Because this question is always on my mind, I often ask dream characters who they are, or engage them in very personal exchanges in order to understand their purpose in the dream.
Last week, I had the following lucid dream, in which I encountered two unknown women, whose responses to my statements about returning to my own world prompted surprising replies. Here is the dream:
Then I seem to be "back," at least partly, witnessing and participating in the process of my return. Julie has a key that I know is essential to making the return possible. I took the key from her, and put the key into a socket. When I inserted it, I felt a subtle vibration and then saw a mist begin to develop around the socket. In the middle of the mist, I saw what appeared to be in embryonic white form, which was not fully developed. It was floating in the middle of the air. Then I looked away and saw gifts began to appear all around me all wrapped in colorful paper. A woman who is standing nearby eagerly took one and was going to open it when I said to her, "Please don't do that, yet; let's wait until the process is complete." She agrees to wait, and I look back to the area where the mist had been forming, and now instead of some protoplasmic form, I see a small gazebo that was colored white and red about 2 feet in diameter which had a spire that reached seven or 8 feet above my head. The spire is open at the top, as if the ribs of the spire are supporting the tip, allowing me to see the 1st foot or two of the space at the end of the spire before it became fully enclosed again until it opens at the base. In the space between the very tip and where it became enclosed, I see that there is a golden liquid flowing from the tip toward the base, which appears to be liquid gold. The source of it, however, is puzzling, because neither does there seem to be gold flowing from the sky into the tip, but there doesn't seem to be any way for the liquid to get there from the bottom part of the gazebo, either. I am fascinated by this riveting image, and want to touch the golden liquid. So as it emerges from the base into a pool right in front of me, I reach out and put my hands into the flow of the liquid. I then withdraw my hands and look at the back my hands, only to see that they were covered with gold liquid which has the consistency of water, not metal. I am immensely delighted, and then find myself back in bed.
I think it's interesting that the dream culminates in such glorious fashion after having the two female dream characters promise to reach out to me, or to accompany me in my world. It's as if their willingness is expressed by the bounty of the golden fluid that flows from their world into mine. There's a lot here, but regardless of what it all means, this dream is another chapter in my ongoing quest to understand the identity of lucid dream figures (or persons!).