Dream Cultures IV : "Middle Ages".


12. (pp. 235-51) Moshe Idel : "Astral Dreams in Judaism : 12th to 14th Centuries".

p. 238 receiving a dream from the stars

"one recipe for receiving a dream connected explicitly to stars ... :

[quoted from MS. Oxford Bodeliana 1965, fol. 183a] " ... stand before the stars, where Ursa Major is, and say in front of it : In the name of Stani, I conjure ... send me this night two sages who will reveal to me whatever I ask and demand from them in truth ... .""

"stars are the source of dreams."

pp. 238-9 assistance rendered to dream-interpreters by other categories of diviners




[quoted from :- >abraham >ibn <Ezra> : Commentary on Dani^>el 2:2-5]

"The h.artumim know the essence of the dreams ..., and

they called also to ... the mekhashshefim, who know the propitious hours ..., so that they might ... know [the meaning of] the dream in accordance with the configuration of the


stars in that hour.

He also called the kasedim, who know the future in accordance with their lore".


[quoted from :- >abraham >ibn <Ezra> : Sefer ha-H.ayyim]

"the the mekhashshefim too know the propitious hour, and in accordance with that hour they are able to know the dream of a man, if he sleeps, by means of the configuration of the stars at that hour."

p. 239 distinctions among dreams according to hours when then occur

"the mekhashshefim interpreted dreams according to the hour of the dream".

{The Javanese classify dreams according to the time of night during which they appear." (WDB, p. 225)}

WDB = Sarvananda Bluestone : The World Dream Book. Destiny Bks, Rochester (VT), 2002.

pp. 240-1 a revelation delivered by a planetary spirit in a dream, according to pseudo-Maimonides : Megillat Setarim

p. 240

[quoted from MS. London, British Library Or. 19788, fol.s 4b-5a; Lideros^ >elohim, fol.s 19b-20a; Hemdah Genuzah, fol.s 43b-44a] "Mercury ... is appointed for wisdom and knowledge of the hidden things ... . ...

p. 241

And he should sleep ... left side and you will find, in the midst of your sleep, that the spirit of the holy God will dwell upon you and the hair of your neck will bristle [p. 248, n. 12:35 : cf. >iyyob 4:15], when the sleep of tremendum comes upon you, and fear to your thoughts. During the dream at night you will see the visions of a man who will awake you {a peculiar variety of dream of false-awakening?} ... and will tell you the secrets of wisdom, and twice as much understanding."

p. 241 "The explanation of doubt, the substance of oneiric technique, is offered by Mercury, Hermes, the master of knowledge and hidden things. He appears in a dream vision and begins a dialogue with the dreamer. ... The oneiric technique attempt to solve a hermeneutical quandary by resorting to Hermes."

p. 243 primordial sacred text

"According to some Midrashic views, the Torah was ... in its primordial form ... a different and much more powerful combination of letters [Scholem 1969:27]. Such an order, if retrieved, may transform ... into a powerful book of magic."

Scholem 1969 = Gershom Scholem (transl. by R. Manheim) : On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism. NY.

p. 245 descending of the Cosmic Intellect, through means of a mirror, into the dreams of prophets

"A perusal of his magical book shows that a Neoplatonic attitude to reality informs its structure ... . The main contribution of this treatise is ... to the much later figure Yohanan Alemanno ... .

The anonymous author draws heavily upon the Arabic view of drawing down spiritual forces from various astral bodies".

{This was also a practice in Hellenistic magic.}

[quoted from the Sefer ha <as.amim, p. 13] "The spiritual force ... highest ... among all the spiritual forces ... is the agent intellect which was [also] called Shekhinah [p. 249, n. 12:60 : "the ten sefirot, of whom the Shekhinah is the last one, are identified with the ten separate intellects, of whom the agent intellect is the last one. See, e.g., Abulafia’s text pointed out to by Scholem 1961:143."] and ... the drawer down of it will know the Creator ..., and it will teach him ... while he is asleep, in hints ... . ... And [it] will ... arrange them in a state of wakefulness, in an order and manner appropriate to the language of his generation, by means of parables and words and usages, in that that language and custom. ... .

... prophesying ... prophets did ... only by means of the mirror that does not shine. ... . ... this intellect was ... descending upon them ... only in a dream or terrifying visions."

