precognitive dreamwork

Precognitive Dreamwork and the Long Self by Eric Wargo (Book Summary)

“Precognitive Dreamwork and the Long Self” by Eric Wargo is a mind-expanding exploration of dreams, time, and reality. Wargo’s extensive study of dreams has helped him discover the fundamental principles necessary for precognitive dreamwork. By engaging in this practice we can come to see ourselves as four-dimensional beings that expand beyond our typical notions of space and time. 

*All sentences in quotations are direct quotes from “Precognitive Dreamwork and the Long Self” and are attributed to Eric Wargo. Bold is added for skimmability. 


Challenging Our Notions of Time (Retrocausation and a Block Universe) 

  • Effects cannot precede their cause. You can call this the no-teleology rule—teleology being an old term for what physicists now call retrocausation.”
  • Whatever we may think of the no-teleology rule and the materialist scientific paradigm it produced—I’ll certainly be challenging it (or stretching it) in this book—we must honor it here at the outset.” 
  • “Interacting with a photon during a measurement can actually influence the photon’s prior properties.”
  • “Research in the nascent field of quantum information theory is showing that causal order can be indefinite and information can even be sent backward in time in the mysterious guts of a quantum computer”
  • Retrocausation might not only allow the brain to communicate with itself—send itself messages—backward across the fourth dimension; it may turn out to be relevant to the survival of even the simplest living organisms.
  • “According to the theory of relativity, time is a dimension like the three dimensions of space. Einstein’s teacher Hermann Minkowski realized that his student’s theories led to the conclusion that there is a singular continuum, space-time—or what is often called a block universe.”
  • In such a universe, future events already exist, as it were, and past events still exist. Although we can’t directly perceive it, objects including our own bodies are really cross sections of four-dimensional wormlike entities winding and twisting through the block universe from birth to death.”
  • “We live in a block universe where the future, including the distant future, already exists, down to the smallest detail. Your own future experiences already exist—albeit associatively and symbolically—in your tesseract brain right now.” 


Barriers To Precognition (Scientism & Skepticism) 

  • Skeptics see themselves as society’s immune system against trickery and exploitation of the gullible. They also see themselves as champions of rigor in a field—science—that like any other has its careless and occasionally outright deceptive practitioners.” 
  • “Because they haven’t received these memos about causality and the truly wild frontiers we are entering with quantum computing and quantum biology, skeptics still assume that precognition is a topic wholly belonging to the supernatural, to the disreputable world of back-alley fortune-tellers, and just generally to Carl Sagan’s “demon-haunted world.”
  • One of the biggest fallacies sometimes committed in the sciences is claiming (or implying) that a phenomenon that is hard to study with the tools and methods of science, therefore, doesn’t exist.”
  • “Questions having to do with meaning—whether meaning in a dream or a novel or a religious text—cannot be subjected to quantitative measurement, tested, and falsified using science’s preferred methods. But that doesn’t mean experiences expressed in those forms aren’t real or that they aren’t crucially important in understanding our lives and human behavior more generally.”
  • “As the behavioral and brain sciences matured over the twentieth century, all these psychoanalytic, meaning-centered views on dreams fell out of favor. Psychoanalytic interpretations were untestable, for one thing—how can anyone scientifically falsify, let alone prove, that a certain dream symbol means what the analyst or the dreamer says it means?”
  • “As neuroscientists began to understand the biophysiology of dreaming, it became fashionable to assert that, since dreaming corresponds to specific patterns of brain activation, there can be no real meaning or value in dreams other than whatever we project onto them after the fact. They’re just deranged images produced by brain when its rational prefrontal cortex goes offline.”
  • “In the 1980s, Francis Crick, the codiscoverer of DNA, went further, arguing that dreams are just the discharging of mental static, random and meaningless associations, akin to the way you need to empty your computer’s trash bin to make room for new files and photos. Finding meaning in our dreams was, for Crick, analogous to finding nutrition in our waste—fundamentally misguided and even potentially harmful.
  • The only readily tested hypothesis about dream meaning is that there is no meaning—it’s a bias that’s built right into the scientific method. Whenever a scientist debunks the meaning(fulness) of anything, remember that meaning cannot readily be caught in science’s nets.”
  • “The fact that a dreamer is an n of 1, dreaming in a unique way about unique life experiences, makes it very hard to gather massive, verifiable data for any theory of dream meaning.”
  • “Traditional contemplative traditions may be just as reductively materialistic and hostile to paranormal possibilities or heretical dimensions of the soul as the mainstream sciences.”
  • One of the biggest reasons people are liable to overlook their precognitive dreams is that they are seldom literally accurate.
  • Another obstacle to believing in, let alone studying, precognitive dreams is that unexpected mundaneness of most standout specimens”. 
  • “Because we’ve lost touch with the ancient myths, today’s precogs may find themselves without guidance in navigating the complexities of the precognitive life.” 
  • “One of the most ancient archetypes of gnosis, as a matter of fact, is the serpent (or dragon) biting its own tail. Fear of this tautological serpent is one of the biggest hindrances to becoming a conscious precog. One must learn instead to accept and embrace the self-fulfilling, chicken-and-egg logic that everyday common sense has taught us since childhood to avoid.” 


