Exploring the Unconscious World of Dreams
The   P o w e r   of   D r e a m s

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"The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends.".....Carl Jung
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What Are Dreams?

All of us dream, several times a night. It is believed by some that we sleep in order that we may dream. It is during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep that we do most of our dreaming. If we are deprived of sleep, REM sleep increases on sebsequent nights. Sleep deprivation prevents us from completing our dreams and we subsequently engage in dream-like thinking during our waking states of consciousness. Such is the power of the dream.

The act of dream is physiological (physical), whereas the content of the dream is psychological. The images, emotions and activities of the dream are a product of the individual's unconscious mind, having to do with the total make-up of one's human condition (conscious and unconscious). Most images (symbols) in dreams are personal representations of the individual (dealing with events and emotions in our waking lives), but also found within the dream are representations (symbols) that have nothing to do with the individual's personal knowledge. These are what Carl Jung called the archetypal images, images that are from the collective knowledge of all mankind (actually predate mankind itself), and their images are tendencies of the human mind that form representations of mythological motifs - representations that can vary a great deal without losing their basic patterns. An archetype is not a specific image or motif but variations of the images and motifs that are found in mythology. The archetype is a predisposition (previous inclinations) to an image, a common psychic structure that parallels the common human structure (patterns in life). The archetype itself cannot be experienced; all we can know of it is its effect on dreams, emotions, actions and other mental contents.

Perhaps the best word for the archetype is emotions, or more acturately emotional complexes. Dreams are stating the present condition (psychological, physical and metaphysical) of the dreamer, at the time of a particular dream. The total condition of the dreamer is being played out within the dream and the images and motifs are a reference to those particular conditions. What is lacking in the unconscious state of mind (the dream) is the bias and prejudices found in the waking state of consciousness. It is like another person, one without preconceived ideas or prejudices about the dreamer, watching the dreamer and then giving a true account of what is happening in the dreamer's conscious life. This can be a physical event (with the emotional influences), a psychological condition, a metaphysical reference or, perhaps a combination of two or more of the dreamer's conditions. The dream is about the total human experience and most of the images and themes (motifs)are taken from the vast vault of experiences from the dreamer's life, but also has a reference to the archetypal motifs (universal themes). It is the emotions at play, seeking to inform the dreamer of what is really taking place in the dreamer's life. And even though it is the emotions that carry the greatest weight within the dream, it is also referencing to the physical and metaphysical (spiritual, creative) condition of the dreamer's life.

The metaphysical aspect within the dream is describing the subjects of creativity and/or the spiritual condition (not religious, which is a waking perceived bias). All humans possess a degree of creativity - whether it be in the arts, problem solving, writing, etc. The seat of creativity lies within the metaphysical condition, that which is beyond the normal known physical realm of being, and is seen in all the forms of creativity within our society. It is thought that the creative self is a condition of the collective unconscious (the whole knowledge of mankind), where the knowledge of the universal exceeds the personal knowledge and taps into the inner resources of nature. These resources, seen as images and motifs within the dream, are also found within the differing mythologies of the world and are expressed in the creativity of individuals. The characteristics of the human species is expressed from the unconscious nature of our being, which maps experience into grammar, art or other creative skills.

The other metaphysical aspect of dream is the relationship of the individual to the spiritual condition. Jung once said that those patients who had found a spiritual ground were cured of their psychological aliments. They were able to find a spiritual ground with the help of their dreams. Within the dream, perhaps all dreams, is found a reference to the spiritual self. The symbols of one's father in a dream can represent the actual father in waking life, but also can have a reference to the higher spiritual condition, what is thought of as God. The same holds true for the feminine images found in dream, a reference to the real mother or to the Goddess or Great Mother. An image of the earth is a good analogy that fits this motif. We all have a spiritual condition, whether we acknowledge it or not. Carl Jung, being a scientist, often was criticized for this belief but found within the dreams of his patients a reference that was undeniably metaphysical. And when fully explored the images gave a definite conclusion of healing within the dreamer's unbalanced condition.

