December 7, 2009
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.