Dream Cultures









China and India



Wai-yee Li



South India

David Shulman



Hindu Queen

Wendy Doniger






Barbara Tedlock




Dennis Tedlock






Christine Walde




Cristiano Grottanelli




Hubert Cancik




Guy Strousman







Middle Ages



Moshe Idel




Sara Sviri




J.-C. Schmitt


I. "China and India".


2. (pp. 17-42) Wai-yee Li : "Dreams of Interpretation in Early Chinese Historical and Philosophical Writings". [various gleanings from the Z-Z^ = Zuo- z^uan, and from the Z^-Z = Z^uan-zi]

p. 40, n. 13 dating of the Z-Z^

"the unfulfilled prophecies in the book ... is sometimes adduced as one of the proofs that the Zuo zhuan decidedly predates the third century B.C."

pp. 20, 40 occult knowledge possessed by Zi-c^an

p. 20

"It is scarcely surprising ... that the Zheng minister Zichan, often depicted as a rationalist and a skeptic in modern accounts, should also interpret dreams and explain the existence of spirits."

p. 40, n. 10

"During a great flood in Zheng, dragons fight (with each other) at the deeps of the Wei River outside Shi gate. The people of Zheng ask Zichan to offer sacrifices to them. Zichan refuses ... (Z-Z "Z^ao" 19.10).

... the argument for noninterference indifferent spheres of phenomena and experience does not preclude the exercise of interpretive power whenever practicable."

{Perhaps Zi-c^an refused because he realized that the dragons’ supposed "fight" was actually merely an act of mating between a male and a female dragon (-- that dragons’ mating could be misunderstood as a "fight" is remarked in later Chinese lore).}

p. 20 Gun

"the Jin ruler ... related ... his dream of a yellow bear entering through his bedroom door."

[quoted from Z-Z^ "Z^ao" 7.7] "Gun’s spirit was transformed in a yellow bear, and it entered the Feather Abyss. Xia actually worshipped it, and the Three Dynasties offered sacrifices to it."

p. 21 a dream of being a crow

[quoted from Z-Z^ "Ai" 26.2] In the state of Son, "De dreamed that ... he himself was a crow perching ... with his beak resting on the South Gate and his tail resting on the Tong Gate. He said, ‘My dream was good. I will succeed to the throne’ ". [He eventually did so.]

p. 21 "In somewhat later lore, ... a red crow with three feet is the sign heralding Zhou conquest of Shang."

p. 22 a dream starting with being in one’s bedroom? (thusly, a dream of false-awakening?) Prognostication from that dream.

[quoted from Z-Z^ "C^en" 10.4] "The Duke of Jin dreamed of a vengeful spirit of immense proportions, with its hair hanging to the ground, beating its chest and leaping. It said, "... I have already gained permission for revenge from the high gods!" Destroying the great door and the bedroom door, it made its entry. The duke was terrified, and entered the inner chamber, and the spirit destroyed its door also. The duke woke up and summoned the shaman of the Mulberry Fields. What the shaman described corresponded exactly to the dream. The duke said, "What will happen?"

He replied, "You will not [live to] eat the grain of the new harvest!" ... In the sixth month, on the bingwu day, the Duke of Jin wanted to taste the new grain. ... He summoned the shaman of the Mulberry Fields, showed him [the new grain] ... . When he was about to eat, he ... died."

{Ankaios : "A seer said to him that he would not live to taste the wine of his vineyard. When Ancaeus afterwards was on the point of putting a cup of wine, the growth of his own vineyard, to his mouth, he scorned the seer, who, however, answered, polla metaxu kulikos te kai cheileôn akrôn, "There is many a slip between the cup and the lip." At the same instant .. Ancaeus was informed that a wild boar was near. He put down his cup, went out against the animal, and was killed by it." ("A") – This occurred at Tegea (GM 157.e).}

"A" = "Ancaeus" http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/A/Ancaeus.html 2

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

p. 23 a dream about agate; its consequence

[quoted from Z-Z^ "C^en" 17.8] The Lu dignitary S^en-bo "dreamed of crossing the Huan River. Someone gave him agate pices as food. He wept, and his tears became agate pieces that filled his arms. ... He was fearful and dared not divine [the dream’s meaning]. When he returned from Zheng, in the year renshen, he reached Lizhen and sought divination for the dream, ... and died by the evening."

