The Twenty-Two Attributes of God Study
by Nori Muster
During the 35th Annual Conference of the International Association for Dream Studies (IASD), Dr. Shanee Stepakoff presented her religious research study, Dreams of the Divine in a Woman from Young Adulthood to Late Middle Age. The dream series consisted of fifty-eight of her own dreams, which she chose from her dream journals. She felt many of her dreams were spiritual, but included only those that used the word "God," "Jesus," or the other names for a deity or avatar.
Dr. Stepakoff identified fifty Attributes of God represented in her dreams. She then consulted Dr. Kelly Bulkeley to discuss the patterns and themes she found, and consolidated the list to Twenty-Two Attributes. The list is consistent with historical religious writings about God, but illustrated with dream metaphors. This raises the possibility that dreams have the ability to create apt metaphors of God's Attributes.
Dr. Stepakoff dreamed of rejoicing in God's beauty, majesty, and eternality. She dreamed of the powers of God, such as God's ability to impart peace of mind, guidance, and protection. She dreamed of God's way of gradual revelation, and she dreamed of the fearsome side of God. Attribute seven is greatness, majesty, and eternality, which makes us feel awe and humility. Rudolph Otto, a writer who had a great influence on Carl Jung, called this feeling "creature-consciousness." Dr. Stepakoff reports waking from once such dream "feeling shaken and scared." Attribute twelve is when God "causes us to feel frightened and overwhelmed because of its authority and power."
Following are two dreams Dr. Stepakoff shared to illustrate the first attribute:
1. an entity toward whom we direct our praise and/or our gratitude.
Dream * Dated August 2, 1989 * I embrace her, I take her in my arms, I say a prayer (a Hebrew prayer) In the embracing position—with her in my arms, crying, and me feeling gratitude to God.
Dream * Dated October 28, 2016 * A little boy . . . around age 9 . . . standing on the left side of . . . the fireplace . . . he talks to God, he says . . . "thank you God, for bringing me into this family and for helping me grow each year" . . . the mother . . . feels moved when she sees the little boy thank God.
The second attribute is: 2. a comforting presence that's available to us, especially in times of hardship; accepting, understanding, and permissive toward us (i.e., toward human beings) (understands and accepts us as we are). Here is the example she gave:
Dream * Dated September 24, 1988 * (dream in which a girl is dying of AIDS) It is okay because she is with God, and she feels the presence of God.
Attribute 22. Revelation - i.e., chooses not to let us see or know all, at least not for certain periods of time, i.e., prefers gradual self-revelation, unfolding, a partial image followed, later, by a more complete image, gradual self-revealing of the divine
Dr. Stepakoff's dream of this Attribute concerns two religious paintings. She is in a place that feels like a painting by Caravaggio, a Renaissance artist. A Dutch door stands out to her and she associates it with the New Testament verse:
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." - Corinthians 13.12
The image of a Dutch door, which can open either the top or the bottom, is a brilliant metaphor of God's mystery. The second painting is the Last Supper, where she sees a numinous crown above Jesus. Here's the full dream, from her presentation at the IASD conference:
Dream * Dated July 7, 2017 * (Atmosphere of southern Italy - like a Caravaggio painting) a door that has two halves, an upper half and a lower half, each of which are on a separate set of hinges, such that if you wished to do so, you could swing open just the upper half and get one view of the room based on that, while the bottom half remained in place, or, if you wished to do so, you could swing open just the lower half, and get a different view of the room based on that, while the top half of the door remained in place. The overall impression is of a situation in which you might only end up getting a partial view of the room, i.e., based on which door you open, because both doors afford only a portion of the whole view or the whole room, and if you are only opening one part at a time, you will not be able to see the whole room in its entirety all at once. (the phrase "through a glass darkly" comes to mind.) an image of a painting of "The Last Supper" comes to mind. And I think that on the painting, the Jesus figure has a halo above his head, which has a kind of silver color to it, and is shaped like a figure 8 instead of a circular halo, a horizontal Figure 8 or a moving Figure 8 a kind of rotating non-corporeal Figure 8 silver halo above the Jesus-figure's head. the halo reminds me a little of something that is in some way related to something like a game of jacks or like the image or shape of a jack a sense of something that is kind of held in place by some sort of gravitational pull or invisible force related to a gravitational pull, i.e., something that kind of makes the halo (the energic halo) keep its shape and keep moving/rotating and keep its correct distance from (the Jesus figure's head)
To listen to her presentation here
Dreams About God
Religious Research Panel
July 19, 2018
Association for Dream Studies, annual conference, Scottsdale
Nori Muster: Dreams of Ten Years with the Hare Krishnas (first)
Dr. Shanee Stepakoff: Dreams of the Divine in a Woman from Young Adulthood to Late Middle Age (starts at 25:10)
Dr. Kelly Bulkeley: Dreams of Lucrecia (starts at 1:02)
Fifty Shades of God: Dreams of the Divine in a Woman from Young Adulthood to Late Middle Age
The Twenty-Two Attributes of God in Dreams
by Dr. Shanee Stepakoff,
List of the attributes presented to the 35th Annual Conference of the International Association for Dream Studies (IASD), 2018, Scottsdale, Arizona.
