EACH ONE of us leads a double life. There is the ordinary work-a-day life of our waking hours and, beyond that, the
mysterious dream life which we enter through Gates of Ivory or Gates of Horn. This is a charming fancy of the ancient
Greeks who believed that dreams which delude pass through the Ivory Gate and those which come true through the
Gate of Horn.
While all people dream during sleep, not all dream activities come into our consciousness, so that frequently there is no
remembrance of a dream on waking. Occasionally, however, a dream is so clear and vivid that its memory lingers for
years. It is no wonder, then, that ancient peoples attached great importance to the significance of dreams and believed
them to be direct messages from their gods. The old dream interpreters were very particular and refused to consider the dream of anyone who had been drinking heavily the night before, because only to the temperate did the gods reveal their secrets.
History and literature abound in references to dreams. Those of Joseph, Daniel, David and the Wise Men as related in
the Bible are familiar to us all. Because of the general belief that dreams were an indication of what was going to happen, a vast amount of material has grown up on this subject. Probably the oldest Dream Book is the brick one, which was kept in the library at Ninevah, and which was consulted regularly by the soothsayers of that time.
There are certain general rules for interpreting dreams. In order to have any real significance they must, according to
general belief, occur during a healthy, tranquil sleep. Never take seriously dreams of suffocation, drowning, falling from
a great height, or others of a similar nature. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred these dreams result from physical
causes and are not at all prophetic. Sometimes dreams are a mere jumble of impressions. This does not necessarily
mean that they have no meaning. Such nonsense dreams often contain valuable clues.
You may ask how you can study your dreams, when they are so soon forgotten. The best way to do so is to keep a piece of paper and a pencil at your bedside, and jot down your impressions as soon as you awaken. It will be amusing to work out the symbolism at your leisure, and who can tell, you may find something really valuable in them. Not all of us are so fortunate as to find the answers to our questions during sleep, but it is said that Benjamin Franklin often did so. Coleridge was another of these lucky persons. He composed two or three hundred lines of his poem Kubla Khan while asleep in his chair and, on waking, instantly committed them to paper. The dreams of Homer were held in such esteem that they were styled Golden Dreams, and, says one writer, Among the Grecians we find a whole country using no other information but going to sleep.
There are to be found in all parts of the world many and varied superstitions relating to dreams. The maidens of old
went to great lengths to dream of their lovers. In one book the procedure is described as follows: Writing their name on
a paper at 12 o’clock, burning the same, then carefully gathering up the ashes and laying them, close wrapped in paper
upon a looking-glass marked with a cross, under their pillow; this should make them dream of their love. Further on we
read that, If you would wish to be revenged on a lover by tormenting him with hideous dreams, take a bird’s heart and at 12 o’clock at night stick it full of pins, and a semblance of him wilt appear before you in great agony.