To dream of hearing noises indicates quarrels in family and much misery in life.
Abreaction is a re-experiencing of painful or traumatic events or situations. In many dreams it is obvious that the process underlying dreams is attempting to trigger an abreaction. This suggests the dream process, as Jung and Hadfield say, is a self-regulatory one in our psyche. In many cases where a person explores the feeling content of their dreams in a confident way, abreaction occurs. Although it has been given different names in recent years, such as primal therapy, rolfing, discharge, catharsis, abreaction is still a basic psychological healing process. Pans of our experience become repressed because there is an automatic reaction in us to avoid pain. Therefore painful experience may never be fully felt or understood at the time. Reliving them allows us to review and integrate vital information about ourselves. Frequently all the analysis in the world cannot relieve a neurotic pattern until the repressed emotion holding it in place is released and understood.
The strength with which we hold out against allowing our being to abreact spontaneously is seen in the above example. Mr KT is brought to the brink of reliving his very stressful childhood again and again. Yet he manages to avoid actual memory and, in particular, the experiencing of any childhood emotions and fears.
The opposite is shown in this account by Clive, who explored with me a dream about being shot in the arm in his father s shop. ‘For several hours I could find nothing about the dream. My mind simply wandered. But with help I persisted. Suddenly I seemed to break through, first to seeing how the shop was a place in which I have unconsciously experienced great emotional pain. My father was always criticising. Never a word of encouragement. Then I burst into powerful sobbing as I felt the pain of wanting my father to love me, instead of cnticising all the time, and help me grow into somebody capable of meeting life. And then, something I just had not wanted to see, the 30 years of my life I had wasted by avoiding any contact with authority. My father was the original authority in my life. I had cut off from him because of the lack of support, and I had done the same with school and other authority situations. But what a relief to understand myself, and to meet that young vulnerable boy I used to be. How I loved him and understood him/myself.’ abroad General: your feelings about that country.
If you have lived in that country: overall experience of that place. Were you happy there, lonely? What characteristics of the people did you take in?... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
When we are an inactive observer in our dream, are all the time on the receiving end of dream action, or as in the example make no effon to move from discomfort, we are in a passive role.
If this occurs frequently in our dreams, we are probably passive in our waking life. This can gradually be changed by such techniques as active imagination. It is our own emotions, fears and sexuality we are meeting in our dreams, so it is wise to take charge of our being rather than be a victim.
The following dream illustrates an active dreamer: ‘As I walked toward a house a number of demons or devils came at me menacingly, trying to stop me getting near the house. Although they made all the ghostly noises, I wasn’t at all afraid of them. I felt they were a damned nuisance, and to show them I meant business I grabbed one and with my right hand I gripped its flesh and squeezed. It started to squeak in pain and I squeezed harder’ (Clive J). ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The cross is a standing figure with arms outstretched, a church’s structure a representation of the body, and the miracle of sexual reproduction—the mystery enacted within it; a maypole, the penis. Therefore various things can represent our body or aspects of ourself. Seeds, swallowed teeth can be sperm, anything long and pointed, even a linger, can be the penis; anything hairy, a male; anything receptive like a bottle, bowl or cave, a woman or vagina.
A body, or our body, also represents physical life; material existence; the process which causes growth and aging. This includes all the processes of nature in us.
A dead body: our skin or shape is felt as our boundary, the edge of our universe.
The dead body depicts a whole set of personality traits or attitudes, very often potentials, which have been denied life by us. We have not allowed them expression.
A person hun in love might kill out any feelings towards the opposite sex. This ‘dead pan of them can be shown as a body. May also be the way we meet feelings about death. Sickness in body: can refer to an awareness of illness in pan of body shown. Most often depicts psychological problem symbolised by pan of body— see body pans below. Maggots in body: possible need to cleanse body of toxins or infection, sense of dis-ease emotionally in that area of self. Iniunes: huns or events that may lead to emotional scars—see body areas below. See dead people dreams; hiding.
Bodiless: Example: lI felt as if I was going very deep inside myself. It was dark but at first there were noises of the world around me. I seemed to go in much deeper and it was very dark, but with the feeling of great space. Everything was all right until I didn’t hear any noise at all, all that space and no noise was too much and my whole body freaked out and then pulled out very fast before I could stop it’ (Kate P).
