Lucrecia the Dreamer: Prophecy, Cognitive Science, and the Spanish Inquisition (2018)

Lucrecia the Dreamer: Prophecy, Cognitive Science, and the Spanish Inquisition (2018)Lucrecia the Dreamer: Prophecy, Cognitive Science, and the Spanish Inquisition

Stanford University Press, 2018

This book describes an amazing yet true historical tale of Lucrecia de Leon, a poor, uneducated young woman from 16th century Madrid whose uncanny prophetic dreams brought down the violent wrath of King Philip and the Spanish Inquisition.

“Structured like a police procedural and delightful to read, Lucrecia the Dreamer applies concepts from history and the social sciences to a broader human story about the power of dreaming. A most impressive achievement.”

Leslie Tuttle, co-editor of Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions: The Early Modern Atlantic World

“It is an excellent scholarly work, but it reads like a novel of political and religious intrigue, for the scenes are stranger than fiction—even though they are a matter of historical record. Lucrecia comes through in the book as an uncommon person to say the least… Anyone interested in dreams should read this book.”

Patrick McNamara, author of An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dream

“While Lucrecia’s personal story becomes the framework on which the fault-lines of Spanish society are displayed, Bulkeley sees a bigger picture. Lucrecia had a special psychical talent for realistic and symbolic dreaming. There is evidence that she trained herself to go further, not only improving the power and duration of her dreams but also developing some control over the act of dreaming. This is important because every culture has stories of the transformative power of intense dreams. It is this last prospect that really excited the author and he leaves us with the picture of a neglected talent – one he calls ‘future oriented dreaming’ – that may, in the future, be cultivated and put to use in ways we have yet to fully understand.”

Bob Rickard, Fortean Times, four star review (out of five)



Link to a brief post I wrote about the book on the Stanford University Press author’s blog:


Link to purchase the book on the SUP website:


Link to purchase the book on Powell’s:

An Introduction to the Psychology of Dreaming, 2nd Ed.

An Introduction to the Psychology of Dreaming, second revised edition (2017)
By Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D.

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This book is an introduction to the major psychological theories about dreams and dreaming. It offers a history of how these theories have developed from 1900 to the present, along with an extensive bibliography of key books and articles on modern dream research. The theories are presented in chronological order, to give readers a sense of how each new approach depends (in complex and varying ways) on those approaches that preceded it. The psychoanalytic work of Sigmund Freud is described first, followed by chapters on the archetypal theory of Carl G. Jung, the clinical practices of people like Alfred Adler and Medard Boss, the psycho-physiological studies of dreaming in the sleep laboratory, experimental studies of dream content, and “pop psychology” efforts to educate the broader public about dream research.
The book helps readers make sense of all these different areas by focusing on three basic questions: How are dreams formed? What functions do they serve? How can they be interpreted? Each chapter looks at how the leading dream psychologists of the 20th and 21st centuries answer these questions. The distinct identity of each theory is clearly illustrated by its responses to the questions of dream formation, function, and interpretation. By carefully examining the answers given by modern psychologists who have studied dreams from a wide variety of perspectives, readers will be in a good position to evaluate the field as a whole—and then to formulate their own answers.

Table of Contents

Preface to the second edition
1. Three Basic Questions about Dreaming: Formation, Function, Interpretation
2. Sigmund Freud Discovers “The Secret of Dreams”
3. C.G. Jung Descends into the Collective Unconscious
4. Alternative Clinical Theories about Dreams
5. Sleep Laboratories, REM Sleep, and Dreaming
6. Experimental Psychology and Dreaming
7. Popular Psychology: Bringing Dreams to the Masses
8. Modern Psychology’s Answers to the Three Basic Questions About Dreaming

Blurbs and Reviews

“Probably the best introduction to the psychology of dreaming to date. The author summarizes with remarkable clarity the various approaches to this topic…. Even though this text is intended as an introduction to the topic, it provides a sufficiently in-depth approach to satisfy the needs of the busy practitioner.”
—Rama Coomaraswamy, American Journal of Psychotherapy

