Western medicine is said to have been established by the followers of Asklepios, the Greek god of healing.  Asklepios was both a mythical and historical figure. 


Asklepios was ruler of Thessaly around 1300 BCE, during which he became known as a compassionate and wise healer.  According to Homer’s Iliad, Asklepios taught his sons medicine and they served the Greek army during the Trojan War as both warriors and physicians.

The Greeks believed the father of Asklepios to be Apollo, the god of medicine, music, reason and prophecy.  His mother was the mortal Coronis. According to legend, Apollo tore the infant from Coronis’ womb as her body burned on the funeral pyre.  Apollo gave the babe to Chiron, the most learned of the centaurs and a great healer who used herbs and incantations.  Asklepios later combined the healing philosophies of Apollo with the natural methods of Chiron and added the human element of words, thus forming the origins of western medicine.

Askepios spent his life traveling the ancient world healing and instructing his disciples, the Asklepiads.  These physician-priests became the founders of Western medicine and developed the practice of dream healing.  .

Eventually Zeus slew Asklepios with a thunderbolt for breaking the laws of nature by attempting to raise a man from the dead.  He was taken to Mt. Olympus to serve as the god of healing. 


From approximately 1300 BCE to 500 CE, in Asklepian temples, physicians guided patients with seemingly intractable health problems through intensive holistic retreats.  In them, a wide range of therapies was invoked:  exercise, nutrition, hydrotherapy, touch, astrological readings and attendance at tragic theater.  The capstone of these efforts was incubation, a period during which a supplicant fasted, prayed, and slept in an enclosed chamber called an abaton.  The patient remained in the abaton until he or she received a dream or vision in which Asklepios or one of his helpers appeared.  In Greece, the dream typically involved instantaneous healing by ‘the god’ Asklepios.  During the later Roman era, ‘the god’ most commonly prescribed an intervention or remedy during the dream, which the supplicant took in order to obtain healing over time. 


The information above can be found in an article written by Psychotherapist Edward Tick, Ph.D. in the July 2005, Vol. 1 No. 4 issue of Explore Magazine.   In this article Dr. Tick wrote a Case Report of a ‘modern day’ Asklepian type healing of a patient.  While this patient had a particular (and particularly severe) condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the steps taken would be similar or the same for triggering healing of most, maybe all, conditions, diseases, illness.  Dr. Tick writes of this patient:  “He tried numerous conventional and complementary/alternative medical (CAM) treatments, including dietary regulation, digestive aids, nutritional supplements, psychotherapy, acupuncture, massage, Reiki, hydrotherapy, guided imagery, meditation, relaxation techniques, and affirmations. Through CAM he was able to decrease but not eliminate his symptoms [diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal discomfort, frequent unpredictable bowel movements, eating triggering immediate defecation).  His past medical history revealed meningitis and kidney infection, both in adulthood.  There was a family history of chronic digestive and eliminative disorders for two generations.  In despair, the man made himself a supplicant and prayed for a transpersonal intervention into his condition.  After praying, he experienced a dream: 


He is lying in his darkened bedroom, as if waiting for something or someone.  A gray-haired, gray-bearded doctor appears, walks into his room, and stands next to his bed.  The scenario resembles a doctor making a traditional house call.  The doctor is holding an enema bag.  He tells the man that he has heard him praying for healing for a long time.  In order for this to happen, he instructs him to administer an enema of vinegar and lemon juice.  The entire scene is suffused with mystical light and resembles the frieze of a healing scene.”


When the man awoke, the dream was as clear as if it had happened to him in the waking state.  He was fascinated and baffled.  Could an enema of lemon juice and vinegar possibly cure a quarter-century-old condition?  He consulted both his psychotherapist and physician.  Although neither of them had heard of an enema treatment for IBS, they saw no danger.  That evening, the man lit incense and a candle in his bathroom, gave thanks for the dream, and prayed that the cure would be effective.  He took the enema as prescribed, diluted with water.  For a half hour, he felt cramps from the distension caused by the enema.  For the next four hours, he experienced a mood of vibrant well-being.  Sleep followed.

 “The next day the patient was quite comfortable, with only rapid and moderate elimination in the early evening.  That night he took a second enema.  Over the next several weeks, his digestion dramatically improved and his stools became regular, solid, and less frequent.  His digestive stress and bloating disappeared.  Although he experienced brief regressions to IBS patterns during periods of high emotional stress, they were short lived.  His general mood lightened and he became happier. 

 “Two weeks after his remedy, he reported that, while hugging his wife, he saw and felt a bolt of pure white light shoot through his spine from the region of his kidneys upward through his shoulder blades, filling him with a sense of power and vitality.  Two years following his epiphany, the patient experiences excellent digestion and elimination.  He continues to use CAM type therapies, including yoga, acupuncture, exercise, and nutrition.  He seems to have been cleansed of his deep-seated irritation.  He now responds to stress with patience, acceptance, and tolerance.  He remains significantly more relaxed and happier.”


It is important to realize dreams and visions are very personal.  The cure given to this man in his dream may or may not work for others with the same condition.  It may be that the doctor that appeared to him in his dream was a spirit healer appearing in a guise that would be impressive and convincing to the man.  Or it may be the doctor was a guise created by his own subconscious or superconscious for the same purpose.  The purpose may have been the vinegar and lemon juice would help him or the purpose may have been for a placebo effect – the emotional levels of mind and body do put great faith in physical remedies and when they are presented by a wise, experienced (gray hair and beard) doctor surrounded with mystical light there is even greater belief they will work.  Each person receives dreams, visions and inner messages that are personal and meaningful to that person.   Christians, for example, may see healing images in the guise of Jesus or Mary or angels.  Jews may see Moses, Abraham or a Rabbi.  Buddhists may see Buddhist monks or Buddha himself.  Muslims may see Mohammad or a Muslim Cleric.  Hindus will see who/what is meaningful to them, just as Romans and Greeks saw gods and goddesses meaningful to them.  The guises used by spirit healers and by one’s own mind and spirit (which are powerful spirit healers) are what and who is meaningful to each person.  After all, spirit and mind have no form but light.  Spirit and mind use light to create any form/guise they want.   As for the bolt of pure white light – spiritual healing is always available when the soul feels it has learned all it can from a condition and is ready for healing.  

This page and all contents are copyright by Pamela Chilton 2001. All Rights Reserved.

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