Lucidity Letter - August 1984 - Vol. 3, No. 2 & 3

Lucidity Letter

1.  Problems Related to Experimentation While Dreaming Lucidly - 87

       George Gillespie

2.  Comments on “The Selling of the Senoi” - 89

       Patric V. Giesler

3.  A Response to Giesier - 91

       Ann Faraday and John Wren—Lewis

4.  Techniques and Antecedents: A Response to Giesler - 91

       Robert Knox Dentan

5.  A Contribution to the Dynamics of “Lucid” Dreams - 93

       Z. Havlicek

6.  A “Bringing to Awareness” Dream - 94

       Stephan Knorles

7.  Can We Distinguish Between Lucid Dreams and Dreaming——Awareness  Dreams? - 95

       George Gillespie

8.  Lucid Dream Definition - 97

       Alan Worsley

9.  Letter From The Editor - 98

       Jayne Gackenbach




George Gillespie1

Department of Oriental Studies

University of Pennsylvania


Lucid dreaming offers a unique opportunity for the study of dreams. The lucid dreamer, unlike the ordinary dreamer, knows that what in being experienced is a dream, and thus while dreaming, can investigate dream content, how dreams work and how consciousness works during dreams, as well as do exploratory experimentation.


For some years I have experimented while dreaming lucidly. I plan an experiment while awake. When I realize I am dreaming I try to remember a cue word or phrase that expresses the experiment. In a series of experiments I planned to handle an object and note its realistic solidity, then put my hand through that object, and then feel it again as solid. Once I discovered I was dreaming, if I could bring to mind the word “solidity” or “test solidity,” I generally had no problem remembering what to do. While experimenting in dreams, I meet with certain problems that arise out of the nature of dreaming. I will discuss these problems out of my own experience and according to my understanding of dreams. I’ll begin with the more obvious problems.


1.         No note taking. There is the problem of not being able to take notes. Actually I can, but they disappear when I wake up.


2. Interruption. There is both the problem of waking up before finishing an experiment and the fear of waking up that occasionally makes me rush through an experiment. False awakenings (dreaming that I have awakened) and what I think of as the spliced—film effect, in which suddenly I am dreaming something else, have the same effect as waking up, since I no longer know I am dreaming.


3. Undesirable circumstances. The dreamer cannot select the circumstances in which he or she will experiment. Experiments must be carried out in whatever dream environment is found when the dreamer becomes lucid. I had planned to do ten jumps in a dream. I became lucid when I was poised up inside a tower with little to stand on. As I was afraid of falling, I could not proceed with my jumps.


4. Intrusions. The dreamer cannot prevent intrusions into the experiment. Things appear or disappear. Events happen without warning. If a beast takes my hand, I have to deal with him. I was testing the continuity of consciousness from dreaming to being awake by counting in the dream, intending to continue through the act of waking up and slightly beyond. I was counting out loud at a regular speed, deliberating on each number. Other activity continued in the room. Someone began pinching me in my seat. This distracted me. I tried to shake him off and couldn’t, so I ignored him. Next, I had bothersome grape seeds in my mouth. I needed to spit them out and had to be careful not to lose count nor lose my rhythm.


5. The “reality” of the dream. In spite of knowing I am dreaming, the dream may be so convincing that it disturbs my progress. Once when someone wanted to take a picture of me with my Uncle Tom, I thought it was not right to interrupt the picture—taking to proceed with the experiment.


6. The attraction of the dream. There is always some disappointment when I discover I am dreaming. Even when the dream has been unpleasant, or upon waking reflection I cansee nothing that could have interested me, the dream attracts me so greatly that it takes a certain amount of will power to proceed with my experiment. Often I ignore experimenting in order to try to go on with the dream.


7. The presence of only what is being experienced. There is to the dream only what is being experienced. What has just been seen is gone and cannot be seen again. There is nothing out of view, behind me or to the sides. Nevertheless, it seems that there is physical continuity from what was experienced earlier, and it seems the environment extends out of sight. Therefore, I may make wrong assumptions about my experience. When I saw only light, I assumed without warrant that I was surrounded by light. When I was trying to carry out a pre—planned dream, for which I needed a plant, I turned and saw a potted plant. I wrongly assumed that it had already been there. But I had produced it, for it did not exist until I saw it.


8. The occurrence of what is anticipated. What is anticipated in dreams tends to occur, either directly or indirectly. Anticipations include desire, intention, fear, the observation of a possibility and the expectation of certain responses. If I plan to go upstairs, stairs appear. If I expect to land when I fall, I land (or wake up suddenly). If I don’t expect to land, I keep falling. If I want to look out of the window, I next find myself outside the window. This effect has serious implications for experiments, for we are likely to see happen what we expect to happen. When I tested for solidity, things felt normal when I first felt them, but when I intended my hand to go through them, it did, feeling their texture. However, what is anticipated may not occur. Nor can all elements of a dream ever be anticipated. Though I carried out a pre—planned dream, many of the elements were surprising. For instance, the salesman that I hoped to take part in the dream turned out to be a saleswoman.


9. Deactivation of the dream environment. To maintain the dream environment I must interact with it. When I stopped to compose poetry, and when I was trying to remember where I was sleeping, the activity in the dream environment diminished or stopped. If my mind is taken off the environment altogether, the environment is in danger of being lost, causing me to wake up. When I was trying to mentally picture my

grandmother’s house while I kept my eyes open, as I can do while awake, I needed to keep running down the dream road to keep my interaction with the dream and not wake up.


