The Sun enters Sagittarius today, the mutable fire sign and ultimate sign of Autumn in the northern hemisphere. Among its many significations, Sagittarius rules any kind of higher learning or education: philosophy, theology, religion, mysticism, and the like. Based on these associations, and there being so few institutions of higher education in the old days (e.g. colleges, seminaries, or universities), it’s perhaps not surprising that Sagittarius is also associated with foreign countries and exotic lands, as well as the people inhabiting them and those who taught high education. Among the most distant places would be the stars and celestial spheres themselves, hence Sagittarius’ connection with astrology, celestial or high magic, divination, and especially dreams. The ruling planet of Sagittarius, Jupiter in direct motion, bears many of these same significations, including nobility, greatness, and holiness.
It’s also the sign that rules my 9th house, with which it holds many similar associations. So perhaps it’s fitting now that I start considering a ritual framework for working with dreams magically. Dreams are not my cup of tea normally; my dream recall has been mediocre throughout my life, with many nights having no dreams to remember.
The Unlikely Mage during his Agrippa project recently summarized chapter 59 of Cornelius Agrippa’s First Book of Occult Philosophy. I’ll leave you to read his post summarizing dreams and their significations (and, really, his whole amazing blog) for yourself, but Agrippa has this to say about divination by dreams:
… The rule of interpreting this is found amongst Astrologers, in that part which is wrote concerning questions; but yet that is not sufficient, because these kind of Dreams come by use to divers men after a divers manner, and according to the divers quality, and dispositions of the phantastick spirit: wherefore there cannot be given one common rule to all for the interpretation of Dreams. But according to the opinion of Synesius, seeing there are the same accidents to things, and like befall like; so be which hath often fallen upon the same visible thing, hath assigned to himself the same opinion, passion, fortune, action, event, and as Aristotle saith, the memory is confirmed by sence, and by keeping in memory the same thing knowledge is obtained, as also by the knowledge of many experiences, by little, & little, arts, and sciences are obtained. After the same account you must conceive of Dreams. Whence Synesius commands that every one should observe his Dreams, and their events, and such like rules, viz. to commit to memory all things that are seen, and accidents that befall, as well in sleep, as in watching, and with a diligent observation consider with himself the rules by which these are to be examined, for by this means shall a Diviner be able by little, and little to interpret his Dreams, if so be nothing slip out of his memory. Now Dreams are more efficacious, when the Moon over-runs that Sign, which was in the ninth number of the Nativity, or revolution of that yeer, or in the ninth Sign from the Sign of perfection. For it is a most true, and certain divination, neither doth it proceed from nature or humane Arts, but from purified minds, by divine inspiration. …
Basically, all those books with sets of symbols to be used in dreams? Worthless; “there cannot be given one common rule to all for the interpretation of Dreams” because everyone’s spirit and soul is different and works in different ways. Similarities may be observed, but these aren’t reliable enough to be made into rules for mass consumption and application. The images in dreams are based on what happens in our lives and to ourselves, and so we should be aware of the constant activity going on around us and how we interpret it both consciously and subconsciously. This helps us to not only understand our own minds and our awareness of the area around ourselves, but it helps to build up a conscious knowledge of the symbol set our minds are constantly building to help understand the world.
Agrippa gives several rules for when “Dreams are more efficacious”, and they all center around the 9th house in an astrological chart or horoscope. Essentially, dreams for divination are best when the Moon is in the 9th house of someone’s chart; the other rules for yearly revolution charts or “the Sign of perfection” are a little more obscure, but since the Moon visits all the signs for about 2.5 days every 29 days, you’ve got a decent window for about two days running for good, honest, divinatory dreaming. So, for instance, when the Moon is in Sagittarius (the sign ruling my 9th house), my dreams tend to be more potent and clear than otherwise. Looking back through some of my journals, this actually makes sense, which is a surprise to me.
