Last night, I had a dream that my deceased sister called me on the phone. I knew that she was dead, and wondered how she had managed it. If I were religious, I would take this as a sign that she was trying to contact me from the beyond.
However, I am sure that dreams helped institute beliefs in an afterlife. Our far, far distant ancestors dreamed and, no doubt, they also dreamed of their loved ones. How did they reconcile the knowledge of death with the dreams? Were their loved ones still alive . . . Someplace?
This idea is not original with me as a friend of mine defined this as when humans began to have abstract ideas in our early days; he did not connect it with religion, though. However, I have never read anything academic about it.
Not long ago I had a similar dream. I got a telephone call from my uncle, who died 14 years ago. I don't remember what he said to me. I just remember thinking that he could not be calling me because he was dead. Then I realized that I was dead. I could walk in the air and I started singing the theme song from that TV show where the guy became a superhero when he wore a red suit. Then I tried walking on water so I went to a swimming pool. The Flipper showed up and I started singing that theme song.
It was actually a pretty happy dream. But it had nothing to do with anything. Dreams are random. They are a nightly garbage collector where your brain does maintenance on your neural network. Weird connections like that happen. Somehow this one connected dead uncles to old TV shows.
The Dream-time myth.
Perhaps you find this interesting :
Are you sure your dream was last night, and not this morning?
Dreams especially vivid dreams are the minds way of dealing with grief. It is reasonable that those who have been religious all their lives would describe their dreams as proof of an afterlife and I believe that religions have taken advantage by promoting that falsehood.
I think the idea predated "religion" as we know it and was interpreted by our early human ancestors.
On a related issue, I get ocular migraines; they don't hurt, but I see spheres or circles with borders of jagged flashing lights and a blind spot in the middle. It is a brain issue brought on by sinus issues/allergies, not a eye/vision issue even though the blind spot occurs. I was reading a book (Inside the Neolithic Mind or The Mind in the Cave, not sure which) and the authors were saying how our physiology has not changed. They were relating cave art to "real" issues. One of the images was sphere with jagged borders, just like the images in my migraines.
What would ancient humans made of an ocular migraine? Not only would they be seeing a "vision," but the head of the person across the "cave" would disappear when the person having the migraine looked at him/her. Epilepsy was often considered a visitation from a deity, and some "saints" gave their prophecies after an epileptic seizure. Of course, in some eras, epileptics were also considered to be demon possessed.
Oh, for a time machine!
@Gwendolyn2018 I agree that vivid dreams predate religions, so would hallucinations brought on by brain disorders or exposure to some kind of plant life. It is easy to imagine that early religions would use instances like those to convince people that deities and an afterlife actually exist. It would be a con-artists dream.
@Betty Agreed to a point! On the other hand, the con-artist would not know why the dreams and other issues happen.
Your hypothesis is as good as any I have heard.
Maybe someday, I will write an article! (Or find out that someone has already written about it.)
I sometimes dream about things happening. When I wake up and check it is always as in my dreams.
I once had a dream about a spider biting me. When I woke up the next morning and shook out the clothes I intended to wear because of the dream, a brown recluse fell out! Weird.
It is thought that dreams function to help prepare us for situations that are likely to confront us.
@Gwendolyn2018 I dreamed I was eating marshmallows and when I woke up my pillow was gone. lol.
@Flyingsaucesir in some instances, perhaps so. My dreams are more about dealing with my past or are anxiety dreams, i.e. I sometimes dream that I can't find my phone (used to be I couldn't find the phone book, but cells changed it) and that is a concern about communicating with others. Sometimes, I can't find my car in the parking lot--and sometimes, in real life, I wander for five minutes before finding it.
One of my recurring anxiety dreams is about school. I used to be the student in the dreams, i.e. I had not attended a class all term, but now, they are more that I can't find the classroom and I am the teacher. Becoming a teacher changed the focus even though I teach online and have no classroom. The school dream is about getting all of my work finished--I teach five or six classes simultaneously.
@Gwendolyn2018 I occasionally have the school dream: I haven't attended a class all semester, and now I'm running all over campus trying to find the classroom, which I never do.
I agree that much of this is simple wish fulfillment of wanting the loved one to be OK in another place and this goes into religion. I have had similar dreams and experiences. A friend of mine was once worried about his dead nephew until the man finally appeared at his bedside one night and told him he was alright. Everything was OK, he said. Many accuse me of believing that the dead appear to the living when I tell this. The truth is that my friend needed this experience. The appearance had nothing to do with the dead nephew.
After my father hung himself I dreamed that he had survived and apologised to me when he got home. I don't know if it was him contacting me from the Beyond or just my mind trying to appease my trauma.
My dream was a simple wish fulfillment--I talked with her on the phone everyday and sometimes, twice a day.
I no longer remember my dreams in much detail, but I think my anxiety dreams outweigh the happy ones!
American Hero was the series.