Paul Devereux

Author, lecturer/workshop presenter, researcher, broadcaster, artist, photographer.


The Dragon Project

The Dragon Project, latterly the Dragon Project Trust (DPT), was founded in 1977 in order to mount an interdisciplinary investigation into the rumour (existing in both folklore and modern anecdote) that certain prehistoric sites had unusual forces or energies associated with them. The DPT, a loose and shifting consortium of volunteers from various disciplines, conducted many years of physical monitoring at sites in the UK, and other countries. In the end, it was concluded that most stories about "energies" were likely to have no foundation in fact, and in a few cases might be due to mind states and psychological effects produced by certain locations. But hard evidence of magnetic and radiation anomalies was found at some sites, and some questionable evidence of infrared and ultrasonic effects also. In addition, it was found that the kind of locations favoured by megalith builders tended to have a higher than average incidence of unsual lightball phenomena or "earth lights".

Some initial on-site studies were conducted with dowsers and psychics, but results of this work were not published as the research remained incomplete. In 1990, the DPT, with its limited resources, decided to shift the main focus of its work to the study of the interaction between human consciousness and ancient site environments. It has started this broad area of enquiry with a research programme investigating dreaming at selected ancient sacred places. This dreamwork programme, which is being conducted jointly with the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco, and is still ongoing at the time of this writing, is a kind of modern re-visiting of the ancient practice of temple sleep (see Divination).

The basic aim of the programme is to run many dream sessions at just four selected ancient sites: a holy hill in the Preseli range in Wales, and three Cornish sites - a Neolithic dolmen, a Celtic holy well, and an Iron Age underground passage and chamber called a fogou in Cornish dialect and a "souterrain" by archaeologists. Each of these places possesses an interesting geophysical anomaly. The sleep volunteers are drawn from as wide a range of the public as possible. Ages have ranged from teenagers to 70-year-olds. Women volunteers have so far slightly outnumbered men. Work at the Welsh site and the Cornish souterrain has now been completed, though dreams are still being collected at the other two sites. Each volunteer is accompanied by a least one helper who keeps watch while he or she is alseep. When the helper notes a rocking and rolling action beneath the volunteer's closed eyelids, a motion called Rapid Eye Movements ( R.E.M) which denotes dreaming sleep, the sleeper is awoken and a report of any dreams being experienced at that time are tape-recorded in situ. Later, these are transcribed and sent, along with control "home" dreams from each subject, to the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco under the consultancy of Dr Stanley Krippner. There the dreams are subjected to long and painstaking analysis, breaking each one down into a set of designated elements, and are coded. They will ultimately be presented for double-blind judging under scientifically-accepted protocols. The aim is to test if dreams had at these places revealed site-specific components: will there be a statistically significant number of the coded dreams that, in effect, could be identified as relating to the sites they took place at? Is there something about the physical nature of the places that influences dreams experienced at them? For instance, do the geophysical anomalies of the places affect the dreaming mind? ( The DPT had already noted that places with high background radiation can trigger brief, vivid hallucinatory episodes in some subjects - see the Energies entry.) Even more exotically, do these ancient and long-used magico-religious locations have a "memory field" that could be picked up by the dreaming mind? (If so, this might speak to such ideas as Rupert Sheldrake's "morphic resonance".) But the research programme is an experiment, and there may be negative answers to all such questions. The point is to test and see. Even if the experiment does produced a negative result, the DPT will be able to console itself that a unique and important body of dream data has been brought into existence that can be used for other, future research.

In 2003, the 10-year long DPT ancient sites dreamwork programme came to a pause if not an end. The beginning of the analysis of the dreams began. An initial academic (peer-reviewed) paper was published in the refereed journal Dreaming in June, and a general article was published in Fortean Times magazine in December.

Fortean Times (issue 178)Fortean Times 178 (December, 2003) had an article on the DPT ancient sites dreamwork programme as its cover story. The article actually contained some new material that had not been ready for the slightly earlier academic paper, shopwing how different dreamers had picked up similar dream themes at a specific one of the four selected sites, hinting that transpersonal information may have been picked up by the dreamers’ sleeping minds.




This is the abstract of the academic paper:

The Use of the Strauch Scale to Study Dream Reports from Sacred Sites in England and Wales
Stanley Krippner, Paul Devereux, and Adam Fish

Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Vol 13(2) 95-105, June 2003.

Thirty-five volunteers spent between one and five nights in one of four unfamiliar outdoor “sacred sites” in England and Wales where they were awakened following rapid eye movement periods and asked for dream recall. They also monitored their dreams in familiar home surroundings, keeping dream diaries. Equal numbers of site dreams and home dream reports were obtained for each volunteer. Two judges, working blind and independently, evaluated each of the resulting 206 dream reports, using the Strauch Scale which contains criteria for identifying “bizarre,” “magical,” and “paranormal” elements. Of the 103 site dream reports, 46 fell into one of these categories, versus 31 of the home dream reports. A number of explanations exist for this difference, including expectancy, suggestion, the effect of unfamiliar surroundings, the nature of the volunteers' awakenings, and possible anomalous properties of the sacred sites. The latter possibility, however, is unlikely due to the fact the 22 volunteers reported site dreams containing Strauch Scale items, while 20 reported home dreams containing these content items, a minimal difference.

KEY WORDS: content analysis; dream reports; sacred sites. At: