Ask Me! The Sacredness of Recurring Dreams

I received a question from a dreamer about recurring dreams. What are they, why do we have them, what do we do about them. I love exploring recurring dreams, because there are many ways to work with them and they are very rich.

As I have been writing about recurring dreams this week [where they come from, why they come, how to be in relationship with them], I am intensely aware of the time of year. For Christians dreamers, this is “Holy Week”, for Jewish dreamers, this is Pesach or Passover, for Celtic, Druid dreamers, this is the time of the spring equinox [the equinox has passed, but it is the time of year.]

These traditions carry, at the heart of the stories, the process of freedom and rebirth. In Pesach, the people are emancipated, freed from enslavement under the Egyptians, and are led out of the land of bondage by their leader. During holy week, the lead teacher is “freed” from the bonds of the body and of death [the resurrection] and, in the process, serves as sacrificial lamb, freeing his people from what the organization calls “sin”. During spring equinox, there is a unique balance in the world, which is also awakening and transitioning from the wintering time. Rebirth.

Freedom. Rebirth. Stories.

Also, underlying the Christian celebration, of course, are all the traditions of religions that came before Christianity, that Christianity worked [works] to suppress [not just Judaism]. We hide and search for eggs, we have the “easter bunny”, we invoke ancient rituals [more ancient than Christianity] of rebirth and fecundity, of spring. Of freedom – release from the wintering into the time of newness and spring.

Freedom. Rebirth. Stories.

Every year, the stories are celebrated, the stories are lived, moved through, experienced, taught as reminders. Every year, we ritualize the stories. It is a practice to connect people to ancestors [even unconsciously], to traditions, to beliefs and faith.

During Pesach, the stories are told. During holy week, the stories are told. During equinox, the stories are told. Relived.


In Cincinnati, where I grew up, there is a tradition during Holy Week which still touches me, that I think of every year, even though I have not lived in Ohio since my late 20s.

Cincinnati is called the city of seven hills because it does actually have seven hills that crowd the banks of the unruly Ohio River. On one of those hills called Mt. Adams, perched sharply above downtown, sits Holy Cross Immaculata Church, with a precarious set of stairs leading down toward the river on the steepest side of the hill.

Every year, on Good Friday, there is a tradition of “praying the steps” – pilgrims from all around the area come and slowly climb each of the 96 steps, pausing on each stair to pray [some pray on the rosary, some have their own prayers]. It is an all day event, leading to an evening service those who want to attend. Most years [sans pandemic], the pilgrims are offered water and food at the top [donuts or fish sandwiches] and the chance to confess.

I love this tradition and often went to the church as witness. Standing at the top of the stairs, all the people [hundreds of them] quiet in their personal prayers, quiet in their personal conversation with their faith and their god. People of all ages – from the elderly to older children.

Quiet and quite eerie, too, for the spring weather in the Ohio valley is notoriously unpredictable. Often with wind whipping at the people, their heads bowed.

I love this tradition because it is so personal. Devotional. Personally devotional. People bowed inward, praying on the day their “Christ” “sacrificed” himself for them.


Which brings me back to recurring dreams.

Just as we engage in sacred stories and traditions every year to strengthen ties to ancestors and community; just as we retell/relive stories through religious/spiritual traditions; just as retell/relive cultural stories over and over again [think Fourth of July, think Memorial Day, think Labor Day]; just as we retell/relive immigrant stories over and over again; just as we even retell/relive family stories [think of those handful of stories that are always told about you and/or your siblings at family gatherings] – so our dreams work with telling/retelling and literally having us relive stories.

It is part of how we learn. Part of who we are. We are storied beings.

And more – it is part of the sacredness of story. Our dreams bring us personalized sacred stories [and yes, even/especially, the scary ones], for us to step into our personalized sacred path, healing and spiritual challenges.

To find what devotion means for us.

To find what blocks and keeps us from our devotion.

To find where we have offered devotion, inadvertently, in ways not aligned with who we are.

To return to the question of devotion so we can define it for ourselves.

Through story. Through the repetition of story.


And a word about devotion. What I mean by this word does not have to be attached to a religion or even a spirituality, though it can be. I mean a broader context of the word – finding how to be devoted in all that we are and that we believe in. Social justice, family, religion, creativity. Whatever it is that carries passion for us.

So, we dream in the same way we practice in our waking world – we dream recurring dreams, we dream recurring places, we dream recurring motifs and stories.  Our dreams offer our own devotional path, our own path through what we must go through to find ourselves.

The same way we work with stories in our waking lives.