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Electric Dreams Ezine Link

Common Dreams 

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Being Chased in a dream

Teeth Falling Out

Falling and Dying

Examination & Test Dreams

Naked in Public

Sex in Dreams

Mechanical Things Don’t Work

Can’t Find the Bathroom

Excrement and Defecation Dreams 

Dreams in Black and White

Unfaithful Lover

Abandoning the Baby

Dreams Predicting the Future

Unable to flee or diminished capacities

Animal Dreams

Floods and Natural Disasters

Faceless Lovers 

Murder Dreams

Suicide in Dreams

Flying Dreams

Losing things, burglary, robbery

Destruction of houses and other possessions

New Rooms, Houses, places

Meeting Famous People

Drowning, quicksand and mud
Books on how to Interpret your Dreams.

Ethical Standards in Dreamwork

You are the final authority on the meaning of your dreams! 

There are no clear scientific answers about the meaning of your dreams. Different groups give different meaning to dreams. This doesn’t mean that dreams don’t have meaning. Just like when I walk down a street and open an umbrella, it means different things. Sometimes it means I think its going to rain. Sometimes I want to keep the sun off my face, and other times I just want to play. In other words, the context will give different meanings to a scene. The same is true for dreams. If you are seeing a therapist and tell them a dream about a flower you found on your doorway, this may have a very different meaning than if you were telling your lover this dream. However, the therapists interprets your dream, they will eventually want you to learn to interpret them yourself. Perhaps with you lover, you will learn to interpret dreams together. Either way, you are the final authority on the meaning and value of your dreams. 

However, most of us can’t resist finding out what other people are dreaming about and the meanings that they give to their dreams. The information in this document covers dreams that many people have and tell, and some of the common approaches that dreamworkers use to allow you to give them personal meaning. 

The word "dreamworker" here is used to mean anyone who works and plays with dreams. Some dreamworkers are psychotherapists, others are artist who allow dreams to inspire their creations. But most dreamworkers are people who explore dreams to better understand the meaning and value of their lives. I will be drawing on all these uses of the word, though the last is perhaps the most relevant.


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Electric Dreams Ezine Link

Common Dreams

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Being Chased in a Dream

Dream " I was taking a vacation to Yosemite. My wife and my kids were with me at first but after we set up camp I wandered off on my own and found a waterfall. Something began to chase me and I tried to run back to the camp but I couldn't find the camp and hid in behind a bush. I heard the footsteps and was terrified. At first I thought it was a bear, but saw it carrying a gun and I ran, though I was sure I was going to be shot. It felt like it knew where I was"

Being chased in a dream is very frightening for us all, and very common. Children seem especially vulnerable to being chased in dreams by animals and monsters. Adults are usually chased by dangerous men, but can also be chased by animals and monsters. Dream researcher Patricia Garfield believes that chase dreams are the most prevalent type of dream we have. 

Taking these dreams metaphorically and asking ourselves what large, uncontrollable events and situations in our life are like the dream can be very revealing. The dream may be revealing out feeling threatened by some person in waking life or by an inner emotion. Occasionally this dream is a replay of an actual event.

In waking life, large threatening things can't always be confronted directly and we do the best we can with alternative routes. But pursuers in the dream do less damage and so direct confrontation almost always brings about unexpected transformation. When children have nightmares, we often ask them to draw the beast and then put it in a cage or put a magic circle around it. One child who was pursued by a monster in his closet did just this and he asked the monster, why are your chasing me? When the little boy was asked what the Monster said back, it was "I'm lonely, and just looking for a friend". Sometimes more than a magic circle and quick dialogue seemed to be called for in adult chase scenes, but the idea is the same. This also put the suggestion in our minds that the next time in a dream we are pursued, there are creative options to fleeing. The Senoi tribe teach their children to confront the monsters in their dreams, and to call for the help of heros and parents if it really gets too scary. Usually the monster backs down. Once they do this, the children are taught to ask for a gift from the beast. These techniques can be used by adults as well as children. 

Book Suggestions:

S. LaBerge & H. Rheingold, (1990). EXPLORING THE WORLD

OF LUCID DREAMING. Chapter 10, Overcoming Nightmares.

New York: Ballantine.

Wiseman, Anne Sayre (1986). Nightmare Help: A guide for Parents and Teachers. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. 

Teeth Falling Out

Dream: "I was driving to work and my teeth began falling out! At first I thought they were just loose, but soon I easily pushed them out with my tongue. I was horrified and nearly wrecked the car. Then I woke up and my teeth were fine, but I recalled the dream very vividly."

Many of us have been the victim of tooth-lose dreams and have carried this concern into the morning. Here's a quote: "Tooth dreams are open to many interpretations and have been handled successfully by very few of the modern dream interpreters." This was written in the Second Century by the ancient interpreter, Artemidorus. Even the Vedas and texts 2000 years BC talk about tooth dreams. So you can see there is a long history of confusion. Freud and Jung explored the possibilities of tooth loss and hysteria, but modern dream interpreters take a different approach that is more direct. What, we can ask ourselves, do teeth do? They hold, cut, grasp and generally are the first way we had to do these things. But then we lost our first set, just as we were gaining in self-control and power. And yet, shortly thereafter, a new and larger world and set of teeth appear! And so, if I have a tooth lose dream, I can ask myself, 1. What parts of my world and life are slipping away? and 2. What new larger world will this lead me too? Lose a tooth, gain a world!


Examination Dreams

Dream "Mr. Feldman is passing out a final exam. To my horror I realize that I haven’t come to this class all semester and haven’t any idea what the questions on the test mean."

Being unprepared for a test in a dream is quite common. But only rarely do these dreams come about during a real test. Dreamworkers prefer to see the dream test as a metaphor of our lives. Clearly they are emotional plays of not feeling prepared. 