Thus, we find in all dreams at least two interpretations of the images and motifs, even though one aspect may be given more emphasis than another. The dream is trying to inform the dreamer through the dream their total condition. Once that condition is understood then a healing process begins and balance is restored to the dreamer's waking life. The dream world is a microcosm of the whole of society, indeed the whole human race. When one aspect of the individual is out of balance, then it is a reflection of the society as a whole. The ills of the society, or the world, is dependent upon the individuals that inhabit the planet (the universal), and the conditions that plague our societies are found within the individual dream, having personal connotations as well as universal. One can change the world by changing themselves but the changes needed must be known. That is a purpose for the dream.

What Are Dream Symbols & How Do They Work?

Dream symbols are the images that are featured in a dream. A burning house, your mother, a cloudy sky, the President of the United States, etc., are some of the symbols you find in dreams. Most dream symbols are not to be taken literally, but rather metaphorically. For instance, a burning house would represent the dreamer [the house] and the fire would be the passion, anger, desire or bodily fever, which represents the unconscious emotional or physical state of being of the dreamer. Symbols point to the emotions and instincts, many of which are hidden or repressed and are stored in the unconscious mind where they reside until some stimulus brings them to consciousness.
There is no fixed meaning to any dream symbol, it all depends upon the individual as to its true meaning. To help you understand the metaphorical meanings of symbols see Dream Symbols & Their Meanings and Common Dream Motifs

What Is A Metaphor?

A metaphor is where one thing is spoken as if it were another. The house in a dream is most always in some context a metaphor for the dreamer, the house being a representation of the dreamer. The house would represent the dreamer's psychological, physical and/or spiritual condition, a proxy for the complexes. In most instances you should take dream symbols as metaphorical references to the dreamer's condition and not merely a literal interpretation, to fully understand the message in the dream.
Do Dreams Predict Future Events?

No, and perhaps. According to Carl Jung dreams compensate the waking mind with information that is unconscious - repressed, hidden or forgotten. His theory is that the dream wants to balance the dreamer's life by providing information that anwsers questions to why things are the way they are in the dreamer's life. As an example, a person who has a sexual addiction most often was physically or mentally abused as a child or young teen and the painful emotions are hidden in the unconscious so they do not have to be dealt with. Although these events may be repressed, they influence the dreamer throughout their life, unless they are confronted and properly dealt with. A purpose of dreams is to bring these repressed emotions to consciousness so a healing can take place. Only then can a person be live a happy and structured life, with a purpose and positive attitude. The unconscious dream compensates the conscious mind with this information using motifs and metaphor. Metaphor is used as the language of the dream because it was the primitive mind's way of communicating, using symbols of people, animals, places, events, and has been inherited by the collective psyche of all humans. These are also what Jung called archetypes. {universal symbols}
Predicting the future? Dreams do at times show us insights to possible events in the future. But it is as much a calculation of what the mind and body already knows than a supernatural event. The brain is the ultimate super computer. The body is able to communicate illness and disease through the dream, informing a person well before it is detectable by medical means. There are, and throughout history have been men and women who were 'good' at seeing future events, but when you deeper into these predictions they are as much a general thought than true predictions of the future. Intuitiveness is a form of knowing, a known quality of the psyche that let's someone sense 'truths' about someone, thing or event. So why not the dream using related aspects to inform, if only in on occasion. The science of dreams {psychology}, through Jung and others, have shown us there are metaphysical qualities to the human psyche. It is probably best to be skeptical, but never dismissive.[See Nostradaumus and Edgar Cayce.].
Read more about Precognitive Dreams: Do Dreams Predict the Future?
Do Dreams Have More Than One Meaning

Jung tells us that dreams do have more than one meaning. This has to do with the personal and collective unconscious, the first having to do with the dreamer's ego life, where those things that have been repressed or rejected from consciousness reside, as well as the discernment of the everyday adventure of the ego {centric} life. The collective unconscious, which is rich in symbol and metaphor, is older than the individual and indeed older than consciousness: it consists of 'the whole spiritual heritage of mankind's evolution born anew in the brainstructure of every individual. They are instinctive much in the way a turtle knows to go to the water when first hatched. The representation of a symbol in the personal unconscious points to the anxieties of everyday life whereas the collective unconscious addresses the deeper sense of who we are, the true self often disguised in the ego-life, a spiritual and creative being that inhabits our psyche. Jung tells us we can not be fully whole until we recognize these 'collective' aspects', confronting the shadow, and make them a part of our everyday lives.
How Are Dreams Structured?

