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How to Interpret a Dream
Most dreamworkers agree, you need to be the authority on the meaning and value of your own dreams.
Well, O.K., we can give you some popular ways to interpret the meaning of a dream, but be sure to realize that different approaches and techniques produce different answers. Test all the answers and interpretations out against your own sense of truth.
One way is to use a set of test questions and not rely
on just one::
5. Learn more about dreamwork and truth in my article, Do
Dreams Have Meaning?
The two most popular techniques are to take the dream as being subjective (about yourself) and that it is speaking metaphorically. What?
Now let's look at the parts metaphorically. In this example we can use a metaphorical technique I call functional generalization. Change those parts of your to something functional, what they DO such as :
Now re-write the whole dream using the translations and make a story out of the parts. Feel free to embellish and add new associations and thoughts that come to you. Here is one re-write:
I had a dream that I was with the feminine part of myself that has been with me since childhood. We entered a part of myself that transports or moves me, often in routine ways, and often filled with lots of parts of me. I go with the feminine part of myself along this collective route to the place where I create meaning and value in life. The feminine part of me gave me a gift there in that place of meaning and value, an unpredictable part of myself, an early pre-animal, reptilian part of myself that my feminine side had tamed. This gift acknowledged the part of me that can extend itself to others in so many way, in holding, reaching out, giving power to other parts of myself. I in turn could lend direction and support for this unpredictable part of myself.
Obviously, your own re-write and associations may be quite different. If you have time, you can do two stories, one full of promise and potential, the other full of darkness and foreboding. Then use both these interpretations and ask:
1. How are these like my life? How can they
change and make my life more productive and creative? You can test this by
watching the reactions of your body. Get a whole felt sense of the dream.
Notice where in your body your are feeling the most as you read and
re-write the dream. After finding where you are feeling the most, ask
"What is this feeling?" Don't go into it, just hang out at the
edge and try out various handles or names, "Sad?" then listen
and see if there is much of a reaction. "Happy?" Again, wait,
listen to the place that feels the most. If you say something that
resonates a little with the feeling place, it will move or shift.
2. How can I help the dream? What resources do I
have that will allow me to help the parts of the dream to change, mutate
and become what it most essentially is? What is the dream showing me that
I don't already know?
Keep the dream and its interpretations & feeling sense with you throughout the day and notice where they apply in events during the day and what changes or different reactions and actions you can make with this new knowledge. ("Ah, my boss is just like car in my dream that didn't have brakes! In my dream when this happened, I run into the school. I think now I will be able to learn something from this and not smash the 'school'")
Stick with the dream image, which includes the felt
sense of the dream. I think in a sense all dreams have a vision aspect to
them. If there was a unique or special feeling to the dream, be sure to
keep that alive however you can, telling the dream, drawing it, painting,
sculpture, write a play or whatever you do to keep special feelings alive.
From that point, the points of feeling expression, my guess is that
something unknown will occur, a chance meeting, something you read, a
conversation, that will further develop the feeling and allow the spirit
of the dream to flow.
It is best that the dreamer him/herself interprets the
dream, not someone else. There are many reasons for this, I think the best
is that the dream can be seen not only as "about" things going
on in your life, but also a doorway or window into a much better way of
living in the future. That is, when the dream is viewed as a window into
your highest potential, you will get much more from the dream than just
"Oh, its about blah -de- blah". Dreams are never
"just" about anything.
I have included some information and resources below so that you can expand and develop your skills with dreams.
Here is a website that helps you learn the techniques above: The Fish Dream
More on Dream Interpretation:
The number one question we get asked at Electric Dreams is "What does my dream mean?" We feel the answer is that there are many things that your dream means, and some are very profound and moving, while others may be simple and or humorous and funny.
So, what does this tell me about *my* dream? Nothing, really, except that you are about to enter the wonderful, magical and fascinating World of Dreamwork and Dream Sharing where you *can* find the answer to your questions. And you can do this without years of psychotherapy on one hand, or just looking up what others have to say on the other. Free!
You ~could~ look the answer up in a dream symbol dictionary. But we have found this leaves most people quite dissatisfied. Why? Well, who ~wrote~ the dream dictionary? Someone that knows or someone that is guessing? Hopefully they are trying to be helpful and give you ways of translating your dream that are useful, but usually its just someone *making up* fairly random meanings. The worst ones will say something like "A Yellow Flower means you are going to become pregnant." and are pretty much like fortune cookies. The better ones will change your dream symbols into something more useful, like "A Flower is something that blossoms, so look in your life for something that is about to blossom."
But heck, you can do this game yourself, right?
Dream: "I drive my blue car to Fred's house get a cold drink out of his refrigerator."
Just change everything in the dream to its function. A car = a vehicle to get places, a Refrigerator = someplace to keep things cool, Blue Color = sadness or like the sky, expansiveness or water, a friend = whatever they are know for (friendly, clever, easy to get along with). Now change all these to be part of YOUR personality:
"In my dream I an in a sad vehicle that gets me to a friendly place where I take something inside me to cool off"
Then ask yourself, "Does this ring a bell, does this relate to my life? Do I need to get to a friendly place and cool off? " If you do, then you have opened the door the to first level of your dream. If not, redo the dream again until you do get an "Ah Ha" feeling about the meaning.
