Synesius recognised the extraordinary ability of the dreaming mind to engage in actions on multiple levels: “In dreams one conquers, walks, or flies simultaneously, and the imagination has room for it all; but how shall mere speech find room for it?” He repeatedly recognised the infinite flexibility of the imagination in dreams: “Nothing is so characteristic of dreams as to steal space and to create time. Then the sleeper converses with sheep and fancies their bleating to be speech, and he understands their talk.  .  I even think that myths take their authority from dreams, as those in which peacock, fox, and sea hold converse.” He recognised that dreams are not “heedless of the animal in us” and said that we could have “a steady and much more distinct view of things below” in the dreaming state than when “mingled with the inferior elements” or emotions in our waking life.

With regard to divination through dreams, Synesius enthusiastically urges that:  men should not despise it, but rather cultivate it, seeing that it fulfils a service to life. . .

This art of divination I resolve to possess for myself and to bequeath to my children. In order to enter upon this no man need pack up for a long journey or voyage beyond the frontiers. … It is enough to wash one’s hands, to keep a holy silence, and to sleep.

Of divination by dreams, each one of us is perforce his own instrument, so much so that it is not possible to desert our oracle there even if we so desired. . . . She repudiates neither race, nor age, nor condition, nor calling. She is present to every one, everywhere, this zealous prophetess, this wise counsellor   . to announce to us good tidings; in such wise as to prolong our pleasure by seeking joy beforehand; to inform against the worst so as to guard against and to repel it beforehand.

Dreams can also provide helpful assistance with intellectual tasks and problem solving. No other thing is so well calculated to join in man’s pursuit of wisdom; and of many of those things which present difficulties to us awake, some of these it makes completely clear while we are asleep, and others it helps us to explain. . . . At one moment one seems like a man asking questions, and at another the same man discovering and in process of thought. It has frequently helped me to write books.

Synesius warns against resorting to dream books for help in understanding the dreams of a given individual, because each person has such a diversity of “imaginative spirit.” One would not, he says, expect the same image from a plane mirror, a concave mirror, and a distorted one. To help a person discover the relation between waking life events and subsequent dream imagery, he encouraged that a dream journal be kept.

It would be a wise proceeding even to publish our waking and sleeping visions and their attendant circumstances. . . . We shall therefore see fit to add to what are called “day books” what we have termed “night books,” so as to have records to remind us of the character of each of the two lives concerned.

Synesius advanced many more astute suggestions and observations about dreams. He was a fervent proponent of the many practical applications to be derived from cultivating dreams, as well as of the uplifting joy that can be experienced from the sense of communion with a higher spiritual source.

Synesius was a torchbearer, but there seemed to be no one willing to carry his torch in the western Christian church in the subsequent centuries. In fact, his views on dreams were completely omitted from the thirty-eight thick volumes contained in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. In the early part of the fourteenth century Nicephorus Gregoras, of Constantinople, had been very impressed by Synesius’s “most remarkable work on Dreams,” and had worked diligently to elucidate it by means of a lengthy commentary. An acceptable English translation of Synesius’s work was not, however, available until 1930.  Quoted from Our Dreaming Mind by Robert L. de Castle Phd.

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