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Dream Interpretation: The Beginner’s Guide, Part Two

Thea Euryphaessa continues her ongoing series about the night-time netherworld

Written by . Published on December 12th 2011.


Dream Interpretation: The Beginner’s Guide, Part Two

SO you’ve salvaged a snippet of a dream – what next? As this is a beginner’s guide to tending dreams, I’m going to stay with what I believe is one of the most accessible and straightforward approaches – association. 

The thing with dreams is they speak in riddle and rhyme, metaphor and symbol.

If you’ve written your dream in your journal or are sharing it with someone else, one of the most powerful, most helpful things you can do is to bring the dream into the present moment and tell it as though it’s happening now.  Even if the dream you’re working with happened when you were four-years-old, by bringing it into the room and retelling it in the present tense you reanimate the dream, bring it to life.

Keep A Dream JournalKeep A Dream JournalSo, for example, rather than, ‘I was walking down a dark alley when I heard footsteps behind me’, say instead, ‘It’s dark. I’m walking down an alley... I can hear footsteps behind me’. As subtle a difference as this seems, it puts you back amid the action and brings the dream’s mood back into the body where you can feel and experience it, rather than describing it from a dissociated perspective.

The mood, you see, is one of the main areas you’re looking to discern when establishing the overall context of the dream. So, when you’re walking down the dark alley and you hear footsteps, are you afraid in the dream? Or, is it just the thought or idea of being followed down a dark alley that put the frighteners up you?

This is a subtle point, particularly as our dream ego may have a different attitude towards a situation than our waking ego ordinarily would. It could, for example, be showing you that your attitude around a belief/situation/person is changing at an unconscious level and is now bubbling its way up into your conscious awareness.

Dream AssociationDream AssociationThe other night, for example, I dreamt I was underwater. During the dream, because I was underwater, my first thought was, ‘Oh my god, I’m drowning’. I even felt panic flash through my gut. Then, a split second later, I realised that, although I was underwater, I was actually okay and wasn’t drowning. I relaxed and let go.

When writing the dream in my journal the next morning I wrote, ‘I was drowning... ’.  Then I stopped myself, brought the dream back into the room using the method above, and realised I wasn’t drowning at all. Yes, I may have been underwater, but I was fine about it – in fact, I was even breathing.

This seemingly insignificant detail helped move me from a place of fear and distress to the last time I would’ve been ‘underwater’ without panicking – in the amniotic sac. Although I may not consciously remember that particular experience, I had an experience all the same. So, for me, one of the associations I drew from that particular dream was ‘rebirth’ – particularly as, when I looked up through the surface of the water, a giant bear was about to put its paw in to fish me out (one of my associations of the bear was that of Artemis who was the Greek goddess of childbirth and midwives – her cult was often associated with the bear).

Your Dreams Are Uniquely YoursYour Dreams Are Uniquely YoursAlso, when reflecting on the mood of the dream, think back to events of the past 48/72 hours that had to do with being ‘followed’ somehow, whether literally or metaphorically. Perhaps you’ve neglected to ‘follow through’ on a promise; you need to ‘follow-up’ on an uncomfortable conversation, or you’re being followed by your boss for an overdue assignment. Regardless, the dream may be trying to call your attention back to these events/circumstances for further attention.

 The thing with dreams is they speak in riddle and rhyme, metaphor and symbol. And, to make matters more confusing, they don’t have one fixed meaning or interpretation – which is why I discourage the use of dream dictionaries. The dream is yours – uniquely yours. So, although there may be universal (archetypal) motifs present, you will still have your own unique take on those particular motifs.

Just remember that when you first start working with your dreams, they will speak a language you understand. I study depth psychology so my dreams tend to be a bit more complex (although, not necessarily always). The psyche, however, knows you’re not a scholar of depth psychology (unless, of course, you are) and so, when it comes to your own particular dreams, it’ll ease you in nice and gently.


Urban DevaUrban DevaIn Part Three, Thea continues how to work with and make sense of your dreams by means of association.

For more mind, body, and soul tips, follow Thea on Twitter @UrbanDeva

Visit her Facebook page facebook.com/urbandeva or website at urbandeva.com/blog        

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