“A procession of the damned.
By the damned, I mean the excluded.
We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.”
–Charles Fort, “The Book Of The Damned”
This is a story about two dreams I had that seemingly came true to a very specific degree.
I am not saying they were precognitive dreams. We can simply call them “coincidences.” We can call them whatever we’d like. It’s just a matter of semantics, really.
But: even if they are such things as meaningless coincidences, I feel we can’t just toss them into our own personal memory holes, stick them in the bin where the dissonant memories that potentially threaten our tenuously constructed sense of reality go.
I believe: this needs to be faced directly. There’s no more pussyfooting around regarding this. I’m too old to be coy about this bullshit any longer.
That said: as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I suffer from acute anxiety. I have PTSD. Having dreams about sometimes-terrible things that later come true to an astonishing degree does not help my PTSD.
Plus: as you might have already guessed, I also have a lot of dreams that are straight-up “classic” anxiety nightmares. How do I tell the difference between these different types of nocturnal narratives? It’s taken years of practice and research, and I still don’t feel I’ve completely got a handle on it.
My solution, at this point in my life? Don’t remember my dreams.
I mean…I still will occasionally write down a dream here and there; but only if they seem reasonably positive, or not really connected to me personally. But back 20 years ago, I used to record them nearly every night. I have thousands of recorded dreams. And then a bunch of transcripts from meditations, and etc.. I am positively drowning in this material. And I guess I’m just trying to find a good use for the detritus from this creepy lifetime hobby.
Anyway…let’s start with the first dream, which I had almost exactly four years ago on March 26, 2015.
I. THE OWL AND THE SUSHI PARK
Early in the morning of that day, right before waking fully, I had what is known as a “hypnogogic” dream. It was a lot more vivid than an ordinary dream, and it almost felt as if I was really awake. In this dream, I heard a male voice plainly say: “there will be an explosion in New York City today.”
I was very concerned about this dream when I woke up shortly after; I gripped my husband’s arm in bed and told him of it. Though I telecommuted half the week, I was indeed scheduled in be in the City that day for a meeting. He assured me I had nothing to worry about, as it was just a dream, and so I went to my meeting. Ending at around lunchtime, I had a relieved trip back to my home; looking at the buildings of Canal Street at my train sped by, I sighed and smiled. No “explosion” took place.
When I got home, my husband was sitting in the living room couch waiting for me, laptop by his side. He looked grim. He asked me,
“Have you seen the news yet?”
Because apparently, an explosion did happen in the city that day, perhaps around the very same time I sighed in relief on my way home.
A freak accident in a sushi restaurant, which killed two people, injured many more and ended up destroying a good portion of the storefronts on that side of the block. The cause was attributed to an illegal tap into a gas main.
And so here was my coincidence: on the same day I heard a dream-voice tell me that there was going to be an explosion in the city, there was an explosion in the city.
But I could not hop to conclusions. For, as we know, that is the way straight to Chapel Perilous territory.
First of all, it could have been a genuine bonafide coincidence that the content of the dream would have “matched” the situation that followed. There is nothing to invalidate that possibility. I’ve previously had both regular and hypnogogic dreams featuring scenarios that did not come true the next day, or a week later, or ever.
So it could have been that it was just a random combination of the dream and the real-world event—one that nonetheless I attached importance and meaning to, because it felt “weird.”
Second, it is possible that the dream absolutely was referencing the real-world event. But if that was the case…then what was the nature of said strange occurrence? And, more importantly: what was the point?
Was the voice in the dream “God?” If so, what was the nature of this god, and its motivation? Because if it was truly a benevolent deity, shouldn’t this warning have been given to people who were genuinely in the position to prevent the disaster? What the hell could I have done? Why “tell” me?
And here, I cannot help but think of John Keel, of Mothman Prophecies fame, and the messages of doom he received in 1967 leading up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Ohio. To even begin to recount Keel’s story would take a separate post, but for right now I’m again simply asking: why? What good did these messages do if he couldn’t prevent the tragedies?
Of note, Keel concluded that such experiences could very well lead to Chapel Perilous—to assumptions, false beliefs, and even manipulation by other people (or entities). He said, “Belief is the enemy.” One could easily become obsessed by the entire incident.
And so: perhaps it is better to take a more psychoanalytic approach.