"Once Shengbo seeks divination, the meaning of his dream as death in concretized in words; it becomes public and inescapable."

p. 24 compliance with a dream of requaest for sacrificial offerings to the suzerain of a dead resident alien

[quoted from Z-Z^ "Xian" 31.5] "Duke Cheng of Wei dreamed of Kangshu [ancestor of Wei] saying, "Xiang has ... my sacrificial offerings." The duke gave orders to offer sacrifices to Xiang. Ning Wuzi opposed this, saying, "Ghost and spirits cannot partake of sacrificial offerings not from those of the same kin. ... Please change your decree on sacrifices."" [p. 41, n. 2:21 : "When the Lu minster Zang Wenzhong offers sacrifices to the seabird that stop at the east gate of Lu, he incurs the criticism of Zhan Qin ... (Guoyu Lu 1.9)." {Yet the Utah Mormons proffer thanksgiving to seagulls.}]

"Xiang is the grandson of the founder of the Xia dyansty. His former residence in Diqiu, now the Wei capital, raises the question of whether he is entitled to sacrificial offerings from Wei. Wuzi maintains that only states descended from Xi (Qi and Kuai) are responsible for sacrifices to Xiang."

{According to the tradition of Yun-nan, the state of Xia was located there. It is likely that the assignment to other locations (such as Wei) was originally simply an annotation of residency of ambassadors from Xia at those locations. The quaestion, then, was whether those states (such as Wei) were obliged by international rules of diplomatic courtesy to render sacrifices to the ancestors of the dynasty of Xia at those sites of ambassadorial residency.}

p. 24 attainment of much-coveted exile by means of obeying a heaven-sent dream

[quoted from Z-Z^ "C^en" 5.1] "Zhao Ying dreamed of a messenger from heaven saying to him, "Offer sacrifices to me, and I shall bless you." ... He offered sacrifices and was driven into exile the next day."

"The word for "blessings" (fu) may be construed to mean exile, because it amounts to escape".

p. 25 a dream of being crushed by heaven (collapse of the sky-dome?)

[quoted from Z-Z^ "Z^ao" 4.8] Mu-zi (S^u-sun Bao, a wise ministre of Lu) "dreamed of being crushed by heaven. Failing to hold out, he turned around and saw a person, dark and hunched, with deep-set eyes and a sow-like mouth. He cried out, ‘Niu [bovine], help me!’ Thereupon he held out".

"Shusun Bao leaves his clan in Lu because of ... Xuanbo’s liaison with Mujiang, mother of the Lu ruler Duke Cheng. ... He also leaves Qi without notifying Xuanbo, ... of the latter’s new liaison with Sheng Mengzi, mother of Duke Ling of Qi."

p. 26 the river-god’s demand in a dream

[quoted from Z-Z^ "Xi" 28.4] The prime-ministre Zi-yu of C^u "had fashioned for his horses agate-ornamented caps and jade-adorned martingales, but had not used them. ... he dreamed of the god of the river saying to him, "Give them to me! ..."

p. 29 dreamlessness

"Paradoxically, the centrality of dreams is the Zhuangzi is defined through the valorization of the dreamless state. In Chapter 6, "The Great Ancestral Teacher" (Da Zongshi), Zhuangzi describes the "True Being of ancient times" (gu zhi zhenren) :

[quoted from the Z^-Z 6/48] Sleeping he did not dream, ... The True Being of ancient times ... not using the mind to harm the Way, not using what is human ... ."

p. 30 shamanic dreaming of traveling in animal-forms

[quoted from the Z^-Z 6/58] Z^on-ni (Confucius) thus lauded Yan Hui (his most esteemed disciple) :

"You dream of becoming a bird soaring in the sky,

you dream of being a fish sinking into deep water.

... the you enter into the oneness of the empty sky."

p. 30 joying in the myriad transformations (as accomplished by a peripatetic walk-in transcendent?)

[quoted from the Z^-Z 6/51] "One happens upon the human form {while roaming discarnate, one findeth a living human body to occupy temporarily?}, yet ... As for the human form, there are ten thousand transformations which do not begin to have a limit; the joy therein is, then, uncountable! The sage therefore roams in the realm from which nothing can escape and where all is preserved. {Nothing can escape in the sense that is in bound into the cycles of transmigration of souls and/or of walk-ins; all being recoverable therewithal?} ...

"If my left arm is gradually transformed into a rooster,

I will ask of it the hours of the night;

If my right arm is gradually transformed into a pellet,

I will use it to get an owl for roasting.

