We offer our deep gratitude to Edward Tick and his compassionate heart for the epiphany of revelation that came to us one night on top of the Henry Mountains while reading his book ‘The Practice of Dream Healing’. It is time for the dream healing centers to flourish again in this time of disease and highly stressful living conditions. Sanctuaries where people can be attended to physically, emotionally, and spiritually in a landscape that supports health, well-being, and a deep internal realignment with soul.
From 600 BCE to 300 CE in ancient Greece, over 300 dream healing centers were erected in a miraculous cultural response to those stricken with illnesses of the body and the sickness of spirit that assails from the devastation of wars. Always founded at a site of spring waters, these ancient centers known as Asklepieia arose from the myth of Asklepios, who was known throughout the Mediterranean world for his gentle and compassionate healing skills, becoming the greatest healer in the Mediterranean. One might say that the archetypal energy of physician/healer was born through the myth of Asklepios.
For 10 centuries people came to the earthen chamber dreaming abatons of Asklepieia where they were duly attended by the original ‘therapists’, or, ‘attendants of the soul’. There they removed themselves from daily tasks to immerse in the waters, to fast, and to avail themselves to healing images that penetrated into their dreaming from the chthonic underground within the abatons. It was a time when divinely inspired dream questing was practiced, with numerous accounts of remarkable dream healings found in the meticulous writings of Hippocrates, the 'father of western medicine' and later, the Roman physician Galen, along with thousands of testimonial inscriptions found at these ancient ruin sites.
Asklepios was born of a mortal woman who was impregnated by the god Apollo. When she was unfaithful to Apollo by marrying a mortal man, Apollo sent his sister Artemis to slay her with her golden arrows. Overcome by grief when he saw his beloved on the funeral pyre, he pulled his child from the mother’s corpse. He named this child Asklepios and gave him to Chiron, the wise and kindly centaur, to raise and mentor. Chiron carried a wound that would not heal when accidentally pierced in the groin by Herakles. This propelled him into becoming a healer, accomplished in the medicinal properties of plants and waters, and passed all of his knowledge on to his young charge. Because Asklepios possessed the innate capacity for healing within him stemming from the primal wound of his mother's murder by his father and blessedly raised on the father’s milk of Chiron, he began to create new ways of healing that included psychotherapy – the Greek meaning for psychotherapist being 'attendant of the soul', and most prominently the incubation and attendance of dreams – “dreaming being the psyche itself doing its soul-work.” With the manifestation of the dream sanctuaries that people from all over the known world made pilgrimages to, Asklepios brought into consciousness that healing must include the deep reservoir of soul material that lies in the pool of dreaming, and the chthonic deities that we must invoke to bring back into homeostasis what has gone seriously out of balance in our body and psyche.
Asklepios had 3 animal totems that appeared to people in their dreams – the snake, the dog, and the cock. He was an advanced practitioner of snake healing – the power of the transformation of inner poisons and the shedding of old skin. The dog is an intermediary between the animal and human worlds, as well as a guide with the nose to track the trail to the otherworld (dreams). The cock heralds us back into consciousness from the dreamtime, and was the sacrifice given to Asklepios for his divine attendance.
This is where Niles and Annie’s personal mythology intersects with the myth of Asklepios. After 25 years of attending to the dreamtime of hundreds of people on vision fasts and soulful journeys in wildlands, a great longing to offer personal attendance to others motivated us to sell our home of 25 years and embark on a pilgrimage to find the place that could offer such a dream sanctuary.