Who Discovered Lucid Dreaming?
Lucid dreaming was names as such by a dutch psychiatrist named Frederik van Eeden in a 1913 article "A Study of Dreams". But under different names history has shown that people were aware of the possibility of "knowing they are in a dream" fro long before this time.
In 1867 Marquis d'Hervey de Saint-Denys reported on his 20+ years of experience with lucid dreaming in his book "Dreams and How to Guide them; Pratical Observations." Saint-Denys began writing down his dreams every day beginning at age 13. When recounting his first lucid dream, he says that he was being chased by a gargoyle and overcame the terror when he could finally realized that he did not need to run but this was an illusion. He then stopped, turned around, and faced the creature bravely. It transformed before his eyes into a meek, catroonish, small imp, powerless against him.
St. Augustine alluded to his knowledge of lucid dreaming in 415 AD and Aristotle is quoted as saying "often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream".
The Senoi hunter-gatherers of Malaysia were described by anthropologist Kilton Stewart as having a culture which placed great importance on dreaming, and taught children from an early age how to lucid dream and what to do when faced with monsters or attackers in dreams (namely - defeat them and force them to give you a gift). Although later researchers called Stewart out as a fraud and made up much of his report on the Senoi, this is still in dispute. Never-the-less, the dream techniques drawn from the so-called Senoi method (popularized by Patricia Garfield) are useful to all dream workers.
The earliest record we have of knowledge of lucid dreaming is from Buddhist monks. Tibetan Buddhists have placed emphasis on maintaining consciousness throughout both waking and sleeping, as a means to gain spiritual enlightenment. Dreaming is an especially important time/place to hold onto clear thought because in dreams we have an opportunity to experience how thought shapes reality on a faster time-scale than while awake. To demonstrate to the self the impermanence of all things, the monks train themselves to turn all things into their opposites (e.g., dark to light, dense to ethereal, big to small, far to near, heavy to lite, etc.). This approach took up most of my early lucid dream practice (when I wasn't flying!), and I challenge you to try the same.