Simultaneous Dreaming: Anomalous Mental Phenomena, III

In Pt. I, we read about Ingo Swann and pondered remote viewing. In Pt. II, we discussed a veridical precognitive experience I had while working as busboy in an upscale club. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Marianne George, who received a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Virginia. George conducted fieldwork amongst the Barok tribe of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea (PNG) from 1979-1985. The Barok use the word griman to describe an animated or purposeful interpretation of a common phenomenon: dreaming.

Different cultures place varying importance on dreams. In America, where we tend to view things only in the crudest of intellectual dichotomies, dreams basically reduce to a sort of “steam-release” for the day’s neural (over)activities. Now, I do not intend to argue that there is no such element to dreams. I’m also well aware that people who place “undue” emphasis on dreams are often labeled superstitious eccentrics, then conveniently filed away in the “kook” drawer. On the other hand, if we are to honestly face all of the evidence, it becomes clear that we cannot classify all dreams as mere steam-release for our brains. Indeed, some are compelling evidence for the “all-encompassing reality” upon which the religious and spiritual traditions are founded.

The following incident occurred in 1979 when Marianne was living among the Barok in New Ireland, PNG.

 

The assignment was to study the Barok spiritual hierarchy by living with them and observing their traditions in practice. In particular, Marianne studied Kalerian — the resident “big woman” — along with her son Tadi (also a “big man”) — and Kalerian’s three other sons: Alek, Bustaman and Bore. Kalerian was 85 years old, near blind, and had difficulty walking due to pronounced elephantiasis in the legs. Though she would often come by to visit Marianne and chew Betel nut, Kalerian could not physically gain access to Marianne’s dwelling, which was accessible only via a small, rickety ladder.

In her paper published in the journal Anthropology of Consciousness, Marianne noted that one morning, Kalerian’s third and fourth sons (Alek and Bustaman) came to her early, while she was still boiling water for tea. She noted that this was unusual, because the men would normally be performing their traditional morning activities at that time.

Marianne recorded that Alek “strode directly across the plaza” to her, looked her straight in the eyes, and asked, “Did you understand her?” At this point, Bustaman came out of his house and joined them.

Befuddled, Marianne asked, “Who?”

Alek then went on to explain that his mother (Kalerian) was talking to Marianne the night before, and that she had sent them to be sure Marianne understood the message. Marianne was still a bit confused because she didn’t talk to Kalerian the day before. Alek then explained that Kalerian “came to her in the night” and he spoke the word griman (dreaming). Marianne then recalled feeling “queasy as [she] remembered vaguely that [Kalerian] had been in [her] dreams.” She recalled a problem Kalerian wanted her to act upon: Marianne’s decision to be slow in giving something to their eldest brother Bore. Though Marianne had made this decision personally and did not confide in anyone, Kalerian somehow knew of it and addressed it in her dream. Alek and Bustaman explained that Kalerian came to them and asked them to make sure Marianne understood what their mother was asking. They repeated Kalerian’s words, which Marianne remembered as the words Kalerian spoke in her dream.

Trying to come up with a rational explanation, Marianne notes,

Bore may have told [Kalerian] something sometime, and she might have just decided to tell me what to do, but how did she get into my dream to tell me something last night? How did Alek and Bustaman have the same dream?
Marianne George, The Desire and Intent of Dreamers

If we are to take the story at face value, Alek and Bustaman somehow shared this dream with Kalerian and Marianne. Marianne asked them if they were always able to communicate with people in their dreams at night. Alek deferred the question to Kalerian, and Bustaman added that, “..it does not matter if we are over on the east coast of New Ireland in Bakan, like Tadi, or up in Kavieng, or even over in Rabaul! If our mother wants to talk to us she does it!”

This was all matter-of-fact for Alek and Bustaman, who seemed surprised that Marianne didn’t communicate in her dreams. In Marianne’s own words:

..I sensed their surprise at my lack of attention to [Kalerian] in my dreams — as if they had never even considered that I did not know how to communicate in dreams, or that this could be done. I puzzled about this for weeks. I wrote about what happened in my journal — in code, just in case anything happened to me. I did not want anyone to end up reading about it and thinking that I had gone nuts in the field. I knew that there was nothing wrong with me. I had simply come across something unexpected, and I had no explanation for it except for the one they gave me… there was no getting around the fact that four people had shared the same dream with me.

12 Comments

  1. Steve Bowen says:

    This looks like over interpretation of the event if you ask me. In the first place there is nothing in the way you have recounted the story which suggests the sons had the dream, only that they were asked by their mother to check Marianne had “received” it. Also dreams are notoriously mis-remembered. It is conceivable that Marianne dreamt of the old woman, why shouldn’t she? she was familiar with her and lived in close proximity, however the specifics of what she said would be easily prone to retrospective suggestion.
    Also Marianne George appears to be something of a sucker for <a href=“>http://www.pacifictraditions.org/vaka/gryphon2.html&gt; this kind of thing, to wit…

    George dreams she’s having a baby. She wakes to an urgent impulse to go to the cockpit where she sees a canoe headed toward the boat.
    In it is a pregnant woman ready to deliver. She boards Gryphon, requesting help to get to her village from the place she’s been camping. The baby is born aboard Gryphon.
    Afterwards, George tells the people from the canoe about her dream.
    Says George, “They said, `Yeah, we know.'”

