Accepted Paper:

Dreams as a communication method between the living and the dead  


Gabriela Kiliánová (Slovak Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discuses dream narratives concerning known deceased persons. I argue that attitudes towards this type of dream narratives are specific to traditional as well as to modern society: such dreams are often interpreted as a communication method between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Paper long abstract:

The paper examines narrations in which people describe meetings with deceased persons in their dreams. They understand such dreams as a specific communication method between two allied worlds that need each other. The deceased look for the attention of their relatives and friends: they should pray for them and should not forget them. In return the living people receive information and worldly advice from the world of the dead about forthcoming events.

My ethnography focuses on a local community in Western Slovakia where the Roman Catholic Church has managed to keep its position for a long period. Therefore, the idea of dreams as a communication method between the living and the dead has been rooted in Christian beliefs concerning the after-life that have been confessed by the majority of the local inhabitants in the past as well as in the present. The paper deals with the following questions: (1) to what degree has dream experience been integrated into the public life of the local community and what are the conditions of this integration; (2) how the dream narration is treated in the public discourse; and (3) what are the interpretations of the dreams. I am interested especially in the changes to the interpretations of the dreams that have currently occurred as a result of the post-socialist transformation processes after 1989.

Panel W074
Imprints of dreaming