Dream in Primitive Cultures



shamanic dream; or else, shamanic rite



rite : "From out his medicine bag ... He took out a bundle of eagle feathers and a little whistle, and with the latter made a screeching noise like a bird to attract the attention of the eagle spirit. ... He then began to sing in a low voice a slow rhythmic song to invoke the bird. With gradually increasing tempo he sang ... to bring the spirit into presence."



"dreams were a universal oracle and revealed to the Indian, "his guardian spirit, taught him the cure of his diseases, ... guided him to ... the haunts of game and unfolded the secrets of ... destiny ...""


Kiwai [of Papua]

visit by woman Ama`ra to her dead husband Ba`ua in Adi`ri the abode of the dead : "When she came to Adi`ri she saw two heavy posts like iron, one on each side of the way, and they were constantly clashing together thus preventing anyone from going in. But when Ama`ra came



near the posts lifted themselves up, enabling her to pass, and when she was through, they began banging themselves together again. ... Ba`ua stood beside his wife while the people were dancing. ... When her time was up ... the two bars separated, and she flew right between them ... Her spirit entered her body".


Iban [of Borneo]

"The Ngarong ... spirit becomes the special protector of some particular Iban, to whom in a dream, he manifests himself, in the first place in human form, and announces that he will be his secret helper".



oku-jumu (‘dreamers’) : "The powers of a ‘dreamer’ are obtained by direct contact with the spirits ... If the dreams of a man ... are extraordinary, that is, if he sees .... spirits of the forest or the sea, he may acquire the reputation of a medicine man. ... In his dreams he can communicate with spirits, and can ... cure ... a friend. ... It is believed that in his dreams he can communicate with spirits and persuade them to cure the sick person."



"Sometimes shamans inherit their power from a deceased father, mother, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. The dead relative visits them in dreams and tells the dreamer that he or she is to take the power and become a shaman. After a few such visits and instructions from the deceased, the power itself appears in the dreams, and the relative no longer comes. The power then belongs to the dreamer."



After a certain woman’s "father had been dead ... years she started to dream about him. She dreamed that he came to her and told her to be a shaman. Then a rattlesnake came to her in dreams and told her to get eagle feathers, white paint, wild tobacco. The snake gave her the songs that she sings when she is curing. ... Now she dreams about the rattlesnake quite frequently and she learns new songs and is told how to cure sick people in this way."



"There is a mountain below Dayton. Men go to the cave on this mountain to get power. Women never go into this cave. They [women?] get their power in dreams. I went there ... I stayed in the cave all night. ... I lay down on the floor and I heard lots of different animals going through the cave. They would say, ‘Somebody is here.’ ... After a while I heard people singing and dancing. Then the chief talked to the people who were singing and dancing. ... I



could hear two chiefs at the dance talking back and forth. ... I was lying on a rock and it started to crack ... Then a tall slender man stood in front of me. He said, ‘You want to be a shaman. ... First get your eagle feathers ... The feather is to guide you. You can bring back the souls of dead people with it. ...’ I did what he told me and I learned my songs and how to cure the sick when this tall man came to me in dreams. He helps me to doctor people and tells me what to do."



"dreams were ... regarded as sent by the Sun to enable them to look ahead and tell what is going to happen."



"the secret doctoring societies ... were comprised of members who were supposed to have had the same vision, each society having its own specific admission vision."



"when a woman was with child and near the time of her delivery, a deceased ancestor or relation used to appear to her in a dream and inform



her what dead person was to be born again in her infant, and whose name the child was, therefore, to bear."



"all myths are dreamed by the individual." {cf. The Dream Seekers, n. 8:24 (p. 272)}



"The individual dreams the myth."

"Dreaming is the direct basis of all religion, tradition, ritual, song and shamanic power".

"Dreaming is believed to be more real than waking."

"Whatever is dreamed it believe either to have happened or is [to be] about to happen."



"Individual instead of traditional connection with the supernatural."

"Medicine man acquires powers by dreaming."

"All myths ... are known by the raconteurs because they have seen the events themselves in their dreams."


Kamia of the Imperial Valley

"Knowledge of the destiny of human souls was derived through dreams."



autobiography of shaman : " "Before I was born I would sometimes steal out of my mother’s womb while she was sleeping ..."


He related that when he was small he took a trip to the sacred mountain and met the God Kumastamxo. Since that time he has power to go to him any time in his dreams. "... I was present at the very beginning and saw and heard it all. ..." "

197, fn. 1


"Yuma myths are less variable than those of peoples who do not dream their mythology."




dreams which require caerimonial sacred chants :-


dream about __

sacred chantway



snakes, buzzards, hawks

Hoz^onae (‘Terrestrial Beauty’)


souls of the dead

Hoz^onji (‘Restoration’)



of being hurt

Natoye Bakaji (‘Male Shooting’)


"of being stranded on a rock, of going through a small hole in the rock, ... of being in an arroyo with waves rushing over you, ... of a whirlwind coming"

Sontsoji Hatral (‘Star’)



Yei (gods)



being pursued by bears

Dzilkije (‘Mountain’)




"Anything I dreamed of really happened. It really does come true ... According to what you dream it might come in a year or two years or maybe more."