Scholem 1961 = Gershom Scholem : Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. NY.

p. 247 Alemanno’s ladder of cognitions

"According to some texts, God dresses himself in a garment in order to reveal himself to man, while according to other texts, the mystico-philosophical ones, man divests himself of his materiality in order to become God. ... However, ... those forms of religious experience not only coexist, as in the case of Alemanno’s ladder of states of cognitions [p. 250, n. 12:72 : "See for the time being ... Alemanno’s passage’s extant in ms. Oxford 2234, fol. 106b; ms. Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale 849, fol. 28ab; Sha.ar ha-H.esheq, fol. 42a; ms. Oxford 1535, fol. 123a], but may sometimes complement each other."


13. (pp. 252-73) Sara Sviri : "Dreams in the World of Mediaeval Islam".

(0) p. 252 prophetic revelations are received during dreams

" "The veridical dream is one forty-sixth of prophecy," states an Islamic tradition attributed to the Prophet Muh.ammad. [p. 268, n. 13:1 : "For an extensive list of sources and variants see Kister 1974:71 n. 20".] This statement implies that ... messages of divine origin can still be communicated through dreams ... . ... For S[.]ufism it meant that divine inspiration (ilham) could be granted to the friends of God (awliya> allah), the holy men of Islam. For philosophy it meant that ... during sleep ..., the human Intellect could become united with the Universal (or Active) Intellect and thus have access to transcendental truths. It was universally accepted that those who had cultivated their inner faculties and insights could decipher the encoded messages of their own dream as well as those of others."

Kister 1974 = M. Kister : "The Interpretation of Dreams, an unknown manuscript of Ibn Qutayba’s <Ibarat al-Ru>ya". ISRAEL ORIENTAL STUDIES 4:67-103.

(I.1) pp. 253-4 the earliest Muslim philosophers writing on dreaming

p. 253

"Artemidorus’s Oneirocritica was translated into Arabic by H.unayn ibn Ish.aq in the ninth century".


Ya<qub bn Ish.aq al-Kindi (d. ca. 866) ..., in his Epistle on the Nature of Dream and Sleep, maintains that the understanding of "sleep" and "dream" is based on the knowledge of the psyche (nafs) ... . ...


What the dreamer sees and hears in a dream comes ... from a special psychic faculty which he names "the form-creating faculty" (al-quwwa al-mus.awwira) ... that ... produces them in their pure, non-corporeal forms. ...

[cf. the dream "images" of Lucretius (supra, pp. 174-5)]

p. 254

In producing such dream forms, the psyche, which is "knowledgeable, awake, and alive" (<allama yaqz.ana h.ayya) acts for the dreamer as a revealer of things to come, since in this way it points to, or prophesies, future events."

(I.2) pp. 254-5 spiritual revelation in dreaming




"Medieval Arabic literature on dreams and visions ... reiterates ... knowledge of spiritual "meanings" (ma<ani – referred to also as "ideas," "forms," "intelligibles," "universals") acquired through the inner, subtle senses that are activated in dreaming." [p. 269, n. 13:19 : "On the "internal senses" see Wolfson 1935:69-133."]


"Isaac Israeli, a North African Jewish philosopher of the tenth century, in his Book of the Elements, evaluates the transcendent nature of dream images ... in the following way :

[quoted from Altman & Stern 1958:136] "A man will behold himself during sleep ... flying ... between heaven and earth; and it will seem to him as if the heavens are open, and a voice is calling thence and speaking to him ... . The evidence of these forms and images is spiritual, subtle, transcending the natural order ... . ... .


... there is agreement between all authors of books on religion and all who believe in prophecy that dreams are a part of prophecy."

Wolfson 1935 = H. A. Wolfson : "The Internal Senses in Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew Philosophic Texts". HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW, complete vol.

Altman & Stern 1958 = A. Altman & S. M. Stern : Isaac Israeli : a Neoplatonic Philosopher of the Early Tenth Century. Oxford.

(I.2) p. 255 remembering dreams as spiritual messages

[quoted from Altman & Stern 1958:136-7] "When the person awakes from sleep, ... Remembering them [viz., dreams], one seeks to understand their spiritual meaning through the cogitative faculty (al-qawwa al-mufakkira) ... . ... When, therefore, the cogitative faculty of the person concerned is spiritual, pure, luminous, and hardly obscured ..., intellect ["i.e., the transcendent Universal Intellect" – Sh.S.] will cause its light and brilliance to emanate upon it and make known to it its own properties, forms, and spiritual messages".

