Site Dreams – Points of Interest
By Paul Devereux


In response to Stanley Krippner's proposed methodological revisions for an improved experimental design to investigate sacred sites and dreaming (Krippner & Schroll, 2011), this is fine as far as it goes. But I would like to put on record that the original aim of the Dragon Project's ancient sites dream research programme was not carried out, in my view. Rather than addressing my concerns point by point, I explain more about my views in the following article drawn from my previous publications, along with an interesting anecdote regarding place memory possibilities for your interest. Likewise there is still a job to be done with the program's data from this original experiment, if I can ever raise the funding to finish it. For now, here is a snippet of interest regarding the idea of memory fields/morphogenetic-type fields at places.

Editors Note: Devereux did not confirm it, but it is my best guess “Haunted by Dreams” is from his book Haunted Land: Investigations into Ancient Mysteries and Modern Day Phenomena (Piatkus, 2001).

Haunted by Dreams
Was there a psychic dimension to the spots selected for dream temples? It sounds unlikely, but the novelist and poet, Lawrence Durrell, made some astounding if now long-forgotten observations to this effect (in The Listener, 25 September, 1947). On his first visit to Epidaurus in 1939, his sense was that the whole area held an aura of sanctity – there was “something at once intimate and healing about it”. But his Greek guide at the complex let it slip that he had managed to finagle a transfer to Mycenae. Durrell wanted to know why the man should want to leave this green and peaceful place in favour of the craggy citadel. “I can’t bear the dreams we have in this valley,” the guide explained. “What dreams?” Durrell queried. “Everybody in this valley has dreams,” the man replied. “Some people don’t mind, but as for me, I’m off.” He went on to comment that the dreams frequently contained the figure of a man with an Assyrian-looking visage, with dense ringlets falling down onto his shoulders. He looked like a figure depicted in a fresco in the Epidaurus museum – an image of old Aesculapius himself, Durrell suspected. But surely that was to be expected, considering that the guide spent his days in Epidaurus? “Why should my two kids dream about him when they have never set foot in the museum?” The Greek retorted. “If you don’t believe me, ask any of the peasants who live in this valley. They all have dreams. The valley is full of dreams.” Durrell wondered if the thousands of dreams countless suppliants had experienced at Epidaurus over its centuries of activity had somehow, mysteriously, left their trace.

In 1945, immediately after the Second World War, Durrell had reason to revisit this odd train of thought. While visiting the island of Cos, he encountered two British soldiers who were clearing up scattered German and Italian ordnance; they were camped near the archaeologically-excavated site of an Aesculapion. Durrell chatted with the soldiers who asked him if he knew anything about the temple. He told them about the Aesculapian cult, and casually asked them if they had noticed anything unusual about their dreams. This startled them. It transpired that they had moved their tent out of their initial camping spot within the temple precinct precisely because they had experienced profoundly odd and disturbing dreams. “Was it possible, I found myself wondering again, that dreams do not disappear?” Durrell wrote. “And especially in a place like this which must have been charged with hundreds of thousands of dreams?”

Durrell decided to conduct his own experiment by sleeping in the Cos temple, recording his dreams in a notebook. Unfortunately, it seems he did not publish these because he felt the experiment was not complete. It was to be the best part of half a century later before a loosely similar and more extensive experiment was carried out [PD: The Dragon Project site dreaming work], but that, as they say, is another story.

Personal Note to the Editor from Paul Devereux

Mark – I have never had the time to pour through all the dream records of the site dreaming effort, but my original idea was simply to collect together all the dreams of each site to see if there was any commonality of imagery etc. in the various volunteers’ dreams, and to see if those common elements were site-specific – i.e. different images etc. at each of the sites. I still think this should have been done, as in a way each site would acted as a control to the others – if all images were pretty similar in all sites, then it could be assumed that the numerous variables of sleeping out at an ancient archaeological site were the key factors, but if site specific imagery DID emerge, then it would be less likely that was the dominant explanation. I think the statisticians got bogged down with the home dream idea of controls. Anyhow, here is just one analysis I did regarding just one of the sites – Carn Euny (it is a segment taken from a companion article I wrote to the one above):

With Place in Mind
The original main aim of the dream programme – to provide a systematic analysis of any potential site-specific dream content similarities – also awaits sufficient funding to proceed. Unlike the analysis comparing on-site with home or control dream data, this will be able to use the full range of the on-site dream report data. While this is awaited, simple “eyeballing” of the data proves interesting, for some tantalisingly site-specific elements do appear in the dream report transcripts. As one brief example of this, here are a few snatches from just seven people’s dream reports obtained at Carn Euny. It is important to remember these reports were made at different times – there was no cross-communication. The reports’ sometimes slightly disjointed quality is accounted for by the fact that they were made verbally and recorded directly on the dreamers’ awakening from REM sleep. The excerpts have been arranged so as to better highlight content similarities.
MS: I dreamt that I was awake … and these people turned up and they had this dog with them … a beige dog. And there was a cat …

AR: …I turned off for the Carn Euny turning … Something went across in front of the bull-bar on the jeep … I assumed it was a cat. It was big and beige …

MVB: …a sense of processing … of going from one place to another …

AR: … on this flat lane, walking with these people who were hikers or going somewhere … a very friendly bunch of people … Definitely the bustle of people going somewhere …

BH: … something to do with walking. It was sort of flattish sort of countryside … I’m definitely walking around in this countryside … I don’t think I knew of any of these people … It was a crowd of about five or six people … we were walking around the area…

DS: They’re holding my hands … [Helper: “The people?”] … Yeah … I think they’re going to take me somewhere … It was all right though … They were nice…

BH: There was quite a lot of people and it was something to do with food …

AR: …This person had set up selling ice creams and things…

MVB: …A very tall chocolate cake …

DS: I dreamt that we broke into a new tomb somewhere near here … this enormous great carved … with huge tusks and eyes, painted eyes ….

GH: … little boy with an old face, deformed face or something … It was slightly nightmare-ish…

BH: …stuck on the wall… was a big round thing and it had a face on it … It wasn’t really a human
face … It had big eyes, roundish eyes…

THS: … I’m in the audience … there’s someone else who’s just finishing an act. A singer or something…

BH: … watching a show that was going on, sort of play thing but it was also something people sort of partook in … we were sitting in the audience….

Allowing for a general sense to flow from this material, are we glimpsing some transpersonal, site-associated memories showing dimly through the distorting glass of personal dream recall? If so, then a paradigm shift in our understanding about the nature of consciousness would be signaled, and something approaching Durrell’s intuition at the Greek dream temple sites will have been strengthened. If not, the exercise will have produced a unique body of dream reports that will at least provide a valuable database for future researchers.
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Volume 3, Issue 1, 2011