"a bad dream ... A person (with such a dream) will get a medicine man to give him a blessing ... After the blessing or a sing they won’t dream again about anything like that. That might be the end of one’s bad dreams. Good dreams would come after that and they mean good spirits are with you."



pilgrimage : " "... We pray to Changing Woman ... If we want to take a trip to the island where she lived, we would pray ... to her before starting. ... Then on reaching the island before entering the cave we would repeat the prayers and songs. ..." (I had told him of the cave on Santa Cruz Island and the trip of a Navaho to this cave.)



"holding up the earth with us. The White Shell woman is the one who keeps it up. She knows right now what I am saying. She can hear through the air and the sunlight. ...

The sun is our god and that is our father."



"I believe the soul wanders when I dream and comes back again afterward."



myth : "Black Star gave him a bolt of lightning, and Black Cloud and a small star to use for star gazing, and Black Star told him again that in future Niltche B’yazh the Wind Spirit would be inside of him, and that he would speak to him in dreams. ...

Blue Star ... gave Younger Brother a bolt of lightning called Hatsol-rah, sheet lightning, a blue cloud ..., and he also told him that he would be helped in the future by his dreams.

Then Yellow Star offered Hajih-gish (Heat Lightning), a yellow cloud and a big star, and spoke about the Wind giving him help in dreams, and that he could use the big star for star gazing.

The White Star gave him Nahtseelit, the rainbow, a white cloud ..., and spoke again about his dreams, and

they gave him the rainbow as a road back to earth."



"(a) Animals in visions and dream could bestow only the lowest degree of power.

(b) Above these there ranged a cloud appearance and an eagle-winged human shape."



"Their dreams according to their own account are revelations made from the spirit-world, and their prophetic visions are what they saw and knew in a former state of existence."



"a medicine man is "one skilled in handling of bundles and conducting their ceremonies," whereas a doctor is "one who treats disease by virtue of powers obtained through dreams or visions.""



dream by shaman: "Sun appeared as an old white-haired man carrying a drum. He taught a new song and use of drum."



dreams by shaman, giving directions for the sun-dance : "Saw an old woman facing the sun. ... He saw through her and her face was painted with a black circle and a dot on the nose."

"The sun came and said, "Look at the old woman’s face (moon)." He saw through her head and saw paint on her face. ... The Sun says to wear a cap of running fisher skin".



dream by shaman, giving directions for the sun-dance : "Sun man and moon woman and their son, the morning star, appeared. The man gives him his body ... The woman gives power over rain. The son gives for a hat, a plume of eagle feathers and tail



feathers of a magpie."



by shaman : "In sleep he heard eagles fighting over their powers. The male turned into a person, took yellow paint and rubbed it on his arm ... The female bird turned into a woman and ... took some white paint ... and rubbed it on her forehead."



by shaman : "when he has a dream, he appeals to the power of a moth or butterfly." {cf. [Aztec] butterfly-goddess Itz-papalotl; her pursuit of a man (Xiuh-nel) into a non-scorching fire would indicate a dream, inasmuch as in dreams fire is not hot.}



"the "Powers below" ... include, horned hairy snakes, underground bears and panthers. The acceptance of such a dream makes one a sorcerer. If such a dream occurs three times it must be accepted."



"Dreams concerned with the Sacred Metal Cylinder. This object is believed to stand in the centre of the heavens. "A dreamer sometimes had a vision in which he ascended through this tube. If he reached the top, he received gifts from one of a group of gods there ...""



"dream ... the myth about a wandering being supposed ... to ramble for ever through the forest in punishment for his offence against the Gods" {cf. Qayin} : "dreamed of Petcicunan Naiota ("sacred bundle on his back," the Menomini name), whose abode is among the greatest rock ledges. ... The dreamer was obliged to make and keep a curved knife {cf. [Aztec god] Itztla-coliuhqui (‘curved obsidian knife’); cf. also Yemenese & Sikh curved knives} whose handle was carved to represent the wandering man".




successive puberty-dreams by boy in wigwam on scaffold


man in dream, offering gift

what that man actually was













gust of wind




long life







name of spirit

powers conferred by it




"to catch the invisible disease spirit which is constantly flying through the air in the form of a worm. He is able to throw it into his enemies, who die from its effects at once."




"able to devour and touch fire with impunity."



"It is a bird, and bestows the faculty of flying."




initiation-legend of the T>Ena>xtax at Lekwade : "Their chief was Lawag.is. ... in the woods ... he saw a woman with a large head and matted hair and with a face which was full of scratches. Lawag.is went up to her and ... he put his arms around her waist ...



[She implored :] ‘... Now let me go ...’ Lawag.is only held her more tightly. {cf. Peleus’s grasping the goddess Thetis while she struggled to escape his grasp (GM 81.k).} ... Then he let her go. ...



Something like a rainbow [the "double-headed serpent" (on p. 301) ?] was standing in the hole. Lawag.is looked down and saw all kinds of animals and fishes in the hole." {"Thetis turned successively into fire, water, a lion, and a serpent; ... she became an enormous slippery cuttle-fish".}



initiation-dream by a shaman : "I dreamed I travelled across the water in a small canoe. I was not halfway across when a north-westerly gale began to blow. ... Then my small travelling canoe capsized. ... Then a gull came flying ... It took my hand and told me to walk on top of the water." {cf. rescue of Odusseus by seagull-goddess Leuko-thea when his raft had encountered a storm at sea (GM 170.y).}

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

Jackson Stewart Lincoln : The Dream in Primitive Cultures. Cresset Pr, London.

[Part II, Chapter IV and other Freudisms of this book are to be ignored.]