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Nancy Price

skip down to the dreams! Nancy Price (1880-1970) was primarily an actor and writer, but despite her busy life, a vivid dreamer too. In 1948 she recorded her dreams methodically for one year as an experiment, and published a representative sample as Acquainted with the Night (1949). Many of her dreams have shamanic tinges: guides abound (animals and even trees speak to her) and she often leaves her body. Here's Price on her dreamlife:
Last year, I decided to keep a diary that would have, for me at least, the merit of novelty--a dream diary. Here friends and foes, private or public figures, would undergo the subtle change which this strange world affords its inhabitants.

Most artists make a rough sketch of a picture before they attempt to paint it. In dream art, the process is reversed and the sketch has to be abstracted from the finished product. In this diary, I present my very rough sketches from that misty and mystical looking-glass world, the world where one is imprisoned in a dream, where punishment and reward are meted out for secret wishes and where the crime of writing down comes last of all.

I have avoided the temptation to alter or elaborate, for a dream is more delicate than any photograph and touching up would falsify the record. The very rawness of these sketchy impressions has at least the virtue of truth.

I dream not only every night but several times a night; but if, through pressure of work or fatigue, I fail to set these dreams down at once, they invariably elude me, and in strict accordance with my resolve neither to invent nor elaborate, I have had many blank spaces in my diary. There was of course the further reason of dreams sometimes being repetitive, not always impression for impression but certainly of subject matter. Others were either too confused to be recorded by the waking intelligence, or else seemed to be what I can only call pen shy...

My experience is that physical sensations operate in the dream world and frequently in an enhanced form. Every gradation of colour that the physical eye knows, and some that are beyond its range, can be vividly seen, or perhaps felt is the word. The sense of smell I have found peculiarly acute, a scent or stench often being the very core of a dream. Touch is even more sensitive, producing violent reactions in the dream body and mind. Sound is experienced, but as far as I have found, it is apprehended in a different way. Volcanoes may erupt, earthquakes rend, wars rage, cities be razed to the ground, giant orchestras play great works, there is conversation; but all this I understand and experience with a faculty I do not consciously know. lt seems as though I have another body which has a different method of sensing sound than from vibrations on the ear-drum.

The clarity with which certain incidents, people and creatures remain with me from the dream world, I find amazing; some details stand out as if one were looking at them through a stereoscope. The exact shading of the petals of a flower, seen in this strange world, may be remembered clearly. The intricate shape of trees, (I could even draw their branches and twigs), the fashion in which a hedge grows or is cut, the colour of a dog's eye, its exact size, the manner in which a horse will lift its hoof to rest himself or shake his head wearily trying to rid himself of the bridle, the place where the harness is worn, colour of skin, hair and eye, the size and shape of a person. All these scorch the mind at the moment of experience, branding their impression more vividly than their material counterparts; but in the waking hours these vivid impressions become like the markings made on a blotting pad...

In considering my own dreams at the end of the year I find them decidedly macabre...

O'er all there hung a shadow and a fear,
A sense of mystery, the spirit daunted,
And said as plain as whisper in the ear,
"The place is haunted." -- Poe --
RELATED TOPICS: animal people - nightmares and frustration dreams - epic dreams - death and dying in dreams - contemporary dreamwriters Louis MacNeice and Edna St. Vincent Millay - Add your own dream! - See also the full INDEX OF SUBJECTS.

