When it comes to the macroview of dreaming, a
commonly held concept is that of the collective unconscious or group mind. As
Douglas Whitcher describes it, "each individual is like the individual
polyp organism of a coral reef, the compound coral reef being a single organism.
The revelations we each receive which challenge us and compel us onward are like
so many nervous messages sent to different cells of the body in order that it
may function in coordination. "
Now, in a way, psychic and group dreaming research seems to second this
notion. Psychoanalyst Jule Eisenbud stated, "The goals psi serves are
primarily not those of the individual at all, but of an ascending hierarchy of
interrelated systems." And Henry Reed found that separate sleeping reports
from a group dreaming project are akin to the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Furthermore, the homogenous flavor of the classic mutual meshing dream seems to
support the picture that we are all part of one uniform mind mush.
The problem with this "group mind" idea is that despite the use of
the word "individual," the particular dreamers are rarely honored.
Instead, it is the theme or archetype or dream imagery which holds center stage.
Indeed, Whitcher says, "Dream-fantasy is assumed to hold the truth".
At the threat of being melted into the homogenous mesh of imagery, the
individual ego objects...and the objection can be noted in the dreams! As Reed
has discovered, the group dreams of his 1976-1978 Sundance Community Dream
Journal project asked the questions, "Who am I?" and "Who are
we?" Since before 1984, dreams in the mutual dreaming projects of Jean
Campbell, Barbara Shor and I displayed the same concerns. I'm talking about the
dream egos speaking through nonlucid dreams.
The ideal of "oneness" is highly regarded in the dreaming community
as an ultimate spiritual goal. And the dreaming egos, the dreaming selves, being
citizens of a mutuable reality, are quite capable of blending and melding. Just
as they are capable of being separate and distinct. These are the extremes of
their behavior. The "either/or" dichotomistic view of the universe,
which is our heritage from the Age of Pisces, would have us choose sides and
decide which is the most true or valuable.
But the partnership paradigm offers a "both/and" solution. At the
brink of the Aquarian Age, that's the experiment and experience that the
dreaming selves are trying on for size. The evidence from both group and mutual
dreaming projects points to the reality of highly individualistic dreams and
dreamers, who are nonetheless able to communicate and cooperate towards a common
Seen together, the picture that the dreams of the partnership paradigm paint
is less like a bowl of numinous mush and more like a variegated fabric or mural
with multiple styles. To use cyber-analogy, we are not "a bunch of dumb
terminals connected to Big Brother, the mainframe." The partnership
paradigm supports the picture of "personal computers linked in
Whitcher, D."Some Reflections on Dream Group," Coat of Many
Colors/Dream Network Bulletin, Mar, 1983. pp. 101-102.
Magallon, L.L. Mutual Dreaming. NY: Pocket Books, 1997.