Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Old King

The Dream:
I am walking with an entourage. One member is a very old king. He is very small, and lives in a trailing can-like contraption made of rusted metal. I am his successor, and I walk along side him, stooping to chat. I feel I must be respectful, even though his powers are waning. As we go through the streets he often stops to chat with the commoners in an easy and affable way. Clearly they love him, and I admire the way he handles this part of his job.

Interpretation: The entourage represents the larger community I live in. The king represents the patriarchal values of my childhood. Jung would call him a symbol of the collective conscious, in other words, a society’s values. At this point in my life, I’ve outgrown many of these values, so the king appears very small in the dream. His can-like contraption tells me that I’ve canned a lot of what I learned from him. It also hints that some of what I learned was ridiculous. Yet the symbol represents a paradox: on the one hand, to can something means to relinquish it, get rid of it; we shut someone up by saying, “Can it.” On the other, canning is a method of preservation. So in some ways I respect, while I simultaneously relinquish, the old patriarchal values. I feel the power of his beliefs diminish, and at the same time I see their positive aspects.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It’s Really Coming Down

I had forgotten this dream, until I noticed the rain and said, “It’s really coming down.”

The Dream: Clark and I are in a car; he’s driving. Behind us a car goes over a very steep precipice; some guy has pushed an unoccupied vehicle over the edge. A moment or two later I see the guy follow. He’s wearing a yellow polo shirt and tan trousers. His outfit reminds me uncomfortably of Clark. I feel helpless, watching this event and being unable to do anything about it. It seems clear it’s a suicide. I can’t watch the jump to its inevitable conclusion. I recount what I’ve seen to Clark and say, “We’ll see this on the evening news.”

Interpretation: My husband Clark represents my animus, the part of me that deals with the demands of work and business. That he is driving tells me that the dream is about issues in that part of my life. I’m on edge (the cliff). I’m clearly frustrated with the direction I’m going in, so I push the car (the thing that gets me where I’m going) off the cliff.

Jung called our mentally healthy, integrated psyche the Self. The fact that I stupidly follow the car tells me that if I don’t change direction I’m going to kill my Self, thus losing what I had apparently gained in the previous dream.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back Home at Last

The Dream: I’m with Clark, looking at a set of double doors that leads into our house. I am happy and excited to be coming home. I say, “These are the ugly doors to our house,” but I’m smiling broadly.

Interpretation: This dream marks a milestone in my psychic integration. I am with Clark (my husband), my “other half.” The double doors echo the idea of the two who are one, which in Jungian terms refers to a conjunctio, or a resolution of opposites. Male and female frequently symbolize opposing psychic forces which in this dream are harmonious: ahh—a happy moment! My strange reaction to the doors—finding them ugly and yet being so happy to see them—points to one of those rare moments of self-integration and self-acceptance. They aren’t perfect (nor am I); far from it. Yet I’m happy with who I am and where I am.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The Dream: I am returning home in the evening with the family. We are walking along the sidewalk to our townhouse that opens onto the street. As we approach our door I notice a window ajar. I point this out to the others, feeling clever that I have noticed. “I didn’t leave the window that way,” I say. I walk up a step or two and push the front door, which opens at my touch. In the dim interior light I see a young man scrambling into his clothes; we’ve apparently caught him in flagrante delicto: but what is the crime? Not really caring whether he is using my home for a sexual encounter, as it appears, or whether he’s come to steal, I am frightened and angry. “Call the cops,” he suggests. I am so frightened that I have trouble deciding which phone to use—cell or land line—and can’t find either. Somehow I manage to make the call, telling the cops a burglary is in progress. Then I wonder who else is in the house. There must be a girl, I think, since it seems we’ve caught the fellow having sex. “Did they use my bed?” I wonder, feeling grossed out.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guest Dreamer: Snot

The Dream:
Snot is coming out of my nose in an endless strand. It’s gross and a nuisance. I worry someone will see that I'm trying to get it out so I feel that I must extract it quickly.

Thanks to Keryn for this marvelous dream, a good example of how powerfully and economically dreams can encapsulate an unconscious feeling. In my version of Keryn’s dream* my unconscious is telling me there is something I need to express that will not go over well with others. Even I don’t find this thing acceptable, which is why I furtively tug at the snot and want to get it out before anyone notices. My unconscious, however, will not be ignored. It’s sent me this dream repeatedly, which means that I will not be at peace with myself until I resolve the underlying issue.

