The truth is dreams are very much what you make them. Let me explain. So, you have a hokey dream and briefly you might think — that was a freaky dream. Or maybe it was cool and you think — that was kinda neat. But that’s it. You promptly forget about it and get on with your day.
After a while of getting this type of reaction, your dreams give up on trying to communicate seriously with you and, if you do manage to remember them at all, the content probably is nothing more than the psychological debris of a brain reiterating current events or events you have particularly focused on during the day. So, the first and most important thing to bear in mind if you want to work successfully with your dreams is, pay attention, respect their message and show your willingness to cooperate in learning to understand their language.
Missing out on this amazing source of intuition, guidance and precognition is a serious loss. Take a minute or two to really think about that statement. Then think about the other craft and spiritual practices you undertake in order to progress your chosen path. I’ll pretty much guarantee that they all entail taking at least a little time out of the day, out of your busy life. Even if that’s only ten minutes to connect with your guides or the gods and goddesses you align yourself with. Often, it’s actually a good chunk of time you need to set aside in order to travel to moots or other gatherings.
And, you know, so often, the very thing that we didn’t have to do anything special to achieve, that’s right there at our fingertips, that doesn’t demand anything extraordinary at all and (big plus) is FREE, is the very thing we ignore and undervalue.
So, rather than rambling on any further, let’s take a stab at getting to grips with analyzing a dream or two. We’ll start with a fairly common type.
I was walking by a river. The day was dull, and the sky was full of heavy, dark clouds, hanging really low. So low I felt like I could have reached up and touched them. But I didn’t. For some reason the last thing I wanted to do was connect with those horrible, black clouds.
It must have previously been raining heavily because the riverbank was boggy and it sucked at my shoes, making it really hard to move. When I looked down, the shoes I had on, lightweight, pink pumps, were completely unsuitable for the weather and mud clung to them, weighing me down at every step. The river water was churning and really high, spilling over onto the bank and so grey you couldn’t see anything beneath the surface. My little dog Milo was with me and when I looked, I saw he was shivering.
So, by now some of you may be thinking, gosh, that’s so easy — or not. I expect most of you reading this will connect water to the emotions so the obvious, universal, symbolism will stand out as not being particularly positive: Rain, dark clouds, a murky river.
But let’s open it up a little further. As always, the first and foremost rule, and the one I frequently come back to in my Dream Analysis Made Easy book, is to think about what the particular, numinous, meaning any dream symbolism holds specifically for the dreamer. This is where a lot of dream books come up short, even good interpreters often rely only on universal meanings to decode dreamscapes, which will only carry you so far. If you really want to get the utmost information from your dream you need to work with it on a deeply personal level. Dreamwork, then, depends not on psychic readings of the dream’s symbols but on an almost scientific solving of the puzzle by looking at the current situation of the dreamer and at their associations with the symbols represented in the dream.
Let me illustrate: So, for one dreamer, dreaming of a church will carry a positive energy as in waking life they associate church with pleasant things such as community, support and enjoyable social events. For another person, dreaming of a church may signify negativity as their association with religion is one of repression and stifling rules or perhaps a marriage they were, for some reason, pushed into.
Let’s take a look at an apparently less emotive symbol such as a tree. For one person trees may represent happy childhood memories, freedom and the delights of spending time in nature. Occasionally, however, trees may hold an association for someone of a particular unhappy or even dark and scary past incident such as getting lost in a forest. So, you will see that treating all symbols as if they have only one, universal, meaning can lead to errors in dreamwork.
This particular client had some turbulent issues in her past and the negative connotations of the dreamscape could easily be ascribed to those. The first step therefore was to understand what type of dream this was; was it a prophetic warning of things to come, or was it an anxiety dream, rehashing past trauma, and, if it was a reiteration of past trauma, what was causing it to arise in the present. Or if, indeed, it was a bit of both. A few questions revealed that the client’s present circumstances didn’t hold any obvious triggers that might have called forth an anxiety dream. There was also one clear clue in the dreamscape: the fact my client’s dog, Milo, featured in the scene. Milo was a recent addition to my client’s life and this placed the dream in the realm of the present day. But would we be able to narrow it down any further?
