Lesson 9) Before I Wake
As the students filed in, looking bedraggled and anxious, they noticed that Professor Cattercorn was quite out of character. For the first time in living memory, she was simply sitting at her desk. This seemed peculiar to some as they were used to seeing her stand, lean, or sit on the desk, but never properly behind it. Taking their seats, everyone noticed an assortment of treats at their tables. There were chocolate frogs, peppermint imps, treacle tart, and cauldron cakes. As if to lead by example, Professor Cattercorn lifted a chocolate frog and took a healthy bite out of it before looking at the card.
Welcome, welcome students! If any of you find Wendelin the Weird, I would be willing to trade for it! For some of you, this will be the last time we meet in this classroom, and I would first like to take this chance to say what a pleasure it was to have you in my class and to wish you all the best. I know many of you are concerned about your upcoming exams, but I will reassure you once more. Trust in your intuition, and as long as you have practiced the skills and studied -- ah, yes, it still comes down to those three fundamental pillars from your Second Year -- you will do splendidly. In our last class of this year, we will be covering a few different types of true dreams, discussing how to differentiate dreams from reality, analyze a sample dream, and briefly review a few core concepts of the mystical art of divination. Shall we begin?
A Plethora of Dreams
As is often the case with divinatory abilities, true dreaming has many different manifestations. These manifestations are not consistently agreed-upon, nor are they universal, but in this class we will go over some of the most common, just as a way of giving you an idea of the various genres of true dreams. To clarify, these categories are not specific to any kind of additional level of ability, they are just different manifestations of the same gift. These are not the only kinds of dreams that fall under this category, but in the interest of not overloading you, we will keep it brief!
In such dreams, the “true” portion of the dream is conveyed via voices or sounds. That is, a dream may be going along as usual, and may even be perfectly mundane, but there will be a voice -- usually one that only you can hear -- that speaks to you while the dream is happening. This can occur along visions that complement the message, such as a foretelling of doom while walls around you shake and crumble violently. However, it can also be juxtaposed strangely, such as the same message being overlaid on top of a family breakfast on a lovely spring morning. This phenomenon often overlaps with lucid dreams, but has also been documented to occur within something known as “anxiety dreams,” where the dreamer is overwhelmed with… you guessed it, anxiety, sometimes accompanied by a cacophony of overlapping voices.
The title of this subgenre of dreams may be a little misleading, but this category is comprised of dreams in which beings who have already passed on appear alive and well. It is uncertain whether or not these dreams are actual communications from the dead, as the overlap with mediums and true dreamers is small, and dreams are often hazy and distorted at the best of times. It could just as possibly be our subconscious and our gift using familiar faces to transmit information and messages to us. We can’t be sure! Though, it bears mentioning that just because you see your deceased Great Aunt Mabel playing tennis with a dragon, it does not mean you are experiencing a true dream. As with all of these subcategories, there is room for these episodes to simply be strange things your dreaming mind has concocted that bear no significance at all, but make for enjoyable stories if you can recall them after you wake.
Also called mutual dreams, shared dreams are, as you might have guessed, dreams that more than one person experiences in the same night. With your sight, it is possible your dreams may be shared with others. If this happens, it almost definitely has some divinatory significance! It is uncertain what factor determines the scope of the dreams -- that is, the amount of people with whom and the distance across which the dream is shared -- whether it is the power of the individual’s Inner Eye, the importance of the message, or potentially, the unknown divinatory ability of the other shared dreamers. However, it is important to note that the recipients of the shared dream do not have to be gifted with the Inner Eye, only the originator of the dream requires this talent.
Reality and Illusion
With daydreams, trance states, lucid dreams, visions, past life regressions, and more, how can we be sure what is happening is real? Moreso, how do we tell that we are actually in a dream and need to keep ourselves open to interpreting signs rather than going about our normal lives? The good news is there are a few common “tells” that are very difficult for the sleeping mind to replicate. You may have heard of these before. One example is to look at a page of text, or a clock, and hold the words or time in your head. If it is indeed a dream, it will be difficult to do -- though you may not realize -- but that is not the “tell”. Instead, after making sure you know what you read, look away for a moment or two. When you look back, if you notice that the clock or page does not read the same as you left it, you are likely dealing with a dream, or an interestingly charmed object! Though, if you truly do run into a book charmed to change its text, pick up another and see if that one behaves the same way.