The ‘noises’ around us, sensory impressions, other people s expressed feelings and actions, are building bricks for our sense of self. In a real sense we create each other by believing in each other. With prolonged absence of other people and events, and especially if we lose our noises’ and body awareness, we feel we—our sense of identity—is dying. Bodiless- ness may therefore show us feeling unrecognised, unnoticed. May also be feelings of loneliness; being cut off from sexuality and body drives. In its positive side it is exploration of the unconscious and void. See identity and dreams.
If you are right handed, the left of the body: represents inner feelings which support outer action, such as confidence, our less used or supportive functions.
If we are an intellectual, the left might depict one’s feelings, and vice versa.
The left may represent our mother’s influence in our life and body.
The right of the body: our outer activity and dominant functions; expressed abilities; our father’s influence in life and body.
If father is an anxious man there might be a lot more signs of stress on this side of the body. Top half of body: thinking, feeling. Bottom half: sexuality and instincts. Half a body: if top missing, lack of thinking and higher emotion; if bottom, trauma to, loss or denial of, sexuality and sensuality. Old head on baby body: immature sexuality and emotions; vice versa: immature personality. Dismembered body: emotional or mental stress and breakdown; may be followed by emergence of new self.
The areas of our body are sometimes thought of as sense organs. This may seem strange but is very simple. Without language, communication would be difficult. So language enables us to sense what another being is communicating.
If we had been castrated or had a hysterectomy prior to adolescence, we would never develop sexually. Without that development we would not understand two kissing people; or what a mother was feeling when she held her baby. Out of the sex drive develops a whole world of feelings and tenderness which enables us to understand many things we see in the world. It is therefore important when reading the particular descriptions below to remember that each psychological area of our body gives us some insight into ourself and life around us, which is missing if the area is injured or traumatised. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
What lies beyond death is conjecture, but the archetype of death we are considering is not completely about physical death. It is about our observation of it in others; our conceptions of it gained from our culture and our impressions; the feelings which generate around our experiences and thoughts; our attempts to deal with our own aging and approach to death, plus what material the deeper strata of our unconscious release regarding it. It is about how our sense of conscious personal existence meets the prospect of its disintegration.
Unless we can come to terms with what is behind the haunting images of death we meet in our dreams, we fail to live fully and daringly, we are too haunted by death lurking in the shadows of injury and the unknown. Images of death and the associated emotions, carried within for years, can have a negative influence on our health. Coming to terms means the courage to feel the emotions of fear or chill and discover them for what they are—emotions. They are certainly not death, only our feelings about it.
The differences shown in the two following examples illustrate the avoiding and the meeting. Example: 4So to get to the bedroom I had to jump across this gap. I tried to jump but missed and I fell and hit the bottom.
The next thing I remember was I was floating up. I looked down and saw myself lying face down with arms spread out and I suddenly realised I was dead. I was so frightened that I woke up. I had the feelings of fear of dying, but I felt no pain’ (Cath). Example: “Suddenly I was in a huge underground cavern. It was hundreds of feet high and as wide. It had two great statues in it, both to do with death.
The whole place overpowered me with a sense of decay and skeletal death, darkness, underground, earth, the end. I cried out in the dismal cave, “Death, where is your sting! Grave, where is your victory!” I immediately had the sense of being a bodiless awareness. I knew this was what occurred at death. Fear and the sense of decay left me’ (Andrew).
Summarising these and many other dreams, it is not only the accumulated images of death, but also bodilessness and loss of power and identity which bring so much fear. There are two antipodes of human experience. At the tip of one is focused self-determining self consciousness. At the tip of the other is unfocused void without identity. Strangely enough we experience both each day in some degree—the first while awake, the second when we sleep. Yet to face the second with consciousness feels like all the horrors of death and loss. Yet facing it is important, especially to the second half of life.
The symbols of rebirth are: the cave; an egg; spring; the tree; the cross; dawn; emerging out of the sea; the snake; the bird; a seed; arising from the earth or faeces; green shoot from a dead branch; phoenix; flame; a pearl; the womb. Rebirth is as difficult to face as death. It holds within it not just the memones of the struggles and difficulties of our own physical birth and growth, but also the challenge of becoming the unknown future, the dark possibility, the new.
