It might seem an impossibility, along the same lines as ‘weaving mist’, but many valiant efforts have been made to map the myriad tangled threads of a multi-levelled dream journey.

The maps are an attempt to attach transient time, place, memory, association and/or emotion to a  line or mark made by a pen.

Perhaps mapping is as effective a means of bringing our sub-consciousness dreams into the open as dream catchers?

In some Native American cultures, a dreamcatcher is a handmade object based on a willow hoop, on which is woven a loose net or web. The dreamcatcher is then decorated with sacred items such as feathers and beads. “Mothers and grandmothers would weave magical webs for the children, using willow hoops and sinew, or cordage made from plants. The dreamcatchers would filter out all bad dreams and only allow good thoughts to enter their minds. Once the sun rises, all bad dreams just disappear.” American ethnographer Frances Densmore wrote in ‘Chippewa Customs’ (1929, republished 1979, pg. 113) she went on to say: “Even infants were provided with protective charms. Examples of these are the “spiderwebs” hung on the hoop of a cradle board. These articles consisted of wooden hoops about 3½ inches in diameter filled with an imitation of a spider’s web made of fine yarn, usually dyed red. In old times this netting was made of nettle fiber. Two spider webs were usually hung on the hoop, and it was said that they “caught any harm that might be in the air as a spider’s web catches and holds whatever comes in contact with it.”

The mapping strategy is simple – without trying to order or scaffold the dream experience in words, participants attempt to draw their dream journey not in some kind of linear route map but express it through whatever notation they feel is appropriate at the waking moment is most effective in ensnaring the experience of the dream. Whirls and circles and sudden erratic mark-making seems popular.

Wonderfully expressive use of a complex language of graphic marks to record the dream journey…


Abstract, fleeting mark-making, mapping the oddness of dreaming?

The effectiveness and expressiveness of the maps should not be down to the graphic skills of the drawers, any form of notation has equal value, there are no rules, no constraints.

The huge urgency of the moment, the needs to map the experience is captured in this ‘map’…


An unknown, turbulent, poetic, and beautiful universe, it’s the stuff of dreams…


The familiar, the threatening, the mundanely reassuring and the strange in simultaneous co-existence.


Sometimes the maps show a calmly peaceful world in miniature…


Composite Group Dream Map. Night 23/24 August, from ‘Dream Mapping’, Susan Hiller, 1974 Artist Susan Hiller invited 10 persons to sleep outdoors for 3 nights in Hampshire where there’s a proliferation of fairy rings. The circles are circles of marasmius oreades mushrooms according to myth after sleeping in one of them you enter a fairy land. Each morning they mapped the events and structures. Then the artist superimposed the maps on one another to create a collective dream map. The purpose was to experience revelations in the process of mapping ephemeral locations.


Here are the sketches made by the participants upon waking…


And Susan Hillier’s final composite drawing or ‘mapping’ of an ephemeral experience…

IMG_5900 (3)

2 thoughts on “Marvellous Maps 14. Mapping Dreams

  1. This post was based on an open-ended exercise where I typed ‘mapping dreams’ into Google and saw what images came up… Where I can find the original author I try to include the link, but a number of the images a hard to attribute.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s