Image by Reimund Bertrams
"What is the Long Self? You are far more than what you imagine you are, limited to whatever you are consciously experiencing in the present moment. You have a future, even a long future, and it is already here. You also have a past that is still here. The great adventure of precognitive dreamwork (and precognitive lifework) is directly experiencing that vastness and value of our lives and our stories." [Quoted from the author's blog]
You will discover as your dream journal grows that your dreams are interconnected in a vast web or skein of associations. A metaphor my collaborator Tobi uses comes from the Arbai Trilogy of science-fiction writer Sheri S. Tepper. The Arbai device is a vast mycelia-like communication network linking individuals all over a planet. Tobi sees the intertwining associative strands in her precognitive dreamlife as a kind of Arbai device binding and linking the many far-flung corners of her own biography. Mapping it out, in light of her belated understanding of how this device truly transcended time, has become a major autobiographical project for her.
What diligent precognitive dreamworkers discover is that multiple dreams over successive days or weeks (and in some cases years) may all relate to the same later event, sometimes even “daisy-chained”—a dream pointing to a later dream, which in turn points to the (even later) salient waking experience, or else reveals an aspect of the later dream’s symbolism.
Precognitive Daisy-Chain Dreams
As I was completing this book, Tobi sent me two daisy-chained dreams she had recorded in 2017 and that now clearly pointed to mortality-related concerns she would experience in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. First, on March 31, 2017, she dreamed she was supervising an archaeological excavation in her yard:
In the back right corner of the yard, I’m supervising a dig. The hole is just like the one in a history-of-women documentary I watched this week—the excavation of a burial mound/kurgan (Ukraine steppes) of a powerful warrior woman shaman buried with weapons, a silver mirror, goods.
Above us to the right, almost as if on a transparent platform, is a dragon (a living, fire-breathing one). Unlike other dragon dreams, with Asian dragons, this is the European-looking type, as in alchemical plates. The dragon may be white. Seems to be a protector guardian.
[Tobi Watari, from an unpublished manuscript: Unearth the Ancient Woman--A Precography]
The next day, Tobi appended to this dream record the following quote from Jung that she heard on a podcast, referencing the protective role of dragons in symbolism. “So whenever life means business, when things are getting serious, you are likely to find a saurian on the way.” It seemed to her like a synchronicity.
Then in mid-September of that year, she recorded a further dream:
A plague or chemical was going to hit and there was a possibility of mass death in Denver. We needed to prepare the girls in case [my husband] and I didn’t survive. I wanted our oldest daughter to know about financials—passwords, how to pay bills. But we also dug a huge grave in the back right corner* of the yard—didn’t want the girls to have our dead bodies to dispose of (city services would be overwhelmed). I consider how the girls would get us to the graves. I decide we should have the worn-out linen sheets at hand. In fact, maybe we will wrap ourselves in the sheets and sit against the wood chip pile (next to the grave) while the event “hits.” Then I’m worried—what if [our youngest daughter] is the only survivor?
She noted with an asterisk that the graves were exactly where the archeological dig of the ancient woman (with protective white dragon) was located in the previous dream.
On March 23, 2020, the day Denver announced its stay-at-home order and a week shy of three years after the initial excavation-and-dragon dream, Tobi found herself laundering a basketful of worn-out linen sheets to occupy her time while shut in with her family during the pandemic. The sheets were clean but had been gathering dust, and she had been putting off this laundry task for a long time. The same day, prompted by the parental-mortality fears of her oldest daughter, she decided to discuss passwords and financial affairs in the unlikely event something happened to her and her husband. As she was doing this, she naturally wondered what would happen if only their youngest survived. It was two days later, when searching her dream records for possible precognitive referents to COVID-19, that she discovered these forgotten dreams from 2017 and their match to her concerns and activities on that single day during her family’s home isolation.**
**Tobi took a screenshot of a CNN page on April 3, 2020, that also seemed related to her dreams three years earlier about overwhelmed city services and bed linens. The headline read “Bodies left in streets in this overwhelmed city,” and the accompanying photo showed a body placed outside a home, covered with a white household linen like a bedsheet.
Dragons: Whenever Life Means Business
Intrigued by the Jung quote about saurians appearing “whenever life means business,” Tobi consulted a reference work, Juan Edwardo Cirlot’s classic Dictionary of Symbols, where she found the following under the entry for “Dragons”: “For [Henri] Dontenville, who tends to favour an historicist and sociological approach to the symbolism of legends, dragons signify plagues which beset the country (or the individual if the symbol takes on a psychological implication).” (italics mine)
What these daisy-chained dreams suggest is a temporally impossible narrative: the prior excavation of a subsequent burial (and of a shaman, no less—one of the recurring themes of my emails to Tobi was my suggestion that she was in fact an “urban shaman”). One way of looking at them is that the initial dream precognized Tobi’s hearing of a significant Jung quote the next day, the same way Maggy Quarles van Ufford dreamed of scarab jewelry just before Jung’s discourse on scarabs. Yet that Jungian dragon archetype was principally significant because of a subsequent discovery (three years later) of its traditional symbolic relation to plagues in a time of heightened emotion and anxiety for Tobi and her family during a pandemic.