10. Limitations of memory. While dreaming, I remember few circumstances of my waking life. What I remember is largely the previous events of the dream, plus a few stray memories. I can bring little to mind, though there is no problem with rote memory. There is no awareness of a continuity of events leading to the present place and moment. Memories are often false. In my first 277 lucid dreams for which I had planned experiments, in only 122 of them (44%) was I able to bring to mind in whole or in part the experiment that I had planned to do. Sometimes I mistakenly proceeded upon a former experiment. Sometimes during an experiment I forget what I am to be doing or what I am looking for. If I do not wake up soon, Imay forget some of what happened. When I was composing poetry, I kept the compositions to only two lines, and even then I often could not retain parts of the lines.


11. Knowledge not based on sense experience. Much of my understanding of the dream is not determined by sense experience. My recognition of places, people and objects does not depend on what I see. I spontaneously assume I am in Hong Kong without any clues in the environment that make it Hong Kong and without any memory of arriving in Hong Kong. I “recognize” Charlotte, my wife, without looking at her. I can “know” what she said without hearing it said. I can “know” what is happening out of sight. False memories come in the same manner. Such spontaneous unconsciously supplied knowledge accompanies dream experiments. For one experiment I wanted to change whatever dream environment I found myself in to New Market in Calcutta.

Actually, the identity of where I was did not depend on what I saw, but on what I “knew” it to be. In a lucid dream I “knew” I was flying about in my real bedroom, in spite of the fact that there was nothing truly recognizable in the room. Fortunately, false memories, recognitions, understanding and knowledge can be looked at critically upon awaking by recalling the actual events and sense experience of the dream.


12. Limitations of rationality and judgment. While dreaming, I have no such thing as a scientific attitude, nor often even a rational attitude. I can make little critical judgment about the progress or outcome of my experiment. I am not aware of inconsistencies, changes or implications. The judgments that I do make are more frequently spontaneous knowledge, not based on my perception of the experiment. When I try an experiment not planned ahead while awake, I often do such irrational experiments” as trying to make Psalm 140 appear or examining the car my mother just left in the dream so that I can compare it when I wake up with the one she “really” left in. In another dream in which I wanted to examine objects for authentic duplication of waking reality, I was absurdly trying to decide whether a painting was authentically by Goya.


13. The dreamer’s spontaneous action and speech. While dreaming I often speak and act spontaneously. These unpremeditated actions, rather than arising out of what I am doing in the dream, protrude into the dream. I had planned to repeat the Lord’s Prayer in a dream. When I remembered to do so, I spontaneously proceeded to sing it to a similar tune. I eventually realized that that was taking too long, and that I should continue by only repeating it. In other experiments I attempted to put into alphabetical order objects I saw in the dream. I consistently had the problem that while I repeated the words for what I had seen, trying to remember them, I spontaneously changed some words and added others, usually alliterative byproducts of the original words. In a dream I saw stairs, a pipe, some paper, and a wheel. But when I made the list and repeated it, I ended up with “air, pipe, paper, steel, wheel.” Stairs had been dropped. Air and steel had been added. Fortunately, when I reviewed the dream I could see that that had happened.


14. Words brought to mind tend to be related to the ongoing dream. I found that each time I composed a couple of lines of poetry in a dream, by letting them come to mind, the lines had a relationship to what I had been dreaming. When I tried to remember a forgotten address by simply speaking it, part of the incorrect address that I said was related to my dream location. In a series of dreams I tried to recall where I was sleeping. Each time but once my guess was incorrect. The time I was correct I guessed that I was in Landour, though not more specific than that. However, when I looked back on the whole series of tests I saw that in every case my guess was related to my dream situation. The time I had guessed correctly I had indeed been walking along a street as I would find only while staying in Landour. It only seemed that I had guessed correctly.


15. The experimenter is always a part of the experiment. If I test my memory or thinking, obviously I test myself. But also if I test the dream environment, whatever I experience of myself physically is a part of the environment I am testing. All aspects of what I experience remains dependent on my creation of it. I can never separate myself from anything I investigate. When I intended to be still and watch a dream impartially, I could never feel separated from it. In a solidity experiment, I placed my hand inside my uncle to see the effect if I kept it in him. My arm looked normal up to the point where it entered him. It seemed I was successfully keeping my hand inside him. However, upon waking reflection, I realized that I had not observed my hand staying inside him. I did not recall feeling my hand inside him, or feeling .his texture or moving my hand inside. I had only seen my arm stop at my uncle’s body.


Obviously there are limitations and problems in experimenting while dreaming. Still, dream experimentation and observation is valuable. Occasionally, I remember planned experiments. When I remember them I can carry them out. I can observe them closely. More often than not I remember the dream well upon awaking. And (what can be seen over and over again in the examples I gave) once awake, I can reflect critically on the dream, the experiment, the results and myself as the dreamer. I can see the inconsistencies, changes and implications that I had missed. I can make comparisons with earlier experience. I can spot false memories, false assumptions, and bad judgments. Thus in spite of the limitations and problems, I am able to carry out experiments in lucid dreams and learn from them.


1Paper presented at the symposium “Lucid Dreams: Induction and Content” at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Baltimore, April 12, 1984.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 87.


