1."

Sonia D. matched the taller, younger elf when she dreamed "My [teenaged] son is wearing a drab gray one piece-suit and looks something like a jester." Beverly A. reinforced the little old dwarf and his cap, dreaming of a "boy" who was orange and very wrinkled, and "a red triangular shape that doesn't seem related to anything. It's just there." Ilkin's brief dream notes concisely interpreted the expressions on their faces: "Grumbling/curious. Waiting/looking the way for something. Afraid from precognition. Snow."

Patricia wrote her dream in haiku form:

tiny elves shelter
in the hollowed out birch tree
massive storm

the dog alerts them
one by one scruffy elves leave
the hollow log

Maia contributed, "First, a dream of placing a child into a small oval hollow in the earth.. Second, images of caribou and snow, ice, a few patches of bare earth." Mary Pat, like me lucid and actively seeking the target, dreamed of woods, cold, and "a landscape full of snow and ice" - plus red-harnessed reindeer hung with bells.

And a Husky dog.

Two non-competing contest facilitators couldn't resist reporting. Bob Van De Castle wrote, "The most compelling aspect of my dreams last night was that there was a scene where I had my hands in snow, which is something I can't previously recall ever experiencing!" Rita Dwyer dreamed of snow and evergreens and "Christmas in the air."

Suzanne "dreamed about seeing Beverly eating an ice cream." Curt dreamed "a black sphere on the upper left of my visual field - I look up to see it.. What I notice about Picture 1 is that there is a black patch in the upper left of the picture about the same size as the sphere in my dream, and the two figures seem to be looking up at it."

We excitedly compared notes online. As a group, we'd dreamed up every bit of Picture #1. But we were also impressed by the group hits on the other three pictures, especially #3 and #4.

Picture #2 showed a family of apes in loving interaction. Bob V. thought two of his dreams related: "In the first I was on a bed with a dog's head on my lap and I was petting him. In the second, a different dog was on the bedroom floor on its back and sort of rolling around." More dogs!

Picture #3 showed a dark-haired, bare-footed, bare-breasted dancer in a yellow skirt, dancing for an audience in a darkened room. Liz described her perfectly, aside from hair and costume colors: "....dancing with her arms in the air. She has light hair with streaks and a bare top. She is moving her hips back and forth and she has a thin figure. From about the middle of her back down she is wearing a see through white garment. She has a smile on her face and appears to be enjoying herself. She is acting as though she is dancing for an audience." Peggy dreamed of happily going topless, plus bits that filled in what Liz missed: a pretty woman with dark hair; the color yellow; a bare foot. Val, who loves jewelry, keyed into the dancer's earrings and bangles. David L. K. modestly converted the audience passively watching the central dancer into several turned-off televisions in a darkened room surrounding one that was on - which he blocked from the view of his young daughter, as he assured us he would have done if Picture #3 were being broadcast!

Liz later in the night seemed to dream the Amish barn-raising in #4: "Themes: Busy working, building. Emotions: frustrated, trying to work Major structural elements: wood, very large arch shape. I am standing on a high ladder with many people below me...." Ed described the same scene in table-top miniature, adding the colors: "Themes: Construction, putting pieces together. Emotions: Mental focus, annoyance at having someone telling me what to do. Major structural elements: Edges, lines, geometrical shapes. Manipulating pieces, building. Blue, white and beige.... Geometrical puzzle. lots of wooden pencils." Dale dreamed of an assembly/disassembly project, a crowd of people and "something that resembles a barn or a shed." Janet saw a tall, empty house made of unfinished light brown wood; Bob K., a house with no walls, roof or furniture. Gosh dreamed of wooden frame structures three nights in a row. Terri dreamed she tried to climb up a tall stage at an outdoor concert. Mary Pat dreamed of a large building in a scene that looked very much like the picture, especially the bright green sloping lawn. Sonia D. dreamed, "I receive a 'gift'.... a child's playhouse. I open the door to the house to discover that it is not fully assembled."

But although four of us dreamed seven dogs total, there weren't any dogs in any of the pictures. Where'd they come from?

On Saturday Beverly revealed the target: Picture #1. The thoughts she'd generated in sending it included Santa and reindeer along with elements of the picture itself. Next she posted descriptions of her dreams on contest night. "Ordering ice cream, but not eating it." "Open-walled houses" - was she dreaming of #4, still in its sealed envelope? Or dreaming of the dreams of the contestants who dreamed of #4? She also dreamed of visiting Ashland, Oregon - where she'd recently travelled with Ed - in an old car that turned out to be a near-exact match with an old car Ed dreamed, completely unrelated to any of the pictures.

And - what's this? She dreamed an "extremely large dog" tried to get into bed with her!

At this point Suzanne confessed, "Gosh! I'm so confused! You see, Robert Waggoner and I are doing some dream games too. The last time it was his turn to do the sending, and I was a bit disappointed to find out that this dream telepathy contest had the same target night. Since I wanted to participate in both, I didn't know what to do.. Maybe it's interesting to share what he was sending?"

Turns out it was a photo of sled dogs on an icy river!

The judges labored for an extra day, reporting, "Choosing winners is very difficult. Extra awards may be added to cover the strange and wonderful things that happened during this PDT contest of 2006." While we waited we talked about how we'd contributed elements adding up to the whole, each according to our own way of seeing. I wrote that it was "difficult to evaluate my own dreams' relation to the target without looking at everyone else's. Think how fun and rewarding it would be if that were the object of the game. Treat it as a group dream and say, for instance, 'Wow, there's a lot of snow in here! A lot of dancers too, but even more snow. And look at all the elves...."

Finally the judges stated that collectively the 2006 contest had "the best results ever," and named ties for first, second and third place plus several honorable mentions for matches with non-target pictures and Beverly's dreams. Clearly they weren't entirely comfortable with reducing this intricate network to a linear hierarchy. And neither was I. The initial ego-thrill of being named a winner was quickly replaced by a feeling something like loneliness. The experience of meshing minds in the night with people all over the world was far, far more rewarding.


(P.S. Jean has reminded me that she wrote last month of my Albuquerque mystery and suggested I might tell how it turned out. Bear with me: it's still unfolding, with the help of my dreaming friends on the Bridge. More soon! - jf)

The World Dreams Peace Bridge is a group that uses personal dreams for public world peace. You can find out more about the WDPB at: http://www.worlddreamspeacebridge.org