On the eve of 350 Dreamers’ night of communal dreaming for global healing, I attended a lecture at Smith College sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Association of Jungian Psychology. Ethne J. Gray was presenting a lecture on “Archetypal Patterns in Dream Incubation.” Ms. Gray, a South African born Jungian analyst who is on the faculty of the CG Jung Institute in Boston, and who is a professor of Jungian Art Therapy, talked about the Aesclepian dream temples of ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. People would come to these temples, set in a sacred grove with a running stream or river nearby, to incubate healing dreams.

These dream temples were places of mystery, and sanctuaries of holistic healing. Music, poetry and beauty were incorporated to create a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Tame snakes, representing the god Aesclepius, would slither about the temple and visitors would make offerings of oats, honey and cakes. Those in search of healing would would then rest on couches arranged in a circle in a portico, intending to sleep and be visited by Aesclepius, or a member of the feminine trinity, Hygea (his daughter), Panacea or Epione (his wife).

Aesclepius, it is interesting to note, became a divine healer after he himself had been mortally wounded. The poison that wounded him became the medicine that healed him. Thus was born the concept of the wounded healer, and the notion that that which wounds, heals.

Jung, apparently, embraced this concept, teaching that poison is the thing that cures and what hurts, is the very thing that heals — if we take it in consciously and in the right way.

Autumn, the season when leaves wither and die, a time of letting go, is also the season of the myth of Demeter and Persephone, Gray noted, a myth of death and renewal. This, it seems is an ideal time for incubating dreams of healing for our planet. Within the poisonous greed and unconsciousness that threaten our planet must be the seeds for renewal and healing.

All of these thoughts and images are swirling through my mind, like the colorful falling leaves that landed against my windshield as I drove home in the drizzling night.

And now I imagine us heading toward our sleeping chambers, as the ancient Greeks might have entered their dream temples, ready to welcome Aesclepius, or any other healing spirit to guide us toward global transformation.

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