What did the dream/event intersection mean to me personally? As G. K. Chesterson said, “Coincidences are spiritual puns.”
Well, the restaurant in which the explosion took place, Sushi Park, was one I actually visited a lot in my 20s. I only have fond memories of it. Most of the other places I used the frequent in that area are long gone—and so this felt like that last bit literally being destroyed.
Sarah Larson remembers the block—and one of its most famous tenants—in her The New Yorker post “The East Village Fire: Love Saves The Day”:
One of the losses yesterday made an earlier loss more final: that of Love Saves the Day, an ur-East Village establishment whose closing, in 2009, made way for Ramen & Robatayaki. Love Saves the Day, your one-stop vintage shop and pop-style kitsch mart, was the place to buy things like a bust of Pee-wee Herman, or to relive your favorite scenes from “Desperately Seeking Susan”—it was where Madonna swapped her pyramid jacket for rhinestone boots in that movie, and consequently, for some of us, it was the kind of place you’d shop at when you grew up and moved to New York. After it closed on Second Avenue, it moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania, and sometimes you’d see a funky van with “Love Saves the Day” painted on it parked in the neighborhood. Its departure felt meaningful, like the end of an era, and now its building is gone.
On a slightly more esoteric note, if I move further back that day, there was the fact that a very weird-looking temporary art installation was standing right in front of the building where I had my meeting:
It was a tall owl. I don’t know why, but I snapped a picture of it before I stepped in. It felt “omen-like.” But of course, that is possibly me again ascribing meaning to what may not intrinsically have any.
And then at the meeting itself, one of the last things we looked at on the screen was a series of crafts based on…making fake sushi.
That job ended up being a really, truly shitty job, too. Catastrophically bad. It seemed like a steady gig at a respectable company, but they ended up owing me like $4k and I had to threaten to sue months later to get all of it. In the meantime, I had my electric shut off and almost got evicted because of the unexpected financial crisis this all plunged me into.
So if we take the “this was some sort of warning about my life” approach, the dream (and the creepy tall owl) was sort of cautioning me that this great job I thought I had was going to go bust. That, plus the nostalgia over a time in my life in which (and it’s coming to me as I write this) I felt much more “in touch” with my true life’s calling.
Because it turned out, that job wasn’t right for me. I tried to make something work that would never ultimately work because that job was Martha Stewart and I was John Keel. (<–wow, the story of my fucking life in a goddamn nutshell.)
I write all this, and it gives me some closure and comfort. This thing that happened four years ago…that flat, accentless, almost “computer”-sounding voice in my dream…it’s haunted me.
So maybe I can finally put this all behind me, now.
But two things.
One: I’ve just used a tragedy to score some “self-realization” points for myself, and I’m the first person to recognize that this is kind of shitty. Maybe the whole meaning of that dream, and the explosion, was: for fuck’s sake, people died! People lost their homes! Fucking meditate with your fucking mala beads you bought on Amazon.com on the fact that people fucking died!!!
Second: I haven’t been 100% honest with you. I’ve been like, instead…93% honest. 86% honest.
In particular, it’s this statement:
I’ve had both regular and hypnogogic dreams featuring scenarios that did not come true the next day, or a week later, or ever.
That’s largely true for me at present. But in the 1990, when I was in my twenties…I had a lot of precognitive dreams. And especially if it was a hypnogogic dream? Very likely to happen.
And so I go back to the person I was when I used to go to that restaurant. That creepy young woman with a shopping bag full of books and magazines on horror movies and the paranormal and conspiracies. That person who would have most certainly visited “Love Saves The Day” (which I kept inexplicably calling “Happiness Isn’t Too Hard To Find”) before sitting down with a friend at Sushi Park.
And I go back to the owl…
Interesting coincidence about owls…
Did you know that some speculate the sightings of Keel’s Mothman were really that of owls?
The objects and apparitions do not necessarily originate on another planet and may not even exist as permanent constructions of matter. It is more likely that we see what we want to see and interpret such visions according to our contemporary beliefs.
II. THE WALLET
On June 8th, 2017 I had a vivid dream that a man stepped out of a subway car just as the doors were closing; he dropped his wallet in the train, and I picked it up. It was a black wallet, which contained some money (but not a lot of it); an ID, a number of papers, and a folded-up white watch. The man was somebody maybe in his 30s-early 40s with blond hair and a beard, and blue eyes; part of his name incorporates “Bruno Borges” in it—who was the missing Brazilian man whose story I had been following for a couple of months up to that point.
