Oneiromancy – What is it?
“when the sleeper is temporarily in the primeval ocean of Nun, and he awakens in a dream, he finds himself within the confines of the farworld, and able to interact with the other inhabitants.”
~ Ancient Egyptian Text
Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future. Carl Jung later focused this idea and formed theories, experiments, and terminology around oneiromancy.
Dream divination has been with us for as long as humans have been dreaming. Here are just a few examples:
- Dating from the Third Dynasty of Ur (circa 2100 BC), the Epic of Gilgamesh is often regarded as the earliest surviving great work of literature. This book reflects heavily on the belief that our ancients looked to our dreams to predict, roughly, our future, by his persistence to sleep on things and gather information from his dreams before making decisions.
- A unique example of a book of dream-interpretation survives from pre-Hellenistic Egypt, the “Ramesside Dream-Book.” Copied under the reign of Ramses II, the surviving fragments were collected and translated into English by Kasia Szpakowska.
- Dreams occur throughout the Bible as omens or messages from God
- Dream divination was a common feature of Greek and Roman religion and literature of all genres. Aristotle and Plato discuss dreams in various works. The only surviving Greco-Roman dreambook, the Oneirocritica was written by Artemidorus. He suggests that dreams are unique to the individual, and that a person’s waking life will affect the symbols in his dreams. He shows awareness of the dreaming mind’s capacity to use metaphors in its messages.
- In the Arabic tradition, dreams about specific numbers or about reading specific chapters of the Qurʼan are among the chief subjects of prognostication. The most renowned of the Arabic texts of oneiromancy is the Great Book of Interpretation of Dreams.