The Quaker's dream


     Here I want to introduce some simple but effective techniques for working with dreams. I am convinced that dreams are often very important in providing correction and guidance for our lives.

     But not for our lives only. In making dreamwork better known, I am hoping dream sharing in groups, especially in Friends' Meetings, will be encouraged. Although most dreams are personal, there are those that are meant to be shared with others for encouragement and direction.

     In 2004 Carla Gerona published Night Journeys: The Power of Dreams in Transatlantic Quaker Culture (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, ISBN 978-0-8139-2310-9) in which she shed light on an early Quaker practice of sharing and honoring dreams in both the American colonies and in Great Britain.

     In a 2006 review of her book with the title "The Worlds of Quaker Dreams", Michael J. Galgano (James Madison University) writes:

     "Quakers believed that God communicated with them directly through their dreams, and the sect gradually evolved a unique system of dream interpretation, labeled "dreamwork" by the author. Dreams therefore not only helped individual Quakers become more self-conscious, they also facilitated the construction of group identity. By sharing, retelling, and recording their dreams with others in their community, Quakers helped one another map future courses, especially as they came to grips with an increasingly pluralistic society at home and in America. For them, "dreams like maps, and sometimes even in place of maps, helped Quakers get where they were going" (p. 4). According to the author, Quakers were distinctive among their contemporaries for the power they assigned to dreams. This aspect became increasingly important by the 1680s as the community became more dispersed geographically." (the full review available here.) (Another review of Carla's book can be found on Amazon by clicking here.)

     That modern Friends pay attention to their dreams can be found in a short article available here.

     In the following sections I have put together some background information about dreams and dreaming that you may find helpful. Feel free to pick and choose according to what you find interesting. Possibly the most important are the groupwork guidelines that are found in appendix A. These can be utilized to provide the framework for working on dreams in your meeting or in a group.

     Art Funkhouser, Bern, Switzerland

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