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(LL, 1984, 3(1), 1—3)


Patric V. Giesler

Institute for Parapsychology

Durham, North Carolina


It is always pleasing to me to get the ethnographic record straight, albeit of course disconcerting that it need be gotten straight in the first place! Thus I applaud the work of Faraday and Wren—Lewis. I am sure that their work will join De Mille’s in revealing Castaneda or Carneiro’s exposure of Cordova—Rios and Lamb Wizardof the Upper Amazon. But I do have a question concerning methodology. Please understand that in regard to the Senoi and dreams, I am neutral. I’ve taken no “Senoi workshops,” nor have I read Stewart’s dissertation nor the offshoot literature.


My question has to do with the problematic employment of interpreters in fieldwork, and with or without them, the more crucial but related issue of how a question is framed to an informant. My rationale for the query in relation to your work will become clear in a moment, but first, I ask: Did you rely on interpreters? And if so, or even if not, and even if you are both fluent in the native language, what measures did you take to assure the cultural applicability of the particular framing of your questions? The well—renown anthropologist Kluckhohn (1944) reported difficulties eliciting basic witchcraft information from Navajo informants. Whenever he would try, the informants would respond somewhat alarmed and suspicious: “Why do you ask me?” “I don’t know anything about such matters.” Twenty

years later, Werner and Fenton (1970) asked the Navajo for witchcraft information and had no difficulties. It could be that the Navajos became more open to discussing their historically highly sensitive subject area. But Werner and Fenton argue that Kluckhohn’s problem was that he had not discovered the culturally appropriate ways for asking for witchcraft information without at the same time inferring that the informant was a witch! If the sequence were reversed, and Werner and Fenton had written a fascinating dissertation on Navajo witchcraft followed by Navajo workshops and pop enthusiasm, then Kluckhohn would come along and based on his experiences debunk the whole affair, claiming the Navajo have no such beliefs or practices!


I spent several years with Afro—Brazilian shamans of the Jurema Cult and learned that what parapsychologists call spontaneous psychokinesis (SPK) and recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK; poltergeists) were frequent events in the lives of the cultists. For stories abounded in the cult circles to which I was apprenticed. I returned to these circles five years after my initial three year jaunt with them, and this time to collect systematically the details on these accounts or experiences. Now, although thoroughly familiar with their interpretation of the SPK and RSPK events, I wanted to be neutral——to ask my questions in a relatively open—ended way. Therefore, “Have you ever seen an object move by itself?” I asked for example. Cultists consistently denied having had the experience. I was appalled. I gave examples, used props and to no avail. I was perfectly fluent in the language. Finally, the topic of SPK and RSPK events came spontaneously in cult conversations, and many exchanged their experiences! Suddenly I realized the problem. I had framed my question neutrally (re: our culture), but for cultists the question was biased of course. For cultists, objects in SPK and RSPK events don’t move by themselves; that’s impossible! Spirits or magical forces move them. Had I asked the question in a culturally appropriate way (not move by “itself” but by, say, the spirit Romaozinho), I would not have had the difficulty, and I did not thereafter.



Based on these kinds of experiences and insights, I am led to wonder when two or more anthropologists report on the same culture, and specifically, on the same

sensitive/sacred topics for the natives, and when there are major discrepancies in the reports, whether the “framing of the key questions” may have generated the discrepancies. Certainly you have taken all this into account. But then in my experience one year in the field is hardly enough to assure me that such errors could not have been made. Add interpreters and data quality control becomes greatly limited. The assumption that an interpreter/native assistant will control for the problem is a flawed assumption, especially when the assistant is struggling to ask what you want and not what he or she wants or thinks will be best!






Kluckhohn, C. (1944). Navajo witchcraft. Papers of the Peabody Museum, Harvard

    University, Vol. 22.

Werner, 0. and Fenton, J. (1970). Method and theory in ethnoscience or

    ethnoepistemology. In R. Naroll and R. Cohen (Eds.) A handbook of method in

    cultural anthropology. Garden City: The Natural

    History Press, 1970.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 89.


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Ann Faraday and John Wren—Lewis

New South Wales, Australia


We have never pretended to be anthropologists carrying out an in—depth study of Senoi culture. We are psychologist/authors who had frequently, and in good faith, quoted Kilton Stewart’s Ph.D. thesis on Senoi dream control practices. Our first doubts about its authenticity arose at our meeting with Peter Bloch in 1977, and were later confirmed by extensive correspondence with anthropologists formerly and currently in the field. So when we dropped into Malaysia in 1982 on our way from India to Australia, our intention was merely to spend a couple of months tying up loose ends by rummaging in the archives for Pat Noone’s missing papers, interviewing some of his old friends, and generally gathering clues as to why Kilton Stewart had invented this extraordinary story.


But we reckoned without the bounteous Senoi hospitality which drew us into numerous Jungle villages to meet family, friends and elders, some of whom had actually given their dreams to Kilton Stewart fifty years ago. Typical of our new—found Senoi friends and interpreters was a jungle—born Senoi with English high school matriculation who asked, as we celebrated the Festival of the First Rice in his uncle’s jungle home, “What do you think of the works of Carlos Castaneda?” He is currently preparing a Ph.D. thesis on Senoi religion, based on personal experience of his grandfather’s shamanism. We guess that he understands the concepts and how to convey them cross culturally — better, in fact, than even the best informed anthropologist who must necessarily remain an outsider even after the most intensive fieldwork.


