Dream Work and Spiritism Part 1

By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr.John Weldon; ©2012
We will cite illustrations from a number of modern texts on dreaming and dream work to show how readily dreams can become the means to hazardous spiritual practices, such as inducing altered states of consciousness, developing psychic abilities, or channeling. These phenomena may occur even when they are not the intended goals of a particular program of dream work.

Dream Work and Spiritism Part 1

We will cite illustrations from a number of modern texts on dreaming and dream work to show how readily dreams can become the means to hazardous spiritual practices, such as inducing altered states of consciousness, developing psychic abilities, or channeling.[1] These phenomena may occur even when they are not the intended goals of a particular program of dream work.

New Age Dream Work and Spiritual Dangers

In this section we will cite illustrations from a number of modern texts on dreaming and dream work to show how readily dreams can become the means to hazardous spiritual practices, such as inducing altered states of consciousness, developing psychic abilities, or channeling.[2] These phenomena may occur even when they are not the intended goals of a particular program of dream work.

The extent to which the spirit world is capable of using the dream state is revealed in many books, such as Garfield’s Companions in Spirit, where the spirits actively employ dreams as a method of contacting people:[3] “…ask your guide to bring you a relevant dream. In many cases, the dream will come to you the first night.”[4] Dream Work is also promoted on the Wicca Spirituality website.[5]

Another important book is Dreamwork: Techniques for Discovering the Creative Powers in Dreams by Unitarian Universalist minister Jeremy Taylor. Taylor states:

It is my experience that as a dream group continues over any substantial period of time, there almost invariably begins to occur events that seem “spooky” and even “supernatural….” Often people will have dream experiences which invite the interpretation of “past life recall” [reincarnation] and “encounters with spirits….” Don’t be frightened if and when such things seem to happen to you or others in your group. These things happen so often that they are clearly natural….[6]

As to the kinds of psychic experiences encountered in dream work, Taylor explains: “There is a long global tradition of such experiences being associated with the acquisition of power and self-knowledge through yoga, meditation, alchemy, shamanism, and ritual magic.”[7] Psychologist James H. Donahue, author of Enigma: Psychology, the Paranormal and Self-Transformation[8] and Dream Reality: The Conscious Creation of Dream and Paranormal Experience, writes that “paranormal perception is, if anything, more common in dreams than in trance.”[9]

Throughout recorded history, dreams were often used in sacred temples and ritual for divination, psychic healing, or establishing spirit contact.[10] That ancient dream work was directly connected to the gods and spirits is evident from any number of ancient dream practices, e.g. the Asclepian dream therapy. In this method, “At night, the patients went to the temple [Asclepia] or outlying buildings to await the gods” in order to “absorb the divine communication.” Healing was performed “in the presence of the earthly representatives of healing deities.” Furthermore, “within the Asclepia, dream therapy or divine sleep, later to be called incubation sleep by Christian practitioners, reached perfection as a healing tool.”[11]

Various techniques for utilizing or manipulating the dream state in an occult manner are found in many ancient religious traditions and modern practices. Sociologist Norman MacKenzie of the University of Sussex at Brighton, England, states, “The affiance between dreams and divination is an ancient one; wherever magic, superstition and the occult flourish, this link will be found.”[12] This occult use of dreams, historically, appears to be a result of both the occult receptivity and the expectations of pagan cultures. There is no reason to think that such a relationship between dreams and the occult will not continue to expand in the United States as our culture continues its demise into the labyrinth of the occult.

In shamanism, the spirits often direct, guide, and influence the shaman through dreams.[13] For example, the Senoi dream methods are fundamentally shamanistic in nature and utilize the dream methods of the Senoi tribe of Malaysia. Spirit contact and revelations occur regularly through the dream state.[14] According to New Age healer Dr. Jeane Achterberg, “An ability to dream in this way [lucid dreams] has been well described by Castaneda and others as being important to shamanic ‘seeing’.”[15]

Lucid dreaming is the ability to recognize a dream consciously as it is occurring and even to consciously participate in the dream and influence its outcome. Lucid dreams come naturally to only about five percent of the population. But developing lucid dreams is routinely utilized in spiritistic dream work as an effective means of inducing astral projection, psychic development, and spirit contact.[16]

Certified hypnotherapists Richard Dobson and Natasha Frazier, authors of “Trance, Dreams and Shamanism,” discuss the importance of dreams and hypnosis for entering the state of trance conducive to contacting the spirit world shamanistically. “Dream time” is referred to as a waking altered state of consciousness, which is most useful for accomplishing shamanistic goals and also most easily accessed through lucid dreaming. They note that self-hypnosis can also trigger lucid dreams.[17]

In Hinduism and Buddhism, so-called “dream yoga”[18] is employed to help the yogi realize that the world itself is a dream, that death is unreal, and that in his true nature the yogi is one essence with God. And the use of dream states by psychics and mediums for a variety of purposes, often to receive instruction from the spirits, is legion.