If my buttocks are transformed into wheels,

I will let my spirit be a horse, and so I will ride".

{Apparent bodily transformations are among the most bizarre effects of psychedelic drugs.}

p. 31 dreaming of being a butterfly

[quoted from the Z^-Z 2/23] Z^uan Z^ou "once dreamed he was a butterfly – joyous and carefree in being a butterfly. ...

All of a sudden he woke up; there he was, ... a butterfly dreaming of being [Z^uan] Zhou." {A simultaneous dream of false-awakening, and dream within a dream?}

p. 33 transcendental metaphysics of rotation in Z^-Z

"In this chapter, "On Seeing Things as Equal," ... transcending the logic of either-or include

"the treasury of heaven" (tianfu),

the potter’s wheel of heaven (tianjun),

the whetstone of heaven (tainni),

"proceeding on two alternatives ... " (liangheng),

the axis of the Dao (Daoxu)".

{Some of these ("potter’s wheel", "axis") imply rotatory functioning : cf. the rotatory whirlpools in Siberian shamanic dreams, the rotatory whirlwinds in Great Plains shamanic dreams, etc.}

p. 35 the only regret by souls of the dead?

[quoted from Z^-Z 2/21] "How would I know that to hate death is not like someone who, having lost his home as a youth, knows not the way of return? ...

How would I know that the dead does not regret this initial longing for life?"

pp. 36-7 the spirit-travels and the final miscalculation by a king, plunging him back into materialist praedicaments of the perishable material world

p. 36

"the "dream chapter" (Chapter 3, "Zhou Muwang" ["King Mu of Zhou"]) in ... the Liezi (ca. A.D. third to fouth century?). ... King Mu is transported to realms of fantastic splendor through the aid of a Daoist magician (huaren, literally, "the person who transforms"). ...

p. 37

Greatly pleased, the king no longer pays attention to affairs of state and indulges instead in "distant wanderings" (yuanyou). His peregrinations take him to the ends of the world and the realms of immortals, until at the feast of the Queen Mother of the West


he has a change of heart and decides to turn back. ... (LZ 5/70)"

{It is implied that greedy ploutokrats are eventually unable to perceive the paramount value of divine glories, and therefore lapse back into materialism.}


3. (pp. 43-73) David Shulman : "Dreaming the Self in South India".

p. 43 the legend

"The city was Pukar ..., an ancient Tamil, seaport ... . The king was a great Chola who fell in love with a woman from the nether world of the serpents ... . She left him to return to her mysterious domain, promising only to sent him one day the son who would be born out of their love. And she did so ... . ... Indra ordered the goddess Man.imekhala, deity of seafarers, to drown the city. ... the child was eventually washed ashore ..., where he became the king of Kan~cipuram".

pp. 44-6, 71 the Tamil poe:m Man.imekalai

p. 44

"Kan~cipuram was also ... the place where the long Tamil narrative poem Man.imekalai ... was composed, perhaps in the sixth century, ... and another ... story as well, about a young courtesan who ... dreams".


"Man.imekalai, the heroine, named after the same goddess of seafarers (Man.imekhala) [p. 71, n. 1 : "distinguish throughout the goddess Man.imekhala (Sanskrit spelling) from her namesake Man.imekalai (Tamil spelling). FGor the cult of Man.imekhala ..., see Levi 1937:371-383."], was the daughter of the courtesan Matavi ... .


Kovalan had been killed ...; his wife, Kan.n.aki, enraged at the loss of her husband, torn off her left breast and hurled it at the city of Maturai, burning it to ashes. Kan.n.aki then became a goddess worshipped in a temple far to the west, in Van~ci."

{cf. the Eskimo Sun-goddess’s amputating her own teats and casting them to the Moon-god.}

p. 71, n. 3:2

"Today she is worshipped at Ko^d.ungallur in Kerala as O^rraimulaicci, the Goddess with a Single Breast.

{Goddess Eka-ja.ti hath only a single teat, as well as only a single eye.}

This is the story of Cilappatikaram ..., attributed to Il.ankovat.ikal.. The mythic history of Kan.n.aki, and the great text that tells it, have been studied ...; see ... Obeyesekere 1984; also Shulman 1980 :200-210."

p. 44

"Man.imekalai ... was a beautiful woman, and ... the Prince of Pukar, Utayakumaran, ... pursued her into the public garden, where she had gone to pick flowers with her companion, Cutamati.


