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Dream Symbols
with Professor Nori Muster

       Dreams speak to us through an eternal and universal symbol language that each of us interprets in our own way." Some people think symbols are quite clear, and that it is redundant and a waste of time to have to look symbols up in a dictionary. They seem quite straightforward on their own. The definitions seem quite obvious. Actually, if we all accepted the symbol language that easily, the world would be a lot better place.
       Most people are beginners at this, and the best way to start to understand dream symbols is with a dream symbol dictionary. Some dream dictionaries list the symbols A-Z; others break the symbols into categories, then list alphabetically. Most dream dictionaries agree about the symbolic meanings, and the meanings of symbols in dreams also correspond to the cross cultural meanings of symbols in literature, poetry, movies, and other forms of storytelling. These definitions have developed over time, but the meanings of most symbols are understood universally and culturally.
       Various cultures may interpret symbols differently. For example, a dragon in European culture symbolizes destruction and evil, while in Asian cultures, a dragon retains its original meaning of beneficent celestial powers. Symbols from any culture may appear in any dream, showing the universality of humankind.
       To begin to interpret dream symbols, you will need a dream dictionary for this class. You can choose The Dream book: Symbols for Self-Understanding by Betty Bethards, or substitute any other book that contains a list of dream symbols and their definitions. There are two main categories for dream interpretation. Compare these two online dictionaries:
Dream Lover's Dream Dictionary (http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/)
This is a psychological interpretation. You only need to believe in psychology to accept the meanings of the symbols

Sleeps.com's Dream Dictionary (http://www.sleeps.com/dictionary/dictionary.html)
This is a fortune telling dictionary. This style of dream interpretation requires that you believe dream symbols are omens of good or ill fortune to come.
       For this class, we will work from a psychological perspective. Omens and magic may exist, but for our purposes, it will be more productive to interpret dream symbols as expressions of the subconscious mind. Page through a few dictionaries and choose one that you feel comfortable using. Use your own judgment when purchasing your dream dictionary. Here is a list of the symbol books on my bookshelf:
The Dream Book, by Betty Bethards, a good psychological dictionary (click here for Kindle edition)

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols, by J.C. Cooper, a good cross-cultural symbol guide (Kindle only; paperback and hard cover out of print)

The Secret Language of Signs, by Denise Linn, psychological and lightly fortune telling (click here for Kindle edition)

Heal Your Body, by Louise L. Hay, symbol dictionary to interpret dis-ease symptoms (click here for Kindle edition)
       Once you have your dream dictionary, speed read it, beginning with reading the definitions of a few common symbols. Next, speed read through the whole book, scanning each page for five to ten seconds. Then spend an hour flipping through it, reading the definitions.
       After you review your dream dictionary, take some time to contemplate the meanings of symbols. Compare your own associations with the definitions given in your book.

Interpreting Dreams

       Like poetry and myth, dreams speak almost exclusively in the language of symbols. If you dream about a house, rather than being a dream about a house, it is a dream about your psychic space, your emotional living environment. If the house is messy, the dream may be mirroring some problems you are experiencing.
       A dream about death may be speaking metaphorically about something in your life that is undergoing transformation. A dream of sex or marriage may be speaking of a situation that is becoming unified; a dream of a baby may be speaking metaphorically about a new project or idea.
       Although symbols are universal, all people have their own dialect of dream symbols, based on personal experiences. The dream dictionary is just a departure point, because it lists the generally accepted meanings for most dream symbols. First learn what the generally accepted symbolic meaning (found in your dream dictionaries) then modify it to your own dream dialect. For example, your dream dictionary may define rabbits as a symbol of meekness, but if you had a pet rabbit for many years as a child, rabbits may symbolize (for example) unconditional love or learning about the responsibility of caring for a pet.
       My method of interpreting dreams is to process them in the dream journal, using writing exercises provided in this workshop* or other techniques you may make up yourself. Please take out your journal and turn to the Write in Your Journal! page of the workshop, click here.





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