The Dream Oracle
Scientific Paper
Further Evaluation
The Authors


Dr Keith Hearne (BSc MSc PhD) & David F. MelbourneABSTRACT

In this initial study, sixteen subjects (8m,8f) demonstrated the efficiency of a new method that has been devised for obtaining significant communications from the unconscious through the medium of dreams, using an imposed set of meanings based on an alphabetic code (i.e. A= Avarice, B= Brevity, C= Consequence, D= Divinity, etc) with several possible aspects of each key word.

The subjects simply read the alphabetic code meanings before sleep (the first of six possible 'incubation' levels to enhance psychological expectation). Within days, and usually on the first night, each of the subjects experienced a dream in which a particular letter of the alphabet was apparent because : most of the objects in the dream began with that specific letter ; the letter appeared directly, visually, in the dream ; or the sound of the letter was spoken in some way by a dream character (as a single letter or the initial letter of several words). An automatic process awoke the dreamer immediately after the letter presentation.

On waking, subjects again consulted the alphabetic list and found a link between an aspect of the alphabetic code dream meaning and a current life situation.

Since, in intended use, the new technique involves requesting 'hidden information' on a personal issue, the analogous description The Dream Oracle has been used. Apart from the validity of the method, based on standard psychological premises, the new system also permits the incorporation of paranormal information, in line with long-standing world-wide acceptances and some modern scientific evidence.

The technique may also be used as an aid to becoming 'lucid' in dreams.


There is evidence that we possess a knowledgeable yet submerged or 'unconscious' component to our mind. Before Sigmund Freud drew particular attention to the unconscious, its existence was postulated as the 'hidden self' by William James and the 'subliminal self' by F.W.H. Myers.

Freud (1900, 1961), Jung (eg 1964) and others accepted that the unconscious stored much privileged information about the individual. Sometimes, certain items could be presented in dreams - which if properly interpreted, might be of great usefulness to the dreamer in providing previously unrecognised insights and advice - say, in revealing the true basis of a desire, or warning the dreamer of being too one-sided in nature. Activities of the unconscious mind have also been noticed in dream creativity (Hearne, 1990) and prodromic dreams - of developing illness (Hearne & Melbourne, pending).

The problem with dream interpretation in modern times has been that the different schools have propounded highly disparate explanations of dream events, based on incompatible models. In addition, the discovery of natural, universal effects in dreams, such as the light-switch effect (Hearne, 1981, 1990) and the scene-shift effect (Hearne, 1973, 1990) have confounded recent approaches to dream interpretation and emphasised their inherent limitations.

The very latest, pragmatic, dream interpretation techniques have reverted to the straightforward methods used by the ancients, brought up-to-date with efficient data-gathering (the MHQ questionnaire), listing the dreamer's own personal associations to dream items, and the use of a cross-referencing system (Melbourne & Hearne, 1997).

We were left in the position that we knew that the unconscious held significant and potentially helpful knowledge for us, but that a careful and possibly laborious process of dream interpretation was necessary to correctly uncover the information.

Then, in 1997, dream expert David Melbourne came up with a major and simple new concept on how to receive information from the unconscious through dreams. The idea (which appropriately, came to him in a dream), would impose a new universal language of dreams based on letters of the alphabet. Interpretation would not be necessary.

After a long period of meditation, Melbourne established the 'alphabetic dream code' :

Avarice Ire Quest Yesterday

Brevity Joy Repentance Zen

Consequence Karma Sloth

Divinity Lust Talent

Envy Meditation Understanding

Faith Nature Vanity

Greed Overuse Will

Hope Patience X-ray

Several possible aspects are given for each of these key words. Thus, E= Envy covers straightforward envy in the dreamer, or in others, a necessity to : take stock of a situation ; look for deeper things ; be unpretentious ; consider if one is causing envy in others.

O = Overuse was included as an in-built limitation, should The Dream Oracle be consulted too frequently (overuse also has other aspects).

In proper practice, the user would, apart from taking in the dream alphabet meanings and utilising an incubation level, concentrate on a particular topic that required resolution - say, a problem concerning a relationship, job, project or financial situation.

Early trials showed that the selected letter becomes obvious to the dreamer upon waking - which happens spontaneously immediately after the alphabetic code dream - when it is noticed that virtually all the dream objects begin with the same letter. Alternatively, a large version of the specific letter may suddenly be observed in the dream, or words heard in the dream emphasise the letter.

