July, 13, 2010
Prof. La Torre-Lagares
The Study of Dreams: A Source of Inner Truth
While we sleep, our bodies rest from the events of the day and recharge in order to face the next round of challenges it will face during its waking life. During sleep, our brains produce a fractured, often nonsensical combination of random events and people,otherwise known as dreams. These dreams often provoke powerful reactions of fear or pleasure, as, for all their improbability, they follow reality in such a way as to trick the dreamer into reacting to this fantasy world as if it actually existed. So have you ever wondered why you dream at all? This question has fascinated people since the beginning of history, but today we still don't fullyunderstand. Dreams have influenced mighty kings, given insights to world-changing scientists and inspired gifted artists. The importance and power of dreams are well established. From the temples of antiquity to the sleep labs of modern days, humans have tried to understand, explain and apply them. Dreams have captivated philosophers for thousands of years, but only recently have dreams been subjectedto empirical research and concentrated scientific study. Chances are that you’ve often found yourself puzzling over the mysterious content of a dream, or perhaps you’ve wondered why you dream at all. Dreams have been an important part of the human experience since time immemorial. Fragments of the earliest books come from Egypt, where dreams were considered to be the messages sent from the gods.
Abackground of Dreams through history
Dreams were so important to the Egyptians that some people made their living by interpreting dreams. One engraved tablet that has been found says, "I interpret dreams, having the gods' mandate to do so." Temples were also set up specifically for incubating dreams - especially the revelatory ones. There wasn't a specific Egyptian deity for dreams. Isis;Imhotep, Seti I, Thoth, Serapis, Ptah Sotmu, and Amon - Ra all had dream temples. These temples were open to everyone, regardless of age, status, health or gender. The only requirements were the absolute faith in the deity's influence and the 'purity' of the supplicant, probably meaning that the dreamer has been chaste in the days before arriving at the temple. It is thought that offerings andprayers were offered to the representational statues of the deity before the dreamer went to sleep. Originally, it is thought that the function of Egyptian dream incubation was to gain a method of healing, such as a medicine or a prayer, or to get healed directly by a deity. Isis was especially popular in this respect; she has long been described as the 'healer of all diseases'. One papyrus has beenfound also states that Isis created magic was to arm humans with an effective weapon against the dangers that can abound both in sleep and wakefulness.
The Egyptians were influential the Greek ways of looking at dreams especially with incubating dreams and the dream temples. Most Greek dream temples were set in the country where they were surrounded by natural beauty and the people seekinga dream could forget the cares of everyday life. Like the Egyptians, Greek supplicants were required to be 'pure' when asking for a dream. In addition, certain foods considered to inhibit dreams were avoided, such as alcohol and broad beans. Offerings to the deities depended on the wealth of the supplicant and often ranged from small, flat cakes dipped in honey to sacrificial animals. Originally,only Zeus was thought to send divine dreams but as time went on, other gods were recognized to also send dreams: Athena, Hera, Artemis, Asklepios, Hermes, and Pan who was known as the 'conductor of dreams'. There were two gods who specifically ruled in this area - Hypnos ruled sleep and his son, Morpheus, ruled dreams.
Also Christianity wasn't exempt from dreaming, however. The bible...