Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Hair is Too Short!

Do dreams always deal with deep issues? Or do many comment on passing worries or anxieties? Maybe they do both at the same time. Jung says that dreams “compensate” our awareness; in other words, they try to enlarge our viewpoint and make us aware of thoughts or feelings we don’t know we have.

The Dream: My hair is cut too short.

Interpretation: I had this dream the night before an appointment for a hair cut, so clearly it reflects my anxiety that my hair will be cut too short. I could leave it at that—but what else might the dream be telling me? Hair can reflect one’s self-image or thoughts. If I’m worried that my hair is being cut too short, might I be concerned about how others perceive me? Or could the dream be telling me I am thoughtless?  When you have a dream that seems simple, play with it: You might learn something.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baring the Breast

Have you ever had a dream that seems to resolve a previous dream? Jung tells us that this is to be expected, and that it is part of our natural psychic regulation. This is similar to the way natural physical adjustments take place, for example, sweating to cool the body when you get too warm. In my chat with Jane Teresa Anderson (Episode 44 of The Dream Show) she pointed out that the title of the dream The Bodice Ripper could refer to an opening (exposure) of the heart. I had this dream the night after our chat.

The Dream: I am sitting at a table of arty and intellectual architects. After a while I realize I have no clothes on above the waist. One of the men comes and sits next to me, kissing me on the cheek and saying, “I’ve missed you.” I notice the softness of his youthful face, although his hair is thinning and he must be in his 40s. I say, “I’ve missed you, too.” His name is at the edge of my awareness but I don’t quite get it. We’re happy to be together but can’t think of anything to say.  I notice my bare breasts and think I should cover up, but do nothing about it.

Interpretation: The bodice is off; my heart has opened. The rapprochement is not only with the part of me that can deal with the outer world (my animus) but also with my first image of a man, my father. The exchange about missing each other refers to my grief over his death. That I am sitting with a table of architects tells me that something new is being built.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bodice Ripper Scene 5

The plot seems to be advancing very slowly, but I know what’s going to happen. While the Estate and the people still appear to be from the 18th c, World War II has begin. A great social change is in the works. The castle walls with their crenelated surfaces are covered with missiles and rockets to be used against the Axis powers. Yet I know the Nazis will prevail and this land will be occupied by the Germans. The Lady and the Viscount will hide an Asian woman from the racist occupiers.

I see a small attic access point in the ceiling. It has a couple of pieces of cloth hanging from it. At first I think that this is where they will hide the woman but then I think No—that’s too obvious. They know every nook and cranny of this vast estate, and they will find a secure hiding place. It also occurs to me that the practiced artificiality of their lives—the fact they are hard to “read” and don’t show what’s going on with them—will make it easier for them to fool the Germans.

Interpretation and conclusion: The new psychic center, as represented by the union of Viscount and the Lady, has become strong enough to take on a new challenge. The problems of my past recede; change is at hand, and a new battle must be fought. I fortify myself with missiles and rockets against my long-standing nemesis, my inner Nazi. A foreigner (the Asian woman) represents my repressed or unexpressed parts. The united psyche works to find a safe place to hide her from the rigid, overbearing, and limiting collective consciousness, absorbed by me long ago and symbolized by the Nazis. The elaborate cover up of the 18th clothing is no longer important; it’s replaced by a couple of pieces of cloth hanging from the attic, where I at first I think the Asian woman will be given refuge. But she will not reside in my head (the attic); the new psyche will find the proper place for her.

This dream has been interpreted by the well-known dream worker Jane Teresa Anderson in Episode 44 of The Dream Show.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bodice Ripper Scene 4

A closed chapel is part of the Estate; it’s crammed into what looks like a row of townhouses. The workers are petitioning to have it opened, not because they are interested in religion, but because they know that if the chapel is operating the Lady will have to attend, and they want to gaze upon her. The Viscount knows this and feels as if they’ve put him over a barrel by pretending to want to go to church. In one scene the Lady makes an error by referring to her husband as Count instead of Viscount.

