Dreams & Prophecy
The History of Dreams
For most ancient cultures sleeping dreams and waking visions opened the locked doors to the secret corridors of the future.
"As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass."
The Bible, considered one of the oldest books know to us, mentions dreams or visions and their guidance over seven hundred times. The Old Testament stories of Daniel and Joseph revolve around the messages of dreams. The New Testament book of Matthew, Chapters 1 and 2 tells of specific dreams which provided advance knowledge or warning to the dreamer. In Matthew 1:20, Joseph is informed in a dream that Mary is pregnant with Jesus. In Matthew 2:13-14, Joseph was instructed in a dream to leave Egypt with Mary and Jesus to avoid the wrath of Herod.
Obviously dreams were considered and important factor in altering our lives. Our ancient ancestors believed that messages from gods were delivered in the form of dreams. These communications were considered a divine guidance; a truth that could heal, solve problems and bring spiritual wealth, happiness and understanding to the dreamer. It was also believed that the truth of a dream required the interpretation of priests or oracles. Intricate temples, such as Epidaurus near Corinth, were designed and constructed for the interpreters.
The Greek temples were originally centers of worship for the healing god Aesculapius, but the healing energies of dreams soon transformed them into hospitals. People would travel tremendous distances for the privilege of entering a temple to consult with a priest. The dreamer would describe his/her dream to the priest who was trained in interpretation and the ability to uncover the hidden truth gleaned through dream information. The following day and night would be spent in prayer, ceremony and preparation by the dreamer for a guiding explanation or physical healing. It was not unusual for the seeker to experience a revelation during this period and, according to ancient legends, it wasn't at all unusual for the ill or crippled to be fully healed.
The significance of dreaming waned as cultures developed. Then, Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1900, re-awakened an avid interest in the subject.
His revolutionary concept was that dreams are created by memories, thoughts, wishes and fears stored in a person's brain. Carl Jung's work on dreams enhanced the theories of Freud and furthered the scientific study of an intangible topic. Jung believed that dreams were a fertile tool for learning about ourselves and attaining the full potential of our lives. Jung believed that people often had similar dreams because there exists a collective unconscious in which we all share a basic knowledge, even though cultures and education differ greatly.
Today there are over a dozen dream research laboratories actively investigating this intriguing phenomenon. The physiology of modern dream research has defined terms such as Alpha, Beta, and Theta sleep cycles and REM, Rapid Eye Movement. Analysts have been able to pinpoint the fact that most dreams occur during REM and that this eye movement is caused by us watching our own dream-visions just as we watch the things that go on around us while we are awake.