History of Dream Healing

June 21, 2015 in slideshow

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My maternal Grandmother was Native American and I remembered my dreams even as a child.  My mother and family were still connected  to the mystical realm of spirit.  It was not until I went to Nursing School that I encountered a lack of reverence for the dream world.  I played doctor or nurse as a toddler and attempted to heal the various animals on the farm where I grew up.  During a psychiatric rotation in the hospital I met a psycho-dramatist and was so inspired by the emotional healing I witnessed in my patients that I traveled to New York to study at the Moreno Institute for psychodrama and sociometry.  I coupled nursing and theater in my work in Chicago for the year preceding my Peace Corps stint to Honduras.  In Latin America I had opportunity to meet the shaman for Los Colorados Indians in Ecuador and many more alternative types of healers.  It was my intent to do medical research and intern with Margaret Mead.   Upon returning to the USA I met and married a man who later became a Jungian Analyst.  We Co-Founded the Berkshire Counseling Center and I began, at his urging, to record my dreams.  My dreams encouraged my creative nature and presented a symbol connected with the God of healing in ancient Greece, ASKLEPIO.  The ancient Greeks used the arts as healing tools after receiving an invitational dream to pursue this method of healing.  I have since traveled to the ancient abatons, healing chambers, in Greece and have continued these practices in my life and work for the past 40 years.

In ancient Greece Asklepius was the Greek god of healing.  People made a spiritual or psychological pilgrimage to the healing sites called abatons.  They were often in remote places in nature where rivers converged and caves were present. They journeyed for wisdom; not healing directly, although it was often the side effect of their efforts to mature spiritually.  Participants fasted, prayed, and asked for an invitational dream to determine whether this was the appropriate venue for their growth.  They were led into a chamber to sleep and dream while the priest also slept in the ante chamber waiting for direction from his dreams as well.  Medication and surgery were also a part of the medical practices at the time; predecessors to our modern medicine and in particular, the more integrative.  A journey to new places in the physical world can encourage a journey to new places where the mind has not been before.  The patient also partook in various artistic response to her/his dream or was assigned a play or other creative activity that might “throw light” or consciousness on the area of ignorance.

We live in the “Age of Reason” and linear rational materialistic thinking prevails.  Anthropologically we are a negative Patriarchy and can not embrace metaphor.  Only that which is logical and rational makes sense and those things that can be evaluated by our senses are real.  Judeo-Christian institutions have succumbed to this thinking and few of their followers realize that the scriptures include thousands of references to importance of dreams.  This is a long discussion that will be addressed over the months and years to come.  Slowly we are seeing the resurrection of the archetypal feminine face of God, which includes this more irrational form of teaching.

In my twenties I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Kilton Stewart’s wife and cohort who had done considerable research on the Senoi people of Malaysia.  Every tribe member recorded his or her dream and the community held a dream clinic of a sort each morning.  If I hurt someone in my dream I would then approach them with an apology and perhaps a gift.  There were individuals called “halaks” who pursued a vocation in the field of dreams but everyone took dreams as an important expression of spirit to be attended to with intellect, intuition, body, and emotion.  Family members witnessed dreams for one another.  The Senoi believed that the hostility prsented in dreams must be addressed or it would be realized in their family and community.  Dr. and Mrs Stewart notes in his research that the Senoi have no need for prisons, war, or mental hospitals.  They are one of the most peaceable wholesome communities in the world.  The Stewarts and I believe this harmony is a direct result of their dream work.  Chief Seattle explains that without the guidance of the unconscious we resort to destructive behavior but the soul enlightened by dreams can achieve the nobility for which it was born.

Science has been gradually placing more credence on the subject of dreams since the second World War.  In general everyone dreams about one and a half hours in eight hours of sleep.  The rapid eye movement is indicative of the dream period.  I have observed in the hospital that an alcoholic will indulge in continuous REM sleep while withdrawing.  Alcohol is a depressant and it would seem the alcoholic is making up for the lost dream time as if it were vital to health.  Freud ushered the way for a returned respect for the unconscious. Carl Jung made the concept of individuation or a striving toward wholeness as an instinct with dreams being the guide for that higher development.