Another common indicator can be found in the physical anatomy. If you are unsure if you are experiencing a dream, attempt to look down at your hands (though the same can be done with your feet, they are not always uncovered). Frequently the mind will, for one reason or another, be unable to replicate exactly how your hands should look. They may appear with fewer fingers than normal, be gnarled, or somehow seem off when seen in a dream.
Lastly, we should touch on “dream indicators” once more. Essentially, this is the same as dream indicators which were discussed in Lesson Seven, but a completely different kind that serve another purpose. These dream indicators are those that indicate general dreaming, not the presence of a true dream, though they work much the same. Just like a person may have common patterns or trends that appear in their true dreams, regular dreams may also follow patterns, or have connecting themes. These indicators can be anything, and you can have multiple. To give you an idea, some common occurrences in my dreams are a) being in states of undress in embarrassing situations, b) finding money on the ground in large quantities, or c) permanently ruining friendships. Why these themes show up so often in my dreams likely requires a conversation about my subconscious, but they do serve to give me a hint to help me distinguish between reality and dreams. When any of these things occur, I usually furrow my brow and think a moment, before coming to the realization that the present events are only a dream. Which, incidentally, can lead to a lucid dream like we discussed last week.
Before we begin our review of concepts, I would like to close our year-long discussion of clairvoyance and true dreams with a sample true dream interpretation. We will be looking at a sample dream -- not one of my own or anyone in this class -- and taking a moment to think about it. Now, we will need to take into account that analyzing other people’s dreams for the presence of true dreams is dastardly tricky at best, and nearly impossible at worst. We don’t know their dream indicators, nor if this dream (or parts of it) stuck with the person or stood out from all the rest. However, looking at an example with a grain of salt is better than no example at all!
“The first thing I remember in this dream is walking up some stairs in a house, the house seems familiar. You can see the living room from where I’m at on the stairs and I notice that it's full of people. As I’m walking up these stairs a woman asks me if I would like to hang out or something along those lines. I accept. Next, I have a bunch of random flashes of memory but can’t make out anything definitive. I do, however, remember feeling as if I had fallen in love with this person. Almost like I felt and perceived years of time with this person in a seemingly very short amount of time. The next thing I know, I am running. There is something after me, trying to catch me and I know it is big and powerful. I have no fear though, I’m preventing it from obtaining something in my possession: two books, their contents and significance unknown to me. I’m running on a platform, there is water under it. I quickly jump into the water and swim underneath the platform hoping to lose the beast. It jumps in the water after me. I notice a small opening underwater that I could squeeze through and know this thing can’t fit. Just as I escape through this opening, I wake up.”
This is certainly an interesting collection of dreams. Look at it with a critical eye, taking our lessons and experience from this year into account. Do you think this dream could be a true one? Perhaps parts of it? Looking at it from my experience, I see two portions of the dream that have the potential to be true dreams. Notice the portion where the dreamer talks about his feelings for an unknown woman, paying special attention to the part where time seems to run strangely. This is the only such part of the dream where time runs differently. In all other portions it either runs normally or simply jumps ahead. This “montage-like” scene could be a true dream indicator for this person. Additionally, though it is difficult to tell from his description, it seems as though this portion stood out to him as strange, almost as if he doesn’t understand it himself. Lastly, there is a clear connection to an emotion, though this, of course, is no guarantee. Separately, there is the portion that describes him bearing two books away from a terrifying and powerful force. The most interesting part of this dream is that while he acknowledges the danger and the dire need of this act, he is not afraid. This disconnection of emotion (similar to over-emphasized emotion) is also a “tell” that a dream may be a true one.
While these dreams may not be telling him literally that he will fall in love with a woman, or be chased by a monster for the sake of two books, there is a possibility that his Inner Eye is telling him something. Though, would be difficult even for him to know what exactly that is. The first portion may be something from the past he is experiencing through another person’s eyes, or even a past-life regression. The second portion may be an indicator that some greater force than him will persecute him, or even that he will become a curse-breaker, bearing important artefacts away from the dangers of a tomb! It is hard to say, to be sure. However, the most important thing is that this person recorded his dreams for examination later, in case any part does come true or becomes significant.
