Mutual Dreaming

9th January 2024. Reading Time: 9 minutes General, Paranormal Theories. 482 page views. 0 comments.

There is a lot of talk about spirits visiting people during dreams, or dreaming of events that haven't yet happened. One phenomenon not often spoken about is that of mutual dreaming. Two people sharing the same dream.

There is a lot of talk about spirits visiting people during dreams, or dreaming of events that haven't yet happened.  Ancient cultures often refer to what are considered to be seeds related to telepathy.  They talk about phenomena such as precognition and clairvoyance, however, there seem to be very few accounts of cultures talking about thought transference aka telepathy.  One phenomenon not often spoken about is that of mutual dreaming.  Two people sharing the same dream.   Ancient cultures do however reference what is described as dream telepathy.   

Atomist theory of dreams

The Greek philosopher Democritus believed that the images we see during a dream can be shared telepathically via physical means.  He theorised that the images we dream of are composed of atoms that enter our body through the pores of our skin.  When we dream, he believed that the atoms seep out of our pores and into the pores of others.  Based on his theory, this is how a person could telepathically influence their dreams. It is referred to as the ‘atomist theory of dreams’.  Democritus is the first person who was credited with coming up with a physical reason as to how dream telepathy could be possible.

In 2013, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne created an exhibition called The telepathy project, to test Democritus’s theory.  After visiting the exhibition, guests were given large postcards to take home.  They were encouraged to sleep on the postcard and then record on the back a summary of their dreams and then post them back to the gallery where the results would be collated.  The postcards featured a picture of the National Gallery and the telepathy project creators Veronica Kent and Sean Peoples sleeping on the floor beneath the paintings wrapped in blankets.  It culminated in a 12-hour event where the dreams of participants were read out to audiences.  While this was more art than scientific research, they claimed the exhibition to be a success with many people reportedly sharing similar dreams with one another.  Some even had to attach extra pages to the postcards they sent back as they had such detailed dream recollections they wanted to share.

Image Source: The Telepathy Project

Famous philosopher Aristotle didn’t quite agree with Democritus’ theory. In his essay “On Divination In Sleep” written in 350 B.C.E, Aristotle talks about precognitive dreams, however his theory describes instances of what we now consider to be telepathy.  

“As for [prophetic] dreams which involve not such beginnings [sc. of future events] as we have here described, but such as are extravagant in times, or places, or magnitudes; or those involving beginnings which are not extravagant in any of these respects, while yet the persons who see the dream hold not in their own hands the beginnings [of the event to which it points]: unless the foresight which such dreams give is the result of pure coincidence, the following would be a better explanation of it than that proposed by Democritus, who alleges 'images' and 'emanations' as its cause. As, when something has caused motion in water or air, this [the portion of water or air], and, though the cause has ceased to operate, such motion propagates itself to a certain point, though there the prime movement is not present; just so it may well be that a movement and a consequent sense-perception should reach sleeping souls from the objects from which Democritus represents 'images' and 'emanations' coming; that such movements, in whatever way they arrive, should be more perceptible at night [than by day], because when proceeding thus in the daytime they are more liable to dissolution (since at night the air is less disturbed, there being then less wind); and that they shall be perceived within the body owing to sleep, since persons are more sensitive even to slight sensory movements when asleep than when awake. It is these movements then that cause 'presentations', as a result of which sleepers foresee the future even relatively to such events as those referred to above. These considerations also explain why this experience befalls commonplace persons and not the most intelligent. For it would have regularly occurred both in the daytime and to the wise had it been God who sent it; but, as we have explained the matter, it is quite natural that commonplace persons should be those who have foresight [in dreams]. For the mind of such persons is not given to thinking, but, as it were, derelict, or totally vacant, and, when once set moving, is borne passively on in the direction taken by that which moves it. With regard to the fact that some persons who are liable to derangement have this foresight, its explanation is that their normal mental movements do not impede [the alien movements], but are beaten off by the latter. Therefore it is that they have an especially keen perception of the alien movements.”

Aristotle's Theory of ‘Sleep and Dreams’ in the Light of Modern and Contemporary Experimental Research
By Christine Papchristou 2014 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Aristotle likened it to a stone being thrown into water which creates a ripple effect.  Centuries later, the famous founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud would be the first person in modern times to document dream telepathy.  In 1922, he wrote a paper “Dreams and Telepathy” where he wanted to take an impartial unbiased look at the possible connection between dreams and telepathy.  While he was sceptical, he could not rule with certainty for or against the theory.

