My musings led me to Asclepius and the holistic wellness centers which bear his name. Said to be a son of Apollo (and to whom Apollo's healing aspects were transferred), Asclepius attended patients in their dreams. When conventional medicine of the time didn't work, people would take a pilgrimage to an Asclepion. There was a theatre, a temple, sleeping areas/rooms and a spring. Patients would bathe in the waters, drink from the spring, changed their diet... things we do today. They were also made to sleep in the temple and analyze their dreams.
It was reported that patients would dream that Asclepius himself or snakes or dogs would interact with them, either curing them or symbolically giving them the cure. Therapists who works in the sanctuary would analyze the dreams and come up with the cure. Some patients would dream of surgery being performed. They were done this service in exchange for offerings made by the patients or their families. This wasn't any ol dream, this was called "incubation." There were rites and fasting and sacrifices and a whole system designed to prepare for and induce the dreams necessary for healing. A book I mentioned the other day, Arcana Mundi, touches briefly on how divination was a cash cow and therefore concentrated to a few shrines and under the dominion of religious society aka Priests and oracles were the only ones who had people trained in the ways. Not much different today, huh? There is a mention, tho I somehow missed the source reference, of how Apollo is the one in charge of trance mediumship, Asclepius in charge of true dreams, and Hecate along with a few others were called on "to grant a glimpse into the future."
|Asclepius with Telesforos and Hygeia , Roman Diptych, c. 400/430 AD Museum on Merseyside, Liverpool|
Plutarch refers to a regular oracle of the dead (psychomanteion), probably near Cumae in southern Italy, but there is no elaborate ceremony: the procedure reminds one of the incubation rites in the temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus. The person who wished to get in touch with the dead fell asleep in the sanctuary and had a dream or vision... In a remote sense, this, too, is necromancy.One of the cases memorialized in the Asclepion:
Ambrosia from Athens, who was blind in one eye, went to the sanctuary seeking help, but laughed at their methods and cures. She dreamed that Asclepius came to her and said he would make her well. In return she had to dedicate a silver pig to the sanctuary as a memorial to her stupidity. When she agreed, he cut open her blind eye and poured in medicine. She woke up able to see and went home cured. Apparently she donated the promised pig since the story was left behind for us.
Tonight is a bit of a ramble, and for that I apologize. This touches on so many of my current interests and pursuits that I really wanted to start exploring it more here. I've been to the theatre at the Epidaurus and it is magnificent, if a bit tough to sit on for a 3 hour play ;)
I feel like Barbara Brennan's healing work builds on and continues the tradition of the Asclepion; The main difference is that the work is done in a conscious altered state and the healer is the one who channels the spirits or guides instead of the patient.
I'll leave off tonight with this great article on the difference between the Caduceus of Mercury and the Staff of Asclepius. It also discusses the daughters of Asclepius, Meditrine, Hygeia and Panacea. ;)