The dream of Andrew in the underground cavern is an example of positive rebirth. After realising himself as bodiless awareness he emerges from the cave and finds himself near a tree. Example: ‘A tremendous jolt of power poured into me from the tree. I saw that we had arrived at a place where a line of trees, about a 100 yards in length, stood very close together in a slight semicircle on the top of a bank.
The trees had great spiritual power and the place was a holy temple. Two spiritual beings were there—an ancient Earth Being, and Christ’ (Andrew).
The next example is of a dream typical of meeting memories of physical birth. As can be seen, the experience is powerful enough to cause physical shaking. Example: All I can see of what I enter is a very narrow space with a light showing through. But immediately I enter I realise I have made a mistake for I am being forced swiftly through a dark, very narrow tunnel. I feel pain as I am dragged along and I hear loud banging noises which frighten me, but although they are loud they seem to come from inside my head. I feel terrified and breathless and very relieved when I wake before reaching the end of the tunnel. In fact as I write this account I am shivering” (female, anon). ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
If one succeeds in touching the feelings and memories usually connected with a dream image, this becomes apparent because of the depth of insight and experience which arises. Although ideally the Freudian analyst helps the client discover their own experience of their dream, it can occur that the analyst puts to the client readymade views of the dream. Out of this has occurred the idea of someone else ‘analysing or telling us about our dream.
Carl Jung used a different approach. He applied amplification (see entry), helped the client explore their associations, used active imagination (see entry) and stuck to the structure of the dream. Because amplification also put to the client the information and experience of the therapist, again the dreamwork can be largely verbal and intellectual, rather than experiential.
In the approach of Fritz Perls (gestalt therapy) and Moreno (psychodrama), dream analysis is almost entirely experiential.
The person exploring the dream acts out or verbalises each role or aspect of the dream.
If one dreamt of a house, in gestalt one might stan by saying I am a house’ and then go on to describe oneself just as one is as the particular house in the dream. It is important, even if the house were one existing externally, not to attempt a description of the external house, but to stay with the house as it was in the dream. This is like amplification, except the client gives all the information. This can be a very dramatic and emotional experience because we begin consciously to touch the immense realms of experience usually hidden behind the image. When successful this leads to personal insights into behaviour and creativity. See dream processing; amplification; gestalt dream work.
dream as a meeting place Any two people, or group of people who share their dreams, particularly if they explore the associated feelings and thoughts connected with the dream images, achieve social intimacy quickly. Whether it is a family sharing their dreams, or two fnends, an environment can be created in which the most profound feelings, painful and wonderful, can be allowed. Such exposure of the usually private areas of one s feelings and fears often presents new information to the dreamer, and also allows ventilation of what may never have been consciously expressed before. In doing so a healing release is reached, but also greater self understanding and the opportunity to think over or reconsider what is discovered.
Herbert Reed, editor of the dream magazine Sundance, and resident in Virginia Beach, Va., initiated group dreaming experiments. It started because Reed noticed that in the dream groups he was running, when one of the group aired a problem, other members would subsequently dream about that person’s problem. He went on to suggest the group should attempt this purposely and the resulting dreams shared to see if they helped the person with the problem.
The reported dreams often formed a more detailed view of the person’s situation. In one instance the group experienced many dream images of water. It aided the woman who was seeking help to admit she had a phobia of water and to begin thinking about learning to swim. In another experiment, a woman presented the problem of indecision about what college to transfer to and what to study. Her group subsequently said they were confused because they had not dreamt about school. Several had dreams about illicit sex. though, which led the woman to admit she was having an affair with a married man. She went on to realise that it was the affair which was underlying her indecision. She chose to end the affair and further her career.
Whatever may be underlying the results of Reed’s expen- ments, it is noticeably helpful to use the basic principles he is working with. They can be used by two people equally as well as a group—by a parent and child, wife and husband, businessman and employee. One sets out to dream about each other through mutual agreement. Like any undertaking, the involvement, and therefore the results, are much more pronounced if there is an issue of reasonable importance behind the experiment. It helps if one imagines that during sleep you are going to meet each other to consider what is happening between you. Then sleep, and on waking take time to recall any dream. Note it down, even if it seems far removed from what you expected. Then explore its content using the techniques in dream processing.
