Dreaming: Remembering, Interpreting, Benefiting

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9780132195102: Dreaming: Remembering, Interpreting, Benefiting

Already a classic in its field, Dreaming by Derek and Julia Parker is the most authoritative and comprehensive book available on this fascinating subject. The best-selling authors of The New Compleat Astrologer and The Future Now explain how you can interpret your dreams in a way that is totally individual to you. This lavishly illustrated book is divided into two sections. "The Dream Workshop" provides the historical background and latest conclusions about dreams and explains how you can improve your dream recall. "The Dream Directory" offers a practical approach to the interpretation of more than 1,500 dream themes and subjects. With Dreaming on your nightstand, you will never again have to spend another day perplexed or confused about the meaning and significance of your nighttime visions.

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About the Author:

Derek and Julia Parker are internationally renowned experts in dream interpretation, predictive techniques and the occult. Derek Parker is past president of the Faculty of Astrological Studies, and Julia Parker is a professional astrologer and writer.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Mystery of Dreaming

From the earliest times humans have been fascinated by their dreams, by the relationship between the shadowy people and events which crowd into our sleeping hours, and the people and events of our waking life. At one time, dreams were thought to be of divine origin. Even today, they contain an element of mystery that separates them from our ordinary existence. So it's not surprising that a belief in the significance of dreams has survived to this day, and even though we may no longer believe in their divine origin, dreams continue to be important to us.

It takes little effort to realize that dreams affect our waking lives. Watch your dog as he wakes from a dream: having barked and twitched for several minutes, he will, on waking, often behave as though he has just come in from an energetic walk, wagging his tail cheerfully -- or, on the other hand, put his tail between his legs and look thoroughly cowed, as though expecting to be reprimanded for bad behaviour. Similarly, we ourselves can wake up in the morning cheered by a happy dream or depressed by a bad dream; there is some evidence to suggest that when we feel irrationally depressed, the depression may be the result of a forgotten dream.

What is a dream? That is the mystery. The question is hard to answer, since it involves the basis of mental activity,just as it is hard to define gravity, or what people mean by the soul. At one level, we dream when, in a certain phase of sleep, our brain creates a series of images, usually in the form of events which appear to us on the private screen of our mind; we are conscious of these images just as though they were real to us -- it is only very rarely that we know that they are only dreams.

It is important, here, to dispose of the "lucid dream" -- the dream in which we are conscious that we are dreaming: we jump happily off a mountain top in the knowledge that it is "only a dream"; we can even shape our dreams as though we are writing a screenplay for a film in which we are starring. In this book we disregard the lucid dream, for by its nature, because we can control it, because we know we are dreaming it, it seems extremely unlikely to be of real use to the dreamer. The whole point of the psychological interpretation of a dream is that, in it, we are not ourselves (or in another sense most completely ourselves!) -- our guard is down, we are uninhibited and free of the constraints of waking life. Intervening in a lucid dream, we may destroy its usefulness, we may be devaluing our dream as a means of revealing ourselves to ourselves.

The images in a normal dream sometimes relate to each other in a fantastic, surrealist, unreal way. On the other hand, they sometimes tell a straightforward story of an easily understood kind, or they can simply exist as disconnected snatches, scenes which seem entirely unrelated to each other or to our waking life.

The general view held by those, from Freud onwards, who have studied dreams, is that while some of them have no meaning other than as distorted memories of incidents we have experienced while awake, many are probably messages from the unconscious, from the depths of our personality, depths with which we are not consciously in touch. They may indeed be the chief source of readily available information about what we are really like, under the surface veneer of education, environment, social consciousness, for dreams are notoriously unaffected by social considerations.

Dreams in antiquity

The earliest records of the life of man show that dreams have always been regarded as important. The ancient Egyptians believed that they were messages from the gods, and produced, 1,300 years before Christ, the earliest dream book giving over 200 interpretations of those messages. Interestingly, the Egyptian interpreters put forward the theory of opposites: that to dream of death was an omen of long life, for instance. Freud, the great originator of modern dream theory, also advanced the theory that dream symbols often relied on a system of contrary symbols.

The Assyrians, too, had their dream books: the library of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal (c.669-626BC) is believed to have contained books of dream interpretations dating from 2000BC; and his own personal dream book is said to have been one of the chief sources used by the Greek Artemidorus, who wrote the most famous dream book of the ancient world.

