A dream is a series of images, thoughts and sensations that occur in a person’s mind during sleep. What you see in your dream can include people you know, people you don’t know, places you have seen and places you have never been to or even heard of.
Dreams can be your private fantasies, your darkest secrets, your biggest fears, or they may be recollections of things that happened during the day or at some previous time.
The mind can experience just about anything during a dream with no reason to what you dream about. Due to the ubiquitous nature of dreams, studies on dreams and dreaming are very popular in research facilities and universities. But, it is also true that very little is known about how the brain operates and what exactly dreams are and whether or not they are meaningful to humans.
Dreams and Dreaming in Ancient Cultures:
Fragments of the earliest books on dreams come from Egypt. In those days, dreams were considered as messages sent to people from the Gods. Dreams were divided into three categories including:
Revelatory: Dreams with revelations, dreams which revealed something such as a hidden object or perhaps a new medicine, or dreams which foretold any future events.
Informational: Dreams that were able to provide information.
Pious: A dream where someone experiences the appearance of a deity who may be pleading or demanding their worshipper to perform an act of devotion.
To the Egyptians, dreams were extremely important and many people even made a living interpreting dreams. In fact, the process of ‘dream incubation’ started in Egypt. Whenever an individual had problems in his life and needed God’s help, he would sleep in a temple and the next morning, a priest would interpret that night’s dream.
It was not until the 8th century BC when Greeks began taking their dreams seriously. According to the Greeks, their dreams carried divine messages, but only a priest just as in Egyptian culture could interpret their dreams.
Dreams aided in their early practice of medicine where sick people were sent to temples to perform religious rites and to sleep and to dream. They would sleep in the temples until they had the right dream which would assure them a return to good health.
The Romans, Christians and Middle Eastern cultures were also very interested in dream interpretation during the early stages. But, it was not until the 19th century when the Europeans began to be more curious about dreams and dreaming.
Dreams and Dreaming in Various Cultures:
The Muria people of India interpret dreams as what the soul sees. Dreams are analyzed only by the village’s wisest man as it is believed that dreams come from another world. Dreams of death in this culture are considered good luck.
For the people of Haiti, dreams give them advice. This is also true of the Finnish people. Names for newborn babies are often chosen as the result of a Mother’s dream.
Native Americans used dream catchers to facilitate the process of dreams. Dreams would help teenagers discover their destiny and identity.
In New Zealand, the Maoris believe that they dream for a purpose. When they dream, they believe that their minds leave their bodies to search for answers.
In the Zulu tradition, dreams are used as warnings. A Zulu would know when an enemy or danger is approaching, thanks to his dreams. They are often able to predict weddings, deaths and wars.
For these people dreaming in summer is thought to bring good luck, although dreaming in winter is believed to bring bad luck.