On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Shakespeare and the Mysterious Origins of 007

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‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on’

The Tempest is one of Shakespeare’s best known plays and has mesmerised audiences since the early seventeenth century. Like all of the great Bard’s works, it can be analysed on many levels, but the themes of magic, power and the occult are dominant.

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Prospero in Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki’s Tarot Deck

On reading the play, few are aware that the main protagonist – Prospero – was based on a real man who held an esteemed position in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Dr John Dee was respected as one of the most learned men of his age. His knowledge of science, mathematics, astronomy and geography was astounding, and his formidable intellect was celebrated throughout Europe.

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Dr John Dee

However, Dee also harboured a deep interest in astrology and the occult. In the late sixteenth century, science and the supernatural were in fact closely interwoven. Frequent references to magic and superstition throughout Shakespearian literature are testimony to the mind-set of the Elizabethan world. Indeed, few eyebrows were raised when Dee claimed to be able to commune with spirits, and to be close to discovering the fabled ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ which granted the privilege to transmutate base metals into gold.

Acting as an adviser to the Royal Court, Dee decided upon the most auspicious date for the Queen’s coronation using astrology, and predicted the coming of the British Empire. He also travelled far and wide on the continent, functioning as a spy for the Crown. Using the code number of 007, Dee communicated intelligence back to England via a complex network of secret agents and covert ciphers.

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Dee and Kelly communing with a spirit

It was during this period that Dee befriended the psychic Edward Kelly and undertook a dangerous series of magical operations. These involved communicating with spirits and angelic entities. The two men began to decipher a mysterious language known as Enochian which permitted them deeper discussion with preternatural beings. Some say that the language is a genuine medium of communication for those inclined to study the occult, whilst sceptics argue that Enochian is merely an ingenious cypher developed by Dee himself to transmit intelligence to the Royal Court in London.

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‘this rough magic I here abjure… I’ll break my staff…’

Like all great artists, Shakespeare himself seemed to sense a spiritual, academic and cultural shift taking place during the Elizabethan era. The ascent of James I to the throne in 1603 heralded the dawning of a new age. The King was no friend of witches and soothsayers – having remorselessly persecuted them prior to the Union of The Crowns. The Tempest would be the Bard’s final play, and Prospero’s symbolic act of breaking his magical staff after the climax seems to portend the coming of an age of reason when mainstream science would completely divorce itself from magic, spirituality and the occult.

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Ian Fleming took the number 007 for his fictional secret agent Bond

Nonetheless, Dr John Dee continues to be a figure of interest for many contemporary scholars and academics. The instruments Dee and Kelly used to communicate with the angels are now on display in the British Museum, and scores of books have been written about his mysterious exploits. Ian Fleming drew upon the Queen’s conjurer’s exceptional life story and took his secret number when creating the iconic James Bond character. Daniel Craig may not sport a flowing beard and communicate with spirits during his outings as 007 – relying instead upon intelligence, vulpine instinct, and the magical genius of Q’s gadgetry to outwit adversaries.

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Instruments used by Dee and Kelly to communicate with angels and spirits on display in the British Museum.

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit David’s website for more details about him: David Fox Magician

Feel free to contact us on: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

Ouija – Portent to the Spirit World?

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Everyone has a story involving a Ouija board. This peculiar panel – which is said to offer communication with the deceased – continues to mystify and intrigue.

The existence of a spirit world has played a prominent role within most cultures since the dawn of time. Ancient folklore boasts a multitude of terrifying tales speaking of necromancy, vivid apparitions and dearly departed ancestors returning from beyond the grave to deliver consequential communiqués to the living.

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The Witch of Endor summons the ghost of the Prophet Samuel. This painting by William Blake depicts one of the earliest accounts of necromancy.

The Chinese appear to have developed an early form of intercourse with the deceased using an object which resembles the present day planchette of the Ouija board. This ancient method of spirit writing became widely practiced, but was eventually outlawed by the Qing Dynasty (1636 – 1912). Indeed, authorities and religions warning of the dangers of such practices, and often forcefully forbidding them, is a recurring theme in this field of psychic investigation. Does officialdom genuinely care about our welfare? Or is there something of great value to be experienced and learned which makes the status-quo uneasy?

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It is said that Dr John Dee, court Astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I, used these items to communicate with spirits.