Understanding Dreams 

  • “Dreams and especially your associations to them are highly personal affairs, often touching on embarrassing or unshareable memories, thoughts, and feelings.” 
  • Dreams typically show us future experiences obliquely via symbols, puns, and other associative connections.” 
  • “While many elements in dreams are recognizable people and situations from our past, they are rearranged, jumbled, recontextualized, and distorted in such a way that the resulting narratives seldom bear an identifiable literal connection to life events.” 
  • “Dreaming is the nightly experience of our brain’s rewiring to encode recent experiences in our long-term memory.”
  • “Dreams’ surface bizarreness is a function of the individual’s unique and idiosyncratic memory associations, which are the product of a lifetime of unique personal experiences, interests, desires, fears, and so on—in other words, a unique history of making meaning.”
  • The most effective memory associations are so idiosyncratic, so dependent on our personal life experience, that they would never make sense to anybody else, at least without too much explanation to make it worth it—like explaining an inside joke to someone not in on it. They wouldn’t make sense because, well, you had to be there. It’s why dreams are often best unpacked and interpreted with the help of a therapist—a safe, nonjudging person who knows you pretty intimately.”
  • “This “you had to be there” quality makes it inherently challenging to write about dreams without taxing a reader’s patience and credulity. It also makes any laboratory study of the content of dreams very difficult, because even if you confined a group of participants in a room and subjected them to the same waking experiences, they would all encode those experiences differently at night because their personal associations will be different, not to mention the fact that those experiences may be more worth remembering to some than to others.”
  • Dreams commonly saddle others with our own unwanted predicaments and give thoughts we don’t want to acknowledge having to other people.” 
  • “A crucial point of the art-of-memory principles on which the dreaming brain operates is that in representing thoughts, it dramatizes them; and in dramatizing, it personalizes. 
  • The connective tissue of memory is association, and it works in dreams precisely the way Freud showed: a pun, a metaphor or a metonym (part standing for the whole), displacement onto another item in the same set or series, or some other nonlogical relation based on idiosyncratic past experience.
  • A precognitive dream (or, rather, one containing precognitive material) typically compiles or gathers together free associations to future experiences or thoughts and then places those associations in a setting
  • The dreaming brain is a coincidence detector and a coincidence creator. With its voracious appetite for association, it orients us toward confluences of events and experiences that meaningfully rhyme or resonate with each other, or are connected through some idiosyncratic personal association.
  • Dreams never completely make sense, even after precognitively targeted experiences come to pass. Our dreams can never fully be understood, because our lives are not yet done. 


Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s view of Dreams (Contributions and Limitations) 

