My first dream journal – it was a surprise to find it replete with black pages, silver ink and my very best handwriting. I realized it was not the original repository for my dreams (the one beside my bed is illegible), rather it was where I had recorded what I considered my best dreams including the one with the wolf and the eagle.
Once you make a commitment to explore dreams, it is essential to try and recall them immediately. Don’t lie in bed trying to memorize the dream; don’t get up to go to the washroom; keep a journal or recording device beside the bed and use it straight away. It is said that alarm clocks are the enemy of dream retention but so is time. Dreams evaporate quicker than a morning summer mist. Capture the salient details and then write them out again once you are up.
Don’t make the mistake I made and record them in your regular day journal then forget them. It has an ability like Harry Potter’s famous cloak to cause everything in its clutch to disappear. Too often I have spent hours browsing a journal to find the recalcitrant dream. Dreams are best served up hot.
It was a humbling experience to look at the journal above and realize what an abysmal failure my early attempts at dream interpretation were. I worked with a dream book and would look up the symbols in the dream and write out the meanings then I would try and use my brain to figure out what everything meant. The result was I contrived meanings that often satisfied my ego rather than allowing the will of the Soul emerge.
Dreams can only be solved on the level that they were created – that is in the unconscious. I find the key is in exploring the feelings within the dream, the energy of the dream and where it connects to you and finally the symbols in the dream. In addition a starting point is the circumstances of your current life for context.
Using dream guides as a support is fine as far as it goes but all the symbols come from your unconscious and will be consistent with your social, personal and cultural values. Characters rarely represent the people themselves rather what they would represent in you.
The symbols generally represent what they mean to you although some also seem to be archetypal – patterns that are common to all of us. For example the car is one’s personal journey, a house is your personal state of consciousness, water is either the unconscious if you are under it or feelings if it is turbulent. It is helpful to create a library of your own symbols.
After an initial reflection on your findings, it is time to let the dream go and wait for the “ah ha” moment. Like bowl of good soup we let the dream simmer until it is ready to reveal itself.
One of the dreams I came across in my old dream journal went like this: “I am skiing with a friend I will call Alec on a quadruple black diamond – for the non skiers these don’t actually exist but would be supremely difficult. He is leading and I cannot believe what I am doing, descending huge cliffs, cushioning the impact with my knees and keeping going. It is exhilarating; I feel at my limit yet surviving. I say to him, “if what is over that ridge is any worse I may have to quit.”
We peer over the ridge and there is just no way – it is incredibly steep and there is no snow. We are looking for options when a stranger appears and says there is an easier way. We follow him to a wide gentle trail and it is easy to follow him doing big easy turns.”
At the time I could make no sense of the dream and in hindsight I realize I made a series of beginner errors. First I did not look at the environment of my life. I had just lost my belief system in Unity and was in a place of confusion. At the time I thought Alec represented my “unspiritual self” but he is now an ongoing character in my library of symbols and actually represents the dynamic masculine or the doer.
Secondly I did not relate to the feelings in the dream – successfully navigating life but feeling out of control – being led by the active masculine with no idea of destination. It was an accurate portrait of what was transpiring. Thirdly I ignored the stranger who I can now see represented a new teacher or guide.
Fortunately the teacher appeared and I found my way into a two year program called the Art of Spiritual Guidance led by Atum O’Kane. Coincidentally he became the first of the dream teachers who has been so important in my journeying with dreams.