The Lady becomes stronger in this scene, which begins to place the two main characters on a more equal footing.  According to Tony Crisp, a chapel can represent the “powerfully regenerative side of our inner life or feelings.” Here, my chapel is jammed into the middle of the mundane workaday world—the row of townhouses. And my chapel is closed. The fighting workers of the last scene play a part by demanding the chapel be reopened. The Viscount is outfoxed by the workers, losing some of his power. The Lady is less intimidated by her husband, as evidenced by the slip she makes regarding his rank. Now the two can cooperate in a useful venture, as you’ll see in the next and final scene.

This dream has been interpreted by the well-known dream worker Jane Teresa Anderson in  Episode 44 of The Dream Show.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bodice Ripper Scene 3

We don’t get the answer to any of these questions. Instead, we learn that the Lady works very hard to be modest and proper and that she refers to her husband formally in the 3rd person as “the Viscount” in public, but she is allowed to be more familiar privately. The Lady dresses very simply—plainly, even—in order to emphasize her propriety. She does not adorn herself in any way. Nevertheless, she is so beautiful that the estate workers (farm hands) fight over her. She never looks at them in order not to be seen to encourage such behavior. Meanwhile, it’s not clear whether or not the Viscount is faithful.

Interpretation: Again the Lady’s socially constrained role is emphasized. According to Tony Crisp a fight can symbolize problems with independence or self-confidence. That the Lady never looks at this is probably a strong hint from the dream that I should. A further hiccup to the needed union of the Lady (feminine aspect of my psyche) and the Viscount (masculine aspect): I’m not sure the Viscount can be trusted.

This dream has been interpreted by the well-known dream worker Jane Teresa Anderson in Episode 44 of The Dream Show

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bodice Ripper Scene 2

Dream Scene 2: The marriage has been celebrated, and it is the wedding night. The Lady and the Viscount are in a cloakroom or closet which is situated behind the bedroom. They share one bedroom. The lady, new to this class and situation, looks to her husband for clues on how to behave. He disrobes; she observes him in his 18th c shirt with no trousers. He takes off his clothing layer by layer, placing it on hangers, and puts the hangers on hooks that protrude from the wall. She is surprised by such tidiness, having thought that this would be a job for the servants. She mimics her new husband: disrobing, placing her garments on hangers, and hanging these up. It is a passionless scene, and, as I observe, I run varying scenarios for the wedding night. Will the husband be concerned about his new wife’s pleasure or merely do the deed? Is the Lady a virgin? If so, will she be able to enjoy the act? If not, will the Viscount be seriously displeased?

Interpretation: The wedding represents the tentative union of two aspects of my psyche, represented by the Lady and the Viscount. The closet is the storehouse for my attitudes and emotions; its location behind the bedroom means the relationship we’re observing is intimate, close to the core of my being. What about the emphasis on clothing? The Viscount takes the first step in revealing himself by taking off his clothes. Not entirely comfortable, but not knowing what else to do, the Lady follows suit. By emphasizing the passionless nature of this encounter the dream tells me again that this union is more like putting a toe in the water than diving in. For Jung--unlike Freud who would probably describe inhaling as a substitute for penetration--even sexual intercourse is not necessarily about sex in a dream. And I think you can see its symbolic relevance here as I conjecture about the physical union, not at all sure how successful the joining of these two will be.

This dream has also been interpreted by the well-known dream worker Jane Teresa Anderson in Episode 44 of The Dream Show

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Bodice Ripper

Do you find that certain images recur over time in your dreams? There’s a force I’ve come to call my “inner Nazi” that appears and reappears. It’s oddly tacked on to the end of this long dream that starts more like a bodice ripper. I’ve broken this dream down into five segments.

