Home' Nova West : February 2010 Contents JENNY ALBERTSON
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'I suspect there are more things in heaven
and earth than are dreamed of, or can
be dreamed of ...'
THE OTHER day I was challenged to take
some of my own medicine and, as an old
advertising copywriter, say something
useful about dreams. In four words! My
reply was, "Believe in your choice."
Afterwards I was asked what this meant to
me, and it got me thinking about the choices
we need to consider if we want to unlock
the healing benefits hidden in our dreams.
One way dreamers can help themselves
to a better understanding of dream healing
is to pose this question -- "What do I believe
my dreams to be?" Of course, a simple
question like this can sometimes lead to
complex answers, so it's good to begin by
knowing something of the wide range of
choices others have made when it comes to
the wonders and mystery of dreams.
Ask this question of dreamers globally,
in the second decade of the second
millennium, and you will get a catalogue
of answers ranging through all possibilities
from Gilgamesh to Jung and beyond. But
broadly speaking, three main groups of
theories about the meaning and purpose of
dreams have persisted through the ages.
The first and earliest of these views
was held by primitive societies and certain
religious groups. Similar beliefs also surface
close to home when we are lucky enough
to be told the dreams of young children.
Here the dreamer believes their dreams
come from somewhere "outside" the body,
and are either good or bad. Traditionally,
in this belief, a good dream comes from
an external god and is meant as a guide to
life, while a bad dream is sent by a demon
bent on destruction. A Hindu in Bali's
eastern highlands, for instance, is likely to
answer the question "What do I believe my
dreams to be?" in a completely different
way to a dreamer from a Western society.
The Hindu will talk of familiar gods and
demons they've known all their life -- a
natural extension of their dreams -- and
make daily offerings to encourage the good
and ward off the bad.
The second group of dream beliefs
came into being during medieval times. In
those days, the same question would have
been answered according to the prevailing
belief that dreams were a form of mystical
transportation where the soul left the
body to wander wherever it chose. Always
important, often thrilling and dangerous,
medieval soul explorations allowed the
dreamer to see and do things outside the
realm of embodiment, visit far distant times
and places and other worlds. The soul was
meant to return to the body before the
end of the night, but if the dreamer was
woken while it was away then difficult, even
dire, consequences could ensue. Similar
troubles are sometimes reported in our
society today by those who have found it
hard to get back to reality after an "out of
The third group of dream theories
was developed by the Greeks between
the third and first centuries BCE. Our
mainstream beliefs about dreams today
stem from this source, where the study of
dreaming, oneirology, was a science to be
taken seriously. Dreaming was seen as a
natural biological process, essential to the
functioning of the human body, a belief
that was revived in 19th century Europe.
First Sigmund Freud, working as a doctor in
fin de siecle Vienna, wrote his classic book
The Interpretation of Dreams, then Carl
Jung followed with his lifelong pursuit of
in depth dreamwork.
Dreams have been called "the
documents of the soul". This means they
contain spiritual information essential to
our life's journey and the direction we are
headed. And the process of dreaming has
been described as "organic image-messaging
from the (personal and the collective)
psyche". This means our body, as well as
our mind, is telling us something important
about health and healing in the nightly
messages sent to us in dreams.
So it's time to make a choice. Once
you've done this you can focus on the best
way to find the wisdom in your dreams. Use
your inner knowing on the path you decide
to take, as well as external guides such as
appropriate books and religious or secular
guides who appear along the way. Dreams
may be accessed in countless ways -- whether
you decide to learn the dream lore of the
Irish or the Tibetans, study The Red Book
of Carl Jung, or simply take more time to
write them down.
Using contemplation, meditation and
simple ritual you can encourage your
dreams to reveal their healing secrets.
Jenny Albertson (BA Hons MA IAJS) Jungian practitioner,
teacher and group leader for more than 20 years, has lived
and worked in London, New York, Fremantle and Sydney.
Believe in Your Choice.
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