Dreams have always captivated the human imagination. Our understanding of dreams, through science, religion, and philosophy, has been shaped by our culture. Those who put stock in the dream interpretation have been labeled everything from great visionaries to dangerous heretics.
The Science of Dreaming
By the early 1800’s, standardized dream dictionaries were popular, and shared shelf space in most homes with the family Bible. In 1900, Sigmund Freud published "The Interpretation of Dreams," and introduced science into the field. Freud believed that dreams were a reflection of our deepest desires that often went back to childhood, and that dreams could be a very important tool in the investigation of the psyche.
Carl Jung, a student of Freud’s, differed with his mentor on a basic level. While Freud held that dreams were a person’s way of dealing with certain matters, often of a sexual nature, that were too difficult to be dealt with during the waking hours, Jung believed that our dreams were an attempt to solve certain, sometimes cosmic, difficulties.
Dream interpretation depends mostly on the person doing the dreaming, the person doing the interpreting, and the times in which the dreaming takes place. Jung maintained that there are certain symbolic archetypes that are constant throughout human experience, possibly "hard-wired" into our genetic code. The images and symbols that appear in our dreams, he believed, were universal in their meaning.
Contemporary dream analysis tends to combine Jung’s scientific archetypes with a certain amount of mystical interpretation. What any particular image means to the dreamer is up to the individual to work out. Just for fun, we’d like to offer some basic standard interpretations for some of the images that might appear in your dreams.
- Animals: Wild animals are generally good omens, but the interpretation depends on their attitude. If they are passive and calm, they might signify good fortune, but if they behave aggressively, there might be some difficulty ahead.
- Bedroom: An unfamiliar bedroom means a change for the better. Your own bedroom means harmony.
- Bees: Omens of good fortune in business matters, even if they sting you.
- Bread: Fresh, white bread is an omen of future security. Dark, crusty bread is a warning of family troubles.
- Car: A car that appears as mere transportation carries little significance. But if the car is speeding, it can mean the arrival of unexpected news from far away. If it is involved in a crash, it can mean the recovery of something lost.
- Cats: An unfortunate omen, possibly indicating deceit among those you trust. If you chase the cat away, you will turn the bad luck into good.
- Church: Dreaming about the outside of a church is good luck, the inside means impending troubles.
- Crows: Generally unhappy omens.
- Dogs: Generally symbolize friends and are usually good omens. But the appearance of a dog in your dream must be evaluated based on its behavior. An angry or aggressive dog can be a warning about someone you trust; a friendly or affectionate dog signifies good times with friends.
- Eyes: To dream of any kind of eye injury portends some business trickery at your expense; wearing a blindfold signifies that you are not paying careful attention; disembodied eyes can mean good luck; dark eyes mean romance.
- Face: Smiling faces represent good friends, grimacing faces represent loss. To dream of washing your face signifies the need to atone for something.
- Family Members: Father generally represents authority, while mother stands for love. The circumstances in which they appear will further interpret their meaning. A man dreaming
of his brother should watch out for family quarrels; his sister represents emotional security. For women, it is the other way around.
- Feast: A dream about a feast means different things for different age groups. For the young or middle aged, it can mean abundance, while for the older dreamer it can mean financial difficulty.
- Feet: Itching feet can signify travel; strange feet can represent a new friend. Washing of feet means freedom from worry, children’s feet bring small worries, and large feet are a sign of good health.
- Flying: The most universally agreed upon image. Flying represents your ambition, and is modified by the circumstances – surroundings, weather, how you felt while flying, etc. – of the dream.
- Fire: A very complex image that depends upon the circumstances under which it appears. Generally, if it burns you, that’s bad, if it doesn’t, that’s good.
- Guns: A gun in any situation represents injustice. If you are loading a gun in your dream, it will be wise to guard your temper.
- Hamburger: An indicator of your greed. The juicier the burger, the greater your desires and greed.
- Kitchen: A messy kitchen can be a sign that your health needs some attention.
- Magic: Magic in any form predicts unexpected changes.
- Nakedness: If you dream of being naked, you might be heading for financial good luck. If others are naked, look for deception from a close friend. Stripping in a dream is an indication of some sort of indiscreet behavior.
- Panda: A panda bear is telling you that if you let go of your troubles, they’ll let go of you.
- Strawberries: Strawberry dreams are happy dreams.
Most dream dictionaries will contain many more symbols and images than this list, and most of these images are more complex than discussed here.