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March 19
1875, 1:35PM - Outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez hanged in San Jose [story]

Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jan 3, 2016

DianneErskineHellrigelOneirology is the study of dreams.

Just what are dreams? Are they mere images and involuntary sensations that occur in the mind of the dreamer? Or do they have deep-seated meanings? Are they warnings of things to come?

Dreams have been studied scientifically, but we still do not completely understand them. Some believe dreams are a connection to the unconscious mind.

We know they most often occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycle. Most people cannot recall their dreams, especially if they do not occur during the REM cycle. Most dreams that can be recalled happen during the REM cycle and cause people to wake up.

The most vivid dream I have had, which I can still remember, was one where I left my body and traveled halfway across the Earth to meet a friend who had also left his body to meet with me. We spoke in Mandarin about things that had previously been unsettled. (I do speak Mandarin.)

dreams01Suddenly I awakened with heart palpitations and was drenched with sweat. It was surreal and frightening. It was vastly different from my childhood nightmares of Mickey Mouse chasing me.

My dream, combined with various personal experiences, became the subject of a film script long ago. In this case, the dream inspired me and helped me to create something wonderful.

Dreams can come in different forms. They can be exciting, frightening, spiritual, dark, magical, sexual, memories, desires and just about anything else. In other dreams I can recall, I’ve spoken with deceased persons, become a living Egyptian deity, fallen off of a cliff, and been attacked in a dark alley. Luckily, I woke up before I found out what happened to me in the latter dream.

There have been all kinds of explanations of dreams. Freud believed dreams reveal insights into our deepest hidden desires, anxieties, memories, obsessions, sexual tension and emotions. Carl Jung, who rejected Freud’s beliefs for the most part, believed dreams related to unconscious desires. He believed dreams were messages that were not to be ignored. Others tend to explain dreams as ways to solve problems, or random brain activity, or predicting the future.

dreams02Many cultures believed dreams were in fact, prophecy. In ancient history, Sumerians and Egyptians recorded their dreams on clay tablets and papyrus. The Egyptians believed their dreams were messages from the gods. They paid attention to the advice, comfort and healing they received from the gods. The Chinese believed that the soul and body would separate so the soul could wander through the dream realm. They believed a sleeping person should not be awakened abruptly because the soul might not be able to find its way back.

Christians and Hebrews both believed that good dreams came from God and bad dreams came from evil spirits. There is much evidence of this in the Talmud and the Old Testament. Muslims also believe dreams come from God. Our Native Americans believed dreams were a way of contacting deceased ancestors.

If you want to have some fun with your dreams, go online and find the dream dictionary. They have all kinds of fun stuff to entertain you. For example, if you dream about flying, they say this may symbolize “feeling ‘high,’ being happy in general, or feeling good about something specific in waking life.” Or if you dream about death or dying, it may symbolize “a phase in your life has come to an end, and something new is beginning.”

I’d love to hear some of your experiences with dreams. Please don’t hesitate to share. Keep it clean, keep it fun.


Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.


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