Review of Pagan Dreaming by Nimue Brown

jhp551bfc27c579fIn the last year, I have made a couple of practical changes in our house to improve the quality of sleep. Our bedroom has moved to the attic, and has become a serene space, low in stimuli. We also treated ourselves to a new bed, simple but proper. I really like going there these days, and it has vastly improved my sense of well-being. As a consequence, I have been more susceptible to vivid dreams, or at least, to remembering them.
Last week I read ‘Pagan Dreaming’ by Nimue Brown. I found this to be an excellent guide for a newcomer to vivid dreams myself. Nimue does not claim to be an expert on dreams and sleeping problems in general, but speaks from her own experience as a Druid working with dreams. I found the book knowledgeable in a down to earth, accessible way, a bit like listening to a well-informed friend. The book is not just about dreams and their meaning, but also offers sound advice towards healthy sleeping. An interesting point she makes, is that our “normal” sleeping pattern, 7 to 8 hours a night, has only become the norm until very recently. Indeed, this is shown by the prayer times in convents and cloisters, but apparently, sleeping patterns were generally more erratic in pre-industrial societies. I would like to know more about that, because I find it very hard to conform to the regular sleeping pattern. I usually go to bed fairly early, to wake at the crack of dawn. When I get the chance (rarely of course), I like to take a little nap. Having friends over is not much fun if you’re yawning all the time. Other people have other quirks when it comes to sleeping, my love for instance is a true night owl. Of course, most of us can do very little to incorporate these personal preferences into our daily lives, but it is good to acknowledge them and be aware of this.
‘Pagan Dreaming’ is not a dream dictionary, and the book explains why that would never do in the first place. Our dreams are shaped by our own personal language and symbolism, and only the person who has the dream can safely attempt to explain them. In the past, people often shared each other’s background, religion and life experiences, which made it easier to interpret someone else’s dreams. In our highly individual society, this cannot possibly work. To show how dreams could be interpreted, Nimue offers an excerpt of her own dream diary (which I found very brave!)
If you have been involved in advanced dreamwork for years, many of the subjects discussed may well be known to you. This book might serve as a reminder of all the mind-body aspects involved in the process of dreaming. For someone like myself, only barely starting to discover the potential of dreams, this book is especially useful. I’m looking forward to working more with my own dreams.

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4 thoughts on “Review of Pagan Dreaming by Nimue Brown

  1. The BBC ran a story on research that claimed people’s “natural” pre-industrial sleep patterns tended to be 4 hours starting soon after dark, then a break, then 4 more hours. The research cited anecdotes about people visiting neighbours or snacking between first and second sleep, while a French love manual advised that this interval was the best time for sex.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And yep, all sorts of stuff online from various speculations and researches into the pre-industrial sleep pattern. Literary references (having 2 sleeps is mentioned in Don Quixote for example) what other mammals do, what babies do….

    Liked by 1 person

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