Archive for the ‘dreams’ Category

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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