USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘dreams’
Folk Beliefs
Signs

The Pregnancy Dream

Background Info/Context:

My mom told me that when she was pregnant with me and my younger sister, she had a very distinct dream about each of us. Korean people call this pregnancy dream, 태몽 (pronounced tae mong). This apparently happens most frequently, to the mother, but often times the family or close friends. The dream uncovers some insight about the baby that is imminent.

 

Piece:

Korean:

Sophia-

내가 임신하기 전에 꿈을 꿨는데,

아침에 아파트 수영장에 나갔는데, 수영장에 큰 검은 물고기가 하나 가득있었어.

나는 그중에 제일 큰거를 한마리 잡아서 들고 왔는데, 엄청 크고 빛났었어.

그 얘기를 엄마한테 했는데 엄마가 태몽이라하더라고.

 

Jamie-

연수는 임신하고도 태몽을 안꿔서…

누구 내 태몽 꾼사람 없나… 하고 있었는데,

한국에 있는 친구가 갑자기 전화가 와서 나보고 임신했냐고 묻더라고,

내가 어떻게 알았냐고 물었더니,

내가 걔 꿈에 나와서 엄청큰 보석반지를 끼고 예쁘다고 자랑을 했다하더라고…

 

태몽은 예전에 아기 낳기전에 아들인지 딸인지 몰랐는데 알고싶으니까

태몽으로 아기 성별을 맞춰보곤했지

너희 꿈은 둘다 딸꿈

 

English Transcription:

Sophia-

Nae gah eem shin ha gi jun aye koom uhl kuh nun dae,

Ah chim aye ah pah tuh soo young jang aye nah gat nnun dae, soo young jang aye kun kum uhn mool go gi gah ha nah gah tuhk ees suh suh.

Nah nun guh joong aye jae il kun guh rur han mah ri jab ah suh dul go oah nun dae, um chung kuh go beet nah sus suh.

Guh yea gi rur umma han tae het nun dae umma ga tae mong ee ra ha duh rah go.

 

Jamie-

Yon soo nun eem shin ha go do tae mong ul an koouh su…

Noo goo nae tae mong koon sa ram ub na… ha go eet sus nun dae,

Han gook aye eet nun chin goo ga gap cha gi jun hwa ga owa suh nah bo go eem shin han nya go moot du ra go,

Nae ga uh dduh kae al at nya go mul ut duh ni,

Nae gah gae goom eh nah owa suh um chung kuhn bo suk ban ji rur yeah buh da go ja rang ul het da ha duh rah go…

 

Tae mong uhn yeh jun aye ah gi nat gi jun eh ah dul een ji tal een ji mol lat nun dae al go ship uh ni ka

Tae mong uh roe ah gi sung byul ul mat chi bo gon het ji

Nuh hi goom un dool da tal koom

 

Transliteration:

Sophia-

When I pregnant before dream had,

Morning apartment swimming pool outside went, swimming pool inside big blackfish one full.

I between most big one catch and carry came, very big shiny.

This story mom told she tae mong it is.

 

Jamie-

Yeonsoo (my sister’s Korean name) pregnant after tae mong not…

Someone my tae mong dreamt wonder… thought had,

Korea in friend suddenly call came me pregnant asking,

I how did you know asked,

I her dream in came out very big

 

Tae mong is long time ago baby before born son is or daughter is did not know wants to know. Tae mong with baby gender guess. You all dream both daughter dream.

 

English Translation:

Sophia-

Before I was pregnant I had this dream. It was the morning, and I went out to the apartment pool. In the pool, there were a ton of big, black fish. Out of all of them, I caught the biggest one and carried it back. It was so big and shiny. I told this story to my mom and she said it was a “tae mong.”

 

Jamie-

When I was pregnant with Yeonsoo (Jamie’s Korean name), I did not dream a “tae mong.” But while I wondering if someone else dreamt a “tae mong” for me, I suddenly got a call from my friend in Korea. She asked me if I was pregnant. I asked her how she knew, and she said I appeared in her dream and was bragging about a giant jeweled ring.