Gayle Delaney has noted that her clients who are lawyers often have test dreams, and are often leading stressful lives. In other words, the dream test might be seen as an expression of our feelings of fear related to being unprepared for tasks and relationships in life. When the test dream occurs, we can then ask ourselves what in our lives is like this, where are we feeling tested and unprepared, or where we are expecting such a situation.

There are many variations of this dream, including not being prepared, not being able to read the test questions, having our pencils and pens not work, and realizing we skipped the class too many times. Sometimes we arrive too late for the test or can’t find the place where the test is being held. But these dreams are also related to all kinds of dream where we have difficulty performing or recalling, such as having to give a talk or forgetting one’s lines in a play.

Dream expert Robert Van de Castle has noted that these dreams are connected with having an inner critic that is paralyzing us. In other words, the tasks are more about pleasing someone else than oneself. Once one’s sense of self is lost in a task, anxiety, boredom and other emotionally issues surface. Once we recover our own path, these problems evaporate. This recovery of self composure can help us while we are dreaming as well as in other waking test conditions. English dreamworker Ann Faraday once confronted a teacher in a test dream, saying that if she could read the questions, she would stay, but if not, she would leave the classroom. Later in the week at a conference in her waking life, she told the audience that if she didn’t know the answers to their questions, she would just leave them. This greatly reduced her anxiety about the lecture. 

It is doubtful that in a society where standards of behavior are expected that examination dreams would disappear completely. To view these dreams as opportunities to re-examine our own values seems at this time the best path. I just hope we are kind and fair examiners of ourselves. 

Dream pioneer and researcher Patricia Garfield has noted that we also often have the opposite of this kind of dream, where we do extremely well at some task or performance, such as at an athletic event or giving a great piano recital. Garfield has observed that occasionally we seem to have a dream skill that bears no resemblance to waking abilities, such as the woman who can't carry a tune dreaming she is singing a magnificent opera aria. Such dreams might be seen as bringing the dreamer’s attention to abilities in a symbolic or metaphorical way, as in her case "finding her voice" in writing.


Naked in Public

Dream: "I went to get some extra milk and realized while I was in the store that I was naked. I wondered how to get home barefooted. "

Being naked in public can be very embarrassing, but is quite common in dreaming. There are many variations. Sometimes people see and make fun of us. Other times we find it quite odd that we are naked and other’s don’t even seem to notice. This nakedness can be full nudity, or partial, such as being barefoot, being in pajamas, or just having forgotten to wear a tie to the office. 

Swiss analyst Carl Jung noticed this phenomenon over a hundred years ago and felt that clothes were a metaphor for the public self (the archetypal form he termed the "Persona"). From this view, the absence of clothes requires that the dreamer look at how they present themselves to the world and how we feel vulnerable. Some people feel vulnerable if they have not clothed themselves with possessions, such as nice cars and jewelry. Others feel the need to clothe themselves in academic degrees or with large insurance policies. Our personalities can also be worn like clothing, and Jung felt these dreams allows us to explore the difference between our inner and outer selves. 

Contemporary dreamworker Ann Faraday suggests looking at how we feel naked, revealed, vulnerable or exposed in our lives at the present time. Sometimes the dream may reveal superficial nakedness, and other times it may be something quite fundamental that is exposed, such as our morals or values. Gayle Delaney suggests that to find out, we ask ourselves who is in the dream with us at the time, what everyone is feeling and where in waking life this is similar. 

There is an ancient Babylonian Myth about this kind of dream, where a princess, to find her true self, must descend into the underworld. At each level she descends, a piece of clothing or jewelry is removed, until she eventually stands before the lord of the underworld fully naked. Naked dreams offer us much the same possibilities. 


Sex in Dreams

Usually sex in dreams is not something people bother to interpret, since it is an inherently enjoyable act in itself that doesn’t require further attention. However, we often find ourselves in dreams sleeping with the most unusual people, animals and monsters and this may stir up our curiosity about what dreams and sex might mean in general.

Sex and dreams are very intimately connected historically. A hundred years ago Sigmund Freud produced a book called The Interpretation of Dreams which revealed, according to Freud, that all dreams were about sex. * Many of his followers saw that dreams did involve sexuality but weren’t convinced that this was at the root of all dreams. Carl Jung, for example, felt that dreams were an attempt to combine the conscious and unconscious elements of a person to create wholeness. That means the dream takes all parts of our life and spins a story that moves us towards being better people. Cooperation with this process could speed up the process. He saw the sex that occurred in our dreams as an opportunity to examine the symbolism of fusing two parts of our personality together that had previously been kept apart.

When people have sex with taboo others, such as straight people with gays, or children with parents, or normal people with animals, the best interpretations are not often literal. Feeling that this is just a secret desire only revealed in dreams is a shallow interpretation. Rather the symbolic approach is called for.

Contemporary dreamworkers follow this symbolic path. If I dream of sleeping with Sally, I can ask myself what characteristics of Sally I am trying to fuse or add to myself? Is it her get up and go personality, or her ability to function so well in crisis? 

The same technique can work just as well in reverse. Perhaps I don’t like Sally and can’t in waking life imagine having sex with her. My dream of sleeping with her may reveal to me that I am becoming like Sally in ways I don’t want to, such as being overly self critical or getting out of control with drugs. This symbolism is not really so removed from our use in everyday life of saying "They are in bed together" when we talk about industrial mergers and political partners in waking life. That is, it means they are connected in some deep and very entwined ways. Likewise, we all know what it means when someone says, "He’s trying to screw me!" Other times when we feel abused and intruded upon or ripped off, we talk about how we were "raped." 

Dream sex researcher, Gayle Delaney, notes that what men and women want sexually in dreams can be quite different. Women tend to like dreams where men are trying to please them, know how to do this and take their time. Men tend to like sexual dreams where women are entirely uninhibited and eager to do anything. She further suggests that we might watch our sexual dreams for new ideas and suggestions for improving our sexuality.

