Senoi Dreamers

Why dreaming matters

In 1935, anthropologist Kilton Stewart stumbled upon a singular tribe living in the mountains of Malaysia. They were called the Senoi.

Their culture had no history of violence or crime. And while they lived amidst other tribes, some active headhunters and extremely violent, these tribes gave the Senoi a wide berth; they believed the Senoi practiced a powerful magic. A magic that affected the physical world through skillful dreams.

While children in most cultures are taught to ignore their dreams, the Senoi, like the aborigines of Australia, believe dreams are a landscape one must learn and navigate to truly understand the nature of life. During an average lifespan we spend 8 years of our life dreaming. Imagine living 8 years in a foreign country and never picking up the customs, language, or even the layout of the land; having only theories and little experience.

…During an average lifespan an individual spends 8 years of their life

When children awake from nightmares, a dream challenged society may tell them “don’t worry, it was only a dream”, while the Senoi say, “you did it wrong, here is what you must do…”

And there are principles the Senoi child learns about dreams. Try them out, interesting things may begin to happen:

  • Never run away from danger in a dream. Confront it and conquer it if necessary. If you are wounded you have made your enemy use up part of its power, if you are killed, become reborn stronger
  • Call upon dream friends if you need help. Fight by yourself until they arrive. (Make dream friends! Ask friendly figures to be your guides, share things in your dreams, e.g. food)
  • A friend that acts aggressively toward you in a dream is not a friend it is an enemy wearing the mask of a friend
  • After you have subdued or fought a dream opponent, make it give you a gift… something beautiful (a song, poem) or useful; bargain only if necessary
  • Advance toward pleasure in dreams; dream morality is not waking morality
  • Achieve positive outcomes… fly someplace, make love with someone, do battle; act rather than react
  • If you act aggressively toward a friend or refuse to cooperate go out of your way to express friendship or cooperation during waking

A Special Note on Falling…

Of course, the principles weren’t so baldly presented. The best way to start navigating dreams is to start learning how to communicate with the imagination. So a principle would be bettered conveyed like this:

“You must relax and enjoy yourself when you fall in a dream. Falling is the quickest way to get in contact with the powers of the spirit world, the powers laid open to you through your dreams. Soon, when you have a falling dream, you will remember what I am saying, and as you do, you will feel that you are travelling to the source of the power which has caused you to fall.”

…The falling spirits love you. They are attracting you to their land…

“The falling spirits love you. They are attracting you to their land, and you have but to relax and to remain asleep in order to come to grips with them. When you meet them, you may be frightened of their terrific power, but go on. When you think you are dying in a dream, you are only receiving the powers of the other world, your own spiritual power which has been turned against you and which now wishes to become one with you if you will accept it.”  – Dream Theory in Malaysia by Kilton Stewart

Recommended Resources

Creative Dreaming : Plan And Control Your Dreams To Develop Creativity Creative Dreaming : Plan And Control Your Dreams To Develop Creativity
Patricia Garfield
Very good chapter on the Senoi as well as dream practices from several other cultures
Mystique of Dreams: A Search for Utopia Through Senoi Dream Theory Mystique of Dreams: A Search for Utopia Through Senoi Dream Theory
G. William Domhoff
More in depth exploration of the Senoi with relationships to current research.


  1. chromo15 October 7, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Awesome, I have been looking for a website like this for ages. I am very interested in the power of dreams and their effect upon the human reality. thank you

  2. karenanne May 26, 2008 at 6:33 am

    never heard of the senoi until a former pastor sent me his latest sermon which included a reference to them. great review, i always enjoy learning something new. also found a few book titles i’d like to read.
    many thanks,

  3. steven allgood November 18, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    awesome… dreaming is the new reality…

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