When you saw the title of this article you didn’t shudder and quickly switch screens. Not only that, you actually clicked on it! Your open mindedness will serve you well as we explore what’s behind some of those dreams that have you up in the middle of the night looking for the Rocky Road.
For now, put away everything you “know” about death dreams, and prepare to do some new thinking.
The first records of dreams were found in cave drawings. That culture, and every one since then, saw dreams as a source of information, lessons to be learned, advice to be considered or questions answered. Dreams were openly discussed, even with the children, to cull information and assess the subconscious state of the dreamer. Did you sleep well? Are you hungry? What did you dream? It has been a mundane part of everyday life in every culture.
Every culture but ours.
The shift in dream status seems to coincide with the political rise of the Church, near as anyone can figure. Misguided leaders seeking political power and utter control banned many daily practices – reading, education, independence, even thinking itself. All of it posed a threat to the all-encompassing micro management of a territory. Since knowledge is power, the underlings were not to have any. Dreams were relegated to the Supernatural, and anyone supposing to question or understand them was convicted of heresy. It was the worst of times in good old Western “Civilization”.
Later, psychoanalysis would mess things up even more. But at least the subject of sleep visions was once again open for study. And much attention was given to death dreams. Unfortunately, the interest has confined itself largely to that collegium, due to a very prevalent characteristic of our culture.
Namely, we’re afraid of death. With the rise of metro centers of dense population, the handling of death was passed off to others. Massive health issues that plagued man prior to modern medicine necessitated immediate removal of those afflicted. Death was no longer a family/community matter. It became an issue to be dealt with, with utmost haste. Death was dangerous. It posed a threat. Make it go away. Don’t talk about it. Avoid those that are near death. Avoid those who were near the dead one, just in case.
Sadly, that attitude hasn’t changed much.
However, by virtue of your reading this article, you are now sworn in as a deputy, commissioned to help heal the planet. The first tenet you are to think about, incorporate into your life, and eventually share with others is this: Death is part of Life.
We might think of Life as something learned as we go along. No one is born with a complete book of instructions. Indeed, the elders among us are the first to say that the older they get, the less they understand, and realize they still have much to learn. We come to grips with Life as we are experiencing it.
Death, however, doesn’t afford us that luxury. It’s a once in a lifetime event. So how are we to explore what it might be like? How will we prepare for it? How will we make sure it’s a positive experience?
In every ancient Eastern culture, it is recognized that death can be researched via the subconscious. That is, through dreams. Every sacred text of every religion gives credence and import to this. Quite the opposite of heresy, it is considered becoming one with a Higher Power, a positive effort to be in communication, to build understanding. The greater the understanding, the nearer to the Higher Power, the better the life that is lead.
In Western culture, it’s a threat to our youth, beauty, and lifestyle. Death is to be avoided at all costs. Death means you’ve lost the fight for endless good times. It means you’ve lost control. In our culture, that is anathema!
Not surprising, really. Look at what we learn about death from Day One: It makes people sad, and they cry a lot. Crying is equated with pain. People get left alone after someone dies. People are squeamish about dead bodies. Death is the result of a prolonged, miserable medical odyssey. Death can be violent and scary.
Look at that list again. Those are not observations on death itself, but the reactions of those near it. It is a recounting, and nurturing, of fears and biases. We know what happens around death, but what do we know of the process itself?
God bless the hospice movement. They have labeled death for what it really is – a transition. It is the COMPLETION OF A PROCESS BEGUN THE DAY OF BIRTH! They model this for us, and it behooves us to watch and learn.
Next week we’ll look at why death dreams scare us silly. You’ll read some surprising facts about dreams of violence (stop watching the news!). We’ll look at dreams about dead people, and dreams about the death of the dreamer.
Let’s review: Death is part of Life.