There is no 'one' defining theory of dream structure. But the majority of dreams are composed of four parts or phases, pretty much like ina drama. The dream is very much like your life on stage, and you are the director, actor and witness. Firstly, we need to figure out the scene and time of dream as well as dramatis personae { the actors in a play}. In first phase, which can be regarded as the exposition, the initial situation (setting) is presented and already pointing at central conflict expressed in dream. The second phase is the plot and contains something new (essential change), which leads the dream in the third phase: the culmination. In this phase the most critical things happen, which bring the dream to a closure: the fourth phase or denouement. Jung attributed extraordinary significance to the end of dream. The end of dream is so important, Jung held, because we cannot consciously influence on the outcome (i.e. change the end), and dreams so reflect the real situation. "Nature is often obscure or impenetrable, but she is not, like man, deceitful. We must therefore take it that the dream is just what it pretends to be, neither more nor less. If it shows something in a negative light, there is no reason for assuming that it is meant positively."

According to the end of dream, Jung discriminated between favourable and unfavourable dreams. If we were to reverse the well-known proverb, then for dreams we may say that a good end makes a good beginning. Favourable dreams have quieting effect and direct us to the most constructive ways of solving problems. On the contrary, unfavourable dreams contain a warning of, perhaps life important, negative changes. Hence dreams can be said to have a prospective function; they warn us about bright or dark future. Favourable or unfavourable end of dream, however, must not be taken as a final and absolute meaning of dream. This can be done only after several interconnected dreams.

Even though Jung found the structure of dreams as described above, he warned not to take this as literal law. Look at the whole dream [and subsequent dreams] to determine what the dream message is.

What Is The Collective Unconscious?

Collective unconscious, a term coined by Carl Jung, refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts and by archetypes: universal symbols such as The Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Tower, Water, the Tree of Life, and many more.

Jung considered the collective unconscious to underpin and surround the unconscious mind, distinguishing it from the personal unconscious of Freudian psychoanalysis. He argued that the collective unconscious had profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences. The psychotherapeutic practice of analytical psychology revolves around examining the patient's relationship to the collective unconscious.
What Are Archetypes?

Dreams are also an expression of collective generic experiences, which refer to basic life problems and manifest in terms of symbols and myths, thoughts and memories shared by all humanity. The interpreter of dreams must therefore be familiar with various myths, religions, cults, rituals and fairy tales in order to fully understand the meaning of dreams. These mythological motifs, which can be found in dreams, Jung called archetypes. Archetypes or primordal images are "specific forms and pictorial relationships, which did not only consistently appear in all ages and in all latitudes, but also appear in individual dreams, fantasies, visions and ideas." This observation led Jung to think that there exists a collective unconsciousness, the sum of all experiences that human race acquired in its phylogenetic development. The access to collective unconsciousness is particularly easy, when a person has to take an important decision or is in life situation, crucial for his/her personal growth. S/he gets a suggestion from the collective unconsciousness in form of archetypal situation. If that happens in dream, then such dream is called the big dream, which "is expressed in language of universal human experiences, condensed in rich, vivid symbols, in eternal ancient images that [sic] overwhelm us completely." Wide knowledge is required when interpreting the big dreams. This knowledge, however, cannot be simply memorized; it can only be an insight into experiences of the person who uses it.
What Is the Shadow Mean in Dreams?