Dream Scene 1: A young woman, certainly not a member of the nobility, marries a Viscount. The dream is set in a Nordic country; both the Viscount and the Lady are tall, very attractive, and blonde. Initially, the dream appears to be set in the 18th c, judging by the clothing. Panniers are not in evidence, but the clothing is long, bodices are tight, and undergarments are long, white, and ruffled. This might not be a love-match. The man wants an heir and is attracted to the woman’s beauty. The woman is making a large leap socially. Both are very concerned that the woman’s behavior should be correct and appropriate.

Interpretation: The roles characters take on in your dream represent your different abilities and weaknesses. In this dream I see a beautiful, na├»ve, undeveloped part of me (the lady) that is striving to unite with a stronger, noble part (the Viscount). My Lady aspect is socially uncomfortable and not sure how to behave. My Viscount aspect (Vis-count, I count!) is most likely an animus figure (a woman’s inner man) which needs unification with the Lady, symbolized by his desire for an heir.  At this point in the dream this is an uncomfortable marriage, a marriage of convenience. The tight bodice suggests I’m feeling restricted, which is further emphasized by concern over the woman’s behavior. Set in the past, the dream deals with a long-standing issue.

This dream has also been interpreted by the well-known dream worker Jane Teresa Anderson in The Dream Show.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Work of Art

Have you ever had a dream that feels like a revelation? This is the first dream that I remember—not the first dream I ever had, but the first one to stay with me for the rest of my life.

The Dream: I am being led off to my execution. As they lead me away, a group of soldiers in khaki uniforms are chanting, “It’s important you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s important you enjoy what you’re doing.”
We come to the place of execution, a large chopping block covered with a black and white grid. I have the realization that when my head is chopped off, my red blood flowing over the black and white grid will create a work of art.

Interpretation: This dream came to me in my young adulthood: I had graduated university and was living on my own in a big city, working for a corporation and wondering what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was attracted to the arts but had not made the leap. In the dream, the forces of constraint and propriety and doing the practical thing are leading me off to my doom. They are also telling me what I need to do to survive: I need to enjoy what I’m doing. Life is not infinite. They tell me that easing up on my overly intellectual tendency (losing my head) and combining discipline and precision (the grid) with passion (the blood) will create a beautiful life: a work of art.

This short dream has also been interpreted by the well-known dream worker Jane Teresa Anderson in The Dream Show

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Dream Show

Jane Teresa Anderson, an astute and engaging dream expert who frequently appears on Australian television, interprets two of my dreams in an episode of her weekly podcast series. Listen to it here: The Dream Show

Starting tomorrow these dreams will be posted in The Daily Dreamer along with the interpretations I came up with before my chat with Jane.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Egg and I

Often in dreams real world events or activities take on a symbolic meaning. This dream uses an ancient paint binder—egg yolk—to help me get over a creative block.

The Dream: I am wandering around in the streets of San Francisco in search of an egg to use to make paint. I am at Liz’s house, and I think I’ll use one of her eggs. I get one out of the fridge and crack it open, but it doesn’t look right and I find I can’t get the white part separated from the yolk. I try two more eggs, thinking I owe Liz 3 eggs, but also remembering that she mistakenly took a quart of my yogurt the last time she visited me—so perhaps she won’t mind.

Interpretation: My friend Liz and I are egg tempera painters. Symbolically the egg represents the germ of creation. I don’t have what I need (the right egg) to be creative in the way I’d like. As I take my friend’s eggs I am identifying with her qualities: we both had perfectionist parents, and the dream tells me that I need to get past their perfectionist expectations to be creative in my own way. The dream points the way to a more relaxed attitude by letting me off the hook for taking my friend’s property; my action becomes part of the give and take of life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Working on Your Dreams: Step 4 - Dream Group

Dream groups are a marvelous way to explore your dreams. If you are new to dream work it would be best to look for a group with some experience. You might find one by taking a class on dream work: many universities offer these in their extension programs, and some community centers and churches do as well. If you would rather start your own group with friends, take a look at the helpful advice offered by these websites:

