Life began in the sea, at the depths. Our blood is salt in the same degree as the ancient sea, and thus we have an inner sea. In your dreams it represents the universal and fundamental processes of life in you.
Awareness of these processes are not easily accessible to your conscious mind, but are nevertheless constantly influencing you and what you do. When you do at times have some consciousness of this level of yourself, it is often experienced as a huge ocean of mind, the collective unconscious as Jung called it. It feels like nature’s memory, where all experience is stored. So in your dreams about the sea, you may be accessing some aspect of this immensity, stretching from today to the primeval depths of your existence.
Most of the activities that underlie our physical and mental life are beyond our awareness. For an immensely important period of development your being existed in a pre-conscious, pre-verbal state as it grew from the single cells of sperm and ovum to the foetus and new born child. But even after birth there was a timeless period before speech and self-awareness were achieved. Therefore a great deal of your experience and drives lie outside of, or underneath, the clear conceptualisations gained with speech, and your sense of self. Occasionally something – an ache in the chest, a strange emotion that unsettles you – may emerge into consciousness, then disappear. See Wild Side
The sea, with its surface and hidden depths, lends itself to depicting this human experience of known and unknown regarding yourself. The enormity of the sea is also a visible image of the enormity of your own inner world – much of it unknown and lying in pre-birth or pre-speech – and also the relationship you have with the processes underlying your existence, that you exist by yet know so little about. The sea holds vast treasures, curiosities, and your history. Not simply because life emerged from the sea, or your blood is as salt as the ancient sea, but because so many ships and shorelines are now beneath the waves. Sometimes these can be recovered, and this too is an image reflecting your relationship with your own deeps.
Therefore the sea may depict a strange environment in which you might have no skill in surviving; something new or strange that confronts you; the boundary between unconscious and conscious; the processes and the origins of your life; the wisdom, still unverbalised because locked in process rather than insight, of your existence; source of the huge life drives, such as that urging you toward independence, mating and parenthood; a symbol of infinite energy, potential or consciousness, in which human existence is only a tiny part; The waves of experience we face in life, some acceptable, some threatening.
Although some writers say the sea may represent one’s mother, and the situation one meets in becoming independent of her, it is probably better to think of the sea representing the state of being and awareness we emerged from in our mother’s womb. That is, a non striving, non demanding existence in which our needs were usually met without a personal struggle or without any defined sense of self. Therefore a sinking into the sea could be seen as a sinking back into this loss of personality or personal striving and independence. A struggle to survive could be partly a difficulty with existing by one’s personal effort and work – the difficulty of ‘keeping one’s head above water’ in life and being independent. See Individuation
Going under the sea: Bringing internal contents to consciousness; remembering the womb experience; letting our ego surrender a little; looking at death.
If there is a sense of hugeness or depth: Going beyond the boundaries of experience usually set up by our conscious self or ego. See Our Reaction to meeting the Huge that we Are
Learning to swim: Learning to survive in a new environment, such as happens when we emerge from childhood into adult sexual drives, or the school or work environment. At such times anxiety or uncertainty may threaten to engulf us just as it does when we learn to swim. Dealing with life needs us to be able to meet such feelings without turning back. See: swimming.
Rescued from the sea: See: air sea rescue.
Sea shore: This is similar to beach if you are on the shoreline, the border between everyday life and your unconscious sources of motivation energy and life. But if you are looking at the beach from a distance, it could suggest a different way of life, somewhere you haven’t reached yet, or are leaving behind. So it could depict change or somewhere you are trying to get to or reach.
Example: I dreamt I am standing on a steep hillside that slopes into the sea. I look across the sea, and the air is so clear I can see the far coast twenty miles away with amazing clarity. In fact, it is so clear it seems to me I can see every detail of a rocky cove across the water. The clarity amazes me and it seems the cove is only a few hundred yards away. It stands out with all its many colours. I find it so impressive I want to run back to get my camera. I hesitate from doing this though because I wonder if the scene will disappear.
I explored this dream many times but I could not get a clear insight into what the beach arose from in my experience. Then, with the help of a friend, I reached it. When I came to exploring the beach again, at first it seemed as subtle and unreachable as ever. Then I began to define what I was as the beach – a meeting place for water, earth, air and sun – earth, air, fire and water. But the beach is not any one of them. It changes with the seasons and with the action of storms, of erosion and temperature. It isn’t the air, or the sea or the earth. It changes yet stays the same – the beach. Suddenly I felt this in myself, saying, “I am not anything. I change yet am unchanged. I am all things but nothing.” This gave me a very powerful sense of my own eternal spirit underlying all the changes of my body and personality. Robert.
The shore/beach can therefore also depict the spirit that underlies all things. This is because if you were to say what a beach is, you could not say the sea was the beach, or the sky, or the land. None of them separately is the beach. The beach is the indefinable amalgam of them all. In just that way the spirit is the indefinable everything that underlies the particulars of life.
Tidal wave: Any release of emotional or sexual energy. The reason this image is used is that when we feel enormous release of emotions such as might happen when we fall in love, have a baby, or are publicly condemned, our ego often feels carried along by the experience rather than in control.
