By Edward Tick
A Chapter excerpt from Soul Medicine: Healing through Dream Incubation, Oracles, Visions, and Pilgrimage. Forthcoming in January 2023, by kind permission of Inner Traditions Publishing, https://www.innertraditions.com/books/soul-medicine. All rights reserved.
I am leading a healing journey to Greece with World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans and their wives. We will use both ancient warrior and Asklepian dream incubation traditions, the origins of modern psychotherapy, for guidance and healing of modern wounds.
We stand at the rocky base of the towering Acropolis, Athens’s bulwark, and holy center. Her patron goddess Athena’s gleaming temple is high above. We are in the remains of the Asklepion, sanctuary of the healing god founded during plague and active for centuries. Suddenly rocks fall from above, barely missing us as they clatter on the stone walkway. We look up. Teenagers toss stones down from the height and laugh.
Some onlookers freeze or duck for cover, but short and broad John Giannini steps into the barrage. John is Italian-American, a Jungian analyst from Chicago and a World War II combat veteran. His humble size betrays his strength. He stands as if ready to take the shots from above to protect the rest of us. He looks up, points, and calls out, “Stop! This is dangerous, not a joke. This place is sacred. Athena is your goddess. No violence here. You are commanded to stop!” The youths drop their raised arms and slink away.
On her height above, Athena once had several guises. She was called Parthenos, maiden, the virgin goddess, and Nike, victory, with temples to these. Her third guise greeting every supplicant coming through her gates was the goddess’s tall statue striding forward with her spear and shield at the ready. She was Athena Promachos – The Defender, the One in Front, the Bulwark, the Protector. She taught that preservation and protection, not aggression and violence, were the true warrior values and strategy rather than aggression the best tool.
On the ground below, our group’s elder, an old combat veteran, strode forward to protect us all…