* "All dreams are about sex" is perhaps an unfair assessment of Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams. The book actually is a fabulous exploration of the whole field of dreams. And for most of the book, Freud argues that the meaning of a dream can only be found via free association. It was only later that he began over simplify and insist that all dreams are disguised expressions of the fulfillment of a repressed infantile sexual wishes. It should be noted that Freud furthermore felt that infantile sexuality was more diffuse and something quite different than adult sexuality. Thus the statement "All dreams are about sex" is talking about something few of us would call sex. (Freud used the term "perverse polymorphism")

Book Suggestions:

++ Delaney, Gayle (1995). Sensual Dreaming : How to Understand and Interpret the Erotic Content of Your Dreams. Fawcett Books. 

++Baylis, Janice Hinshaw (1997). Sex, Symbols and Dreams. Seal Beach: Sun, Man, Moon.

++Freud, Sigmund (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. 

++ Jung, Carl (1964). Man and His Symbols. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co.

Falling and Dying

How often have you heard that if you fall and hit the bottom of a cliff in a dream you will really die?

" I was falling and falling off a cliff down into a deep canyon. I knew if I hit the bottom I would die." 

We all get a little frightened when we loose control over what is happening to us. The Hitting-Bottom theory is a popular folktale and all kids seem to talk about this on the playground. But many, many people have hit and lived to tell about. The falling dream itself is one of the most popular and early remembered of all dreams. While some theories talk about falling having to do with how easily we used to fall as children, and other theories talk about the falling indicating a fear of loss in security or of a relationship. The best and most recent ideas take another approach. Falling is very close to ...flying! By telling ourselves before we go to sleep that we would prefer to fly than fall, we can often take control of the fall and turn the dream into a flying dream, which is exhilarating in contrast to fear-filled. Both of these can be converted into questions. 1. What in my life seems to be falling out of control? and 2. How can I turn this out-of-control part from falling into flying? Often, like in the dream, just being aware that you can is enough to make the switch from falling to flying.


Mechanical Things Don’t Work

Dream: "I escape the men chasing me and find a phone. I dial 911 but I get someone else. I try again and can’t even get a dial tone."

Dream: "Just as I pull in my drive way I put on the breaks and they don’t work! The steering isn’t working correctly either and I run the car into my porch."

We all seem to have trouble with mechanical things working in our dreams this can be very frustrating. Carl Jung felt that dreams were offering us an alternative path to our willful daytime attitudes. In this sense, dreams where technology fails us offers us an alternative view to our usual control and manipulation of the environment we must practice so diligently in waking life. Instead of pushing and willing things around with our apparatuses and machines, we are forced in mechanically challenged dreams to relate in other ways. 

This mechanical problem is so well known that the Lucidity Institute, which teaches people conscious dream control, use this fact to help people recognize they are dreaming. They have a mask that flashes a red light when we are in dream (REM) sleep. This light can also be controlled by pushing a button on the mask. If you are not sure if you are dreaming, you just push the button and if you are dreaming, the button is unlikely to work. This becomes a clue for the person to realize that it is a dream.

Contemporary dreamworkers also like to look at what the dream contraptions represent and how they function. My car, for example, functions as a vehicle to get me around. As a representation of my self, I might think about my inner things that get me around, such as my anger and my charm. If the breaks aren’t working on my dream vehicle, perhaps I’m driving my personal coping strategies of anger and charm to the point of breaking and need something new. 

A phone is a way to connect to others. If this isn’t working in a dream, I might be able to look at how I am connecting with myself and the world. 

The famous dreamworker Montague Ullman says the dreams are metaphors in motion. Linda Magallon, another dreamworker, has phrased this more clearly when she says that dreams are the mind in motion. The mind is a contraption at times too, but it doesn’t work like cars and telephones. When contraptions aren’t working in dream it is very frustrating, but it is also an opportunity to see how the most magnificent machine of all work.


Can’t Find the Bathroom

Dream: "I can't find a place to urinate. I wander all around looking for a bathroom. Finally I'm in an old tree house above the family garage, and I urinate down into a hole in through the roof. "

Looking for a place to go is as frustrating in dreams as it sometimes is in life. However, in waking life we usually don't look for deeper meanings. 

Often when we have to urinate in a dream, we really do have to urinate! But other times we have to urinate during sleep and don't dream about it at all. So a second set of answers may be necessary. I think urination in dreams reveals a part of the way the dreaming mind works in general as well. When the urge comes into the dreaming mind, the mind deals with this request like all others, it begins to play with it, to match it to earlier experiences that are similar and to unfold the metaphorical aspects of the urge. 

On the symbolic level, we can look at the dream images of urination and deification in terms of getting rid of something that is causing us pressure. And the thing we need to give up may not be social sanctioned in all quarters. The famous dream worker Jeremy Taylor says that when he has dreams of urination, he goes somewhere private and writes down on a piece of paper all the things he really wants to do, being completely honest with himself and then burns the paper. This way we can allow expression of the most noxious of our desires without making ourselves too vulnerable.

Exploration of the way we feel in these trapped situations brings out many of the issues where we have poor options about the where and how of the situation, but no choice about the thing itself. It must happen, it is going to flow - and yet there is no good place for this to happen. The dream image gives us the ability to visualize this kind of situation and to allow us to explore various ways of moving with this tension that will, inevitable find expression in other forms in the world. The key here, I feel, is not in finding a good place to urinate, but in learning ways of being in the predicament itself. This is what Jung calls a real symbol as opposed to a simple sign. A real symbol has the ability to hold the tension long enough for a whole new paradigm of consciousness to emerge. 