But huge waves cause many people enormous fear or terror. Often this is because of a past experience such as attack or rape. But dreams are not simply replays of the awful emotions, but are ways you can meet and transform them into healing. See Tsunami; Life’s Little Secrets; Secrets of Power Dreaming; Summing Up
We may have learned how to ride such waves as surfers do. This requires confidence, daring and balance. If we can do it we can open ourselves to much greater range of feeling or change than if we felt threatened. Even happiness may be repressed due to feeling threatened. Anxiety or depression is one of these enormous waves that may threaten to engulf us, and so is one of the human conditions the tidal wave represents. Yet if we face it and meet it can be an enormously transformative influence. See Yoga in Dreaming.
As a tsunami it is saying that some tremendous change has happened deep in you and in the world. Tsunamis are caused by earthquakes on the sea bed, or massive earh changes. So many people are dreaming about them at the moment because of the enormous change going on around us and within us. So learn to face them without fear and be ready to meet change in your life and in your family.
Example: I could see in the distance a Tsunami coming towards us. I found Collette to tell her, and we went to see if we could find a way out for everyone. At the back of the building there was an open area that had an opening with big rocks like a gully, Collette and I agreed it was a way out. Collette went to get the others but as she did my arm went over the boundary and my hand felt water and I knew it was too late. I went to tell Collette. I felt fear and acceptance that there was nothing I could do.
Working on this dream with Tony who invited me to be the Tsunami, which I did.
As the Tsunami I felt expansions in myself wider higher boundless, full of charged energy. Staying with what I was sensing I felt my attention was drawn to something pushing from behind me. I followed that sensation of what was pushing me and it went down my body and continued to go down deep into the earth like a root. As this continued the image came to mind of being in an umbilical cord. I was it and in it and I felt sick between my throat and belly.
Staying with what was happening I felt a black tar like substance, it felt like it lined part if the inside of the cord and it was thick and dense. I felt it was something I had been dealing with all my life and it felt like it came from my mother, but as I became aware of that thought I knew that it went a long way back, ancestral or beyond. I felt emotional, staying with the image the dense heavy blackness, something started to move in my belly, a bubble type ball of energy came out from the blackness into my hands and it felt like I was like a baby inside.
Holding the energy bringing it out up my body, then it was taken back in through my mouth, like eating my own tail, a complete circle moving slowing down my body transforming the blackness as it went.
I became the Tsunami again and it I saw that it was like an LSD trip, levels of attachments of what you identify with; like being in a room but you are not a room. Having things in the room, but they are not you having emotional attachment to them, but you are not those emotions and it washed away what we/I am attached to, letting go of stories of my self, because I am not the story, but have lived through it. I am the energy of the Tsunami, the energy of everything. As I made my way home I felt very much in the moment, with waves of people of all colours, cultures, shapes and sizes. On the bus the conversations, behaviours I noticed, I could see myself in it all buildings cars traffic lights all connected.
Waves: Impulses, feelings and emotions, such as sexuality, anxiety, anger. Waves can also indicate an impulse such as life in one that has its beginnings from a mysterious source.
Example: ‘My husband, and I were standing looking at the sea’s surface. It was just falling night. I saw a mass of dark shapes, thought it would be a school of fish. Then we were looking at water birds, maybe ducks, again dark shapes as the light had almost gone. Then there was a hole in the sea, like a belly button, I was wondering what it was, how was it being made, was there something under the water? Something very big was coming up to the surface very close to me. It shot me to wake.’ Ginny Q.
Ginny and her husband had been exploring the content of their dreams. The image of the sea shows Ginny sensing there are enormous depths to her own being, and something big – a previously unconscious complex of insights and feelings – is becoming conscious.
Example: ‘A small speed boat was at sea. But the sea dissolved anybody who fell in. One man fell in but held himself together as a blob of water and jumped back to the speedboat. I remember the words ‘The sea is a great solvent’.’ Tim P.
Tim is aware of his unconscious sense of being a part of the huge ocean of life or energy. In it one might lose sense of identity. In the end, identity is ‘held together’ by one’s own belief in oneself.
Example: ‘I am either standing at the edge of the sea or near, when suddenly enormous tidal waves appear in the distance and are coming closer. I know they will engulf me, I turn and run away. Sometimes they do overtake me, other times I wake up.’ Mrs A. V.
We can run from pleasure and wider insight, just as much as from pain or fear.
On the first night I slept with my present wife when she fell asleep I noticed she struggled with her breathing. While she was still asleep I spoke to her suggesting she would relax and allow her breathing to be easy. Within moments she responded. This encouraged me and I suggested her whole body would relax, and the barriers within her dissolve, allowing healing and well-being to be experienced. Within ten minutes she suddenly awoke and told me a dream.
She was at the rear of a house sunbathing with her family, feeling very relaxed and happy. As she sank into the enjoyment waves, like a tidal waves began to roll up her body. The pleasure was so intense she couldn’t take any more and woke up.
Idioms: All at sea; plenty more fish in the sea; lost at sea; stranger things happen at sea; between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Useful Questions and Hints:
Does the sea represent the great collective unconscious and all the information we have at hand for the asking?
Is this about potential for creativity?
The emotions felt in in dreams are the real stuff underlying the images, what do they portray?