I’ve heard it said that we, and the universe find ourselves in, are but holographic projections. As with any hologram every portion of it reflects the whole. This is true for fractals as well that are fragmented geometric shapes that can be split into parts, each of which is a miniature reflection of the whole.
This idea that parts of something can reflect the essence of the whole can be extended to ourselves as well in that each of us contain an archetypal template of the ultimate self, or soul. It has also been my experience that the merest of dream fragments can reflect transcendent and transformational information equal to or greater than that reflected by whole epic dreams. Sometimes a sentence, or even a single word can evoke hidden associations that open doors to the psyche theretofore unknown to the dreamer.
Even with just a word there may be more than one level of meaning e.g. sometime ago someone shared that they remembered only seeing the color green in their dream. The revelation within this single recall fragment included feelings of being naïve (of having been ‘used’ by another person), of being concerned about their effect on others (the environment of their relationships) and a sense of unacknowledged envy and jealousy regarding a colleague. This person also shared that they had been worried that they were not progressing in their desire to grow deeper into their spiritual quest and had been concerned that they had embraced the interpreting of dreams naively and perhaps incorrectly, as would a novice (someone who is ‘green’). All this from a single word!
What seems like meaningless information can yield immense insight if held in the right context. If it is true that you and I are projecting onto our experience of objective reality our wholly subjective meaning of it, then in everything we see (while awake or dreaming) we can glean information about our inner self—every event* becomes a mini reflection of who we are.
Some time ago I interpreted a personal dream that included a number of symbols representing a balancing of opposites. Nestled within the dream was a reference to 20K gold as a transforming element within my psyche. This reminded me of a goal (there being many more than one) of transforming base materials, such as lead, into a more precious and higher level metal in the form of gold. Carl Jung loved the symbolism of alchemy, the mystical precursor to chemistry, and likened it to an unconscious attempt to reconcile, or bring into balance, conflicting opposites, in our personality and especially within the psyche. He likened this process in humans as a conscious and unconscious attempt to create wholeness, or self-actualization. He called this process Individuation.
In the dream the base, or common, metal transformation into a higher level, or rarefied, metal such as Gold has yet another level of transformation i.e. the transformation of gold (the accumulated money) into the symbol of the self (a building) thus gold can also symbolize a base-metal-transformation into and even higher form e.g. the integrated human, in this case, me.
Note that the ultimate stated goal for the alchemist was to create the Philosopher’s Stone, that which makes eternal life. In alchemy, sequential chemical transformations lead to an ultimate goal of human existence—to live eternal. Gold was never really the ultimate goal, just another step along the individuation process. In short, alchemy was also the study of the unconscious and thus its methodology, symbolism and mythology of mankind’s psychic conflicts and seemingly unbalanced dichotomies such as masculine/feminine traits is a metaphor for the therapeutic process and the use of dream analysis as a tool in this process. Thus the purpose of dream analysis is to serve as a tool toward the individual access of the collective and personal unconscious for personal growth toward self-actualization.
According to Jung, the integration of humans was a means of reconciling conflicting sides of themselves primarily for religious, or spiritual function. This function has nothing to do with creeds and dogmas, but an expression of what the collective unconscious does to inspire us toward spirituality and love.
In this way this dream seems to serve as a summary of what I’ve learned so far and acts as a bookend to the last several dreams that have dealt with both the waking dream and sleeping dream material that have revealed some understanding of the self and how it interacts with world.
Another message in the dream is that as I learn to balance (integrate) my conflicting perspectives of myself, I come closer to my true self. I have shadow sides of my nature and sunny sides, negative and positive self-judgments, and masculine and feminine natures. Ignoring, or actively denying any of these conflicting aspects causes the balance scale to tip excessively in one direction and the composite that is me becomes less than whole and less able to live my life in a useful i.e. meaningful way. Tipping toward the extremes causes one to diverge from the path of self-actualization and among other things, creates zealotry—an inflexible response to life.
