A Phenomenological Study of Dream Interpretation Among the Xhosa-Speaking People in Rural South Africa

In: Journal of Phenomenological Psychology


Psychologists investigating dreams in non-Western cultures have generally not considered the meanings of dreams within the unique meaning-structure of the person in his or her societal context. The study was concerned with explicating the indigenous system of dream interpretation of the Xhosa-speaking people, as revealed by acknowledged dream experts, and elaborating upon the life-world of the participants. Fifty dreams and their interpretations were collected from participants, who were traditional healers and their clients. A phenomenological methodology was adopted in explicating the data. Themes explicated included : the physiognomy of the dreamer's life-world as revealed by significant dreams, the interpretation of significant dreams as revealed through action, and human bodiliness as revealed in dream interpretations. The participants' approach to dreams is not based upon an explicit theory, but upon an immediate and pathic understanding of the dream phenomenon. The understanding is based upon the interpreter's concrete understanding of the life-world, which includes the possibility of cosmic integration and continuity between personal and trans-personal realms of being.

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