Ancient history is littered with evidence that dream analysis is as ancient as the very history of mankind.
That a mixture of feelings overwhelms a person who has just had a disturbing dream is without contention. An individual, whether in the modern or ancient times, will most likely seek to have their dreams analyzed.
The Egyptian historical context is full of various accounts of how mediums and other people were regarded as being in possession of special powers from the gods to interpret dreams. Dreams were considered a subtle mode of communication where the gods would relay their will to humanity. More than a thousand years before the birth of Christ, for example, a dream book was in existence that carried hundreds of messages from the gods. The idea of messages was reportedly received when the soul left the body, as was presumed to be the habit, during sleep.
Conversely, in other African cultures, dreams were considered messages from the ancestors and not gods. It is widely believed in many cultures across the African continent that ancestors would occasionally want to communicate with the living. The only way that would be possible was dreams. Those who would analyze dreams, in this context, would be those equipped with unequaled perspicacity in cultural matters.
Among the Maya, a Native American Indian Civilization, dreams were regarded as wielding enormous significance. For instance, newly initiated boys would be asked about their dream lives. The wisest and would-important asset to the community would be one who had the richest dream life and with the ability to recount details of each dream. Such an initiate would grow up to be a dream interpreter in the community.
Perhaps one of the most elaborate civilizations that embraced dream analysis, the Greeks had an enviable passion of knowledge and the power thereof. Dreams, inadvertently, were considered to be part of the vast spheres of knowledge that needed to be addressed. On the other hand, they were considered to be divine messages from the gods. As a result they employed the use of a blend of theoretical suppositions from other civilizations (such as the Jewish, Assyrian, Egyptian and others) in explaining dreams and dream analyses.
As a result, the Greeks’ beliefs in dreams and corresponding analysis were heavily dependent on the symbolism that had been acquired from other civilizations. For instance, a dream in which one sees a snake was indicative of sickness. A code was informally developed that included various types of animals that ultimately spoke various implications. Some animal symbolism heralded positive news while others were considered to be simply bad omen.
The concept of dream incubation was born at around the time when so much interest in dream interpretation thrived. This was conducted at what were perceived to be sacred places. Some drugs and herbs were often administered whenever there was need for divine communication during times when divine intervention was needed.
In the ensuing Greek knowledge and literary advancements, perceptions were developed to the effect that the true nature of an individual was revealed through dreams. It was impossible, according to Greeks like Plato, to act out dreams. You could only be real in dreams. Another Greek, Aristotle, took a different path altogether in asserting that dreams were no more than the result of the complex purely physiological functions of an individual. Artemidorus, on the other hand, each dream bore some significance only to the dreamer.
Roman civilizations also emphasized the importance of dreams. Dreams were required to be deciphered on the basis of symbols seen in dreams. An informal code of symbols rendered meanings to each dream.
Biblical evidence seems to suggest that the very founding of the Israeli nation was preceded by a series of dreams to Abraham. Dreams, in the Jewish context, were a mode of communication between mankind and an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present God. Similar accounts can be found in the Bible about, for example, Jacob who had a dream about a ladder reaching to and from heaven.
In the ancient Assyrian context, evidence of dream analysis can be observed from the record believed to have been belonged to King Assurbanipal. Some of the records of Assurbanipal were considered so influential that they were used by other people in developing their own dream interpretation guides. The Greek Artemidorus, for example, was said to have heavily relied on Assurbanipal in writing his treatise, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Dreams, in ancient civilizations, were considered important. They could reveal the future. They were messages from the gods offering rebuke, warnings or guidance.
Inasmuch as you have further queries on how dreams were interpreted in ancient civilizations, contact your favorite Tarot Prophet, Sophia Loren, for answers to everything regarding dream interpretation, how the ancient world did it, and the relevance to your own dreams.