Perhaps what makes the Ouija board so appealing to contemporary psychics, sensitives and ghost hunters is its remarkable degree of practicality. In times gone by, a consultation with the denizens of the other side was often an elaborate affair involving lengthy ritual, astrological observances and sonorous incantations. Queen Elizabeth I’s courtier Dr John Dee was said to speak to spirits and angelic forces after conducting such intricate practices. More recently, the French mystic Eliphas Levi experienced a chilling nocturnal meeting with Apollonius of Tyana which is well documented.

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Famous actresses Lana Turner, June Lockhart and Susan Peters consult the ‘talking’ board.

The dawn of the modern technological era ironically triggered a great surge of spiritual interest in Western society. 1875 saw the creation of the Theosophical Society, and the Golden Dawn – which boasted such notables as WB Yeats, Bram Stoker and Aleister Crowley – flourished in England during the late 19th century. In 1890 Elijah Bond began to market the first commercial Ouija boards and the institution was born.

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Horror movies such as ‘The Exorcist’ may be responsible for negative attitudes towards the Ouija board.

Negative contemporary attitudes towards the board possibly stem from horror movies such as ‘The Exorcist‘ (1973). However, there are many who claim the Ouija can be utilised in a safe and controlled manner. Despite voicing his indifference towards spiritualism, Aleister Crowley had a profound respect for this method of preternatural communication but insisted upon specific cleansing rituals before and after use to eliminate the possibility of mischievous spirits or demons harming the sitters.

David Conway provides detailed instructions on how to communicate effectively with the spirit world in his classic work ‘Ritual Magic: An Occult Primer’ but in typical good humour he parenthesises: ‘there are plenty of human beings in this world without your having to seek company in the next.’

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Various guides have been published on how to safely consult the board.

Ouija is now a trademark of Hasbro. A harmless parlour pass-time? A safe method to communicate with spirits? Or something more sinister? Everyone has a story involving a Ouija board… What’s yours?

Feel free to send any comments or stories to us at: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

David Fox is a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Find out more about him at: David Fox Magic.

The Ghosts of Winston Churchill

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Sir Winston Churchill’s intriguing relationship with the supernatural has been largely overlooked. The man who was voted ‘Greatest Briton’ in a nationwide poll at the turn of the century will forever be best remembered for his heroics during our darkest hour. When Great Britain stood alone against the tyranny of the Third Reich in 1940, Churchill’s dogged determination, superhuman spirit and rousing rhetoric rallied the nation against seemingly inevitable annihilation.

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A Sense of Destiny

In his 2001 biography of Churchill, Roy Jenkins noted the great statesman’s vigorous sense of destiny. From an early age Churchill seemed certain that his life had a higher purpose and that at a critical moment in history, he would be called upon to robustly defend the national interest. Despite the calamity of Gallipoli in 1916 and of being dismissed as an anachronism by younger politicians prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill never lost this inner sense of purpose and commitment.

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Churchill’s generosity towards Gypsies is well known

A Sensitivity to the Supernatural

As an artist and accomplished author, Churchill was far more open minded and sensitive than is commonly assumed. Jenkins and other commentators have highlighted his respect for the Gypsies who would often pitch close to his ancestral home of Chartwell. Clearly the Prime Minister understood that it would be fortuitous to treat them with kindness and viewed their appearance as a good omen.

The British occultist Aleister Crowley also claimed to have suggested the PM make use of the ‘v for victory’ sign during the war. Several sources have indeed confirmed this to be true, and Crowley’s connections with the British secret services are now largely accepted. The mercurial occultist believed the sign to be symbolic of the god Horus who would help the British defeat Hitler. Whether Churchill spoke directly to Crowley is unknown, but his use of the sign became one of his defining war-time features.

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It was very unusual for a British politician of Churchill’s generation to adopt a sign. Did the Prime Minister accept advice from Aleister Crowley?

A Ghostly Visitation

Churchill wrote candidly about an extraordinary supernatural event which occurred at Chartwell after the war. Whilst painting, the ghost of his dearly departed father mysteriously materialised in the studio. According to the former Prime Minister’s account, his famous stiff-upper lip held firm and he felt no fear. He subsequently conversed with the apparition of Churchill Senior for several minutes – dutifully updating him on political, cultural and social events which had occurred since his passing. However, perhaps the great man’s composure could be attributed to an earlier esoteric experience. During a trip to the White House, Washington DC, several years before, Churchill claimed to have sighted the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.