This saying is carved above the door of Carl Jung’s house near Zurich and translates as “Bidden or not bidden God is always there”. It was the message that the Oracle at Delphi gave to the Lacedemonians as they were planning their war against ancient Athens. This was also the message to Jacob in his dream of angels descending and ascending a staircase or ladder to heaven.
The spirit is always there whether you are conscious of it or not was the message I got one evening long ago. At that time I was in graduate school and full of all kinds of ideas that were heretical to not only my upbringing but also the prevailing social and culture acceptance of the day. When I felt alone in my growing awareness, when I felt lost and had trouble finding my way because I had allowed myself to walk far outside the boundaries of my culture I discovered that all I had to do was to look within to find my core self– the spirit that was always with me. It got me through a lot of tough times.
Before I was even aware of the old-testament story of Jacob and his dream I had a dream where a woman dressed in blue and hovering above a road beckoned me to follow her into the mountains beyond. As I stood there in the dream debating whether I should go
I noticed that to my left were a group of angels going up and down a ladder into the sky. The dream was one of those that I knew was important, a sort of special dream aka a ‘holy or sacred dream’ even though I didn’t know what it meant at the time. It wasn’t until years later when I started to write my dreams and try to interpret them that the Jacob’s Ladder image dream came back into my life and took on immense importance.
In dreams this kind of image often represents the symbolic path between heaven and earth– the connection between your physical and spiritual aspects. It can also represent the connection between your conscious and unconscious self. Some envision the spiral of a strand of DNA as a Jacob’s ladder. In my old dream of a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ the staircase seemed to represent my own struggle with the polarities within me (we all have conflicting aspects and personalities, desires and urges)– those aspects of myself that I either accepted or rejected.
As with the tree with its roots in the physical ground and its branches touching the heavens the staircase in Jacob’s ladder reminds me that we are bound both soul and body and is encouraging us to accept all of ourselves i.e. the dark as well as the light, the intellect and heart, body and spirit.
Also in my dream the “blue lady” who beckoned me turned out to be my feminine aspect, the intuitive wisdom aspect reflecting my soul and was encouraging me to take the road less traveled that would take me into the spiritual heights represented by the mountains in the distance. It was a long road representing a long journey that disappeared into the unknown, perhaps the land of my unconscious mind. She also was implying that I was not to fear the journey for she would be with me all the way. This was of course my first conscious experience of the spirit being at my side i.e. the manifestation of the oracles’ verbal missive, Vocatus atque, non vocatus, deus aderit.
In one of my videos* I used a mirror as a prop and symbol for the unconscious mind.
In myth Narcissus loved his reflection so much that he lost his will to live and admired himself to death. In our dreams mirrors can represent vanity, self-consciousness, a reflection of our self-image, an entry into the soul, or the need to reflect on our lives.
Whether in our waking world or in our dreams mirrors have always been seen as mystical, magical, metaphors for what lies within us.
For thousands of years mirrors and reflective surfaces have been used for divination and magic. They have been used for Scrying, developing clairvoyance, to repel evil, and in fact, mirrors have an ancient tradition of being associated with superstition, fear and evil.
1) Prior to the thirteenth century and as far back as the 3rd century BCE, mirrors were predominantly polished pieces of metal e.g. gold, silver and brass. These pretty much disappeared when the Christian church banned them during the middle ages because it was thought that the devil was watching from the other side of the mirror. This idea was probably reinforced because witches were said to use them for all kinds of dark spell casting. Glass mirrors showed up again in Venice in the 1200s.
2) Those ancient black Scrying (from descry–to see or perceive) mirrors used for divination by witches and sorcerers were once made black by using asphaltum painted on the glass three times. These were used for foretelling the future, or being able to “see” what is happening from distances, but is this real?
I imagine the staring at crystal balls, or Scrying mirrors to be similar to a focused meditation. Try closing your eyes in a meditation and focus on an individual, place, or event and “see” what you get.
Some studies have suggested the possibility that at least some individuals can see from distances beyond the physical abilities of the natural eye. Though these studies are not conclusive, they do provide tantalizing evidence for the technique of “remote viewing.”
Dreams too are like projections onto a darkened mirror some of which defy an explanation of anything other than what might be called precognition, or a shared viewing with someone else.
In short, meditation can often quiet the chattering mind just enough for us to see what the unconscious has picked up, but the conscious was too busy to notice. Thus too the Scrying mirror may act as a focusing instrument to still the mind and lay open the secrets of the inner psyche.
3) Today some tribal societies believe that to expose your self to a mirror is to render the soul vulnerable to misfortune, or even death. There used to be a widespread custom, and in some areas there still is, to remove all the mirrors from the house when a person is sick so as to prevent the mirror from stealing their soul.
When someone has died there was a tradition of turning the mirrors to face the wall because to see your reflection in a mirror after someone’s death will cause that person’s death as well. There was also a legend in the southern United States that suggested that an uncovered mirror in the house of a person who had just died would capture the soul of that person.
4) In the case of necromancy (communication with the deceased), the mirror represents absorption of the soul and then reflection, or its return, Could this reflect the concept of death and resurrection?
5) There is a myth concerning years of ill fortune surrounding the breaking of a mirror, but did you know that there is also a superstition that says if a mirror falls on its own accord and breaks, it is also a death omen? On the other hand a girl who sees the reflection of the moon in a mirror will learn the date of her wedding (given that women generally determine the day and then tell the man when it’s to be, this is no surprise).
6) There is also an old superstition that if you were to stare into the reflection of yourself at night, one would see the devil. Though I don’t believe this, I also have an aversion to staring at my reflection in a darkened room for too long–something creepy always seems to hover close by.
7) However, I have heard it said and have tried this myself, that if you are feeling blue, or anxious with no one around to talk to, try staring into your eyes reflected in a mirror. After awhile the negative mood will disappear.
8) Some Buddhists believe that if you hang a mirror on the wall directly facing the front door, evil spirits will be reflected out of the house.
9) In Tarot reading the Mirror Spread is used to work with existing relationships, e.g. the cards are placed with the 1st, or querent card, placed at the top and then 3 cards in descending order to the left of it and 3 cards in descending order to the right and the result card placed at the bottom between these two rows. In this way the reader and querent can see the relationships in opposition i.e. The way you see the other person in the relationship; The way they see themselves; What the person represents to you; What you represent to them; Obstacles within the relationship; Strengths within the relationship.
I spell all this out because I think this isn’t a bad way of looking at relationship symbols in a dream, or in a person’s waking life as well.
10) In Corinthians 13:12 is the line, “For now we see through a glass, darkly.” Which some have taken to mean that to see something reflected in a mirror is less of the reality of that thing than to gaze upon it directly. This can happen when one looks back upon their childhood, or try to see what the child saw of the world, or to assign meaning to past events, or to look at God’s works through ones biases. To look through a window, or gaze at a mirror that has been darkened by your judgments and self-criticisms makes it difficult to see your true nature or what lies beyond your projected biases. This also reminds me of the saying involving “rose colored glasses.” To look through either does not give a true picture of the world.
As Rumi, the 13th century Muslim poet was purported to have said,
“Maybe you should glimpse your most beautiful face…Maybe you are the bearer of hidden treasure. Maybe you always have been.”
*See facebook.com/darcharithinn and click on the Video section then click on the 4th video on the top row. This is “Beginning Shadow Work #6”.
We get so involved in survival we often leave our soul behind and the everyday battering we are subjected to can bury it ever deeper into a protective layer so that we lose sight of who we once were. Soul recovery and healing is probably the single most important task you’ll ever undertake in this life because without a healthy soul that difference that you’re so desperate to make and experience cannot actualize.
There are many soul healers in the world, but there’s a soul healing technique I learned from a book written by Robert Moss* that brought me back to an earlier dream I had titled “The Blue Fresco”.
In that dream a woman floating above the ground invited me to leave the world I was in and to travel down a path that lead into the distant hills (was I going forward or backward in time?). Angels climbed up and down a staircase to and from the sky while children ran up a grassy hill. This dream has afforded many interesting looks into my inner world. I offer it here in hopes that you will be able to use it for your self.
Moss suggested that I enter a meditation where I re-envision the dream, giving it life once again and entering it with the intention of getting answered two important questions: “What do you want when you reenter the dream?” To which I answered, “What’s down the road?” The second question was, “What do I want to find there?”
What I wanted to find was the “powerful child”, the once competent and confident child, and its whole and undamaged soul. As suggested I also put on a shaman’s drum CD and focusing on my breath I counted four breaths in, hold, and four out and doing this until my body rested and my mind began to quiet.
Re-envisioning the dream I began to talk to the woman in blue, who clearly was my mother. She invited me to walk with her down the path and into the hills where I once again saw the story of my life, and all those events where I had felt loss and defeat. “You chose your meanings long before you ever experienced them and thus limited your self, Robert.” She said. She then encouraged me to shift their meaning so as to see another side of their reality.
As I did this, each event began to transform into something new, betrayal turned to love, abandonment either disappeared altogether, or became the prequel to an embrace. I began to see that every interpretation could have yet another hiding behind it and even though I once had chosen one meaning, I could as easily choose another.
This would become easier, I thought, if I were to shift the context of my life from “me” centered to “us” centered–from I to thou.
Further back into the hills I found a young boy sitting with a drum quietly tapping out his rhythm.
As I approached, this toe-headed boy turned toward me and smiled then rose from the grass and crawled into the lap of a large mama bear and nuzzled his head under her chin. Wrapped in her embrace, warm, and secure he was loved. He was in the power of the mama, the power of the bear. Everything began to fog and I found myself in the embrace of the bear. I had become the boy.
Soon I found myself running beside Onoma the she wolf, with my breath frosting like steam as we panted through the snow-covered forest. Suddenly I was lifted and rose above the trees as the she wolf looked up grinning at me. I twirled and spun with my arms outstretched like a da Vinci Vitruvius and flew higher while racing headlong through a tunnel of lightly falling snow then reached for a star that was quietly waiting at the tunnels end. With outstretched arm I grasped for it and pulled it in to me, this light, with its warmth, and its power held close and finally mine.
The drum, its rhythm, my rhythm, my song, my dance, the beat of my soul, pounded out every step to show me the way–the way back home. My soul was in the trees, the bear, the mother, the wolf, and the light that was mine to claim once again.
Once again on the ground I looked down and to my right and there was the boy looking up at me with a worried look on his clear, bright face.
“Where’ve you been?” He said as he took my hand and we strolled across the mudflats of his world. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too”, I said.
“You’re always welcome you know.” He said encouragingly.
“I know. Can I come any time?”
“Yeah! Any time.”
Many of you who have been reading my Blog or website will recognize the meditation as a form of Active Imagining, or Dream Tending. I offer it here as another means for lucidly reentering a dream for the purpose of not only understanding the message of a dream, but to also heal the soul and re-enliven the child who has never left any of us–to see the world through the visions of childhood.
“The appearance of things change according to the emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.”
–Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese Poet
For this article I have used the image of the Tarot card of the Sun** for it is representative of the unification of opposites through the Mother and the Father where the conscious and unconscious unite to form a self-conscious being, that is a being fully aware of itself i.e. the Child.
Psychologically, in this meditation the man also unites with the boy and together they become more than their sum. It is this unity that helps to heal the soul and recapture its power.
Actually all the major and minor arcana of the Tarot can represent the unification of opposites, thus bringing forth psychological wholeness.
Animals whether they show up in dreams or in meditation make statements about our own vitality. Often they are messengers from the deepest part of ourselves. The Greeks, according to Robert Moss, considered the sender of dreams the “Mother of Animals”. The condition of these animals often reflects your condition in your waking life.
* Moss, Robert, Dreaming the Soul Back Home, Ch 5 “The Royal Road to Soul Recovery”, Pg. 99
** I use the Tarot to illustrate psychological principles not as a means for divination, though I do believe that they can be used as images for the process of Active Imagining.
What’s in a dream? They are the alchemist’s crucible for rendering the common into the divine.
In our waking life we are used to objects retaining their identity through time and space. This is not so at the subatomic level or within our dreams. Particles can change into other particles or into two particles or morph into something altogether different or merge their identities. At this level there seem to be any number of realities and the different realities seem to interfere with each other on occasion.
What is this that keeps one reality following one set of physical rules while another allows for anything to happen? What is it that exists in one realm of reality and not the other? I posit that it is something called ego-body consciousness. In the waking world this consciousness creates a particular point-of-view but in the sleeping world where the ego-body consciousness has been turned off there is what I call dream-body consciousness that is unrestricted and allows for all points-of-view not unlike the superpositionality of all particles at the subatomic level that don’t become fixed until focused upon.
Is it possible that it is our conscious individual and collective ego-self that determines reality while the unconscious self allows for any reality? There doesn’t seem to be any restrictions of time or space or form in the unconscious mind. Basically it’s ‘anything goes’ i.e. anything and everything is possible because the restrictions on possibility are lifted thus allowing us the freedom to explore what in the waking world are “impossible” possibilities.
Is it any wonder that dreams have opened us to any number of new discoveries and new ways of looking at things? Our dreams have connected us with the divine and the unimaginable; from the common to the sublime they problem solve and restructure perspective, and help us to see who and what we really are. Our dreams not only help us to heal and discover the inner workings of ourselves but the mechanisms of reality itself. Dreams are a way of pulling back the veil to see what lies behind.
“This is not real reality. The real reality is behind the curtain. In truth, we are not here. This is our shadow.”
There are people who want you to believe that there is nothing beyond the veil, in fact they argue that there is no veil. They are like the Wizard of Oz who said to Dorothy “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Most folks don’t know that there is an unconscious mind or that this unconscious world modifies their experience of the conscious world. Most folks can only imagine that the world they see is the only real world. Most don’t know that the world they see is but an illusion, a projection of their biases, their conditioning, and the archetypal material of their subconscious.
So what’s in a dream? The sleeping mind pulls aside the curtain and reveals the hidden world behind– the machinery behind the machinery if you will.
Well here we go again! The site is an extension of two previous blogs entitled The Dream Dragon and its darker cousin The Somnium Meum Libro. The Dream Dragon blog provided interpreting techniques, information on human behavior, meditation, psychology and general dream meanings. The Somnium Meum blog looked at our darker aspects including the usefulness of our nightmares. The aspects of both blogs will be morphed into this new presentation, The Book of Dreams. There is also a means of sending your dreams to me through the Contact page. Dreams will be interpreted as they come into the queue.
Please have fun with this. My writings are meant to inform regarding current research, philosophy, and practical application of dream meanings. I will also be sharing personal insights.
If you are working with a therapist, my interpretations or insights should not be used as part of any therapeutic program without your consulting with the therapist and sharing them. They also should not be used in lieu of any therapy that your physician or counselor might recommend. Because of the limits on email interactions my interpretations can only be superficial in nature and should only be used as a guide towards further exploration.
Please note that the interpretation(s), and concepts that I provide are not the ultimate meaning of the dream or the varied aspects of the human psyche. Every interpretation or insight is but a hypothesis and an attempt to read what is often an enigmatic narrative. You the dreamer will know what meaning(s) would be your own truth by what you feel in your heart. If it resonates as true, then go with it; otherwise discard it in part, or in its entirety. I can only offer what the dream would mean for me if it were mine.