Jeremy Taylor has devised a “toolkit” for group dream work: Jeremy Taylor's Dreamwork Toolkit

And for more about Jeremy’s approach to dream work: Jeremy Taylor on Starting a Dream Group

For some more information about the do’s and don’ts of group dream work see: Working with Dreams in a Group

Today’s illustration intermingles three dreams from three different people in my own dream group, and I thought it made a nice little comment on the synergy dream groups create.  Bev’s horses, each with one prosthesis, gallop down the stairs of a hotel lobby. The illustration is set on one of the pieces of white paper from Linda’s dream. The aliens from my dream interact with the white stones from Linda’s. The black area above the aliens represents the unknown that each dreamer seems to be rushing toward.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Statue of Liberty

Dreams often play on words, so it can be helpful to engage your crossword puzzle-solving skills when you try to decipher your dream.

 Dream Image: A woman with phony blonde hair is a statue similar to the Statue of Liberty. She is surrounded by water and in modern dress, a blue skirt and red top.

Interpretation: For me, the unconscious is “dumb” in the old-fashioned sense of the word, i.e. mute, so my dream presents it as a symbol of “dumb” in our culture: the dumb blonde. That I see her blonde hair as phony tells me she really can speak, but since she is a statue there’s the implication she can’t move. So I must be stuck. Or perhaps she is saying she can’t come to me, but I can go to her. She holds aloft a flame, signifying enlightenment. And she has taken the pose of the Statue of Liberty. She lifts her lamp to the liberation of the unconscious material (the water) surrounding her.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Struggle with an Angel?

One reason myths have staying power is their ability to encapsulate a universal human experience. This dream shows how these myths can spontaneously appear, and when they do, it means the issue they are highlighting is important.

The Dream: Clark and I are in a romantic mood despite the nearness of the children. Suddenly I am grabbed from behind by a man with wings, and held very tightly—so tightly I can’t breathe. I try to call out, but no sound comes. Final I start screaming, “Clark! Clark!” in hopes he’ll rescue me. I awaken.

Interpretation: As I try to awaken the unconscious and incorporate it into my conscious life I am grabbed from behind by a powerful force. In other words, things I have tried to “put behind me” emerge with great intensity and practically squeeze the life out of me. The dream tells me I need my other half, the part I have repressed into unconsciousness, to solve the problem. This other half is symbolized by husband Clark and our attempt at union when the dream begins, as well as the fact that I call out to him as the dream ends. Ultimately, of course, I need to turn and face the angel / demon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Mural

You might have heard that Freud organized our minds into id, ego, and superego; and Jung organized our minds into three levels as well: unconscious, subconscious, and conscious. This dream seems to confirm the theoretical concept that our minds have these “levels” of consciousness.

The Dream:
There is a stairwell going up, on the right. Just to its left is an elevator, but I discover there is no way for me to access it. However, by going around a central structure and up a stair or two I find another way. I think it’s too bad we didn’t know about this elevator sooner, since we have spent so much effort trudging up the stairs.

When we reach the top floor the walls are covered with enchanting Klee-like biomorphic forms, in beautiful colors. The design forms an all-over pattern. I get the impression that I am in a Disney space.

The stairwell going up indicates that previously unconscious material is “rising” to a conscious level. This is emphasized by the fact that the stairwell is on the right. Symbolically, right equals conscious; left equals unconscious. To the left is an elevator: the quicker way to go up and down, but associated with the unconscious here—and you’ll notice there is no way for me to access it. But wait! I find a way. I go around a central structure (the controlling ego) and up a stair or two, telling me I have become a little more conscious, probably the result of my conscientious dream journal. I grouse a little that it’s taken so much tedious work to get as far as I have.

Then I take the elevator and am rewarded by a beautiful mural. This higher level is a place of art and imagination (as Disney likes to tell us about itself). But there’s a little warning here, too. Disney is fun and imaginative—but lacks a certain depth. As for the mural: have I hit a wall?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Want to be a Guest Dreamer?