 

Tae mong was used a long time ago before a baby was born to try to guess if it would be a boy or a girl. They used tae mong to try to match the baby’s gender. My dreams about both you and your sister were daughter dreams.

 

Thoughts:

As I’ve never been pregnant before, I cannot attest to the gut feeling of when a dream specifically pertains to an unborn child. But this is a phenomenon that I’ve heard from multiple adult women. In fact, my photography professor’s mother, who is also Korean, stated that she’s heard that if the object in the dream that represents the child is small, the baby is male, but if that object is big, it will be female.

The distinct pregnancy dream may be a result of a combination of a multi-generational herd behavior and confirmation bias. When you hear that mothers and people around you have had strange dreams about an unborn child, you may think that one of the dreams you’ve had is related to theirs, snowballing the herd mentality.

This folk practice has been around for a long time, as implied by my mom, when she stated that pregnancy dreams were used as a method to try to guess a baby’s gender before there were ultrasounds and other technological advances. Although the accuracy of them is unknown, these dreams are remembered and shared with friends and family, even after many years.

 

Folk Beliefs
Signs

Dreams Predict Death

VG: Ok, so you said you have a superstition?

AM: I am 99% sure I know how I’m gonna die and when.

VG: Uh-how?

AM: Once a month, I have the same exact dream where I’m driving in a car during the rain and ss- what is it- we end up hydroplaning and falling on train tracks and not um having enough time to get off the car and getting hit by a dream. What is it- every month the dream changes just a little bit, but it’s always us driving, hydroplaning, and then ch- hitting a ditch.

VG: So you believe in the power of recurring dreams?

AM: Yes. Every month for the past three years.

VG: Do you know the specific day?

AM: No. All I know is is it’s raining really bad and we’re on the highway.

VG: Wow…who’s- you say we, whose in the car?

AM: Usually, my dad, my mom, and me.

VG: Wow…have you told them about it?

AM: Nope..not yet.

 

Background:

Location of Story – Variable, Southern California

Location of Performance – Dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context:  This performance took place in a group setting – about 2-3 people – in a college dormitory room. This performance was prompted by the call for stories about beliefs, ghosts, or superstitions as examples of folklore. This story came after a few others from a friend in response to the prompt “weird beliefs.”

 

Analysis: This a great example about the folklore and folk belief in reoccurring dreams because it offers such a precise description of what AM experiences in the dream. This precision is most likely because of the recent development of this recurring and very consistent dream. I also think it is interesting to note the absence of supernatural elements of this story. Frequently, people have monsters, paranormal activity, etc. in their dreams, so the fact that this story is based in reality effectively conveys the idea that this could be an omen – it is much closer to things that could actually occur. Possibly, the realistic narrative of the dream is related to the recent development of this dream. AM is a college freshman, so this dream could reflect feelings of fear about growing older and separating from the family. 

Additional reading: Kaivola-Bregenhøj, Annikki. “Dreams as folklore.” Fabula 34 (1993): 211-224. This article offers a great explanation about dreamlore as well as the relative novelty of its performance.

Folk Beliefs
Signs
Tales /märchen

Fish dream

Context: I remembered my friend mentioning some superstition in regards to a fish so I asked her about it again and she explained and this conversation was recorded.

MG: What does the fish in your dreams superstition mean?

KR: “Okay… so it means someone close to you, or it could be actually you, is pregnant. Usually it’s someone close to you that you know. So say I dream it, it could mean my sister or my roommate is pregnant. Its kinda scary. Who knows if it is a coincidence or an actual thing but my mom and grandma have predicted all 4 of my sisters’ pregnancies with this fish dream thing!”

Background: Informant is from Memphis and grew up in a very superstitious family and she had recently been told that her mom had a dream of a fish so she is curious if anyone in her family is pregnant. She explained to me that this is an old wives tale that gets passed down but usually moms dream a fish and then find out their daughter is pregnant. However, this fish dream only applies to women because men do not have this dream.

