Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Power of a Dream Symbol


In a previous post, I told you about a delightful gorilla dream as an example of how fun and funny animal dreams can be.  I didn’t fear that gorilla, but when he came back as King Kong, well then; it’s time to take stock.

When we have a dream practice, which means we pay attention to our dreams, record them, at least some of the time, and ponder them often, we recognize the power of a dream symbol. 


If my dream symbol grows from personal dream energy to the archetypal size of King Kong, it is an important story my dream is telling me.  This means I go on the trail of this symbol, what Robert Moss refers to as "dream archeology." First I search through my own dream recollections and written records.  In King Kong's case, this is the third instance of this energy in my dreams in the past decade.  I print out each dream and add it to my journal now because whatever this dream is signaling with this symbol, it holds healing energy available to me now.  


The challenge is to ponder the symbol a dream has presented for quite a while and in many ways until I have a felt sense of what the dream is saying, if not an intellectual explanation of its meaning. It’s not that dreams are never obvious. I’ve had many dreams that were decidedly unsubtle and quite verbally direct, but that’s not the way of dreams generally.  Understanding them can be like playing charades or Pictionary. 


Given the fact that many of the great Aesclepian temples of ancient Greece had amphitheaters for performance of plays and that the temples were places where people seeking healing came to petition the god, Aesclapius, for a healing dream, perhaps those ancient actors in Greece performed people’s dreams.  Was dream theater the catalyst for modern theater?


Dream language is definitely the language of pictures not of words. According to an early pioneer of modern dream studies, Dr. Ann Faraday, it’s no coincidence that our earliest ancestors communicated through drawings, some of which are magically still extant on cave walls like those of Lascaux, in France.  She also points out how most all of us, as children, loved to draw and tell stories from our drawings.  Pictorial, symbolic language is inborn in us; perhaps because it’s the language of our dreams and we are never apart from our dreaming selves.


To honor this dream symbol that has so forcefully called on my attention, I begin by asking various questions. What is the context of each dream adventure?  Is the location familiar, unfamiliar? What is my dream self doing and feeling; am I happy about where she’s at?  Who else is in my dream? What is my relationship to each character in the dream, and in waking life, if I know them?  


Another step to open the gift a dream is offering me is sharing my dream with other trusted dreamers.  A dream friend is one who honors the dream as yours but can also put her/himself in your dream shoes and give you their associations and feeling responses.  In Active Dreaming's Lightning Dreaming process, that feedback is always offered without personal projection onto the dreamer by using the preface, "If this were my dream..." 


Whether I share my dream in that way or not, I’m going to have fun exploring what I can find on the internet.  I’m not looking for the “meaning” of gorilla or King Kong in my searches.  I’m letting serendipity lead and just checking out various references like the King Kong movies and movie reviews for starters.


Wow, what an archetypal patriarchal white man shadow King Kong turns out to be!  Far out! My dreams are not playing; they are posing an important challenge for me and I am excited to give it my best effort.


In another post, I’ll share what this symbol teaches me, but for now, I want to share with you this understanding of the vitality of dream symbols for personal and spiritual growth, as well as for good fun.  May your dreams shine a path through the darkness. May we become strong enough dreamers to bring about a healing future for all and for our Earth.


May it be so.