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In Search of the Shared Dream:
A Case History
Art by Edmund Blair Leighton
April 1991 provided us with another interesting example.  Joyce called to tell me of a dream in which she had boated in the Florida sunset and taken a magic carpet ride with me over the Sunshine State.  We paid especial attention to a railroad track.  At the end the scene switched to a room where she found me reading a picture book containing illustrations of creatures reminding her of the goblins in the movie Labyrinth.  The brightly colored cover depicted a creature reminiscent of the flying "luck dragon" of another fantasy film, The Neverending Story, which like the other she had recently viewed on videotape.  While Joyce eagerly tried to tell me, in her dream, about her exciting experiences, my character explained that none of the foregoing adventure had been genuine, but merely caused by my reading it in the book.
Goblin from Labyrinth
Falkor from The Neverending Story
Now this was interesting, because although I was awake at the time of this dream (6:00 AM), so shared dreaming was out of the question, I was in fact reading a book of that description: Piers Anthony and Jody Lynn Nye's Visual Guide to Xanth (Avon Books 1989).  The cover features a tusked ogre with a face as ugly as that of the dragon in the movie my niece had seen, and the interior contains drawings of Xanth's fantasy world inhabitants, none of whom, however, particularly resonated with her when she leafed through it.  She had also pictured the book as taller and thinner than mine, but noted that the blue and yellow on the jacket of that were like what she had seen.  Moreover, Piers Anthony designed Xanth to match the outline of Florida, its most salient geographical feature is a chasm paralleling a real railroad cut -- I had read the paragraph dealing with this topic twice -- and its dwellers travel on magic carpets.
The book Janice was reading
Before everyone gets all excited, it should be pointed out that the above occurrence, while it might be highly suggestive of psychic contact to some, is easily explainable as a case of dream generation by similar inspiration.  I had told Joyce of a dream for a Lucidity Institute experiment in which a girl reminding me of her had ridden with me on a magic carpet.  We had two years before flown in a conventional aircraft to Florida and gone boating there.   The creatures of the popular fantasy genre do tend to look similar, and The Neverending Story includes the motif of a magic book, reading which transports the young hero into another world where the events described in the book are happening.
So I'm afraid I maintain a skeptical attitude towards paranormal explanations for dream congruencies.  I am not so hardnosed, though, as to require absolute undeviating correspondence as evidence of shared dreaming; if such things really do occur then surely discrepancies from the participants' subjective perceptions would arise, as indeed they arise in describing shared experiences in waking reality, as anyone dealing with witnesses to a crime can attest.  Some would say that because dreamers might not recognize each other due to such subjective distortions, such reciprocity could occur more often than one would suspect.  As a counterpoint I'd have to mention that there have been other cases in my experience that seemed like surefire candidates for shared dreams at the time then proved to be fabrications because the other party represented did not in fact have a related dream.  Of course then I'd be told that people don't usually remember most of their dreams, and that time runs differently in the dream world anyway.  Ah, well, can't argue with that .... :)
Despite numerous trials I never succeeded in even coming close to sharing a dream's dramatis personae, conversation and theme with the avid lucid dreamers known to me only by correspondence, or noticed any similarities between my dreams and my husband's when he tells them to me.  All too often in my correspondence I have seen people eager to put forward the case for psychic contact on the slimmest of evidence.  I feel the whole issue requires further study and experimentation with an open mind -- including being open to discrediting it.
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