Getting at your Dream’s 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.

See Techniques for Exploring your Dreams – Peer Dream Work


-Maria 2018-02-10 20:43:32

I a have had constant dreams of going to the doctor for a regular check up there he tell’s me I have a brain tumor and only have a year to live

-Gabriel armiger 2017-09-18 16:20:11

I have had a recuring dream for the last few years, it starts at nothing with no color or feeling, which then evolves to quick morphing shapes of black and white, all individual but yet the same, indistinguishable by the forms that they take. Some have depth while remaining completely 2d. I dont know if i am moving through the dream or if its moving on its own. The dream is always different but ends in the same way, with a set of stairs that dont go up or down which lead to a space which cant be called white or black with a sphere of polar opposite color that the space has.
I used to be scared of this dream but over the years ive come to be excited about the next time ill have it.
Been needing to tell some one for years, thanks

    -Tony Crisp 2017-09-19 10:03:30

    Hi – It would help you to understand your dreams, if you would read – and also which has so much information in.

    Nothing can replace your own ability to understand your dream. With a little effort you can do this by practising what is described in – or


    Gabriel – A very interesting dream. I take it you were not in the dreams with an image of your body?

    Did you know that when we dream we can enter an experience of timelessness beyond our awareness of space? For your description of stairs that don’t go up or down, polar opposites of colour suggest that you have experienced the great paradox.

    The great paradox is, how is it possible to live in a condition beyond time and space, without the heavy joy and pain of bodies; to experience the freedom of dreams and death, and also live separate lives, the tangle of days and nights running to years spent working and living in a body and time? See

    What is reality? What is true? Well, the answer is that all human experience is true; but they are different truths because when seen through the eyes of a body they are very different than the eyeless view of bodiless existence. In its positive aspect bodilessness is an exploration of the subtler aspects of our mind, our internal world, and relatedness. As such, bodilessness may be a great realisation of freedom. This positive side of it may bring a sense of survival of bodily death. It may also relate to the experience of being in the womb, and to the participation in another person’s being – or participation in the existence of all things. This is because the sense of bodilessness often brings with it a melting of ones boundaries and a feeling of being part of all life. This is sometimes called an ‘oceanic’ experience because it can feel like one is melting into an enormous ocean of life or consciousness. See

    When we first meet this experience we are often frightened. See

-sundeep 2017-07-02 2:22:24

I dreamt of lava. I saw a speeding truck who was trying to avoid not to fall in the river of lava that has entered city. Soon the truck falls in the lava. Then lava starts surrounding the house. We shift to another across the street. There I suggest to leave the city to somebody or to my father. Then I save the dream I was worried and brave as well

    -Tony Crisp 2017-07-02 10:02:26

    Hi – It would help you to understand your dreams, if you would read – and also which has so much information in.

    Nothing can replace your own ability to understand your dream. With a little effort you can do this by practising what is described in – or


    Sundeep – The first thing said in ‘Summing Up’ that I recommend reading first is, ‘Whenever we dream its images are not like real life, because a dream is nothing like outer life where things could hurt you, but is an like image on a cinema screen, so that even if a gun is pointed at you and fired it can do no damage – except if you run in fear; so, all the things that scare you are simply your own fears projected onto the screen of your sleeping mind.’

    So trying to avoid lava is not necessary, because dreams always use dream images to indicate something taking place in you – in your inner world – and have nothing to do with lava in the outer world.

    So your fear kept you from experiencing an important life lesson. You can of course try it now by imagining standing the way of the lava and watch the feelings that come up – realising that nothing can really harm you – a lesson in what you create within you by fears, confusion, etc.

-Luis 2017-06-26 20:56:21

I had a dream where my dad gets attack and I cant seem to help him out. This is the second time I dream that.

