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Sacred Sleep

Sacred Slumber

by Samora Chapman / 05.12.2013

I recently noticed the city sleepers and started photographing them all over Durban. Sprawled… bodies like forgotten shells, spirits floating somewhere above in the ether.

Sleep is sacred, reparative and life-giving. Every living organism goes through the cycle of wakefulness and sleep. Sleep regulates your hormones and strengthens your immune system. Spiritually it is a return to innocence, a transcendental activity whereby you leave your body behind and enter another, somewhat unknown dimension of energy, dreams and weightlessness – time travelling through experiences and places that defy science and rational.

Sleep can also be a nightmare. When I was a teenager I got a bad case insomnia, the awful disease whereby every waking moment is tainted by fear of darkness. I spent nights sweating and hallucinating, throwing back whiskey at 2am in an attempt to knock myself out or sneaking into my mom’s room to steal sleeping pills – anything to free myself from the shackles of the waking world and the voices in my head.

Sacred Slumber

And what of dreams. Erotic and weird. Disturbing, horrific or beautiful… sometimes so real that they can drift into your consciousness for days after you’ve had them. Who can say they haven’t killed a man in a dream? Made love to a complete stranger? Or morphed into a winged beast and taken flight like a unicorn?

According to Freud, dreams are a way of fulfilling wishes, repressed desires and conflicts that are unsolvable in your conscious mind-state. Dream Interpretation goes all the way back to early history (Greek and Egyptian mythology) when priests and mystics were charged with the responsibility of interpreting the weird and wonderful visions.

Sacred Sleep

In the end we’re all heading for the big sleep. It’s like gravity gradually sucks us toward the ground during the day, capsizing us and holding us tight for several hours until we have the strength to stand up again and carry on. Eventually, gravity will win… every one of us will get swallowed by the beautiful earth from whens we came. We will then get eaten by earthworms, absorbed by apple seeds and reborn as trees or beasts, continuing the great circle of life.

I wonder what the street sleepers dream about.

* Images © Samora Chapman

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RESPONSES (8)
  1. Timothy says:

    KIFF! Samora’s work is boss.

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  2. Domestos says:

    You’re killing it Chapman, keep bringing the quality dude

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  3. Spanky says:

    I’ve always been intrigued by this . I do wonder if they are sleeping, really hammered or just stone cold dead?!? I would love to know some of their stories, it so easy to drive on past and just say “ag shame”

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  4. Shan says:

    Very powerful and intriguing. Great stuff Samora.

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  5. Tsholo Pelo says:

    Dear Samora,

    I’m the producer of the evening talk show on SAFM. please kindly get in touch with me as soon as you can. we would like to invite you for a live radio interview on Friday the 3rd January about your work. Please email me on tsholopelo@gmail.com.

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  6. Mpho says:

    This article just gave me a wakeup call about appreciated sleep 🙂

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  7. Mpho says:

    I meant appreciat(-ing). Ah, dictionary, where art thou?

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  8. Shirl says:

    Just came across your blog and really awesome work. The Indian woman in this post almost broke my heart!

    Will bookmark.

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