The Law of Dreams

The Nature of Dreams
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Introduction

A Strange Dream...

By Benji Adams

My strange dream...

I am walking along with a pen and paper in my hands. Suddenly, before me was a poster in a foreign language of a woman on the wall with a beer, and next to it a poster was lying sideways on the floor with a girl reaching out to a beast. Then I saw my girlfriend making pasta, and she asked me for a dozen eggs. I see a cat who meows, rubs against my legs, and eats catnip. I put on brown shoes, notice two frog statues on the floor, and see some unlit candles near them. I open the door.

The weather is nice. It's the afternoon. There is a dead plant in front of me. I walk down the stairs and a soft wind blows, making music with some chimes. A motorcycle passes me as I walk down a street in the neighborhood. I pass an empty bottle. The trees are blooming and there are footprints in the sidewalk. A green car passes, then a black one. A squirrel passes me, then a man with a vest and a beret carrying groceries. Next some trucks pass by. There is a blue square on the road. I enter a well-stocked grocery store. I pass potatoes and bottled water. The eggs I find are large and uncracked, held in a yellow carton. There are boxes of cigars at the cash register. The worker is a black woman with piercings. I paid $1.35 in change, and had problems with math. As I return, I see a FOR RENT sign. The wind is colder. I see matches on the ground. I see potted soil without plants, and then I go back up the stairs. A dog barks as I do. I open the door, enter the apartment, and then awaken.

An interpretation:

I have something in my hands, something to do. I am intimidated by foreign women and drinking, and feel that I turn into a beast when I drink, and that attracts women. But then I go to my girlfriend, a very healthy relationship, and she asks for eggs, a symbol of new life and growth, just as our relationship is. This is a good sign for us. The cat is also displaying loving behavior, enjoying the catnip and being affectionate.

The brown shoes symbolize a connection to the earth, and the frogs an ability to move in different environments, though that ability is in stasis (statue-form). In this part of the dream I move away from the comfort of my relationship with Rebecca and into the unknown. I feel an initial fear, that of the dead plant I see, but the blooming trees beyond symbolize my getting over that. The wind and chimes are the symbol of that passing change- from fear to calmness. The procession of vehicles, from smaller to biggest, is a sign of things to come, opportunities (as one gets into a vehicle, one takes an opportunity), and as I wait longer, the opportunities get bigger and bigger. The empty bottle is the little thing lost to get the much larger opportunity.

At last I enter the supermarket, and have abundance around me. The bottled water symbolizes untapped potential, and at last, the eggs, big, perfect, show new opportunities. The cigars at the register symbolize temptation, and I pass them by for the new opportunities. The change I pay shows that, like the empty small, I am giving up very little for these new opportunities.

When I leave, the cold wind shows that the fear has returned. The matches on the ground show that I could warm myself, but choose not to. The FOR RENT sign shows that I have vacated myself due to fear. The potted soil without plants then shows the results of my fear- lack of growth. I return to security at last- and open the door to my apartment.

Interpretation by A Dictionary of Dream Symbols

By Eric Ackroyd

I see the foreign woman which is an unfamiliar part of my psyche, and I then identify it as my animal nature (the beast in the next picture). My girlfriend represents the anima, or feminie side of my psyche, who is asking me to get an egg, or the possibility of something new, something about to break out of the shell of my unconscious. The cat indicates a further integration with my anima. The earthy brown of my shoes symbolizes autumn and therefore a feeling of decline, or low spirits and the shoe is a symbol of the female genitals, thus I am feeling a decline in my sexual feelings. The frog, symbolizing male genitals, is in a statue form, which agrees with the putting on of brown shoes. The unlit candles are also symbols of penises without the fire. And now through the door to undiscovered parts of my psyche I go, most likely seeking the feminine integration that I lack and is the subject of the symbols by the door.

As I walk down the staircase, I am having sexual intercourse. The wind symbolizes turbulent emotion, further revealing my sexual problems. The motorcycle passes, symbolizing machismo, my male aggressiveness. The bottle, representing a vagina, is empty, showing a lack of enjoyment. But the trees in bloom show growth, an antidote for my lopsidedness. The passing cars again represent penises, the first being a symbol of fertile penis, the next that of unconscious penile feelings. The blue square is a mandala of the self, assuring me that order can once again be established with help from the blue, the collective unconscious, by listening to my intuitions.

Upon entering the store, I see bottled water, which represents a vagina filled with emotion. Then I see the eggs, the emergence of my true self. But here I am faced with a cigar box full of penises and the black woman at the cash register, symbolizing evil feminine energy who has piercings which symbolize sexual penetration. Flustered by this horrible image, I have trouble paying for my self-integration and leave.

The cold outside shows how I have emotionally frozen up. The FOR RENT sign shows myself as feeling empty. Once again I go up the stairs, meaning I have sexual intercourse, and the barking dog shows my animal nature coming out.