It soon became abundantly clear that the method worked on anyone with ordinary dream-recall who understood the notion and read the alphabet-code meanings. From a psychological viewpoint Hearne realised that dream incubation techniques might potentiate the new method. The ancient notion of dream incubation - practised at Thebes, Memphis and many other dream temples in the near and middle East - was a way of producing a very powerful expectation effect. The Dream Oracle user therefore utilises one of six levels of increasingly complex incubation - from simply reading the book, through learning the alphabetic code, using cleansing and purifying rituals, to sleeping at a sacred site.

In the new and welcomed, holistic, scientific approach to areas which were previously and unscientifically ignored, erroneous and nave reductionistic ideas have been abandoned. In this new spirit, the ancient wisdom that dreams sometimes contain what we would now term paranormally acquired information, has also been accommodated into The Dream Oracle. Apart from the extensive accumulated historical anecdotal accounts, evidence exists tending to suggest that dream telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition, are real phenomena (Ullman et al, 1970 ; Hearne, 1986, 1989), and so it is accepted as a possibility that some of the information produced by the new technique might originate in a place other than the mind of the dreamer. The possibility is open, and long term experiments should be able to ascertain any such effects.


The full background to the new technique, incubation suggestions, and list of imposed meanings of the alphabetic code are described in the book The Dream Oracle (New Holland publishers, London).

Sixteen persons, who simply reported having dreams, volunteered to be subjects - there were eight males and eight females. They were simply instructed to read the alphabetic code dream meanings thoroughly (level 1 incubation).


Each of the readers of The Dream Oracle started to have dreams in which they noticed many dream objects beginning with the same letter, or the sound of a letter was heard within the dream. In some of the subjects, specific letters were observed, blatantly exposed, within the dream. Here is the first such dream from each of these sixteen volunteers.

Subject 1 :

Male (40s)

'I had to re-write a book in a fortnight, which meant working past midnight, seven days a week. I have a chronic eye condition which is activated by strain. The night I finished - at 3 am - I went to bed and had a vivid dream in which a colleague approached holding out another chapter for inclusion. On the cover-page was a huge letter O, in bold. The surprise woke me up. The message was definitely about my eye-strain. The problem was pinpointed exactly- Overuse. In fact, my eyes became sore for several days.'

Subject 2 :

Female (30s)

'I live on the Isle of Hoy in the Orkneys, and I was one of the first people to try out The Dream Oracle's alphabet-code technique. I was feeling despondent. There is hardly any employment on the island and I had long attempted to make a living as a writer. I thought I was competent but lacked confidence and was about to give up writing. I read the set word-meanings and asked my inner-self for guidance. A dream occurred in which all of a sudden a page of a book was shown to me. A very large letter F, in old Victorian, flowery style, and taking up the whole page, was before my eyes. It was quite a shock and I awoke. Immediately, I thought of The Dream Oracle code. F referred to Faith and that was a very meaningful word to me at that time. It was telling me to have faith in myself, trust in my abilities to succeed and believe in myself. I have since gained much success. My unconscious knew, beforehand, that I could achieve it.'

Subject 3 :

Male (50s)

'Within a few days of reading the alphabetic dream meanings, I had such a dream. It was a vivid, busy, colourful dream. I was at a bus-stop and saw those words clearly. There was a baby with a balloon. I noticed the big breasts of a woman with a large bag. There was a bridge. A bicycle came by . I suddenly woke up and instantly saw the connection of all the different objects. It was the letter B (Brevity)! I looked at The Dream Oracle again and knew that the particular aspect for me was the one about being stuck in a rut. It motivated me to move on !'Subject 4 :

Female (30s)

'I read The Dream Oracle meanings. That night I dreamed the same dream, and awoke from it, three times. I was working in the coffee shop with 16 y.o. Jason, who we call the Boy. We were very busy when suddenly a whole load of bagels turned up. I didn't know what to do. I turned to the Boy and said "Shall we bin these ?" But he said even though we were both really busy we had to put them on sale. So the Boy and I stood there buttering bagels in the busiest period of the day. It was so obvious on waking that the letter B was important. When I read again about B for Brevity, the words jumped out of the page. It mentioned being decisive and not letting another opportunity slip through my fingers. The dream made me decide to go ahead and move into another type of work. Everyone's looking for answers, but this has really worked for me.'