1. an entity toward whom we direct our praise and/or our gratitude.
2. a comforting presence that's available to us, especially in times of hardship; accepting, understanding, and permissive toward us (i.e., toward human beings) (understands and accepts us as we are).
3. hears and responds to our cries and our prayers.
4. Totality, wholeness, the context for everything, the backdrop for everything, the space in which everything in the universe takes place (God as space) (reminiscent of the sand in a Zen rock garden).
5. imbued with perfection, beauty, significance, and spirituality (corresponds to "the numinous" or "the numen"), can be (perhaps must be) represented by a symbol (e.g., a sunflower).
6. mysterious, all-knowing, in possession of all the answers but whose knowledge and answers are beyond what human beings can access (reminiscent of the last part of the Book of Job).
8. holds the complete awareness and memory of our entire life's journey (our life course); pushes for the truth to emerge and be recognized, aims for Truth; also, aims to move events or situations toward completion. Also, knows who we really are, sees/is aware of/recognizes one's true nature, one's inner core, one's authentic self.
9. endows us with the capacity for compassion, the ability and inclination to respond to human suffering.
10. wants us to have love and peace in our relationships, pushes us in the direction of healing, love, and peace in relationships with other human beings.
11. An entity to which (or toward whom) we direct our yearnings and invocations for the safety and well-being of others (e.g., whose blessing we ask for on behalf of others we love or care about).
12. causes us to feel frightened and overwhelmed because of its authority and power, has its own autonomous decision-making power over our lives - a power that can direct and influence our lives, is not subjected to the control of our ego-minds inscrutable Will.
13. holds us and/or carries us forward; provides for us, fulfills our needs, takes care of us.
14. is at the innermost point, the center, and/or directs energy toward the center (mandala, labyrinth, core, Anna's "in my middle").
15. a spiritual or cosmic presence or energy, the holy spirit, toward which we feel a longing to receive, be infused with, be entered by, or to connect or commune with.
16. Cosmic Mind: has a Plan (i.e., a Divine Plan or Cosmic Plan), already knows about and has decided on all future events, the unfolding of time All-Seeing, perceives everything in the universe all at once - across vast or comprehensive space.
17. Life-Energy, Source of Endless Vitality, Eternal Archetype of Rebirth/Renewal/Regeneration life-force/renewal as an archetypal energy in the universe life-force as an energy that exists inside human beings (e.g., that directs us toward growth and expansion).
18. cares about humanity, works through other human beings for the good of humanity - sends emissaries to intervene in human affairs.
19. places opportunities in our path, chooses to cause certain events or situations to arise in our lives, decrees what will happen to us.
20. An Emanation, a non-corporeal being, experienced in a manner that defies the usual sensory modalities (e.g., discerned in an intuitive, non-rational manner).
21. has a fearsome or awe-inspiring Authority, demands sacrifice and propitiation (if we don't, we risk incurring His/Their wrath); wants to be recognized, acknowledged, appreciated.
22. Revelation - i.e., chooses not to let us see or know all, at least not for certain periods of time, i.e., prefers gradual self-revelation, unfolding, a partial image followed, later, by a more complete image, gradual self-revealing of the divine.
The Twenty-Two Attributes of God from the presentation, Dreams of the Divine in a Woman from Young Adulthood to Late Middle Age, by Shanee Stepakoff, Ph.D. The Religious Research panel took place at the 35th Annual Conference of the International Association for Dream Studies, June 19, 2018, Scottsdale, Arizona.