Have you ever dreamed you were picking ripe, juicy fruit? If so and you lived in a Cuzco household the next morning over breakfast you would be invited to recount what you had dreamed and then everyone would discuss the meaning of the dreams for what they would tell you about the upcoming day and its dramas. Cuzco fits within a tradition of dream interpretation that covers the Andes from southern Colombia to Chile and Argentina.
Books on dream interpretation may sell like Dunkin Donuts in the English speaking world, but those are just one tradition of understanding dreams among the many found in the world.
In the area of the former Inca Empire dreams are very important. People take them very seriously and actively explore them and their meaning.
While dreams in the English world may be private, realized in the solitude of ones mind and seldom recounted or publicly analyzed, in Cuzco people expect within families to talk about their dreams. It is in that public discussion that they learn how to interpret them and use them in their lives.
In dreams, the world around them and its impact on them is announced. Dream produce auguries of what is likely to happen during the next day or in the immediate future, as well as of the state of relationships around the dreamer.
If people do not like the things that the dream tells them, they can try to change fate. One technique people in Cuzco told me is to narrate your dream into the ear of a dog in a soft voice. The dog will carry away the bad luck.
Otherwise, people look at their dreams for particular elements that are widely discussed. They can tell you that if in your dreams you are going up hill it is a good sign while if you are going downhill, then you will face difficulties.
While this is very important, it is just one part of a whole culture of looking at the world around you to see what is likely to happen and about how to change things. In Spanish the word for this is augurios, or auguries. This word takes us to the ancient Roman Empire and Emperors reading of signs of good or bad luck.
While the word is the same, there is a difference behind the scenes in the ways Romans and Cuzqueños understand people and their place in the world. But we shall leave that for another time. For right now, here is a brief list of some things that people see in their dreams.
These were told me in Cuzco, but the interpretations can vary from family to family and from region to region, although many of these are quite standardized.
If you dream of food, things will go badly for you.
If you dream of a knife, it means you face treachery.
If you dream of a lot of money, then you got uncovered at night and fell cold.
If you dream that you are eating a lot of food and you can’t finish eating, then someone in your family is hungry.
If you dream about a box that you cannot open, the you will have a surprise; something will happen.
If you dream about a dog then thieves will cross your path.
If you dream that you are walking seemingly endlessly, then you will take a trip.
If you dream about blood, you will face a surprise.
When you dream about someone who is good for you, then things will go well that day.
If in your dream someone gives you a plate of food, it is because in reality that person is abandoning you.
If you dream about shoes or mirrors it is because your significant other is cheating on you.
If you dream about hair then it means that you have tired yourself out that day.
If a bull is in your dreams it means that you will get angry.
If you dream about excrement you will receive some money.
if you dream about corn, fresh or dry, then you will also receive money.
If you dream about babies then, once again, you will receive money.
These are but a few of a very rich set of themes from dreams and their interpretation that are common in Cuzco