There is no shortage of New England superstitions about dreams. Clifton Johnson was an expert in New England customs, and he spent his life collecting and categorizing the quirks of the region in his What They Say in New England: A Book of Signs, Sayings, and Superstitions, and here are some of the old legends of how New Englanders thought about dreams, their meanings and how to respond to them.
Tell your dreams, and you will keep on dreaming.
Dream of seeing fresh beef, and you will soon hear of a friend who is sick.
If you dream of water, it is a sign of sickness.
If you dream of eating, it is a sign that you are going to be sick.
One woman says, “Well, I always know I’m going to be sick when I dream I can’t get the table set. When I dream there’s so many here I can’t get my work done, I always have a sick spell.”
It used to be said that if a dream was sufficiently vivid, to make the dreamer notice and remember it, there was some occult significance in it that was worthy of study, though their meanings were sometimes thought to be symbolic and other times more concrete.
Dream of the dead, and you will hear from a living relative of the deceased.
To dream of a funeral is a sign of a wedding.
To dream of a wedding is a sign of a funeral.
Dreams go by contraries, it is said, and these last two examples are to the point. Nevertheless, it will be noted that most dreams are interpreted in accord with their incidents, and not reversibly.
If you dream of snakes, it is a sign you have an enemy.
If in your dreams you kill the snake, you may know you will get the best of your enemy.
If you dream of a fire, it is a sign you are going to quarrel. If you dream you put out the fire, you are the one who is to conquer in the quarrel.
The day of a dream could also be significant, as highlighted by this old poem:
Saturday night dream,
Sunday morning told.
Sign ’twill come to pass
Before it’s a week old.
Another belief held that what you dream Monday morning before daylight will come true before Saturday night.
However, dreamers could head off the prophecy. If what you dream is bad, you can keep it from coming true by not telling your dream till after you’ve eaten breakfast. Conversely, tell your dream before breakfast, and it will come to pass.
You will have great trouble if you dream of a white horse. Best to lay low and avoid risks
There are those, however, who say that to dream of a white horse is a sign you are going to be rich.
When you sleep in a strange bed, whatever you dream will come to pass.
If you dream of lice, it is a sign that sickness threatens some member of the family.
To dream of eggs is a sign of trouble.
It is a good sign to dream of clear water; but to dream of muddy water is a sign of trouble.
Dream a thing three nights in succession, and it will come to pass.
To dream of picking blackberries is a sign of sickness.
Sleep with a piece of wedding-cake under your pillow for three nights in succession, and whatever you dream of on the third night will come to pass (especially if you dream you will need to wash your sheets).