(1) If your brother or sister appears in a dream you have to decide whether the dream is saying something about your actual brother or sister and your relationship with him or her, or whether vour brother or sister stands in the dream symbolically for something else - some part of yourself.
If the former is the case, it may be obvious to you: recent encounters with your brother or sister, or some piece of news about him or her may be recognized as prompting the dream. Always be on the look-out, though, for those dreams where a brother or sister plavs a symbolic role. The dream source may choose its materials - its images - from your recent external experiences, but what those dream images represent is nearly always some part of yourself. So please read on.
(2) In early childhood a brother or sister is a natural object of jealousy and hatred. In the eyes of a small child the mother may seem to be favouring his or her sibling. When a second child is bom, the firstborn is especially likely to develop hostile feelings towards the new’ rival for mother’s attention and affection. Sometimes w’e carrv such jealous grievances (at an unconscious level) into adult life, w’here they continue to affect our behaviour and attitudes.
It is then imperative that w’e sort them out, face up to them, acknowledge them for w’hat they are, and so liberate ourselves from their damaging influence (see (3) below, second paragraph, on projections).
(3) An elder brother or sister (brother for a male dreamer, sister for a female dreamer) may represent your ‘other self (‘alter ego’), that side of your personality that has so far been neglected and undeveloped. Jung called it ‘the Shadow’’. We start adult life w’ith a self-image that is usually some sort of compromise between what w’e w’ant to be or do and w’hat parents or society at large seems to require of us.
If this self-image corresponds to our actual abilities, all may be well for a while; but a time mav come w hen wre need to give attention to other facets of our (potential) self. These other facets - our Shadow- - will show- themselves to us in dreams; and one form they take in dreams is that of an elder brother or sister.
People often project their shadow- on to a sibling of the same sex as themselves; and if it is not projected, it may express itself in all kinds of aw kward and embarrassing ways - astonishing rudeness, for example, or other antisocial behaviour. The contrast between your conscious ego and your alter ego mav be as startling as that between Jekvll and Hyde. Don’t be alarmed, though: remember alw-ays that your unconscious is vour ally - vour best friend - and even the most frightening or appalling things that reveal themselves in dreams as parts of vour unconscious are frightening or appalling, first, because of their unfamiliaritv and / or secondly, because, having been neglected and locked away in the dark, they tend to behave like a neglected child and mav become mutinous (on this phenomenon, see Demon). Pay proper attention and proper respect to them, and their threatening features will disappear; they will prove themselves valuable supplements to vour personal equipment for coping with life and achieving full satisfaction and wholeness. Introduce them into your consciousness, identify them and their needs, and give them a controlled and appropriate part to play in your waking life.
Incidentally, one test you can apply to check whether you have a neglected shadow-self is to ask yourself if there is some characteristic that you particularly dislike in other people (particularly your partner): a domineering tendency’, perhaps, or an over-liberal attitude, or whatever.
If there is (and of course you need a lot of honesty’ to admit this), then that characteristic is likely to belong to your shadow-self. We tend to project on to other people the dark, ‘nasty5 things that live in our own unconscious.
If something is going wrong in our life, we tend to put the blame on to other people, the government, or our parents; we look for some scapegoat to carry the blame. The blame, how ever, is ours, because we have not put our own house in order: we have not paid due attention to the demands of our unconscious and have not allowed our ‘other self proper scope for expression in our life.
(4) When a female dreams of a brother, or a male dreams of a sister, the brother / sister may represent w’hat Jung called the ‘soul-image’, w’hich is the masculine side of a woman’s personality (her animus) or the feminine side of a man’s personality (his anima). There would seem to be very basic differences between man and woman arising out of different biological functions (as well as less basic differences that owe their existence to social conditioning). There are w’hat have traditionally been called feminine qualities and capacities (such as gentleness, a caring disposition, creativeness, cooperativencss and relatedness, intuition) and, similarly, what have been called masculine qualities (such as aggressiveness and competitiveness, rationality’, and a tendency to analyse and look for differences). However, it is widclv accepted nowadays among psychotherapists that the male psyche also contains feminine qualities and the female psyche also contains masculine qualities, albeit often dormant and neglected, or repressed.
If you arc a man, do you admire the ‘masculine’ tv pc of woman? If vou do, vou may be in need of redressing the balance in vour psyche: vour feminine side
has possibly swamped your masculinity, and you now need to promote the latter. In your case, the anima will be rather masculine. This is just one instance of a general rule: the animus / anima will have the opposite characteristics to the conscious self-image.