Example: My wife and I decided to attempt to meet in our dreams. I dreamt I was in a room similar to the back bedroom of my previous marnage. My present wife was with me. She asked me to help her move the wardrobe. It reminded me of, but did not look like, the one which had been in that bedroom. I stood with my back to it, and reached my hands up to press on the top, inside. In this way I carried it to another wall. As I put it down the wood broke. I felt it ought to be thrown away’ (Thomas B). Thomas explored the dream and found he connected feelings about his first marriage with the wardrobe and bedroom. In fact the shabby wardrobe was Tom’s feelings of shabbiness at having divorced his first wife. In his first marriage, represented by the bedroom, he always felt he was married for life. In divorcing, he had done something he didn’t like and was carrying it about with him. He says ‘1 am carrying this feeling of shabbiness and second best into my present relationship, and I need to get rid of it.’
dream as a spiritual guide Dreams have always been connected with the spiritual side of human experience, even though today many spiritual leaders disagree with consideration of dreams. Because dreams put the dreamer in touch with the source of their own internal wisdom and certainty, some conflict has existed between authoritative priesthood and public dreaming.
A lay person finding their own approach to God in a dream might question the authority of the priests. No doubt people frequently made up dreams about God in order to be listened to. Nevertheless, despite opposition, Matthew still dreamt of an angel appearing to him, Joseph was still warned by God to move Jesus; Peter still dreamt his dream of the unclean animals.
The modern scientific approach has placed large question marks against the concept of the human spirit. Study of the brain’s functions and biochemical activities have led to a sense of human personality being wholly a series of biological and biochemical events.
The results of this in the relationship between doctor and patient, psychiatrist and client, sometimes results in the communication of human personality being of little consequence. It may not be put into words, but the intimation is that if one is depressed it is a biochemical problem or a brain malfunction.
If one is withdrawn or autistic, it is not that there is a vital centre of personality which has for some reason chosen to avoid contact, but that a biochemical or physiological problem is the cause—it’s nothing personal, take this pill (to change the biochemistry, because you are not really a person). Of course we have to accept that human personality must sometimes face the tragedy of biochemical malfunction, but we also need to accept that biochemical and physiological process can be changed by human will and courage.
In attempting to find what the human spirit is by looking at dreams, creativity stands out.
The spiritual nature may not be what we have traditionally considered it to be.
An overview of dreams and how dreamers relate to them suggests one amazing fact. Let us call it the ‘seashell effect’. When we hear sounds in a shell that we hold to our ear, the noises heard seem exterior to oneself, yet they are most likely amplification of sounds created in our own ear, perhaps by the passage of blood. Imagine an electronic arcade machine which the player could sit in and, when running, the player could be engulfed in images, sounds, smell and sensation. At first there is shimmering darkness, then a sound, and lights move. Is it a face seen, or a creature. Like Rorschach’s ink blots, the person creates figures and scenes out of the shapeless light and sound.
A devil appears which terrifies the player. People, demons, animals, God and angels appear and fade. Scenes are clearcut or a maelstrom of movement and ill-defined activity. Events arise showing every and any aspect of human experience. Nothing is impossible.
If, on stepping out, we told the player that what occurred was all their own creation due to unconscious feelings, fears, habits, thoughts and physiological processes occurring within them, like the seashell effect, they might say ‘Good God, is that all it was, and I thought it was real. What a waste of time.’
Whether we can accept it or not, as a species we have created out of our own longings, fears, pain and perhaps vision, God, with many different names—politics, money, devils, nationalism, angels, an, and so on and on. All of it has flowed out of us. Perhaps we even deny we are the authors of the Bible, wars, social environments. Responsibility is difficult. It is easier to believe the source is outside oneself. And if we do take responsibility for our amazing creativity, we may feel ‘is that all it is—me?’ Yet out of such things, such fears, such drives, such unconscious patterns as we shape our dreams with, we shape our life and fonune, we shape our children, we shape the world and our future.
