The Greeks had a wonderful marriage of the scientific and their belief in the supernatural (or that which is beyond the rational). When somebody could not be cured by the modern medicine, the physician would acknowledge this and would then look towards Asclepius or the gods.

Asclepius was the Greek god of healing. His healing sanctuaries were found throughout the known Hellenic world. This tradition was active for almost 2000 years from around 1300 BCE to 500CE. In times of illness and when the physician was unable to help, one would turn to Asclepius for healing. Healing would come about through a visitation of the healing god (or one of his totems – the dog or snake) in a dream. The dream would then result in a spontaneous healing or an indication of what had to be done or undone to bring about healing.

These healing sanctuaries were called Asclepions. People would go on a pilgrimage to these centres. They would be offered bodywork, hydrotherapy, psychotherapy, good food and changes in diet. They also enjoyed theatre, music and poetry (non-rational forms of healing which can touch on a very deep soul level). Undoubtedly all the ancient Asclepions were in very beautiful natural settings that can also ‘inspire’ on a very deep level.

When the temple Therapeutes (therapists) considered a person was ready, they would be introduced to the Abaton. The Abaton was an incubation room where the patient would pray to the god, and sleep – expecting a visitation from Asclepius in their dreams. At first the Abaton were just holy caves but later they were found within the temple. The patients’ cure would be spontaneous or the answer to their healing would be found within the dream. The illnesses cured were recoded on the thousands of votive offerings that were presented to the temples. (1)

In many ways the life of Asclepius mirrors many of the features of Jesus’ life. He was a mortal physician/healer born of a mortal woman and divine father. He was killed and became divine.

The Christian church incorporated many of the rituals around Asclepius. In the Greek Orthodox Church even now votive offerings are presented to particular healing saints, the Virgin Mary or Jesus Christ. Dreams are still held in high regard in Greek folk culture.

Modern dream healing does not mean that you have to believe in a Pagan god. We can pray to the healing benevolent god of our beliefs.

Once we commit ourselves to a dream healing pilgrimage then we start our journey of healing. We surround ourselves with things and people that nurture our soul and we slow down the pace and style of our lives. The beauty of nature, music, theatre and art can touch us at a very deep level that can be both cathartic and healing. These are all essential steps in the healing process.

1 Asclepius collection and interpretation of the testimonies - Emma and Ludwig Edestein

2 The practise of dream healing - Edward Tick