Because I don’t like to merely throw away dreams as I would trash, I figured I may as well approach them as any decent magician would: ritual and preparation! Below is a simple ritual framework I’m gonna start using to work with my dreams more and see where this gets me. It’s assumed that you know which signs rule over the houses of your natal chart, but if not, I’m sure you can find free astrology sites to do that for you. Keep track of the Moon’s position, since that’s essential for this working. Sure, the following ritual is a little involved, but then, it helps to dedicate oneself to dreaming when dreaming is Right for oneself, and it echoes the old asklepeions and temples where dreams were seen as holy messages sent to the worthy supplicant.
- The day before the Moon enters the sign of the 9th house, prepare yourself mentally and physically for dreaming.
- Banish, take a spiritual bath, and generally cleanse and clean oneself and your sleeping area.
- Start winding down your food and drug intake: no caffeine, no heavy foods, light fruit or stomach-soothing foods only. You can extend the fasting period as long as you like, but one day should be sufficient.
- Pray and ritual as you normally would.
- If you have a dream-conducive tea (mugwort, jasmine, rose, and valerian work well for me), start drinking this today and continue drinking it through the operation.
- Be sure to get a full night’s rest, at least 7.5 hours’ worth of sleep (or five sleep cycles). Before resting, make an offering to Morpheus, the god of sleep: sing his Orphic Hymn, make an offering of opium or poppy incense, and light a black or dark candle to him. Ask for his help in bestowing good and healthful rest, and protection in sleep and dreaming.
- The next day, the Moon should be in the sign ruling the 9th house before you go to bed at night. Be sure you have at least ten hours to spare for proper rest and sleeping, with the addition of ritual.
- Fast. Drink only water, and eat only white food with no salt. Plain or vanilla yoghurt, bananas, and similar are suggested, if any food is to be eaten at all. If you have a dream-conducive tea, keep drinking that.
- In an hour of Mercury while the Moon is in the sign ruling the 9th house, make an adoration to Hermes Chthonios or similar nighttime, underworld, or otherworld guide. Say a prayer e.g. the Orphic Hymn to Terrestrial Hermes; make offerings of candles, incense, wine, or other preferred goods. Ask for clarity, memory, truth, and direction in the realm of dreams and sleep.
- In an hour of the Moon while the Moon is in the sign ruling the 9th house, make an adoration to the Moon, a lunar angel like Gabriel, or any lunar deity. Say a prayer e.g. the Orphic Hymn to the Moon; make offerings of candles, incense, wine, or other preferred goods. Ask for help, guidance, and illumination in dreams and the realm of night.
- Set pen, paper, and flashlight by the bed for later.
- Meditate for at least twenty minutes before retiring for the night.
- Upon retiring, make another offering to Morpheus as before. In addition, make an offering to his other role as the god of dreams: sing the Orphic Hymn to the Divinity of Dreams; make an offering of a white or lightly-colored candle, along with wine and sweet floral incense such as jasmine, rose, gardenia, violet, musk, or similar. Ask for truth, understanding, memory, and power in one’s rest, that true and meaningful dreams be bestowed upon them, and similar. If you have any specific requests that should be answered, now’s the time to do that.
- Go to sleep, but set a (quiet) alarm after 4.5 hours (or however long three sleep cycles would be). Upon waking, write down any dreams that one may have had immediately. Make another entreaty to Morpheus as God of Sleep as well as God of Dreams using prayer with more incense; their candles should not have burnt out yet, but if they have, light new ones. If the request for a specific answer has not yet been answered, pray for it again; if so, and if another question needs to be answered, ask it; if no other questions need to be answered, ask for illumination, truth, and awareness generally in dreams.
- Return to sleep for at least another three hours; however much is up to you, since this second sleep is the final sleep of the day. Upon waking, write down any dreams as before. Make another offering of candles and wine to Morpheus as thanks for the previous night and dreams.
- Repeat the above for as as long as the Moon is in the sign ruling the 9th house, asking for more dreams along the way.