Analysis: I thought the connection between fish and pregnancy was very interesting. I did try to research on the connection between pregnancy and fish but could only find concerns for eating fish while pregnant. An important connection I made was the fact that both her previous experiences involved her mom, grandmother. In many other cultures moms and especially grandmothers are seen as wise. They have that sixth sense and are able to pick up on signs. Additionally, this superstition discusses pregnancy which is a very scandalous topic and if a woman is young or unmarried she may be afraid to tell her mom or others. Dreams can reveal suspicions or even fears but sometimes they can also just be dreams without a meaning.

general
Magic
Signs

Precognition Through Dreams

BACKGROUND:

An individual in Los Gatos, California takes part in the folk belief of precognition via dreams. According to the source, precognition is the ability to psychically receive visions of the future via dreams. In the example I was given, my source was visited by the soul of her dying father while she was asleep. In the vision, her father sat down with her and told her everything was going to be fine, that he was doing well, and that she had nothing to worry about. When she woke up, instead of feeling stressed out and agitated, she was relaxed and calm. She received a phone call that evening letting her know that her father was being checked out of the hospital, safe to go home.

INTERVIEW:

My interview with my source, A, went as follows:

Me: So could you tell me about an example of a time you had a precognitive dream?

A: So um… my dad had been sick for two years and in the last few weeks he had been really sick, he had swelling all over his body and we weren’t really sure what was up with that, and I was supposed to go back and visit but I couldn’t because [my son] was sick and vomiting. So I didn’t feel comfortable bringing him or even exposing him with me. So I didn’t visit my dad. Then Sunday came and Sunday night I had this dream, in which my dad was telling me that everything was going to be okay that he was fine and that he was really happy. And so I woke up feeling very relieved about the whole thing and then later that evening my mother called to let me know that they were checking out of the hospital and that he’d made a miraculous recovery.

MY THOUGHTS:

The belief is an interesting take on why we dream. At some point, I feel like most people have sought to make sense of why exactly they dream. For many, it’s the idea that we as humans can predict the future. It’s instances like these in which the belief is reinforced in someone. While correlation does not equate to causation, there is technically no evidence that what took place was not an occurrence of precognition.

For another view on this belief see: Aristoteles, and J.I. Beare. On Divination in Sleep. InteLex®.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

Sleep Paralysis Ghost

Informant: The informant is Nabila. She is eighteen years old and is a freshman at Northeastern University. She grew up in Bangladesh.

Context of the Performance: We sat on the living room floor of a mutual friend’s house in Yonkers, New York over our spring breaks form college.

Original Script:

Informant: So basically, do you know about sleep paralysis?

Interviewer: Yes.

Informant: Basically, it’s a condition which doesn’t allow you to move or talk when you’re waking up or first falling asleep. In Asian culture, when that happens, people believe that it is a form of nightmare or that it is a ghost sitting on you. When you have sleep paralysis, since you can’t move, and you might be screaming out loud but can’t actually make any noise, people think that he’s sitting on you. Because he can’t speak, since he’s a ghost, you can’t speak either. I actually don’t believe it though. My mom told me this when I was about thirteen, but now I know that it’s actually sleep paralysis.

Interviewer: Why is this piece of folklore important to you?

Informant: It’s important to me in the sense that when it happened to me, it really scared me. I had a bunk bed, and it happened to me the first time I slept on the top bunk. So, I never slept on the top bunk again because I thought that the nightmare would happen again.

Personal Thoughts: I find this piece interesting because I have known about sleep paralysis for years now and have never heard of this type of fear of it. In fact, I, along with many of my friends, have tried to achieve sleep paralysis because you need to do so in order to lucid dream. Lucid dreaming is something so many people try to do, so it is compelling to me that Nabila and her family are so afraid of sleep paralysis.