Want to explore one of your dreams? Send a dream for The Daily Dreamer to Carla Young. You might be the next guest dreamer.

If you have an interpretation, include it. If you don’t, I’ll take a crack at it; but please understand I’m an illustrator--not a therapist--and any thoughts I have on your dream are only projections of what your dream would mean to me if I had it. “How could this possibly be helpful to me?” you are no doubt asking yourself. Answer: It might not be. On the other hand, it might suggest a way to look at your dream that you hadn’t thought of. The take-home message: You are the final arbiter of the meaning of your dream.

You can send an illustration, or I’ll make one for your dream. I’ll edit your dream for clarity and readability, but not for content. If you would like to be anonymous include your pseudonym. Submitted dreams will not be returned—keep a copy. I will not use your dream or your artwork for any purpose other than posting on the blog, but understand I can’t control others out there in cyberspace. Not all submitted dreams will be published. Finally, I’m not responsible if you go stark raving mad after reading my “interpretation.” All that said, sweet dreams!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Playing in the Pool

“Father” appears again in this dream, cutting short a playful splash in the unconscious.
The Dream: I’m playing in the pool with some kids. We are all young girls. The setting is the pool of the house I live in. We are playing with the water in such a way that we’ve sent up a spray of water in a rectangular shape. Then we notice that “dad” is spying on us, looking out from the upstairs bedroom window. We’ve made too much noise and awakened him.

Interpretation: Playing in a pool (the unconscious) with some kids. That I’m dealing with children—as opposed to adults—tells me the psychic elements that have been activated are connected to a part of me that’s not fully formed. There’s a playful element: I’m splashing about in this unconscious material, perhaps not taking it as seriously as I should. To create a safe zone these children send up what Jung calls a temenos with their rectangular spray of water. A temenos, often represented by a square, is a sacred place where transformation can occur. This splashing about in the unconscious displeases the “father,” representative of a rigid kind of thinking and morality, who awakens.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A New Garden

Parents are more than parents in our dreams. “Father,” for example, represents what Jung calls the conscious collective: church, state, traditional mores and authority. “Mother” represents the collective unconscious: instinct and myth.

The Dream: We have a new house we’re trying to get used to. We’re talking ourselves into liking it and being comfortable in it. There is a remote part of the garden, in the front of the house, planted with attractive plants and flowers. We can see ourselves sitting out there.

There’s a door to the left of the house, framed in green, with steps leading to a large side yard with 3 trees. I point to this side yard with its trees and a couple of straggly looking bushes along the back fence close to the back of the house. I am excited about the idea of making a new garden here, under the trees, where we can sit when it’s hot. I mention this to “mother.”

Interpretation: Not completely defeated by the previous night’s altercation with the “father,” I am trying to get comfortable in a new house (new psychic center). The plural dream characters tell me this effort is complex. The attractive front garden represents my public face--or to put it another way, my accommodation to the conscious collective. The steps show this may happen in phases (one step at a time) and the color green, signifying growth, that a change is in the works. The number 3 (three trees in the side yard) says I’m on the right track toward integrating my warring parts (3 represents the complete self). What about the green framed door? A door indicates a passage from one state to another. Here is a garden I can develop where I can shelter from the heat. I mention this to “mother.” Father and mother, each with a garden near my house, are coming closer.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Angry Man

This is one of many dreams in this series where I struggle to come to terms with what Jung calls the animus, or a woman’s inner man.

The Dream: I am in the garage with an older man. He is dressed in a business suit. He resembles the man who plays the Lieutenant in Law and Order CI. He has a full head of salt and pepper gray hair, stylishly cut, and he is very meticulously dressed.

We are in some way wedged into a small space between the seats and the side door of the car. It is essential to get along since we’re in such close quarters. He is congenial enough to start, but when I imply that I could overcome him he becomes infuriated, frighteningly so. I back down and work to placate him.

