Western culture has little understanding of the profound origin of dreams and the invaluable guidance they offer. As a result, few people benefit from the most direct source of growth and healing that nature provides. Popular opinions–and even many otherwise capable scientists–suggest that dreams are trivial side-effects of the sleeping mind with nothing whatsoever to convey.
Everyone knows that no one can know what is going to happen before it happens. And, everyone is wrong. Dead wrong. Dreams come from the timeless side of our psyche, where past, present and future coexist, and they regularly foreshadow the future in two ways.
Predictive Dreams anticipate the trajectory of current events and picture the likely outcome; if we keep drinking, eventually we will deteriorate and a dream might depict us in that sad state. Such dreams portend a “probable future” precisely in order to prevent it from coming true.
Less frequent–but far more challenging to our view of reality–is the Prophetic Dream. While they do not seem aimed at prevention or correction, they certainly do imply an origin in greater knowledge than is available to the human mind. Some offer a strikingly precise and detailed account of things to come.
I have written of a prophetic dream which anticipated, to the minute, the death of Princess Diana and which changed the world-view of the young woman who dreamed it (Prophetic Dream of Actual Princess: Dreaming of Princess Diana).
There is a far more famous dream that foretold the shocking death of a national leader more than a century earlier. President Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his own death not long before he was going to be assassinated. He reported to a friend that the dream had troubled him for days and he could not shake the melancholy it induced. It is as if he were allowed to grieve his own tragic demise in advance.
The extraordinary details are recorded in “Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1885” (Ward Hill Lamon, 1911):
About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?
I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered.
There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers ‘The President’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin!’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream.
After President Lincoln’s assassination his casket was, in fact, put on a platform in the East room where soldiers were stationed to act as guards. Dreams are far from meaningless fantasy or random neurological discharge. They are direct communications from the source of being which guide us, grow us, enrich us, and on sad occasion, forewarn us of events destined to change the world.