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.
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. 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 in 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 ones 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 ones personal effort and work – the difficulty of ‘keeping ones head above water’ in life and being independent.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Waves: Impulses, feelings and emotions, such as sexuality, anxiety, anger.
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.
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 ones 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 I noticed she struggled with her breathing. While she was 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 wave began to roll up her body. The pleasure was so intense she couldn’t take any more and woke up.