Dream Interpretation: Mundane

Hi. Have your dreams been weird af? Let’s talk about it.

I had so much to say on this subject, I decided to divide it into two passages: mundane dream interpretation, and, next week, magical dream interpretation. Shout out to Gemini season! 

Dreams are a favorite witchy concept of mine. They show us, through enigmatic coding, what’s going on in the deepest parts of our minds. They can remind us of impressions we have of the world and people around us, which maybe we didn’t even know were a part of our programming. They can harken back to other times in our life, which we have buried under decades of change and growth. 

My dream activity has been expansive since quarantine started. (It has also picked up since I quit regular weed activities at the beginning of the year. Pro-tip: if you wonder where your dreams have gone, and you love the marijuana, take a night or two off. Your sleep visions will come blazing back; pardon the pun.)

So this week, let’s discuss simple, a-dream-is-just-a-dream territory. Even if you feel that dreams are just our brains cycling through symbols and experiences, their logic and symbolism can be telling and helpful to parse what you are going through. For example, dreams of helplessness, such as driving a car and the steering goes out, give you a hint that you’re feeling lost or out of control. While stressful dreams wreck our sleep and make us feel grumpy the next day, they are still our minds trying to aid us. Our dreams are giving us a visual device for the feelings we have that are difficult to articulate, or which we don’t want to face.

I heard there was a scientific study about disallowing rats to reach REM sleep; the rats could sleep but were woken in intervals so that they never reached the dream state. They began to make mistakes in maze trials, and display less cautious behavior. The connection drawn there was that a rat’s dreaming helps it practice problem-solving even when asleep. The weird zombie-mall-chases/teeth falling out/a big storm is coming dreams that we can have are our brains trying to prep for every eventuality, thus over-preparing you for daily issues. (I would link to that study, but this isn’t a term paper, and I’m drunk with power.)

The study of dream interpretation, like all my topics, could have (and has) whole books dedicated to the symbolism of dream content. But perhaps the biggest question to ask upon waking is: What was the dominant emotion of the dream? 

A feeling of helplessness, like the aforementioned rogue car, loose teeth, or coming storm: How can you take more control in your life? How can you tell the difference between what’s in and out of your authority to change? Were you in danger in the dream, or just the appearance of danger? 

A feeling of triumph: whom did you defeat? What connection can you draw to your waking life? Good job!

Water represents sweeping emotion or sadness; fire corresponds to overwhelming passion or anger.

Other themes we can look at:

Were you a different age/in a different time? If so, how does your experience with that era tie into your conditions now?

Structures: Are you in a house, a hotel, a boat? These may correspond with a period of your life, and the latter two may represent a feeling of unsettledness or transience. Did you travel upwards or downwards in the dream? Dreams that take you up to the attic are said to represent working with your higher mind. Dreams that bring you into the basement stand for working with your deepest subconscious.

Who was with you? I find my dreams can get a little confused. They may swap one brunette friend for another, so I’ll wake up and be like, that dream wasn’t about my high school classmate, it was about a girl I know now who bears a passing resemblance. How do the people in your dreams make you feel? This is perhaps more important than the form they take.

One cool theory is that everyone you meet and interact with in a dream is yourself. It is your dream, after all; all the players could be parts of your mind. So when I dreamt that a cop was in my face, and I told him to fuck off, I was actually telling off my inner cop; a realization that filled my heart with joy as I awoke. And I am pleased to say that I have had less issues with self-criticism since that dream. (You guys, it was an awesome dream.)

A cool riff on this theory is when you have a sexy dream about someone, that person represents an aspect of yourself that you are loving/getting closer to. It can be cool to view sex dreams through this lens, especially if they come out of left field. 

You can interpret your dreams with a grounded, practical approach without giving up the content that feels more psychic or otherworldly; as I mentioned, we will be getting into more magical interpretation next week.

If this feels overwhelming, please remember, this is a very low-stakes practice for understanding the self. Everything is true; interpretation is a game, or a fun mental exercise. Don’t get caught up in deciphering symbolism “correctly.” There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to figuring out your night-visions; this is, like all strides toward self-understanding, a process.

I wish you good rest, dear hearts, in these tumultuous times. And if your rest is charged with mysterious spectacle, I wish you perception into your fathomless selves.

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