As to the brevity of our one—year ‘fieldwork’, we can only point out that it compares favorably with the five months (at the most) spent by Stewart with the Senoi. Our rummagings revealed a hasty demographic survey through the Kelantan jungles with Noone in early 1935, followed by a seven—week stay in a jungle resthouse outside Jalong in 1937. It appears that beer, liquer, cigars, goronzola cheese and other goodies were tarried by elephants and native bearers into the jungle, where they were served by Malay servants in starched white coats (Noone’s personal servant, Che Puteh, has become our very good friend) to the sound of Noone’s portable gramaphone. As Stewart himself remarks in an unpublished paper, “the British live well in the colonies!” Our own trips were not nearly so comfortable, and yes, we did get malaria.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 91.


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Robert Knox Dentan

State University of New York at Buffalo


The editor of the Lucidity Letter has asked me to respond to Giesler’s insightful comment on Ann Faraday’s and John Wren—Lewis’s (henceforward F&WL) “The Selling of the Senoi”. Giesler’s comment falls in two parts: (1) questions about research methodology; and (2) an explanation about what a “yes” answer to the questions might mean in terms of the reliability of the Senoi data. Correspondingly, my response (1) stresses how vital these questions are in matters of this sort, since psychologists in general are unfamiliar with the vicissitudes of ethnographic fieldwork; but (2) concludes that, in this particular case, only an ellipsis in the original note by F&LW makes their conclusions seem debatable on these grounds.


Ethnographic Criteria


Anthropologists who read and write ethnographies evaluate ethnographic reports by reference to two sets of criteria: the duration and conditions of fieldwork; and the way in which authors handle problems of context and translation. In the first area, ethnographic fieldwork should be intensive and holistic (Firth 1963: 17—18). An ethnographer should reside in the community long enough, usually about a year, to become familiar at first hand with both the language and the pattern of daily life. Living elsewhere, e.g. at night, and commuting to the people (“motel ethnography”) or traveling through an area without settling down (“tourist ethnography”) works against the personal rapport and sense of the quotidian that mark good ethnographic writing (Marcus 1980, Marcus and Cushman 1982). People’s accounts of their lives and dreams simplify and generalize, arid often idealize or mystify, what they actually do. Deeds are as important as creeds, but an ethnographer must be on the spot to observe how people deal with their dreams in the humdrum of daily living as well as how they talk about dreams. A knowledge of quotidian life is vital if an ethnographer is to avoid the sort of faux pas question Giesler so accurately describes. Therefore a good ethnography conveys a holistic sense of daily routines extensive enough that a reader can infer how particular data on which an author focuses fit into people’s ordinary activities.


Anthropologists also expect translation, and its attendent problems to be in the foreground. This requirement entails that an ethnographer be familiar enough with the local language to put native terms into their contexts; for meaning is context. (Just how true that linguists’ axiom is becomes unmistakably clear when one is trying to learn an unwritten language in the absence of bilingual speakers). Getting imperfectly bilingual informants to give one a rough gloss produces a parodic pidgin whose inadequacies may not at once be clear. I have argued elsewhere (Dentan l983c) that one reason for Stewart’s errors is that he failed to attend properly to conceptual categories in Temiar, a language which he did not speak. My correspondence with F&WL urged that they attend to such considerations. Giesler’s comment thus seems in the best tradition of constructive criticism, the cautionary suggestion made before a report assumes its final form. It is to be hoped that F&WL will address these issues.


Ethnographic Conclusions


In fact, however, the conclusion that Stewart’s “Senoi dreamwork” bears little relation to what real—world Senoi, past or present, do or did, does not rest solely on the adequacy of F&WL’s field techniques. Ethnographers have done extensive Senoi fieldwork which does meet these criteria: Benjamin and Roseman with Temiar; Dentan, the Fixes, Gomes, Williams—Hunt and the Robarcheks with Semai. We were aware as early as the mid—1960s that Stewart’s account of Senoi dreamwork was erroneous but were unaware of how widely it was to be disseminated. Such professional boundary keeping and other interests kept us from publishing a detailed refutation until my short article, comment and monograph of last year (Dentan 1983a,b,c), following our discovery of American—Senoi dreamwork. It’s a type case of the evils of professional specialization.


Nevertheless, anyone reading the voluminous literature on Senoi could have noticed that no mention of anything like “Senoi dream therapy” occurs. Moreover, in 1976 Peter Bloch visited Temiar and filmed their current dream praxis and found no trace of the complex Stewart described. Dreamworks disseminated this information informally, and a number of popular authors picked it up (Rainwater 1979: 127). F&WL, however, point to that few dreamworkers paid any attention to Bloch’s discovery and the response followed the pattern F&WL quite properly condemn (see, e.g., Williams 1980:281, Randall 1983, Garfield quoted in Spiller 1983: 7—8; cf. Dentan 1983b, Faraday and Wren—Lewis 1983; Howell 1983).


Finally, ethnographic hermeneutics is tricky business; a wide range of interpretations are possible in many instances; but, if Giesler intends to suggest that, since disagreement is possible, anything gobs, he would be mistaken. Factual statements like Stewart’s assertions that dream “clinics” occur or that Senoi talk about dreams in certain ways are “falsifiable” in the sense that it is possible to imagine events which would prove them false. To the extent that Stewart’s statements about Senoi dream praxis are falsifiable, F&WL like their predecessors have, apparently found them false; and the interpretation F&WL have so far offered accords with the concensus of ethnographers. Stewart’s account, I think, resembles more his imaginative reconstruction of his communitarian, dream—based Mormon childhood (Stewart 1954: 17, 20—21). Even the dream narratives in his doctoral dissertation do not match his generalizations about Senoi dreams (Stewart 1948). Unconstrained by formal techniques, these mingled memories and desires led him to see things that were not there. All the earlier evidence supports F&WL.