That evening, I had the sudden inspiration to go out to the local 7-Eleven with my husband to purchase ice-cream. On the way out, I saw that a package containing a book on Philip K. Dick and synchroncities—one I contributed to—was waiting for me by the front door. I would pick it up on my way back.
As we left the 7-Eleven, there was a black wallet sitting on the pavement of the parking lot.
We picked it up and looked for contact information. The wallet only had a little bit of money, and some folded-up paperwork. The man on the ID looked nothing like the man from my dream.
We contacted the guy, and waited in the parking lot for him to run over and pick up the wallet. He was totes happy, thanked us profusely, and then we were on our way.
Now let’s examine this:
First, there is the possibility that I have made this all up, and am an unreliable narrator. I did have a witness to the fact that I had the wallet dream that morning, because I showed my journal to my husband as soon as I came home & there would have been no way I could have had time to write that dream entry out. (he was creeped out, by the way, though he’s also grown kind of used to it)
We then arrive at the question: couldn’t this have all been one big coincidence?
Dreaming of wallets and of losing things is not super-unusual. These are both very common dream-symbols. And people losing things (and running into things people have lost) is also something pretty commonplace. We just passed by someone’s lost keys hung on a fence like a week ago or less.
FURTHER: the man in my dream and the man who lost the wallet in real life were completely different. And the locations were completely different: a subway train vs. the parking lot of 7-Eleven.
FURTHER FURTHER: I had already written out an interpretation of the dream that morning, based on symbols that were relevant to me personally. I did not consider this to be a literal “future events” dream. In fact, I felt pretty certain that the “case” on that dream was “closed.”
Complicating matters was the timing of the arrival Philip K. Dick book—a book completely about the topic of synchronicity, foretelling events, and so on. And a book that I personally had a couple of articles on synchronicity in.
Lastly, there is a whole other synchronistic aspect to this story—from the perspective of the young man who lost his wallet.
This man was a student of meager income who was traveling and was scheduled to leave on a bus back home soon. Had he not gotten back his wallet, he would have been out of money but also out of a bus ticket + his ID.
He was fortunate that only minutes after he dropped the wallet and had left the 7-Eleven parking lot, we walked by and found the wallet. That wallet—or, at least the cash and possibly the ATM card inside if it—would not have lasted very long in that parking lot in that neighborhood on 9:00 PM on a Friday night.
One could even say that had we not decided, on the spur-of-the-moment, to step out to get ice-cream (something we usually would not do so late), this man might have lost his wallet for good.
If we think of a theory such as the Butterfly Effect, it is very possible that our decision not to go out and buy the ice cream might have resulted in him not losing his wallet…or even going to that 7-Eleven.
In the end, the only real “meaning” I can glean from this incident is what meaning I attach to it. Was it something “special?” Was it a coincidence? Was this all a “cosmic giggle” (to paraphrase Terence McKenna) designed to attract my attention to the PKD book and the subject of synchronicity in general? Is there still meaning attached to the initial dream that exists outside of the actual real-life incident?
And is the “thought” or chain of events attached to the dream/real-life intersection finally “over”?
III. EMMA AND ELVIN
One method that I’ve used over the years to cope with having such bizarre experiences is writing. Because you can’t really discuss this type of stuff with your therapist, unless you have a “cool therapist.” You can’t really discuss this type of stuff with co-workers or people you don’t know super-well, because they either think you’re a nutter right off the bat, or they do believe you and think you are creepy and cursed and stay the fuck away from you.
But writing is great, because then I can just discuss a lot of bizarre shit that I’ve witnessed or experienced, and just chalk it up to “fiction” and everything is cool. I am far from the first author to take this route (by the time PKD got to VALIS he just said “fuck it” 1/3 into the novel and was like “this is real life”).
So by the time I got to the point in my career where I was asked to write X-Men character Emma Frost’s origin story…
Now, pretty much most females who write superhero comic book stories are accused at one point or another of basically scripting “Mary Sue fan-fiction”…the idea being, that they are incapable of writing “serious” comic books (and that certainly, no man ever crafted a wish-fulfilling “Matty Sue” superhero story EVER).
