Archive for December, 2009

D R e a M s

Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which, if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare .” H.F. Hedge

Imagination is more important than knowledge .” Albert Einstein

Through Dreamwork we use the dream as the arena for first experiencing potentials before we go to the outer life to manifest them .”   Strephon Kaplan Williams


from Jung's Red Book


Using William’s approach to decipher dreams  (see reference below), we will subscribe to the overall notion that with the proper guidance and the right questions, the dreamer possesses the key to unlock the mysteries of her own dreams.   And so, our task as dream interviewer is to ask ample questions that will gently prod the dreamer deeper into her psyche, rather than offer an interpretation.  If you are interpreting your own dreams, you need to be honest with yourself in probing your dream material to maximize the experience.  It goes without saying: a therapist can help encourage you past your blind spots, and gently reveal aspects of yourself that you’d rather not see and that you spend considerable energy avoiding.  But beware anyone who offers too quick an interpretation of the dream, and reduces it from the realm of imaginal experience to a one-line analysis.  Now, even if you don’t have a therapist, in general, it is preferable to have an interpersonal experience around deciphering your dreams, since that way they more easily become part of conscious existence.   So, share your dreams, or, when someone tells you a dream, get curious and ask them many questions about it.

The following method of dream interpretation encompasses four phases.   The first phase of interpretation involves looking at the “you” in the dream, and seeing if there are parallels to the “you” in real life.  We’ll call “you” in the dream the “dream ego”, and “you” in real life the “waking ego”.    In the second phase of interpretation, we move away from the dream ego and study all other figures/images in the dream.  We see every event, character or symbol as an aspect of the dreamer, a mirror reflecting the dreamer’s manifold faces.   These are often the parts of ourselves we prefer not to see or parts we have not yet integrated into our personalities.  In the third phase, we simply allow the dream to exist on many levels, and marvel at how easily the dream may be interpreted from many theoretical standpoints.  In the fourth phase, there is the opportunity to concretize the dream, to bring its wisdom into the third dimension as an action that we take or an actual painting of a dream image.  It is probably best to focus on the first two phases of the method in the beginning.


The following questions will help the dreamer re-experience the dream as it actually occurred and go deeper into her psyche.  Write down the answers to these questions, and then review the content to see if there are any parallels with waking life.  Is the dream ego taking actions that are similar to the waking ego’s actions, or is the dream ego taking an opposite stance?  How are the dream ego and waking ego’s feelings similar or different etc.?

1.   Describe the actions of the dream ego?   What is she doing or not doing in the dream?

2.  What are the major contrasts and/or similarities in the dream?

3.  What are the major symbols in the dream?   What are the relations among the different symbols?

4.  What are the issues, conflicts and unresolved issues in the dream?

5.  What are possible resolutions for the yet unrealized parts of the dream?

6.  What are the various feelings in this dream?

7.  What is being wounded in the dream?

8.  What is being healed?

9.  What are you trying to avoid in the dream?

10. What actions is the dream suggesting you consider?

11.  Who or what is the adversary in the dream?

12.  Who are my guides, helpers, friend or allies in this dream?

13.  How does this relate to what is happening in your life right now?

Consider how your dream ego reflects your waking ego….Would you like your waking /dream ego to be different in any way?


Now focus on the other characters in the dream.   Imagine that they represent a certain aspect of the dreamer’s persona (even if they seem nothing like the dreamer)

1.  What are the other figures in the dream doing?

2.  What do they think, feel or believe?

3.  How do their beliefs compare and contrast to yours?

4.  Put yourself in (one of the figure’s ) shoes: what are you doing, thinking, feeling?


Entertaining Other Possibilities.

Dreams, like any other text, maybe be interpreted on multiple levels: literally, metaphorically, spiritually, symbolically…from a Jungian, Freudian, Lacanian, Zen, Senoi, Kabbalistic perspective.  Some dreams are symbolic, others more concrete.  Some are prophetic, others might be healing.  let’s not forget that many dreams are mere anxiety dreams.  In some dreams, one rehearses an activity that is to take place in the future, such as an exam or a birth.  Still other dreams give us information we’d been seeking in waking life.  Some dreams will forever remain indecipherable, and leave an imprint on the brain as a non-sensical fantastical experience.