“A superb introduction. It is remarkably comprehensive and comprehensible….[It] covers all of the important landmarks in the area of dreams [in an] understandable fashion. It would be a magnificent book for a course on dreaming. One of the truly amazing characteristics of the book is the author’s capacity to present the widely diverse material in such an even-handed fashion.”
— Wilse B. Webb, Professor Emiritus of Psychology, University of Florida

“This is an easy-to-read, elegant, and well-organized text on an important but often neglected topic. Kelly Bulkeley has written a dream of an introduction to dreaming!”
— Ernest Hartmann, Professor of Psychology, Tufts University School of Medicine

“This book by Kelly Bulkeley lives up to the readers’ expectations. The author has condensed his profound knowledge about dreaming in an easily readable introduction.”
— Michael Schredl, Dreaming



Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion (2016)

Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion (2016)Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion (2016)

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“Big dreams” are rare but highly memorable dream experiences that make a strong and lasting impact on the dreamer’s waking awareness. Moving far beyond “I forgot to study and the finals are today” and other common scenarios, such dreams can include vivid imagery, intense emotions, fantastic characters, and an uncanny sense of being connected to forces beyond one’s ordinary dreaming mind. In Big Dreams, Kelly Bulkeley provides the first full-scale cognitive scientific analysis of such dreams, putting forth an original theory about their formation, function, and meaning.

“It is in dreams that one can catch sight of the most fundamental and stable symbolisms of humanity passing from the ‘cosmic’ function to the ‘psychic’ function.”

Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil, 1967

Big dreams have played significant roles in religious and cultural history, but because of their infrequent occurrence and fantastical features, they have rarely been studied in light of modern science. We know a great deal about the religious manifestations of big dreams throughout history and around the world, but until now that cross-cultural knowledge has never been integrated with scientific research on their psychological roots in the brain-mind system. In Big Dreams, Bulkeley puts a classic psychological thesis to the scientific test by clarifying and improving it with better data, sharper analysis, and a broader evolutionary framework. He brings evidence from multiple sources, shows patterns of similarity and difference, questions prior assumptions, and provides predictive models that can be applied to new sets of data. The notion of a connection between dreaming and religion has always been intuitively compelling; Big Dreams transforms it into a solid premise of religious studies and brain-mind science.

Combining evidence from religious studies, psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience, Big Dreams makes a compelling argument that big dreams are a primal wellspring of religious experience. They represent an innate, neurologically hard-wired capacity of our species that regularly provokes greater self-awareness, creativity, and insight into the existential challenges and spiritual potentials of human life.

Table of Contents


Section I. Sleep
1. The evolution of sleep
2. The brain’s paradoxical activities in sleep
3. The role of sleep in human health and development
4. Cultural practices of sleep through history

Section II. Ordinary Dreaming
5. Dream recall
6. Patterns in form and content
7. Continuities between dreaming and waking life
8. Discontinuities and metaphors

Section III. Big Dreams
9. Aggressive
10. Sexual
11. Gravitational
12. Mystical

Section IV. Religious Experiences
13. Demonic attack
14. Prophetic vision
15. Ritual healing
16. Contemplative practice

Appendix: Word search methods in the study of dreams

Comments and Reviews

“William James said that ‘white crows’ and ‘mystics’—the anomalous and the extreme—helped us to understand the common and the ordinary in religious life. Recent claims have reversed this insight, dwelling on the ordinary and the everyday and writing off the extraordinary as statistical blips or ‘anecdotes.’ Kelly Bulkeley draws on a lifetime of erudition and his massive digital database to return us to the extreme cases, the ‘black swans’ of ‘big dreams,’ but only after throwing much light on everything from the evolution of the brain and the neurochemistry of sleeping to the adaptiveness, meaningfulness, and playfulness of dreaming. Dreams, it turns out, are not expressions of random neuronic stupidity. To the extent that they encourage us to imagine the possible, they are some of the deepest wellsprings of religious experience and the ‘metacognitive potentials of human consciousness’ itself.”

Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University, author of Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms.

“Bulkeley’s erudite volume illuminates perspectives about dreams from the Upanishads through Thomas Aquinas, Charles Darwin, and Mircea Eliade to modern neuroscience and Dilbert. These lead to Bulkeley’s own major ideas of dreams as play, and the distinction between the continuity of ordinary dreams versus the discontinuity of big dreams. Novel and thought-provoking—I highly recommend it!”

Deirdre Barrett, Harvard Medical School, author of The Committee of Sleep.


Recent Interviews About “Big Dreams”

Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion (2016)In the past couple of weeks I have spoken several times with journalists about Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion.  It’s a daunting experience to have smart people read what you’ve written and ask sharp questions about how you put together your argument… and all the more intimidating with a tape recorder running.  But I think the basic ideas from the book come through pretty well in these pieces. Continue reading “Recent Interviews About “Big Dreams””

Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep (2014)

Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep (2014)
Two Volumes



The first set of its kind, Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep provides a comprehensive showcase of the theories, research, and direct experience that serve to illuminate how certain people can develop and maintain conscious awareness while dreaming. The text is organized into two major parts, covering science, psychology, and education; and religious traditions, creativity, and culture. Contributors to this two-volume work include top dream experts across the globe—scholars sharing knowledge gained from deep personal explorations and cutting-edge scientific investigations.

Topics covered include the neuroscience of lucid dreaming, clinical uses of lucid dreaming in treating trauma, the secret history of lucid dreaming in English philosophy, and spiritual practices of lucid dreaming in Islam, Buddhism, and shamanic traditions. The work also addresses lucid dreaming in movies including The Matrix and literature such as the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien and explains how modern video gaming enhances lucidity. This set serves as an ideal text and reference work for school libraries and academic courses in anthropology, psychology, religious studies, and cognitive science as well as for graduate-level study in holistic education.

Contributors include: Ursula and Georg Voss, Brigitte Holzinger, James F. Pagel, Tadas Stumbrys and Daniel Erlacher, Lee Irwin, Tim Post, Mary Ziemer, Isaac Y. Taitz, Robert Waggoner, Jorge Conesa-Sevilla, Jayne Gackenbach and Harry Hunt, David J. Hufford, G. Scott Sparrow, Eleanor Rosch, Roger Ivar Lohmann and Shayne A.P. Dahl, Clare R. Johnson, Diana Riboli, Chris Olsen, Curtiss Hoffman, Bernard Welt, Mehrdad Fakour, Robin Ridington, Fariba Bogzaran, Ted Esser, A. Muhammad Ma’ruf, George Gillespie, Kenneth Kelzer, Stephen LaBerge.


“. . . [T]his is a fascinating resource. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.”—Choice

Children’s Dreams: Understanding the Most Memorable Dreams and Nightmares of Childhood (2012)

Children’s Dreams: Understanding the Most Memorable Dreams and Nightmares of ChildhoodChildren’s Dreams: Understanding the Most Memorable Dreams and Nightmares of Childhood (2012)



When a child talks about a vivid nighttime dream, it can be difficult for adults to know how to respond. Dream researchers Kelly Bulkeley and Patricia Bulkley take readers beyond “it was just a dream” to help children and adults understand why we dream and how dreams can help us unlock our creativity and make sense of our lives. The book introduces readers to the basic psychology and neuroscience of dreaming, then explores dreams from early childhood through adolescence.

The book focuses on what psychologist C. G. Jung called the “big dreams” of childhood—intensely memorable dreams that can blaze themselves into children’s memories and remain a haunting, often inspiring, presence throughout their lives. While acknowledging that a complete interpretation of any dream requires personal input from the dreamer, the authors show readers how to identify recurrent patterns in dreams that reflect the primal wisdom and the healthy growth of every child’s mind and imagination. Children’s Dreams offers practical advice about how adults can best communicate with children about dreams to offer reassurance and to cultivate a child’s imagination and development.

