Dream interpretation as an actual profession goes back at least as far as ancient Greek and Roman society, but informal dream interpretation is likely as old as dreaming itself. There is good reason to believe that people have been experiencing dreams as long as their have been people, and we know that dreams and their interpretation date back at least as far as 3000-4000 B.C. We know that because the interpretations of various dreams were recorded on stone tablets and found later by archeologists.
Many scientists and anthropologists believe that ancient peoples were unable to distinguish the difference between the real, or physical world, and the dream world, or the world of the unconscious. To many of these people, there was no distinction, and the dream world was simply an extension of the physical world.
In fact, many of these ancient cultures, and some modern ones as well, felt that the dream world is more powerful and real than the physical universe, and that dreams are the soul's way of communing with the infinite, and gathering knowledge and wisdom from the past.
While science knows a great deal about dreams and their meaning, in many ways dreams remain as much a mystery today as when the first cavemen dreamed about the thrill of the hunt or the fear of running from faster predators.
For instance, scientists still do not know why we dream, or what the purpose of dream sleep is, but they do know that people need to dream. Volunteers deprived of dream sleep experienced all manner of psychological problems, ranging from problems concentrating to visual and auditory hallucinations.
Dream interpretation has a long and storied history, and dream interpreters have been in high demand throughout history. The interpretation of dreams was so important to the ancient Greek and Roman societies that they rode along with soldiers in battle, and advised rulers on the best course of action. Dreams were taken quiet seriously in these societies, and a dream thought to be an ill omen was enough to derail a piece of legislation or even put off a long planned battle.
The culture of ancient Egypt also gave dreams great importance, as well as religious significance. The Egyptians believed that dreams contained messages from the gods, and these messages were to be heeded. We know about the importance the ancient Egyptians placed on dreams, because dreams and their interpretations were recorded in hieroglyphs. People who had particularly vivid dreams were given a special place in society, and thought to be blessed by the gods. Those who had special abilities to interpret those dreams also enjoyed a blessed status and a special place in Egyptian society.
Egypt was not alone in the Middle East as a source of dreams and dream interpretation. The Bible contains over 700 mentions of dreams, and many dream interpretations as well. The dreams of prophets, and the interpretations of those dreams, played a large role in Biblical history.
Dream interpretation was often looked upon as a form of prophecy, and dreams were often analyzed to provide clues to future events. Dreams were seen to be messages from gods, spirits or from departed relatives
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