To escape the attentions of the prince, Man.imekalai took shelter in a crystal pavilion, where she could be seen but not touched. ...

{At Dunstanburgh Castle, Sir Guy "is shown a lady, held captive inside a crystal tomb. ... Sir Guy must rescue her." ("DC", p. 21)}


But that night the goddess Man.imekhala herself spirited the sleeping Man.imekalai away to an island called Man.ipallavam in the middle of the sea. ... the goddess ... woke up Cutamati and informed her of Man.imekalai’s disappearance ... . Later on the same night ...,

p. 45

a painted pillar in the public hall began speaking, telling Cutamati the story of her former life. On the island, Man.imekalai ... suddenly remembered all that had happened in her previous life. Soon the goddess Man.imekhala herself appeared and confirmed these memories; she also taught Man.imekalai mantras that allowed her to fly through the air and to take on whatever form she wished. The guardian goddess of the island, Tivatilakai, also materialized ...; at her instruction, Man.imekalai received from a pond ... a magical bowl, Amuta-curapi, which produced inexhaustible supplies of food. This bowl had once belonged to a renegade Brahmin named Aputtiran, who was abandoned by his mother and nursed by a cow. ...


This same Aputtiran was now reborn as the King of Cavakam (Java) ... . {Java is renowned for its kris-swords, with "blade sinuous like a snake" ("K").} ...

{"The wizard offers him a choice, on the one hand a sword" ("DC", p. 21). -- "The sword then turns into a snake" ("DC", p. 22).}


First to be fed was a divine woman named Kayacan.t.ikai ... .


(She had tripped over, and

{Goddess "Rona ... tripped ... and cursed the moon." ("MM")}


unintentionally destroyed, a magical naval fruit,

{"Rona is said to attack the moon because she destroys the food products" (AKM, p. 19).}


which ripened only once every twelve years, and which a sage had set aside for his meal – also a once-in-twelve-years’ event ... .)

{This is an allusion to the Chinese 12-year cycle of revolution of the planet Jupiter.}

{"Rona the guide of the moon the sign of twelve" (FLM, p. 293).}


One mouthful from Man.imekalai’s bowl satisfied Kayacan.t.ikai, and ... She flew off to rejoin her husband in the land of the Vidyadhara musicians {sic : read "magicians" (as on p. 76)} ... . ... .

p. 46

... Man.imekalai ... then left Pukar to seek out the sage. On the way she found Pun.yaraja, the king of Cavakam (and the original owner of the magical bowl). She took him to ... the island of Man.ipallavam, where he, too, remembered his former life and even exhumed his own former body, a buried skeleton, as final proof of this rediscovered story. The goddess of the island also revealed to the two pilgrims, Man.imekalai and the Javanese king, that the city of Pukar had just been flooded and destroyed ... . Man.imekalai made her way to Kan~cipuram via the city of Van~ci ... . ... Here, too, she entrusted the magical bowl ..., where it continues to feed the hungry, to bring rain to the fields, and to heal all those in need."

Levi 1937 = Sylvain Levi : "Man.imekhala, divinite’ de la mer." In :- P. Hartmann (ed.) : Me’morial Sylvain Levi. Paris. pp. 371-83.

Obeyesekere 1984 = Gananath Obeyesekere : The Cult of Pattini. Chicago.

Shulman 1980 = David Shulman : Tamil Temple Myths. Princeton.

"DC" = Oswald; Ashbee; Porteous; Huntley : Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY AND INVESTIGATION, RESEARCH DEPARTMENT REPORT SERIES, no. 26/2006. English Heritage, 2006. http://services.english-heritage.org.uk/ResearchReportsPdfs/026_2006WEB.pdf

"K" = "The Kris" http://www.bt.com.bn/life/2008/07/27/the_kris_the_traditional_malay_weapon

"MM" = "Maori Myths" http://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/new-zealand/1994/maori-myths

AKM = Elsdon Best : The Astronomical Knowledge of the Maori, Genuine and Empirical. Wellington, 1922. http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-BesAstro-t1-body-d1-d5.html

FLM = Elsdon Best : Forest Lore of the Maori.


