As soon as he awakes, the young soldier, Rene Descartes, starts looking for the interpretation of his three dreams.  The verse Quod vitae sectabor iter? (Which path in life will I choose?)  clearly indicates to him that he is at a capital moment of his existence.  The poem Est et non (What is and is not) signifies that he must separate the true from the false in human knowledge.  Knowledge, which is represented by the dictionary.  All this seems so clear that he is persuaded that the Spirit of Truth wanted to open up the treasures of all of the sciences by this dream, and he exults.

Then he goes to the interpretation of the first two dreams.  These, too, seem evident to him.  The wind which pushed him towards the college church seems to him to be nothing more than a bad genie.  He thinks:

“That is why God did not allow me to be blown away, even towards a holy place, by this demon spirit.”

The melon that someone wanted to give him seems to him to represent “the charms of solitude”.  As for the thunder that he heard, it represents the sign of the Spirit of Truth which had just descended into him to possess him…

***

These three dreams would play a determining role in the life of this young soldier.  The very next day, he decides to engage himself in the path which has been indicated to him and to study everything with method to separate the true from the false in human knowledge.

Rene Descartes in his study. This XVIIth Century engraving is full of symbols.

This young soldier of the Bavarian Army who will found his whole life, his whole work, and all of his philosophy on the interpretation of three dreams, like any other adept of occult sciences, is the same Rene Descartes, from whose name, the word “Cartesian” has been derived.  It is rather amusing to think that, all of the world’s rationalists claim to base their thinking on him, and with the greatest gravity…

***

Descartes, himself, relates these three dreams and the signification that he gives to them in Les Olympiques.  The original work has been lost, but it was published by Adrien Baillet, in 1691.  Descartes clearly indicates that he saw a divine sign in these three dreams.  To the point that he immediately makes the vow to go on a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Lorette, in Italy.  He accomplished this vow a few years later.

***

In 1928, a writer, Maxime Leroy, author of Descartes, le philosophe au masque, showed these three dreams to Freud.  Freud mostly confirmed Descartes’ interpretation and added that the difficulty in walking, in the first dream, indicated an internal conflict, that the left side represented evil, sin, and that the melon did not represent the charms of solitude, but a clear sexual repression.  He also added that, if Descartes had had a mistress at Neubourg, he would not have dreamed of melon…

***

After this 10 November night, Descartes started his research, scrupulously respecting the rules which had been given to him in his third dream – separate the true from the false.  From then on, according to his famous formula

“he received as true only that which he knew to be so”.

Basically, he became Cartesian because he had believed in a dream…

***

Although Descartes does not seem to have been interested in occult things, he had been very much attracted to the Rose-Croix.  While he was in Germany, he tried many times to enter into relation with this esoteric movement.  We don’t know whether or not he succeeded.  Some historians think, and even affirm, that he had received Rosicrucian initiation.  It is surprising to see that Descartes was interested in an esoteric doctrine, and in people who, it was said, communicated mentally, in other words, by telepathy.  Descartes held the Rose-Croix in such great estime that he dedicated one of his works on mathematics to them.

***

Descartes gave the name Les Olympiques to the description of his dreams because he believed, on the one hand, that he had received a sign from Heaven;  and because he thought, on the other hand, that Man possessed unused faculties which could allow him to be the equal of the Olympian gods.  This is very, very close to the parapsychology so mocked by the rationalists who call themselves Cartesians.

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