Dreams and dreaming. What is the message of dreams? And the meaning? How do I interpret my dreams to get the message? Why do we dream and why are our dreams so often bizarre?
One moment, a person or an animal chases us, and the next, we are standing in a kitchen. Some dreams take on a surreal quality, with people, creatures, or the environment shown in such vivid colors, as we have never witnessed in daily life.
Some dreams are prophetic in nature. Others are “lucid” dreams, in that although we are dreaming (an unconscious state), we are simultaneously conscious that we are dreaming. Lucid dreaming allows us to control the dream and/or explore aspects, by playing with different outcomes.
What is the Meaning Behind Dreams?
The meaning behind dreams, similar to Tarot cards, intuition, or psychic abilities, are emanations from the nebulous unconscious mind, which in my opinion, are all essentially for illumination or guidance.
What labels we choose to give this guidance or illumination is up to us: God or Guiding Force, the Universe, Higher Self, Over Soul, or Guides. Or we might choose to believe that psychic abilities are phooey and dreams are just meaningless dreams.
Generally speaking, dreams are all about YOU, even if there are other characters involved. Often, these characters are extensions of our self—sides that represent our goodness, or those sides we wish to deny. Dreams help identify talents or abilities that we aren’t acknowledging, and/or ways in which we can express them. They also illuminate feelings we carry about people or situations, including those feelings we suppress.
Dreams help us to find answers and bring understanding. Since they are emanations of the unconscious, they can bring conscious awareness, providing we are willing to look at the message that they impart. It helps to be open-minded and accepting, especially about those things we don’t wish to acknowledge about ourselves. Rather than remaining as fractured sides of ourselves, they help the healing process toward wholeness.
Dreams are symbolic or metaphorical in nature and the reason why they can seem so bizarre or mysterious. But once you get the hang of symbolic language, it becomes easier to decipher the meaning. The variant symbolic nature of dreams gives way to a similar variance of purpose for the guidance received.
Dream Interpretation: How do I Interpret My Dreams?
Dream interpretation isn’t difficult, as long as you aren’t too literal. Dreams usually speak to us using symbolism.
To unravel some of the mystery, start by breaking down the various components of your dream, first by the type of dream, and then by the symbolism.
Dreams of a more “garden variety” type, such as, being chased, losing teeth, standing naked before a group of strangers, or wandering from room to room in a house, share a more psychological aspect. These dreams may be helpful in understanding the psyche: emotions or thoughts and sometimes our physical bodies or environment.
Dreams that take on a more surreal quality, such as, lucid dreams or prophetic dreams tend to have more of a spiritual and/or collective unconscious quality. In other words, they tend to go deeply into the consciousness of self, or beyond the self, including the All.
In dreams, details are extremely important, such as:
- Manner of speech, facial expressions, or your thoughts and emotions, as well as others.
- Directional factors: Is it above or below, to the right or left, etc.
- Specific colors, animals, numbers, people, places, or things.
- Environmental factors: In the jungle, at a schoolhouse, shopping for groceries, etc.
- Condition of what you see: Dented, old, new, incomplete, shiny, etc.
- Who is doing what? Who is saying what?
- How are you feeling? What feelings or behaviors of others are you observing?
Keep a dated dream journal. It will help the deciphering process and put the meaning and purpose of your dream in perspective. For instance, rather than just “car”, describe the car in as many details as possible. Such as, a red Ferrari with a big dent on the right side or a dilapidated blue house against a field of bright yellow flowers, or the numbers 6,12, and 9 were written on a piece of paper, etc.
Overlook nothing, as every bit of detail has significance.
Deciphering the symbolism of dreams is subjective; however, much is also universal in nature or easily understood.
For instance, being chased can be running away from something, while doing the chasing is to ardently pursue something. The symbolism of butterflies or moths is universally accepted to mean “transformation.” Babies can indicate “a new beginning or something new;” such as a creative idea or business venture.
In chase dreams, who or what is doing the chasing is important (tiger, big man, child), as are the feelings of the one being chased (terror, anxiety, annoyance, trying to find shelter, etc.) For instance, if being chased by a tiger, which symbolizes courage or power, and you felt terror or fear, this could mean that you are running away from your own power in a situation; fearful of what might happen if you stood up for yourself.
If being chased by your Aunt Betty who is wielding a rolling pin, once you have stopped laughing at the absurdity of it, you would ask yourself what Aunt Betty represents to you. Is she loving and generous, or angry and bitter? Are you personally trying to avoid these feelings for some reason? Does Aunt Betty bring back memories of a particular time in your life that you would rather avoid now?
Next, what does the rolling pin represent to you? Does it remind you of a time when kindhearted Aunt Betty, who normally made you feel nurtured (baked you goodies); suddenly turned on you, or are you feeling flattened and pushed around by Aunt Betty or someone like her?
Much of dream symbolism is common sense, and some requires a bit of digging. There are several dream interpretation books or websites that offer a list of symbolism and meaning. However, it’s your unconscious speaking to you in a language meant for you to understand, therefore it’s important that it make sense or feel right to you.
It’s also important that you be as objective as possible. Be open to taking a deeper look at those aspects of yourself that you don’t like, and don’t judge yourself or others in the process. Dreams are to illuminate, not denigrate.
Some Common Dream Symbolism:
Dreams with houses usually represent the self, and individual rooms in a house are aspects of the self, such as:
- Kitchen: nurturing, warmth, comfort, or what we are feeding ourselves spiritually, emotionally, or mentally.
- Bathroom: what we are eliminating or need to eliminate, how we care for ourselves, or what might need a cleansing, such as our emotions or thoughts.
- Bedroom: physical rest or replenishment, sexual thoughts or emotions, or our sexual relationships.
- Den: family relationships and time spent (or lack thereof), or relaxation.
Car: A car is also an aspect of the self and may indicate how we propel or move ourselves forward (or the lack thereof), or how we see ourselves within the world at large.
Driving: If we are doing the driving, we are in control of our thoughts or actions, or taking responsibility. If someone else is driving, we are giving away our power and/or trying to escape responsibility for our self or choices.
Air: our mental process (thoughts, ideas, reason, or logic), intellect, or communications.
Water: emotions, subconscious, or unconscious (note how the water appeared in your dream, was it calm, rushing, swirling, hard rain, shallow, or deep, etc.)
Fire: to burn away or purify, the Spirit, energy, power, transformation, or enlightenment.
Earth: the physical body and health, environment, our material needs (money, possessions), or service to others.
Left: the subconscious and/or unconscious mind (right brain, left side), the past, feminine energy, negative, or receptive (inward).
Right: The conscious mind (left brain/right side), the future, masculine energy, positive, or outward.
Note: when referring to positive or negative (as in feminine or masculine energy), this does not mean woman are negative and men are positive. This refers to polarity, duality, opposites, or Yin/Yang. Given that we have a left and right brain, we also utilize both.
Up: mastery of consciousness or understanding, emergence of subconscious or unconscious thoughts or feelings, progress, possibility or potential, achievement, goals, or confidence.
Down: the emotions, deep, buried, or hidden subconscious thoughts or feelings, fear, lack of self-esteem, wrong direction, or depression.
If you have trouble recalling your dreams, put your dream journal next to your bed. Before going to sleep, look at it and visualize yourself writing in it upon awakening. Also, quietly affirm to yourself that you remember your dreams with great clarity and detail. It might take a few nights of doing this, but don’t lose patience. It will work.
Dreaming, similar to intuition, psychic abilities, or using Tarot cards all share a commonality. We are never truly alone. An always present Presence is forever whispering gently into our ears and hearts, I am here with you, and I am here to help.