The shadow of fear we create in our dream, the situation of aloneness and anger, becomes a pattern of feelings, real in its world of mind. We create a monster, a Djinn, a devil, which then haunts and influences us. Or with feelings of hope, of purposiveness and love, create other forces in us and the world. But we are the creator. We are in no way separate from the forces which create our existence. We are those creative forces. In the deepest sense, not just as an ego, we create ourselves, and we go on creating ourselves. We are the God humanity has looked so long for.
The second aspect of the human spirit demonstrated by dreams is consciousness.
The unconscious mind, if its function is not clogged with a backlog of undealt with painful childhood experience and nonfunctional premises, has a propensity to form gestalts. It takes pieces of experience and fits them together to form a whole. This is illustrated by how we form gestalts when viewing newsprint photographs, which are made up of many small dots. Our mind fits them together and sees them as a whole, giving meaning where there are only dots. When the human mind is working well, when the individual can face a wide range of emotions, from fear and pain to ecstasy, this process of forming gestalts can operate very creatively. This is because it needs conscious involvement, and if the personality is frightened of deep feeling, the uniting of deeply infantile and often disturbing cxpcrience is cut out. Yet these areas are very rich mines of information, containing our most fundamental learning.
If the process is working well, then one’s expenence is gradually transformed into insights which transcend and thereby transform one s personal life.
For instance, we have witnessed our own binh in some manner, we also see many others appeanng as babies. We see people ageing, dying. We see millions of events in our life and in others.
The unconscious, deeply versed in imagery, ritual and body language, out of which it creates its dreams, picks up information from music, architecture, traditional rituals, people walking in the street, the unspoken world of parental influence.
The sources are massive, unbelievable. And out of it all our mind creates meaning. Like a process of placing face over face over face until a composite face is formed, a synthesis of all the faces; so the unconscious scans all this information and creates a world view, a concept of life and death.
The archetypes Jung talks of are perhaps the resulting synthesis of our own expenence, reaching points others have met also.
If so, then Chnst might be our impression of humanity as a whole.
If we dare to touch such a synthesis of experience it may be seanng, breathtaking.
It breaks the boundaries of our present personality and concepts because it transcends. It shatters us to let the new vision emerge. It reaches, it soars, like an eagle flying above the single events of life. Perhaps because of this the great hawk of ancient Egypt represented the human spirit.
Lastly, humans have always been faced by the impossible.
To a baby, walking and not wetting its pants is impossible, but with many a fall and accident it does the impossible. It is a god in its achievement.
To talk, to fly heavier-than-air planes, to walk on the Moon, were all impossible. Humans challenge the impossible every day. Over and over they fall, back into defeat. Many lie there broken. Yet with the next moment along come youngsters with no more sense than grasshoppers, and because they don’t know what the difference is between right and left, do the impossible. Out of the infinite potential, the great unknown, they draw something new. With hope, with folly, with a wisdom they gain from who knows where, they demand more. And it’s a common everyday son of miracle. Mothers do it constantly for their children—transcending themselves. Lovers go through hell and heaven for each other and flower beyond who they were. You and I grow old on it as our daily bread, yet fail to see how holy it is. And if we turn away from it, it is because it offers no certainties, gives no authority, claims no reward. It is the spiritual life of people on the street. And our dreams remember, even if we fail.
For this is the body and blood of the human spirit.
dream as a therapist and healer There is a long tradition of using dreams as a base for both physical and psychological healing. One of the earliest recorded incidents of such healing is when Pharaoh’s ‘spirit was troubled, and he sent for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men; and Pharaoh told them his dream, but there was none who could interpret it’. Then Joseph revealed the meaning of the dream and so the healing of Pharaoh’s troubled mind took place (Genesis 41).
The Greek Temples of Asclepius were devoted to using dreams as a base for healing of body and mind (see dreams and ancient Greece).
The Iroquois Amerindians used a social form of dream therapy also (see Iroquoian dream cult).
The dream process was used much more widely throughout history in such practices as Pentecostal Christianity, shaktipat yoga in India, and Anton Mesmer’s groups (see sleep movements).
Sigmund Freud pioneered the modern approach to the use of dreams in therapy, but many different approaches have developed since his work. Examples of the therapeutic action of gaining insight into dreams are to be found in the entnes on abreaction, recurring dreams, reptiles.
The entry on dream processing gives information about using a dream to gain insight and healing. See also dream as meeting place.