  • “In a nutshell, Freud’s theory was that dreams used symbolic disguises to represent our anxieties as well as to fulfill wishes we have repressed.”
  • “The great contribution of Freud’s approach to the mind and its mysteries was that it drew equally from the then-young study of brain processes and also from fields like philosophy and criticism that study meaning.” 
  • “He stood astride the science-humanities divide, creating a truly interdisciplinary art-slash-science, psychoanalysis, whose relevance cannot easily be dismissed.”
  • “The wit and brilliance of dreams, viewed through a Freudian lens, is so excessive, so beyond our daily experience of our mundane intelligence, that people unused to recording or observing their dreams have difficulty accepting that their own measly minds could be responsible for creating these tableaux. It may even account for why some people don’t remember their dreams at all—such wit simply doesn’t fit into who they think they are.”
  • “Freud’s innovative dream-interpretation method, free associating on given dream elements, is an indispensable part of understanding our dreams and revealing the way they metabolize our waking lives, including our future waking lives.”
  • “Privately, Freud was curious and open-minded about many “occult” phenomena like telepathy and even wrote about them late in his career. But one thing the doctor could not accept was any form of foreknowledge not rooted in ordinary inference.”
  • “Harnessing the creative flow state for self-insight and the exploration of one’s own unconscious is the basis of Jung’s method called active imagination, and it is sometimes likened to dreaming while awake.” 
  • “Jung’s writings are deservedly popular among those who contest the extreme reductionisms of materialist science, but archetypal readings of human affairs can sometimes be equally reductive—offensively so, in some cases—even if the reductionism is in an idealist direction rather than materialist one.”
  • “Archetypes are cultural meanings encoded in oral and written traditions. Their force over our dreams comes from our actual, reallife engagement with those texts and traditions (such as consulting a symbolism dictionary). That engagement may be subsequent to their appearance in our dreams, giving the illusion—since no one believes in precognition—that those meanings were somehow there already in a stock of collective symbols in the unconscious.”
  • “Reducing women to archetypal anima figures in the lives and dreams of powerful, brilliant men, for instance, was symptomatic of the same sexism—no doubt partly a product of his times—that led Jung to overlook and diminish the intellectual and artistic talents, as well as precognitive abilities, of his female clients.”
  • “Jung’s writings on synchronicity—perhaps the closest thing to a secular unifying framework for miraculous experiences—at least encourage us to pay attention to dreams and coincidences. But by reducing these experiences to the interplay of archetypes, that framework also downplays our own role in creating rewarding meaningful coincidences, and it provides only very limited interpretive tools for exploring dream precognition.”
  • “Among the positive values of Jung’s writings and teachings was his emphasis on honoring and commemorating the miraculous in one’s life. He encouraged his patients to draw or paint their dreams, for instance, and he commemorated his own synchronicities in the grand style that his and (mostly) his wife’s wealth allowed.”
  • “Freud had something of the same mentality Jung did around honoring his accomplishments, and it seems to have fed back into his dreamlife in important ways that he could not or would not consciously (or publicly) admit.”
  • “The reductive psychologies of the past three centuries have denied such a coherence by implying the past is dead and gone and that the future has no direct relevance. At best they have made the coherence of the self depressingly past-deterministic (Freud) or archetypal-deterministic (Jung).”
  • “Precognitive dreamwork offers a third way, which cuts between these reductions, alerting us in a whole new way to the vastness and irreducibility of our own life story.”


Misconceptions of Precognition 

  • “Krohn’s dreams put firmly to rest the idea that prophetic or premonitory dreams bring information about events per se, unfolding in objective future reality. They are previews of the dreamer’s own future experiences, especially learning (reading, viewing, web-surfing) experiences.”
  • “There is a common but totally false belief that precognitive or premonitory dreams feel different from other dreams—that they feel numinous somehow, or otherwise special. This can lead people to (a) be lazy about writing down those special-feeling dreams, because they think they will remember them, and (b) not bother writing down dreams that seem unimportant or trivial.” 
  • “One of the biggest reasons people are liable to overlook their precognitive dreams is that they are seldom literally accurate.”
  • The guilt and confusion surrounded by premonitions is, I believe, one of the most important mental health consequences of precognitive dreaming, and the misinterpretations and false explanations that surround the topic of precognition and prophecy in popular books on the subject only exacerbate the problem.”
  • It is important for precognitive dreamers to understand that their feelings of guilt arise from the quite natural but (I believe) quite false assumption that premonitions show us “possible futures” that are subject to our freely willed actions to fulfill or prevent
  • Banish from your mind, once and for all, the notion that dreams show us possible or probable futures. They bear information from what will be, not what might be—but that information is distorted in all kinds of weird ways.”