Note how tempting it would be to adopt a Jungian archetypal reading here: that somehow dragons (saurians) objectively symbolize plagues and life getting serious, as though hard-wired in the collective unconscious or some Platonic realm of ideal forms. But given the fact that Tobi’s dreams related clearly to her concerns on a very specific day nearly three years after the initial dream (the linens, the passwords), why not include Tobi’s learning of the traditional symbolism of dragons from Cirlot’s dictionary within that bundle of precognitive associations?
Archetypes are cultural meanings encoded in oral and written traditions. Their force over our dreams comes from our actual, real-life engagement with those texts and traditions (such as consulting a symbolism dictionary). That engagement may be subsequent to their appearance in our dreams, giving the illusion—since no one believes in precognition—that those meanings were somehow there already in a stock of collective symbols in the unconscious.
Sinews of the Long Self
Over the span of the decade since I first turned my attention to precognitive dreaming, it has gone from being a perplexity I didn’t quite believe in to a fascinating intellectual exploration to (now) something a little bit like a personal religion. The original meaning of religion is re-linking—that is, linking back to some spiritual source from which we feel ourselves sundered.
In Sanskrit, yoga has the same root: to yoke, as one yokes a cart to the cow pulling it. What precognitive dreamwork yokes me to, repeatedly and with always unexpected force, is my own biography, my life as a single, more-unified-than-I-ever-knew landscape.
It has led me to believe that biography, not psychology, should be the operative term in the humanistic science—or scientifically informed humanism—of the twenty-first century. To characterize our inner self as a psyche is to slightly miss what is really happening, the nature of this thing, this source in us.
This source “in” us is really the completeness of us, our wholeness . . . which means our whole story, from birth to death, as it is refracted through that moment-to-moment cursor consciousness. Bringing to light the hidden ways our biography—including our future biography—shapes the landscape of our lives now, and the way our lives now shaped our past, even perhaps our childhoods, is a truly sublime and awesome project of conscious, and conscientious, self-care.
It is indeed a path of gnosis. And like any other gnosis, there’s an ecstatic component to it. Every precognitive dream hit is a bit like a hit from a kind of psychedelic drug, an exhilarating, vertiginous, spiritual and life affirmation. It’s like zooming in on a fractal, where the fractal is your life.
Every day can bring new discoveries about the precognitive significance of a perplexing symbol in an old dream, if not the full-on closure of a time loop that began a day, a year, or even decades in your past. It’s always something unexpected, but it will be something that adds to the wonder and strangeness of your existence.
The Haphazard, Trivial Details of Your Life
The trick—and what precognitive dreamwork teaches—is focusing on and learning to be amazed by the haphazard, trivial details of your life that most people overlook, the Chazz Palminteri-dropping-his-mug stuff [In the movie: “THE USUAL SUSPECTS” (1995)]
As you build your spacetimeship, your dream corpus, you will start to find that a surprising portion of the seemingly random mess in the office of your life has fed back into your past and shaped who you were, and thus who you have become. It’s not really random at all.
It makes sense that ritualistically honoring both our dreams and our realizations about the Long Self is a kind of sacrament. Besides acting like a bait attracting your dream precognition, it also acts a bit like a coloring dye in microscopy, revealing hidden associative structures that would be invisible otherwise. Those time loops are like cells of the Long Self. And the chains of association that unfold over years are like its sinews.
Besides honoring our dream hits, it is equally important to honor dreams’ mystery and not hasten toward facile answers to what your still-unidentified dreams mean, as though the answer is always findable. Dreams never completely make sense, even after precognitively targeted experiences come to pass. Our dreams can never fully be understood, because our lives are not yet done. (That, above all else, is worthy of celebration.) Those associative skeins that run through our lives are still pointed in directions we cannot yet know, and consequently our dreamwork is never (and could never be) finished.
We are never done with our dreams, and our dreams are never done with us.
Copyright 2021 by Eric Wargo. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Inner Traditions Intl. www.innertraditions.com.
Precognitive Dreamwork and the Long Self: Interpreting Messages from Your Future
by Eric Wargo
In this accessible exploration of precognition, precognitive dreamwork, and a radically new biographical sensibility, the Long Self, that precognition awakens us to, Eric Wargo shows how dreamworkers can play the role of citizen scientists, adding to our understanding of this fascinating, almost unexplored dimension of human life. He outlines a set of clear principles to guide dreamworkers, each illustrated through real dreamers’ experiences.
Once only the stuff of science fiction, evidence has grown that precognition--glimpses of your future in dreams and visions and being influenced subtly in waking life by what is to come--is real. Your future thoughts and feelings shape who you are now. And your present thoughts and feelings shape--or shaped--your past.
About the Author
Eric Wargo has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Emory University and works as a professional science writer and editor in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the acclaimed book Time Loops.
In his spare time, he writes about science fiction, consciousness, and parapsychology at his popular blog, The Nightshirt.