Table of Contents

1. Interpreting Children’s Dreams
2. Brain Science, Dreams, and the Imagination
3. Dreams of Early Childhood
4. Dreams of Middle Childhood
5. Dreams of Late Childhood and Early Adolescence
6. Nurturing the Imagination in Childhood and Beyond

Appendix 1: A List of the Dreams Discussed in this Book
Appendix 2: Children’s Stories Relating to Dreams
Appendix 3: The Dreams and Nightmares of Harry Potter
Appendix 4: Activities to Stimulate Wonder in Childhood
Appendix 5: Questions for a Study Group or Book Club on Children’s Dreams

References and Suggested Readings
About the Authors


Comments and Reviews

“Dream researchers Kelly Bulkeley and Patricia Bulkley incorporate Carl Jung’s dream psychology in their new book to help children and adults understand why we dream and how dreams can unlock our creativity and make sense of our lives. Introducing readers to the basic psychology and neuroscience of dreaming, and offering analysis of several children’s dreams, this intriguing guide offers practical advice for adults to communicate better with children about their dreams, and how they can cultivate a child’s imagination.” (ForeWord Reviews )

The authors (Dreaming Beyond Death) clearly state their mission in writing this book: to remedy the dearth of information children receive today about dreams and understand their dreaming experience. They also want to help parents, teachers, and other caregivers to respond to children’s conversations about their dreams as “an experience of emotional truth” and to help children use dreams to develop their powers of imagination. To that end, the authors offer a brief primer on Jungian concepts like “collective unconscious” archetypes. The book takes a more engrossing turn when relating authentic dreams and their interpretations, including fanciful dreams like “My good monster angel” (who fights the bad monster in a boy’s dream) or “the girl of the rainbow.” (a girl dreams she climbs a rainbow up to heaven). The most helpful section in the book explains techniques to help children discuss and understand their dreams, and touches on topics such as expressing their dreams through journaling, art, and talking to other people about them….Educators, psychologists, medical personnel will best understand and appreciate the presentation.”  (Publishers Weekly )

“Honest talk about dreams—this is exactly what this book invites. Why? Because dreams are essential to healthy development. Grounded in a wealth of research but written for a wide public, this book provides guidelines and illustrations to help parents and educators unleash the creative potential that lies within the nightly slumber of our children and youths.” (Bonnie Miller-McLemore, Vanderbilt University, author of In the Midst of Chaos: Care of Children as Spiritual Practice)

“What a wonderful book! The Bulkel(e)ys, mother & son, have done it again—just like their brilliant book on the dreams of the dying, Dreaming Beyond Death, they have written another elegant, ground-breaking work—this time on the dreams and especially the nightmares of childhood—particularly the ones we remember for our whole lives. The prose is elegant and precise, and the insights are both gentle and breathtaking. This book belongs in the hands of everyone who is interested in the profound mysteries and prodigious gifts of dreams, whether they have children, or simply were children once themselves.”  (Rev. Jeremy Taylor, author of Dream Work and The Wisdom of Your Dreams; cofounder and past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD); and founder-director of the Marin Institute for Projective Dream Work (MIPD) )

“Children’s Dreams takes the reader on a beautifully crafted journey into the rich world of children’s nightly encounters. The book provides a step by step guide to help readers understand the many facets of children’s dreams and nightmares; an approach which is both well informed and sensitive. In so doing, the authors skilfully intertwine adult interpretations with the children’s responses, opening up these captivating and meaningful worlds to all. The authors’ impressive knowledge combined with a commitment to valuing the dreams of young people shine through on every page. The outcome is an indispensable overview of the underappreciated and often neglected world of children’s dreaming.”  (Kate Adams, author of Unseen Worlds: Looking through the Lens of Childhood)