It might be useful to notice *where* this play unfolds. Is it at work, at one's childhood home, the store, an unknown territory? As we become comfortable working with one area, new idea and hope spring from this empowerment and can create a fountain of - well, ideas. 


Excrement and Defecation Dreams 

Dream: " I'm waking down a country road. I am covered with excrement and feel quite miserable. I come upon a farm, a kind of bed and breakfast where a man and his daughter are outside. I approach them for mercy, to get a room, and they run inside. "

Being vulnerable and exposed is always a messy and hard situation. Though unpleasant at times, It is not uncommon to have dream about excrement. The meaning varies from person to person, but some famous psychologists have suggested some meanings that can be borrowed and if applied, used to enhance and improve our lives.

Freud, nearly a century ago, wrote the Interpretation of Dreams and commented on how pooping and holding poop was the first ways we really get to produce something and control that production. Thus, as our production in later life of money is similar, dreams about poop may be about money. To approach this more broadly we can look at Erik Erikson's stage of Industry vs Inferiority, were excrement may be seen as our relationship with productivity in general. Are we constipated and full of it, or does it, like Midas, cover us and soil everything we touch? 

Another approach is that of Carl Jung's who saw excrement as a metaphor for all the crap we have to work on. But it is a divine and sacred crap, which he called "prima materia" after the alchemical base substance that would eventually be transformed into a finer material. What this means psychologically is that we get to look at all our crap, all the things that stand in the way of our living empowered, whole and liberated lives. Thus the worse the excrement, the better the chance to move on to higher ground, to make gold. To attempt to move to higher places without having dealt with the crap means that no matter how high we go, we'll have that crap lubricating our slide back down. 

In Hinduism, there is a three faced version to Time, assigned to Krishna(creation), Brahman (maintaining) and Shiva(Destruction) . We can use this model for excrement dreams and ask ourselves three questions that shift consciousness from fear to choice: 

1. What are we holding on to from the past that we need to release let go of? 

2. What do we choose to sustain and keep despite the tension?

3. What are we anticipating and reaching for in the future?

Generally speaking, working with excrement dreams then show us how the Lotus blossoms from the mud.


Dreams in Black and White

There is no experimental proof I have seen of this, but researchers agree that most dreams are in color. However, because the dream fades so quickly after we awake, our memories of the dream are often recalled in gray tones. Studies show that those who are in tune with color in waking life tend to remember more color in dreams as well. It has also been noticed that those of us who grew up with black & white TV have more black and white dreams.

When I was a kid, I heard someone talking about black&white vs color dreams. I felt bad because I recalled most of my dreams in b&w. That night I dreamt of thousands of iridescence lizards running along by my room. I was really delighted and tried to collect as many a possible, commenting the whole time about the color. This dream indicates satisfactorily to me that there is color *in* the dream and its not just added afterwards. Try the following exercise: During the day, notice at least once an hour the color of something, anything. My guess is that you will start recalling more dreams in your sleep.

Dreamworkers will often use black and white dreams to say "Perhaps this situation is black and white" or "You feel this is a black and white situation?" Used in this way, it allows us to explore that we perhaps are feeling a loss of options or the situation is very clear. 


Unfaithful Lover

Cheating boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and other lovers.

Dream: " I was just getting back from the store when I looked in my bedroom window and saw by boyfriend in bed with my best friend."

Dreams of cheating partners are very common and often give us a jolt. Since we have all heard that dreams might predict the future or reveal deeper meanings, the fear arises that our lovers might be cheating on us. Usually this is unfounded. Here are some questions I ask myself:

1. How likely is this to be literally true? If it is likely, I would confront my lover, not by saying I had caught her in a dream, but that I had a dream about it and tell the lover my fears. 

2. If its *not* likely, I would see the people in the dreams as parts of myself. Carl Jung saw the act of sex as a symbol of union. So if my wife Cassidy, who is a very thoughtful type, was in bed with my friend Bill, who is very emotional, I might ask myself what would happen if I joined my own thoughtful side with my emotional side? 

As you can see, this technique works just as well for myself. That is, if I dream I am cheating on my lover, but would never do this in waking life, then it is an opportunity for me to join with some of the characteristics of the dream lover. If Brenda is a hard working person and I’m more of a happy go lucky guy, I can use the dream to explore what it would be like to mix these qualities in my life. 

These unexpected unions in dreams can lead some very positive growth once we get over the belief that they might be literally true. 


Abandoning the Baby

Dream " I had a dream that my baby wandered off while I was washing the clothes, I had completely forgotten about her! I ran outside looking everywhere but couldn't find her. My grandmother said (in waking life) this means I'm going to have to watch my baby more closely, or she will get away. Now I'm going crazy all the time looking and watching over her."

Being responsible for those under our care is always a hard task, and there always seems to be someone who is better at and sometimes people who are critical of our caretaking. This dream often happens to people who are the most responsible in life, and have, in a sense *earned* the right to see a little farther than most, even though we don’t at first have any desire for this gift. 

It is interesting that in mythology many of the heros are first abandoned by the parents, on hillsides, in rivers, in caves and fields. What this indicates to some is that our dream children are really metaphors of our higher self. In other words, from the point of view of the dreaming mind, what is emerging is something new and world shaking. What we are doing in losing our charges is neglecting it or allowing it to develop on its own. The neglect then is self-neglect. How many projects, for example, have I left abandoned on the hillside? How to give ourselves time for self growth in the modern world is a real challenge.

This losing of those we care about, whether they are babies, older relatives, friends or other people we love and are responsible for can be used as a wake up call. After all, its hard to really find something and appreciate it until we see that we might lose it. 


Dreams Predicting the Future

"I dreamt last night that my long lost friend wrote me a letter and the very next day I got a letter from this person!" 