(I.3) pp. 255-6 veridical dreaming is by the rational soul

p. 255

According to "Moses ibn Ezra, an eleventh/twelfth-century Andalusian Jewish Poet", "Only dreams ... which ... emerge from a celestial origin, are veridical. ... These ideas reveal to the dreamer’s rational soul (an-nafs an-nat.iqa) divine and hidden truths ..., which ... are inspired by the Universal Intellect

p. 256

(al-<aql al-kulli). Interestingly, in this class of dreams no role seems to be assigned by Moses ibn Ezra to the imaginative faculty."

(I.4) p. 256 dreaming is from the heart-mirror (according to S.ufi doctrine)

"In the eighth chapter of the last book of the Ih.ya> <ulum al-din (‘The Revival of the Religious Sciences’) ..., the author, Abu H.amid al-Ghazali (d. 1111), offers ... an exposition on dreams ... . ... Al-Ghazali explains that ... the veil covering the heart is lifted and a vision of future is revealed to the heart’s eye. The heart, he explains, is like a mirror upon which forms (s.uwar) and meanings (ma<ani) are reflected. The source of these forms and meanings is the (Preserved) Tablet (al-lauh.al-mah.fuz.) [p. 269, n. 13:30 : "On ... al-lauh.al-mah.fuz ... see commentaries to sura 85:22; see also Schimmel 1994:155, 228."], the heavenly book that records all created and preordained phenomena from the beginning of creation to its end. In the process of dreaming, it is suggested, a double act of mirroring is taking place : the Tablet mirrors the incorporeal forms that exist in the unseen, and the unveiled heart, in contemplating the Tablet, mirrors the images reflected there."

Schimmel 1994 = Annemarie Schimmel : Deciphering the Signs of God. Albany.

(I.4) p. 257 interpretation of a dream about sealing

[quoted from >al-Gazali] "Someone told Ibn Sirin : "I saw myself in a dream holding a seal by which I was sealing the mouths of men and the privies of women." Ibn Sirin said : You are a muezzin (mu>adhdhin) who calls for prayer on the mornings of Ramad.an."

(I.5) p. 259 luminous wisdom of dreaming

According to >ibn >al-<arabi, a 13th-century Chr.E. Andalusian mystic, "In dreams, through the imaginative faculty (al-quwwa al-mutakhayyila), even divine attributes can be perceived in a corporeal form. The friends of God, says Ibn al-<Arabi, see images of highly spiritual beings such as angels ..., the Heavenly Throne (al-<arsh), and even God himself. ...

The ninth chapter of his Bezels of Wisdom (Fus.us. al-h.ikam) is entitled "The Bezel of Luminous Wisdom in the Word of Joseph." In the opening lines of this chapter Ibn al-<Arabi writes :

[quoted from >ibn >al-<arabi 1946:99] "The light of this luminous wisdom expands to [embrace] the plane of imagination. This is the beginning of Divine inspiration granted to the people of Assistance (ahl al-<inaya). [This is supported by a h.adit transmitted in the name of] <A>isha : "The first inspiration [granted to] the Prophet was a veridical dream. Every dream that he had was [as clear as] the breaking of dawn ... ."".

>ibn >al-<arabi 1946:99 = Muh.yi >al-Din Muh.ammad >ibn <ali >ibn >al-<arabi (ed. by Muh.ammad >abu Rida) : Fus.us. >al-H.ikam. Beirut.

(I.5) p. 260 the dream by >ibrahim concerning Yis.h.aq

"the sixth chapter of the Bezels of Wisdom, which is concerned with Isaac, ... is based on a Qur>anic verse according to which Abraham says to his son : "My son, I see in a dream that I shall sacrifice thee" (37:102). ... But according to Ibn al-<Arabi, ... What had appeared in his dream was a ram in the form of his son".

(II) pp. 261-2 >al-Tirmidi, a 9th-century denizen on the bank of the river Oxos (Amu Darya)

p. 261

" "Good tidings," al-Tirmidhi writes in his The Way of the Friends of God (Sirat al-awliya>), "is a veridical dream ...; the dream of the faithful is God’s word spoken to him in his sleep.""

p. 262

"In his autobiography al-Tirmidhi ... writes :

... I would ... wander in the ruins and graveyards around my town. This was my practice, and ... I took refuge in ruins and in solitary places."

p. 270, n. 13:56

"The fact that al-Tirmidhi wakes up sitting ... may suggest that the dreaming took place in a mosque."

(II) pp. 262-8 dreams dreamt by >al-Tirmidi and by his wife >umm <abd>allah, as recorded in his autobiography Bad> >al-s`a>n (‘The Beginning of the Matter’)




[the 2nd dream by >al-Tirmidi :] "I saw a huge assembly [p. 270, n. 13:59 "majlis <az.im is equivocal" ... {may mean ‘place for assembly’}. Cf. Radtke and O’Kane 1996:19."] with an embellished seat and a pitched canopy ... . ... I entered through the veils and saw neither a person nor a form. ... After a while I found myself outside the veils."


