Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Et Itur Ad Astra

"And so, one goes to the stars."  This lyric from Enya's Afer Ventus, at least by my interpretation, points to a journey that people (and us non-peeps) since ancient times have considered a normal, daily (or nightly) experience for higher life forms:  dreaming and astral projection.

Are dreams only fabrications of a sleeping brain?  Could they be stylized representations of real experiences beyond one's physical body?  These and other questions are explored in Dreams and Astral Travel, by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Mysteries, Legends, and Unexplained Phenomena Series; New York: Chelsea House, 2009) (ISBN 9780791093870).  Guiley, an experienced paranormal researcher and investigator, presents for young adult readers a balanced introduction to the subject, delivering the basics of astral projection, or out-of-body experiences (OBEs), as well as the fundamentals of dream interpretation.

When I flipped my paw against the front cover to open the book (felines are multi-talented, you see), it fell open at page 41, upon which I read the following:

"Do animals dream?  The answer to that isn't known.  Animals twitch and make noises during sleep as though they are dreaming.  Throughout history, people have assumed that animals dream.  The Greek philosopher Aristotle and the Roman historian Pliny believed so, and much later Charles Darwin said dogs, cats, horses, and the 'higher animals' can dream."

Actually, the answer IS known, if you're asking the right animals.  Those of us who dream (and we know who we are) experience a virtually identical range of experiences with human dreamers, although human dreams are much more focused upon verbal language, as this is a human preoccupation.  Non-human mammals (and the so-called "higher animals" generally) are visual thinkers, as were primitive humans; consequently, our dreams focus upon visual imagery rather than verbal interaction, although verbalizations are as important to us non-human animals asleep as awake.  [If you're interested in learning more about visual thinking, consider these books:  Arnheim, Rudolf.  Visual Thinking (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1969); McKim, Robert H..  Experiences in Visual Thinking, (2nd Ed., Brooks/Cole, 1980); and Edwards, Betty.  Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Rev. & Expanded Ed., Tarcher, 1999)].

Guiley's book is engaging, entertaining, and enlightening, and it is written in a straightforward style bound to appeal to young adult readers.  There are more adult treatments of the subject--I recommend the works of Sylvan Muldoon and Robert Monroe, both of whom Guiley discusses in her book--but Dreams and Astral Travel has the advantage of presentation for its intended audience (teenagers).  To learn more about a couple of Muldoon and Monroe's books, please watch our book trailer below.

Dreams and Astral Travel is available at my Library.  Please consult our online Evergreen Indiana catalog to place holds or for additional information about Guiley's book.  We also have the two books featured in our book trailer above; check our E.I. catalog here and here.

Serving Up Readers' Advisory With Choice of Two Sides,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Young Adult Readers' Advisory News Beat

P.S.  Enjoy "Afer Ventus," by Enya, from her album, Shepherd Moons (1991).  For lyrics and translation, visit the official Enya website.  This is what celestial music on the astral planes must sound like.  The most beautiful music imaginable is heard there, so I've read, and Enya's is some of the most beautiful music ever created on the Earth plane, in my humble opinion.

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