Around the Motherhouse Blog
- Created: 15 June 2009
Dmitri Mendeleev discovered the Periodic Table of Elements.
Why should you care? I imagine that the Periodic Table doesn't evoke many warm and wonderful memories for most of you. In fact, the opposite is probably true - you were most likely introduced to the Periodic Table around 6th grade when your middle school science teacher pulled down a curtain containing a larger than life chart. It was probably around that time that your eyes glassed over and you thought - how the hell am I going to pass this class?!?!
But, there is more to the story of the Periodic Table than you were told in middle school. To fully grasp the enormity of the story, we have to travel back to the ancients - our foremothers initially conceived of the world as having only 4 elements. Over time, smart and observant individuals discovered the other elements. Slowly, as they watched, listened to and experimented with each element they began to discover their individual properties. Yet, still, there was no rhyme or reason to them - they were just sort of there, existing in an increasingly complex system that eluded organization. Eventually, someone discovered the atom and then things started to get really complex and scientists were left with this conundrum - all these elements, no real way to organize the pile of them.
And perhaps our understanding of our world would've stopped there, if it weren't for an intriguing event in the life of scientist Dmitri Meneleev.
One night, Dmitri Meneleev went to sleep and dreamt of the elements. In his dream, he had a vision where all of the elements were dancing around him. All of a sudden they stopped and fell into a formation. Mendeleev woke from his dream and wrote the formation down on the back of a napkin. Thus, the birth of the Periodic Table.
The question is: is the Periodic table a divine revelation that gives us a window into the greater mystery that surrounds us? Or, is the Periodic table a random construct imposed upon us by science?
I choose to believe the first idea. I happen to believe that there is a greater mystery that our minds cannot fully comprehend, but can unlock in increments. The significance of this story isn't that the mind unlocked anything - it is the soul, the subconscious that made the discovery.
And the Periodic Table is only one example out of hundreds of scientific discoveries that arose from not mental gymnastics but from dreams. Chemistry, paleontology, physiology, medicine, mathematics, all have been not only touched, but radically altered for the better by dreams. Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) was one of the world's greatest mathematical geniuses. According to Ramanujan, inspiration and insight for his work many times came to him in his dreams. A Hindu goddess, named Namakkal, would appear and present mathematical formulae, which he would verify after waking. Such dreams often repeated themselves and the connection with the dream world as a source for his work was constant throughout his life.
I love all of this. It gives me hope that there is a greater mystery to life and it is not the mind alone that will be responsible for developing greater insights and understandings. And as a parent, it is a reminder to cultivate my children's spiritual, intuitive lives as well as their cognitive learning..
Can you think of a time when a dream had a large impact on your life?
~Written in a dreamy state by Jennifer June Sterling, goddess mother of 3.