several lit candles
Image by Susanne Jutzeler

We are each small creatures here only for a moment, yet we are essential links in the great chain of being. We each have stories and purpose and are part of the greater stories of our unfolding families and cultures. Many of our contemporary and historical conditions keep us locked in an individuality that does not know them, but we live best, with greatest health and fulfillment, when we do.

Conscious immersions and travels in the Greek or any living, holistic tradition can lead us, can help us “unforget,” in universal, mythic, or psycho-spiritual terms, who we are, how we are meant to live, and what we are meant to do with this gift of mortal life. If nurtured, the insights gained, lessons learned, identities restored, and myths embraced can reshape us and last a lifetime.

We finally affirm: Each of our stories is one modern version of the universal hero/heroine’s journey replicated throughout time and written into the Cosmos. How we each live it contributes to the unfolding of the Cosmos.

Ancient Mysteries and Traditions Resuscitated

 The ancient mysteries seek return. In addition to Asklepian healing, other traditions are being resuscitated and practiced. We have participated, and other modern healers work, to restore practices in the traditions of Dionysos, Orpheus, Poseidon, Demeter, and Persephone at Eleusis. They, too, use other healing sanctuaries and appeal to other divinities from the ancient world, including those that practiced incubation. These mysteries declare the necessary return of the divine feminine and its reintegration with the divine masculine and of the reintegration of psyche and soma into one unity.

Imbalanced human progress put the old gods to sleep for millennia. Human suffering and our holistic progress in understanding and answering it can reawaken them.

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Healing is the leap out of a victim identity and into survivorship and service, out of suffering and into myth, out of the personal and into the collective, out of history, politics, society, and culture and into the universal. It is the affirmation of moira, both fate and destiny and our responsibility to accept, direct, and transform it and make our journey and its ordeals mean something for others and the Cosmos.


We can conceive of the healing journey as consisting of five I’s, five stages that we use to move pilgrims through archetypal processes:


We introduce mythic and imaginal material as it fits the seeker’s presentation, story, and wounds. The more they identify with the archetypal, the more liberated from the ordinary and the concrete they grow, the more they see their stories as universal, and the deeper their awareness of what the wound wants from them.


I raise goldfish. If their water is dirty or polluted, they droop, are listless, and look sad. When clean they are spunky, their fins are erect, and they seem happy. It is the same with humans. We are all in enormous fishbowls. Our waters need to be healthy, restorative, life-giving.

Whether through dreams, study, creative practices, travel to near or distant places, on pilgrimage or retreat, immerse in a healing culture that offers healthy, hopeful, life-giving images, stories, relationships, and alternatives to the wounding world we are stuck in. We drench in new imagery, values, ways of life. Our souls reawaken and thrive.


At some point in our growth processes, we incubate. It can happen spontaneously, as dreams, fantasies, or strange events may occur when we are lost and hurting or when we willingly enter an intensive growth process. Or we can choose to incubate in any of its forms—on pilgrimage, on a vision quest in the wilderness, through intensive ritual in any tradition, in sustained retreat and isolation, through therapy or creative practices, even at home intentionally and alone.

In incubation we isolate from the stress-filled wounding world so that we travel as deeply into our psyches as possible to allow archetypes to awaken and make themselves known. They bring us the directions and wisdom needed for healing and growth.


We make all that has surfaced in our processes into our own. We use our new names and abilities. We stretch into new behavior. Our deep imagery has changed, and we use it in art, work, behavior. We become interested. We break out of old roles and rules. We study, quest, question, seek. The world had seemed tired but now it is new with possibilities. The god-powers enter us for healing and renewal, and we shape our lives, as much as is possible, to allow and encourage this.


Initiation consists of the death of the old self and rebirth of a new. When we have passed through intensive growth processes and ordeals, old dimensions of personality, behavior, and relationships that no longer serve us need to die off and new ones take their place. We return from an underworld journey, a dark night of the soul, a walk through the valley of the shadow.

We reclaim creativity, health, and power that does good and contributes to well-being. We are bigger now, not in a prideful sense, for we can gain humility from our suffering. We are bigger in that we have gained wisdom from our ordeals, authority from mastering them, and have much to offer our world in need of healing. The phoenix has burned up, gone to ashes, and been reborn.

The Return from Pilgrimage 

Patients return from pilgrimage restored, reenergized, reconnected to body, mind, heart, self, nature, community, and spirit. They have healed some of their ailments and anguish. They know themselves more deeply. They are more connected to Self, community, nature, and the Cosmos. They are bigger and see their individual journeys and struggles as mythic and honorable. Then it is time for gifting.

Patients sacrificed for their pilgrimages and now give back something for others in need. Their return brings boons to the community that increases in collective wisdom and experience. A new priestess of horses, warrior with hawk spirit, emerging visionary artist, healed warrior healing the young ones, and a prophet warning against apocalypse return as new elders able to witness, protect, and tend.

Our individual healing helps heal the world and helps the world heals us. By giving and gifting we complete the circle and express our gratitude to life and what aided us.

The community soul is deepened and enlarged. Immersing in and embracing our ancient common roots contributes to the restoration of soul in our world and times. We heal and reenergize the collective as we do so for ourselves. We live mythically.

Copyright ©2023. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Article Source:

Soul Medicine: Healing through Dream Incubation, Visions, Oracles, and Pilgrimage
by Edward Tick, PhD

book cover of : Soul Medicine by Edward Tick, PhDUsing both ancient wisdom and modern depth psychology alongside stories of healings from his more than 25 years of guiding Vietnam veterans on Greek pilgrimages, Edward Tick explores how we all can use ancient healing philosophies and practices to achieve holistic healing today. He examines the interaction between mind and body (psyche and soma) and between physical illness and the soul to heal PTSD and trauma. He explains the art of making accurate and holistic interpretations of signs, symbols, and symptoms to determine what they reveal about the soul.

Showing how dreams and other transpersonal experiences are essential components of soul medicine, the author reveals how restoration of the soul facilitates true healing.

Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of Edward Tick, Ph.D.Edward Tick, Ph.D., is a transformational psychotherapist, international pilgrimage guide, educator, author, and poet. A specialist in archetypal psychotherapy and the healing of violent trauma, he is the author of four nonfiction books, including The Practice of Dream Healing and War and the Soul. 

He is Founding Director of the non-profit Soldier’s Heart, Inc. Honored for his groundbreaking work in the spiritual, holistic and community-based healing of veterans and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Dr. Tick has been a psychotherapist for over 35 years, specializing in working with veterans since the 1970s. Dr. Tick is a gifted healer, teacher and guide specializing in using psycho-spiritual, cross-cultural, and international reconciliation practices to bring healing and hope to veterans, communities and nations recovering from the traumas of war and violence. 

He is a tireless advocate for war-healing and peace-making, lecturing around the world and leading semi-annual educational, healing and reconciliation journeys to Viet Nam and Greece.

Visit his Website:

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