Today we're going to explore a little New Year dream mythology.
But firstly, I'd like to wish you all a very happy 2017 and a lucky Hatsuyume!
Hatsuyme is a Japanese tradition, and translates literally as "First Dream". Hatsu meaning first or beginning, and Yume meaning dream.
In Japan, the very first dream following New Year's Eve is considered auspicious and sets the mood for the coming year.
In fact it is customary for the Japanese to predict their fortune based upon their Hatsuyume.
For those looking for good luck, the symbols of Mount Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant (in that particular order) are considered the most fortunate.
Mount Fuji - the highest mountain in Japan - is said to represent safety and security.
The hawk, a strong and intelligent bird, represents the highest.
And the eggplant represents Achievement - on account for the Japanese word for eggplant suggesting greatness.
However, a slightly less exciting theory for the choice of these symbols is that these were simply the favourite things of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of Japan’s first shogun!
This superstition has spawned many methods for inducing good dreams.
One tradition suggests leaving an image of the seven deities of good fortune beneath your pillow - their ships loaded with treasure. An alternative is to leave a palindrome.
Alternatively, should you have a nightmare, you can call upon the mythical Baku, a supernatural beast which is known for eating dreams!
A Baku has an elephant's head, including a trunk and tusks - but also has horns and a tiger's claws.
However, Baku is also the Japanese word for the Tapir - and often the dream eating abilities of the mythical Baku are also attributed to this somewhat more humble creature.
So should a follower of this tradition be unfortunate and have a nightmare, they would call three times "Baku-san come eat my dream" - in order to feed the negative dream to the Baku.
But one has to be careful when summoning a Baku, as they have big appetites. There is the risk that they'll also eat your good dreams!
In fact, it's still a common practice today for Japanese children to sleep with a Baku talisman by their bedside - it's a similar tradition to a dream catcher.
It's always fascinating to explore dreaming traditions around the world, and the Baku and HatsuYume are certainly among the most colourful.
Of course, it's wise not to take them too seriously. In our modern world, we're now much closer to understanding the causes and nature of the dreaming mind than ever before.
But myth, magic and story have always been part of the dreaming landscape. And, in my opinion - when seen as a testament to the creativity of human imagination – is most certainly a good thing!
So, do you remember your first dream of the year?
If so share it in the comments below, I'd love to hear more.
I wish you all lucky HatsuYume and a lucid 2017!
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