[the 1st dream by >umm <abd>allah :] "I saw in a dream, ... standing in midair, ... an old man, curly haired, wearing white clothes, sandals on his feet, and he was calling to me from the air ..., and he disappeared."


[the 2nd dream by >umm <abd>allah :] "And lo, a man came toward us, curly haired, on his head a white turban, his hair loose behind his turban, his clothes white. Then


he ... said to me at a distance from my sisters : ...


I am one of the angels; we roam the earth, and our abode is in Jerusalem. Then I saw in his hand [a bunch] of young green myrtle [branches] ... . ... Then he said : We roam the earth and we call on the worshippers. .. I woke up. ...

In the book of Zechariah (1:8-11) ... : I saw by night and behold a man ..., and he stood among the myrtle trees ... . ... And the man that stood among the myrtle trees ... said, These are they whom the Lord has sent to walk to and fro through the earth."

{>iyyob 1:7 : "and YHWH said unto S`at.an : ‘Whence comest thou?’ Then S`at.an answered YHWH, and said : ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.’ " (So, did both Zkaryah and >umm <abd>allah thus encountre S`at.an?)}


[another dream by >umm <abd>allah :] "I saw a tree growing by the side of this couch ... . ... I came closer to the tree and heard a voice coming from around it, although I could see no-one there. I looked at the trunk and saw that it had grown out of a rock, a big rock. By the side of this rock I saw another big rock which had a hollow, like a pool. From the trunk of the tree a brook emerged and its water, which was pure, flowed into the hollow of the rock and gathered there. Again I heard a voice calling me from the bottom of the tree : ...


Look! I looked, and saw a green bird, the size of a pigeon. ... The bird hopped upwards, ... from branch to branch; whenever it perched on a dry branch ..., it became green and moist ... . ... The bird flew to the top of the tree ..., and the whole tree become green."


[still another dream by >umm <abd>allah :] "I saw two dignified persons sitting. ... One of them said : ...


"You are one of the pegs of the earth ... ."" [/>awtad/ ‘pegs’]

p. 267 "At the top of this hierarchy stands the "pole" (qut.b), "the Master of the Friends of God" (sayyid al-awliya>). Under him come the "pegs," below which come the substitutes (al-abdal)."

Radtke & O’Kane 1996 = Bernd Radtke & John O’Kane : The Concept of Sainthood in Early Islamic Mysticism : Two Works by Al-Hakim Al-Tirmidhi. Richmond (Surrey).

pp. 267-8 mystical experiences by >umm <abd>allah




"She said : ... Heat spread through the cavity of my body, my heart was on fire, and all the sacred names appeared to me in their glory. ...


Then, she said, I saw a glow behind me, and it stayed above my head ..., and in this glowing light these three things were revealed to me :

the knowledge of the Divine Glory,

the knowledge of the Divine Might, and

the knowledge of the Divine Beauty. ...

This fire that I first saw in the sky ..., ... now I see it as sparks of emerald and silver, blown and kindled."


14. (pp. 274-87) Jean-Claude Schmitt : "Liminality and Centrality of Dreams in the Mediaeval West".

p. 278 the 5 categories of dreams, according to Makrobios : Commentary on the Dream of Scipio (Kruger 1992:21)

"Macrobius divides dreams into five categories ... :

prophetic vision (visio),

nightmare (insomnium),

ghostly apparition (phantasma),

enigmatic dream (somnium),

oraculum (oraculum)."

"The classification of Macrobius reemerged in the twelfth century in an anonymous work titled Liber de spiritu et anima ... . It was in fact written by a Cistercian named Alcher de Clairvaux".

Kruger 1992 = Steven F. Kruger : Dreaming in the Middle Ages. Cambridge.

p. 283 autobiographical dreams

"Guibert de Nogent ... was marked by numerous autobiographical dreams, as he recounted toward the end of his life [c. 1115], in his De vita sua". [Schmitt 1985:291-316]

Even earlier, the monk Otloh de Saint Emmeran (died c. 1070) wrote a Liber visionum, comprising twenty-three visions. The first four visions ... are personal dreams recounted by Otloh".

Schmitt 1985 = Jean-Claude Schmitt : "Le christianisme et les re^ves (IIe-VIIe sie`cles)". In :- L’imaginaire me’die’val. Paris.


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