Interpretation: Father is the first man to model male characteristics for most of us. In this dream I try to subdue the imago (my inner image) of the angry father. In Jungian terms: My animus has been infected by a rigid, authoritarian part of myself. This realization is drifting upwards toward consciousness, where it might be able to be recognized and integrated. My shadow animus and I are wedged into a space in which we don’t belong and which was never meant to accommodate us. I try to overcome this negative animus, but it’s too strong for me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Crystal Vase

This dream was inspired by a conversation with an artist friend. Jane suggested a group of us make art pieces based on clothing that couldn’t be worn.

The Dream: I am wearing a Waterford crystal vase.

Interpretation: I sent the dream to Jane, knowing she would find it as amusing as I did. Here is her interpretation, written in the first person because that’s the polite way to talk about someone else’s dream: “I am transparent. That the crystal is Waterford and that vases typically hold water suggest the unconscious. I am beautiful all over but strong and fragile too. I sing when wet fingers spin on the rim. The "singing" shows how I process life through my spirit and intelligence, my hands and senses.”

Now you can see why I’m so fond of Jane.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A New Old Home

The basic work of our psyche is to create wholeness by integrating all the sometimes warring elements within. Some dreams show that we’re on the path of integration; this dream shows the opposite.

The dream: A friend has bought a Victorian house. I am thinking about buying a house nearby, and my friend is  condescending toward it. I feel hurt and diminished by her reaction. The house I am considering, which I defend as being “Queen Anne vintage,” has elements of both an older style house and a modern tract home. There is a large laundry room downstairs which I joke can be the children’s playroom. I am not sure that I like the dining room, or rather the living room dining room combo: one large rectangular room. A moment later the dining room splits into an L alcove with a half-height white fence.

Interpretation: The friend represents the part of me that has made an accommodation to collective reality. She has found a Victorian house in which to live, with all its symbolism of a strictly ordered public life and the hint of a secret private life. Another part wants a home that combines the old--the values and expectations of the very different culture of my youth—with the contemporary. Of course there are hints this modernity is narrow in its own way, with its tract homes, but in the dream it was presented as practical and serviceable. I make room for the disruptive anarchic children, even if the space (downstairs, in the laundry) seems grudging and tentative--not to mention implying they need to be cleaned up. I can’t combine all the background chatter (din-ing room) with life (living room) so I split off the unconscious elements (the L shaped alcove indicates the unconscious) and fence them in. The future work is to face these elements and give them adequate space.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Willing Sacrifice

This dream has two different levels of meaning, as you’ll find many of your dreams do.
The Dream: I’m giving a large dinner party. I run around distractedly trying to get everything done. The guests are milling about and no one offers to help. I am making no progress, but working very hard. I ask one of the children to set the table; when I take some dishes into the dining room I discover the table is bare. I am angry and frustrated, not particularly at the children, but at everyone attending the party for not pitching in. I am embarrassed and feel the event is out of control.

There is no bread. I thought I had some, but for some reason it can’t be used. A man offers to be the bread. He climbs onto a kitchen table, lies face up, and tells me to slice him. I don’t know where to slice and feel very uncomfortable with the idea, but he is insistent. He wants to help; he assures me he will turn into bread once I begin slicing. I take a knife and make a shallow incision in the area of the abdomen. I see a thin trickle of blood, not deep red like real blood but thin and watered-down looking, orange-red. When I see the blood I cannot continue.

Interpretation: On the day-to-day level, I’ve taken on more than I can handle. (I am making no progress, but working very hard.) Oh, the story of my life! I feel I’m getting nothing back for the effort I put in. I would like some help, but none is forthcoming. Some part of me wants to sacrifice myself to the needs of the group (become the food for the party-goers). Another part can’t do it.