Chartwell in Kent where Churchill saw the ghost of his long-departed father.


Churchill is now firmly embedded within the British national psyche – symbolic of cultural attributes such as the bulldog spirit and our sense of fair play. The ubiquitous spectre of Churchill may live on metaphorically, but there have been numerous sightings of his ghost since he exited the world stage in 1965. One of the most recent was at Queensway Underground Station in 2017 where Craig Cooper took a photograph of a peculiar misty apparition. Churchill utilised local tube stops in the Hyde Park area as bunkers during the blitz, and his formidable presence appears to still be looming large over anxious commuters and tourists.

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Craig Cooper’s mysterious photograph on the Tube. He also spoke of a strange ‘presence’. Source: mirror.co.uk

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer who is currently based in the UK. Visit his website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Feel free to email us any strange stories to: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

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Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Sammy Davis Jr – Dancing With The Devil

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Super group Led Zeppelin. Lead guitarist Jimmy Page harboured an intense interest in Aleister Crowley and the Occult.

Magician David Fox investigates…

They say the Devil has all the best tunes – and maybe there is an element of truth in this well-worn cliché. Many of the finest rock acts over the past half century are clearly indebted to the infernal influence of Old Nic himself…

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Sammy Davis Jr was an early member of the Satanic Church.

Would you sell your soul to The Lord of Darkness for temporal gain? The late great Sammy Davis Jr was a celebrity member of the Church of Satan. Founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor Lavey, the legions of Lucifer have boasted several world famous luminaries among their congregation – the most recent being Antichrist Superstar Marilyn Manson!

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Anton Szandor Lavey founded the Church of Satan in 1966.

Indeed, the 1960s heralded a new age of rebellion and decadence. Civil-rights protests, a growing spiritual re-awakening – and of course Rock and Roll music – are defining hallmarks of the era. The Rolling Stones classic ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ controversially portrays the Prince of Evil as the perennially misunderstood anti-hero. The Beatles also chose to include the self-proclaimed Great Beast 666 Aleister Crowley on the cover of their multi-platinum ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album in 1967.

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The Beatles multi-platinum selling album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘ (1967). Crowley can be seen at the top left.

Led Zeppelin’s lead guitarist Jimmy Page developed a deep interest in the Occult, and most notably Aleister Crowley. The English mystic’s doctrine of Thelema (Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law) seemed to resonate strongly in the mind of the musical genius. Page duly purchased Crowley’s former home – Boleskine House on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland.

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Aleister Crowley’s libertarian doctrine of Thelema appealed to musicians such as Jimmy Page, David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne

The Beast had conducted a complex magical operation at the spacious manor at the turn of the twentieth century known as the Abramelin Ritual. Consequently, it was widely believed to be haunted by ghosts and demons – a terrifying legacy of Crowley’s diabolical dabblings! Curator Malcolm Dent, a close friend of Page who lived at Boleskine for several years, frequently spoke of supernatural phenomena at the residence. Visit link: Malcolm Dent at Boleskine House.

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Jimmy Page at Boleskine House near Loch Ness.

Black Sabbath would define the genre of Heavy Metal with their ground-breaking self-titled album in 1970. Deliciously dark, menacing and sinister, the riff to the title track is played in the spine-tingling tritone of G to C# which incidentally was banned by the Medieval Church for fear of summoning daemonic forces. Bassist Geezer Butler harboured a deep interest in the supernatural, and the lyrical content throughout their best known work reflects his fascination.

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Black Sabbath would define the Heavy Metal genre with thunderous tracks such as NIB, Black Sabbath and Paranoid.

A new wave of heavy metal groups and rock bands from the 1970s onwards continued to explore the darker realms of our existence. From British Black Metal fore-runners Venom, to Los Angeles Thrash legends Slayer, the lyrics became more intriguing, disturbing and down-right shocking. The Devil seemed to be lurking on the periphery at all times, casting his anarchic authority over the proceedings like an ominous orchestral conductor subtly manipulating the creative strings.