  2. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    I remember you mentioning this event before. Was Kalerian still alive when this occured?

  3. cl says:

    Steve Bowen,

    ..however the specifics of what she said would be easily prone to retrospective suggestion.

    It’s certainly possible, but I’m not impressed with your handwaving, or your denigration of a professional scientist. It’s really typical: deny the incident, hence, no responsibility to explain it.

    Also Marianne George appears to be something of a sucker for this kind of thing,

    What is it with atheists and the “refutation by denigration” strategy?
    Dominic,
    Yes.

  4. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    So the wCCH and the TMC are still neck and neck here, too, I take it?

  5. cl says:

    Dominic,
    What about the sCCH?

  6. Dominic Saltarelli says:

    I don’t see how I could cram this one into the sCCH. Broadcasting coherent thoughts from your brain into someone else’s brain requires the sort of “field effect” characteristic that distinguishes the sCCH from the wCCH as they have been defined.

  7. Steve Bowen says:

    but I’m not impressed with your handwaving, or your denigration of a professional scientist.

    I’ve worked with professional scientists, they are not all skeptics. It wouldn’t be the first time an ethnologist had “gone native” either, but I’m not intending to be in the business of ad hominem attacks, just pointing out that Dr George has a bias in favour of this kind of story.

    deny the incident, hence, no responsibility to explain it.

    I was giving an explanation though. I can’t help it if it doesn’t fit your theory or rely on otherwise unsubstantiated methods of astral communication.
    Can you clear up the point about the brothers? Were they supposed to be party to the dream or just messengers?

  8. cl says:

    Dominic,
    I agree.
    Steve Bowen,

    ..just pointing out that Dr George has a bias in favour of this kind of story.

    So, if something happens to a person more than one time, they’re biased? What kind of reasoning allows you to draw that conclusion? Have you even read her papers?

    I was giving an explanation though. I can’t help it if it doesn’t fit your theory or rely on otherwise unsubstantiated methods of astral communication.

    That’s not the problem, Steve: the problem is that the explanation you gave can’t address all the data.

    Can you clear up the point about the brothers?

    Kalerian came to Alek and Bustaman in their dream, spoke some words to them, and instructed them to be sure Marianne understood her message. When they came to Marianne in the morning, they already knew that Kalerian had spoken to Marianne in her dream, even before Marianne had left her dwelling such that she may have told anyone. Further, the details matched up in each of the dreams each person had.
    I don’t care whether you believe as I do or not; but an overly-skeptical attitude is just as impairing to the pursuit of truth as an overly-permissive one.

  9. marianne george says:

    I am a cultural anthropologist. This is soft science. But my article about dreaming experiences, as published in The Anthropology of Consciousness Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, September, 1995, does describe the sequence of events such that it is clear that the sons had their own dreams, which were the same as my dream.
    I suggest people read my article about these dreaming experiences rather than a summary or description of it by others. My words were chosen very deliberately. I would then be happy to receive criticism or answer questions or discuss the paper.
    One minor correction to cl’s text that I can make is that “griman” is not a Barok language word. “Griman” is a Melanesian Pidgin word for “dream” or “dreaming”
    Another perhaps not so minor correction is that my “assignment” was not “to study spiritual hierarchy” so much as it was to study the connection between social structure and spiritual life among the Barok. In any case their interest and mine was largely in describing their spiritual concepts and behaviors. So, yes, it was my purpose to pay attention to this sort of experience. However doing so could be very dangerous to my professional future in that some would regard me of being an unstable personality, “going Native,” making it up, etc.
    That is why I made extensive field notes immediately following, and during, these experiences. It is not the case that what I described was mis-remembered at some later time.
    I am not familiar with current literature about “anomalous mental phenomena,” so I read this blog with interest. But I am not inclined to argue with people who have not even read the article. Are the correspondents mostly students?

  10. cl says:

    Marianne,
    Thanks for stopping by.

    I suggest people read my article about these dreaming experiences rather than a summary or description of it by others. My words were chosen very deliberately.

    I thought about reproducing the article exactly as it was, but I didn’t, mostly because of what I’d shared with you before: online publishers charge money to see it. If I reproduced it here with your permission, would that raise any sort of copyright issues? If not, I’ll gladly reproduce the article in its full entirety. I agree that your own words are better, and as we see, even spending painstaking time re-phrasing things has risks.

  11. marianne george says:

    I have copyright and you are welcome to reproduce it now.. This is a one-time permission for you alone.
    Thank you for your interest and your thoughtfulness.

  12. Steve Bowen says:

    Now this becomes interesting. Marianne, I hope you will keep involved with the discussion and I will not criticise again until I have read the full article in context.
    And no Marianne I have not been a student officially for 30 years or so. doesn’t mean I am not willing to learn
    cl: Kudos!!

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