The Principles of Precognitive Dreamwork

  1. Precognition isn’t about events in the future; it is about our own future experiences, including reading or learning experiences. Why is this distinction important? Because real events may not match the way we learn of them,the news may be wrong or may be missing essential information. Our dreams, notably, fill these gaps with our own assumptions, not with the facts.
  2. Precognitive dreams do not necessarily feel special or numinous. Record all your dreams.
  3. Dreams symbolically show us our future conscious thoughts in response to upheavals and learning experiences.
  4. Dreams build future towers out of past bricks. Dreams represent, or pre-present, a conscious future thought or feeling (or wish, in some cases), but per mnemonic principles, they typically do so using the available bricks (associations) already in memory at the time of the dream.
  5. Peripheral figures in our lives who appear in our dreams, as well as celebrities, may be stand-ins for associations about those individuals, action figures in a symbolic allegory or tableau.
  6. A recent situation or experience may spark a dream about a future experience that resembles it somehow (thematic resonance).
  7. The drama quotient in a dream may be wildly out of proportion to the significance of the experience or upheaval that it targets.
  8. It is associations to our dreams and not their manifest content that often reveal the links to later experiences.
  9. Assume (without ever being able to prove it) that all your dreams may be precognitive. 
  10. Dreams often encode experiences within a single temporal window of waking time, although not necessarily to just one emotionally salient occurrence during that window.
  11. Dreams sometimes pre-present significant experiences exactly (or almost exactly) a year or multiple years in the future (calendrical resonance).
  12. Synchronicity is what it feels like when we precognitively orient toward rewarding miracles, gifts in the landscape of our life, and are unaware that our actions played some role in leading us to (and even creating) those miracles.
  13. In one way or another, dreams lead us to the future that they prophesy.
  14. A dream may pre-present the dreamer’s later thoughts about the dream, or its value to the dreamer, in a kind of fractal fashion.
  15. A precognitive dream may be unimportant in itself; what matters, what it is really about, is what it leads you to do in your life, or the connection it helps you make.
  16. Precognition often orients us to experiences that challenge our prior beliefs or worldviews.
  17. The thought “but I survived” is a very common target of precognition.
  18.  Experiences that cause some chagrin because they are somewhat embarrassing or humiliating are a common target for precognitive dreams.
  19. Dreams obliquely and symbolically pre-present actual experiences rather than literalistically pre-presenting future possibilities.
  20. Dreams cannot directly represent nonbeing, but they nevertheless are often about nonbeing, our thoughts about loss or the possibility of loss.
  21. It is not your fault if you have a premonition that comes true.
  22. Conscientiousness and an attitude of care (for self and others) may be essential for manifesting precognition, or at least for doing so consistently.
  23. Dreams that turn out to have been precognitive often contain some symbolic representation of the act of returning to the dream to verify its precognitive character.
  24. The associative language used in a dream, or its choice of symbolism, is partly shaped or at least constrained in interesting ways by subsequent experiences and by its connection to other dreams across the course of life.
  25. Lucid dreams and seeming out-of-body experiences are sometimes vivid, almost video-quality previews of subsequent in-body experiences in waking life.
  26. Feelings of overwhelming fear in nightmares, sleep paralysis, and lucid dreams may sometimes be signals of receiving a kind of video feed from a future waking experience.
  27. Hypnagogic and hypnopompic images frequently bear precognitive fruit, often within a day or two.