F&WL’s conclusions seem correct, then. Moreover, I endorse their condemnation of the defensive tactic of describing Senoi as a “mythic” people. Senoi are more real to me than are most American Senoi dreamworkers. I’ve laughed with Senoi, quarreled with some, hugged a few, carried dead Senoi babies to the grave. When the lives of weaker peoples become part of a powerful people’s mythology it becomes impossible to tell truth from fiction or fact from mythology. Experts paint us as they would like us to be...The American public feels most comfortable with the mythical Indians of stereotype—land…To be an Indian in modern American society is...to be unreal and ahistorical (Deloria 1970: 9—10; cf. 83—104).




Gloria, V. Jr. (1970). Custer died for your sins:  An Indian manifesto. New York:



Dentan, R. K. (1983a). Senoi dream praxis. Dream Network Bulletin 2, 5, 1—3, 12.


Dentan,. R. K. (1983b). Hit and run ethnographic/sic/: reply to Alexander Randall.

   Dream Network Bulletin 2, 8, 11—12.


Dentan, R. K. (1983c). A dream of Senoi. Council on International Studies, State

   University of New York at Buffalo, Special Study.


Faraday, A., and Wren—Lewis, J. (1983) /Reply to Randal/ Dream Network Bulletin

   2, 8, 10—11.


Firth, R. (1963). Elements of social organization. Boston: Beacon.


Howell, S. (1983). Kilton Stewart failed to understand what he saw. Dream Network

   Bulletin 2, 11, 8.


Marcus, G. E. (1980). Rhetoric and the ethnographic genre in anthropological

   research. Current Anthropology 21, 507—510.


Marcus, G. E. and Cushman, D. (1982). Ethnographies as texts. Annual Review of

   Anthropology 11, 25—69.


Rainwater, J. (1979). You’re in charge! A Guide to becoming your own therapist.

   Culver City, CA: Peace Press.


Randall, A. (1983). The terrible truth of the Temiar Senoi. Dream Network Bulletin

   2, 2, 1—3.


Spiller, N. (1983). Childrens’ adventures in dreamland. CalToday, 2 October, 4—9.


Stewart. K. R. (1948). Magico-religious beliefs and practises /sic/ in primitive

   society — a sociological interpretation of their therapeutic aspects. Doctoral

   thesis, London School of Economics.


Stewart, K. R. (1954). Pygmies and dream giants. New York: W.W. Norton.


Williams, S. K. (1980). Jungian—Senoi dreamwork manual. New revised expanded

   edition, Berkeley: Journey Press.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s, 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 91.


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Z. Havlicek1

Psychiatric Hospital—District Institute of National Health of Central Bohemia, Sadska


As far as the theory of the origin of lucid dreams goes, we have already mentioned the connection with activation of kinesthetic modality, with imagined movement, with “epinoetic” willing; it is as if the image of movement itself awakened consciousness. Various authors bring up the frequent connection with dreams about flying: however there are a lot of dreams about flying that do not end up as lucid dreams; it seems to us that it is rather the case of prevention of (physical) movement, than the fluidity of dream movements that bring about the lucid dream……        


Every “universal” theory in psychology — even in its formulation — faces many problems. A lucid dream is only a special type of dream; the question of its origin is to be treated the same way as the question about the origin of any other dream, in which the element of lucidity is only a special factor. The dream is not to be separated from the maternal(Editors Note: translators spelling) ground of reality from which it sprouted; authors who attend only to the manifest content of the dream usually neglect the dialectic unity of the reality and of the dream………       


So the lucid dreamer appears to be on constant alert. He is defending against the unacceptable. He fights the irrational. Re rights the feelings of dread — or real threats………        


Under the etiological syndrome of the lucid dream undoubtedly falls the attempt to motoric mastery of the anxiety causing stimulus, and this can be via any activation of the kinesthetic process — including “observation”. This dimension we could call the dimension of “willful activity”, it only adds depth to the sought—after syndrome. Instigation of lucidity presupposes a shift from passive experiencing to active intervention, a shift from amorphous to differentiated Self. It is possible that lucid dreams have their foundation in just that very developmental phase of ontogenesis………       


Lastly — if we are able in certain circumstances to be aware in the dream that it is a dream, and thus achieve a qualitative change in the dream, are we able in life, to be aware, that it is the case of life (i.e., are we able in waking consciousness to become lucid about that state?) — and draw the appropriate consequences? Does such a higher form of the consciousness of the Self come about under the pressure of the sensation of threat and the action of the will, in this case the activity of the will being paralysed………     


1. These are selected exerpts from: Havlicek, Z. (1966) Prispevek K Dynamice “Lucidnich” Snu (A contribution to the dynamics of “Lucid” dreams). Ceskoslovenska Psychiatrie, 62(5), 309—315. The article was translated by Stephan Knorles, University of New England, Australia. The full translation is available from the editor (Dr. .Jayne Gackenbach, Department of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614) for $3 to cover handling and a small translators fee.



Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 93.


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Stephan Knorles

University of New England



The following is a presentation of a ‘bringing to awareness’ dream. It is purely descriptive and I think that it relates to Havlicek’s notion about the relationship between the “activation of kinesthetic modality with imagined movement…it is as if the image of movement itself awakened consciousness” (p. 10). More importantly it shows how the ‘dreamer’ integrates the differing stimuli and needs — to weave and guide the dream in order to satisfy the need; it appears to be a creative problem—solving situation.