Subject 5 :

Male (50s)

'I simply read the list of alphabet meanings. That night I had

a dream in which I noticed some patio doors. I went inside the building and saw a naked person. My thoughts were 'pink pigs'. The police came and he was taken to prison. I was very conscious when I recalled the dream in the morning, of the number of items and words in my mind during the dream, that began with the letter P (Patience). I could relate well to the message telling me to be patient. It was unusual because I don't normally '

Subject 6 :

Female (30s)

'The first night after having read The Dream Oracle, I had a dream in which I was in a car, in the countryside looking for somewhere to sleep. I couldn't make out whether the ground was grass or a crop. The thought was that of it was a crop I shouldn't be sleeping on it. There was a chance I would be caught. In the end I went back to the car. I had a cat with me - a neighbour's cat named Champas. I had to leave it, and even though it seemed cruel, I put him in a plastic carrier bag.

The scene then changed and I was in a restaurant with my mother. She was complaining that I wouldn't eat ham. I think she said I only ate Muslim meat. Elmira was there (when I hear the name Elmira outside the dream, the emphasis is always on the 'mir' because it means both 'peace' and 'world' in Russian). I woke when I saw a man I nearly had a fling with.

It seemed clear to me on waking that the letters C (Consequence) and M (Meditation) had both been presented to me in the dream. Both letters were meaningful to me because of decisive circumstances in my life.'

Subject 7 :

Male (50s)

'I attended a talk given by Dr Hearne. He read out a

shortened list of dream alphabet-meanings. That night I had a dream in which I was in a cave. I was thinking 'this is crass'. I came out of my body and then saw several chairs dancing. I thought 'I must tell Carol' (I don't even know a Carol). Then I woke suddenly and immediately understood that the letter communicated was C for Consequence. In fact, I realised that the dream was important and next day went through my list of projects and made various adjustments. Definitely, The Dream Oracle worked well.'

Subject 8 :

Female (40s)

'I read The Dream Oracle meanings. That night I had a dream in which I was in a boat on the ocean, and the word ocean went through my mind. I saw an octopus, and then I fell overboard. My husband was looking over the side at me. He said "The onus is on you to get yourself out of this one." Then I woke up. It was so obvious to me that the letter O was being repeatedly given to me. The Dream Oracle meaning was Overuse. It fitted precisely. I had been really overdoing things. It was a timely warning.'

Subject 9 :

Male (30s)

'I had a vivid dream I which I saw a copper (policeman), a lot of Chinese people around, and a cow. I instantly woke up then and could see that it was an alphabet dream. It was Consequence. I instinctively knew the topic and when I went into work that day things happened as a result of previous circumstances. In a sense I was prepared because of the dream.'

Subject 10 :

Female (30s)

'Very shortly after reading the book, I was in a dream in which I was in a bar, drinking Sangria in my dream (something I would never drink in reality). I went into a corridor and saw stacks and stacks of sugar. Then someone came and took some of the sugar up the staircase. I seemed to be aware of several things beginning with the letter S. Then I woke up. When I later recalled that S meant Sloth, it had a definite link for me, because I have had a long-lasting problem with procrastination.'

Subject 11 :

Male (50s)

'I read through The Dream Oracle meanings. A couple of weeks later I had a clear dream in which I kept seeing salt and sodium chloride. I woke from the dream and thought at once that it was an alphabet meaning. Later, I looked up the meanings and saw the connection. S was for Sloth. I had been putting off a major repair job about the house. I decided there and then to get on with it, so went out and bought the materials.'

Subject 12 :

Female (20s)

'I read The Dream Oracle text for the first time, and went to bed 'incubating' a helpful dream on the topic of an ongoing financial problem. That night I was walking along a pavement and I saw a man coming towards me. Suddenly, he stepped out in front of me and said "I". I reacted by saying the same thing back to him - then I woke up immediately.

It was clear to me that it was an Oracle letter. I re-read what the Oracle said about Ire and realised that the money situation had made me very angry - although I had not really been aware of that. I can see that I need to channel that negative feeling in a more positive way.'

Subject 13 :

Male (50s)

'My dream happened the night after I'd read the alphabet meanings. Someone was saying the word 'Why' to me over and over. I woke in a state of confusion but then realised that it was the letter 'Y' (Yesterday). It was a touching communication from my unconscious because I have dwelt too much on the past and become depressed. The message, I can see clearly, is encouraging me to turn away from past events and look forward to the future. The message is unequivocal and highly important from a deep and understanding part of me.'