PhAse IV

Tasks to complete after your dream conversation to further “actualize” your dreams

In a sense, the objective is not necessarily to understand dreams.   Rather, the goal is to cultivate a rapport with dreams, one that adds dynamism and meaning to life.   Most of these tasks serve to further bring dreams into daily life. I do not know the advantages and effects of painting a dream image or discoursing with a dream character, for example.   I do know that humans have painted, reflected, ruminated on, wondered, and hypothesized about dreams from time immemorial.   Some see forgotten dreams as unopened letters from a higher source.   From a higher source within or without?   Who knows?   Remember that people have taken advice and direction from dreams to make changes in their lives, to make critical decisions or to embark on spiritual journeys…   I am not making any propositions or proclamations on anybody’s behalf.    Familiarize yourself with the opposite contention too- that the senseless chatter in your brain (White Noise) gets dumped into the repository of your dreams.   But now for the sake of coming to your own conclusions, why not take a leap of faith and let your imagination take the reigns….

1.   Draw, paint, or sculpt a dream symbol.

2.   Meditate on a symbol, image, archetype, or entire dream.

3.   Dialogue with a figure from your dream.   (You will know the exercise is working if you feel yourself easily responding as the figure, not hesitating too much, and coming up with ideas that did not seem obvious before the dialogue.)   This can be quite enlightening. (It can be done quite effectively with a dream partner if you are not too shy.)

4.   Dream Re-entry- revisualize the dream with the intent of changing or creating a new resolution

5.   Rewrite the dream making creative changes: i.e. resolve conflicts, make the dream ego more assertive, complete or change actions etc.

6.   Dream incubation-in your dream journal, write down a certain question you would like answered in a dream.   Reflect on it as you fall asleep.   See what happens.

7.   Dream research-look up the meaning of a symbol, image or archetype in mythology, religion or history

to further your understanding or familiarity with a dream symbol .

8. Decide on an action to take based on what you have learned from your dream.  (taken from Hill’s work on the action stage, see reference below).

In writing on the effects of working with images, painting and reshaping experiences, Jung asserts:

” It is almost impossible to define this effect in rational terms; it is a sort of magical effect, that is, a suggestive influence which goes out from the images to the individual, and in this way his unconscious is extended and is changed.”

Recommended Reading

Hill, Clara.  Dream Work in Therapy: Facilitating Exploration, Insight, and Action.

Jung, Carl, ed. Man and His Symbols .   New York: Bantam Doubleday, 1968.

Williams, Strephon Kaplan.   Jungian- Senoi Dream Work Manual .   Berkely: Journey Press, 1980

If you tend not to remember your dreams, here are some tips on how to catch them:

1)   Cultivating a desire to remember your dreams enhances your capacity to do so.   Read about dreams.   Feel that they are important.

2)   Keep a dream journal by your bed.

3)   Upon waking, write down your dream immediately.   If you are too tired to do so at the moment, review your dream mentally a few times.   Then write it down upon getting out of bed.

4)   If when you awake you have already forgotten your dream, return to the position of dreaming.   Your body has its own memory.   If you still fail to remember your dream, relax.   It might come back to you in the shower or while meditating.   If it still fails you, try again next time.


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Welcome to Anatmosphere, where I share  images, music, thoughts, and dreams.

Me- by Andrew Wrigley

by Andrew Wrigley

My username is Flashing Eyes, Floating Hair because it conjures a strong image for me of the intoxication that comes with creating art.  It is an excerpt from  “Kublah Khan, or A Vision in a Dream, a Fragment”, which the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge  purportedly wrote after awakening from an opium-induced dream.

Kubla Khan represents the person who longs for immortality, for the ethereal, and tries to transcend the mundane, yet ultimately cannot evade his mortality and the ephemeral nature of life.  Xanadu is the paradise like place that he tries to build as an eternal sanctuary and playground,  though it too eventually disappears.  Yet, Kubla Khan and Xanadu exist in their eternal state in the artist’s creations.   The artist’s visage, with his flashing eyes and floating hair, elicits both awe and fear as he attempts to invoke the sublime internal Xanadu.  This blog, like the poem,  through images and words, will attempt to create an atmosphere that  melds external and internal events, and speaks  to the desire for the eternal, the pains and pleasures of mortality, as well as the drive to create art.

The 1980 film  Xanadu, also inspired by Coleridge’s poem, deals with the topic of art, God-like states, mortality etc., as Kira (played by Olivia Newton-John),  a two dimensional figure in a mural comes to life one day and roller skates her way into Sonny’s  (played by Michael Beck) life to inspire him as his muse.   This was one of the first movies I ever saw- I was about 6 years old when I saw it over and over again on HBO, and it blew my mind.  Note that in the poster, Olivia Newton John has “flashing eyes, and floating hair”!

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

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