Only the end of the dream is remembered. That is, there is a distinct awareness that there was a meaningful episode unfolding, onto which the reported ending of the dream was seemingly grafted. The first clear image is that of myself squatting near my daughter. We are interacting and observing a small lizard that is under a box frame. The animal is peaceful and so is the observation. The lizard is gradually changing in size and shape and increasingly starts to look like a large mouse. As this goes on the environment also changes. Whilst previously it was an obviously outdoor scene in the short grass, we are now on a wall—to—wall carpet. The interaction shifts from between daughter—and-self to mouse—and—self. Correspondingly my daughter fades out of focus, although her presence is still felt. She slowly gets out of the frame and gradually the feeling of her presence peters out. In this new indoor environment the possibility of the mouse running away from where it is, and hiding in the house and chewing food and books, is a growing concern. If it escapes it will be hard to catch. (The idea of trapping the mouse does not occur.) A clear realization forms in my mind: “I must remove this animal from here, now.” And I also realize that to do that I must move my hand fast and with total deliberation if I am to catch the mouse and thereby remove it. It is an important movement. I realize that it must be a single ­minded movement for it to be successful. I must identify with my hand, I must become my hand (as in martial arts) because my hand has, about two feet to move, and the animal will notice my hand moving and will start to run away…and if I don’t catch it then I will cause what I wanted to prevent. I move for the catch and I am holding the mouse or rather restricting it, but I do not have a grip on it. The weight of my palm or wrist is, pushing it down so that it cannot escape. It feels rather as if the stump of my arm is holding it down. Yet, I am not squashing the animal — there is no reaction of pain or a violent attempt to escape. The mouse is firmly fixated by my wrist. Now I have to get a grip on it with my fingers so I can lift the mouse to take it away from where it is. To remove it. I can’t do it! Of course, the mouse is trying to get away. It is able to turn its head sufficiently to attack one of my fingers (index or middle — I can’t remember which one it was) and is biting into it. This does not worry me. I know that as soon as I get a grip on the mouse this will stop. I need to hold the skin on the back of the mouse and then I can take it away and it won’t be able to bite me any more. I can not afford to be distracted by the needle—like sensations that the sharp little teeth are inflicting on my finger. I have to get a hold of this mouse! My hand is moving around a small area but it all seems to be in a haze, I am clumsy. My hands and fingers are inept. I am getting nowhere with this simple task and I don’t really know what I am doing because I am not sure about what my hand is doing or where it is. It certainly does notdo what I want it to do, it is as if I has lost contact with my hand and fingers, I have no feedback. I find this ridiculous. The difficult task of catching the mouse was successful, yet this simple task of grabbing the captive and immobilized animal is immposible to complete. I am not accustomed to such clumsiness. I don’t understand what issues this loss of dexterity. This calls for some explanation. In the meantime the mouse continues to have a go at the top segment of my fingerand is mutilating it. Most of the flesh is exposed. The sooner I grabthe mouse the sooner will this discomfort stop. But I cannot get my fingers to do the job. They don’t behave like they normally do. Another realization forms in my mind: “My hands are getting numb from bleeding. I will have to stop the animal doing this to me.” I need to hold the mouse, to get a grip on it, to take it away, to a secure place so that it can not escape, yet the mouse is ‘hooked’ on my finger piercing and numbing;. (There was no goal-place where I might put the mouse e.g. a box, etc. The aim was simply to get the mouse ‘away’ from where it was.) I also realize the double bind of the situation: the longer it is going to take me to do it, the less strength I shall have left in my hand. This realization puts urgency into the situation and I know that I have to put all my energies into my hand to execute the task. I have to a grip on it — that is the task.


At that point I woke up. My hands are up near my head in a typical baby—like position, and  I realize that I want to move them down to my hips because they are numb, but I can’t, there is no strength in them. It is now clear that this was trying to break into my awareness during the dream and that’s why I had to “remove the mouse from where it is” in order to be at peace within myself.


In the above dream, which was spontaneously recalled late in the evening of the following day, the point of concern is communicated in so may different ways, yet it does not get through despite the fact that all the details are observed and memorized. It is fascinating to observe how the dream evolves, or manipulates towards the need to move the hand. But the ‘sleeping will’ is not strong enough to execute the necessary movement despite all inducement and concentration. It changes the lizard into a large mouse (or rat) because rodents are a concern to me. There currently is a mice plague and the mice are in the roof of the house. This is causing concern because the mice might chew on the free electric cables and also they might get into the house. I certainly would not like them to munch on my books. It is the image of movement of the limb “the attempt at motoric mastery of the anxiety causing stimulus, and this can be via any activation of the kinesthetic process — including “observation”. This dimension we could call the dimension of “willful activity”, it only adds depth to the sought—after syndrome (Havlicek, 1966, page 15 in translation). It results in bringing in the consciousness to do what was previously attempted unsuccessfully. This was staged through a series of clever twists, away from the original dream story — through the intimate knowledge of an insider, selecting the most effective props, to induce or seduce, to the achievement of the goal.


I’d like to note that in order to get the feeling back into my hands I needed to move my arms. In the dream my right arm moved, the wish was fulfilled, but the need was not satisfied — I could not remove the mouse from where it was — I had no feeling in my right hand.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 94.


