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Senoi Dreamwork | Blog Your Blessings

March 30, 2008 on 5:13 pm | In Active Dreaming, Dream Books, Dreamwork | 1 Comment

I’m still reading Creative Dreaming, the wonderful dreamwork book by Patricia Garfield, Ph.D., that I reviewed in a previous post.

I keep finding more and more good information in it. In particular, there is a whole chapter on Senoi dreamwork that is worth the price of the book all on its own.

The Senoi are often mentioned in connection with dreamwork, but often without much or any explanation of who they are and why they are important. The Senoi are a tribal people of what is now called Malaysia.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, the Senoi were studied in their homeland, while they still lived in their traditional way. What the anthropologists discovered was startling!

The Senoi were a peaceful people who lived in the midst of warring tribes, and everyone let them alone! Despite their entirely peaceful ways, they were considered to be powerful magicians by surrounding tribes. So no one in the other tribes wanted to mess with the Senoi.

What was the source of their power? Senoi life was centered on dreams and dreamwork!

Each morning everyone in the extended family shared their dreams. They helped each other interpret their dreams, and they trained their children in dreamwork.

From babyhood on, Senoi were trained to control their dreams and to use what they gained from dreams to live a happy, peaceful, creative, and fulfilling life.

If a Senoi child had a nightmare, she or he was coached in turning the nightmare around, killing and/or befriending the dream enemy, and demanding a gift. The gift must be a song, poem, artwork, play, or invention that could be brought back and shared with the village.

Senoi dreamers learned to pursue pleasure, including sex, and to enjoy adventures in their dreams. Always, they were to bring back creative gifts to share with the community.

The most famous writing about the Senoi was published in the late 1940s by an anthropologist named Kilton Stewart. What he had learned from the Senoi (and learned to practice himself) was so amazing that others began to attack his work. They said it could not be possible, or true.

Unfortunately by then Kilton Stewart was dead. His mentor, another anthropologist had also died without leaving many notes.

Others went to Malaysia and were told by authorities that Stewart was wrong. By then, according to Garfield, the Senoi had been forced out of their ancestral lands by the new Malaysian government and forcibly resettled in camps, where they were forced into lifestyles that destroyed their old ways.

The new government did not want it to be known that they had so persecuted and oppressed such a peaceful and creative people. So the researchers who had set out to debunk Kilton Stewart were easily convinced that there had never been a Senoi society like the one Stewart so vividly described.

Patricia Garfield had written about the Senoi and had tried their methods. She knew that they worked.

Determined to find out the truth, Garfield went to Malaysia herself and persevered until she found independent guides and translators who would go with her. She sought out the remaining Senoi and interviewed them carefully.

She describes that adventure in her book. Kilton Stewart was fully vindicated by the testimony of older Senoi who described their traditional life in their old homeland exactly as he had. Stewart was right!

For more on exactly how to use the Senoi dreamwork methods to enhance your own life, and that of your family and friends, you really should read the book, Creative Dreaming.

I feel very blessed to have found Creative Dreaming, and I think you will, too.

1 Comment »

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  1. Well, then it must be a blessing. May you continue to enjoy that blessing as needed.

    Comment by Paulie — May 11, 2008 #

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