For example, my issue might be that people were “snotty” to me at school when I was a youngster, and even though I’ve grown up and beyond this distant hurt, I need to recognize that it was a painful experience that still unconsciously affects me. Or my issue might be that someone in my life tends to intrude into my privacy too much; in this case the dream tells me that because a nosy person is trying to pull something out of me I have lost autonomy.

Only Keryn will be able to figure out what her unconscious is so determined to express, but the fact that it is a recurring dream will make that task a little easier. Keryn, think back to the first time you had this dream, and make a list of what was going on in your life. Were there any major life changes taking place, such as a move to a new house or school, or a change in status such as a new job or marriage? Was something important happening with a family member? If you can remember what was going on at subsequent recurrences, list these as well. Be on the lookout for the next recurrence, and examine waking life events in the day or two before the dream. Whatever triggers the dream in the present will be connected to the feeling that prompted the original dream and each recurrence. As you look at these waking life events the pattern will become clear to you, and you will understand your dream.

*For information about why I interpret others' dreams as is they were my own, read A Sample Guest Dreamer
For more information about how to interpret one of your dreams, see Interpret Your Dream

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life in the Suburbs

The Dream:
A suburban subway stop is under renovation, with bulldozers and plows above ground. The area is landscaped with flowers, concrete, and grass--the attractive but institutional look often created by suburban landscape architects.

Here’s a neat little paradox: the suburbs, with their neat fa├žade of order and respectability and the subway, a dark and steamy underground transport system. The composition of the landscaping—flowers, concrete, and grass—evokes a cemetery. I’m glad this stifling environment is under renovation! And of course, no matter how much it changes, the subway (unconscious) will still run below.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What have I Locked Away?

The Dream: I’m in a house which is empty of furnishings, as if we’re just moving in. A man is helping, a swarthy Middle Eastern type. I can’t tell if he is a nice guy—which he appears to be—or a terrorist who has infiltrated. He shows a card with a string of numbers at the top. The only numbers I remember are the 0 and the 20, at the beginning. I think this is some sort of a code: either for a locker or something else. Is this a code he will slip to a compatriot, some sort of secret message? Or is it the number for a locker combination? Will they put bombs in the locker?

Interpretation: I’ve come to a new stage of life (moving into a new house). Here I meet a part of myself that is foreign to me (Middle Eastern). In fact, this part of me is so unfamiliar I don’t even know if he’s good or bad. He is connected to an experience I had at age 20 (the numbers on the card). That experience is a code for something that created a psychic explosion.

At the age of 20 I had just graduated university and left home to live in Manhattan (the new house). Being my own person and seeing such a different life from the one I had experienced growing up in the South expanded my mind to the point it could be thought of as a type of explosion. What might the experience be a code for? Freedom! The dream is reminding me that it’s important to hang on to the essential part of myself that I discovered in my early adulthood.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Guest Dreamer: Bed, Bath and Beyond

A typical dream for Hunky, a visual artist, is composed of images. She is perplexed by this dream because it consists only of words.

The Dream: This morning before I was totally awake I almost called out loud to my husband, "John, call Bed, Bath and Beyond!  Correct the error!  We don't want to pay for what we didn't receive!"  

Hunky: My imagination takes off with this dream, Carla, but I could be totally wrong.  Does it refer to my marriage?  Does it refer to my health (just got good news)?  Does it refer to my continuing concerns (issues around my father)?  Should I sleep on it (bed), and what is it?  Should I wash away certain concerns from my thinking (bath)? Should I look to the future (beyond) for positive, fulfilling endeavors?  I am totally confused.  Because this dream had no visual context I am challenged by its words. Can you imagine the dream as yours?

Carla: My version of Hunky’s dream operates on two levels. Marie-Louise von Franz says that a dream refers to, or is triggered by, something that happened in the past day or two. The trigger doesn't limit the meaning of the dream, but it can be helpful in starting to understand it. The first level has to do with my day-to-day concerns and issues, such as the ones that Hunky has mentioned. If it were my dream, I would ask myself if there were something that I had felt as if I had paid for (not necessarily with money--perhaps with my effort) that gave me nothing back. I call on my animus (my husband, my other-half) to fix the situation. I don't feel my feminine side can deal with the problem. Perhaps I feel I have to give, to support and to nurture beyond my capability. I need my male half to step in, be practical, and protect me from my tendency to overextend for the benefit of others.