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George Gillespie

Department of Oriental Studies

University of Pennsylvania


Charles T. Tart, in the March, 1984 issue of Lucidity Letter, proposes that we make a distinction between lucid dreams and dreaming—awareness dreams. Under the term “lucid dream” are to be included those dreams “in which the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming, clearly recalls his waking life, and considers himself to be in full command of his intellectual and motivational abilities.” It is “an altered d—SoC (discrete state of consciousness)” in which the dreamer is “experiencing the overall quality of his consciousness as having clarity, the lucidity of his ordinary waking d—SoC.” On the other hand, he proposes the new term “dreaming—awareness dreams” to describe “ordinary dreams that include some concurrent awareness that one is dreaming, but where this awareness is not accompanied by a shift in consciousness to the altered state of lucid dreaming.” In the November, 1983 issue of Lucidity Letter I had described my lucid dreams as being without my normal intellectual faculties, for I do not have the memory or reasoning ability that I have while awake, even at my best moments. Tart believes that such lucid dreams as mine should be called “dreaming—awareness dreams” and the term “lucid dreams” kept for those in which the dreamer has the lucidity of his or her waking state.


I suggest that the case for the commonality of these supposedly different types of dreams is stronger than the case for their difference, and that trying to maintain a distinction between the two would create a number of problems.


To begin with, Tart’s description of dreaming—awareness dreams is based on some questionable assumptions. On what basis can it be concluded that anything less than waking lucidity in a dream constitutes an ordinary dream? My lucid dreams are very different from my ordinary dreams in ways I will describe. I am also wary of lucid dreaming being called an altered discrete state while dreaming—awareness dreams are assumed to include no shift in consciousness to that altered state. Do we know enough yet about states of consciousness to conclude that two varying degrees of lucidity constitute different states? Do we know enough yet about shifts in consciousness to conclude that realizing one is dreaming does not indicate a decisive shift to lucid dreaming?


I see no difference in motivational ability between my own experience and what I read of others’ lucid dream experiences. I desire and intend and proceed to carry through my intentions. I am usually in charge of what I do in spite of occasional spontaneous unplanned acts, as in fact I am in much of my ordinary dreaming.


The essential distinction, then, if there be one, between lucid dreams and dreaming— awareness dreams is in degree of lucidity, that is in degree of memory and intellectual abilities. It is not sufficient that this degree of ability be judged while dreaming. A dreamer who feels she remembers waking life and considers herself to be in full command of her intellectual abilities may be mistaken. In an ordinary or lucid dream I feel that my mental functioning is as when awake. It is only while awake that I can reflect critically on the dream experience and see that my mental abilities were limited. While dreaming, I do not have the discerning abilities to enable me to notice my limitations. I believe I remember things correctly, I confidently plan my next action and make judgments without hesitation. After the dream I might remember only my self— assurance about my mental abilities. But I have seen my limitations by recollection and by testing myself while dreaming lucidly. For example, I found that I had no trouble with rote memory, but when I tried to recall where I was sleeping (after frequent moving around) I could not. While I found that at times I could spontaneously plan a dream experiment that made sense, frequently what I planned made no sense at all.


Tart suggests that since Frederik van Eeden coined the term “lucid dreaming” and characterized his own lucid dream consciousness as more like waking than dreaming, we should reserve the term “lucid dream” for when the dreamer’s lucidity has the overall quality of his ordinary waking state. Van Eeden’s account of his lucid dreams is found in Tart’s edited volume, Altered   States of   Consciousness (Garden City, 1972). In introductory notes to van Eeden’s account, Tart says that van Eeden “felt that he possessed all of his normal intellectual faculties.” (p 116)


The distinction between lucid dreams and dreaming—awareness dreams becomes more difficult to maintain when we see in van Eeden’s account evidence of somewhat less than waking lucidity, and in my “dreaming-awareness dreams” somewhat more lucidity than in my ordinary dreams. Van Eeden never actually says in his article that he feels he is possessed of all his normal intellectual faculties. He never compares his lucidity (memory or reasoning ability) to that of the waking state. He says he has full recollection of his day—life and his own condition, has perfect awareness, is able to direct his attention and can act voluntarily upon reflection. He does not say he can recall anything at will. He does not seem to remember everything up to date. He does not say what “full recollection” means. Though he reflects, he does not say that he can reason as when awake, or how clear that reflection is. He does say it is difficult for him to control emotional impulses in lucid dreams. He forgets that his brother has died. He believes that others in the dream are also dreaming his dream. He takes himself for younger than he is. He feels in the dream that he understands something that only puzzles him when he awakens. He admits that lucidity in one lucid dream had not been very intense.


In my lucid dreams, though I never have the lucidity of my waking moments, I am decidedly more lucid than in my ordinary dreams. Even before I realize I am dreaming, I acquire enough lucidity to notice anomalies in the dream, to realize that certain situations are dream—like and to reflect on the question of whether I am dreaming. Ordinary dreams are full of anomalies, contradictions and dream-like situations that I accept without notice.


It is the onset of lucidity that enables me to notice, reflect and realize, and enables the lucid dream to occur. It is lucidity to realize I am dreaming, to sustain that knowledge for some time and to realize its implications. I know the dream is not ordinary physical reality, that dream people are not separate entities and that it won’t help me to write down notes or to run to the bathroom until I wake up. I normally remember that I am to proceed with some task, even though frequently I can’t think of what it is. When I think of it, I can usually carry it through, though sometimes I forget what I’m doing, or I suddenly do something unplanned. I observe closely, though my judgment is bad. I can decide to remain detached or to become involved with the dream. These abilities are not characteristic of my ordinary dreams.