A feature which people who use their dreams as a therapeutic tool mention again and again is how dreams empower them. Many of us have an unconscious feeling that any important healing work regarding our body and mind can only be undertaken and directed by an expert, the expert might be a doctor, a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or osteopath. Witnessing the result of their own dream process, even if helped by an expert, people feel in touch with a wonderful internal process which is working actively for their own good. One woman, who had worked on her dream with the help of a fnend (non expert), said It gave me great confidence in my own internal process. I realised there was something powerful in myself working for my own good. It was a feeling of cooperating with life.’ One is frequently amazed by one’s own resources of wisdom, penetrating insight and sense of connection with life, as met in dreamwork. This is how dreams play a pan in helping one towards wholeness and balance.
The growing awareness of one’s central view of things, which is so wide, piercing and often humorous, brings developing self respect as the saga of one’s dreams unfolds.
There may be no hint of this, however, if a person simply records their dreams without attempting to find a deeply felt contact with their contents. It is in the searching for associated feelings and ideas that the work of integrating the many strands of one’s life begins. Gradually one weaves, through a co-operative action with the dream process, a greater unification of the dark and the light, the painful and transcendent in one’s nature.
The result is an extraordinary process of education. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
Folklore: You will hear about a positive event. Economist / Specialist: See Villa.... Little Giant Encyclopedia
If the dreamer falls a great distance, then he should start finding solutions right away, for there is danger of severe complications.
If the dreamer falls a short distance and is unhurt, the damage will be minimal and can easily be set right.
A pun: Something important will happen, or difficulties will be resolved, by the “fall” (autumn). Astrological parallel: Scorpio Tarot parallel: The Tower... Dream Explanations of Astro Center
At its most fundamental, the human religious sense emerges out of several factors. One is the awareness of existing amidst external and internal forces of nature which cause us to feel vulnerable and perhaps powerless. Such natural processes as illness, death, growth and decay, earthquakes, the seasons, confront us with things which are often beyond our ability to control. Considenng the information and resources of the times, one of religion’s main functions in the past was the attempted control of the ‘uncertain’ factors in human life, and help towards psychological adjustment to valine rability. Religions were the first social programmes aiding the human need for help and support towards emotional, mental, physical and social health and maturity. Even if primitive, such programmes helped groups of people to gain a common identity and live in reasonable harmony together. Like a computer program which is specific to a particular business, such programmes were specific to a particular group, and so are outdated in today’s need for greater integration with other races. Religions also offered some sort of concept of and connection with the roots of being.
Example: ‘For two nights running I have dreamt the same nightmare. I am in a chapel walking down the first flight of several flights of steps when I hear loud noises behind me. I am told to run, being warned of the soldiers who ride the cavalry horses nght down the steps, and who run you over if you are in their way.
The horses are fierce and they absolutely race down the steps at the same time every day, and you literally have to lock yourself away in a nearby room which is a long way down the chapel. I ran into the room hearing the pounding of the horses’ hooves. It was a terrible pandemonium in that chapel. In the room were school children the same age as me and some perhaps younger’ (Maria H). Maria, who is 16, in describing her dream says she had recently been confronted with whether to have a sexual relationship with her boyfriend. Religion, represented by the chapel, is Maria’s way of locking out her powerful sexual urges. Many dreams show that religion, as a set of beliefs, is used as a way of avoiding anxiety in the face of life’s uncertainties.
For many people, the rigid belief system helps them to avoid uncertainty in making decisions.
Dreams also portray and define the aspect of human experience in which we sense a kinship with all life forms. This is the side of spiritual expenence through which we find a connection with the roots of our being. While awake we might see the birth of a colt and feel the wonder of emergence and newness; the struggle to stand up and survive, the miracle of physical and sexual power which can be accepted or feared. In looking in the faces of fellow men and women we see something of what they have done in this strange and painful wonder we call life. We see whether they have been crushed by the forces confronting them; whether they have become ngid; or whether, through some common miracle, they have been able to carry into their mature years the laughter, the crying, the joy, the ability to feel pain, that are the very signs of life within the human soul. These things are sensed by us all, but seldom organised into a comprehensive view of life, and an extraction of meaning. Often it is only in our dreams, through the ability the unconscious has to draw out the significance of such widely divergent expenences, that we glimpse the unity behind phenomena which is an essential of spiritual life, i.e. we all have a life, we breathe, we have come from a mother, so share a universal experience.
