The Symbolic Language of Dreams

Following my ‘caring for Margaret Thatcher’ dream, and a friend recounting her ‘one~eyed cat’ dream, I find myself returning to the world of dreams, ‘the highway to the soul’ according to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Dreams speak healing or guiding truths through universal (or archetypal) images.

A dream is that extraordinary place where two worlds meet – conscious and unconscious; where all that is in us but unknown to us is revealed. Desirous of intimate relationship, the soul comes calling overflowing with love and healing and our dreams, perfect in their integrity, invite us to engage with its mysteries.

Like Rorschach (inkblots) tests, our dreams invite us to associate the images presented – animal, vegetable, mineral – to what we are currently thinking about, feeling and doing; and in relationship to those with whom we are currently interacting –physically, mentally and emotionally.

One of the two hemispheres of the brain is always dominant. The right brain is responsible for the psyche’s world of images and dreams and is not subject to the left hemisphere’s sense of time and objectivity.  It is here we engage with ecstatic poetry, storytelling, speaking in ‘tongues’, and the disorganized speech of the schizophrenic; all of which give us a good idea of the language of the right brain – and the symbolic language of dreams. When we are listening to music, engaging in creative imagination, meditating or dreaming, it is the right hemisphere that is dominant.
Dreams ALWAYS, ALWAYS speak primarily about YOU, not anyone else. Essentially they describe the relationship you have with yourself and how that impacts your experiences and the decisions you make.  Dreams portray an aspect of the dreamer, as revealed by the perceived characteristics of the person or symbol presented in the dream and yours feelings about it all. In dreams the soul is both REVEALING what’s going on in your life and GUIDING you in the direction of RIGHT ACTION.

Some people say they never dream or cannot remember their dreams; others are prolific dreamers and have very vivid or what I call epic dreams, often remembered years after the experience. These ‘epic’ dreams are like the movies showing a journey in progress, from it’s beginning (past) to the current time and into the future. These types of dreams are prophetic and can signal a major crossroad in our lives, either at the time of the dream or sometime in the future. 

Dreams often tell us how to respond to the changes and challenges which are currently engulfing us.  But the soul seem to love mischief, chaos and absurdity, it loves to ‘play’, and so we never get it straight.  We must learn to ‘play’ with words and double entrendre, where a particular phrase has two meanings: the obvious and the subtle.  

In one of my dream interpretation workshops in 2010, one participant who was “living in interesting times” dreamt that her recently purchased house (a real life event) turned out to be in the same area as her previous home. In the dream she felt swindled, didn't like the people in the house, which was leaking and cold.  Her neighbours were horrible and rowdy, particularly at the Sun Pub next door.

It is only now, three years later that she is recognising that the dream was illustrating where she had been living, in her inner world, and predicting that ‘moving home’ would not bring change, only inner transformation would; that the horrible and rowdy people in the ‘Sun Pub’ needed to be sorted out but what exactly was the meaning of ‘Sun Pub’ and to what aspects of self was the dream referring?  

For the best interpretation of our dreams we require the Artist’s ability to see life symbolically, and the Detective’s power of observation and forensic search for clues. Dream symbols must not be taken literally, and need interrogation in order to reveal their secrets.

Think of a symbol as a micro~chip in a computer, or as an atom in creation.  It’s tiny on the outside but enormous on the inside. Therefore, the meaning contained in the symbol becomes increasingly apparent the more we learn about the various universal (and therefore archetypal) truths contained in symbolic form. 

Related posts: 13th & 15th February 2013


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