… dreams …

Photos by Ashen

Photos by Ashen

I used to host regular dream groups. We did not so much set out to analyse our dreams, but we played with them by engaging with their images, characters and objects. Sometimes we enacted scenes to widen associations and deepen our insights. While there is some excellent literature on working with dreams, a lot of it is boring, misleading and superficial. For me, the main purpose of valuing dreams lies in befriending the unconscious and the bringing to light what is timely and meaningful.

When we have no obvious explanation for events, dreams may bring subtle messages, offering glimpses of dynamics usually hidden from our awareness. A staggering 90 percent of personal and collective psychic dynamics trigger and compel our actions in life, and for good reason. The self-regulating psyche protects us from too much awareness. When encouraged, respected, and left to do its work, much like the immune system, the psyche can encapsulate runaway viruses of the mind by blanking out anxieties and obsessive thoughts, unless a trauma results in an ongoing inner storm. The processing of traumatic experiences is vital for the health of the individual, the family, the tribe, and our collective psyche. Something equally important to consider is that as adults our natural childlike curiosity about life may have become flattened by engrained habits and obsessive needs for security and control, both diminishing the meaning of our lives.

Note: Each embedded link here will not lead you away from this post but bring up a fresh page.

In an earlier blog post Joe Linker’s comment led me to an article by Oliver Sacks on altered states in The New Yorker  where Sacks pointed out a long tradition of ceremonial drug-use to stimulate the brain. Drugs certainly relax jaded attitudes by activating the senses and bringing insights and fresh perception. Sacks, and many like him, were admiringly fearless and creative, before there was a clamp down on drugs and they became illegal.Dreamseries 2

In dreams as in trance, induced or not, the mind can kick up imaginal representations of feelings, and metaphors. We shift to another realm, escape the logical structure of time and also tap into the collective psyche. We may hit a T junction, one path leading to an illuminating visionary state and the other to a schizophrenic state of confusion, which is why science sticks with rationality and is generally not keen on the imagination. The question as to what pulls us towards Heaven or Hell has no easy answer, yet all inner state, when approached with respect, patience, and most of all, wisdom, can have a healing and effect on our personality, and, in instances, as we know, result in significant works of art.

Dreamseries 3

Freud’s iceberg metaphor illustrates that our individual psyche swims like a mountain of ice in a vast sea, only to reverse into its fluid state once its coherence dissolves back into the sea. As a simple and more intelligent map of various unconscious states I prefer the egg diagram by Alberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis.

Active imagination is a gentle way to befriend the unconscious and build bridges towards consciousness and daily life, and a way to explore dreams without messing with the dreamer’s unique meaning. I share here some practical tips:

Remembering dreams:

You can ask for a dream, especially when you feel stuck and ponder a question. You might even write the question on a slip of paper and put it under your pillow.

Try not to move your head after noticing a dream. Place holds memory.

Have a notepad and a soft pencil next to your bed, maybe a microlight, so you can scribble down a memory facet before fully crossing the threshold into waking. Even a single image, phrase, number, colour or feeling can act as a key for recalling a dream later on.

To catch a dream – try disrupting your sleeping pattern with an early alarm clock setting.

Experiment with your head position while sleeping – north, east, south or west.

Towards understanding dreams:

The psyche does not care about logic. The meaning of a dream may however unfold like a seed when we attend to its poetry and rhythm.

Ask yourself … how do I relate to the characters or objects of a dream? What feelings and sensations are evoked? In what context did the dream arise? How does it relate to my present situation?

Write a story or make sketches of the images. Tiny fragments can offer connections via free associations.

Give a voice to the characters and objects appearing in the dream. What do they want? Allow them to express their thoughts and feelings. Such dialogues can reveal surprising insights.

Change the script, create a different outcome, face down a fear or a shadow and follow through to what wants to happen. This approach can move a dream to a different level of understanding.

Ask yourself: Where does the energy want to go? What is emerging?

