"Witches, the House, and
Grief: Developing and Avoiding Lucid Dreaming"
D'Urso, Beverly (Kedzierski Heart)
Paper at the Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD)
Conference 2003, Berkeley, CA, June, 2003 (Available as an
audio tape from ASD at
I discuss how I used my childhood recurring nightmares to develop
lucidity, and how these dreams changed after a period of intense grief,
when I initially decided to avoid lucid dreaming. My "grief dreams",
with various levels of lucidity, demonstrate how my grief evolved in
stages from denial to acceptance
This paper focusses on my lifelong development of 'lucid dreaming'
(knowing that you dream while dreaming) and its role during a period of
intense grief, in which my recurring dreams evolved. As a young child,
I had recurring nightmares of scary 'witches' coming from the closet of
my childhood home. I learned to dream lucidly and face up to these
witches, after reminding myself that they only came in dreams.
These witch dreams have gone through many transformations during
my life. In the 70's, I looked for the witches of my childhood in a
dream and they appeared as harmless little old ladies. In the 80's, I
thought of them as my 'creative power' and began to lead lucid dreaming
workshops and groups. I noticed that the witch drama appeared in my
waking life as well. In 1994, doctors gave me terrible odds against
having a child. So, I looked for the witches in a lucid dream and
brought them into my uterus. Within a year, I got pregnant with my son.
I also had recurring dreams of my childhood home. In these
dreams, my parents no longer lived there or something seemed 'out of
place.' For a long time, I hated these dreams. Eventually, I learned to
use them as 'clues' to get lucid. Once lucid, I could face other fears,
heal myself emotionally or just have fun, I would fly, visit places,
people, or time periods, and generally 'do the impossible.' Most of my
life, I have had several dreams a night, with various degrees of
At eighteen, my best friend died. For years, I practiced using
lucidity to relate to 'her' in my dreams. By the time my father died in
1992, I had perfected my skills, Seeing 'him' in a dream, and knowing
that he died, would cause me to get lucid and interact with 'him' in
ways I could no longer do in my waking life.
In 2000, I had the biggest challenge of my life when my mother
had a sudden, massive stroke and never regained consciousness. I had to
make the decision to take her off life support. She died on Christmas
morning. During her hospital coma, I used all of my dreams to support
her, as well as myself.
In the following months, seeing 'her' in a dream, with the
knowledge that she had died, which I have when lucid, caused me pain. I
didn't want to remember that she died. I preferred simple dreams of her
acting alive, while I remained in denial of her death. Therefore, I
decided I didn't want lucid dreams for a while.
At each stage of my grief, these non-lucid dreams of my mother
evolved. First, I dreamed of her and I doing our usual activities. I
could have enjoyed these dreams if I didn't have to feel such shock
when I woke up and remembered that she had indeed died. Next, I started
dreaming that my mother did not die after all. Then, I had dreams in
which she had died, but mysteriously came back to life. I didn't
question this in the dreams. Little by little, I took the knowledge of
her death into my dreams and began to explain it to other dream
characters. Finally, after explaining my mother's death to my 'father'
in a dream, I was able to interact with my 'mother' and actually
discuss her death. At this point, I had a significant degree of
lucidity, and my dreams felt more comfortable and sometimes
My 'house' dreams got very disturbing during my grief period
while I did not dream lucidly, and while renters actually lived in my
childhood home. However, by the time I finally decided to sell the
house, I could comfortably visit it in semi-lucid dreams. The week the
house sale closed, I had a lucid dream where the witches found me. I
surrendered to them and felt integrated, as they drew 'me' under the
bedroom closet door where they originated. Currently, I continue my
quest to live my life, as well as my dreams, as lucidly as possible.