Shamanic Dreaming

Arvick Baghramian, Armenia

Shamanic counselor, psychotherapist, and author of The Magic of Shamanism.

(Submitted by the author)

I was brought up in a culture where people valued their dreams, and their lives were guided by them. They would look to their dreams in search of answers and would take the trouble of having their dreams interpreted for them whenever a particular dream struck them as especially significant. Whenever a person of my Armenian community in Iran was worried, sick or distressed, they would come to my mother and ask her to ‘dream for them’ in search for an answer to their problems.

Dreams were understood, through interpreting the symbols appearing in them, and the belief in their importance is so strong among Armenians, that at the end of Armenian calendars a special section is dedicated to specify the meaning assigned to countless possible dream symbols.

It is, therefore, common knowledge that if someone dreams of shoes, for example, they should expect to travel in the near future – or alternately to receive a great sum of money; while if they dream of earrings they should expect to suffer the disappointment of an unfulfilled expectation.

The meaning of symbols
However, even as a child, I was not really at ease with this notion of assigning set meanings to symbols. As I grew older and chose to become a psychotherapist, my childhood doubts were confirmed and it became clear to me that the art of dream interpretation involved more than simply assigning prescribed meanings to symbols. I realized that, just as each person was unique, so were the meanings of the symbols appearing in their dreams, and that these symbols had to be interpreted according to the complex circumstances of the dreamer’s own life and in accordance with the dreamer’s own personal understanding of the symbols.

"Your dreams will direct you"
As my life path brought me to practice shamanism, my understanding of dreams and their roles in our lives deepened even further. As my spirit teacher, or guide, once told me on a shamanic journey, “Dreams come from your innocent soul, from the pure aspect of yourself, to teach you and to wake you up to who you really are. Your dreams will direct you on your path, if you take notice of them. The spirits talk to you through your dreams. Listen to them.”

People of shamanic cultures from all over the Earth believe that there exists a world parallel to our ordinary material one. This is the world of the spirits, and it is to this invisible world that the community’s shaman journeys, to bring back with her the wisdom and power of the spirit teachers.

Many shamans consider the spirit world to be the true world, our ordinary reality being nothing but an illusion or a ‘lie’. Access to this spirit world is gained through an alteration of the shaman’s state of consciousness, but according to most shamanic cultures, we have all visited the spirit world countless times. Every night as we go to sleep, our soul flies away to the realms of the spirits. We dream.

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