“Telepathy has no relation to the essen­tial nature of dreams; it cannot deepen in any way what we already understand of them through analysis. On the other hand, psycho-analysis may do something to advance the study of telepathy, in so far as, by the help of its interpretations, many of the puzzling characteristics of telepathic phenomena may be rendered more intelligible to us; or other, still doubtful, phenomena may for the first time definitely be ascertained to be of a telepathic nature. 

There remains one element of the apparently intimate con­nection between telepathy and dreams which is not affected by any of these considerations: namely, the incontestable fact that sleep creates favourable conditions for telepathy. Sleep is not, it is true, indispensable to the occurrence of telepathic processes-whether they originate in messages or in uncon­scious activity.”

Dreams and telepathy by Sigmund Freud (1922)

Can living people share a dream?

So is it possible for two living people to share a dream?  Let's say for a moment that it is possible. If we talk about things like telepathy being a possibility and being able to communicate in different ways when we are conscious, then we would have to entertain the fact that we would be capable of the same when we are unconscious or in a dream-like state.

There are suggestions by the spiritual community that when we sleep, our consciousness enters another plane of existence, referred to as the Astral Plane. It is in this plane of existence that people believe their consciousness can leave their bodies and travel anywhere they want and speak to anyone living or dead.   This is called Astral Travelling.  This plane of existence is referred to as the 4th dimension. When we dream, it can feel like a dream has gone on for hours, yet in reality, a dream lasts for only 20-30 minutes on average. Time doesn't seem to apply in our dreams, and it is said not to apply in this 4th dimension - the dreams that we remember anyway. Is this an indication that during our dreams, we are entering a different state of consciousness? 

Spiritually, some people believe that our souls can be interconnected with others on both a conscious and unconscious level.  This allows two souls to communicate on this astral plane which would be achieved in a meditative state.  When we look at meditation, some people use this as a part of their daily life, whereas others like me can't do it because our brain is too busy to be quiet for a few minutes. Research indicates that people who are experienced in meditation have dreams that are different from those who do not meditate.

“Twenty meditators and 20 controls slept for a daytime nap in the laboratory. Before sleeping and upon awakening, they completed a procedural learning task. Dream reports were collected at sleep onset and upon awakening (REM or N2 sleep). Dreams were then scored for qualities associated with meditation practice and for incorporations of the procedural task and the laboratory. Meditators had longer dreams, slightly more references to the body, and friendlier and more compassionate interactions with dream characters.”
Solomonova, E., Dubé, S., Samson-Richer, A., Blanchette-Carrière, C., Paquette, T., & Nielsen, T. (2018). Dream content and procedural learning in Vipassana meditators and controls. Dreaming, 28(2), 99–121

The results tell us that those who meditated had longer dreams and friendlier interactions.  The fact that there were more positive interactions could mean that our mental state is one of the key links. Maybe we feel we are sharing a dream with a person because we have that emotional connection with them. When a person meditates, the brain tends to play on this compassion and empathy. Is this why they have so many positive interactions in their dreams with people that they know?

If we look to famous philosopher Descartes, he believed that the content in our dreams and our waking life were virtually the same.  One of the biggest connections he made was the fact that we often believe we are having a waking life experience, only to find out later it was a dream.

“But I cannot forget that, at other times I have been deceived in sleep by similar illusions; and, attentively considering those cases, I perceive so clearly that there exist no certain marks by which the state of waking can ever be distinguished from sleep, that I feel greatly astonished; and in amazement I almost persuade myself that I am now dreaming.”

How do we know what we are experiencing or thinking is a dream compared to an act of wakefulness?  Do we ever fully wake up? What happens to us when we dream? There are several dream states that people associate with paranormal phenomena.  From being in a hypnagogic state to receiving precognitive messages in dreams, to lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis. In these states, people have reported what they believe to be paranormal experiences. Often the rational side of us says “it was all just a dream” and therefore it cannot be trusted. What if Descartes is right? If telepathy is possible when a person is awake, why wouldn't it be possible if they were asleep?

If you enjoy this article, this is the type of content is discussed in my book Stuff Paranormal Investigators Need To Know Volume 2: My brain is the key that sets me free.  It looks in depth at topics like telepathy, near death experiences and other areas within parapsychology.  It is available worldwide through Amazon or direct through me in you are in Australia.


Aristotle's Theory of ‘Sleep and Dreams’ in the Light of Modern and Contemporary Experimental Research
By Christine Papchristou 2014 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Dreams and telepathy by Sigmund Freud (1922)

Solomonova, E., Dubé, S., Samson-Richer, A., Blanchette-Carrière, C., Paquette, T., & Nielsen, T. (2018). Dream content and procedural learning in Vipassana meditators and controls. Dreaming, 28(2), 99–121

Cover Photo by Pixabay:

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