Folk Beliefs
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Legends
Magic
Narrative

Psychic Grandma

The informant told me this story about her family when I asked about her influences in her writing. She told me that her family has always been interested in psychics as they believe that many of the female members of the family have psychic powers. This stems from the fact that her great-grandmother was psychic – as detailed below:

“So in the light of women in my family having psychic dreams, my great-grandma who was widely tough to be psychic, so this is in my mom’s line,  so it’s in that line still, like the matriarchy, she like, could see ghosts, and people like my aunt has claimed to see her ghost, that like she’s like a spooky figure, and i never met, and she had a dream before when my mom was born and I don’t think she had a sister yet, and my great-grandma was like staying with my grandma because she was having trouble with the pregnancy. and my great grandmother had this dream of a baby carriage rolling down this hill, and like chasing after it and not being able to stop it. And then, she told this to my grandma and she told her that she thinks that there’s something wrong with the baby and my grandma’s like no, it’s fine, and she didn’t want to worry her too much about it, but she ended up giving birth to a stillborn baby! I know, it’s that creepy? And i guess now people see her ghost and stuff”

Analysis:

The dream confirms the psychic ability of the Great-grandmother to the rest of her family. Another post that investigates dream in the informant family is “Mother’s Psychic Dream.” This shows that dreams in the female line are very important to the informant.

Folk Beliefs
Signs

Native Americans and Dreams

The informant is my mother, Dayna Rayburn, born in 1960 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She grew up in Tulsa, before going to college at the University of Oklahoma and graduating with a degree in nursing. She has worked at St. Francis Hospital in the newborn nursery for thirty years.

In this piece, my mother tells me about dreams and how Native Americans use them as a way to comfort us in times of trouble or uncertainty.

Mom: Something about us Native Americans is that we really read into dreams.

Me: Yeah, we’ve talked about this.

Mom: Yeah. I think we see it as a connection to our ancestors. For example, … I guess I need to give them backstory on this.

Me: Go ahead. I got 40 pages to fill.

Mom: [laughs] Are you going to put that in your report?

Me: Hell yeah.

Mom: [laughs] Don’t embarrass the family, son.

Me: Go on with the backstory.

Mom: Okay. Well, me and Joey’s dad got married in 1982, and we started trying to have a kid a year or so later, but it just never happened. We kept trying and trying, and we started thinking that it wasn’t going to be possible for us to have kids. It was a really hard time for both me and your dad. I was even told that I only had a ten percent chance of having a child, and then, like a little miracle, I got pregnant with Alyssa [my sister]. I was so thrilled, but I started getting worried. I started having this fear that I was going to die in childbirth. It still happens, a lot of people think it doesn’t. I was really worried, and then about a week before Alyssa was born, I had a dream. I saw my Grandpa Eli, who was this very stoic Indian man. He barely said a word to me, or really anybody, but I loved him very much. And in my dream, I was walking through this… mist? It was cloudy, kind of, like Heaven, and my grandpa was there, and he looked at me and said “Everything will be alright,” and it was.

Me: I have those dreams about Pa sometimes.

Mom: I think we all do. We’re a very spiritual people. But, anyways, your sister was born maybe a week later and everything was fine. I remember when I was in labor I just kept saying “everything will be alright”.

Me: What do you think those dreams mean?

Mom: I think they mean that they’re watching over us. That they’re walking alongside us. It’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?

Me: Yeah.

Dreams have always been something my mother and I have bonded over, and I was always able to tell that she really believed that she was connecting to those she loved most. I think my mom is right in thinking they mean something, even if they’re not entirely real. She hears what she wants from who she wants to hear it from, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Personally, I’ve still been trying to decide whether my dreams carry any weight, but I do know I’ve been affected by them. She doesn’t put all of her life’s biggest choices in waiting to see what her dreams say: to her, they’re just supplementary, and will happen when you need them to happen.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Protection

Talking About Nightmares

The informant is my mother, Dayna Rayburn, born in 1960 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She grew up in Tulsa, before going to college at the University of Oklahoma and graduating with a degree in nursing. She has worked at St. Francis Hospital in the newborn nursery for thirty years.