On a deeper level, the willing sacrifice is what Jung calls an archetype, a symbol for something universal to human experience. The connection of sacrifice to bread is ancient and primitive. On this level the unconscious is pointing out the depth of sacrifice demanded of a sentient being who has chosen life on the planet. This profound and willing sacrifice is contrasted to the business (busy-ness) and petty frustrations with which we often fill our lives. The dream prepares me to accept the implications of life.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Don’t Send in the Cavalry

Look at the words and images in your dreams carefully. Often what seems like nonsense at first glance can be deciphered if you look for puns and plays on words, and think about the possible alternate meanings of the images.
The Dream:
The dream is set in a barren, hilly setting. I’m sitting with a group of people on a bleacher facing a valley formed by other hills. There’s a deep crevice between the hills. We hear the sound of hooves and see the cavalry approaching. Their uniforms are gray, and they seem antiquarian. They stop at the foot of our bleacher and begin to sing. Their leader faces us and we all sing with him. His name eludes me, and I decide to practice writing it. He is Major Paul Baurow, pronounced Bo-Ro. I practice spelling and pronouncing it. There are two letter combinations in his last name, both pronounced “oh” but spelled differently. When I address him I still can’t remember his last name and call him Major Paul.

There is a man in the group (not a soldier) I am attracted to. He seems to be attracted to me as well. At first my husband encourages me to go to an event with the man, then Clark seems to become suspicious. I say flippantly, “We’re going to have monkey sex.”

The deep crevice tells me I’m dealing with some sort of split, and the dream exposes a conflict between my independence from--and my submission to--societal restraints. The cavalry and Paul Baurow (pall bearer or politburo) represent societal coercion, which “palls” the spirit. They expect me to sing along with the group. The attractive man is the part of me that is not regimented, “not a soldier,” and that wants to be uncivilized and experience the freedom of the animal (monkey sex).  My husband (my other half) is divided, just like the split in the hill. One moment he is encouraging me, the next not.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Beautiful Girl

Dreams often point out what is wrong in our lives, but they also can point out what’s right. In a world in which we are often encouraged not to think too well of ourselves, our dreams can let us know it’s okay to celebrate what’s good about us.

The Dream: I’m in a class. There is a beautiful girl sitting next to me. She is young and has curly, light brown hair. She is very petite, but well built. I wonder if she is rich. I know she lives in the city, but I wonder how she lives. Is she part of a rich family or married well? She puts on dark glasses and looks even more glamorous.

Interpretation: This dream seems to be a little gift, some encouragement. Many dream experts tell us that the people who populate our dreams are different aspects of ourselves. So with this dream I can ask, “What part of me is beautiful, self-confident, living in the world she loves, sexy, a little mysterious, well-cared for and full of potential?” Of course I don’t get off Scot free: since I’m in a class the dream is also telling me I still have something to learn.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Celery in the Garden

When you take the wrong path in life, your dreams will let you know.
The Dream: Giant celery stalks are growing around the borders in the garden. I feel dissatisfied with the garden.

Interpretation: My recent foray into a new painting style—with its different aims and sensibilities—has created a situation in which I feel as if I’m trying to please someone other than my own deepest self. I feel as if I have sold out (celery: sell-ery). This feeling is represented by my dissatisfaction with my garden, the symbol of the well-spring of my creativity and the sacred place of my soul.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Ubiquitous Toilet Dream

Okay, dear reader, I think we know each other well enough by now that I can post something that reeks of the indelicate: a toilet dream. Sooner or later, I’ve heard, we all have one. This example shows how dreams can help us flush no longer relevant feelings.

The Dream:
I’m with a group exiting a building when I realize I have to go to the toilet. We’re starting off on a journey, but I think I can slip away and rejoin the group before departure.

I find a ladies room nearby. The seat is up, and it is already filled with urine and toilet paper. Being in a hurry I add mine to the batch. I don’t think the overloaded toilet can flush. I’m surprised when the receptacle, which now appears over-sized, empties with a great whoosh of running water. I am relieved that it flushed.

