We have all had those dreams which we can vaguely remember and strive to figure out what they mean. So what are dreams? Dreams are the language of the subconscious, encoded in symbols, which is trying to tell you something as you sleep. I hope that this brief guide will help in this respect and will act as a few pointers in trying to understand them. First, it may be an idea to keep a pen and notebook by your bed. This is so that you can jot down what you can remember of your dream when you awake before it becomes forgotten.
Personally speaking, I have found that dreams can be interpreted at three levels:
Mundane – the everyday, e.g. dreams about work, paying that bill, etc
Psychological– This is where Archetypes can come into play, for example mother, father, hero, heroine, man, woman, queen, king etc.
Spiritual – These tend to feature gods and goddesses, powers etc
To understand dreams, it is helpful to look at Jungian Psychology. According to this, there are three aspects of the psyche or personality:
SUBCONSCIOUS (=Freud’s ID): All info we are not consciously aware of, but motivates much of our behaviour and thinking e.g. drives, repressed/suppressed experiences, data collected by inner awareness and reactions. Messages come across in form of language of symbols and dreams
CONSCIOUS (=Freud’s Ego): Awareness of what is going on around at present, either at home, office or traffic. Expresses through the personality, i.e. reactions and emotions to everyday events, like relationships, environment or situations, Also subject to defence mechanisms e.g. rationalisation and projection
SUPERCONSCIOUS (=Freud’s Superego): Links us to ‘Higher Self’ or Spirit. Aspect we refer to as Divine and Spiritual i.e. higher thoughts and feelings, mortality and ethics, conscience etc. Utilises symbols like subconscious to give answers to problems. Part of us that is Inspiration, Originality and Imagination.
In addition to this, there are other factors to consider such as:
EXTRAVERT/INTROVERT: Outward going/Inward looking e.g. flamboyant/shy
PERSONAL UNCONSCIOUS: Forgotten or repressed memories, recalled if needed.
COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS: Reservoir of latent images in our mind or psyche stemming from our ancestors i.e. the ARCHETYPES, which can be divided into four separate types:
Persona/Mask – Outward face we present to the world, actor of the personality. Reveals or conceals our true self. Allows society to conform, letting role we play dominate
Anima/Animus – Feminine/Masculine side. Unconscious ‘mirror image’ of our conscious gender i.e. the Goddess/God within
Shadow – Animal nature, like ID. Destructive, aggressive urges. Dark side of the personality. All is well if the ego and shadow are in harmony.
Self – Unites personality, giving sense of oneness. Self actualising i.e. realisation of ones potential in the scheme of things.
How does this work? If we take a dream about a house for example, it is said to represent the mansion of the soul. If it has three levels, the basement would be the subconscious, the first floor the conscious, and the second floor the superconscious. You would then need to interpret the dream by what is found at all three levels. So a cellar could be repressed memories, a kitchen could represent the hearth or heart and the upstairs could be your higher self.
Dreams such as falling, walking down the street naked, the queen coming for tea etc are all fairly common. As are dreams of a bill not being paid, work, the boss, family etc. These could denote worries of a mundane nature that are maybe playing in the back of your mind, so you need to address them. For psychological dreams, you need to think of whom persons such as the queen could be or mean, it could be a mother in law or another authoritative female figure like a boss. However, some dreams are spiritual; these are the ones that feature gods and goddesses, you having powers, etc so take note here, as you could be given powerful messages from the Divine. Dreams such as this can also be prophetic.
To interpret dreams, you may also find it helpful to find a Dream Dictionary to explain the quick meaning of some of the symbols. As for books, I can recommend Dr Anne Faraday’s Dream Power and Dream Game, and Nerys Dee’s Your Dreams and What They Mean. If you wish to interpret dreams by yourself, you may wish to ‘replay’ the dream in your mind and concentrate on a certain element or feature, what does it mean to you? Though it may sound silly, ‘talk’ to a particular object or person to see what they mean. What does it or they say? This is the method that Dr Anne Faraday recommends, and it is based on Gestalt Psychology
You also need to remember that there are a couple of stages of sleep, the main ones being REM or Rapid Eye Movements, which is when we actually dream. Then there is Non-REM or Non Rapid Eye Movements, which is when we are drifting off to sleep or when we have ‘chatter’ playing in the back of our minds, for example, everyday thoughts going through our head, this is our mind literally sifting through information.