Either male or female dreamers may find themselves in a dream in an heroic relationship to an anima / animus figure. A man may, in a dream, rescue a damsel in distress; a woman may waken a dead prince with a kiss. These should be seen as invitations to incorporate your anima / animus into vour conscious functioning, to rescue it from oblivion and neglect: to make Cinderella or the Frog-Prince your partner in life. Personal wholeness cannot be achieved without this. See also Cinderella, Frog, section (3), Marriage.
(5) A sister in a man’s dream or a brother in a woman’s dream may take the dreamer into some frightening abyss, to the bottom of the sea, or into a dark forest. This may represent the man’s anima or the woman’s animus leading the ego into the unconscious, to discover, for example, the deep emotional causes of a psychosomatic illness; the repressed rage that lies at the bottom of a chronic boredom; or the fount of energy or wisdom that can furnish a more fully satisfying existence. Literary and mythological representations of this can be found in the examples of Beatrice, who led Dante safely into hell and out again, and Ariadne, whose thread enabled Theseus to find his way out of the Cretan labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur. Both hell and labyrinths are symbols of the unconscious. See also Labyrinth, Monster, Underworld.
(6) Sometimes the anima / animus figure in a dream may appear in some way hostile or threatening. For example, in a man’s dream the anima may take the form of an enchantress, a femme fatale, seducing men into a lake or ocean. The watery depths may be seen as symbolizing the depths of the unconscious. The meaning of such a dream may be that the dreamer needs to explore his other - unconscious - self, despite (or, more accurately, because of) its frightening and threatening aspect. Water, however, is a symbol of the feminine, too. The meaning of the dream, therefore, might be that die dreamer is too heavily fixated on his mother and needs to liberate himself by asserting his masculinity and independence; in extreme cases the man might be in danger of being “possessed’ or ‘swallowed up’ by the feminine within his psyche. Such a dream may be, however, not a warning, but an invitation: the unconscious may be urging the man to get on better terms - equal terms - with the feminine side of his psyche. Give your anima / animus equality, and it will cease from its mutinous attempts to take over the whole of your psyche.
In the case of a woman, a dream may contain a male seducer: some Pied Piper animus figure. Again, the dreamer will have to decide whether such a dream is a warning or an invitation: a warning against being carried away by her masculinity (perhaps she has not resolved her early father fixation), or an invitation to discover and utilize her neglected masculinity. Commonsense and, above all, honesty should guide her to the correct understanding of the dream; and in any case, bear in mind what was said above about giving equality to the anima / animus.
(7) The unconscious compensates the conscious mind. It contains those qualities and capacities which the conscious mind lacks. In this sense it is the opposite of the conscious mind; hence its otherness, its alien appearance.
It follows, therefore, that the image that represents anima or animus in a dream may be the opposite of the psychological type to which the dreamer belongs. For example, if you are a woman of the intellectual type (i.e. if thinking is your strong point at the conscious level), your animus may be represented in dreams as a sentimental type (a romantic Don Juan, for instance).
If you are a sentimental woman (moved at the conscious level mainly by feelings - including moral feelings), your animus may show itself as a bearded professor or other intellectual figure.
If you are an intuitive woman (an artist, for instance), your animus mav take a muscular he-man form in dreams (the sensational type, functioning most strongly at the sensory level).
(8) If brother and sister appear together in a dream, this may symbolize either the tension of opposites, or the union of opposites. The opposites are the conscious and the unconscious contents of the psyche. Their union and interfusion are the means by which the self- the true self that is already within you but waits to be unfolded - is realized.
The appearance of this symbol will usually be an auspicious sign, meaning that, despite all appearances to the contrary, there is within you a latent and attainable order and harmony. But of course you - the conscious ego - must make that latent order real by paying loving attention to the needs of your unconscious opposite (like the prince who wakes the sleeping beauty with an embrace).
In dreams, brothers tend to depict an aspect of yourself rather than the brother himself. They can also represent the characteristics you like or dislike about your own siblings and the dream may be telling you something about those particular characteristics in yourself. An older brother can represent experience and authority, whilst younger brothers can suggest vulnerability and, in some instances, immaturity.
If a woman dreams of a younger brother, it can express either her own or her brother’s rivalry or vulnerability, but if she dreams of an older brother, it might signify her extrovert self.
The sister in dreams usually represents the feeling, expressive side of your personality and you can make contact with that side of yourself by understanding your sister’s personality.
If a man dreams of older sisters, it can represent anxiety but also caring.
If the sister is younger, however, she can symbolize the vulnerable side of the male dreamer.
If a woman dreams of younger sisters, it can suggest rivalry, but if she dreams of older sisters, she may be concerned about her own practicality.