Quite often, a dream like this will be only the first in a series, in which more and more information is gradually revealed. In this case though, the client could offer an immediate insight. As we talked, she revealed that she had recently applied for a job and got through the first interview stage. Although the job carried a higher status and an increase in salary, it also carried much more responsibility which she was unsure she was qualified to take on (inappropriate shoes for the weather). She was afraid of ending up feeling out of her depth (the river overflowing its borders) and wondering if she should take the position after all. (The color and the turbulence of the water, grey, represents the grey matter of mind here and all her thinking — she has an introspected, analytical personality. But she couldn’t reach a clear decision (couldn’t see below the surface of the water). She also felt stuck in her present employment (The inappropriate footwear has a dual meaning in this dream.)
Looking at the dreamscape with the information provided by my client, it’s easy to see that the dream relates to the new job. But does it do anything other than reflect her confused state of mind? Does it, in fact, predict the outcome of taking the job? Remember those dark clouds my client was reluctant to touch? And the poor, shivering pup? Those are definite warnings of an unhappy ending.
As it was, my client decided she had nothing to lose by trying it out. She had been passed over for promotion twice in her current position, although she worked hard and was diligent in discharging her duties.
The outcome was unsurprising. She barely scraped past the two-month mark in her new position. On her first day she discovered both her immediate boss and the head of her section were leaving and neither one of them wanted to put in the time to teach her the ropes. Luckily, her old company had a vacancy in another section and were only too happy for her to apply for it.
My client was very fortunate, but this example does show how important it is not to ignore the messages you receive in your sleep. Carl Gustav Young tells of a man enacting a death wish in his dreams which did not have a similar positive outcome.
Let’s take another shot. I’m in this dark, dingy room and I know it’s time to leave this place. On the bed there are a couple of suitcases. I know they’re empty but I don’t want to leave them behind. But I know there’s no point in taking them with me. Still, I’m really reluctant to walk away from them.
This was a dream recounted to me by a good friend, so I was already familiar with her situation. She had been living through a terrible time, so the dark room was no surprise. My friend then added that she felt the room was in a hotel or B & B, which was a good sign as a hotel denotes a temporary condition. In this case indicating that she was finally moving on.
Although she had worked hard to get past her difficulties, the suitcases indicated she was finding it hard to let go of the injustices she had suffered. The fact the suitcases were empty showed that part of her understood that in order to heal and truly move on, she needed to let go of her ‘baggage’ as hanging onto it could only be destructive.
My friend has woken out of her dream before there was any conclusion. This could have been a natural occurrence, or it could point to the fact that she had not yet made a firm decision whether to hold on or let go.
Not only can dreams serve as warnings, they can also highlight significant opportunities we would otherwise have missed, remind us of tasks and appointments we had forgotten and bring to our attention things we would like to deny but which we need to face up to. In short, there is nothing in life that dreams can’t help with or enrich in some way, and all you need to do is understand their language, and the way to do that is to simply pay attention when they speak to you.
But what if you’re someone who finds it difficult to remember dreams? No, you don’t have to just accept the fact and give up on a wonderful guidance tool. There are things to try. In Dream Analysis Made Easy I offer several methods, but even just writing down the content you can remember and spending a few minutes reflecting on what the meaning could be will start to open up that vital communication.
There are a few individuals who will claim they don’t dream at all. The fact is, we all dream. Those who don’t remember anything at all, not even the slightest glimpse of their dreamscapes will, inevitably, have to work harder and show real commitment and dedication but there are methods, which I cover in my book, which can help.
There are also stones and crystals which lend themselves to supporting dreamwork as well as herbs such as lavender to promote sleep for the insomniacs out there.
In the end, in working with your dreams, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.
[Written by Krystina Sypniewski.]