Subject 14 :

Female (80s)

'I had read The Dream Oracle and had an alphabet-code dream soon afterwards, but forgot about it. Then I was asked to incubate a dream. I went to bed, concentrating on the low self-esteem that I had been feeling lately. I had a dream in which I was in a dining-room, with a large dining-table. There was a dog in the room. Dave came through the door. The dog came up to me and then I woke up. It was very obvious to me on waking that the letter D abounded in the various images. Divinity is of particular significance to me at this time, since one of my daughters has terminal cancer. It all tied in with my feelings of inadequacy.'

Subject 15 :

Male (--s)

'I had my first results with the Dream Oracle without really trying. I never asked a question, but I had been reading the book just before going to sleep, so was no doubt suitably programmed. The dream was undoubtedly a 'B' (Brevity) dream as it featured a flashing neon sign with 'Bar-diner' written on it, a Baseball ground with a particular reference to a Baseball Bat I was using, and another main impression of a Black dog, The colour seemed to be the important element.'

Subject 16 :

Female (30s)

'After becoming familiar with the dream-code, I had a dream that night in which someone was loudly and repeatedly saying the letter 'T'. I woke at once. T stands for Talent. I have for some time felt that I have not been achieving what I am capable of. I know my unconscious was telling me strongly to become aware of my potentials. It has changed my attitude considerably already and I am determined to develop my creativity.'


DISCUSSIONAll the subjects reported experiencing alphabetic code dreams. Thus, the first clear observation is that the technique seems to apply universally in normal dream recallers. Subjects reported their first alphabetic code dream usually within days of reading the meanings, and subjects have since reported experiencing other alphabetic code dreams. It is anticipated that with more involved stages of incubation, the frequency would be even greater. Certainly, the dream-producing process takes to the technique with great facility. The received messages were so obvious to subjects that their significance was at once recognised and, in some cases, major life changing decisions were made, such as with subject 4.

Four main ways were observed in which the alphabetic code letter was communicated. The most frequent form was where many different items in the dream began with the same initial letter (visual initial-letter presentation). In some cases, a single letter was prominently displayed to the dreamer (direct visual letter presentation). There was also a situation where the crucial letter was prominent in words spoken by dream characters (verbal initial-letter presentation). Another method involved the key letter itself being spoken in the dream by a dream character (phonetic letter presentation). Additionally, to a lesser extent, sometimes one of the initial-letter words was thought, with emphasis, within the dream, and so aided the identification. In some cases, more than one of these methods were utilised. In all types of presentation, the unconscious awoke the dreamer so that the code-letter became obvious to consciousness.

Thus, a remarkable two-stage process has been demonstrated in which not only the appropriate code-letter is selected and presented, but also the identification of that letter is ensured by a deliberate waking procedure engineered by the unconscious. This arousal itself goes absolutely counter to Freud, who posited that the function of the dream was to maintain sleep. The study also demonstrates that dreams can at least occasionally harbour messages - in contradistinction to the idea of computer-like processing of information from the day (Evans & Newman, 1964 ; Crick & Mitchison, 1986).

Clearly, with The Dream Oracle technique, an intelligent process in sleep recalls a topic focused on consciously before sleep (or raised spontaneously during sleep), recalls the alphabetic dream code, and arranges a sequence of images and / or words beginning with a particular letter - in order to convey a specific and selected communication. The universality of the process indicates that messages may have always been conveyed by a simple symbolic process during dreams but that the language has until now been difficult to understand consciously. It is conceivable that the unconscious dream-producing process will revel in this new, consistent and precise form of communication. Perhaps, before this method, the unconscious often experienced a feeling of frustration in being unable to make itself understood. Advice and warnings can now be transmitted accurately to the conscious mind to the considerable advantage of the whole person.

In ancient times, when cultures were isolated and relatively homogeneous, it is conceivable that dreams - then conceptualised as coming from the gods - might have been a completely natural and widely understood form of communication from the unconscious. Specific symbols might have been accepted within the group, so interpretation was relatively easy. In some cultures today that may well still be the case. However, in western societies, cultural mixing and religious castigation of the topic as 'sorcery', must have devalued the power of the dream. Many dream meanings, for instance, are based on verbal puns - which do not translate from one tongue to another. A great confusion has resulted. However, with the introduction of a novel universal dream language in the form of the alphabetic code, a reliable form of communication has once again been established.

The simplicity of this new system allows individuals to become more aware of their inner processes for the purpose of self-insight and self-development. It is seen as a technique to aid greater understanding within and between people, and of their individual and combined spirituality.

Therapists and dream researchers will also benefit from the Dream Oracle technique. Communications from the unconscious are always relevant in matters of mind-healing. It is anticipated that the method will become an invaluable and necessary tool in such situations. Dream and mind researchers have a fascinating new method of tuning into the unconscious and seeing how its messages are conveyed through dream images. Clearly, the unconscious can produce - almost playfully - numerous images based on a single letter of the alphabet.

A potentially highly important consideration would seem to be that once the oracle has been absorbed, it could be on stand-by so to speak, for the rest of the person's life, ready to produce a significant communication whenever necessary - a warning of some kind perhaps, a reassurance, advice, or whatever. Such a communication could prove to be highly beneficial to the user.

Finally, some subjects reported that the sudden realisation within the dream of the unconsciously-selected alphabetic letter, has prompted dream lucidity (Hearne, 1978, 1990). The Dream Oracle may also therefore prove to be useful to persons attempting to achieve awareness of dreaming and the ability to control their dreams.

Recent findings show that occasionally, two alphabetic code letters may be communicated. One subject produced alphabetic code combinations in which the letters K (Karma) and W (Will) were produced individually and then combined - an actor, Kenneth Williams, was seen. In another example, after single representations of the letters R (Repentance) and H (Hope), a car was seen in the dream with the name Ron H. sprayed on the bodywork. The communicated letter-code messages were said to be highly significant to the dreamers.Much additional support for the new technique is coming in. Dr Hearne gives frequent seminar/workshops. He has discovered if a short version of the alphabet-code (available from the web-site) is read out to a class when they are in a state of relaxation, some three-quarters of the group will report an alphabet-code dream the next day. Also, David Melbourne was interviewed in January 1999 on South Africa's leading national radio programme 'Total Exposure'. The interviewer, John Richards, had read The Dream Oracle, and stated on air that he had a dream in which everything began with the letter R (Repentance). He admitted that the alphabet-code dream provided an unmistakable, significant and timely message for him.


A completely new concept has been devised for eliciting potentially significant messages from the unconscious, through dreams, by means of an alphabetic code of fixed words, having different aspects. This initial study found that the technique worked on all sixteen subjects - the relevant letter of the alphabet being represented by many objects beginning with the letter, or a single dramatic presentation of the letter, or words heard in the dream. It seems that the unconscious, immediately upon communication, then often deliberately wakens the dreamer. Subjects found that an aspect of the alphabetic code word related to a current life situation. The results show that coded unconscious messages can be conveyed from dreams.

Once read and absorbed, it seems likely that the Dream Oracle process might remain latently available to communicate important messages at any future time, for the benefit of the user.

Individuals are likely to use the technique for self-knowledge and development, and therapists will find the unconsciously communicated information valuable. A whole new field of research has been made available concerning dreams and the human mind. Further research by the authors is in progress.

A note :

One of the authors (Hearne) has developed the idea of The Dream Oracle generalising (once a person has read the alphabet-code meanings) and thereby also unconsciously manifesting in : hypnagogic imagery, the imagery of wakefulness, waking thoughts and speech, creative works and in auditory and visual hallucinations. It is anticipated that persons who are aware of the alphabetic dream oracle meanings will be, during wakefulness, unconsciously likely to select more words beginning with a letter that is currently significant to them. As with The Dream Oracle situation, it would represent an attempt at communication from the unconscious. This could be of great usefulness to therapists. It is intended to search for this effect and the other predicted phenomena.


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The authors :

David Melbourne has been an interpreter and investigator of dreams for some 25 years. He has written extensively on the topic of dreams and devised a new method of dream interpretation based on a cross-reference flow-chart system. He has drawn attention to the 'trigger' effect - the deliberate waking by the unconscious, identifying a message-bearing dream. This latest idea, The Dream Oracle, came to him in a dream.

Dr Keith Hearne was the first to discover the ocular signalling technique from lucid dreams (1975). He went on to conduct the world's first PhD research into lucid dreams, at Liverpool University, England, establishing the basic physiological and psychological features of lucid dreams, discovering the pre-lucid REM burst and several universal features of dreams. He invented the 'dream machine'. Hearne has authored many scientific papers and several books, some with David Melbourne.