(a legendary MaGrebi crystal tomb, pertinent to the "crystal tomb" at Dunstanburgh)

"Rupert ... is struck blind ... . When ... Rupert’s sight is restored,"

{[Aztec] Ixquimilli was a blind god, but he must have recovered his eyesight, for is more commonly repraesented as Itztlacoliuhqui, a sighted (seeing) god : the latter is the god of ("YMC", p. 74) "frost". ‘Frost’ is [in Samskr.ta] /MALiM-luca/ ("F"), which is perhaps cognate with /MALaMa/, a proto-Polynesian term for ‘moon’. When goddess Rona was carried away to the moon (Maori /marama/), she brought with her a naio tree, well-known for its quality of repelling ("NgL") mosquitos, ‘mosquito’ being the other meaning of /malimluca/ ("M").}

Rupert is "lured" "over the edge of the cliff at Dunstanburgh to his death." (DC", p. 23)

{There was a "crystal tomb" (KJ 1999) at the City of Brass, a city walled with a wall from atop which various surmounters of that wall leapt, after being so allured, to their deaths (according to the 1001 Nights – "SCB"; "IRC").}

"YMC" = Gordon Brotherston : "The Year in the Mexican Codices". http://www.historicas.unam.mx/publicaciones/revistas/nahuatl/pdf/ecn34/675.pdf

"F" = http://spokensanskrit.de/index.php?tinput=frost&script=&direction=ES&link=y

"NgL" = http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/sandflies-and-mosquitoes/3/1

"M" = http://spokensanskrit.de/index.php?tinput=mosquito&direction=ES&script=HK&link=yes

KJ = KIPLING JOURNAL http://www.johnradcliffe.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/textfiles/KJ290.txt

"SCB" = "The Story of the City of Brass" http://www.bartleby.com/16/701.html

"IRC" = "Idol of Red Carnelian" http://traditional.classicauthors.net/ThousandAndOneNights/ThousandAndOneNights37.html

pp. 48-9, 53-4, 56 further details from the Man.imekalai

p. 48

"Man.imekalai has gone to the public garden with Cutamati ... . Utayakumaran ... has just brought a wild elephant back under control. Now, as he passes the courtesans’ houses, he sees ... a young man ... clutches a vin.a".

p. 49

"Cutamati, Man.imekalai’s friend, has been visited, her sleep disturbed, by the goddess Man.imekhala, ... to inform Cutamati of her friend’s diappearance and to send her with this news to Matavi. All this transpires in the burning ground, with its gruesome sights and sounds."

p. 53

"Man.imekalai is transported in her sleep to the island of Man.ipallavam, where she will learn of her former life. ... She discovers that in her previous incarnation she was Laks.mi, the wife of Rahula, who died of snakebite and was reborn as Utayakumaran – the same prince of Pukar who is, understandably now, still in love with the same woman."

p. 54

"Cutamati, Man.imekalai’s friend, learns of her previous birth from the eloquent and mysterious pillar image (kantir pavai) in the great public hall in Pukar known as Ulaka-aravi ... . The pillar image is divine, and he tends to speak at night, ... in the course of which he tells ... his own intriguing story :


I am one of the many gods, Tuvatikan by name.

As of old, this pillar has been appointed as my place

by Mayan, the divine artisan. I never leave it."

{So, is this the Vaidik pilastre-god Stambha?}

p. 56

"Man.imekalai feeds the grounded ... Kayacan.t.ikai, who, now happily sated, flies away -- ... overflying the Vindhya Mountains, where the hungry goddess Vintakat.ikai ... seizes travellers’ shadows, pulls them in, and devours them."


4. (pp. 74-84) Wendy Doniger : "The Dreams and Dramas of a Jealous Hindu Queen".

p. 76 Kalinga-sena

[KSS 33 [= 6.7]:166-217] "a celestial magician named Madanavega had fallen in love with Kalingasena; he used his magic to come to her room in the form of the king and seduce her. The demon found the magician in his own form, asleep on the bed of the sleeping Kalingasena; for he was a divine man and had lost his false form because his magic power to do this vanished when he was asleep.

The demon called the prime minister, who brought the king to Kalingasena’s room; he saw her asleep and the magician asleep beside her in his own [i.e., the Vidya-dhara’s] form. ... just then the magician was awakened by his magic and he ... flew away to the sky."

[KSS 34 [= 6.8]:1-65] "But the magician ... continued to visit her, though he added, "... you have gotten the reputation of a whore.""

KSS = Katha-sarit-sagara (Ocean of Story)


David Shulman & Guy G. Stroumsa (edd.) : Dream Cultures. Oxford U Pr, 1999.