-Erin 2017-03-25 10:26:20

I just woke up from a dream where I was in a prison. There were occasional break outs of the prison but non successful. Finally with the help of a very large brut strength man I was able to break free. Upon breaking out he was holding two identical stones that were gem like. In the prison yard we were leaving by the way of blending in with the crowd of people who left after visiting. I remember feeling as if I was crouching behind people in efforts to hide and blend. we got to a spot in the yard where there was a girl sun bathing on a lawn chair. Beneath the back of the chair were other gems. They were about the size of small potatos and shiny. There were two of the same gem but not identical to the others held by the brut. The brut took one of those gems and gave one of his. Now he had two gems but they weren’t the same. We continued on out of the prison yard safely to freedom and separated. Now I’m on a busy street trying to hide and find shelter. I see a cop and duck by an older style house which has been renovated. It has water running around it that looks like it has a lot of rust in it. I open the door and it’s a pink and grey room for a little girl. I see another door which leads to another room with a harbor seal. I feel bad for the seal. It has no food or water. I contemplated let it swim in the water around the house but wasn’t sure if that was safe. I went down to the second level, but o had to jump because there were no stairs. I looked around and he other rooms were cluttered unlike the first room, which was organized and very neat. I comforted the seal and let him. Eventually I woke up. This is hands down the most vivid dream I’ve ever had and in full color. I could hear and feel touch too.

-Mecca 2017-03-23 12:01:59

Dreamed i went to kiss small dog who was on a leash. As i leaned down, the dog bit my inner mouth. My inner mouth was sore w/reddish blue sores. I said out loud “her dog bit me.” i looked around & noone seemed to care.

Can you tell me.what this means? Thank you.

-Mecca 2017-03-23 9:53:53

Dreamed I went to kiss small dog who was on a leash. As I leaned down, the dog bit my inner mouth. My inner mouth was sore w/reddish blue sores. I said out loud “her dog bit me.” I looked around & noone seemed to care.

-Dakeisha W. 2017-02-14 8:28:16

I just had a dream that i was out amd my kids father was home with them, but when i returned he was standing around some friends and they were crying and when he walked up to me he said the “kids are locked in the house.” I immediately looked at the apartment in my dream and the front of the house was burned, all of the windows were burst out and the authorities were everywhere. I jumped up to look in the up stairs apartment and the back of the apartment was not burned from what i could see through the front window but i began to holler and scream no no no not my baby’s, i also began to holler and cry so bad. In the mist of me crying someone in the crowd behind me said you should learn to stay home more often. What does this mean? I am terrified and me and my children father has been working on getting back together.

-Kassandra 2017-01-03 11:31:06

So this is the first dream I’ve had in a couple days and it starts with me playing/piggy backing my little cousin in-laws and there’s this family of brown bears that live in the townhouse in the same little circle/square of townhouses as me and my family. I think the mother bear can talk and they have a few cubs and like one almost teenage one and they can talk I think but the father just kind of doesn’t. Anyway to the point so the mother bear likes me she’s fine with me picking up the cubs. So the father bear tries to try this weird stunt thing and like flip over this two story belcony wire thing and it messes up bad and falls and the teenage bear runs out and saves his head from smashing on the ground and I am somehow sitting on top of their backyard fence and one of the cubs was scared and jumped into my arms and when the father bear gets up he sees me holding the cub and so I let go and run inside the backyard door and kind of hide by the main entrance and sortof wait for the father bear to come inside.( Also the mother and father bear are very huge, like too huge the fit in a regular door way even on all four they’re massive but somehow they just do in my dream) So as he’s coming towards the back door I slip out the side door and notice the neighbor is finally calling animal control on the dad bear and I take off and as I’m coming out to the parking lot I see this random guy I’ve never seen before and ask him for help so We run across the street jump over this fence thing-and I’m talking like one hand on top of the 5foot fence and swinging over-which I could never do in real life. I try to call my bestfriend who lives down the street by the elementary school that we used to go to by my house but she doesn’t answer. Anyway we keep running until we reach this door that didn’t have a handle so I stick my nails in the crack and pull it open and come up to another door and it has a handle and run inside to what looks just, like a square room with a McDonald’s play place in it and has a slide and all.(we’re not at McDonald’s either this place is on the edge of a field we thought it was an apartment building). it’s a small square room and so me and the guy hide in there and this place is full of windows-and the doors are suddenly very close, almost just one door- and I’m sitting/ducking in the corner and the guy is in another corner and the huge brown bear swipes at the window above the door and they smash and I wake up.