Now if you still want to see what other's think about
making images into symbols, that's fine. We learn through modeling as well
as pushing our own creative limits.
Patricia Garfield's Universal Dream Key
About Dream Dictionaries
The Cyber-Dream Libraries Common Dreams:
Better Than the dictionary approach: Join
a Dream Group! How? That's what we are all about.
Its a very exciting time for everyone interested in dreamwork and dream research and dream inspired art and writing. As the new technologies proliferate across the Net, so do the ways of sharing and expressing dreams. There is an explosion of electronic dream journals, dreamwork and dream sharing groups, dream articles and libraries, dream inspired art galleries an so much more.
Where to start?
I have picked a few good places to jump in depending on your interests and background and have listed them below, but am now also including a "WHAT"S IT MEAN?" index. Some people just want a to know what a particularly interesting dream means while others may want a full course of study or a long term dream group. Some people want to conduct dream research online while others just want a good article on how be a lucid dreamer. Whatever your interest, the Electric Dreams community is available to guide you to the resources we have been using for years as well as new resources we discover every day.
WHAT'S IT MEAN? :
• I just want to know what my dream means!
- answers in one month : http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/temple
About Dream Dictionaries, but then why you shouldn't use
them for the final answer:
- answer right away : how to use metaphors to interpret
• I have questions about dreaming, nightmares,
Join an email dream group. Post a dream anonymously to a public bulletin board. Ask a web site to post your art. Upload your own dream bibliography to the cyber-dream library. Start a fight about dream interpretation on the ASD Message Board or Usenet Newsgroup. Send in a dream to Electric Dreams, or an article you always wanted to write but thought was too controversial or weird. Read an article on lucid dreaming at the Lucidity Institute. Start your own Dream Web site or eList for discussions and dream sharing. Join ASD, find all the great educational materials online.
The Electric Dreams community is online to help you get out to the public your own dream vision. Plus we like to have a lot of fun. We have been doing this since 1994.
The Electric Dreams community has been exploring dream
sharing online since 1994. It is a loosely knit network of people
interested in dreams and in promoting dream education and exploration.
Electric Dreams publishes an e-zine once a month, offers news services,
dreamgroups, dream chat and other activities. It is all grassroots and
free to the general public.
Electric Dreams monthly Dream sharing e-zine - If you
are interested in how dream
Just send an email to
Also, if you get a chance, drop me a line an tell me a little bit about your interest in dreams and dreaming and I'll try to direct you to the proper resources. firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, we see your dreams a valid literature worth publishing. And like all literature, we value literary criticism and publish comments on dreams as well. Are dreams psychological, spiritual, poetic, political or just plain nonsense? Tell us your thoughts.
Issues come about every month - dreams, news, projects,
or the latest issue is always available at
The articles from back-issues are collected at
NEWS: This comes with an Electric
Dreams Subscription, and is about workshops, conventions, Web pages,
events and other news-worthy dream stuff. Director: Peggy Coats,
The News is in each issue of Electric Dreams and also posted independently around the Net. Get your projects and announcements in each month.
Think Global, Act Local
We would like everyone interested in becoming a local
reporter or representative of your area, be that geographic or some part
of cyberspace. We are always interested in what particular commercial
online servers (like aol, compuserve, microsoft, ect) are offering and
like to put reports out when we can - please help us out by sending local
information or posting Electric Dreams or Global Dreaming News on
yourServer/Host. Send to Peggy Coats
Visit the Mirror News site at:
Dreams as literature we publish. People from around the
world submit dreams to the dream flow. These dreams are distributed around
on various lists, and they are published anonymously with comments once a
month on Electric Dreams. Fill in the form at:
If you would like to submit dreams directly into the mail list DREAM-FLOW send an e-mail
=* DREAMWHEEL: About every two weeks we begin a new
groups. Usually 4-6 people per
To join, send an e-mail to
or stop by and register first at:
You can sign up anonymously or not, as you wish.
MORE on the DreamWheel: Instructions come with every
phase of the group from a group moderator. Dreams are send in to the
moderator and put on the list. We go through the dreams as a group one by
one. The first phase is the question phase, asking non-defensive
clarification questions of the dreamer, who may or may not respond as they
chose. Then in the comment phase each person in the group takes the dream
as if it were their own. The process is non-defensive, fun and very
Instructions come with every phase of the group from a group moderator. Dreams are send in to the moderator and sorted. (you can send to Phyllis at <email@example.com> who is moderating this Wheel) We go through the dreams as a group one by one. The first phase is the question phase, asking non-defensive clarification questions of the dreamer, who may or may not respond as they chose. Then in the comment phase each person in the group takes the dream as if it were their own. The process is non-defensive, fun and very revealing.