In Jungian psychology, the shadow refers to the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious, or an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not recognize in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain unaware of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one's shadow, especially in people with low self-esteem. Contrary to a Freudian conceptualization of shadow, the Jungian shadow often refers to all that lies outside consciousness or conscious awareness, and may be positive or negative. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is actualized {made real} in the individual's conscious life, the darker and denser it becomes." It may is a link to more primitive animal instincts which are displaced during early childhood by the conscious mind.

In dreams your shadow may be represented either by some figure of the same sex as yourself (an elder brother or sister, your best friend, or some alien or primitive person) or by a person who represents your opposite (and of the same sex). A clear example of this in literature is Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mt Hyde', in which Mr Hyde may be seen as Dr Jekyll's unconscious shadow, leading a separate and altogether different life from the conscious part of the personality. The werewolf motif features in the same way in literature (e.g. Hermann Hesse's 'Steppenwolf') and in folklore. In pre-literate societies this 'other' side of the individual's personality was sometimes depicted as a 'bush-soul', having its own separate body - usually that of an animal or tree in the nearby bush or forest. (It should be noted that in such preliterate society the bush or forest or other wide or desert places surrounding the human settlement were powerful symbols of anti-anomianism, that is, of everything that constituted a threat to the established law and order in the human community. There is an obvious parallel here to the way the dark forces of the unconscious may be felt as a threat to the ordered life of the conscious ego).

Cinderella is a shadow figure. She is ignored and neglected by her elder sisters. They go out into the world, but Cinderella is shut up indoors. This represents the contrast between the conscious ego (which relates to the outside world) and those parts of the unconscious that have not been allowed any part in one's conscious activity. However, Cinderella eventually escapes from her imprisonment and marries the Prince. This marriage symbolizes the joining together of conscious ego (Prince) and shadow (Cinderella), which is the end result of the penetration of the conscious mind by the unconscious and/or the penetration of the unconscious by consciousness. Symbolically - in myths and in dreams - consciousness is usually represented as male, the unconscious as female; and the sexual penetration of female by male is therfore a common symbol of the descent of consciousness into the dark cave-like depths of the unconscious. (Here is a splendid example of the dif ...more on the Shadow

What Is the Anima/Animus, the Masculine/Feminine Aspects?

Jung postulates that each individual has both masculine and feminine components of the psyche. For a male the feminine component is the anima, and for a female it is the animus. Part and parcel of human biological and psychological development is this mixture of masculine and feminine energies.

In dreams Jung said that the animus is more likely to be personified by multiple male figures, while the anima is frequently a single female. ... The anima is the feminine aspects of a male psyche: for example, gentelness, tenderness, patience, receptiveness, closeness to nature, readiness to forgive, and so on....more on the Anima/Animus

What Does Death Mean In A Dream?

Here is an example of where symbols taken literally can cause much pain and stress, all for naught. Death in a dream has many possible meanings, a real death seldom being one of them. Here are some possiblilties to the meaning of dead, dying and death in a dream:

[1] A dead person in a dream who is actually a living person, may represent some unconscious resentment toward that person. [2] If the dead person is you it may be your own anxiety about dying. [3] If the dead person is someone you know and is actually deceased he/she may becoming back not to haunt you [which is also a possibility if there is some guilt about your relationship with that person] but to inform you of your need to move on with your life. [4] If the dead person in the dream is you it may represent a need to leave the old self behind [guilt and negative feelings] and move on to better things. [5] A dead animal almost certainly refers to some part of you - an instinctive force perhaps - that needs to die because of the negative effects that it produces in your waking life. [6] Death often symbolizes changes in life. Changing jobs, getting a divorce, moving to another city, all represent the death of old habits and way of life [the death and resurrection motif]. With every death there is a new birth; the new job, new home, new relationships. Treat death in a dream as getting rid of negative emotions and replacing them with positive ones. [7] If gender is stressed in the dream, the meaning may be that your masuclinity/femininty or your anima/animus needs reviving.
Women's Dreams
Men's Dreams
Children's Dreams
Sleep & Dreams
Dreams & Moods
Myth & Dreams
Masculine/Feminine Traits in Dreams

Dreams & Their Interpretations
Dreams of
Jean Benedict Raffa

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