[The following is an excerpt from a recent article published by contributor el-Sayed el-Aswad, entitled “Symbolic Transformations of the Seen and the Unseen in the Egyptian Imagination” in ANTHROPOS, 105:441–453, 2010.]

The study has shown that the world is constructed by Egyptian worldview and imagination as a place of seen and unseen dimensions. These dimensions necessitate two kinds of knowledge. One is related to the knowledge of everyday observation, the other to the knowledge of hidden reality, religious or otherwise. Taken in their totality, as far as they indicate psychological, social, and spiritual realities, dreams necessitate the two kinds of knowledge. Dream visions or dreams belong to the unknown or unseen sphere and assert the effectiveness of that sphere in the reconstruction of people’s everyday reality. Dreams serve as lenses through which individuals see or glimpse the hidden or unseen aspects of the world.

Put differently, dream experiences are open to possible interpretations generating possible worlds. Dream phenomena and related notions of spirituality and unseen realities are not dealt with here within the oppositions between tradition versus modernity, common sense reality versus dream reality, or belief versus science because such oppositions do not exist in Egyptian multidimensional worldviews, visible and invisible, in which there is always intermediate realm or barzakh connecting them.

Imagination facilitates symbolic innovation refracted in dream exegeses. Though the unseen and more specifically spiritual and future matters are unknown to men or known only to Allah, dreams provide significant clues for comprehending spiritual reality and are thought to be means of anticipating future events. Ordinary reality as has been explicated by case studies here can be altered or changed by serious interpretations of dreams. There is a mutual validation between dreamworld and Egyptian worldviews in the sense that dreams are justified (or sanctified as the case of some dream visions) by religious worldviews, while some significant components of worldviews, especially those related to unseen dimensions, are validated by dreams.

All in all, Egyptians do not consider the visible and tangible world as the only accessible world of experience rather; there are multiple unseen and imaginary worlds from which possible realities emerge. In effect, the notion of invisibility and related concepts of subjectivity and spirituality provides the possibility of a more complete social or cultural and religious experience. Without the invisible and imagined domain the visible and tangible world would be devoid of meaning. In a word, the known and the unknown, the tangible and the imagined, and the seen and the unseen can be balanced together through multiple experiences including those of dreaming.