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US legendary Thrash Metal band Slayer. Pushed the boundaries throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

In recent years, Rock and Roll music has enjoyed a sensational resurgence and is now appreciated by fans of all generations. Old Nic has been firmly accepted as part of our main-stream culture. Contemporary acts such as Queens of The Stone Age and Royal Blood frequently pay homage to icons such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – politely recognising their common infernal heritage! The Devil clearly works in mysterious ways – but is he really such a fearsome fellow? After all, ‘Lucifer‘ is actually Latin for ‘bringer of light’ or ‘The Son of the Morning Star’.

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The archetype of rebellion. Perhaps the Devil simply represents the belligerent streak which resides in each and every one of us?

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer who currently resides in the UK.

Visit David’s new website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk or contact him at: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

Abraham Lincoln, JFK and The World Trade Centre – Premonitions of Doom

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Is it possible to predict the future? And how much control do we truly have over our destinies? We have all experienced the often unsettling phenomenon of deja-vu at some point in our lives. Could the hand of fate intervene at critical moments to warn us of impending danger?

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Lord Dufferin, British Ambassador to France, late 19th Century

The 19th century statesman Lord Dufferin was well respected in Victorian high society. Nonetheless, he frequently recounted a chilling brush with death. Whilst staying with a friend in Ireland one stormy evening, Dufferin was alarmed to see the ghost of a hideous demonic figure carrying a coffin outside his bedroom window. The ghoulish face would return to haunt him in his dreams for many years to come.

In the 1890s, whilst acting as British Ambassador, Dufferin was about to step into a lift in a luxurious Parisian hotel. Suddenly, to his horror, he noticed that the lift operator was the very man he had seen all those years ago on that sinister evening in Ireland. He promptly stepped back and refused to enter. A few moments later the cable snapped and the lift plunged several floors – killing everyone inside!

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Who was the strange man Lord Dufferin saw in Ireland and Paris?

A shocked Dufferin made inquiries about the identity of the lift operator. All that was known was that he had started working there that day – but his identity was a mystery. Whoever he was, his sudden appearance had clearly saved the ambassador from certain death.

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President Abraham Lincoln appeared to have dreamed about his own fate.

Unfortunately some are not so fortunate – despite being granted a warning of impending danger. President Abraham Lincoln spoke of a vivid nightmare he had several days prior to his assassination in 1865. In his dream he encountered a group of mourners gathered in The White House. When he asked them who had died, they told him it was the President.

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President Kennedy seemed to have sensed impending danger on the eve of his fateful trip to Dallas.

President John F Kennedy, who would succumb to the same fate as his predecessor, also made an ominous statement which came to pass. Before his fateful trip to Texas in 1963, JFK is reported to have said: ‘if someone wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?’

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Miraculously, Barrett Taylor avoided attacks on the World Trade Centre in both 1993 and 2001.

The most defining moment of our modern era is arguably the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre, New York, in 2001. Since the atrocity, many people around the world have claimed to have experienced premonitions before the tragedy occurred. However, perhaps the experiences of financial executive Barrett Taylor, who was employed at the Twin Towers, are the most startling.

Taylor twice evaded disaster. In 1993 (the year the World Trade Centre was bombed) he felt a mysterious urge to return home just before the explosion. The same eerie sensation would return to grip him on the morning of September 11th 2001 forcing him again to avoid the Trade Centre! He is not the type of person who believes in the supernatural and fails to comprehend the mysterious ‘force’ which spared him from both atrocities.

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Albert Einstein appreciated the complexities of time itself. Foreseeing the future, as well as time travel, are concepts we must consider.

To date, science can offer no sufficient explanation as to why we experience such premonitions and indications of future threats. Albert Einstein appreciated that time itself is something much more profound and mysterious than we care to imagine. Time is not merely the seconds, minutes and hours which appear on the face of a clock… Could it be that our destiny is in some way pre-arranged and decided before we live our lives?

So, the next time you experience a vivid dream, curious hunch or strange sensation, pay very close attention to it. The hand of fate may be delivering an important message for you…

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The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. For more details about David, please visit: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Do you have any strange stories or experiences you would like to share with us? We would be delighted to hear from you. Please email these to: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

Tutbury Ghost Captured on Film?

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Captured during a photo-shoot in Tutbury, Staffs, is the figure a ghost or supernatural being? Copyright 1993 Brenda Ray.

Who is the mysterious cloaked figure?

The idyllic village of Tutbury, Staffordshire is a popular haunt for day trippers who come to savour its unique charm and famous castle. Mary Queen of Scots was incarcerated here in the 16th century, and it has developed a reputation as one of the most haunted places in the British Isles.

