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absalom's avatar

What does an inconsistently recurring dream-setting indicate?

Asked by absalom (7552points) February 4th, 2010

As in on the rare occasion I actually remember a dream, it seems that I was moving through a very familiar dream-space.

To analogize, say you sometimes have dreams that take place in your bedroom. But in each bedroom dream, you’re doing something different, or there are different people sharing the dream-space with you, or you feel different, etc. The only common thread tying these dreams together is the location.

I don’t really talk to other people about dreams, but I think on the whole this is a pretty normal occurrence. What makes me curious is that in my case, the location is someplace I’ve never been to. It’s fictitious.

So it’s an environment that shows up every now and then, I mean. It is a space that doesn’t exist in reality but only in my dreams, and as far as I can tell it isn’t clearly derived from any actual location I’ve visited. On the whole it’s mundane: a curved road or path leads from a few low-slung steps down to the edge of a high hill that overlooks various flora.

The dream itself is infrequent and not recurring, and what I do in the familiar dream-space apparently differs every time. But it’s hard to say exactly where the differences are, because I rarely (remember what I) dream and do not keep a dream journal or anything, so I can’t compare.

It also makes me wonder whether one can experience deja vu within a dream, because I can’t even be certain I’ve dreamed of this space before. It could be a false feeling of recognition of familiarity that convinces me I’ve been there before while dreaming.

I guess my questions then are
1) What is the significance of a recurring setting for one’s dreams, but a setting which is fictive and should thus (presumably) have little to no inherited meaning from the real/waking world?
2) What is the significance of its fictivity?
3) What is the significance of its inconsistency?
4) Is there such a thing as a deja vu that exists only in dreams?

What do you think?

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8 Answers

Dilettante's avatar

If you haven’t tried the book, “A Dictionary of Symbols” by J.E. Cirlot, please do; I’ve found it to be remarkable. A couple of actual examples of many:
A girlfriend gave me a nice golf umbrella. Cirlot said, Umbrella = Symbol of protection. She was in fact very protective, loving.

We became friendly with an associate’s live-in maid. At Christmastime, she gave us a pair of little red plastic Santa boots filled with sweets. Cirlot said: The giver of boots, shoes, footwear, feels inferior to the recipient.

Re your deja vu reference; odd you should mention it. During my lifetime (I’m in my early sixties) there have been just a handful of dream/deja vu incidents, decades apart. They happen like this: In the first moments upon awakening from a night’s sleep, I recall having had an unusual dream. The details are vivid, often unusual, unlikely,even bizarre, but somehow plausible. I think about the events, scenarios, for a few more moments, say to myself, “What in the world was that about?” Shake my head, frown, get out of bed and forget all about it. Time would pass; perhaps several weeks, longer, months sometimes. Of course, I have completely forgotten about the dream. Then, in the middle of a situation, some very unusual circumstances, I suddenly recall the dream, and it is exactly, to the most minute detail, identical to the dream I recalled and dismissed that past morning. I try to be as critical, rational, as I can about it, “C’mon boy, you’re fooling yourself…you didn’t really experience this in your dream…your imagination is playing tricks on you.” The very few times it has happened (counting back now, it is only four) they ALL had one thing in common: The actual events occurred during a major, significant, life-changing event in my life. But, as vivid as the dream was, there was no forewarning, no clue, no way to connect it to a future circumstance…“How could I possibly be in a situation like this?” I would say. And then, there I was in the situation. Follow me? I don’t want to ramble or take up too much space, or I’d give you a specific example of my first one, the details; but I assure you, when the actual event occurred, I would’ve given anything to not be there, even though in the final analysis, it turned out to be somehow beneficial to me, my growth, humility, the direction my life took. As I said, a significant time, not necessarily the event itself.
What think? Please don’t call 911 and send the little men in the white coats with the butterfly nets after me…been there, done that. Cheers, Dil.
What think?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@absalom, I have this type of dream situation, too. One is of walking down a road, towards the sea, and seeing a house on the edge of town with pots of geraniums on the window. I end up walking up to a patio with small tables and a trellised area and talking to an elderly man with very blue eyes. Something about the location makes me think I’m along the Mediterranean. Judging by the sunlight, the ocean is on the east side of town. I have never been to the Mediterranean region.

The other is an image of a boy standing out in front of my brownstone house, in period clothing from the early 1900’s, with hightop leather shoes, beat up, woolen knee pants, socks that don’t stay up, and a very white shirt that’s very full but tucked in, with the sleeves rolled up. The street is brick, and there are lots of overhead wires, as if for a trolley or streetcar. The road has a dip in it in both directions. The boy is standing in front of the house, holding a leather ball, and waiting for someone to come out. I don’t live in a brownstone, or in a city environment like this.

I have no clue where these images come from, but they are very familiar to me, and I have them often. When I awaken, I feel like there’s something just outside the range of what I remember.

When my daughter was 3, she woke up from a nap and asked me if I remembered when I was her mother before, and she would climb a tree in the yard, and I would get mad at her for tearing her dress. Then I got sick and died, and it was her and daddy, and then they got sick and died, too. She talked about feeding chickens, and what her dress looked like. No clue as to where that came from.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

My dreams have been consistant ever since my lady died. She is lonely where she is and wants me to join her there. I will likely follow her there very soon.

CMaz's avatar

I wish my ex wife would stay out of my dreams!

Trillian's avatar

@absalom how interesting that you should ask this. I recognize places in my dreams sometimes as having been to them before in previous dreams. This has happened to me often enough to stop questioning my own sanity.
I’ve also had dreams of places and then recognized the places later. I can give you an exaple; I was sleeping on the floor in my home and I felt like I had been flung up in the air then back down. I first was in a place that, in my dream, was a ‘garden of learning’. There were others there but we weren’t allowed to speak to each other. One entered only at certain places, and exited only at certain places. There were prescribed paths that one had to take. Then I was flung again next to something that was huge and light blue. It was made of small wooden panels running vertically. A voice said to me “You have entered the greatest machine in the world!” That was all I remembered when I woke up.
Some time later, I went to boot camp in Orlando. When my company started our training, we went to the training building. We had to go in a designated door, had to refrain from talking in the halls, and then we exited other designated doors. There was a mock up of a Navy ship and when I saw it I recognized it from my dream. Close up one can see the panels of wood, and it’s light blue. It’s gone now, I understand. I went to boot camp in 1987. But I’ll wager there are pictures somewhere. Not that they’d prove anything.
I won’t bore you with other examples. Just sayin’ yeah, it can happen. time is not linear, that’s just how our bodies experience it, but when you dream, you step out of your body. At least, sometimes….

Ria777's avatar

I default to the belief that dream imagery has no imagery. though it does sometimes (if you want it to have) whatever significance has has made itself known to me spontaneously. in usually, though, as I said, I don’t think that elements in dreams “mean” anything, or if they do mean anything, it lies beyond our ability to understand.

flutherother's avatar

I think it is likely that the scene in your dreams is based on some real place you have been or perhaps a picture you have seen and no longer remember. Time can be distorted in dreams and dreams that seem very, very old may have been dreamed the previous night or the night before. I think a dream can also give the illusion that it has been dreamed many times before without this actually being the case. Very much like deja vu in waking life. Dreams usually have a connection with an event in our past or much less commonly, the future.

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