The Old Testament is full of dreams, probably the oldest dreams familiar to most people -- those of Daniel and Jacob, Nebuchadnezzar and Solomon. Despite religious differences, there were few disparities between the Jewish interpretations of the dreams sent to man by their God, and those dispatched by the multifarious gods of other religions. The prophet Mohammed believed dreams to be extremely important, starting each day by asking his disciples what they had dreamed, and telling them his own.

The Greeks, with their passion for the rationalization of knowledge, made use of Egyptian, Assyrian, Jewish, Babylonian and Persian dream theories. Their interpretation of dream symbols was widely different: for instance, while the Greeks thought that a dream of a snake signified sickness and enmity, the Assyrians believed that dreaming of seizing a snake meant that you would receive the special protection of an angel. The Jews thought that a dream of being bitten by a snake meant that the dreamer's income would be doubled, while to an Egyptian a snake, appearing in a dream, signified the settling of a dispute. These beliefs are echoed, even today, in the so-called "dream books" which suggest that if you dream of, say, a black bird, it is an omen of evil.

The Greeks also believed dreams to be divine messages. Homer records dream messages from Zeus, sent to man through a gate of horn (forged messages were also received, issuing from a gate of ivory). Herodotus reports some famous dreams, including that which persuaded Xerxes to set off on what proved a disastrous expedition into Greece. And Delphi, spiritual centre of ancient Greece, was famous for ambiguous interpretations.

Many sacred places in Greece were used for the "incubation" of dreams: visitors would take drugs and herbal potions to induce sleep, and regard their dreams as important prophecies, with special reference to their ailments and afflictions. Aesculapius, the god of medicine, was the tutelary deity of over 300 incubation temples from the first millennium BC onwards, and the temple at Epidaurus in Greece was in use for many hundreds of years. Here is yet another anticipation of the future: twentieth century psychiatrists encourage patients to remember their dreams not for reasons of prophetic revelation or physical cure, certainly, but rather for reasons of self-revelation and self-help. The whole purpose of this book is to enable you to remember your dreams, record them, and interpret them, in the belief that they can be helpful in the waking life.

The idea of dreams as a revelation of man's true nature -- the modern view -- also originated with the Greeks. Plato, in The Republic, claimed that man's true nature showed itself in dreams.

Plato wrote:

When the gentler part of the soul slumbers and the control of reason is withdrawn; then the wild beast in us, full-fed with meat or drink, becomes rampant and shakes off sleep to go in quest of what will gratify its own instincts. As you know, it will cast away all shame and prudence at such moments and stick at nothing. In fantasy it will not shrink from intercourse with a mother or anyone else, man, god, brute, or from forbidden food or any deed of blood. In a word, it will go to any length of shamelessness and folly.

Aristotle, on the other hand, tried to explain dreams as the products of purely physiological functions: when one slept, the food in the body evaporated, and liquids passed to the head where dreams were mirrored on the surface of the fluids, like images on water. Nevertheless, he believed that dreams could usefully predict the onset of diseases unobserved by the waking body. In the Parva Naturalia he states that "since the beginning of all things are small, obviously the beginnings of disease and other distempers, which are about to visit the body, must be small. Clearly, these must be more evident in sleep than in the waking state." Hippocrates took the same view. Both Plato and Aristotle, then, advanced theories which our twentieth century psychiatrists have confirmed. With such notions, especially those of Plato, we are almost at one bound in the world of Freud, and surprisingly little original work on dreams was done in the centuries between.

The first substantial published work on dreams, the Oneirocritica, a five-volume work of the Greek Artemidorus (2nd century AD), argued that a dream was individual to the dreamer. The book, which had an enormous influence (it was published in English for the first time in 1644, and went into 24 editions during the next century) is in many ways extremely modern. Perhaps most importantly, it underlined the principle of association -- the fact that a dream image generally evokes some associated image in the conscious mind (though Artemidorus relied on the association in the mind of the dream interpreter, rather than that of the dreamer, which seems irrational).

Artemidorus wrote, potently, that dreams "are infused into men for their advantage and instruction". He happened to believe that they were messages from the gods; but the attitude was again a modern one. He condemned arbitrary and over-literal interpretation, studied recurring dreams, and like Jung two millennia later, believed in the idea of the "great dream", the seminally important dream, which he believed most difficult to interpret.