There are many testimonies and written examples of dreams that seemed to predict future events. Some may have been due to coincidence, trick memory, or an creative re-assembly of known information. A few laboratory studies have been conducted on predictive dreams, as well as clairvoyant and telepathic dreams with nothing conclusive. But then again, these kinds of dreams are difficult to study in a laboratory setting. Some folks in the dream field feel that there is more telepathy going on than we realize, and so we may hear more about this in the future. But at this time, it seems that telepathic dreaming - and more specifically here, clairvoyant and future-telling dreaming, is quite rare.

What usually happens is that dreams create a wide variety of possible connections. Many of these connections turn out to be true. But more of them don’t. Quite a lot more of them don’t. So many do not turn out true that believing in telepathic dreaming is more a way of becoming superstitious than a path of knowledge.

Another approach that sees dreams as forward looking (Jung's teleological view) has led to a whole host of techniques that appreciate the dreams ability to see vital *potential* paths for us and even warn us that certain of our behaviors can lead to ruin & success, but this is not quite the same thing as warning someone not to take a jet flight. It more like being aware that dreams about being reckless are a kind of predictor that I may be behaving recklessly. 

However, if you do dream of some lotto numbers, can you send them in to me?

Book Suggestions:

Auerbach, Loyd. Psychic Dreaming. NY: Warner Books, 1991.

Ullman, M., Krippner, S. & Vaughan, A. (1989 2nd Ed.) Dream Telepathy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Pub.

Krippner, Stanley (1975). Song of the Siren. A Parapsychological Odyssey 


Unable to flee or diminished capacities

Dream: "I had just turned the corner when I saw I was still being chased. But my legs were frozen. Not cold, just stuck. It was kind of like being in mud or having a magnet in the ground drain all my leg muscles."

Being paralyzed in some way in a dream is often reported, as well as losing other faculties such as sight, sense of direction and other capacities. These dreams are very frustrating for the dreamer and bring up all sorts of fears and insecurities we have about being in control of ourselves, our lives and our environment. There is no scientific explanation that is accepted by the whole dream community, but some ideas have been suggested. 

Every 90 minutes or so we enter REM sleep for about 20 minutes. If awaken from REM, a person is likely to report a dream. You can usually tell when someone is in REM sleep because there eyes will be moving very rapidly back and forth, hence it is called REM or Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. During REM, the body is in a state of slight paralysis. The brain is operating as it normally would, but all the messages are stopped from traveling to many parts of the body. 

Yet in dreams, we can sometimes be partially aware of our surroundings outside the body. Alarm Clocks, cars going by and the kids playing in the next room can all cause partial awakening. These events can be partially taken into the dream, or incorporated in many unusual way. 

The interesting thing about this incorporation is that even though the event may have had nothing to do with the dreams initially, it can become a significant part of the dream story. 

Dreamworkers can take advantage of this by using paralysis as a metaphor. They will ask the dream where and when in their lives they are feeling stuck or paralyzed. The dream story occurring at the time can be used for cues. Dreaming about being paralyzed at work, in a relationship, how to choose a career? Perhaps you first talk about how you feel paralyzed and then assess if this feels like being paralyzed in other parts of your life. Dreamworker Gayle Delaney suggests that if you can find a parallel situation, it may be further helpful to imagine a way to mobilize yourself to take appropriate actions and liberate yourself from ta fear or someone else’s control. Jungian dreamworkers feel this course of action is often indicated by the dream itself. Close attention to the type of paralysis, the way it feels and how it functions can be important. For example, how does the paralysis in the dream function to keep the dreamer from fleeing a particular situation, or relieve them from moving on to a new situation? 

President Johnson, for example, used to have paralyzation dreams during the Vietnam war. Once he was chained to a chair and had to continue signing documents, another time he was lying immobile on a bed in a red room. As the war continued, Johnson began having dreams of being unable swim across a river. He wasn’t paralyzed but swam in circles no matter what he tried. This dream helped lead him to see his social programs would fail if he didn’t leave office. 

Dreams where we are paralyzed and otherwise unable to reach our goal can be very frustrating, but also contain the possibilities of new directions in life. A dreamworker Jeremy Taylor has said, these frustrating nightmares are really one of our most precious gifts. 


Animals in Dreams 

While animal dreams are very common among younger children, it is not uncommon for adults to have them as well. 

The most popular idea is that the animal in the dream is the animal in us. That is, our instincts and animal selves that we are not usually conscious of in waking life emerge at night in dreams as natural animals that may be similar. It is felt that the more problematic or sick the dream animal, the more likely we are at odds with our own instinctual selves. Being able to recall the dream is a positive sign that we are ready to work on this part of ourselves. The type of animal may also indicate a path for finding a creative, positive & responsible way to channel our drives.

If I had an animal dream of a sick eagle, for example I would first come up with some metaphors to describe what "eagle" means to me - attacker of snakes, protector of its nest, far seeing, fights in a non-human manner, beautiful yet I fear being attacked, and so on. I might add to these personal associations some cultural ones, like the American Eagle symbolism of protecting liberty and freedom, or mythological images of the eagle, such as eagle as Father of the Gods, Zeus. If my dream eagle was sick, I might look at how these symbols might manifest more in my life - how I might protect my own children - or my own baby projects, or how I might soar above the crowd. With children, this may give us a clue as to what aspects of impulse control they are struggling with. As adults, we are offered a doorway into wider vision of living.

Other dreamworkers see the animal more like a totem or shaman guide. In this sense, we don't assume that the animal is an image of our unconscious drives, but is here to lead us into an unknown territory that can't be decided upon before we go there. With this approach, we treat the dream animal like bird watchers from behind a duck blind, carefully observing the nuance of the image of the dream animal, how it looks in detail, how it moves, how it reacts. The key here is in how long we can stay with the image and follow its lead.

Animals in dreams, no matter how problematic, offer us an opportunity as guides to contact and explore both the parts of ourselves that we have shut away and parts that we have never know. 

