Dreams long preceded language in the development of humanity. In dream we burrow down into the deep prehistory of our species. Two million years ago our ancestors roamed the African grasslands, aware of predators, appetites and the procession of night and day; aware of the darkness, of terror and of joy. How long ago was language added to the dream? When did this capacity for the mind to pun foolishly matching the anxieties of the day come into being? Do other mammals dream? Are we the natural outcome of our dreaming?

Jung was eloquent on this topic: ‘The comparison of typical dream motifs with those of mythology suggests the idea — already put forward by Nietzsche — that dream-thinking should be regarded as a phylogenetically older mode of thought... Just as the body bears the traces of its phylogenetic development, so also does the human mind. Hence there is nothing surprising about the possibility that the figurative language of dreams is a survival from an archaic mode of thought... The dream is the little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche, opening into that cosmic night which was the psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain the psyche no matter how far our ego consciousness may extend... All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still in the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood.’

May 2004