Review of Concepts
Rather than review each lesson of all the previous years -- which I am sure you would find more tedious than helpful -- we will be going over the six general forms of divination we have studied, their theory, and any miscellaneous points that are important to highlight. I will also endeavor to make connections and comparisons between each of the forms as a memory aid.
This celestial form of divination revolves around the use of various heavenly bodies to give information about human affairs and events. A midway point between runecasting and tarot, which require foci, and body divination which move away from that, astrology requires you to use and be aware of the magical significance and powers of various heavenly bodies and interpret their movements across the sky. Information gleaned from the heavens can be unexpected, like with clairvoyance or true dreaming, or you may search for the answer to a particular question, as is more common with body divination, runecasting, and the tarot. The stars, planets, and other celestial bodies like comets are important. However, the time of year as noted by star signs is also crucial to the future, as well as celestial events like syzygies, eclipses, or blue moons.
Body divination, our topic for Year Four, has multiple branches. In its most basic sense, it is the practice of using various parts of the body to see the future, know the past, or understand greater detail about the present that would not be possible otherwise. Many of the practices reviewed in this year focus more on the latter definition -- understand greater detail about the present -- specifically with regard to knowing more about the person they are examining. This particular branch of divination is one of those most frequently and successfully imitated by Muggles, partially due to widespread public knowledge surrounding these arts. It is for this reason that they are usually seen as not very accurate. However, without the Inner Eye, no true divination is possible, only good guesswork and logical assumptions or safe predictions, for you must allow your Inner Eye to speak through you to focus on reading the querent, though it requires reliance on tools less so than tarot or runecasting.
One of the abilities most commonly thought of when the subject of divination is brought up. Clairvoyance is the ability to know information or events that will happen in the future, or are generally unable to be perceived by normal sensory input. Unlike any other form studied thus far in this class, you must rely completely on your own ability, with no use of tools at all (though body divination is seen as a sort of intermediate step). It has three main branches that revolve around time; with clairvoyance, a seer can know the past, present, or future. Some have proposed true dreaming to be a fourth branch of this art, but because of its relation with the subconscious, it has remained a separate, albeit similar art. ESP, or extrasensory perception, past life regressions, and the ability to talk with spirits are specific manifestations of this ability.
Runecasting is the practice of posing a question about the past, present, or future with the use of the Elder Futhark runes. The seer directs their ability through the runes and, like tarot, the runes become a sort of foci and absorb magic with which they are in contact. They are a bit less fickle than tarot cards, in that they do not change loyalties. Though, this is only if you make your own runes, as is recommended. They are a very natural form of divination and can only be made out of specific materials. This practice is different from the general magical use of runes in charms or curses. Though there are some overlapping meanings, the nuances and differences are important!
Tarot is the practice through which a seer uses tarot cards to aid their Inner Eye in discovering more information and insight into the past, present, or future. It is a good place for beginners to start, as the cards themselves act similarly to foci and can store a bit of magic to guide the seer and the general concept of the tarot is similar enough to spellcasting that a beginner can make the comparisons until the mental processes of exerting magical energy are second nature, even when not using a wand. The seer uses their concentration to focus on the question, their belief in the cards and their ability (or willpower), and a spread to narrow down that magical energy towards one purpose, which functions similarly to an incantation. It is similar to runecasting, as both systems use physical representations with a variety of meanings to help direct your developing sight.
This practice is often considered an unofficial sub branch of clairvoyance, though there are many differences that distinguish the two. True dreaming, at its most basic, is the practice of receiving information from the past, present, or future through your dreams. Some seers, particularly those who are skilled in lucid dreaming, are able to ask specific questions, but most are not able to, or find that the dream does not answer the questions they pose. Unlike with the tarot, runecasting, or body divination, true dreams do not usually allow the seer to specify which information they receive (this is similar to clairvoyance, though much more possible to attempt with the latter). It is not always obvious which dreams are true dreams and which dreams are just regular nocturnal fantasies, however, with study and examination of dreams through dream journals, recognizing dream indicators, and more, it is possible to improve your accuracy of guessing.
As you know, you will not be taking your O.W.L.s today. You will have a short study break before they are offered. Though, Mr. Wickfield, I suggest you start immediately, as you will be coming down with a cold during the second study week and not be able to get much done! In any case, your assignments today are only linked to this year, and meant as a review of this year’s content. Should you have any questions between now and your O.W.L., know that my door -- and my Inner Eye -- are always open.