Dreamseries 4


Dreams express the voice of the soul; they are our contact with our deepest self, our inner substance. The mere act of recalling, experiencing and consciously honouring our dreams connects us with our real selves and awakens previously unavailable levels of creativity and vitality, even without interpretation.

Carl G Jung

A related post on altered states.

And if the subject of dreams interests you, here are some more links:

Edward C Whitmont was a Jungian psychoanalyst, who deepened my understanding of the psyche through his exceptionally clear writing. His books may be out of print, which would explain why they’re so expensive:  Dreams – a Portal to the Source and The Symbolic Quest

Other excellent authors to look out for, apart from Jung, are Anthony Stevens, Private Myths – Dreams and Dreaming, and Marie-Louise von Franz – The Interpretation of Fairy Tales.


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12 responses to “… dreams …

  1. I attended a talk by Anthony Stevens which I found fascinating. This post reminds me to re-consult his book. An excellent post. I feel sometimes I am addicted to dreaming, its world so much richer than the ‘ordinary’ but so tantalizing in what one forgets but know is there!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Philippa. Oh I wish I had been there. Anthony Steven wrote a number of wonderful books. You would also like ‘Archetype, the Natural History of the Self.’ Rahima knew him when she still lived in Cornwall.
      He is now in his 80s and moved to a Greek island, dreaming a sunnier dream ☼

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Really, this is so strange that you’ve posted this today, because you featured in a dream I had last night. I was back in school and you were a student too. We were both members of a book club that would meet after classes were finished. I looked forward to that. The rest of the dream was me stressing about not having finished my other work. I don’t think it would take much sophistication to analyze this dream (!) but I will say you were a calming presence, even to my subconscious. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bookclub with your company, yes, I like that. What was the other work you stressed about?
      Reading fur fun seemed a bit of a luxery at my school. I remember a math teacher treating us to novels in instalments at the beginning of each lesson, to get our attention. His scheme worked, but he got into trouble with the head.
      Me, a calming influence, up to a point, but I’m pleased you think so 🙂


  3. Hi,
    Thank you for diving into this very precious topic. It’s precious because I believe our dreams awaken in us those desires that help us see a vision for ourselves and then motivates us to go after that vision and see it become our reality.

    Like you, I write my dreams down, but I haven’t always written down all of my fragments. I have my iPad on my bedstand and I write down immediately or dictate what I saw into the iPad.

    Something that I didn’t realize and I’m glad you mentioned is that I can ask for a dream. And I will ask for one.

    Susan Scott ran a beautiful series on the dream, and I learned much from that series, and it has wet my appetite to know more.

    What I have found out here is that it is important to write down those fragments. Sometimes I’ve dreamed and forgot to write it down because I could only remember a fragment. Later, maybe or month or two passes by and I have been in situations where I knew that I’d seen that before in one of those fragments of one of my dreams. So, from now on I’m going to write them down, even if it is only a sentence or two.

    Thanks also for the book recommendations. I will look in the internet library and see if I can find a copy of Whitmont’s books.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Patricia. Yes, I recall, Susan works with dreams and she generously shared her knowledge of this vast field. The books I mention are very worthwhile. Asking for a dream, it’s best to embody the question. By this I mean to sincerely wish for guidance.


  4. Reblogged this on Walk On and commented:
    Good Evening Everyone,

    In the Blog, Course of Mirrors, an article about dreams has been published. Again, this article is something that I would like to share, with you, because we tend to run and hide from that which we don’t understand about ourselves, especially when it deals with our dream world.

    Pat Garcia

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A person left a friendly comment here. Alas, when I can’t verify the identity of a writer through an authentic internet presence I won’t approve comments. Sorry.


  6. The tips for remembering dreams is one I am going to try. I only remember dreams that are weird or have impact. There’s been a quite a few when in that fleeting moment was significant and then forget what it was about!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    First day of the year…

    Have you had dreams of your future?

    If you have — or — when you do, today’s re-blog might help you mine them for meaning………

    Liked by 1 person

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