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Appearing only once in a series of shots, the figure represents a peculiar puzzle! Copyright 1993, Brenda Ray.

In 1993 Brenda Ray captured the image of a peculiar cloaked figure in the village whilst conducting a photo shoot. This has since been the subject of much speculation, and the story surrounding the mysterious apparition is truly incredible. Indeed, perhaps at some time in the future, Brenda may decide to publish an account of her extraordinary experiences.

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An award-winning short-story writer, Brenda has been interested in the supernatural since childhood.

The supernatural is a subject which has interested Ms Ray since childhood and often features within her literary work. An award winning author, Brenda has recently published two collections of short stories: ‘The Siren of Salamanca’ (2008) and ‘Gondwanaland’ (2013) to much critical acclaim.

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Humorous, mysterious, thought-provoking and highly entertaining – Brenda’s recent collections of short stories.

As someone who was brought up on a diet of Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft and Roald Dahl, I could identify and appreciate Brenda’s genius immediately. Haunting, vivid and tantalising, her stories often leave the reader with more questions than answers. After all, there is nothing more mysterious than the unresolved…

For more details about Brenda and her work please visit: Brenda Ray Writes

Visit Brenda’s Amazon Page to obtain copies of her books: Brenda Ray Amazon

David Fox is a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit his website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk



Dreams – what do they mean?


The Moon of the Tarot represents the realm of the subconscious… The realm of dreams….

What are dreams and why do we have them? The ancients believed them to be cryptic communiqués from the Gods. In more recent times, Sigmund Freud held dreams to be revelations of repressed anxieties whilst his student, Carl Jung, considered them to be important messages we can use to resolve problems. They come in a variety of forms: vivid, pleasant, nightmarish, recurring… Here are seven of our most common dreams and their meanings.

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1. Falling

We will all experience the sensation of falling in a dream at least five times in a lifetime. It is agreed that this type of dream is indicative of losing control of a particular aspect of your life. Through the act of falling, we are being subconsciously prompted to reclaim the initiative and organise ourselves better.

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2. Naked in a Public Place

One of the most unpleasant dreams is to find yourself stark naked in a public place! Are you afraid of being found out for making a mistake? Facing up to the situation now and being honest will always gain you respect in the eyes of your peers. This could be daunting, but you won’t be spotted au naturel in dreamland again!

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3. Not Prepared for an Exam

There is nothing worse than not being ready to sit an exam. The dreamer may never even enter the exam room, but the feelings of helplessness are terrifying. Students are being warned to take more responsibility for their studies. The dream may also represent a fear of failure and of new challenges. Remember the mantra: if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again…

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4. Being Chased

Your legs seem to be encased in concrete and whoever (or whatever) is pursing you is gaining ground rapidly… This dream is said to symbolise a refusal to stand up to a particular person, or problem, in your life. Can you identify your pursuer? If so, you will discover the source of your consternation. If you cannot see this threat, you may in fact be running away from an unsavoury aspect of yourself.

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5. Missing a Train, Bus or Plane

In the internet age, we all have hectic schedules and it is normal to miss a transport connection. Dreaming about such a stressful occurrence is commonplace and suggests that you need to think more carefully about your time management. Perhaps your diary is too full and it’s time for a vacation? It could also indicate that you are feeling regret for not seizing an opportunity.

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6. Flying
The feeling is normally exhilarating. Dreamers who recount ‘flying’ during their sleep usually do so positively. This phenomenon reveals that you are attaining new giddy heights in personal development. Be proud of your achievements and continue to reach for the stars. However, if you feel somewhat ‘tethered’ to the ground in your dream, something in waking life may be holding you back.

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7. Dreaming of a Deceased Loved One

When a dearly departed family member or friend pays you a visit during your dream, it should be considered a great blessing. Many cultures believe that this is actually the spirit of the deceased returning to offer reassurance and guidance. The more vivid the dream is, the more details you can draw upon in order to find a solution to a problem.
We hope this short guide will help you unlock the mysteries of your dreams. Why not keep a pen and paper at the side of your bed and write them down on waking? Because, as Shakespeare once said: ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on.’

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer based in the UK. David also functions as a freelance writer. His website is: www.davidfoxmagic.co.uk

Do you have any of your own stories you would like to share with us? Send an email to: email@magician-midlands.co.uk