It is not just the knowledge that one is dreaming and the greater lucidity of the dreamer that distinguish lucid dreaming from ordinary dreaming. Van Eeden and others have reported that lucid dreams are much more clearly remembered afterward than ordinary dreams. Mine are clearly remembered and remain more vivid in my mind than the usual ordinary dream.


A reported characteristic of lucid dreams is their relative brightness and clarity. I also find this, though I do not find it restricted to lucid dreams. Lucid dreams occasionally lead to extraordinary experiences of light, as discussed, for example by Gregory Scott Sparrow, in Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear  Light. My lucid dreams have led to unusual experiences of light that additionally distinguish them from ordinary dreams.


There will be variety in lucid dreams--in brightness, in the experiences of light, in how well—remembered they are, in the amount of memory and intellectual ability. Mine vary in all these respects. These characteristics must vary from person to person, from dream to dream and from moment to moment in the dream. Within the context of this variety, how is the distinction to be made between lucid dreams in which the dreamer is somewhat less lucid than when awake and dreaming—awareness dreams in which the dreamer is somewhat more lucid than in ordinary dreams? Where is the boundary to be made? Is this boundary to be identified while dreaming or decided upon during critical reflection? How much memory will count as waking memory and how is it to be measured? Would one evidence of intellectual ability be enough or would we need evidence of continued intellectual ability? How can we judge what the dreamer would be able to do although he doesn’t? Would the more critical observers tend to have dream—awareness dreams because they see their limitations, and the less so tend to be called lucid dreamers? This does not exhaust the complications that researchers would encounter in trying to distinguish continually between degrees of lucidity. If researchers studied only those dreams they could feel assured were lucid, would they not very well be studying only part of a continuum, and instead of seeing the full scope of lucid dreams, study only those dreams that seem to fit a pre­determined definition?


Certainly at the moment the clearest distinction that can be made is that between knowing one is dreaming and not knowing, and until we know more precise characteristics of lucid dreams and develop more precise methods of measuring lucidity while dreaming, this is the most practical distinction that can be made.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 95.

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Alan Worsley

St. Thomas’s Hospital

London, England


As a result of discussions following experiments carried out in the last few months at St. Thomas’s by a medical student, who is doing a project on lucid dreams using other medical students with no special lucid dreaming ability, I have been reconsidering the definition of lucid dreams. The question has been raised, as a result of one of his subjects carrying out the experimental task while dreaming but while he thought he was awake sitting on a river bank, whether or to what degree I was lucid when I carried out experimental tasks at St. Thomas’s. There is evidence to confirm that I knew what I was doing on many occasions but I accept that it is a valid point to suggest that once the lucidity has been used to direct attention to the task rather than to continuing to be aware that one is dreaming one might be said to be no longer lucid just as one might be absorbed in a task while awake and not primarily aware that one is awake. A criteria might be whether lucidity returned automatically when appropriate for example when the task was finished, in order for one to be able to decide whether to repeat it, do another task or pass on to less formal pursuits. I have noticed that very often when I have carried out a task I do not take any opportunity to repeat it but act as if what I had been doing was a chore though when I am awake I am really keen to do these things. They seem not to have the same appeal when I am dreaming.


This all casts doubt on how long the lucidity actually lasts since one should not assume that it persists all the way through the task.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 97.


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About a year ago when I was embarking on my editorial duties for the Association for the Study of Dreams I was uncertain whether I would continue with Lucidity Letter beyond 1984. I have now put out two issues of the ASD Newsletter and realize that there is still a need to keep a written network open for those interested in dream lucidity. Thus, I have decided to continue with Lucidity Letter. Additionally, it has become apparent that it is a financially feasible project. However, I will go to a biannual format beginning in 1985 with the newsletter to come out in June and December. Deadline for receipt of materials will be May 1 for the June issue and November 1 for the December issue. There will be one more issue in 1984 which will come out in December with a November 1 deadline for receipt of materials.


Subscription for 1985 is $10 and past issues through 1984 are available upon request for $3. Please fill out the subscription form below and return it to me if you are interested in receiving Lucidity Letter in 1985.


Lucidity Letter

Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.; Editor

Department of Psychology

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614


Jayne Gackenbach

Editor, Lucidity Letter








Please enclose $10 and return to:

Dr. Jayne Gackenbach

Department of Psychology

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa 506124




Each issue of Lucidity Letter contains references on dream lucidity. The complete bibliography can be obtained upon request.


Gabbard, G. 0. & Twemlow, S. W. (1984) With the eyes of the mind: An empirical

    analysis of out—of-body states. N.Y.: Praeger.


Gackenbach, J. I. & Schillig, B. (1983) Lucid dreams: The content of conscious

    awareness -of dreaming during the dream. Journal of Mental Imagery. 7(2), 1—14.


Goldstein, J. (1976) The  experience  of insight: A  natural  unfolding. Unity Press;

    Santa Cruz, CA.


Tyson, P. D., Ogilvie, R. D., & Hunt, H. T. (1984) Lucid, prelucid, and nonlucid

    dreams related to the amount of EEG alpha activity during REM sleep.

    Psychophysiology. 21(4), 442-451.


Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 3, No’s 2 & 3, August, 1984, page 98.


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