The Process of Precognitive Dreamwork 

  • Record your dreams every morning on waking, and then revisit your records from the past few nights at the end of each day, looking for possible connections between your dreams and experiences during that interim.”
  • “That second step is the single most important key to precognitive dreamwork. Many people write down some of their dreams, at least when they are striking or feel somehow important, but very few people think to go back to their dream records after a short duration.” 
  • Without doing that, you are much less likely to catch yourself having dreamed about a subsequent experience.”
  • “Memory is unreliable when it comes to pretty much anything, and dreams evaporate on waking like the morning dew. Thus, it is necessary to keep a notebook and pen by your bedside and get in the habit of noting down as much as you can remember of all of the dreams you remember from the previous night”
  • Write down every noticed detail, every noticed element, every noticed emotional reaction, and so on. The longer you wait to record a dream, the more these details will be forgotten.”
  • “When recording your dreams and dream interpretations, you need the freedom to be honest with yourself and note down thoughts that you may not feel comfortable having others read.”
  • A lack of privacy will exert an inhibiting effect on your dreams and the connections you allow yourself to make and write down.”
  • “Generally find that most, although definitely not all, precognitive material in dreams relates to events and experiences over the next few days following the dream. However, inevitably a selection or file-drawer effect plays into this: the simple likelihood of drawing a connection between a dream and a waking experience dwindles with temporal distance from the dream.”
  • “While the bulk of my precognitive hits occur within about three days of a dream, it is not uncommon to find hits up to a couple weeks after a dream, as well as at yearly intervals”
  • Revisiting your dream records from the previous three days for a minute or two each evening is minimally sufficient.”
  • To free associate just means giving yourself permission to notice and reflect on the first thing or things that come to mind for each noticed and recorded element in your dream. Just note honestly what each character, object, setting, and striking details call to mind. Write those associations down along with your dream, next to the dream description.”
  • An association will often seem random: it may be some recent situation; something somebody said; something that has nagged or troubled you; some scene in a movie or line in a song; or something that provoked frustration, guilt, or desire.”
  • “Free associate not only on the main figures, situations, and settings, but also on any distortion of reality—an altered locale or geographical feature, altered appearance of a familiar person, and so on.”
  • “Ask yourself: What is being replaced or distorted or substituted, and what significance does the altered or substituted detail have for you? What is, perhaps, missing in the dream setting that would be there ordinarily or in reality?” 
  • Only the first thing or two that immediately spring to mind for a noticed dream element are valid connections. If nothing comes to mind, leave it.”
  • “And you should free associate without any expectation that your associations, by themselves, will add up to something or illuminate the dream’s overall meaning, or the future experience it is pre-encoding.”
  • By including your immediate associations with your dream, you will be more likely to detect such a link later, either when returning to your dream record after the experience has occurred or while the experience is actually happening.”
  • Often simply the act of putting words to an image reveals an association—another reason why writing your dreams down is so important.”
  • As your dream journal grows in size to comprise years of dreams, it becomes possible to detect that highly salient or important experiences were sometimes captured precognitively exactly a year, two years, or more in the past—sometimes even decades.” 
  • “To discover and perhaps to trigger calendrical resonance in your dreams, it is essential to consistently date your dreams and their associated notes in your journal.”
  • “I have come to think of precognition as a kind of social orienting function, drawing us toward the reward of meaningful human connection and making that connection in the same stroke.”
  • “To fully capitalize on this orienting function, to connect with precognition, share your dreams when you can, at least with people you trust. And be forthcoming with your own stories when others share their dreams with you.”
  • “Developing personal habits and rituals to honor our dreams is an important part of precognitive dreamwork. Writing dreams down in the morning in a notebook dedicated for the purpose is the most fundamental part of it. But drawing or painting striking images from dreams is also a common practice. However you choose to honor your dreams, such honoring is a crucial feed-forward component helpful in manifesting precognition with regularity.”


