A dreamer who had kept dream journals for many years decided she wanted to
give them to posterity. So she offered to donate them to a dream library. I
had a chance to look at her journals before the library directory declined
them and I could quickly see why they were refused.
The dreams were all in cramped handwriting that was very difficult to read.
There were no dates. There were no titles. The dreams were unnumbered and
there was no index or table of contents. There were no comments about what
had been happening in the waking life of the dreamer. Not even an
indication of the gender or age of the dreamer. Just dream after dream
Record keeping is usually set up to suit your own purposes. That's fine, as
long as you play hermit. For example, one dreamer of my acquaintance uses a
"dream drawer." She simply writes down her dream on any old piece of paper
and flings it into the drawer. However, your purposes might not suit anyone
else. The director had her library patrons in mind. When dreams are made
available to other people, there are very good reasons to keep a
well-organized journal. So you can share and compare with a dream group. So
you can be of real use to a dream researcher. So someone else can actually
read them! Hey, how is your penmanship at 3:00 in the morning?
There are also important reasons why you would want to keep a written dream
log for yourself. They might include:
Gabriele Rico, author of Writing The Natural Way, advises, "Find the
pattern in your life - and celebrate it!" But it's impossible to find the
pattern of your dream life unless you have your dreams gathered in one
place. While you might discover what circumstances favor flying today, you
may not know the best option from the sweep of the past. And while you can
take the temperature of any single dream on a separate sheet of paper, to
feel the steady pulse of your dream health requires records that help track
your dreaming life over the span of time.
- Ease of finding a favorite dream
- Aid in dream analysis
- Ability to track down a precognitive dream
- Inspiration for dream creativity
- Pump priming for further flying dreams
Dream Log IQ
With a well-kept dream log, you can answer questions like these:
Other Than Dreams
- How often do I have flying dreams?
- What was the content of my last birthday dream?
- Have I ever mapped my route through the dreamscape?
- What's my funniest dream title?
- What's the best month for recalling dreams? Time of the week?
- How many mythic creatures have I dreamt about?
- What was the most helpful dream character? Can I locate that dream?
- When was the last time my dreaming self sobbed or laughed out loud in a dream?
- What's average weather in my dreamland?
My first dream journal was comparatively small and spiral bound. The thick
wire dissuaded me from free form dream recording, except on the right.
Thus, I wound up with journal entries on only one side of each page. This
turned out to be fortuitous. Unwittingly, I had allowed space for things
other than dreams to be added to my journal. They included:
Unlike a bound book, I didn't feel that I was desecrating my journal when I
ripped a page out of the spiral notebook, after I made a mistake or created
a "rough draft" of dream fragments out of order.
- Doodles of dream objects difficult to describe in words
- Quick notes when I recognized a symbol or theme that corresponded to what had been happening the previous day
- My first stumbling attempts at symbol interpretation
Nowadays, I use a binder. To help clear the way for new dreams, I grab my
notepad, tear out the perforated sheets of paper and place them in my
binder (I've also invested in a 3-hole punch in case it's needed).
The Table Of Contents And Classification Codes
Each of my binders contain hundreds of dreams. Sometimes people number
their dreams, but it's much easier to remember one with a title than to
picture what #124 was about. And even though I title each of them, it still
can be difficult to locate any particular dream after the fact.
So, in the front of each binder, I keep blank, lined pages. About once a
month, I bring my dream report binder into the family room to work on while
I'm watching TV. During a dull program or commercial, I list the dates and
titles for the dreams on one of the blank pages. Suddenly, I've got a Table
of Contents. I list my dreams and number them only when there is more than
one dream in a single night. For instance, on December 8th I had only one
dream; during the previous days I had two each. But which of them were
flying dreams? From the title, I'd be able to tell that the first dream on
December 6th was a flying dream.
12/2 #1-Me, The Blonde Man And A Toddler In The Water
12/2 #2-Stuff On Fire
12/6 #1-After A Sky Banner, I Fly A Boy On My Back
12/6 #2-Slipping Down The Mattress To The Dresser
12/8 Nuclear Explosion Near L. A.
The second of December 6th was a flying dream, too. How do I know that?
It's because I added something extra. Alphabetic notations and
abbreviations appear on both my dream report first page and in margin of
the Table of Contents. They are part of a code I developed to help me
locate a dream quickly. Much of the code is simple initials, but I also use
short words or abbreviations. In addition, a musical note stands for the
fact that the content contains music, perhaps a song, perhaps a melody. An
orange dot from a felt tip pen means that the color orange was a prominent
feature in the dream.
Here's some samples of my classification codes:
Inc-An incubated dream
Interp-An interpreted dream
Jan-A dream with Jan in it
Pun-Contains a dream pun
Read-Printed words were read in dream
T-Telepathy (this is added after I discover a correspondence)
(Willie)-I talked about Willie, but she didn't appear in the dream (She's hidden in parenthesis)
When it was easy to locate all the examples of a particular type of dream,
I could quickly make graphs and charts. For instance, I charted both lucid
and flying dreams across several years, to see if there was any
relationship between them. There was: flying often preceded the onset of
lucidity. Noticing when my nightmares appeared helped me track down the
When I was having a series of blue-green dreams, I used a turquoise dot
from a felt-tip pen as my classification code. I wanted to know how often I
dreamt of that color and when. Was there a particular time of the month? Or
season of the year? I could find no correspondence to calendar time. Then
the turquoise dreams stopped and I switched to other dream themes.
Eventually I realized that the abundance of blue hues ended just about the
time when I began having dreams with tints of red. So what had happened?