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BROKEN GLASS by Nancy Price; 1948, a dream of working to death.
Helping out some talking animals, helping to exhaustion, I suffer a fatal accident. What am I being warned of?
BUT AS YESTERDAY by Nancy Price; 1948, a dream of being sacrificed
Our gods demand sacrifices. I let Mother mutilate me so I'd be unfit. But the priests turn out to be blind...
CAUTION: YOU CAN FEEL PAIN IN DREAMS
CHASM by Nancy Price; 1948, a telepathic nightmare.
The scenery's so lovely my mother's lured over a cliff! As I wake in my flat, someone dies of a fall out a nearby window...
DEAD OR ALIVE? by Nancy Price; 1948, a surreal, poetic dream from the borderzone
Troutmet the moon-pigeon, Burtra the blackbird, a talking acacia, and my dead dad and gardener give me afterworld-advice...
EXPERIMENT WITH TIME by Nancy Price; 1948, a shamanic-initiation dream declined?
I meet a girl who's 16 and 61, who tells me dreams are lives, not messages. But then I must fly over a sinister parade...
THE EYE by Nancy Price; 1948, a nightmare of resisting torture
A staring Eye tries to break me, though his birds rebel in sympathy. But the cats and robots flay me. Yet I refuse to die...
THE FEARFUL INSECT by Nancy Price; 1948, an episodic circular nightmare unified by a leitmotif
A bug with a horse-skull face reappears in scene after scene of this dream of sabotage and betrayal. I only know I feared it...
FILM STARS by Nancy Price; 1948, a surreal predictive/diagnostic dream
I'm a film actress, but the producer isn't happy with my legs, so make-up takes them away to be redone...
FOUR WHO COULD ONLY GET HALF-WAY by Nancy Price; 1948, a frustration-dream with deep advice
I'm one of four mediocrities: all our efforts come to nought. My mother says "You're netted, but you can fray the ropes...
HAIL AND FAREWELL by Nancy Price; 1947/6/6, a revenant dream-message
A dying colleague haunts me all night. He says "crossings are often unpleasant" but death's not bad...
I AM A BIRD by Nancy Price; 1948, a dream of another life... well, two.
I live as a small falcon, glad I'm no longer human. But when that life ends...
JUMBLE by Nancy Price; 1948, a comically exaggerated predictive dream
A bewildering dream of a boy's borrowed bath, absconding renters' furniture and fly-eating turns real a few weeks later...
LET THERE BE LIGHT by Nancy Price; 1948, a nightmare of helplessness
Snakebite! I'm hooked to a health-monitor. If a red light comes on, I'm doomed. But voices start whispering...
NO TRAVELER RETURNS by Nancy Price; 1948/2/2, a predictive dream
I don't love my husband, so I'm stranded in the hotel between life & death, from which...
THE OTHER ROOM by Nancy Price; 1948, a predictive dream
A writer I haven't seen for 40 years gives me a drink, but all I want is to find my mom in The Other Room...
RED LIGHT by Nancy Price; 1948, a predictive dream of the past!
I'm in my home town, but at two times at once! Murderous boys explain why: I died here in 1861...
SABOTAGED BOAT: by C. G. "Chinese" Gordon; c.1861-4, a recurrent warning dream
I recognized the saboteur. If I had neglected that dream warning I and probably all the men with me must have been drowned...
SNOW by Nancy Price; 1948, a false-waking dream about living vs survival
Lost in the snow, I must either give my baby to a stranger or let my dad put him in a box, safe, forever...
SONG by Nancy Price; Nov. or Dec. 1948, a transcendent music dream
Numb, sunk in a trance, I only woke when I broke through a wall to light and magical birdsong...
STRANGE AUDITION: by Nancy Price; 1948, a predictive theatre-dream
All the actors auditioning for Shaw's play are weird mixtures of human, avian, and bestial. And Shaw's in the balcony, listening...
TAWNY OWL by Nancy Price; April 1948, a dream of muses
On the road with a poet and a philosopher, I insist we rescue an owl. But we get lost, and the poet turns into...
TENNIS UNDER STRANGE CIRCUMSTANCES by Nancy Price; 1948, a frustrating dream-farce with a warning
Our tennis game's spoiled by rubber rackets, fierce grandmas, Good and Evil (those identical twins) and a bully on stilts...
TROUT BECK by Nancy Price; summer 1933, an aerial comic dream-epic
I'm carried off by a crane, to meet birdfish, singing sheep, fell-spirits, mad shopkeepers and devil-bulls...
THE WHEEL by Nancy Price; 1948, a dream of future shock.
Lost in an industrial maze, my memories hopelessly out of date, I resign myself to be bound to the Wheel...
WINGS by Nancy Price; 1948, two bird-people dreams, one psychic
I have a long chat with two talking songbirds. Next I'm a parrot, living in rainforest. And then the mail comes...


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