The Sleeping Prophet of Willow Bunch
In the Saturday, June 13th, edition of the Star Phoenix the entire front page was dedicated in to an eccentric group, recently arrived from British Columbia. What made this group so unusual, is that it is headed by a self proclaimed prophet named Alan Patterson, also known as Alan Harmony. Alan Patterson is the project manager of a group called the Pacific Way Foundation. This group seems to be formed around Patterson’s belief that dreams can predict the future. Patterson even claims that he dreamed about moving to Saskatchewan. Talk about a self fulfilling prophecy!
Patterson has other motives for this move; he believes that all of Vancouver, and possibly the entire West Coast, will sink into the ocean within the next 10 years. How does he know this? It was revealed to him in a dream. All of this is reported credulously in the Star Phoenix. There was no attempt to verify or even dig a little deeper into Patterson’s a.k.a. Harmony’s claims.
Alan Patterson has bought the Willow Bunch school and is planning on turning it into an Academy dedicated to teaching the public on how to decipher their dreams. Dream interpretation is a large and varied class of nonsense. A simple Google search can turn up many so-called dream dictionaries. The images found in dreams are supposed to have a hidden meaning, and by looking them up in the dictionary, the dream can be understood.
I am one of the lucky ones who can remember many of my dreams. I’ve tried looking up some of the images that appeared in my dreams, mainly musical notations. I was informed that a seeing either a sharp or flat makes a difference between a positive or negative outcome. I wonder if the authors of the dream dictionary are aware of enharmonic notes. In Western musical theory a D sharp is the equivalent (the same pitch) as an E Flat. As it happened, I was studying musical theory before going to sleep. Is that not a far more likely explanation for the appearance of musical notation in my dreams? Dreams are the swirling detritus floating around in our subconscious. The images and people that appear are very personal to the dreamer, and another person is not likely to have any more insight than a dreamer herself. That being said, having dreams that can be recalled is a lot of fun, and I consider myself lucky to remember the dreams that I do.
Alan Patterson is styling himself after Edgar Casey, the so-called Sleeping Prophet, who would descend into a trance and spew out prophecies. Edgar Casey was spectacularly wrong about many things. Within 10 years we will know if Alan Patterson is wrong about Vancouver falling into the ocean. I am not holding my breath. Patterson has made other prophecies which he did not share with the reporter. I am sure we will hear of them after the event takes place.
One of his other concerns, other than Vancouver falling into the ocean, is the possibility of asteroid or comet impact. His foundation does advocate taking steps to mitigate this possibility, which is admirable, but these steps are not spelled out. His concern about near Earth objects has less to do with the state of the scientific survey of the sky, and more to do with prophetic dreams. I too have had a dream about an asteroid impacting the earth, but I would hardly call this a prophetic dream unless predicting the sun will rise tomorrow is also considered a worthy prophecy.
Even stranger is a book entitled “Orwell’s 1984 revisited”; this book argues that this work of fiction contained a prophecy. One of his main lines of evidence for this is, and I quote, “The main province of Orwell’s Oceania had a population of 300 million. In October, 2006, The day United States of America reached that number: coincidence?”. Let me answer that. YES. In this case it is not even a very striking coincidence. Orwell’s fictional Oceana included the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Clearly the US is only part of the whole, and I might add, the story takes place in Great Britain. Patterson also claims that “1984” predicted the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. “1984” was published in back in 1949 and it would have been nice to know about the attack before the events of September 11. 2001. What was Alan Patterson doing when he could have saved countless lives? He had decades to warn people! By some strange coincidence I had recently reread “1984”, and I do not remember the part about hijacked planes flying into commercial buildings. “1984” does seem to anticipate the brutal repressive regime of North Korea, but then “1984” was meant to be a warning.
Patterson’s book advocates self defence without involving the authorities, and even names the enemy. Who is the enemy? I cannot tell you as I would have to spend $24 to buy the book.
I was browsing the Pacific Ways Foundations website when I found an even more disturbing article on research into possible treatments for HIV and diabetes. The Pacific Ways Foundation has allegedly funded a study treating AIDS and diabetes with a single herb. These two diseases do not resemble each other in either their causes or their treatments; it is highly unlikely that any substance would be found that would treat both of them. What is this miracle medicine? A West African herb that was seen in the dream by a man who cannot remember its name. I used the word “allegedly” because if this were truly happening it would be highly unethical and illegal. Before a researcher has the privilege and permission to experiment on human beings, he or she must first show results in a test tube and an animal model. No sane university will allow a study with human subjects based on a dream. Patterson anticipated that sceptics would be, well, sceptical. As proof he appeals to Edgar Casey’s terrible track record for predictions. Patterson, of course, describes Edgar Casey as being 100% accurate. What is extremely disturbing is that this “research” is directed at and for Africans. HIV is a serious problem in Africa, mainly due to lack of medication, and good health information. This continent does not need a useless treatment that somebody came up with while asleep. I am not sure why diabetes has also been singled out, but telling insulin-dependent diabetics that this dream therapy is better then insulin can get very fatal, very fast. Check out the brochure; it is an abomination. I hope that if this study is going on, it is not being conducted in the sloppy unethical manner described in the pamphlet.
A keeping a dream diary writing down your dreams is harmless fun, but if you start to take it seriously, dreadful consequences can occur. Imagine the stress if you truly believed the Vancouver would be destroyed with all its inhabitants. Or image the damage that could be done if invented medicines were offered for deadly conditions. I think the Star Phoenix did a terrible job of reporting this story. What happened to the investigation part of journalism?