Book Suggestions:

Foulkes, David (1982). Children's Dreams: Longitudinal Studies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Hillman, James and McLean, Margot (1996). Dream Animals.


Floods & Natural Disasters

Dream :" The water from the ocean is rising and threatening to flood the city I'm living in. There is this impending feeling of doom and helplessness, like right before something really big is about to happen." 

Impending doom, especially from elemental sources like water, land and air are particulary disconcerting. These events inhabit not only the physical world, but the world of imagination, religion, mythology and dreams.

Early people recognized water and watery things as belonging to their own domain and this was know to the Greeks as the Realm of Poseidon, Lord of Oceans, Earthquakes and other fluid movements that were seen to be what all the land rested upon. 

Psychologically, we rest on our emotional world. All the reason in the world is useless when we panic, when we are furious, when we despair. To move into that realm and not be drown is the work of a lifetime, the place to create a great masterpiece.

To dream of an approaching tidal wave may indicate that I have an apprehension about the emotions that are welling up inside of me -- I fear being overwhelmed, or "drowning" in the feelings and being unable to control my world and all I have achieved. Floods are also a mythic way to re-fresh and create something new. Many mythic kingdoms were flooded and drowned by their gods to make way for something new. The reason I am casting this in such mythic terms is due to the opportunity that large scale doom and disaster dreams bring to us. Rudolf Otto coined the term "Numious" and it means the terrifying, awe-inspiring, experience of the Sacred Up Close. The feeling right before a major natural event can provoke this sense of wonder and awe. Dreaming about floods affords us a channel into making some major changes in our lives.

If I am dreaming about this watery doom, I am also now conscious of this water and can learn to take the full impact & force of my emotions. I can learn to "swim". As we become even more conscious, we can even learn in dreams to breath water! This will often happen after the acceptance of a new way of being occurs.

Remember that each elements realm is magnificently large and holds a whole universe of meaning. 

Book Suggestions: 

Siegel, Alan B. (1990). Dreams That Can Change Your Life. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.


Faceless Lovers 

"Several years ago I kept having a dream of falling in love and I was extremely happy, even when I woke up. I never did see the man's face. Sometimes we even got married and had a whole dream life together, but I never saw his face."

The Faceless Lover is considered by many to be *THE* story of women. It may best or most poetically be found in Apuleius' tale of "Eros and Psyche". Psyche is the daughter of a king who must be wed to the dragon and is left abandoned on the cliff side. The "Monster" is really the god Eros, who knows if she ever looks at him directly the relationship will be over. (One just can't look directly at gods, there are too beautiful and intense). Blindfolded, he takes her to his castle and only comes to her in the dark, making a pact with her to never turn on the light. Eventually she can no long resist and looks, and then the relationship is over for a long time.

The Jungian psychologists say that when the faceless lover comes to us in dreams, it is most profoundly seen as *part of ourselves* that we desire most, and see as (often) the opposite sex. If we just go along with the game, we continue to live in the rich castle of Eros and, according to the Jungians, endlessly chase after these people in real life. Sometimes it works, but usually the pattern just repeats and gets stale. It is said that eventually we either get tired of this game or something tricky happens and we see the faceless lover directly. The common path of growth is to see these figures *qualities* in ourselves and develop them. For example, I could write a short series of qualities that come to mind that remind me of that person; Fast, Handsome, Playful, Analytical, Self-Assured, or whatever, and then try to develop those qualities in myself. Who, after all, can love me more intimately than my higher Self? 

Book Suggestions: 

Lover's in both dreams and life can bring up the love and vitality needed to bring these qualities we once loved in others into our own personality. There are some guides along the way.

The classic book on this is Animus and Anima by Emma Jung (1957-1981) Dallas, TX: Spring Publications.

Two popular and very accessible books on this for men *and* women are

HE: Understanding Masculine Psychology (1974) Robert Johnson , New York: Harper and Row.

SHE: Understanding Feminine Psychology, By Robert Johnson, New York: Harper and Row.

The Tale of Eros and Psyche is widely available. Some versions with comment include the already mentioned SHE, The Golden Ass by Marie-Louise von Franz and Amor & Psyche by Erich Neumann.

Murder Dreams

Dream: "I was climbing up a ladder behind by brother (I don't even have a brother in waking life!) to get to the top bunk bed and I put a knife in his back. Even in the dream I was shocked by my behavior. I'm a very non-violent person and was upset that this occurred, even in a dream!"

Find ourselves behaving in dreams like criminals is very upsetting, even though it is quite common. For any upsetting experience, its often useful to write the experience down in a journal as clearly and detailed as possible.

Though not an every day(night) experience, act of killing and being killed in dreams is not unnormal, even among those who would never hurt a fly. 

Dream workers find the most useful way to approach these dreams is to first see that the deaths and slayings are not meant to be taken literally, but rather symbolically. This becomes especially clear when we kill figures that don't even exist in waking like. The image of death taken symbolically can mean many things, one of which can be the death of an old attitude or personality trait or behavior pattern. In this way the whole sense of the dream is reversed, and death becomes a doorway to a new way of living. As you can see, the meanings shift according to who is being killed. Killing our parents may be giving up values they gave us that no longer work for us, while killing a sibling may be getting beyond relationships that involve useless rivalry and competition. It is always interesting to note how *far away* the murdered figures are from you, both physically or in terms of blood relations. An unknown person or distant cousin may indicate that the personality trait or habit that is dying or being done away with is rather distant from your core personality. Killing oneself or an intimate other offers the opportunity to make key changes in your life or attitudes. 

The key here is to approach the elements in the dream metaphorically, and then to apply these metaphors to ourselves and our life. In this way the most adverse dream conditions become our allies in personal growth & self empowerment.


Suicide in Dreams


My friend had a dream and she killed herself in it. She was sitting on a cliff at the Grand Canyon and threw herself off. She is a very up and cheery person and I had no idea what to say when she told me this dream. 