-Delilah 2016-12-04 15:02:27

I had a dream of a eagle It was pretty outside and I was sitting on clean green grass by a tree all of a sudden I look up and see something pass the sun then once it spread its wings I realize it was a eagle n I say to myself so beautiful! It was. And then suddenly it swooped down right next to me and then appeared another eagle guess it was his girlfriend? He stood by her n held her. Then he folded his wings Into praying position n prayed. That’s all I can remember?

-valerie 2016-11-27 11:50:56

I dreamt that I was somewhere with various people and we were hiding in an old barn. I am not sure why. We all left the barn( dont know why. ) but I crossed a bridge ( I think there was a road underneath ) I was with a litte girl who had to hold on to a little yellow bird. When we got to the other side ( which turned out to be my nearest town , to where I live ). She lost the bird, we tracked it down, it would escape then I would catch it. It flew into a tree, I caught it as it flew out of the tree. We still were hiding and didnt go into our usual coffee shop. ( but people were about )Then as we set off to go back over the bridge to the others . We met a girl form work on a go kart, she should have been been hiding ). She lead us and another work mate ie a man to an old building in field hidden behind trees an grass. I decided to stay there and not cross over the bridge as I didnt want my workmate to be on his own. I still held onto what I hoped was the right yellow bird, because we should not have lost the original. When we got to the barn. other childen were there , . we all hid in a back room that had windows and blow heating. The dream came to an end when the male with us heard our boss from work come in. I was left on my own with the boss, two children. ie a boy and a girl. i couldnt see the yellow bird and worried that I had lost it. I then woke up.Please tel lme what this means. .

-Jodie 2016-09-13 5:34:03

Hi tony ,

I have had a dream about seeing digs wagging their tails , however my dig then came up to me she is a pedigree rotti who is black wagging her tail looking happy .

From what I can work out is black dog is a disappointment of someone close who is not telling all the facts and may betray me however the Happy dude reflects coming to terms with what is negative accepting faults . Would I be in the right track .

    -Tony Crisp 2016-09-13 11:49:09

    Jodie – Thanks for having a go at understanding your dream. But the first part of the method says to look at the suggestions given in the dream dictionary in DreamHawk. But I cannot see where it says, “black dog is a disappointment of someone close who is not telling all the facts and may betray me.”

    If I have said that on this site, please tell me where it appears, as I must have been writing a lot of mumbo jumbo. What I see under black dog is – The black dog also shows you urges which are largely unconscious, or it is a messenger related to what is unconscious in you. So the black dog can indicate sexual feelings that you are not proud of, or any natural feelings, even feelings of love that you hold back.

    So the happy wagging tail dog actually suggests that your instinctive but unconscious self relates to you well and has a good message for you. Perhaps you have not seen the entry –

    The last part of the method to understand the dream, one which transforms the meaning, is your own associations with the images. It takes work, but once you get the knack of it is a wonderful gift – especially if you use –

    And maybe read


-Kimberly Smith 2016-08-31 14:58:24

Last night I dreamed I had taken my sons into a store where there were many tubs of different colored Lego’s as well as sand art. As I entered a man, that looked like one of the co-actors in Armagedan, was standing behind the register we struck up a conversation as the boys set out to play. I felt a connection with this man. During the conversation he motioned to the tubs around us, and commented that people now a days simply are not interested in such things. He told me he wanted to show me something. As I followed him around the counter he began working with his hands to mold a figure out of white clay and red and blue glitter sprinkles. The whole time we were enjoying conversation and a bond was forming. I sensed that the rest of the clay was to form perhaps a woman. I did not feel the man clay figure represented myself. First, I am a single mother who has decided at the age of 40 years old to finish raising my boys and then to grow old with a cat or 7. Yes, I have chosen to become a cat woman. Yet, I am curious of what this dream might signify as there was a feeling of benevilence . The dream itself only included me to the point as I saw myself as a willing participant in the magic of the moment and could see myself as the living man and I bonded. I am not sure where to begin to find the meaning of this dream. I truly want to as after the accident in 2013 it is a very rare condition for me to sleep enough to have dreams. When I do they are generally nightmares of the accident. It is even a rarer condition for my dream and the feelings behind it to follow me into the waking world. Can you, will you please help me?

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