Tools for Enhancing Precognition 

  • “Hypnagogic and (in the morning) hypnopompic experiences, or what dream writer Jennifer Dumpert calls “liminal dreams,” occur on the boundary between waking and sleep. They often consist of a brief, surreal scene or two and some verbal phrase or snippet of dialogue, and they are classically associated with artistic and scientific inspiration.”
  • “Salvador Dali actively harnessed the power of hypnagogia by napping in a chair holding a heavy key over a plate on the floor. On falling asleep, the key dropped to the plate, waking him and enabling him to capture the bizarre image he had just seen.”
  • “It is necessary to develop a knack of catching yourself in the act of following a particularly bizarre (but in the moment, completely sensible-seeming) train of thought, and then recording it right away.”
  • “Doing art, in whatever medium, is channeling your own future, and that it may work very similarly to dreams: future thoughts get expressed using the materials—including artistic influences—already at hand.”
  • If you are an artist of any kind, or a creative writer, go back and look at your old works, even especially your amateurish or abandoned attempts.You may find they contain uncanny foreshadowing of events or situations that followed in your life.”
  • Active imagination and shamanic trance are rich states for accessing precognitive material, mining the brain for what it already knows about the future.”
  • “Although active dreaming and active imagination are not states that come naturally to most people, they are skills that at least some people can learn and develop with practice.”
  • “Meditation is another fruitful approach for tapping into precognition. 
  • The trick with remote viewing as well as less directed meditation or mindfulness is learning to distinguish thoughts that feel like one’s own ordinary deliberate thought-stream from spontaneous thoughts and images that are unexpected, that feel alien or uncaused.”
  • Getting a feel for alien thoughts versus our more analytical mental processes is helpful in utilizing hypnagogia for precognition and creativity as well.” 
  • “A mindfulness-like tool created in the field of ecological psychology, called experience sampling, is also helpful in accessing the precognitive unconscious. In experiments, participants are prodded at random times throughout the day using a pager, at which points they record or report what they were just thinking in the preceding moments. Observing their thought-stream is at first a challenging task for people who are unused to introspecting. Once they get the hang of it, participants often find it not only surprising but rewarding, even simply as a window into their own moods. (For instance, depressed people sometimes find that their actual thoughts throughout the day are far less negative than they imagine they are, and vice versa.)”
  • “Learning to catch yourself in the act of thinking greatly increases the number of synchronicities in your day, and it may persuade you (if you still need persuading) that synchronicity is nothing but your own precognitive nature that you have until now failed to recognize or own.”
  • “The challenge in working productively with any state of consciousness, be it sleeping or waking or any of the various states in-between, is that your experiences, thoughts, or impressions need to be written down, drawn, or otherwise recorded.” Otherwise they are forgotten, or at the very least our memory of them is not trustworthy.
  • “Besides keeping a dream journal next to your bed, carry a small notebook or sketchbook with you throughout the day.” 


The Implications of Precognitive Dreamwork  

  • If we can be influenced by our future thoughts, whether in dreams or in waking life, then it necessarily implies that our conscious thoughts now influence our prior actions.”
  • “It is important to note here that causing or sowing seeds in the past is quite a different thing from changing the past—the idea that we could somehow alter our histories or undo past mistakes, the too-easy premise of many classic time-travel yarns.”
  • “I think it is absolutely essential though—actually gives the theory its necessary traction—to insist on the distinction between changing the past, which is paradoxical, and influencing or causing the past, which is not.”
  • “While you cannot change your past or future, at any stage of the game you might learn something new that changes everything. It can be humbling to make such a discovery. Sometimes it can be life-altering.”
  • What precognitive dreamwork leads to is an enhanced sense of your life as a composition with a beginning, middle, and end, and as having a rich and unique inner coherence.”
  • We make our past in the process of finding it, and find it in the process of making it, the sooner our attitude can become one of care for our Long Self in the block universe.”
  • Dream journaling with an eye to precognition—precognitive dreamwork—is the first step. But you may find, as you build up a corpus of precognitive dreams and come face to face with the reality of that Long Self on a daily or near-daily basis, that mapping out those dream connections and reexploring what may have seemed like dead-and-gone territory—your past life, however meandering it may have seemed at the time, however traumatic it may have been, even—starts to brings even more amazing rewards and insights than just identifying discrete precognitive dream hits.” 
  • Even if we can’t change the past or future, precognition (and the retrocausation it implies) changes everything we thought we knew about both. It is redemptive.
  • “Every precognitive dream hit is a bit like a hit from a kind of psychedelic drug, an exhilarating, vertiginous, spiritual and life affirmation. It’s like zooming in on a fractal, where the fractal is your life. Every day can bring new discoveries about the precognitive significance of a perplexing symbol in an old dream, if not the full-on closure of a time loop that began a day, a year, or even decades in your past. It’s always something unexpected, but it will be something that adds to the wonder and strangeness of your existence.
  • The trick—and what precognitive dreamwork teaches—is focusing on and learning to be amazed by the haphazard, trivial details of your life that most people overlook,”
  • “Precognitive dreamwork (and lifework) makes it impossible to ignore or deny the worth, value, and real reality of other, embodied lives—including lives very distant and different from ours.”
  • “When you directly experience your own self as a vast and sublime and unique four-dimensional formation in the block universe, you realize that every fellow traveler on this planet is similarly vast and sublime and unique—like threads in a tapestry, both irreducibly individual and completely interdependent.”