Interpretation by Understand Your Dreams

By Alice Anne Parker

The foreign woman shows an expansion of myself into unfamiliar realms. The beer she holds shows that there is a feeling of relaxation and indulgence in this activity. The other picture represents a union with animal passions. I then go to my girlfriend, my feminine ideal, and she asks me to get eggs, a request for birth, wholeness, and potential. The cat is a feminine aspect, who is affectionate to me. I then put on my brown shoes, symbolizing security in the material world. The frog statues are images of transformation and the candles are symbols of illumination. Filled with all this positive imagery, I go outside and see the dead plant, the end of a cycle of fertility.I walk down the stairs, grounding myself, and then feel the stimulation of the wind. The motorcycle shows my virility as I set off down life's path. The blooming trees show that life's natural processes are in order. The green and black cars show that my personal power or ego is in growth, and then separated and isolated. The squirrel shows that I am hoarding something. A truck then passes, showing that I have an ability to carry the load. I then enter the store, symbolizing coming into the resources I have been hoarding. The bottle of water symbolizes bottled-up emotion. But then I find the eggs, a carton full of potential. I pass the cigars by, meaning I pass by stimulation, but then find freedom from my repression (the african-american cashier). On the way back, I feel an amotional chill and see the FOR RENT sign, showing a lack of self. I reach the stairs and ascend with aspiration, whil the dog, symbolizing my masculine side, barks. I enter the apartment.

The Truth:

I used to play this game as a child, where my friend and I would go to the big world map I had on my wall and create an adventure. We'd create a code. "The treasure has something to do with Greece!" We'd convert the letters of the word "Greece" to numbers, add up the first three and use that as the latitude, then add up the second three and use that as the longitude. We'd pinpoint another country, which, spelled backwards indicated something else, and so on. We'd have a lot of fun, and in the end, the treasure would be just where we intended it- buried in the back yard.

This isnt so different.

The truth here is that this wasnt a dream at all. I took a pen and paper and began the "dream" by writing down everything that happened to me as I went to the corner store. Nothing symbolized anything. Were the symbolisms helpful? Could be. Did they illuminate problems in my life? They might have. Were they what really happened? No.

Rather than encountering symbols of the psyche, I was simply observing things while on a trip to the store. These interpretations had nothing to do with the actual experience I had. I was probably thinking about something else entirely. The meaning was added on later when I sat down at the computer and projected meaning into every thing that I experienced.

This also shows the limitations of man's thinking. Only those experiences of the mind that someone else also experiences is seen as real. Thus those with psychic abilities, precognitive dreams, out of body experiences, and so on are all often dismissed as "unreal," as random hallucinations. But instead of seeing them as meaningless, Jung and Freud opened up dreams to public scrutiny. They were left with few options - if dreams arent real and they are to have meaning, what can these images in dreams be?

Symbols.

And what are they symbols of? Now that depends. Any higher intelligence must speak to a more limited one through a context that it can understand. Therefore, it must use symbols. You see a pattern in the rippling water and suddenly understand laws of motion, or cycles of growth and decay. To Freud, his sexual issues came to the foreground and clothed themselves in whatever symbols they could find. And they were clever and abundant. The unfortunate thing is that psychologists everywhere, impressed with Freud's psychoanalysis, also inherited his sexual obsession.

Eric Ackroyd's interpretation poses me as sexually disfunctional, needing to balance my feminine with my masculine sides so that I may enjoy sex again. Let me simply state that this may be accurate in a general way to everybody, but holds no specific pertinence to myself. The manner of interpretation seems intent on getting this one message out of every dream, a message intended for Freud alone (like all truths, generally applicable if not important to all).

Alice Anne Parker's interpretation falls apart, as opposing symbols vie for attention. There is no coherence to this interpratation and it seems to contradict itself repeatedly.

Think of the symbols in these books. Has anything ever had any meaning outside of a context? No. In fact, the fastest way to remove the meaning from something is to put it in a void with no relation to yourself. Does it even exist, then, to you? No. Without speaking it, each method of dream interpretation holds the writer's entire life as a context to each object. Does it seem surprising that Freud's early 1900s interpretation of a black woman as symbolizing evil feminine energy differs so completely from Alice Anne Parker's 1990s interpretation of an African American as a symbol of freedom from repression? Reading these symbolic interpretations is like overhearing a message intended for another. Do you have the same life context? Then it may be useful. Then again, it very easily may not. The extent to which any dream symbolism book seems acurate is simply a statement that we have similar associations, which is because we live in a homogenous society. To the extent that our experience varies from the absolute "norm," be there such a thing, these symbols will have no meaning or opposite meaning to us.

"A whale may symbolize your mother..." -Eric Ackroyd

Sorry to hear that, Eric.

Now look again at the basic assumption behind all this: that dream events arent real. That leaves only meaninglessness or symbolic meaning. But what if, like walking to the corner store, dream events are, in fact, real. Then there need be no symbolism. Are we losing something here? Yes. But we are losing allegorical knowledge and gaining true experience. Ask yourself, what influences a person more, metaphor or direct experience? Instead of being messages for me, each thing takes on a life and history of its own. The empty bottle on the sidewalk doesnt symbolize a vagina. It's an empty bottle, which says that someone was drinking recently, walking down this street, and discarded their bottle. Does it seem absurd that we symbolically interpreted my trip to the store? So shall it seem with dreams when we come to understand their actual nature.

Dream events are real. To the extent that you wake up in dreams, you remove the cloak of waking associations that cover these events with hallucinations. Like early scientists, we are discovering the laws of dreaming, and the world in which we dream. Believe it or not, many have awoken in dreams and found it far more real than what we usually call being awake.

That's what the rest of this book is about.