Example: To quote J.B. Priestley from his book Rain Upon Godshill: ‘Just before I went to Amenca, dunng the exhausting weeks when I was busy with my Time Plays, I had such a dream, and I think it left a greater impression on my mind than any experience I had ever known before, awake or in dreams, and said more to me about this life than any book I have ever read.
The setting of the dream was quite simple, and owed something to the fact that not long before my wife had visiied the lighthouse here at St Catherine’s to do some bird ringing. I dreamt I was standing at the top of a very high tower, alone, looking down upon myriads of birds all flying in one direction; every kind of bird was there, all the birds in the world. It was a noble sight, this vast aerial river of birds. But now in some mysterious fashion the gear was changed, and time speeded up, so that I saw generations of birds, watched them break their shells, flutter into life, mate, weaken, falter and die. Wings grew only to crumble; bodies were sleek, and then, in a flash bled and shrivelled; and death struck everywhere at every second. What was the use of all this blind struggle towards life, this eager trying of wings, this hurried mating, this flight and surge, all this gigantic meaningless effort? As I stared down, seeming to see every creature’s ignoble little history almost at a glance, I felt sick at heart. It would be better if not one of them, if not one of us, had been bom, if the struggle ceased for ever. I stood on my tower, still alone, desperately unhappy. But now the gear was changed again, and the time went faster still, and it was rushing by at such a rate, that the birds could not show any movement, but were like an enormous plain sown with feathers. But along this plain, flickering through the bodies themselves, there now passed a sort of white flame, trembling, dancing, then hurrying on; and as soon as I saw it I knew that this white flame was life itself, the very quintessence of being; and then it came to me, in a rocket burst of ecstasy, that nothing mattered, nothing could ever matter, because nothing else was real but this quivering and hurrying lambency of being. Birds, men and creatures not yet shaped and coloured, all were of no account except so far as this flame of life travelled through them. It left nothing to mourn over behind it, what I had thought was tragedy was mere emptiness or a shadow show; for now all real feeling was caught and purified and danced on ecstatically with the white flame of life. I had never before felt such deep happiness as I knew at the end of my dream of the tower and the birds.’
Some Nonh American Indians developed the totem out of similar processes. In one generation a person might learn to plant a seed and eat the results. Later someone might see that through fertilisation more food was produced. Still later someone found that by irrigating, still more improvement was made. No one individual was responsible for such vital cultural information, and the collective information is bigger than any one person, yet individuals can partake of it and add to it.
The totem represented such subtle realities, as it might in a modem dream; as Christ might in today’s unconscious. That older cultures venerated their collective information, and that modem humans seem largely apathetic to it, shows how our ‘religion’ has degenerated. Yet utilising the power of the unconscious to portray the subtle influences which impinge upon us, and building the information gained into our response to life, is deeply important.
With the growth of authoritarian structures in western religion, and the dominance of the rational mind over feeling values, dreams have been pushed into the background. With this change has developed the sense that visionary dreams were something which ‘superstitious* cultural groups had in the past. Yet thoroughly modem men and women still meet Christ powerfully in dreams and visions. Christ still appears to them as a living being.
The transcendental, the collective or universal enters their life just as frequently as ever before. Sometimes it enters with insistence and power, because a too rational mind has led to an unbalance in the psyche—a balance in which the waking and rational individuality is one pole, and the feeling, connective awareness of the unconscious is the other.
Although it is tempting to think of the transcendent as ethereal or unreal, the religious in dreams is nearly always a symbol for the major processes of maturing in human life. We are the hero/ine who meets the dangers of life outside the womb, who faces growth, ageing and death.
The awe and deep emotions we unconsciously feel about such heroic deeds are depicted by religious emotion.
See angel; Christ, rebirth and Devil under archetypes; church; evil; fish, sea creatures; example in whale under fish, sea creatures; heaven, hell; sweets under food; dream as spiritual guide. See also hero/ine; mass; masturbation; old; paralysis; colours; sheep under animals. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences