Air: The third in the Four Elements dream symbols

 

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The third in the Four Elements series deals with Air. Images of Air in dreams such as in trouble breathing, wind, airplanes and flying can be significant indicators of thought processes, attitudes, emotions and relationships– all kinds of relationships.

At the level of the physical world the air that we breathe is made up primarily of Nitrogen (about 78%), 21% oxygen, 1% argon and .038% CO2. Depending on where you live there are also trace elements of various pollutants that will significantly negatively affect an individual’s health and well-being.

At the level of the metaphorical world where dreams, myth, the mystical, and spiritual Air has a long list of meanings i.e. many of the world religious cosmologies have creation myths that involve the breathing of life into the world and its people.

In dreams Air often symbolizes creativity, intelligence and thought. If the air in a dream is foggy or heavily polluted then it could suggest that the dreamer’s thought processes are cloudy, imprecise or even being poisoned through some negative self-talk or the negative talk of someone else.

Air conditioners might represent the need to “clear the air” i.e. to clean up some interpersonal issues. Cold air can reflect ones relations with another person or persons (domestic, business or social) whereas ‘hot air’ can be about undo influence, nonsense talk, or even evil talk.

To walk on air is to be feeling upbeat or the desire to feel this way. It can also refer to self-confidence i.e. to have the sense of mastery over ones circumstances (note that to walk on water is to have the same meaning over ones feelings).

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Found on Pngtree

Dreams of Flying through the air can be exhilarating and liberating.

Often dreams of flying reflect ones sense of freedom and independence or the desire for the same. I recall that during my tenure in one job a number of years ago I would occasionally have dreams of flying, only the flying was a struggle often ending with a crash back to Earth. As the waking world struggle increased and I tried to remain optimistic, it required that I wear a mask of being upbeat, my dream-self would hide the fact from others in the dream that I could fly. When I finally quit that job my flying dreams reflected free flight across beautiful terrain and I didn’t try to hide the fact that I could fly from anyone.

My flying dreams showed an interesting progression that reflected accurately my waking world emotional state and ability to control my personal sense of power and control over my circumstances.

Breathing has a number symbolic meanings i.e. if you’re breathing rapidly in the dream perhaps you are experiencing some anxiety or tension in your life. Breathing underwater can suggest a desire to return to the comfort and safety of the womb though in some cases this can also suggest that you are submerged in your own emotions. Not being able to breathe could indicate exhaustion (note that some people with asthma may have dreams of breathing troubles).

Someone breathing into the dreamers mouth might suggest that there is some aspect of the other person that the dreamer may want to take into themselves or it can suggest if the person blowing into the dreamer’s mouth is dead that this person still lives within in them. Images like this can also suggest the need to have more life “breathed” into ones experiences or ones activities. “A breath of fresh air” is a phrase often used to signify new and positive change.

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In Tibet and Nepal the people fly prayer flags, what are known as “Wind Horse” flags, with prayers written upon them and as they blow in the wind the air takes them to the Spirit.

Wind is a powerful image and can reflect changes in circumstance or emotions e.g. there can be “ill winds”, “warm winds”, “cold winds”, turbulent winds of turmoil and light breezes of harmony and tranquility. Wind in general represents a ‘life force’, energy, and a feeling of vigor or aliveness. Some Native American Shaman see the wind as a ‘living’ being or spirit that can be engaged and worked with for good or evil. In Peru I met a shaman who performed a cleansing and healing and as part of that blew three short breaths toward  the Andes mountains.

Finally, airplanes can be about overcoming obstacles and rising to success, new-found freedom and increased awareness. If the dreamer is flying the airplane it may reflect either the need to take control or that they are under control of their life. To crash in an airplane my suggest that ones goals are too unrealistic and that because of this one might fail i.e. it could all come ‘crashing down’– this may also reflect the dreamer’s lack of confidence and self-criticism that may be self-defeating. Missing one’s flight can be about feeling helpless, left behind, or trapped by some circumstance that is preventing the attainment of some goal.

The Never-Never

 

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”

 

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A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?

In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

Fly, of course.

Fly?

It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.

What’s the matter? Don’t you know?

Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “

 

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From Disney movie Peter Pan

And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

What is this Never Land of which he spoke?

Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.

In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.

Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.

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Never-Never National Park

Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.

The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.

In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.

Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.

You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.

 

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