But truth be told, I very consciously injected some of my own experiences—however represented in a fantastically hyperbolic way—into that comic, because at that point I could see that my options in the business were very limited anyhow & I just wanted to do something that would give me my own private “chuckle.” An in-joke to myself, reproduced thousands and thousands of times in print and digital using the iconography of one of the most popular superhero brands of all-time.
I even made sure the artist drew her to look like me.
Per Grant Morrison in his classic essay Pop Magic!:
The “hypersigil” or “supersigil” develops the sigil concept beyond the static image and incorporates elements such as characterization, drama and plot. The hypersigil is a sigil extended through the fourth dimension. My own comic book series The Invisibles was a six-year long sigil in the form of an occult adventure story, which consumed and recreated my life during the period of its composition and execution. The hypersigil is an immensely powerful and sometimes dangerous method for actually altering reality in accordance with intent. Results can be remarkable and shocking.
After becoming familiar with the traditional sigil method, see if you can create your own hypersigil. The hypersigil can take the form of a poem, a story, a song, a dance or any other extended artistic activity you wish to try. This is a newly developed technology so the parameters remain to be explored. It is important to become utterly absorbed in the hypersigil as it unfolds; this requires a high degree of absorption and concentration (which can lead to obsession but so what? You can always banish at the end) like most works of art. The hypersigil is a dynamic miniature model of the magician’s universe, a hologram, microcosm or “voodoo doll” which can be manipulated in real time to produce changes in the macrocosmic environment of “real” life.
Of course…when a female comic book writer does it, it’s a “Mary Sue”…when Morrison does it, he’s a fantastic wizard.
But I’m not here to bust balls. I’m here to break bread and chew bubblegum.
Well, my comic book writing career didn’t last super long, so I just turned to writing my own books. In 2016’s ELVIN, I tried to exorcise the “demons” I felt about the “Owl And The Sushi Park” dream that began this article:
And so one morning, I woke up to my left hand on fire.
I shit you not: the hand was on fucking fire.
My husband, woken up by my screams (and possibly also the stench of a hand on fire), immediately grabbed our blue blanket into his arms and smothered my limb, pushing me down on the bed in the process.
The fire out, myself in a state of shock, I would not let him look under the blanket at the damage; but rather, bundled the blanket around my arm, drawing back from him.
And then I spat out, before I knew what I was thinking:
“YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH, YOU SET MY HAND ON FIRE!”
Understandably taken aback by the accusation, he proceeded to fling one in my direction:
“HOLD ON! You must have set your own arm on fire.”
“I fucking DID NOT!”
“Then how did this happen?!”
“How did I set it on fire?”
“With matches, a lighter…I don’t know!”
“Do you see any of that here?”
He craned his head to take a cursory look around the room.
“No…but you could have done it in another room and then came here.”
“But why would I even DO that?”
“Because…you’re just in a stressful time, right now.”
“Why don’t you just say that I’m crazy, then? I mean, that’s what you really want to say.”
“I never said…we really need to take a look at that and go to the hospital.”
“Just as crazy as the explosion? That I told you about before it happened?”
My husband made a motion to pull the blanket away from my arm, but I sharply drew back from him.
“That was PROOF, honey…you doubted all the other times, told me I could have written down the predictions after the fact and lied…but that was 100% genuine proof!”
And then that’s when he suddenly shook me.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT, A COOKIE?”
“Whether it’s true or not isn’t the point! Don’t you get it through your thick skull? Yes! I do believe what happened was some sort of unexplainable event. But what good does that do you, me or anybody else?!” He continued shaking me, the blanket around my arm loosening. “These things happen all the time…probably far often than we think! But that doesn’t make them less dangerous!”
“T-they could be used for good, though! To…solve crimes!”
“And you think that’s really going to happen? What it’s going to really be used for, assuming it’s something not completely beyond the control and comprehension of other human beings?!”
He finally stopped shaking me. The blanket had fell away. My hand seemed fine, other than having the appearance of a very slight sunburn.
We had both seen this: the fire. And now it was gone, barely leaving a trace behind.
My husband took my left hand in his own and squinted down to examine it. And then he said, in a far softer tone than he was just previously using:
“This is why the best thing you can do with this stuff is forget it happened.”
“Consider it forgotten.”
Thank you for reading, and have a great day.