Without a journal I might have speculated wildly. Chakra trouble? A shift
from tranquility to anger? Or spiritual to earthly? No, no and no.
Because I had dated my dreams, I was able to put stimulus and response
together. The switch occurred when I bought a new burgundy Honda and sold
my old light-blue Mustang. Now that I've identified the color source of the
dreams, is that the end of my interpretation? Of course not. Physical life
is full of metaphor! The Mustang was frisky and fun for a single gal and
I'd kept it long after I was married. But the Honda had a stick shift
instead of an automatic transmission; more sporty in that sense, but more
mature, like fine red wine. These are my living associations, not the inert
entries of some insensible symbol system. But I'd not have been able to
make the connection unless I was aware of my waking and dreaming life over
the long run.
Uses For Your Dream Log
When I taught creative writing in elementary school, I would suggest topics
Now, if I had a perfect memory, I could write such stories without backup
material. But since memory fades with the passage of time, I'd rather seek
and find such dreams in my dream log. What else can you do with a dream log
besides have it serve as source material for stories? Here's some ideas:
- My Funniest Dream
- My Craziest Dream
- A Dream That Came True
- When I Awoke in My Dream
- An Adventurous Dream
1. Write down old dreams
2. Do dream analysis
- Remember a dream from childhood. Re-dream it in your mind and write it down. You might not have specific dates for such dreams, but do the bestyou can. For example, you might note the general period in your life: Age 12-13. Create a special place in your journal for such dreams.
3. Prime the pump for new dreams.
- Mark significant content with colored pens.
- Underline or highlight elements in the dream.
- Connect your dream with a past waking event.
- Review old dreams to see if they have been precognitive of a recent event.
4. Look for the big picture.
- Reread favorite old dreams.
- Do something quick and creative, like a doodle of yourself flying.
- Think up a way to congratulate you and your dreaming self for jobs well done. (Make sure you follow through!)
Advantages Of A Dream Log
- Go through your journal and link dreams with one another.
- Find repeating themes and places and dream characters.
- Track improvement over time.
- Annual review: Do an analysis of content to find patterns; discover the frequency of certain types of dreams.
- Study your dream log as if it were a photo album filled with snapshots of the dream world.
Journal keeping is a tool for self-awareness. Because it provides
opportunity for reflection, recognition and contemplation, it's an
essential tool for most dreamwork. It aids memory, making the dream both
visual and tactile. With a dream log by your bed, you have a way to
immediately record your dreams when you wake up. And it converts dream
recall into a creative product. Your dream journal can be an artistic
visual symbol of your sleeping life.
Since the dream journal is a permanent record of dreams, you are sending a
message to your psyche that you want to remember dreams, not just for
today, but for the future. You want to develop a long-term relationship
with your dreaming self. Journal keeping allows you to see a single dream
in the context of other dreams and of your daily life. This larger
perspective gains more information for more accurate interpretation of
dreams. You don't have to resort to random guesses. Dream interpretation
expands from "What does this symbol mean?" to "What does this entire dream
signify? to "What are my dreams saying overall?" This new perspective helps
you answer the wider question, "What is a dream, anyway?" It's a
practical tool in the study of consciousness.
Observing a series of dreams on the same theme enables you to track
improvement in flying skills over time or to determine if you are stuck in
a rut or even backsliding. It's invaluable to determine the multiple
sources of nightmare. Since you may be too emotionally close to the
situation at the time of the dream, it may require some distancing to gain
a perspective useful to nightmare resolution. Accurate interpretation of a
dream can be delayed because not all the information is currently
available. For example, precognitive dreams may only be determined in
Through journal keeping, you come to appreciate of the richness of dreams.
You gain a better understanding of yourself as dreamer. The types of dreams
you have, the variety or lack of it can serve as a clue to your multiple
personality traits. It also serves as a source of information when you
become a sociable dreamer. It provides you with dreams to share with
partners or your dream group, to compare and contrast with other dreamers.
The Dream Index
Some of my dreams reports are files on my computer. If I'm looking for a
special dream record or particular type of dream, I can use the "search"
feature to find it. But not all of my dreams have made the leap to
cyberspace. How can I track down specific sorts if they are handwritten?
For many years, I have kept a dream index. This special binder lists dreams
by type. Not all my dreams. Just the ones I've found most intriguing or
most useful. I've got clairvoyant dreams and probable selves and specific
symbols. Favorite types and frustrating types. Dream nonsense and dream
Some Index Types:
Correspondence (Precognitive, Mutual, Telepathic)
Myth and story material (like dragons)
People growing and shrinking
Planets and aliens
Re-entry (re-entering the dream after waking)
I've flown in every one of these types except for the false awakenings,
when I had sleep paralysis. And the hypnogogic conversations are strictly
audio dreams. How did I get such a rich variety of fruit? I did not lay
waiting for them to fall out of my head like an apple from the dream tree.
Instead, I nurtured my dreams. And afterwards, I celebrated the harvest.
- Dee, N. The Dreamer's Workbook. (NY: Sterling Publishing Co., 1990)
- Gregory, J. Dream Tips. (Novato, CA: The Novato Center for Dreams, 1988).
- Magallón, L. L. "Long Term Journaling/I Am a Sociable Dreamer." Paper presented at 15th Annual ASD Conference, Hawaii (1998). On Cynthia Pearson's Dream Journalist web site. http://www.nauticom.net/www/netcadet/linda.htm
- Magallón, L. L. Psychic-Creative Dreaming. Internet course (1997).
- Magallón, L. L. "Why I Title My Lucid Dreams," The Lucid Dream Exchange, 17 (2000), 2.