Spiritism and Dreams

It should be evident that the deliberate cultivation of dream states in some contexts opens people to direct or indirect spiritistic influence. This spiritistic influence occurs in a certain amount of dream work currently done in therapy and a great amount done in popularized dream work. The context in which the program of dream exploration occurs, and the methods used, are a good indication of the spiritual orientation. Following are seven examples from modern dream literature that show how dreams are used by spirits to deceive people into adopting New Age philosophies and practices, and even sorcery. In such examples, the spirits state that they want humans to actively utilize and manipulate the dream state for all kinds of purposes: health, self-insight, intuition, developing psychically, out-of-body experiences, and so on.

Jane Roberts and Seth

The book by medium Jane Roberts and her spirit guide “Seth,” Seth, Dreams and Projections of Consciousness, reveals Seth detailing how he employs a person’s dream state. Interestingly, the techniques suggested by Seth and other spirits are virtually the same as those endorsed by many dream work manuals and dream work methods. Jane Roberts records: “Following Seth’s instructions, my husband and I first learned to recall and record our dreams. Through later experiments, we discovered we could bring our normal waking consciousness into the dream state and ‘come awake’ while dreaming. Later we began to take bolder steps into these inner areas, learning to manipulate consciousness.”[19]

We are told that dream work can lead to a more “flexible” state of consciousness, permitting altered states, astral travel, and spirit contact. “Seth” claims to initiate occult out-of-body experiences in his human contacts. We also discover that dreams can play an important role in the demonization of individuals who experiment with dream work.[20] And it is significant that dream work played a key role in the entire phenomenon of Jane Roberts’ work with Seth, which has now influenced millions of people.[21] Roberts describes how important dreams were to her own mediumistic work:

Though Seth told us that the experiments in dream recall would automatically make our consciousness more flexible, his real meaning didn’t come through to me until I found myself manipulating dreams and later having out-of-body experiences from the dream state.

Before our experiments began, I used to think that dreams were relatively chaotic productions… a nightly retreat into idiocy for the tired brain…. So I wasn’t prepared for Seth’s emphasis on the importance of dreams.

If we follow certain “rules” given to us by Seth, we will get more or less predictable results in the dream state…. Seth has always emphasized that all true knowledge must be directly experienced; therefore, I will include throughout this book his instructions and suggestions for dream recall, investigation, and manipulation.

If we ever hope to “map” the dream state, we need a million trained dreamers: a million individuals trained to use dreams as vehicles….[22]

Again, some of the processes of dream work that Seth encourages are common to many dream-work methods. He says, “With the method I have just given you,… you will… be gaining excellent discipline and training over your own states of consciousness…. We [Seth and other spirits] shall also use them [dream states] to give you training in the utilization of various stages of consciousness.”[23]

Although Seth has claimed that he can induce out-of-body experiences, parts of the book also discuss how Seth utilizes dreams for helping to induce them. Since Seth teaches that the dream world is as real as the waking world, both lucid dream work and out-of-body experiences are legitimized as “true” reality.

It is significant that the view of reality and its relation to dreams espoused by spirit entities like “Seth,” in such texts as The Nature of Personal Reality[24] and Seth Dreams and Projection of Consciousness,[25] is either the same or similar to that taught by some cognitive psychologists and secular researchers of lucid dreaming.[26] That Seth views lucid dreams as a stepping-stone to occult out-of-body experiences, and that much current dream work attempts to foster and manipulate lucid dreams, is reason for concern. In addition, that some secular psychologists and dream researchers both agree with the spirits underscores the fact that the church may get more than it bargained for when it looks to secular dream work as a spiritual discipline.

Edgar Cayce

Hugh Lynn Cayce, the son of the famous trance medium Edgar Cayce, is coauthor of the text Dreams: The Language of the Unconscious.[27] In part, this book is based on the spiritistic revelations of Edgar Cayce which are called “Readings.” In other words, it represents the teachings of the spirit world concerning dream work.

