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Divination - Oneiromancy

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From the Greek oneiros, dream, and manteia, prophecy, Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams, and also uses dreams to predict the future.  Oneirogen drugs such as Mug wort and DXM may also be used to produce or enhance dream-like states of consciousness.

It is dismissed by the scientific community and skeptics as being superstition.  Experiments do not support the idea that dreams predict the future beyond the expectations of the person dreaming.  Occasionally, the dreamer feels as if he or she is transported to another time or place, proving they are in fact providing divine information upon their return.

People who interpret dreams are known as Oneirocritics.

What is Oneiromancy?

Basically, Oneiromancy is a dream-based form of divination, i.e. a system based on interpreting dreams that uses your dreams to predict the future and obtain useful information -- in other words, dream divination.

Your dreams and the art of divination come hand in hand.  Elements of the mystical, synchronicity and surprise are in all.  They go together like peaches and cream.  To this day, dreams are a form of divination in many indigenous cultures.

In the highly developed Oneiromancy of ancient Greece, Egypt, and Babylonia, the class of diviners or seers responsible for dream interpretation often had great political and social influence.  The best-known instance of Oneiromancy preserved in ancient literature is the biblical account of Pharaoh’s dream of seven fat and seven lean cows, explained by Joseph as foretelling seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine.

In the story (Genesis 39-47), Joseph (who was sold into Egypt by his brothers) becomes the powerful advisor of the Pharaoh, who is having bad dreams.  In one of the dreams, Pharaoh dreams of seven fat cows, devoured by seven starving cows.  In the second, seven ripe, healthy sheaves of wheat are devoured by seven shrivelled, dry ones.  Joseph correctly predicts that this means,

"Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt.  After them will come seven years of famine and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten.  As the land is ravaged by famine, no trace of the abundance will be left in the land … And let Pharaoh take steps to appoint overseers over the land, and organise by taking a fifth part of the land’s produce in the seven years of plenty.  Let all the food of those good years that are coming be gathered and let the grain be collected under Pharaoh’s authority as food to be stored in cities.  Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine."

Joseph’s understanding and forethought enabled Egyptians, and ultimately his own family to survive the famine (1708 - 1701 BCE), in which "…there was no bread in all the world."

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The Lost Art of Dream Divination

Dreams allow us to go on a mysterious adventure, calling us to better understand our life, our personal vocation.  In every dream there is a message, a part of us that needs to be heard, a guiding light, a healthy outlet for fantasies, creative inspiration and a way to cultivate our evolution as the beings that we are and will become.  That is to say, as we familiarise with the hidden meanings of our dreams, we are given a deeper sense of understanding ourselves, leading us to better our lives.

Do not underestimate the power of understanding your dreams.  As a western culture we have lost touch with our right to dream -- we have emphasised waking life so much that the art of dream divination has until most recently been lost to us.  We sleep one third of our entire lives, imagine reclaiming some of that time.  There is so much we are capable of as human beings, and dream divination can be an important part in the positive progress of who we are as individuals and even collectively.

Dream Interpretation

Interpreting dreams is not a new science.  It was well known to our ancestors the Egyptian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Celt, Maya, Aztec, Inca and all Native Americans Nations in North, Central, and South America in pre-Hispanic times, and today between the Shamans of the Amazon basin and anywhere in America, Africa or Asia, and Oceania including Australia and New Zealand, where Native Indigenous cultures have survived the onslaught of so call Western civilisation.

A unique example of a book of dream-interpretation survives from pre-Hellenistic Egypt, the so-called Ramesside Dream-Book, known as The Dream Book.  This is on papyrus and gives a list of dreams and their interpretations

The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians.  This hieratic papyrus, probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279 - 1213 BCE).  On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins: “if a man sees himself in a dream”; each horizontal line then describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and finally the interpretation.  For example, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry’.  Or, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife’.  The text first lists good dreams, and then bad ones with the word ‘bad’ written in red, ‘the colour of ill omen’.

The papyrus had several owners before it was, presumably, deposited in the cemetery at Deir el-Medina.  It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef.  On the other side of the papyrus, the scribe copied a poem about the Battle of Kadesh, which took place in the reign of Ramesses II.  The Dream Book passed to Khaemamen, Qeniherkhepshef’s wife’s second husband, and then to his son Amennakht (both added their name to the papyrus).  The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through the family for more than a century.

Dream Interpreters

Types of Dream

The main types of Dream are as follows:

Type      Description
Daydreams      The main difference between a daydream and all other types of dream is that you're awake during a daydream.
Recurring Dreams      Dreams that repeat more than once.
False Awakenings      Healing dreams.
Prophetic Dreams      Vivid dreams.

