Themes: Dreams; dreamwork; the unconscious; childhood trauma and wounds; psyche, personal growth; healing; symbols; ego consciousness.
What can dreams tell you? Well, basically, just about everything that’s outside of ego consciousness, so quite a lot!
I’ve been faithfully recording my dreams for about 15 years now, it’s my priority task on waking each morning.
In recent months my dreams have revealed fundamental underlying causes for so many of my symptoms, habits and attitudes. Core, childhood events and situations which still haunt me every day and no matter what I do to try to change things. Without these sometimes enormous revelations it’s probable that I would remain going over the same old ground. For this and so many other reasons I am so grateful to my dream-maker for illuminating all that’s buried in the dark; for guidance; confirmation; joy and yes, also showing me my true, deepest terrors and how they manifest beneath my ego’s preference for pretending that everything is OK.
Key dreams stick in my mind, even many years later. Turning points with such important clues as to what happened before my cognitive memories developed; what is still lingering in my pre-verbal and pre-ego limbic system and body, and how this all plays out in my mind, body and daily life still.
It’s not all hard psychic work however. Dreams can sometimes also be extremely humorous. Here’s one such dream that I had about 12 years ago which still makes me laugh when I tell it:
“I’m tasked with carrying and protecting two baby penguins: one male, one female. I have to keep them safe in a cardboard box and take them to safety. My journey involves moving through different bodies of water. After a while I come to an indoor swimming pool, I get in as I’ve done all the previous bodies of water and start swimming while simultaneously holding up the box of my precious cargo. Suddenly, to my left an Orca Killer Whale appears. He sidles up to me casually like a character in a cartoon, and looking into the top of the box, he jauntily asks me with a great look of curiosity and pretence on his face: “What you got in there… penguins?” I swim as fast as I can, holding tightly onto the box and just about manage to get to the end of the pool and get out quickly before he catches me and the baby penguins; phew!”
Seriously, it could be a scene out of a Pixar movie. It was SO funny despite the simultaneous seriousness, panic and anxiety in the situation.
Somewhere in my psyche there is a large predatory, instinctual force, ready to devour my most precious little ones and who will try any trick in the book to manipulate me into thinking he is friendly. The lysis, the tail-end of the dream, or the hook, thankfully gave and still gives me hope that I have the strength in my will power and body to swim safely to dry land and keep my precious bundles of unlived potential alive. A surprisingly heroic feat for one so traumatised as a young child.
So, give it a go. Write down whatever you can remember of your dreams and ponder the images, themes, characters and environments. Don’t pressure yourself to reach a concrete interpretation, just sit with it and revisit it with a relaxed mind. Drawing it can help too. As I said previously, even years later a particular dream can still hold huge amounts of information and guidance for us. No dream is ever irrelevant and as Marie-Louise von Franz says, “the unconscious wastes no spit telling us what we already know”, so in essence, EVERYTHING in our dreams is new information. What’s not to love about that?
Angela Dunning, The Horse’s Truth, 15th July 2021