Thursday, February 2, 2012

Asklepios, Incubatio.*

Asklepios. Golden bust photo stolen from some pharmacy or another.
 “(I dreamed) that I should proceed in the following way: first, mounting the chariot, I should go to the river which flows through the city and then, when I reached the spot where it leaves the city, I should perform the ἱερἀ ἐπιβόθρια [i.e., sacrifices in the ritual pits]; for thus he [s.c. Asclepius] named these rites. Having dug the pits, then, I should perform the sacred rites over them to whomever of the gods it is most fitting. Next, turning back and taking up small coins, I should cross the river and throw them away. And I believe he gave me some other instructions in addition to these. Afterwards, I should go to the holy shrine and offer perfect sacrificial animals to Asclepius and set up holy craters and distribute holy portions to all the fellow-pilgrims. And (he indicated) that it was also imperative to cut off part of the body itself in behalf of the safety of the whole. This, however, would be too great a demand, and from it he would exempt me. Instead, I should take off the ring which I was wearing and offer it to Telesphorus. For this would do the same as if I offered the finger itself. Furthermore, I should inscribe on the band of the ring “Son of Cronus.” After this there would be salvation.”
- Aristides, Oratio XLVIII, 27. (Taken from Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies, by Emma Edelstein and Ludwig Edelstein. Johns Hopskins University Press, 1998. P. 287.)

Many years ago, when I was still a noob (if I can be said to be something else, now, anyway. LOL), I discovered that Incubatio was used extensively by the cult of Asklepios. As I had immense interest in gaining the ability to incubate dreams, I dug up a picture of a bust of Asklepios, inscribed it with custom (and crappy) sigils on the back and slept with it under my pillow for like, three weeks.

At the end of that three week period, I had an intensely lucid dream involving the deity – bearded and robed and fairly kindly. I received specific instructions on how to incubate dreams for three different tasks:
  • Contacting deities, and their lesser spirits.
  • Placing sigils (he never indicated the word specifically, but said 'marks that designate spirits'. My memory may be in error) in specific locations, at specific times, to act as triggers for the incubations.
  • Speaking with those who I love if I find myself constrained.

The latter technique, frankly, has occasionally backfired. I have popped into the dreams of people I did not intend to contact, or simply found myself in some strange astral realm I know nothing about. The first two bits have one thing in common: the thing in the dream (if it was the Dead Hero God, anyway), indicated that the planetary hours of Mercury were of particular help, and that if I should burn specific incenses, I would find they aided me in different ways. During the sequence of images that appeared in the dream representing Mercury, one was the planetary symbol, but it was glowing blue (other such symbols did not glow). The spans of time around Mercury, and what it was, was described to me as something like a great connector. If I wanted to make initial contact, I was told, then that hour and the governors of it would always be helpful toward me, and almost always work. This is all my UPG, mind you, and you may make of my memory what you will. Nonetheless, the experience actually did serve me quite well. And I continue to use the techniques - now almost exactly as - they were given to me.

At the time, I very much ignored the “Hour of Mercury” advice, and today I find myself chuckling at that habit. Nonetheless, I should say this: I required, at the time, neither healing nor salvation. A ring, nor finger, was requested of me. All the spirit seemed to want was three portions of Frankincense, on three separate occasions.

The above is quoted primarily because reading it in the Edelstein's tome made me recall just how insanely lucid my first, and predominant (we don't get together too often, honestly) experience of the figure was. I definitely see no reason not to recommend others try and seek Asklepios if they want to learn either healing (which he predominantly presides over), or as I desired to learn, incubatic dreaming. In addition, there are several sets of Incubatic "dream oracle" rituals in the PGM, which I can dig up upon request. Some of them are quite specific, however. (Such as inspiring a future lover to dream of you, etc.) Stuff that many object to. Others are simply dream oracles, often powered by lamps (if my memory serves me correctly).

*NOTE TO SELF: This entry was initially inspired on the Day of Jupiter, in the (post-sundown) Hour of the Sun.


Scylla said...

Getting lost in some middling astral realm - that was always my strong suit in dreams.

Dreaming has always been a strong component of my practices, so it's nice to see interesting tidbits.

Not that long ago I zonked out in the temple and had a dream about Hermanubis. For some reason I cannot precisely explain I'm almost 99% sure he was actually Asklepios... something about taking off a ring that rang true with what you've posted.

Then again, I wear a certain ring that if I ever took it off I might as well have cut the whole finger off.

Jack Faust said...

Honestly, I have no idea whether or not Asklepios and Hermanubis have any relation at all. I haven't seen anything in the Eddelstein's tome yet, but Isn't the end-all-be-all, either.

I frankly know little about Hermanubis. He rules the Dog Days of Summer... And my own dream experiences with something like him were a very odd ride...

Jack Faust said...

And the figure is so syncretic that little would surprise me.