I had a prophetic dream—one that came true the very next day—once and only once. And it was rather significant.
To understand the dream, you first need to know that I was looking for professors who would serve on my doctoral dissertation committee, and that several years before as an undergraduate I had taken a course in folklore from the internationally acknowledged expert Alan Dundes, but I had never talked to him in person (there were several hundred people in the class, and he just stood in front of us and lectured), I hadn’t seen him since then, and I hadn’t thought of him as a possible committee member.
The dream: I was in the stacks in UC Berkeley’s huge, multistoried, cavernous Doe Library, and I saw Professor Dundes. I went up to him and asked if he would serve on my dissertation committee. He said yes.
Reality, the next day: I was in the stacks in Berkeley’s huge, multistoried, cavernous Doe Library, and I saw Alan Dundes. I thought, “Weird.” But I was too chicken to go up and talk to him, so I walked away. About half an hour later, as I was leaving, I saw him preparing to exit the stacks. I went up to him, babbled about the dream that I’d had the night before, and asked him if he would serve on my dissertation committee. He said yes.
Mind you, this was back in the days before Doe Library was remodeled. At that time, the stacks were a fairly dark warren of metal caging approximately nine stories tall—or, rather, deep, because they descended underground. Cramped stairwells led from one story to another, and overburdened shelving ran in all directions, leaving little room to navigate. The flooring was made of clanky metal and disconcerting greenish glass. The overall effect was otherworldly and dungeonous—an atmosphere enhanced by the relative absence of other living souls, because in those days the stacks were accessible only to a limited number of people.
Which is to say that encountering anyone in the stacks, let alone Professor Dundes, was neither a frequent nor predictable occurrence.
Strange, then, that I was writing my dissertation on Sir James Frazer’s twelve-volume encyclopedia about magic, when I had a dream that magically came true about a man so steeped in folklore.