One of the gifts of dreaming is that we can travle without leaving home, a great benefit in shut-down times of pandemic.This is no secret for dream adventurers across history, who have understood that in dreams we make visits and receive visitations and can practice destination travel in dreaming in many ways. I have been looking again at a fascnating text from Egypt from 3300 years ago in which the goddess Hathor instructs a devotee on howhe can visit her sacred precint without stirring from the place where he is lying down. I'll give a translation or the text, with some commentary, after a few words about dreaming with Hathor in ancient Egypt.
Hathor was beloved of Egyptians, especially around her temple at Luxor (Thebes) towards the end of the 18th dynasty. It is from that time and place that we have retrieved the first non-royal accounts from ancient Egypt of direct interaction with the gods in dreams. Hathor, goddess of love, beauty and motherhood, also gave the promise of access to a happy afterlife in her embrace. She was associated with the cow, ripe and nurturing, and was depicted with a cow head or with cow ears.You did not want to meet her in her warrior mode, however, when she could become the take-no-prisoners Eye of Ra. Goddesses don't stay within a frame.
We have an inscription on a stela attributed to Ipuy, a master craftsmen who livd at Deir el-Media, honoring his direct vision of Hathor. This is the first recorded account of a non-royal meeting a deity in a dream in the vast history of ancient Egypt. It is a very important landmark in the history of dreaming. Borrowing from the scholarly translations and commentaries, I have produced a fresh version of the key passages and given it the title:
Hathor placed joy in my heart
praise to Hathor who lives in Thebes
kiss the earth before her in all her forms…
day that I saw her beauty
my heart was spending the day at her festival
I beheld the Lady of Two Lands in a dream
and she placed joy in my heart
her food revived my energies…
The wonders of Hathor should be told
from generation to generation
the beauty of her face under the sky…
I am bathed and intoxicated by the vision of her
her father Amun shall hear all her petitions
when she rises in beauty
he crowned her with lapis lazuli
and adorned her limbs with gold 
Ipuy describes a dream that seems to be something other than a sleep experience. His heart or mind (the hieroglyph jb can be translated either way) goes traveling, probably in the hypnagogic zone. Ipuy was a craftsman, possibly a sculptor, working with a construction crew on a royal tomb.
While the inscription begins with generic praise of the goddess, its tone fast becomes intimate and personal, The goddess of beauty, love and motherhood places joy in his heart. He does not give us the details but we feel the stream of love and empowerment. She nurtures and nourishes him.
Ipuy is not alone in his adoration of Hathor. We also have a stela inscribed for an overseer of the fields of the temple of Amun in his tomb in the village of Deir el-Medina, where Ipuy also resided. The name of the overseer is Djehutiemhab, which means "Jubilation of Tehuti" (a name for the god Thoth).
Like Ipuy, the overseer was clearly dedicated to Hathor, who also gave the promise of access to a happy afterlife in her embrace. The stela he placed in the chapel of his tomb described how Hathor gave him specific instructions on how to visit the site without traveling there. The goddess’ own words are quoted, and we feel the force of the numinous. Here is part of the text. I have added a title.
place without traveling
of the golden one, Eye of Ra,
who kisses the earth for her ka
A prayer to her beautiful face, applauding her every day...
“I have come before the Lady of the two Lands,
Hathor, Great of Love
Behold….your beautiful face
and I kissed the erth for your ka
I am a real priest of yours
and I am on the waters of your command.
I don’t cast aside the speech of your mouth
I don’t ignore your teacjings
I am upon the path which you yourself have given
upon the road which you have made.
joyful it is when the one who enters your shadow
rests by your side!
[He now describes how she instructed him on how and where to construct his tomb chapel and blessed him with a full life]
the one who has spoken to me yourself
with your own mouth:
“I am the beautiful Hely [a pet name of Hathor]
my shape being that of …mother
I have come in order to instruct you
See, your place – fill yourself with it,
without traveling north, without traveling south”
While I was in a dream
while the earth was in silence
in the deep of the night
[He does what she says. Picturing himself in his tomb he concludes]
your face in order to let me bow down to it
Reward [me with] your beauty
that I may perceive your form within my tomb
in order to recount your power
in order to make young men know of it.
We notice that Djehutiemhab is in this dream “while the earth was in silence, in the deep of the night”. He is under the “shadow” of the goddess and “rests by her side”. Hathor instructs him in her own voice to travel to a place at a distance – or bring it go him -without moving his physical body. See, your place – fill yourself with it, without traveling north, without traveling south. Active dreamers can do that. Let's notice he is also rehearsing for the big journey that follows physical death. Never too late, or too early, to do that.
1.The text of the stela of Ipuy, dating from around 1300 bce, was first published by Helmut Satzinger with German translation: “Zwei Wiener Objekte mit bemerkenswerten Inschriften” in P. Posener-Krieger, ed., Mélanges Gamal Eddin Mokhtar (Cairo: Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire, 1985) 249-54.
2. The text from the stela of Djehutiemhab was first published by Jan Assman, with German translation, in "Eine Traumoffenbarung der Göttin Hathor” Revue d'égyptologie 30, 1978, 22-50.I have drawn on the English version and commentary by Kasia Maria Szpakowska in "The perception of Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt", Ph.D diss., (University of California Los Angeles, 2000) 226-232
Image: Beautiful Hathor in the Louvre. Photo by RM