Getting at your Dreams Meaning
People often look at the main word in their dream, look it up, and leave it at that. But usually a dream has a main theme and several other images, people, animals or things are mentioned. Our dreams usually tell a story, not in words but in images, drama and feelings.
I will give an example to show how to arrive at a dream’s meaning from use of the Dream Dictionary entries. It is important to first write the dream down as fully as possible. Don’t stint on the use of words. Be descriptive. Then take the very opening scene of the dream and look it up in the appropriate entry.
Example: I was standing in the back garden of a house – one of a row of terraced houses. Each garden was fenced and ran down to a large drainage ditch. It seemed to be raining and water was filling the drainage ditch. The water was backing up into the gardens because something was blocking the ditch. It started rising up my legs. It was quite hot. I realised this was because hot water was running out of the baths and sinks in the houses. I felt I must get out of the gardens. Not only because of the water, but because of how people might feel if they saw me in their garden. I managed to find a way into a farm yard where I felt relaxed.’ Ted F.
The first scene here is Garden. On a piece of paper separate to the dream, write Garden, with space for notes to be put beside it. The entry on Garden in the Dictionary says – ‘Your garden dream often reveals what you are doing with your latent possibilities. It is pointing out whether you have cultivated your abilities, or buried them. A garden is sometimes a place of love in a dream. In which case it can denote what is growing or dying in your relationship. Another garden theme is connected with activities we do in the garden, like pets we keep, or work done.’
The words Houses – Raining – Hot water – Fences – Farmyard need to be looked up and relevant comments written down next to each word. It is important to realise that the dream and its images are a story, not in words but in images with which we have personal associations with. So wrtite down by each word the basic meaning that appeals to you – i.e. makes sense to you.
Houses – Other people. Raining – emotions, release of feelings. Hot Water – Strong emotions or facing difficult situations, such as social criticism. fence or wall also suggests social barriers, the attitudes and feelings people express to keep others at a distance, to keep a separation between those of different social, religious or economic class. Framyard – This usually has to do with your relationship with your natural urges, the basic drives, such as sex, survival, social hierarchy, parenthood, the down to earth side of yourself.
If we put them together into a story form, we have: I was in an environment with other people and was in hot water facing a difficult situation such as social criticism. I was also in other people’s space and felt that their fences, their attitudes and social difference were there to keep me out. But in returning to my natural feelings I felt at ease again
Making a story of it is an important step, and through you will probably even see what the message of your dream is. But in doing this with his dream, Ted took it further by adding his own associations and ended up with the following. But it is important for you to see what your feelings are and whether any of what is said applies to you. It doesn’t matter if the entry on garden doesn’t contain what is said in your dream. Instead you can say, ‘None of those things apply, but the entry has made me remember my dream garden is a place of pain where a terrible incident happened to me.’ See Working with associations
Ted arrived at and wrote:
Garden – The growth and changes occurring in my life at present.
Row of Houses – Other people.
Raining – Depressed feelings or difficulties; emotions which take away enthusiasm and act as a barrier to action; tears and emotional release – an outpouring; other peoples emotions ‘raining’ on me.
Hot Water – Emotions. In the Idioms is ‘hot water’ suggesting I have got myself in trouble.
Fences – Social boundaries.
Farmyard – Where my natural drives such as sexuality, parenthood, love or fellowship, are cared for or expressed.
When Ted added his own associations to this the dream became fully understandable to him and read like this:
I am going through a lot of changes at the moment – the garden. These are to do with allowing myself to have a warm but non sexual relationship with women. I have always been too dragged along by my sexuality in the past. Just a few days before the dream I was in a ‘growth’ group. I had made friends with a woman there, Susan, who I was warm feelings with, but not sexually. The group work required some close physical contact, and I and another man worked with Susan.
It seemed to me to go without complications. But a while afterwards a woman in the group came to me and with evident emotion, said I had made love publicly to my lover, meaning Susan. I had certainly been physically close to her and had felt at ease, but the viewpoint and feelings of the woman’s accusations, coupled with her threat to expose me to the authority figure in the group, bowled me over.
This is the hot water in the dream. The fences are the boundaries people erect between their personal life and what is socially acceptable. For some days, up until understanding the dream, I felt really blocked up emotionally – the blocked drainage ditch. I cut off any friendship toward Susan. When I realised that in the Farmyard – the acceptance of natural feelings without neat little boundaries – I could feel at peace, I was able to allow my natural warmth again. I also realised the the woman who attempted to damage my reputation had probably never had love that was not directly sexual.
After writing the comments next to each dream image or setting, add any personal memories, feelings or associations, as Ted has. Put down anything which amplifies what has been dreamt. For instance, a car is said to be one’s drive and motivation in the entry on car. But it is helpful to add what personal feelings one has about one’s car. Try imagining what the absence in one’s life of the car, or house, or symbol etc., would mean.
A friend recently told me the absence of her car would mean loss of independence. So this was her personal association.
If you use this method on your dream it can lead to instant insight.