The process is modeled on the work of John Herbert, Richard Wilkerson and others. Each moderator may add their own style to the process. For sample sessions of the group see
Sample Session - Electric Dreams Dream Wheel (Wilkerson
-Coins of Life)
Sample Session - Electric Dreams DreamWheel (Wilkerson -
Dreaming with Serbia)
To read John Herbert's research work (PDF) comparing face to
face groups with online groups, go to
For a quick history and summary of this work, see:
A Short History on the Rise of Dream Sharing in
Cyberspace - Richard Wilkerson
The DreamWheel follows the guideline of ethical conduct
set forth by the Association for the Study of Dreams.
The Electric Dreams community celebrates the many benefits of dreamwork, yet recognizes that there are potential risks. We agree with the ethical position taken by the Association for the Study of Dreams (http://www.asdream.org), in that we support an approach to dreamwork and dream sharing that respects the dreamer's dignity and integrity, and which recognizes the dreamer as the decision-maker regarding the significance of the dream. Systems of dreamwork that assign authority or knowledge of the dream's meanings to someone other than the dreamer can be misleading, incorrect, and harmful. Ethical dreamwork helps the dreamer work with his/her own dream images, feelings, and associations, and guides the dreamer to more fully experience, appreciate, and understand the dream.
Every dream may have multiple meanings, and different techniques may be reasonably employed to touch these multiple layers of significance. A dreamer's decision to share or discontinue sharing a dream should always be respected and honored. The dreamer should be forewarned that unexpected issues or emotions may arise in the course of the dreamwork. Information and mutual agreement about the degree of privacy and confidentiality are essential ingredients in creating a safe atmosphere for dream sharing.
Dreamwork outside a clinical setting is not a substitute for psychotherapy, or other professional treatment, and should not be used as such.
We recognize and respect that there are many valid and time-honored dreamwork traditions. We invite and welcome the participation of dreamers from all cultures. There are social, cultural, and transpersonal aspects to dream experience. In this statement we do not mean to imply that the only valid approach to dreamwork focuses on the dreamer's personal life. Our purpose is to honor and respect the person of the dreamer as well as the dream itself, regardless of how the relationship between the two may be understood.
The Electric Dreams Community, March 2000
To subscribe and unsubscribe from the Electric Dreams
You may get an email back requesting verification. Simply select the REPLY button and send it back.
EVEN BETTER METHOD to SUBSCRIBE:
Go to the YahooGroups website and register first. Its free, and only takes a minute. Then subscribe online to the dreamwheel and get all the benefits of archive access, changing your subscription to individual or digest formats and more.
DREAMCHATTERS - Victoria Quinton hosts a maillist about
dreams and dreaming which has some of the most famous dreamworkers in the
world visiting. Many Electric Dreamers on this list as well as ASD
DREAMSHARE - Host is quite responsive to dreams.
NEW DREAM SHARING eLISTS - Many site now allow you to
create your own Internet Mail Lists. We have given a summary of these in
Electric Dreams March 1999, volume 6 issue 3 see http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed-backissues/
CYBERDREAMS: This is an unmoderated forum, open to
discussion on all aspects of dream theory and practice. This list is
sponsored by the Intuition Network http://www.intuition.org and DreamGate
ASD E-STUDY GROUPS:
OTHER DREAM PROJECTS ON THE NET: Too many to list here,
but we try to keep track of them via three main sources. The first is this
We also have an 2001 Introduction to Dreamwork Online
Or if you like annotated lists of links
HISTORY OF DREAM SHARING IN CYBERSPACE
THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF DREAMS
There are many articles online about dreams and dreaming from the peer reviewed journal Dreaming, as well as the more popular Dream Time magazine.
You can discuss dream topics (but NOT personal dreams or interpretations of personal dreams) on the ASD Bulletin Board anytime, members or non-members.
NEW: ASD presents two new online dream programs:
1. For Members: Dream Study Groups
2. ASD Dream Time Live - Chat online with Dream Experts.
MORE ASD: If you would like to be on the ASD news-letter
via email, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail to:
Be sure to join this leader in the dream movment. Read
more about membership at:
DREAM EDUCATION ONLINE from DreamGate
THE HISTORY OF
This delightful six weeks class gives you both e-mail
essays on the history of dreams and dreaming, as well as interactive labs
and online dream groups to teach you ways of exploring and understanding
From Robert Van de Castle, author of OUR DREAMING MIND,
From Rita Dwyer, President of the Association for the
Study of Dreams,
From Roberta Ossana, editor of The Dream Network Journal
To see the course outline or sign up for the class stop
What is DreamGate.com? DreamGate.com started out as a project by Richard Wilkerson to begin moving dream related information and organizations online and has always retained this part of the organization. DreamGate.com developed the Electric Dreams community www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams , designed and now manages the website for the Association for the Study of Dreams www.asdreams.org , the dream scholar Kelly Bulkeley, Ph. D. www.kellybulkeley.com , Dream titan Patricia Garfield, Ph.d., www.patriciagarfield.com, and many, many other dream related sites and projects.
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