Suicide and Dreams

Of course, whenever we or our friends talk about suicide, we need to act responsibly and even consider contacting a professional or call a local suicide help line. However, death and suicide in dreams are not all that uncommon and if there is no depression or despair noticeable in the waking person, the dreams are best taken symbolically.

As Jeremy Taylor, the world renowned Dream Worker, says "No matter how distressing these images are during the dream, they are almost certainly symbolic pictures of ways in which I am growing and changing, ways in which my life energies are being redirected from old attitudes, perceptions, and self-images." Taylor has had several decades of experience and his ideas are based on Carl Jung's work, which elaborates how the dreaming mind is always working towards healing and wholeness.

The key symbols here are Death and the Self. When death is seen literally, the focus is on the loss and absence, but when taken metaphorically, the emphasis is on loss of the old to make way for the new. Death, in this sense, is the great transformation. If someone distant in our dream dies, we often say that characteristic in our personality is changing. If *we* die in a dream, it may indicate a radical change in the core self, and this could manifest itself in personality, attitude, behavior or other actions.


Flying Dreams

Dream: "While running from a mugger I began to fly! I found I could control the flying and began flying all around the city, then out above the countryside. I thought I might be able to fly to the moon. "

Dream flying advocate Linda Magallon has found that flying in dreams is the number one fun activity that people like to do dreaming, when they realize that they can. Because there are so many kinds of flying and reasons for flying, there also many different meanings. As a matter of fact, author and dream historian Anthony Shafton found over twenty four explanations of flying in dreams by contemporary experts. 

These ranged from Freud's idea that it is a reconstruction of the joy of being tossed as a child by adults to Alan Hobson's theory that it is the result of neuron firings from brain stem to Walter Bonime's feeling that it represents the person's desire to responsibility and limitations of nature. Who is right? The most self empowering answer seems to be the one that you can choose that will satisfy both the need for the answer to fit and at the same time carry you forward in life. 

The first president of the Association for the Study of Dreams, Gayle Delaney, has noted that dream flying can easily lead to another wonderful dream activity, dream lucidity. Once you realize that you are flying, it may occur to your that is not something one can do in waking reality. Ah, hah -- so this must be a dream! At the point you become lucid (aware you are dreaming while you are dreaming) you then have some really fun options with dream flying. Some people like to test their skill, seeing high or low, how fast or slow they can fly. Others like to visit far away places or see friends.

This dream sport is so popular, there is even a on-line club devoted to flying and other activities in dreaming called the Fly-by-Night Club. 


Losing things, burglary, robbery

Dream: "I was just about to get in my car when I noticed my purse with my keys was missing. I was sure I had it right with me and began to panic that someone had my wallet and keys."

Its frustrating enough when we lose our essentials in waking life, why do we have to go through this again once we go to sleep? The old assumption was that since it is our dream, we are punishing ourselves in some way. This would be followed by the observation that good people punish themselves more than bad people, so it shows a strong and good conscious to be punishing yourself in a dream. Hardly solace to the dreamer. Swiss Psychoanalyst Carl Jung took another path, asking more what is going on when these and other tricky things happened. He noted that in all religions there is often a trick, loss or theft right before a person gains a great gift or piece of wisdom. The Native Americans had a names for this tricky character, often called Coyote. Jung simple called this the Trickster. We don’t always see the trickster in the dream, but we can often feel his effect. He steals something visible and returns something invisible. When something essential in our lives appears to be missing, we gain a perspective that we wouldn’t achieve on our own. Who, for example, would lose their own keys or allow a wallet to be stolen? Thus we are thrown into a situation larger than our usual selves would chose and must draw upon resources out of the depth of anxiety and fear. 

Contemporary dreamworkers like to ask, "What are we really losing, and where in life are we feeling robbed?" For example, if I lose my wallet, I might say that I’ve lost my social identity. Where in my life do I feel a loss of identity? 

Jeremy Taylor notes that the common lose-the-baby dream can be seen as classic dream of losing and finding oneself and one’s highest values. That is, the baby may be seen as the archetypal Child

who is being neglected or whose time has come. In these instances, it may be productive to set aside time for oneself.


Destruction of Houses and Other Possessions

"I just couldn’t believe that my house had burned down while I was at work. I kept going through the ashen rooms looking to see if anything had survived this fire and found an old book from my childhood about Robin Hood." 

Losing personal possessions in destructive acts is somewhat akin to having them stolen. When they are stolen, we look for the thief and call for the police. When they are destroyed, we abandon hope of finding them again and have to deal more directly with the lose. In theft, the sense of justice is related to the social level, but with destruction it is more elemental. We ask, "Why me?". And as Dream therapist Alan Siegel has noted when a friend or neighbor’s house or possessions are destroyed instead of our own, we often feel guilty and ask "Why not me?" (Survivors guilt).

Contemporary dreamworkers like to ask, "What did this possession represent to us and how would its absence change my life? " For example, if I lose my car, I might say that I’ve lost my main vehicle. Metaphorically this vehicle might be anger, manipulation, charm or looks. What might it mean if I lost my charm or favorite way of getting what I want and need? 

With a house, we can ask similar questions and perhaps larger questions. What was the house really holding for me? What was the life I live that this house holds? 

If this is too large a question, we might see the dream house as our inner personality, and ask how our personality sometimes burns itself up, or gets flooded, or just disappears when we need it most. 

Whatever approach you use to exploring the meaning of lost and destroyed property, be sure to note the feelings that come with this loss. There is likely to be hurt and anger, feeling of being victimized and other complex feelings. Don’t ignore these just because it was a dream and not really true. You may be feeling angry or victimized about some other aspect of your life that is best represented by the dream house. 

