Dream Meanings

P1. Having discussed different ways that dream meanings might be interpreted in my Post: Interpreting Dreams, I want to explore a little more about how one can use dreams to get in touch with your inner self.

Evidence of your Inner World

All action originates in your unconscious mind. It either bursts out directly in a Freudian slip, or an angry interlude, or a moment of abandonment in the heat of passion. Or it is filtered through our conscious mind via intent or desire or fear. But there is only one unconscious that, like an ocean, you can sink or swim in, depending on how well you know yourself.

To understand yourself better you can use dreams as evidence of your inner life. As the Jewish Scholar, Rav Chisda, said:

“A dream not interpreted is like an unopened letter from God” 

However, the problem with dreams is that they are messages in a foreign language like Egyptian hieroglyphics where parts of that message have even been lost. But writing down each dream before you forget it will help to keep the missing parts to a minimum.

The Language of Dream

What then is the language of your dream? How are you going to interpret each symbol? How are you going to fill in the missing parts?

Egyptian hieroglyphics remained a mystery until scholars realized that the Rosetta  Stone was the key, and even then the process of unraveling the meanings of the symbols took nearly 30 years of deep study.

So you may imagine that understanding the mysteries of your own dreams is not a one-off experience. It may take studying dozens of dreams to get anywhere.

A good place to generate possible meanings is a dream dictionary,  but you are going to have to carry out further disparate comparative forays before dream meanings start to make sense.

Dream Characters

Every object or person in your dream is a potential “dream character”. The question is then, “How do you know which characters are important and which are less so?”. The answer is to get to know your dreams and note which characters recur and which do not.

For example, for me, I find I am often in a hotel with past work colleagues. And I generally take the stairs rather than the elevator.  These things, I have also discovered, have meaning for me.

It is also important to note down non-recurring dream characters since they also carry meanings (discussed below)

Conscious Associations

For each dream character you select to examine, you will ask yourself some questions, as follows:

  • Who does it remind you of?
  • What does it remind you of?
  • How does that character relate to real life?

Here you are looking for indications that there is a story or message or direction that the dream is leading you.

But remember that you are not associating with the dream directly, but rather with your conscious recollection of the dream. So errors can creep in.

Again, a series of a dozen dreams is a lot easier to interpret than a single isolated dream. It takes time, so be patient.

Non-Recurring Dream Characters

Dream characters that are one-off’s or that you find difficult to relate to can sometimes be identified, not with recent events in your life, but rather with ideas bubbling up from the depths of your unconscious.

Carl Jung called this depth of your being as the “Collective Unconscious”. To me this means the biological ground from which we are all rooted.

These characters often define the dream as a “Big Dream” in Jung’s terms. And here, the story you recorded of your dream you may find very difficult to understand and relate to. You can either take this as a challenge to understand it or a reason to ignore it.

The Mysterious Realm

The exploration of dream meanings for Big Dreams is a subject in it’s own right. My experience is that it is a mysterious realm where there is no obvious direction to explore. If you are lucky, a character appears who offers to guide you, as when Dante Alighieri met Virgil in his epic poem The Divine Comedy.

For me, before I found my own guide, I spent a long time working with inner voices, with gut feelings, with hunches, with creative ideas, etc to guide me on the various pathways through my own mysterious realm.

Reading children’s stories is also a good way to verse yourself in the basic recurring motifs of literature and of potential dream meanings. For themes from childhood stories are what seem to show up more often than not, for me.

But please, follow your own path.


2 thoughts on “Dream Meanings

  1. Wow you know your stuff. I have dreams, as you know, and sometimes they are so clear and vivid. I dreamed last night but I cannot recall the dreams. I was exhausted and must have had a deep sleep for a change. I think my dream or dreams last night were good dreams, and not scary or bad dreams as I sometimes have. I am going to start writing down the dreams that I can recall now. I’d like to see if there is a recurring theme. Keep on helping us with our dreams. cheers from Cassie


    1. Hi Cassie. Most people have 4 or 5 dreams a night, with the longest one occurring just before you wake up. One important reason to remember, at least the final one, is that it will often set your mood for the day ahead. Think about it, if you have just had a vividly anxious dream for half an hour that finishes just as you are waking up, then you will wake up anxious. But most people don’t realize why they wake up “on the wrong side of the bed”, or depressed, or full of life and ready to start the day, etc. How you feel on waking is not random.


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