4 week online course
Sep 13, 20, 27 & 4 October 2022 7:00- 8:30 pm GMT
PLEASE NOTE: All classes will also be recorded and archived for students who cannot make that time
Each session includes a short hypnagogic meditation of 25 minutes.
Temple Sleep: Ancient Dream Oracles and Sleep Medicine
How can a dream be medicine? How can a dream reveal the future?
In ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece, it was thought that an auspicious dream could offer an opportunity to receive divine and miraculous healing. Entire sanctuaries and temple complexes were dedicated to dream space, sleep medicine and oneiric oracles. These centres functioned somewhat like a religious or spiritual spa and healing was usually delivered in a dream by beatific appearance or transcendent touch of a god or goddess.
The Greek god Asklepios is probably the most famous dream physician and you might imagine him as a sort of ancient Greek Wim Hof figure, dunking willing supplicants into chill spring water and promoting other immune-boosting tactics such as emotional catharsis through art, movement and song, fasting and abstinence from sex. Archaeological evidence for over 300 Asklepions (Sleep Sanctuaries dedicated to Asklepios) have been found across the vast territory of Hellenistic Greece. There is even at least one Sleep Temple in the UK – at Lydney Park in the Forest of Dean. This is a British-Romano temple dedicated to the Celtic deity Nodens (of the Silver Hand). Archaeologist Tessa Wheeler and her husband Mortimer, excavated the site with assistance from a young JRR Tolkien who, inspired by the folklore and discoveries of the dig, went on to weave these influences into Lord of the Rings.
In this session we will explore the roots of dream medicine culture in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, in ancient rituals of astral irradiation, dream divination and miracle-making and the divine celestial influence of night time oracles. We will explore the mechanisms of homeostasis in sleep and how these processes might really be enhanced in episodes of lucidity to work as potent placebo. Those familiar with lucid dreaming will know the feelings of bliss and ecstasy lucid dreaming is able to produce – could these experiences, in and of themselves, be part of a healing event? We all know what it feels like to wake up energised and inspired from a wonderful dream, and we all know the residual feeling of gloom that can seep into our day from a nightmare. How can these ancient dream techniques teach us more about our potential for self-healing, personal growth and the divine reality of nature. How can this ancient wisdom empower us to get the maximum benefit from our night-time slumber?
Dream Magic: Dream Incubation, Spells and Interpretation
Words and dreams are magical thought forms
In the ancient world, magic was often the preserve of the literati. Words and stories can create a feedback system with dreams, they create and record dream content. Looking at ancient dream analysis, we see that the preoccupation of ancient oneiromancers was always ‘the future’. This alone is an interesting concept to philosophise about. That dreams were clear visions of a yet to unfold series of events is rarely, if ever, attested. That they contained signposts, symbols, codes and language clues was much more case. In a sense, dream incubation is a sort of dream programming – using words and prescribed rituals to ensure a desired dream event or revelation. This can be achieved through the mere act of sleeping in a temple (the sacred sanctuary) of the particular god you’d like to dream with, or by making a special phylactery to charm favour from the desired entity.
Dream interpretation in ancient Egypt relied heavily on wordplay and visual/phonetic puns. As the hieroglyphs are made up of many images, punning and wordplay in the ancient Egyptian language has multiple dimensions.
In this session we will explore the dream story stelae of ancient Egypt – these are frequently interpreted as propaganda texts to prop up a royal claim. They also reiterate the importance of the dream as a narrative device and they establish the dream as a reliable hotline to the gods. We shall also look at the dream spells of the Greek Magical Papyri as well as dream interpretation and prognostic texts.
How can we work with words to improve our own dream experiences and recall of them? Reading and writing are excellent dream tools. We will explore the most effective ways to influence dream content, record it and make sense of it in our own ‘Night Book’.
A Wave in The Ocean of Everything: Mastering Lucidity in Dreams
Are you dreaming now?
How can you be sure? Is this a dream? There are many simple and effective techniques that can encourage more regular and reliable episodes of lucidity. If you have never had a lucid dream before it is likely quite possible that you still can, you just need to experiment and identify what works for you. A lucid dream could occur spontaneously, or you might feel that you have to work really hard to attain it.
In this session we will explore some of the most effective and popular techniques for inducing lucidity including: Wake Back to Bed, Wake Induced, Mnemonic Induction, Dream Induced, Body Scanning or Sense Initiated, Dream Journalling, Triggers, Sleep Hypnosis and Personal Mythology.
How can the ancient wisdom of dream incubation and sleep temples be applied to the contemporary dreamer about town?
Future Visions: Precognitive Dreams, Sleep Tech and Telepathic Experiments
What does the future hold for dreams?
We are a chronically sleep and dream deprived culture. We need sleep and we seem to need dreams for healthy imaginal and emotional catharsis. Our sympathetic nervous system has a chance to relax in sleep, as our body goes through its deepest processes of homeostasis. Sleep offers us the opportunity to reset, rebalance and detoxify. Without it, we wither and die. Healthy circadian rhythms are the blueprint and fingerprint of wellness.
To this end, sleep is something of great interest to those studying longevity and those who are exponents of transhumanism. Many attempts have been made to hack and enhance dreaming. In this session we will explore the emerging world of dream technology, supplementation in the form of nootropics and the fascinating scientific research that is trying to enter the world of the dreamer and extract their most intimate and unconscious fantasies. Making sense of garbled dream imaginings, might we be returning to the oracles of old? What can dreams really tell us about the nature of consciousness and time perception and what happens when you draw the dark unconscious out into the light?
In this session you will be invited to take part in an experiment of dream telepathy and oracular vision.
Sarah Janes has been an enthusiastic lucid dreamer since childhood and has written about dreams, dream culture and the anthropology of dreaming for a number of academic journals, the Idler magazine and more.
Sarah’s first book Initiation into Dream Mysteries, Drinking from the Pool of Mnemosyne is out later this year with US publisher Inner Traditions/Bear & Co. This book explores the ancient history and philosophy of dream therapy and sleep medicine, beginning in deepest antiquity through to ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. It also has seven stories in it which are inspired by her own dream incubation practices. These stories are designed to act as psychomagic narratives to influence your dreams and take you on a self-initiatory conscious dream quest.
Sarah has given talks on the subject of dreaming at conferences, festivals and events all over Europe and hosts her own online Egyptology lecture series Explorers Egyptology in which she has had many esteemed Egyptologists and ancient history scholars and experts as guests.
This year Sarah is curating a series of events and talks to coincide with the touring exhibition #FEMININEPOWER at the British Museum, she is working on a sitcom about paranormal investigators and developing sleep hygiene/reality shifting workshops to tackle sleep deprivation in teenagers.
Sarah is also currently working with author and biologist Rupert Sheldrake and Guy Hayward at the British Pilgrimage Trust to reinvigorate the practice of dream incubation on pilgrimage in the UK.
Sarah co-hosts a weekly chat show – Consciousness Hour with author and researcher Anthony Peake. Anthony specialises in writing about exceptional human experience and anomalous phenomenon. On Consciousness Hour – life after death, dreams, Near Death Experience and OBEs, psychedelics, altered states, synchronicity, parapsychology and time perception are regular themes.
Alongside Carl Hayden Smith from the Learning Technologies Department of Ravensbourne University, London, Sarah developed The Seventh Ray, a virtual initiation experience inspired by ancient Mystery School traditions.