Our dreams can guide our waking lives if we only ask.
BY: Pythia Peay
The idea that God speaks to us through our dreams is powerfully conveyed in the Old Testament story of Jacob and the ladder; in it, Jacob dreamed of a ladder reaching up into heaven, with angels ascending and descending. It is a beautiful metaphor of the way dreams are a bridge between worlds. In their prayers, students of the Sufi Order invoke the "spirit of guidance," who embodies the wisdom of all the illuminated souls. Thus, like winged messengers, our dreams take flight at night to the universal source of divine knowledge, returning like angels with advice to help guide us through the labyrinthine confusions of everyday life.
This was a well-known secret to the shamans of Paleolithic cultures, who turned to their dreams to get guidance on the next day's hunt. Both the Greeks and Egyptians made pilgrimages to sacred dream sanctuaries, where they sought visitation from a god in a dream to cure their illnesses through the practice of "dream incubation." The ancient Egyptians, for instance, worshipped Serapis, the god of Dreams, and built temples devoted to his worship. In Greece, dream interpretation was considered one of the "important signs of civilization" and dream incubation became a highly developed art. People traveled from around the world to visit the famous shrines dedicated to the god of healing, Aesculapius, where they underwent elaborate purification ceremonies before sleeping in the god's temple.
These historical accounts show the great benefit that can come from attending to the voice of God through dreams. The technique of dream incubation - formulating a question to be answered in our dreams before falling asleep - tells us that within our psyches resides a wise oracle, a spirit of guidance, to whom we can turn for help. Though we may not have a temple to retreat to for dreamwork today, we can draw upon the wisdom of the past in crafting our own dream incubation ritual. By showing our unconscious the same respect we would give to a priest or a goddess, we create the conditions that allow our spirit guide to speak to us. Indeed, dreams are a kind of ongoing conversation with our own soul. For this reason, when we work with our dreams over time, a gradual evolution in consciousness occurs as we are allowing our soul to do its work within us. It's as if the wisdom of nature within each of us is cooperating through our dreams in order to help find the healing solution to our life dilemmas.