Dream Interpretation Symbols | Dream Meanings
Dream symbols are the images that are featured in a dream.
Teeth falling out, a house being burnt, a winter storm, a foreign country, your sister, a child, a stranger, a painting, a werewolf, a church and a ballet are some of the limitless number of images or symbols you can find in dreams. Most dream symbols are not to be taken literally, but rather metaphorically. A metaphor is where the meaning of one thing is transferred to another thing—a ‘happy ship’, for example, might mean a good-humored family or workforce. In most cases, to fully understand the message in the dream you should interpret your dream symbols as metaphorical rather than literal references to your thoughts and feelings. For instance, a burning house might contain references both to yourself (the house) and to your passion, anger, desire or bodily fever (the fire).
Symbols and pictures predate language. They point to the emotions and instincts, many of which are hidden or repressed; these are stored in the unconscious mind, where they reside until some stimulus brings them to consciousness. Jung tells us that dreams speak in the language of symbols and these symbols can have more than one meaning. This has to do with the personal and collective unconscious. The former refers to the dreamer’s ego life, where those things that have been repressed or rejected from consciousness reside. The collective unconscious, which is rich in symbol and metaphor, is older than the individual and indeed older than consciousness itself. It consists of ‘the whole spiritual heritage’ of mankind’s evolution born anew in the brain structure of every individual. The representation of a symbol in the personal unconscious points to the anxieties of everyday life, whereas the collective unconscious addresses the deeper sense of who we are. This is the true self that is often disguised in the ego-life, a spiritual and creative being that inhabits our psyche. Jung tells us we cannot be fully whole until we recognize these ‘collective’ aspects and make them a part of our everyday lives.
Dream dictionaries fill shelves in bookstores and each one will tell you what the symbols in your dreams say about you. The trouble is that most of them contradict each other; in many instances they can also contradict you. The language of dreams is above all personal and symbols cannot have fixed meanings. However, this does not mean that a dream encyclopedia such as the one you are reading now has no useful role to play; quite the contrary.
If used correctly, it can be incredibly helpful. It can spark your imagination and can give you inspiration to help you to interpret your dream.
Although there is often confusion and difficulty surrounding symbols, not helped by the fact that many sources of information come from ancient texts, distant cultures and far-off periods of history, kernels of truth often reside in what might be called a clichéd reading of any particular symbol; this is because we all share common needs and therefore share common experiences giving rise to common dream symbols. Bear in mind, however, that one interpretation can never have a universal application and the specific meaning will differ from person to person. As stressed throughout this encyclopedia, the only way to get a satisfactory interpretation for your dream symbols is to consider your personal associations in conjunction with the universal symbolic meanings. See also ARCHETYPES; COLORS; SHAPES.
To see an unknown symbol in your dream indicates your confusion or ignorance in a situation. Consider what the symbol resembles for additional significance.
“Learn the meaning of your dreams and understand your vision for the future”
“a dream is never just a dream”
We sleep sleep and dream, your inner mind is busy as a bee (and your body’s chemical factory is also active producing dozens of substances that affect your growth, your brain, your emotions, and everything else about you).
This deep mind is called the unconscious, and it never sleeps. Entire books have been written about the unconscious mind and its activities and processes, and more than a few books have been written about dreams and their connection to the unconscious mind.
However, when all is said and done, dreaming remains a mystery. That’s the complex part! The truth is that nobody, but nobody, really knows why we dream, where dreams originate, exactly what they mean, or much else about this most complex of human characteristics.
A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.
The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, although they have been a topic of scientific, philosophical and religious interest throughout recorded history. Dream interpretation is the attempt at drawing meaning from dreams and searching for an underlying message. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology.
Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable.The length of a dream can vary; they may last for a few seconds, or approximately 20–30 minutes. People are more likely to remember the dream if they are awakened during the REM phase. The average person has three to five dreams per night, and some may have up to seven; however, most dreams are immediately or quickly forgotten.
Dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses. During a full eight-hour night sleep, most dreams occur in the typical two hours of REM. Dreams related to waking-life experiences are associated with REM theta activity, which suggests that emotional memory processing takes place in REM sleep.