>> What is the significance of dreams? What actually are they? Everyone has said so many and varied things about dreams its not funny. What do you believe them to be and are they useful or simply imaginings to be ignored? How are they related to Hermetics or magic? <<
I define the dream state very specifically. Others tend to include astral wandering in with their definition of dreaming, but from the Hermetic standpoint these are two distinct things.
In order to enter a dream state, our physical body must essentially shut off. Sleep, mental distraction, hypnosis or physical trauma can induce this state. Sleep, of course, is the most common cause. During sleep, the bodily senses are, for the most part, internalized. This frees the astra-mental body from its normal focus outward and thus it focuses inward, upon the realm of the person's own psyche. This is the lowest of the astral realms. Since it is the astra-mental body which dreams, we experience sensation, but the sensation is keyed by mental and emotional causes instead of physical causes. So, even on a hot night while our physical body is sweating, we can dream of and feel cold.
With the dream state proper, the astra-mental body does not leave the locality of the physical body. Generally, it puddles around the physical chest and head. Sometimes, if there has been some sort of physical trauma, it will pool around the locale of the trauma and one's dream will concern the trauma itself.
When in the dream state (typified by REM), the astra-mental body is focused upon and within the subconscious mind or psyche. This is a very creative realm. Nearly anything can happen here, from the ultimately sublime, to the terrifyingly horrific. It all depends upon the contents of one's own psyche.
During dreaming, we explore our own psyche. Often we process things that we have stuffed into our subconscious self and would otherwise avoid given half a chance. This is one reason why dreaming is so healing and why dream-deprivation is so harmful.
When approached consciously, dreams can become a training ground of sorts. We can explore our own subconscious psyche with intention and purpose if we so choose.
Lucid dreaming is an example of this. With lucid dreaming, you enter into sleep with the intention of waking up within your dream so that you can function within the dream state with full cognizance of the fact that you are actually dreaming. In a lucid-dream state, you can accomplish a great amount of work upon your own psyche and you can learn the rudimentary laws of the astral realm.
Dreaming can become a doorway to higher states. One can go still further than lucid dreaming, by consciously separating the astra-mental, or the solitary mental, body from the locality of the physical body and the psyche. This however, would no longer be classified as a dream state (in my book, at least).
As I said, the human psyche is very fertile ground. As a very low level of the astral realm, it's composed entirely of charged symbols. These symbols are of an extremely personal nature. They are based upon archetypes, but they are the most personalized expression of those archetypes. This is why I never recommend using a dictionary of dream symbols. The only way to truly understand the significance of your dream is to think about it, feel it, and use your intuition. Dream symbols communicate their meaning very directly to the dreamer, whilst in the dream, but afterwards, your conscious awareness has a hard time deciphering them. This is due to the fact that our conscious awareness is trained to be more rational than intuitive. So we must draw upon our intuition and gut feeling when it comes to the waking contemplation of our dreams.
Many folks dispute the idea that their wonderful dreams occur solely within their own psyche. Mostly this is because they don't realize how creative the human psyche really is. Plus, it's hard to admit that when god last spoke to you in your dream it was really just a delusion. ;-)
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
15 Nov 2001