In the book, the spirits claim that dreams are really an introduction to the psychic world. For Edgar Cayce and the spirits who inspired him, the unconscious realm (or the realm of the “subconscious soul”) was one and the same with the psychic realm. To Cayce, psychic events were really internal unconscious phenomena, not supernatural, spiritistic phenomena. Dreams are a doorway to and of the same nature as psychic events in general. This means that both dreams and psychic events are more or less the same thing. Thus, the goal of the spirits is to show us that the conscious development of psychic abilities during the day is really no different than the subconscious experience of dreams during the night.

These spiritistic revelations teach that giving “proper” attention to one’s dreams at night during sleep will help induce the same “events” (that is, psychic ones) during conscious periods in the daytime, or at least it will heighten one’s awareness of them. This is why Hugh Lynn Cayce observes, “The dream world appears to be one of the safest and quickest approaches to the psychic world of man.”[28] The readings also claim that both God and “the gods” speak to man through the dream state, and that it is man’s responsibility to grow spiritually “through his individual receiving of messages from the higher forces themselves” through dreams.[29]

Another book on Cayce’s dream work, Edgar Cayce on Dreams, by well-known psychic Harmon H. Bro, states that dreams may be used for the biblically forbidden practice of contacting the dead (Deut. 18:9-12). “According to Cayce, not a few of the dreams where the living meet the dead are for the sake of the dead. Sometimes the dead simply want to be known and recognized as still existent.”[30] Thus the spirits of the dead, what Cayce often called “discarnates,” “are in a position to bring to the dreamer guidance on many things: health, financial affairs, social causes, social service, relationships with the living…. Cayce himself had sometimes received aid from discarnates [and] his dead mother spoke through Cayce at the start of a reading for someone else. Cayce remembered the contact later as a dream, but the others in the room heard the words spoken aloud.”[31]

(Continued in Part 2)


  1. See John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Coming Darkness: Confronting Occult Deception (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993).
  2. See John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Coming Darkness: Confronting Occult Deception (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993).
  3. Laeh M. Garfield, Jack Grant, Companions in Spirit: A Guide to Working With Your Spirit Helpers (Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 1984), pp. 46-47; cf. pp. 152-53.
  4. Ibid., p. 73.
  5. http://www.wicca-spirituality.com/dream-work.html.
  6. Jeremy Taylor, Dream Work: Techniques for Discovering the Creative Power in Dreams (NY: Paulist Press, 1983), pp. 91, 93, 96.
  7. Ibid., p. 94.
  8. James J. Donahoe, Enigma: Psychology, the Paranormal and Self-Transformation (Oakland CA: Bench Press, 1979).
  9. Ibid., p. 71.
  10. Norman MacKenzie, Dreams and Dreaming (NY: Vanguard Press, 1965), pp. 26-83.
  11. Jeanne Achterberg, Imagery in Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine (Boston, MA: New Science Library/Shambhala, 1985), p. 55.
  12. MacKenzie, Dreams, p. 74.
  13. Patricia Garfield, Creative Dreaming (NY: Ballantine, 1985), pp. 59-117.
  14. Taylor, Dream Work, pp. 107-114; Garfield, Creative Dreaming, pp. 112-15.
  15. Achterberg, Imagery in Healing, p. 28.
  16. Ibid., p. 38; Ann Faraday, The Dream Game (NY: Harper & Row/Perennial, 1976), pp. 336-44; Stephen LaBerge, Lucid Dreaming (NY: Ballantine, 1986), pp. 228-73.
  17. Richard Dobson, Natasha Frazier, “Trance, Dreams and Shamanism,” Shaman’s Drum, Spring 1986, pp. 38-40.
  18. Garfield, Creative Dreaming, pp. 151-170.
  19. Jane Roberts, Seth: Dreams and Projection of Consciousness (Walpole, NH: Stillpoint, 1986), p. 6; cf. Ann Faraday, Dream Power (NY: Berkeley Books, 1986), pp. 295-302.
  20. Ibid., pp. 6-13, 193-207, 189, 297, 301-04, 350.
  21. Ibid., pp. 39-41, 63-64.
  22. Ibid., pp. 194-95.
  23. Ibid., p. 200.
  24. Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality: A Seth Book (NY: Bantam, 1978).
  25. Jane Roberts, Seth: Dreams and Projection of Consciousness.
  26. cf. LaBerge, Lucid Dreaming, pp. 234, 274-75.
  27. Hugh Lynn Cayce, et. al., Dreams: The Language of the Unconscious (Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, Rev. 1976).
  28. Ibid., p. 12; cf. p. 50,
  29. Ibid., p. 10; Reading No. 3744-4.
  30. Harmon H. Bro, Edgar Cayce on Dreams (NY: Warner, 1968), p. 180.
  31. Ibid., p. 183.

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