New Rooms, Houses, Places

Dream: "I’m in a kind of orphanage and several of us go down a hallway and find a door that we have never seen before. I open the door and find a room full of treasure, its like an Egyptian tomb. I feel quite amazed that I’ve never seen this room before and feel exhilarated. "

Find new things is often a delightful experience and one of the fun things about being human. This delight is often found in dreams as well. Though we can find things we wish we hadn’t, usually the experience is a positive one. 

Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung saw houses in dreams as representing our personality. Finding new rooms would be like finding new parts of our personality. Jungian psychiatrist James Hall suggests that we can further look at what kind of room has been discovered or is being explored and have this reveal more about the part of our personality at play. Kitchens might be a place where raw material is turned into nurturing substances. Bathrooms might mean we are dealing with elimination or letting go. To find out for yourself, describe how the room in your dream best functions, how it works for the whole house or the inhabitants. Is the room a place to wash dirty laundry, an attic to put away things we no longer use or a living room where everyone can meet and interact on an equal basis? 

Dreamworker Gayle Delaney feels these dreams come when we are opening up to new possibilities and ready to make changes in our life. These new possibilities may make themselves know to us in our dreams right before they happen in waking life. 


Meeting Famous People

Dream: "I was so happy that Jack Nickelson had invited me to his private party. I saw him across the swimming pool getting the dinner ready and was very proud when he called me over and other people saw this." 

Encountering famous people in dreams is a popular dream theme. Movie stars, great teachers, world leaders and even famous ancient history heros can appear in our dreams. These are usually very pleasant dreams and the dreamer often feels the glow of being "star struck" or chosen. Dreamworkers like to ask the dreamer what qualities these stars have (smart, popular, emotional) and then ask if the dreamer wants these qualities themselves. If you can dream it, then you can more easily have it. 

More globally, dreaming of famous people may be a way of expressing larger social and cultural issues and being in contact with these larger feeling. When Princess Diana died, many people around the world had dreams about her who never met her. She represented and carried larger values and brought these to the public’s attention. Concerns about what would happen to these values after her passing were being explored by the individual dreams about her. She dreamt: "I saw Diane get out of a black limousine and walk towards me with a bouquet of flowers. I was shocked to see her and asked her what she was doing here, that everyone thought she was dead. She handed me one of the flowers and said she had to return. She got back into the car and was driven away. I cried after I woke up. I knew the bouquet was the gift she had given to the world. No one person could carry the whole bouquet now, but each of us had to hold up our own part of it. " 


Drowning, quicksand and mud

"I thought I could swim back to shore, but I can’t seem to say afloat as waves keep swirling me underwater. Finally I am so far down I realize I will never get to the surface in time and wake up."

Dreamers often find themselves helpless in water, quicksand and mud. The situation is often just annoying, but sometimes feels life-threatening. The general dreamwork approach is to see this as a metaphor of where in life we ourselves feel helpless and out of control. That is, what pools and lakes are we swimming around in that feel out of control? Sometimes it may be our job or relationships, other times our whole life. 

But why water and not some other form of being out of control like a car or plane, which can also occur? Dreamworker Ann Faraday sees these water as a symbol of emotions and the unconscious. She feels that drowning is more of an metaphor of our fear of feelings being out of control than behavior or thoughts. Damned up feelings during the day may break out and flood at night. Others simple see the water as the "sea of difficulties" that we all face. 

Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung often saw water as a metaphor for the unconscious. Small pools might be like the personal unconscious, or the things we don’t really want to face and so control us in everyday life. Larger lakes might be issues that effect the whole family or society. The ocean would represent issues that effect all humankind. 

For Patricia Garfield, drowning dreams usually mean, "I feel overwhelmed by this situation," "My emotions are swamping me.". She further recommends that if we become lucid or conscious in our dreams, we may learn to do unexpected dream maneuvers, such as breathing water. This is a skill that dreamers can learn and is reported as being very exhilarating.

Books on How to Interpret Your Dreams:

Delaney, Gayle (1988 revised edition).Breakthrough Dreaming; How to Tap the Power of Your

24-Hour Mind Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

• Gayle teaches people how to conduct a Dream Interview, which allows a person to quickly understand a dream of one’s own or another without forcing interpretations on them. 

Shafton, Anthony (1995). Dream Reader: Contemporary Approaches to the Understanding of Dreams . Albany, NY: Suny Press.

• A very deep analysis of different approaches to understanding dreams and the schools from which they evolved. 

Faraday, Ann (1973, 1986) Dream Power, Berkley Pub.

• A very popular book which covers many contemporary approaches and has now been republished as The Dream Game.

Garfield, Patricia (1974, 1985) Creative Dreaming, Ballantine, pap.

• A classic book which has taught many people how to work and appreciate dreams. 

Reed, Henry (1991) Dream Solutions: Using Your Dreams To Change Your Life, New World Library.

• Techniques on writing and interpreting dreams from a pioneer in the field. 

Reed, Henry(1985). Getting Help form your Dreams. Virginai Beach, VA: Inner Vision Publishing Co.

Taylor, Jeremy (1983) Dream Work: Techniques For Discovering the Creative Power of Dreams, Paulist Press.

• Taylor takes the difficult language of Carl Jung and provides a profound but easy to use approach to dream interpretation.

Ullman, Montague & Zimmerman, Nan (1979, 1985) Working With Dreams, J. P. Tarcher.

• This book is especially good for those interested in group dreamwork.

Williams, Strephon K. (1980) Jungian-Senoi Dreamwork Manual, rev. ed., Journey Press

• Williams once ran an institute on dreamwork and has collected his many years of techniques and practices giving the reader a wide variety to choose from.

Wiseman, Ann S. (1989) Nightmare Help, Ten Speed Press, 

• This book is designed for children and for adults working with children. 

For a more complete listing look at the DreamGate Dream Bibs


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