In interpreting a dream, Artemidorus suggested that there were six important things to be considered: one was simply the dreamer's name, but the others were his occupation, the conditions under which the dream had occurred, and whether it was natural, lawful and customary. He was conscious of many of the tricks dreams can play -- including the use of puns -- and some of his interpretations seem to anticipate the kind of approach used by modern psychiatrists: a dream of the mouth, for instance, he interprets as probably representing a house, and the teeth the inhabitants; so the loss of a tooth therefore symbolized the death of a member of the household.

Christianity revived the view, never really discarded, that dreams were sent by the gods to communicate their commands to their subjects (in this case, of course, the communicator was the Christian God). The Bible is full of such dreams, and so are the writings of St Clement, St John Chrysostom, St Augustine and many other early Church fathers. St Jerome, almost single-handedly, reversed this trend: troubled with "difficult" dreams which appeared to run counter to current Christian morality, he asserted that they came from the devil, and condemned them; from then on, the Church took the view that dreams were not from God, and must be ignored. Martin Luther suggested that dreams could help us by showing us our sins.

Dream interpretation and cultural diversity

In India, the ancient Hindu scriptures called the Puranas reported that dreams were messages from the gods; to the Buddhists, emerging in India somewhat later, in the 5th century BC, they were "signs traversing the paths of thought" which rose mistily before the dreamer like mirrored reflections. In the Hindu Brihadarmyaka-Upanishad (c.1000BC) it was made clear that dreams occurred in a never-never land between the real and the promised world, but that the "real" world was in fact less real than the dream one, in which the lack of physical sensations freed man from inhibitions, so that his true character emerged.

In the Islamic world, al Mas'adi, an Arab writer, asserted that sleep was a "preoccupation of the soul", though dreams could be suggested by the physical condition of the dreamer. AL Mas'adi also took the Freudian view that in dreams the most secret desires could rise to the surface, uninhibited by moral attitudes:

If the sleeper sees things which meet his desires, that is because the soul...can, when it is purified in sleep from the defilements of the body, float at its ease over everything that it desires to possess.

Nevertheless, to the Prophet Mohammed, dreams remained "a conversation between man and his God", and as with the Christian priests, Islamic mullahs and religious men insisted that they were the only reliable interpreters -- and they also underlined a view which was positively discriminatory: unimportant people did not need to dream, so the slave's dream was obviously a message for his master, that of the wife must be for her husband, that of the child for its parents.

Chinese scholars believed that dreams occurred when the spiritual soul, the hun, was temporarily separated from the body, and could converse with spirits, the souls of the dead, or the gods. In the 14th century AD all visitors to an important city had to spend their first night there in the temple of the city god, so that they could receive any messages, a practice which shares some features with the "incubation" temples of the classical period.

In the West, the earliest dream books appeared soon after the publication of the Gutenberg Bible in the 15th century, teaching among other things how to encourage predictive dreams (eat a salted herring before going to sleep and you would dream of a future partner). A dream book based on the writings of Artemidorus, also circulated widely, as we have seen, giving firm meanings for almost every conceivable dream symbol.

The Romans, much given to divination of all kinds, had allowed soothsayers to run riot in the interpretation of "significant" premonitory dreams. Galen (c.130-201AD) made some attempt to show that a dream might indicate an unsuspected illness, but Cicero accepted the idea of predictive dreams; Synesius of Cyrene, a Platonist (4th century AD) also believed that in dreams we "conjecture the action of the future". It was this attitude which engendered an atmosphere in which dream books flourished, interpreting a particular symbol in a particular way, whoever the dreamer might be. For over 1,500 years these presented the simplest notion of dreams as arbitrary symbols.

The approach to dreams made by relatively primitive 20th-century peoples bears some resemblance to the traditional attitude of Western cultures until comparatively recently. They all regard their dreams as important, and many of them believe that the dreams relate the adventures of the soul when it leaves the body during sleep (as did the ancient Egyptians and Chinese). Natives of Greenland and New Guinea alike hold this view. Some African tribes -- and in parts of Africa dream life is held as being almost as important as waking life -- believe that dream battles can take place; waking with sore arm muscles, a man will assume that he has been wielding his club during the night! The Zulu people regard dreams as messages not from gods but from ancestors (they perform much the same function, however). Some Indians will try to paint the face of a sleeping enemy, in order that the soul, adventuring in dream, will fail to recognize its body, and so be forever lost.

The American Indians have always regarded dreams as of the utmost importance, especially in the education of the...

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