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The Practice of Dream Healing: Bringing Ancient Greek Mysteries into Modern Medicine (Quest Books, 2001)

From the Preface:

Dreaming was once both a mystery and a method for exploring the Great Mysteries. In the ancient world dreams were not shadow plays that really meant something else. Rather, dreaming was a primary activity of the soul. Dream stories were events that occurred to the soul in a living, otherworldly dimension. Interpretation did not tell what dreams really meant. Rather, like unraveling an oracle, interpretation provided guidance for utilizing in daylight what had happened to the soul during the night.


One of the most important uses of dreaming was a ritual form of healing by which people suffering from physical, psychological or spiritual ailments could travel to a healing center where priest-physicians practicing a combination of physical and spiritual medicine could help them prepare for a dream visit from Asklepios, the god of healing. Modern medicine and psychotherapy derive directly from this ancient practice.


This tradition is alive and available to us today. We can still seek and experience healing dreams. We can still attain healing or learn what we must do to heal ourselves from transpersonal powers encountered in dreams. Moreover, our medical and psychological healing disciplines could be profoundly improved were we to incorporate the ancient techniques of dream healing into their practice, a change that would benefit millions of suffering people.



From Chapter One: The Women of Troy


In ancient times, for a span of a thousand years, pilgrims seeking health would travel from all over the Mediterranean world to Epidauros, the site of the theatre and sanctuary dedicated to Asklepios, the Greek god of healing….


The kind of healing that was practiced at Epidauros was called dream incubation. We can think of it as "dream questing," for it has strong similarities to vision questing as practiced in Native American culture. People from all over the ancient world who sought healing through dream incubation in Asklepian sanctuaries had severe physical, psychological or spiritual ailments that had proven intractable to other treatments…


I was called to a journey. A first experience of archetypal healing given me in the Asklepian sanctuary propelled me into a search to discover how this god and his practices operated in ancient times, and how they might still serve us today. Catharsis and identity and value reconstruction through tragedy at Epidauros was my first step in immersion and initiation into the living presence of the divine healing powers and practices the Greeks encapsulated in the name and story of Asklepios.


Epidauros was attended as a healing sanctuary from approximately 600 BCE to 300 CE. Asklepios appears to have carried out his healing practices for over 1,000 years. Asklepian healing, including catharsis and healing dreams, provide the necessary experiences we afflicted modern people need to help lift the moral and spiritual scourge that permeates our beings and culture. Whether through modern depth psychotherapy, dreams and visions, art that transcends time, or transformational adventures brought about by our immersion in the wilderness or in remnants and ruins of ancient practices, the sanctuary of healing can function for us today.


"In this beautifully written journey narrative, Dr. Tick restores for us what contemporary medicine… still desperately needs. The best book on dreams I've read!"

June Singer, Ph.D.


"... The need for humanistic elements to be reintroduced into modern medicine is perhaps the greatest.  Dr. Tick. …reminds us of the spiritual as well as the rational roots of our calling as modern healers." Simon Spivack, MD


"My first reading gave me the chills, a sure sign of the truth and importance of Dr. Tick's message. Reading this book will help heal you into wholeness." Christiane Northrup, MD