In this piece, my mom discusses the practice of not talking about your dreams before breakfast, and gives some explanation as for why we do it.

Mom: Do you remember when I would say “don’t talk about dreams before breakfast”.

Me: Yes, but why don’t you say where you heard that.

Mom: I think it was my grandmother. She must have told my mom, and I remember one day when I was really little I ran into the kitchen where my mom was and told her I had a bad dream. Before she would let me talk about my dream, she made me sit down and eat something. I think it was a banana. It didn’t have to be a full course meal: just something little.

Me: Why couldn’t you talk about your dreams before breakfast?

Mom: I don’t know. My mom just always said it was bad luck. It might be an old Indian thing. She heard it from her grandma, like I said.

Me: So why do you follow it?

Mom: I guess I believe in it? I think it’s just a nice thing to do, whether or not it stops bad luck. I think it calms you down. When I went into the kitchen, I was probably running. I still do it to this day, and I know I’ve told you and Alyssa about it.

Me: Yeah, I’ve even told Allen [my roommate] and a few other people about it. They’ll send me a text saying “I just had the worst dream” and I’ll reply back “Have you had breakfast yet?”

Mom: [laughs] They probably think you’re crazy.

Me: I mean, yeah.

Mom: Just tell them that your mom does it.

Me: I’m sure that will help.

This is an interesting belief my mom has, because we both believe in it without really knowing why we do it. I think we do it because we think we’ll be so worked up after waking up from the nightmare that we’ll just worry and put more stress on ourselves. In order to combat that, my mom tells me to eat something. This gives me time to calm down and think rationally about whatever my nightmare was, and remind myself that it was only a dream. I think the reason why we’re told to eat something is because eating is usually one of the first things we do in the morning, and it takes a bit longer than brushing your teeth, which means we have a longer period of time to cool down.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Signs

Dreams Mean…

The informant was born and raised into the American culture and way of life. Her mother’s side of the family is in touch with their Jamaican culture and heritage and as the informant grew older she was able to become more into with the beliefs and customs of Jamaica.

Jamaican Dreams

Informant…

“In the my culture deaths and marriages are often predicted by ones close family members. It is believed that if a family member dreams about someone in their family’s wedding the person being dreamt about will die soon. I think we believe in being able to predict deaths because life and death is a big deal in our culture. Marriage is also an important aspect in my culture as well and is ritualized. When a person dreams about a family member’s death that is consider a prediction of that family member’s wedding.”

I asked the informant if she had ever had a dream like this or known someone who did and it became true. She told me that she didn’t know anyone who had ha a dream like this and she personally  has never had one. I asked where she learned this belief from snd she said that she remembers her grandma telling her about it when she was younger before she passed away.

Analysis…

Being able to predict someones death could be a blessing and a curse. Knowing that someone you love is going to die soon has to be difficult to handle. However on the other hand being able to predict a wedding is exciting. Death and Marriage are two major stepping stones in most cultures and they are ritualized because of that. Marriage you are become one with someone else and you are able to start a family, but death is the end of your life and the start of your after life whatever you believe that may be. I think that is why they are both made such such a big deal out of and ritualized with customs and rituals and why cultures have so many beliefs centered around these two major life events.

Customs
Folk Beliefs

Greek Nightmares

In Greek tradition if you have a bad dream and you tell someone before you eat anything your nightmare will come true.  However the same thing is not true if you have a good dream.  If you tell a good dream before eating in an attempt to make it come true, the gods will see through your trickery and it will not happen.

My roommate is half Greek and she learned this tradition from her mother.

This tradition is interesting because it reaffirms the power of spiritual beings as being above us.  This is humbling in a way and reinforces the idea that mere mortals should never try and outsmart the gods cause they will always be one step ahead.  The tradition is also interesting because it speaks to a very negative aspect of the culture, in this situation no matter what you do, it ends up with nothing good happening.

The tradition seems to also be related to the idea that if you have a wish and you tell it to someone it will not come true, like birthday wishes or wishes on a shooting star.

[geolocation]