Interpretation: Urine can stand for emotions that need to be expressed. Clearly, I’m overloaded with them. But the unconscious, which through dreams helps us purge useless emotional detritus, helps me out by supplying a great cleansing whoosh. My reaction (I’m relieved) tells me the dream process has done its work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Overcoming the Past

Dreams can deal with painful material from the past, as I think this one does. Even without specifically remembering the event, the dream helps us resolve the issues involved.

The Dream: I’m out driving, trying to avoid a rough-looking neighborhood. I turn into a street with older buildings which look like one-story garages. It’s a poor neighborhood, but bright. I wonder if I’ve arrived in a scary part of town after all, but I see children, smiling and happy-looking, so I don’t feel threatened.  At the end of the street is a low house with a screened-in front porch.

I go in. I chat with the woman who lives here. She is middle-aged and I am younger. She has a tasty-looking dish on a sideboard. I try some and find out it’s made of squirrel. I think using squirrels for food might solve the problem I have with them eating the seed in my bird-feeder, and besides, it is delicious. But I wonder who will skin them.

There is a silver contraption on another sideboard. To my surprise, the woman pulls out a very long, sharp gleaming silver knife. I am uncomfortable with her standing there with this knife in her hand. “This belongs to the children,” she says.

Interpretation: I go into the past (a street with older buildings), where I feel threatened (the rough-looking neighborhood) and meet the woman in charge (the part of me still living with an old wound). She feeds me unusual and unexpected but delicious food. Besides nourishing me, this food might be a way to protect my offerings to my soul or spirit. Birds often represent both; and I want to safeguard my “bird-feeder” from the squirrels. But there is some ambivalence: eating the food, solving the soul problem, requires skinning the animal (exposing my vulnerability?)

The woman surprises me by pulling a knife out of an old wound (silver can represent the past, tarnished and/or precious). At first I find her possession of this knife threatening, but she diffuses its power by saying it belongs to the children. Perhaps she is hinting that children caused the painful event in the past. However, the children in the dream are not threatening, signaling I’ve moved on.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spark of the Divine

We are used to the idea that dreams are a part of ourselves, even when the characters and their actions appear alien. After all, our brains produce our dreams. It’s harder to feel as if a dream comes from within when it seems to be giving us an “otherworldly” message like this very short one.

The Dream: A voice says, “Human beings have a spark of the divine.”

I am ready to look for my own inner spirituality.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Working on Your Dreams: Step 3 – Interpret

So, you’ve started to remember your dreams and you’re keeping a journal. You’d like to be able to ferret some meaning out of this mysterious material. Where to start? A book that I found very helpful when I was beginning the decoding process is a slim volume by Robert A. Johnson called Inner Work. He suggests that you make a list of the important words in your dream and then write down what you associate with each word. This is different from free association, which goes something like this: cat, hair, allergies, sneeze, got a cold, stayed home from school. The direct association chain goes like this: cat, hair; cat, catty; cat, green eyed; cat, Halloween. So, for each important word in the dream you make a list of words that are directly conjured by the dream word. As you write this list, you’ll notice that you feel a little surge of excitement around some of the associations, and that tells you that you are getting close to what the word means in your dream.
We live in a world that worships speed, but deciphering a dream is often a slow process. Be patient. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn, and the things you learn will gradually transform your life. In working with your dreams you are working with your essential self, and sometimes that’s an essential self that has yet to be discovered.

For some excellent and sensible information for beginning dream workers start with  Jeremy Taylor's Dream Work

Dream dictionaries are fun and tempting, but most are downright silly. Tony Crisp, however, has worked with dreams for many years and compiled suggested “definitions” based on the dream experiences of many people. His dictionary suggests alternate possibilities for most dream images and can jump start the deciphering process. Tony Crisp's Dream Dictionary

For some good material on the importance of the dreamer as the ultimate interpreter of his dream and an interesting take on Carl Jung—not entirely sympathetic—see Gayle Delaney’s Carl Jung, Dreams, and the Sexes

If you would like an introduction to people working professionally with dreams, Anne Hill interviews many on Dream Talk Radio