2nd January 2012

Interesting one this – some of us remember our dreams, some of us never remember anything. Dreams can be funny, banal, terrifying, unnerving, sexy, exciting or just downright weird. In terms of remembering dreams, I think it is like a muscle – if you start to remember a little bit and write that down, then the muscle gets stronger and you start to remember more. When I am really paying attention to my dreams it is like watching a very long film or (on a boring night) a soap opera.

So if we are remembering our dreams, what is it all about? Well, dreams are a personal experience and they are an expression of our own (sub)consciousness so it is up to us to make sense of them. However, the language of our dreams is symbolic and here there is a cross-over between the personal and the collective consciousness. The symbols of dreams are archetypes of consciousness which have been personalised by our imagination. For example, water is a symbol of emotion and so how we experience water in a dream can show how we are feeling about a situation in our life. A snake is another good symbol – we could ask what colour it is in the dream : white or black? This can indicate how we feel about what the snake represents: is it a positive and conscious emotion, or is it a negative and unconscious emotion? Then we can look at what the snake represents in the language of archetypes. This is like reading and interpreting poetry – the meaning is shaped by cultural and personal considerations and we know when we have found the meaning the resonates most closely with who we are. Some possible interpretations include:

– like the mythical dragon, the snake is a symbol of the archetypal energy that resides in the earth (i.e. in physical matter), as opposed to the energy of the spirit or the divine. This is the energy of physical life which we can be comfortable with or which can be scary and intimidating.

– the snake is a powerful symbol of rebirth and transformation; this is because the snake sheds and regrows its skin several times during its lifetime

– in Jungian analysis, the snake (like the demon etc) can be a symbol of the shadow self. The shadow is a conglomerate of all the energies and forces within us that we have repressed because we do not like them or because they are too difficult to deal with

From my perspective, when we dream we are immersed in a part of us that is subconscious and which is not normally given direct expression in our waking life. This subconscious energy is interpreted by our imagination which then creates the story and images of the dream. Sometimes the story is scary because we are being shown something that we are afraid of but which we are not acknowledging. Sometimes our subconscious is telling us something comforting or reassuring. The message and context of our dreams are as varied as our lives and if we are interested in them then we can unravel them and give them meaning.

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