Accepted Paper:

The "sleeping women", the dead and the saints: dreaming, dreamsharing and dream interpretation as women´s power in northern Morocco  


Araceli Gonzalez-Vazquez (Universidad del País Vasco/Basque Country University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the qabila Ghzawa (Western Rif, Morocco), we examine two types of oneiric experiences: those of the “sleeping women” (er-reqqada), and dream incubation (istikhara) at the shrine of Sidi Belghassem, a significant place for the Sufi tariqa Baqqaliyya.

Paper long abstract:

In Magie et religion dans l´Afrique du Nord, Edmond Doutté writes on the figure of the «sleepers»: "(…) dans le Rif il y avait des individus appelés er reqqada, c´est-à-dire les dormeurs qui tombaient en léthargie, restaient plusiers jours dans cet état, puis è leur réveil, faisaient les plus étonnantes prophéties". Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Ghzawa (Western Rif, Morocco), we examine two types of oneiric experiences. On one side, we reflect on the figure of "the sleeping women" (er-reqqada) and their uses of dreams as forms of divination. We also study the roles of peasant women as interpreters of dreams. On the other side, we analyse the quest for visionary dreams and dream incubation (istikhara) in the shrine of Sidi Belghassem al-Hajj (Ghzawa), a significant place for the Baqqaliyya Sufi brotherhood.

In peasant women and in the "sleeping women"´s dreams and visions, we usually find human selves interacting with the dead and the saints (awliya) in very specific ways, some gender-specific. Dreaming, dreamsharing and dream interpretation become a significant source of power for women, as long as they make possible a feminine management of the dead and the saints´ actions. Sleeping at Sidi Belghassem´s shrine makes possible the transmission of the saint´s Baraka in dreams, particularly with therapeutic purposes. In examining contexts of dreaming, dreamsharing and dream interpretation, we will take into account issues related to the gender and rank of the dreamer. We will also try to reflect on the fluidity of the different forms of being.

Panel W133
Muslim saints, dreams, and veneration of shrines