The clues in dreams come from characters, animals, objects, numbers, colours, landscape, time, space and its dimensions, emotions. Apart from the personal characters, all other elements in the dream have a long-standing tradition as symbols, in dreams, art, mythology, mathematics, physics, architecture, etc.
These symbols belong to the long cultural tradition of humankind and we can find a first inkling of their meanings, or the traditional associations, in many available dictionaries.
But the symbols are always pointing to something personal. They always point to something I know, or should become aware of, or something still in a future of possibilities. I know because it relates to me, it happened to me; it is mine or my own doing; or related with something I don’t know, which the symbol is trying to convey and I must make out from the wide variety of meanings.
…from all its meaning what does the symbol mean to me, to which aspect of my life it relates?
…what makes it personal? And more than that, what about those images that do not fit the known reality?
…what about alien geographies, maps of strange lands, a political division that is not?
…what about the impossible physics of fire under the water, or altered spaces close to ours?
…how come I get to see things I am not supposed to?
…why is it that this letter, number or color, or combinations of them, keep on cropping up in my dreams?
…why their insistence?
…why do images seem to have several layers of meaning, to which do they belong?
…why those distressing images, disgusting or perverted, that break the hard-won truce of life awake?
The matter then is ‘what does this symbol mean in this image, the image of my dream? How does it relate to my reality, how did I get there?
In order to understand dream images in their own terms, not as figments of fantasies but as independent subjects that are trying to tell me something, I must find out about their ways of going about life and its tribulations…
And if I were to understand somewhat more, I must make sense of these sometimes familiar characters, presented so differently from their usual selves; figure out what is it that they want to tell me when they come during the night in my dreams.
The usual suspects…
What do the characters in the dream personify for me? Who are these people? How can I imagine them?
The usual suspects, the mother, the father, the brother, the sister, the wife, the husband, the daughter, the son, the boss, that colleague, the high school friend, the far gone friend, the girl friend, the partner, the president, the tyrant, the secretary, the servant, and the host of unknown people who populate my dreams… who are they?
The mother of the dream looks like my mother but does not behave like my real mother, and the same happens with the rest of them. Sometimes they behave according to what I know of them, sometimes not. This tells me that the person in the dream is not ‘really’ the person that I know, as they behave and act in ways contrary to their selves.
And it also tells me that what I know and understand of the being ‘mother’ is not enough to understand the ‘mother’, or ‘my mother’, in the dream. I realize then, that mother is not only a character that is, but one that has always been, as all of us come from mother, or father, or have siblings, or follow a leader, or relate in some way to any type of character.
Here I stumbled upon the gods, those age-old powers which are not personal; which seem to know much more than I can possibly know, and that often speak of aspects of what must be life without definite boundaries of space or time. I stumbled upon myths and fairy tales of old.
Some come to the dream without me having a clue about why. Why is it that a person I barely know, with whom I had a relationship so many years ago, keeps on visiting? How is it that a person I barely know, perhaps I have only met her once, happens in the dream? I ask myself, what are they carrying for me, what do they personify?
to be continued…
This post is also available in: Spanish