As a psychologist, my default position on dreams is that they are symbolic reflections of our own thoughts and emotions being processed while the critical and logical functions of the mind are at rest.
But as a spiritual seeker, I have to consider the concept of visitation dreams.
And having had a few experiences of visitation dreams myself, I can offer a few ways to distinguish them from normal dream content. Let's start with categorizing 4 common types of visitations.
Types of Visitation Dreams
1. Visits from deceased loved ones
2. Visits from spirit guides and allies
3. Visits from DreamWalkers
4. Intrusions from unwanted, low vibration entities
Visitations from deceased loved ones and from spirit guides and allies have a lot of similarities.
1. The Visitor is known to you
These are perhaps the most common visitation dreams. Often they occur soon after the person has died, but they appear younger, well, and happy or serene, instead of the age or state of health at the time of death. Or the visitor is a spirit being you recognize such as a deity or guardian that has been depicted in art even in various ways for many centuries.
These visitors come to provide reassurance and comfort. They may visit jut once, or repeatedly when you need their advice. The dream itself may seem so real that you are surprised upon waking that the person is not still there, and yet feel at peace. Often you’ll experience familiar sensory qualities you associate with the person – the pipe tobacco smell your father always had, the scent of vanilla cookies of your favorite aunt, or your mom’s perfume. Spirit allies like Mother Mary are said to be accompanied by the smell of roses.
2. The Visit brings clarity to you
The message of a visitation dream makes perfect sense, and fits with your general beliefs. From deceased loved one or spirit guides and allies, you may receive instructions for solving a problem, or wisdom to lift your fears. The message is unambiguous, and you have a sense of certainty about it, even without any actual spoken conversation. The message is also affirming and positive, never guilting, harsh, or judgmental.
3. The Visitation dream segment may last unusually long
Due to cycles in brain wave states as we sleep, our dreams generally occur in segments, leaping from scene to unrelated scene, often very brief and abruptly interrupted. Visitations may also be short – especially when they are frequent from the same visitor – but may more typically seem longer than usual, and feel like the conversation is complete when it ends.
4. The Visit is extremely memorable
Visitation dream details stick in memory. You can recall those encounters years later as if they occurred last night. This memorable quality is part of what makes the visit feel completely real and clear, and like an extraordinary spiritual experience.
The last 2 categories of visitations share at least one characteristic that visitations from deceased loved ones and spirit allies don't normally have -- there is an element of personal agenda if not outright manipulation involved.
This is a form of lucid dreaming and a directed out of body experience of living persons that can be done either intentionally or unbeknownst to the dreamwalker’s waking consciousness. The walking is done by the higher-self aspect of the person while she is dreaming, which connects with the higher-self aspect of another person who is most often also dreaming at the same time. However, it is possible that a dreamwalker can connect with the higher-self aspect of a person who is awake at the time, and experienced as an intuitive or psychic flash.
DreamWalker visitations can have the quality of trying to be helpful, supportive, caring, and even affectionate, but can also have a bit of personal agenda about them. That is, the dreamwalker may visit in order to plant suggestions for changes in your attitudes, choices, moods, and behaviors to those that they deem more beneficial for you. DreamWalkers can also be simply curious and wanting to know how you are, especially if there is some geographic or emotional distance between you.
There can be a karmic element to dreamwalker visitation dreams. They may present like a memory of another lifetime lived together but in different roles. For example, you might have been a married couple then but in this lifetime you are close friends who never had a sexual relationship. But in a dreamwalker visitation, the dream might be about that long ago marriage, and feel just as real and right as if it were an authentic memory, as if you are reliving that karmic relationship.
Intrusive, Low Vibration Visitations
Intrusion Visitations leave us feeling unsettled. We’re afraid to believe their message, and afraid not to. Our normal everyday worries are heightened but we can’t point to any specific cause in the waking world. In mild forms, we feel confused and become obsessed with guessing at the meaning. In more extreme forms, we may wake angry and vengeful, even though no real harm has been done to us to justify those feelings.
Intrusion visitors can take the appearance of someone we know, living or deceased, but the “person” acts out of character, makes threats, is angry or despairing, and promotes actions and thoughts you know are contrary to their true nature.
If you can’t shake off the experience of the intrusive visit, it’s best to consult a shamanic practitioner for some assistance.