Dreaming of a hypnotist clown.

I had the most wonderful nightmare – one too long and involved to relate in full because … well, because they always are, aren’t they? An aspect of it, though, has been niggling at me all evening. My attention may be partially on the movie (Sometimes They Come Back) I’m streaming from Netflix, but, in truth, mostly I’ve been surfing the web, looking at hundreds of images of clowns.

My dream, you see, ended abruptly in the middle of an encounter with an intriguing haunted house performer: a clown / hypnotist.

[For an interesting look at the perils of working as a haunted house performer, check out this post at Huffington Post’s Weird News.]

gangster clown photo

I want to give proper credit for this photo, but can’t find the artist info. I had to use it though, because it’s the closest approximation of my dream clown that I could find.


He was beautiful in a way that isn’t to my usual taste – small, dark, wiry and of some indeterminate, but fully adult, age. His eyes were his most striking feature – with amber-brown irises which had the clear depth of a sunlit pond. He wore a shabby tailcoat, done up in a faded orange and yellow fabric which would have been better suited to upholstering a ’70s era chair. Under the coat, he wore a dirt-smudged, cream-colored Henley shirt and jeans – modern clothes which nonetheless invoked early 20th century carny garb. An untrimmed peacock feather was tucked into the water-stained, citrus-toned ribbon band on his fedora. His makeup was minimal – just a suggestion of traditional paint.

Guiding my group through his tunnel-like section of the fun house, he seemed to take an interest in me, and I caught him marking the hem of my jacket with chalk. When we emerged from the tunnel into a room lined with large, spinning spirals, he launched into a hypnotist’s patter. I deliberately led him to believe I’d be a good target for his schtick – even though I was certain I was unhypnotizable.

Meaning to play along, I was surprised when he was able to partially mesmerize me – a fact I became aware of when I realized he was causing me to have hallucinations even as he thought he was failing to affect me. When I didn’t cooperate he shifted his attention to someone else. I sensed he was embarrassed – perhaps even feeling duped – as he struggled to refocus the crowd on another mark.

I was left to come out of my semi-trance on my own. When my head finally cleared, he was gone. I felt guilty. Amazed that he had been able to affect me at all, I wanted to congratulate him and apologize for making him look bad. I went back to the beginning of his section, but a different clown was waiting at the entrance to the tunnel. Disappointed, I scanned the crowd, but failed to locate him. I was about to leave when I heard his voice bidding the replacement clown a good night. His face was devoid of paint and he had stripped out of the tailcoat and hat, but I recognized his eyes. I realized, then, that I must have been been disoriented for far longer than the few minutes I had thought.

Pocket watch with chain

As he swept past, I reached out to stop him. It was too loud for him to hear my apology. I pulled him toward a nearby bench, suddenly convinced I had need of his skill in a paranormal investigation I was conducting. I was about to explain exactly what I needed to him when I woke up.

It’s bugging me. What use would a hypnotist be in a ghost hunt? There’s gotta be a story in there somewhere.

Facts to guide the discussion:

  • I am not sensitive to clowns; I neither fear them nor particularly enjoy them.
  • I do not believe I can be hypnotized. And I’m not sure if I believe the phenomena is real for anyone.
  • The early part of the dream was more traditionally nightmare-ish: fleeing a murderous psycho, a “real” haunted house (as opposed to a fun house), etc. All very exciting.

Let the psychoanalysis begin 🙂

This is a detail of an Emmett Kelly portrait, painted by D. L. Rust. (I’ve linked the picture to the artist’s gallery site.) Rust also paints some awesome pin-up girls. (Check out the ‘Artist’s Choice’ tab.)


6 Comments on “Dreaming of a hypnotist clown.”

  1. isthisthemiddle says:

    A hypnotist-clown has a lot of potential to me– he might not be scary to you, but he’d terrify a lot of readers!

  2. Love your descriptions of the dream and the clown, it reminds me of Ligotti’s story, “gas station carnival’s”. I have been doing dream analysis for many years, mostly for friends. (its hard to get a good read on family because my own feelings come into play) When I have a bit more time I will come back and do an analysis.

  3. OK, here is what I get from your dream.
    Some basic symbolism of the subconscious:
    While clowns can sometimes mean happiness, jubilance or playtime, often for adults they can symbolize deception. (the clown is always smiling even though there is a human behind the mask that has a full range of emotions).The long corridors that you are touring most likely represent your life, as viewed by others (what you let others see of your life, thoughts, and experiences.)

    What the dream means in your real life:
    It seems as though you had thought that someone was trying to deceive you, further exemplified by the hypnotist aspect of the clown (trying to mesmerize you). However you were resistant and firm in your belief that you were not going to be fooled. You perhaps gave them the benefit of the doubt initially but decided they were not being frank with you. You may have even told this individual you did not believe them in some way or another (either verbally or by your actions).

    However, it now seems that you have recently discovered that this person had been at least partially honest with you, (lack of face paint on the clown), and perhaps not very deceitful at all. In fact, they may have been fully honest with you and you are just now realizing it. (another possibility is they had not told you the whole truth to protect you, somehow for your own good.)

    This situation is bothering you and you want to apologize for mistrusting this person, but you don’t know how to do this. You either can not find the words, or the person is no longer in your life, or there is some sort of separation that prevents you from doing so. The reason you wake up during this dream is, your subconscious wants you to resolve this, wants you to take some action, and is literally telling you to ‘wake up’ and fix this.

    In the end, you have the question, how would a hypnotist clown help you on a ghost investigation? It is not a literal ghost investigation. The ghost hunt represents a mystery that you must delve into and find clues. Your subconscious mind in now telling you that, since this person was telling you the truth all along, it could help explain some other aspect in your life that always seemed like a mystery.

    Think about this and let me know if it pertains to your situation.

    • Ah! I’ve come to the comments that I’ve been feeling REALLY guilty about not answering in a timely manner. I can’t believe you took the time to think this through and write it up – I’m very grateful. (But I’ve also been a bit of a slump lately and not taking care of business the way I should. I apologize.)

      I think “deception” is just slightly off in this case, but I can see a parallel: A close, trusted family member did advise me recently. I heard what he had to say, knew he was technically right, yet chose to follow my heart instead of his wisdom. When I had the dream, I was coming to grips with the reality of the consequences of my choice – and how it might have been easier (safer) to do as he suggested.

      Much of what you said, however, rings true on a deep level. I am absolutely in a flux-state that makes me feel somewhat alienated from my old support system.

      I was particularly struck by the idea that waking during a dream can be literally interpreted as a wake-up call. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

      I love dreaming, by the way – even when the dream is a nightmare. I think one can learn a great deal about one’s self.

      Thanks again for taking the time to do this.

  4. I usually do these in person so I can ask a few questions while I’m doing the reading. The other path I was going to go down was perhaps you were deceiving yourself. Perhaps ‘mislead’ would have been a better term – I didn’t mean it to be necessarily malicious in nature. And yes, dreams can be a wonderful tool for dealing with real life situations.

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