In this article I would like to give newcomers to dreaming online a quick
comparison of three great e-mail listserv dreamgroups online, the Electric
Dreams DreamWheel, DreamShare, and DreamChatters.
DreamChatters, hosted by Victoria Quinton, offers a list that is probably the
most recognizable to those who participate in discussion groups online. There is
an open format where any topic on dreams and dreaming can be discussed, from how
to obtain lucidity in dreaming to questions about the specific meaning of a
personal dream. Victoria is a great host as she is connected with many of the
dream organizations online, including the Association for the Study of Dreams,
Electric Dreams, DreamGate, DreamTree and others. Victoria brings in the big
dreamers, famous dream personages from around the world. Its not unusual to hear
from Robert Van de Castle, Henry Reed, Rita Dwyer, Alan Siegel, and many others.
Victoria also brings in topics for discussion from the most current issues in
the dream field. There is also a feeling of welcome and friendliness for people
that are new to dreams and dreaming.
Dreamwork Notes: One can work on a dream at several levels on this list. Some
people send in dreams and simply ask others to comment. Sometimes people ask how
to interpret a dream and get advice from the group. Other times there is a focus
on a particular symbol or image. The list uses the "Village Elders"
approach to ethics. There isn't any direct moderation on the list, but when
someone is being inappropriate the older members of the list will chime in with
their opinions and suggestions. What I really like is that I can talk about
things that other dreamer's recognize and understand in the world of dreams,
like flying in dreams, or special terrors, or lucidity or psi dreaming. That is,
like the BADG (2) group offline, DreamChatters online is like a Dream Club where
people who know a lot about dreaming mingle with those who don't, but they all
Since the group ethos allows for just about any process, one may feel a bit
lonely at time when no one responds to a dream, or overwhelmed with participants
come out of the woodwork and say pretty bizarre things about your dream. Still,
the over-all effect creates social bonding among the participants and the list
is a major contribution to the global dreamwork movement.
The DreamWheel is a highly moderated dream group that follows a very specific
process. (See a full transcript of a group in this issue of Electric Dreams) The
group members are asked to send dreams into the moderator who picks one and has
the group focus on this one dream(randomly at times, in order after the initial
group has started). Members must all read the ethics statement before joining.
The process consists of a question phase and a comment phase. During the
question phase, the group may ask clarifying questions (what color was the
jacket, where were you during the rainstorm?) but not questions that call for
interpretation on the part of the dreamer (What does the color of the jacket
mean? Why did it rain?). The dreamer may or may not reply as he/she wishes. The
moderator watches for the question period to fall off and then starts the
During the comment phase, the participants are asked to take the dream as
their own and reply in the "…if this were my dream" or "…in
my dream" style. Again, the dreamer may or may not wish to reply, but are
invited to do so. The moderator makes closing statements, sometimes summaries,
and then moves on to the next dream. Sometimes a questionnaire is sent out to
the group to offset the balance of power held by the moderator.
DreamWork Notes: This process is very good for teaching and deepening one's
interpretive skills, and research (1) has shown that for the dreamer, this
method yields more satisfying intuitive understanding than face-to-face groups.
On the other hand, the process does not leave a lot of room for general chit
chat, which often forms the basis of wider discussions leading to social bonds.
That is, it's a little hard to make friends in this process, even though you can
deeply effect and change another person's life. I have found this is also very
time consuming and takes a lot of work. Even if you are commenting on someone
else's dream, since the style is to take the dream as your own, you will be
doing a lot of your own psychological work. We have found that encouraging
students to become moderators and/or start their own groups often off-sets the
burn-out that can occur. We also use DreamWheel as a teaching group for the
DreamGate History of Dreaming classes and find that this supplemental hands-on
group for students an excellent teaching group.
This group began at Jeremy Taylor's website and is still highly influenced by
his work and dreamwork ethos. This means that they follow the "If this were
my dream…" style of dreamwork and see the dream and its interpretations
as always serving healing and/or wholeness.
The feeling and process of this group is somewhat between the DreamWheel and
DreamChatters. A small, dedicated group oversee the process and guide the
discussion of dreams along. Several dreams may be discussed at the same time and
side topics of symbol exploration, healing rituals and mutual dream events often
occur. This creates a very tightly knit community which means emotions can
sometimes flare as values collide. Older members of the group often discuss the
problems that arise and they will often draw on other dreamworkers outside the
group and other resources to resolve the problems.
Dreamwork Notes: DreamShare is a good list for applying and practicing
dreamwork in the real world. The DreamWheel tends to focus on technique, and is
highly recommended as a teaching group and for very serious dreamworkers.
DreamChatters is a place to occasionally share a dream or help someone else with
a dream, but geared more to discussing dreaming in general. People who come to
DreamShare have some very real-world issues and often spend some serious time
discussing them. They offer the focus of a small community and the benefits (and
struggles) this can bring.
Just as a final note on all these communities, I want to say that the above
characterizations are just that, characterizations. The DreamWheel often gets
very loose and personal and develops a group feeling and DreamChatters develops
very intimate groups and DreamShare can be fun and playful. Further, the
asynchronous nature of these groups liberates you from having to pick just ONE.
You can JOIN THEM ALL. Many people *are* on all of these groups!
REFERENCES & CITATIONS
(1) Herbert, John W. (2000). Group Dreamwork Utilizing Computer Mediated
Communication: A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Saybrook Graduate
School in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of
Philosophy in Psychology. Saybrook Graduate School. Copyright 2000 John W.
Herbert. All rights reserved.
(2) BADG Bay Area Dreamworkers Group. This is an informal, non-hierarchical
group in the San Francisco - Bay Area (California) which I have found one can
chat about what its like to be in the dream world. That is, someone may say
"Hey do you ever have problems with wires during dream flights?" and
someone else will say "Yes, and they always seem to be powerlines."
That is, the open chit-chat allows discussion of shared experience at a level
not offered by strict procedural groups.
Sample Session - Herbert
Sample Session - Electric Dreams Dream Wheel (Wilkerson & Hicks)
Sample Session - Electric Dreams Dream Wheel (Wilkerson -Coins of Life)
Sample Session - Electric Dreams DreamWheel (Wilkerson - Dreaming with
To read John Herbert's research work comparing face to face groups with
online groups, go to http://www.dreamgate.com/herbert/
For a quick history and summary of this work, see:
Wilkerson, R. & Herbert, J. (1995). John Herbert and the Internet Group
Dreamwork . Electric Dreams 2(6)
For a longer history of the DreamWheel
Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (Winter, 1997). A History of Dream Sharing in
Cyberspace - Part I The Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter 14(1).
Jeremy Taylor's Website and Dreamwork Ethics