- The idea that dreams convey true information and/or foreshadow future events is widespread, so it is rather puzzling that folklore collections do not give it much space. Perhaps the very fact that it was current at all social levels (and endorsed by the Bible) prevented Victorian scholars from regarding it as folklore, except in *love divinations. In fact, popular publications show there was (and is) a lively interest in dream interpretation as a form of *fortune-telling, taught through manuals listing numerous items and their meanings. They often exploit obvious associations of ideas:lips. To dream of thick, unsightly lips, signifies disagreeable encounters, hasty decisions, and ill temper in the marriage relation. Full, sweet, cherry lips, indicates harmony and affluence. To a lover, it augurs reciprocation in love, and fidelity. (Gustavus Hindman Miller, What's in a Dream? (1901), reprinted as The Dictionary of Dreams (1983), 357)Some alternate between this method and the rule that 'dreams go by contraries':grenadier. For a girl to dream of a grenadier denotes a civilian husband in the near future. greyhound. You will win more than a race despite keen rivalry.grief. This indicates joy and merry times. (Anon, The Mystic Dream Book (Foulsham: n. d.), 86)The older manuals are notable for their many gloomy interpretations, and if taken seriously could have caused considerable anxiety; the compilers also favoured moral admonition:sea foam. For a woman to dream of sea foam, foretells that indiscriminate and demoralizing pleasures will distract her from the paths of rectitude. If she wears a bridal veil of sea foam, she will engulf herself in material pleasures to the exclusion of true refinement and innate modesty. She will be likely to cause sorrow to some of those dear to her, through their inability to gratify her ambition. (Miller, 1901/ 1983: 500)At a far more serious level, many people recall that they themselves, or others known to them, have had warning dreams whose meaning only became clear later on, when death or misfortune struck. For some, it is a rare experience; others are thought to have a psychic ability, akin to *second sight, which brings such dreams regularly. A Cheshire woman in 1981 said:I've never experienced it myself, but I have a friend, a colleague, and she does, and I know she does! She has dreams, and she'll come in and say very vividly, and she knows what's happened and it does come to happen! It may not be soon. And it's happened a lot of times with her. I've known it happen with her. She might dream of, say a fire, or a national disaster - something like that - and it does come to happen. She comes in some mornings quite bothered when she's had one of those dreams very vividly (Bennett, 1987: 134)These personal accounts of ominous dreams are underpinned by strong beliefs and emotions; one reason they rarely appear in folklore collections may well be a concern for privacy in both informant and collector.
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
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