ARCE Vancouver: Ecstasy and Agony: Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt

Registration is required

Presented by: Dr. Kasia Szpakowska

  • 1:00 PM PDT
  • Online-Zoom
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Lecture Information:

Both textual and non-textual evidence reveals dreams as a liminal zone between the dimensions of earthly life and the afterlife in ancient Egypt. While death was a sorrowful event for those left behind, a crucial element of the ancient Egyptian world view was the conception of death not as an end, but as a stage through which one goes to reach an eternal life. The border between the world of the living and that of the divine and the dead was translucent, and traversable. The dreams of the living acted as windows onto the afterlife, through which people could hope to view the activities of a deceased loved one. However, this dreamscape was also a zone over which the living had little control, and often became an access point for the hostile dead. Thus, the belief in the afterlife was a double-edged sword: offering comfort by eliminating the notion of terminal death as well as providing access for divine visitations, while opening an unsettling passage for nightmares. This presentation explores the diversity of roles that dreams played in pharaonic Egypt, focusing on dreams as both ecstatic and agonizing experiences.