VI. Dream Symbolism

How to read the symbolism in your dreams. Some dream images have a more or less universal significance--at least within the culture in which you live. Since dream images are often visual puns, many will be a product of the language you speak.

Such visual puns may include: words (overthrow might be illustrated as throwing a ball over something), phrases (arrested development might be illustrated as a police arrest in a housing development), whole sentences built up rebus style ("You need to check out the reasons for your low level of productivity" might be illustrated by a dream of a supermarket--a place where you buy what you need; a checkout line--for check out; a box of raisins--for reasons; and a produce department on a lower level), and idioms (something that "shook you up" could be represented by an earthquake), cliches and proverbs (a preternaturally green field behind a fence could illustrate the saying "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"), advertising slogans (a "white tornado" could indicate the need to do some mental housecleaning), or song lyrics (a person hugging a sheep or the letter "U" for "Embraceable Ewe [You]").

The same principle applies to any other languages you're able to speak, read, or write. For example, in high school I had a Spanish teacher named Mrs. Schreiber. She would often appear in my dreams, assigning translation exercises from Spanish to English. Schreiber means writer in German.

The act of translation from one language to another is akin to the translation of a dream experience, encoded in a kind of foreign language, into the English sentences of its interpretation. Hence, these dreams were about the importance of writing down (Schreiber) and interpreting (translation of Spanish into English) my dreams. This grounding of dreams in language makes it possible to produce a dream dictionary--within certain limits.

Some dream images arise directly from your personal life. Your childhood, everything you've ever done or thought, every memory, any highly emotional experience, can provide images for dreams. These images will have a purely personal meaning. Only you or someone who knows you well will be able to interpret them correctly.

The personal aspect of dream imagery should override anything you've read about what a dream image means. For example, my grandmother once pointed to an apple tree in bloom and said, "We planted an apple tree everywhere we lived. That's seven apple trees."

A dream dictionary might say that a blossoming fruit tree refers to one's blossoming sexuality (where the possibility of bearing fruit is seen as a symbol of fertility). My grandmother was in her nineties when she pointed out the apple tree. If she had told me of a dream of apple trees, it wouldn't have represented blossoming sexuality, but the history of her life.

The second limitation on the usefulness of a dream dictionary is one's belief system. For a dream dictionary to work, the compiler and the user must not only speak the same language, but must also be from the same country.

Cultural differences between the British, Australians, and Americans would render a dictionary produced in one country largely unusable in either of the others. Furthermore, the compiler and the users would have to share the same belief system.

Freudian and Jungian psychology, despite their heavy grounding in dreams, may be useful to Americans who wish to interpret their dreams only in certain broad and general outlines. For example, Freud worked within a period of extreme sexual repression. His insights were useful during that period, but they may not be useful today--except for someone who is repressing his sexuality, or who believes that repressed sexuality is the subject of one's dreams.

Through having read Freud's and Jung's work on dream interpretation, and then monitoring my own dreams for many years, I've come to the conclusion that Freudianism and Jungianism are belief systems. They're useful for interpreting the dreams of the people who believe in them.

The dream dictionary offered here reflects my own belief system. I believe that dreams provide messages directly from the soul about how our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors align with the soul's master plan for our growth. My understanding of the Charles material is responsible for my use of the terms soul, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and master plan. The Charles material is concerned with all of the many ways that the soul tries to communicate with us--including dreams.

If the belief system presented here makes sense to you, then reading this Crash Course should make it easier to interpret your dreams in two ways: 1) through providing you with techniques and insights with which to interpret your dreams; 2) and through providing the soul with a symbolic language that should make it easier for it to communicate with you.

In my experience, the soul is so desperate to communicate with us that it will choose whatever means will put its messages across in the most accessible way. Therefore, anything you've read in this Crash Course will have an influence on your dream images, including the dictionary. The Crash Course will not only help you interpret images from dreams you may have had while reading it, but also it will provide the soul with images for future dreams.

Even though you may find the dream dictionary presented here useful, you should maintain your own personal dream dictionary. The entries in your personal dream dictionary should reflect the aspects of your life that--because of the locations in which you've lived, the people you've surrounded yourself with, the work that you do, and your entire history--are necessarily different from mine.

I share my personal dream dictionary primarily as an illustration of how such a dictionary may be formed. You may find that elements in your own dreams may perform similar functions with slightly different imagery. For example, not everyone has had a Mrs. Schreiber as a Spanish teacher. But anyone who has studied a foreign language may encounter, in dreams, the image of translation exercises from that language into English. Such an image will probably mean the same thing as mine: the dream is about the act of interpreting one's dreams.

The usefulness of a dream dictionary combining both universal and personal elements is that the more images the soul knows you can interpret, the more far-ranging and abstract your dreams can become. Some psychologists believe that dreams do nothing more than replay the events of the previous day or week. But after years of interpreting my own dreams, my familiarity with the way the soul works has allowed me, for example, to have a dream that points out every stage in a learning process that had been going on for seventeen years.

One's dream dictionary is constantly in the process of formation. New experiences add new possible images for dreams. No aspect of your life is without potential for yielding a dream image, including movies, books, television, radio, Broadway shows, operas, art exhibitions, magazines, newspapers, friends, acquaintances, lovers, spouses, children, parents, etc.

Since dreams can be about any aspect of your life, you shouldn't be surprised to find that they can use images drawn from any aspect of your life. The trick is to realize that a dream image may not literally be about the area of your life from which it has been drawn. For example, I often dream of my family. But this doesn't necessarily mean that I'm working on my relationships with family members. My mother is an artist and writer on creativity. She appears in my dreams whenever the subject is my own creativity.