Introduction to Lucid Dreaming
Dreaming in the Western Tradition
Personal Experiences in Hermetic Dreaming
One area that I eventually found to be quite useful was that of lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is quite simply a dream in which the dreamer knows he is dreaming. The level of awareness can vary from simply knowing that one is dreaming, to being able to move around or even fly in the dream, to being able to alter the dream itself.
My second reservation about LaBerge's approach, enlightened as it is, is that rather mundane focus of what he suggests that lucid dreaming be used for. He has a chapter on Adventures in dreaming, somewhat like a virtual reality video game, a chapter in rehearsing for waking situations for better success, a chapter for creative problem solving in dreams, and a chapter on overcoming nightmares. Only in the last chapter, does he hint at the potential spiritual uses of lucid dreaming and the potential for spiritual exploration.
In the Western esoteric tradition and in the exoteric tradition as well up to the so-called Enlightenment, it was the brain that was dependent on the mind, not vice versa. In the Western tradition while the brain is the physical organ most involved with the mind, it is no more the ultimate source of thought than the hand is the source of writing. The mind thinks with the brain, just as it writes with the hand. The mind itself has various components, some of which are close to being material, but others of which are spiritual. Ultimately consciousness was seen as proceeding from the soul, the Divine Spark in man. The intermediate between the divine soul and material body was the spirit or pneuma.
This middle state, neither wholly spiritual nor material, existed not only in each individual person as microcosm, but in the Macrocosm as the Celestial World and as the Imaginal World, the world where material things lose their materiality and become forms and where the spiritual things, the Platonic Ideas, take on visible form. Each of us, by virtue of our spirits, is connected to the World Spirit, just as each of us, by virtue of our souls (Latin anima) are connected to the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World.
There is also a certain kind of Divination by Dreams, confirmed by the traditions of Philosophers, the authorities of Divines, the examples of Histories, and daily experience. A Dreams I call here, not vain Dreams, or idle imaginations: for those are vain, and have no Divination in them, but arise from the remains of watchings, and disturbance of the body. For as the mind is taken up about, and wearied with cares, it suggests it self to him that is asleep. I call that a Dream here, which is caused by the Celestiall influences in the phantastick spirit, mind, or body, being all well disposed... Now Dreams are more efficacious, when the Moon over-runs that Sign, which was in the ninth number of tbe Nativity, or revolution of that yeer, or in the ninth Sign from the Sign of perfection.
Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book I, Chapter 59.
We can either see the causation of prophetic or oracular dreams as arising from discrete spiritual beings or as a result of the spiritual connection to the Anima Mundi, in either case we can dream dreams that come true. The clarity necessary for an oracular dream has definite similarities to that of a lucid dream.
Astrological magic is particularly rich in talismans for dream incubation with the aim of receiving oracles and occult knowledge. In Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, he gives a very full list of dream inducing talismans,
And let there be made an image of dreams, which being put under the head of him that sleeps, makes him dream true dreams concerning any thing that he hath formerly deliberated of; and let the figure of that be the figure of a man sleeping in the bosome of an Angel, which thou shall make in the Lyon ascending, the Sun keeping the nineth house in Aries; thou shalt writ upon the breast of the man the name of the effect desired, and in the hand of the Angel the name of the intelligence of the Sun.
Let the same image be made in Virgo ascending, Mercury being fortunate in Aries in the ninth house, or Gemini ascending in Mercury being fortunate, and keeping the ninth house in Aquarius; and let it be received from Saturn with a fortunate aspect, and let the name of the spirit of Mercury be writ upon it.
Moreover let it be made in Cancer ascending the Moon being received by Jupiter and Venus in Pisces, and being fortunately placed in the ninth house, and let there be writ upon it the spirit of the Moon.
There are also made rings of dreams of wonderfull efficacy; and there are rings of the Sun, and Saturn and the constellation of them is when the Sun or Saturn ascend in their exaltations in the ninth house, and when the Moon is joyned to Saturn in the ninth house, and in that signe, which was the ninth house of Nativity; and let there be writ upon the rings the name of the spirit of the Sun, or Saturn. Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Bk II, ch. 50.
You can see the election, plus chart and image, plus results for a dream talisman. In addition to the talismanic election and ritual Agrippa emphasizes that the proper physical, emotional and spiritual state must be maintained for prophetic dreaming,
Therefore it is necessary, that he who would receive true dreams, should keep a pure, undisturbed, and an undisquieted imaginative spirit, and so compose it, that it may be made worthy of the knowledge and government by the mind and understanding: for such a spirit is most fit for prophesying, and (as Sinesius saith) is a most clear glass of all the Images which flow everywhere from all things: when therefore we are sound in body, not disturbed in mind, not dulled by meat or drink, nor sad through poverty, nor provoked by any vice of lust or wrath, but chastly going to bed, fall asleep, then our pure and divine soul being loosed from all hurtfull thoughts, and now freed by dreaming, is endowed with this divine spirit as an instrument, and doth receive those beams and representations which are darted down, and shine forth from the divine minde into it self; and as it were in a deifying glass..."
Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book III, Chapter 51.
Let me give a few of my own experiences and suggestions with regard to working with lucid dreaming. LaBerge's Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming is quite interesting, but I think that the whole concept of "working" on lucid dreaming can be counterproductive. Trying too hard to have a lucid dream can prevent it from happening. Too much of the focus LaBerge's approach is on consciously willing and focusing on attaining this desired state of lucid dreaming. My experience was that the technique of asking, "Am I dreaming?" and just reading about lucid dreaming was sufficient to induce lucid dreaming. As Agrippa notes, however, if I am emotionally upset or concerned, this overwhelms my ability to dream lucidly. Don't try too hard or be too concerned with results!
I am rarely able to exercise that level of lucidity, however. Often what happens is as soon as I realize I am dreaming I immediately wake up. Frankly, many of these techniques are not that necessary for me. If I have the awareness to think to use them, I already know I am dreaming.
One of the more interesting exercises in lucid dreaming is interacting with dream characters. In one dream, perhaps quasi-nightmare, though I do not experience significant fear in my dreams, once I first started lucid dreaming, I was being followed by a two figures. As they approached they said to each other, "Do you think he will figure it out?" To which I replied, "I'm dreaming".
This is not, of course, to say that our ego mind is the One, but rather that the One dwells within us and is directly, at least potentially available to us through our minds. This is the quest of Hermetic Gnosis, not merely to study, but to authentically and completely realize our true Divine nature. Thus we must seek to press beyond our surface ego natures and its concerns.
One of my most characteristic anxiety dreams was that I was moving and I had so many possessions that I couldn't pack them all or hold onto all of them. Recently I had a dream in which I was traveling and I lost my baggage. This time, however, I gained sufficient lucidity to say, "I don't need any baggage, I don't need anything, this is a dream." Upon waking to my mundane life and worries, I thought, "if I have awoken in my dreams to this, when will I awaken to the same realization in my waking life?" This is my quest on the path of Hermetic Gnosis of which I have taken only the first dreaming step.
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Specializing in Horary Astrology, Electional Astrology Astrological Magic and Astrological Talismans.
Copyright 2006, Christopher Warnock, All Rights Reserved.