Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Scientists dream together on the Farallones

posted by Robert Moss

View_from_Mirounga_Bay Farallon islands.jpgIn the biologist’s dream, a sea bird has been banded too tight and is in trouble in the water, thrashing around to try to get rid of the constraining tag. She jumps into the ocean, braving hungry sharks to try to rescue the bird, and follows it all the way to the Golden Gate bridge, where things get confused as lots of people enter the scene.

In another scientist’s dream, something strange is going on in the vast colony of murrs on one of the islands. He goes to investigate and discovers that some people have infiltrated the colony, disguised as murrs, with the aim of stealing the birds’ eggs.

In yet another scientist’s dream, his team of observers are playing hockey against a team of cormorants, with drunken elephant seals for a rowdy audience.

These are samples from a group dream log maintained by members of the scientific observation team on the Farallon Islands over the past 20 years. The sampling was made public in a most interesting article by Carolyn Jones (“Farallones biologists record similar dreams”) in the San Francisco Chronicle today.

I hope the full log of these dream reports will be made public. They may constitute fascinating raw data on how members of a close-knit community can share a life in dreams as well as in waking reality. Common themes recur in these reports: the threat of human intrusion on the fragile environment of sea birds and aquatic mammals, danger in the water in shark season, close encounters between humans and other life forms. It would be interesting to know whether the dreams of two or more biologists on a given night match up even more closely, for example in scouting a particular development that could threaten a bird colony, or warn of danger at sea for a member of the scientific team.

On a given day, there are only six or seven biologists on the Faralllones, meeting for dinner each night at one of the two Victorian houses at the base of the pyramid hill, with its lighthouse, on the southeast island. Only 27 miles from San Francisco, they are nonetheless quite remote from the modern world, and much closer to the elemental powers of wind and water than most city-dwellers can imagine. Perhaps, under these circumstances, they have slipped into a kind of mutual dream “entrainment” that is in no way exotic to indigenous peoples, or to many of our ancestors, or to circles of active dreamers today.

Communal dreaming can be developed, consciously, as a means of scanning the environment that goes beyond scientific instruments, and can be life-supporting and even life-preserving. In The Secret History of Dreaming, I describe how the Andaman islanders have a practice of conscious mutual dreaming that enabled them to receive early warning of the Asian tsunami of December 2004 and get out of its way, abandoning their coastal fishing settlements for the uplands while tourists on nearby shores were swept away.

In my own Active Dreaming circles, we have kept group logs of some of our dream expeditions, and I quote from these in the epilogue to my Dreamways of the Iroquois. While the group dream log of the biologists in the Farallones is thus by no means unique, it is a wonderful initiative that may inspire many to think more about the possibilities for dreaming as a social, as well as an individual, experience.

Southeast Farallon island from Mirounga Bay. Farallon means “steep rock” or “cliff” in Spanish.

  • Don

    For most of my life I have wanted to visit the Farallones, but I never made it. Now you have revealed something more of interest from the Farallones. I hope that if if more information is made public that you will let us know where we might access and read it. Communal dreaming anywhere fascinates me. In an isolated place like the Faralones I am fascinated even more. Thank you, Robert, VERY much for your post.

  • Savannah

    What a fascinating project! I’d be so interested to read more about the ways shared dreaming in this relatively isolated community might have been applied to support local wildlife and marine habitats. I’m also quite interested in the ways members of global communities may spontaneously dream together and tune into conditions of the planet and major events like the Asian tsunami. I dreamt of a dreamer’s emergency response centre once, that collected and processed world wide dream data to help identify possible threats and develop related action plans. That’s a bit of an unwieldy vision in practical terms, but maybe group logs like those collected on the Farralones are a small step in that direction.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Don – Thank you. I’ll certainly want to say more if the complete dream log of those biologists is made publicly available.

  • http://sothismedia.com Justin Patrick

    Savannah -your dream of a “dreamer’s emergency response centre … that collected and processed world wide dream data to help identify possible threats and develop related action plans” reminded me of the computer in Robert’s “Dreamland” story: where the dreams of all the people in Dreamland are typed in every morning, collected, collated, and scanned for clues of possible futures. If it were my dream I would think that it is possibly tapping into something that collectively “wants to happen”.

  • http://sothismedias.com Justin Patrick

    Oh yeah, I also wanted to mention that a Blog or Forum would be a great way to share dreams collectively. If everyone in the group had access to posting, (shared passwords etc). The blog/forum could be made public or private, as approriate. The Farallone model could be taken up by other organizations, citizens groups, families, whomever…

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Justin – Are you aware of my online forum at the Spirituality & Health website? For over two years, we’ve been sharing and gathering thousands of dreams and reporting on community dreaming assignments here. This kind of thing can only be done with the depth and specificity and safety required in a protected space, in opinion, and that is what we provide as we grow global dreaming community here.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Savannah – I like your dream of the “dreamers’ emergency response center”. What we need would really be a “prevision” rather than a “response” center, since it would be generating early warning of possible future developments. Ensuring the independence and integrity of such a center would be one of the major challenges. In my utopian vision of a future Dreamland, this is effected because the world powers have guaranteed the autonomy of a commonwealth of dreamers whose seers work impartially for the good of all.

  • Savannah

    Hi Justin and Robert ~ Thank you for reminding me about the Dreamland stories. An autonomous and impartial commonwealth of dreamers and seers, what a wonderful vision! May it be so…

  • Margie

    The responses to these experiences and “the Farallone model” as Justin mentions, brings to mind that these dream communities have existed, are existing, and will exist in the future. Why not picture these dreaming communities as being part of the technology wave too? I recall on previous forums of dream scenes where dreamers are working together in groups – part of a dream community most likely with established credibility and assistance for world matters.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/dreamgates/ Robert Moss

    Margie – we’re working on it!

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