Artemidorus Daldianus

Daldianus, or Ephesius, was a professional diviner who lived in the 2nd century CE -- quite some time after Joseph.  He is known from an extant five-volume Greek work, the Oneirocritica or Oneirokritikon (English: The Interpretation of Dreams).

Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

An Austrian neurologist, philosopher and the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud remains one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.  His basic insight that our minds preserve memories and emotions which are not always consciously available to us has transformed the way humanity views itself ever since.  Freud said that there had been three great humiliations in human history: Galileo’s discovery that we were not the center of the universe, Darwin’s discovery that we were not the crown of creation, and his own discovery that we are not in control of our own minds.

The tendency of modern people to trace their problems to childhood traumas or other repressed emotions begins with Freud.  One of Freud’s more important discoveries is that emotions buried in the unconscious surface in disguised form during dreaming, and that the remembered fragments of dreams can help to uncover the buried feelings.  Whether the mechanism is exactly as Freud describes it, many people have derived insights into themselves from studying their dreams, and most modern people consider dreams emotionally significant, unlike our ancestors who often saw them either as divine portents or as the bizarre side-effects of indigestion.

Freud argues that dreams are wish-fulfillments, and will ultimately argue that those wishes are the result of repressed or frustrated sexual desires.  The anxiety surrounding these desires turns some dreams into nightmares.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961)

Jung was one of Sigmund Freud’s followers and co-workers.  He developed many theories about dreams, a lot of them disagreeing with Freud.  Jung thought dreams were a tool to help us grow and were interpretations about life.

Carl Jung is one of the most respected and recognised psychologists of all time; many people know Jung as one of Sigmund Freud’s followers and co-workers. Jung’s emphasis in the field in psychology had to do with dreams. Jung developed many theories about dreams, a lot of them disagreeing with Freud. Jung was a great psychologist and psychiatrist that changed the ways of psychology today.

Jung thought that dreams were a tool to help us grow, not just to release extreme sexual desires. Jung felt that dreams were more than about sex, they were about life.  Jung said that sexual drive doesn’t even motivate us as much as the fear of death.  He was an inspiration to all in the psychology field, his theories being instrumental in psychology and psychiatry fields today.  He was a brilliant man not afraid to stand on his own for what he believed in.

It was Jung, a contemporary of Edgar Cayce’s, who found convincing evidence for a deep level to the unconscious mind.  This profound depth, Jung felt, came from a genuine spiritual reality that hadn’t been acknowledged by Freud.  Jung called this level the 'collective unconscious', where all minds could communicate through the use of universal symbols -- images which seem to have a common meaning among people all over the world.

For example, a symbol such as a lion or a great cat has a universal or archetypal meaning of power and vitality.  Birds frequently symbolise various kinds of love or concern; water is often suggestive of the Spirit itself.  An old woman or an old man or a grandfatherly figure can symbolise our own 'Higher Self' or our own internal wisdom.  Myths or fairy tales often have similarities among cultures, and these similarities are shown through their universal symbols and themes, which are often contained in our own dreams.

Of course, not all the symbols and Images in our dreams represent the universal or archetypal.  Many, if not most, are best interpreted by discovering the personal associations one has with that person or object.  The dream symbol of a rifle, for example, would likely mean one thing to a gunsmith and something quite different to a victim of war.

Edgar Cayce (1877 – 1945)

Edgar Cayce, also known as 'The Sleeping Prophet', was an American mystic who answered questions while in a trance.  He would provide average individuals with guidelines for working with what has become one of the most practical approaches to dreams.

Although it is true that many of us do not make a conscious effort to remember our dreams, everyone dreams.  During the early part of this century, while psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were demonstrating the clinical importance of dreams, Edgar Cayce was providing average individuals with guidelines for working with what has become one of the most practical approaches to dreams.  Hundreds of his readings deal with the subject of dreams and dream interpretation.  Perhaps the most important insights gained from the wealth of this material is the fact that each of us is aware of much more about ourselves, our physical bodies, our surroundings, even our lifestyles-at subconscious levels than we realise when we are awake.

In the dream state we open our minds to many different levels of our own unconscious.  Not only are all of our previous conscious experiences stored there, but it is also the storehouse of resources which rarely come to conscious awareness.  The subconscious has remarkable talents for finding solutions to problems -- it houses all of our wishes, hopes, and memories of past experiences, and can also assist us with self-examination, providing practical guidance for any question.  It even makes it possible for us to have psychic experiences.

Dreams can diagnose the causes of our physical ailments, point out the thoughts and emotions that we’ve tried to overlook, and often make suggestions for improving our relationships with others.  While dreaming, we can gain awareness about our entire being, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

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