We’ve all had dreams we can’t explain, or that were so vivid it felt like we were awake, and what we dreamed about was really happening. With so many different books and guides breaking down what each symbol is supposed to mean in a dream, and the fact that some of these references conflict one another, it can be difficult to know just what to grab for learning about how to interpret dreams.
Beginning dream interpretation can be done without formal education or extensive reference materials. One need only to listen to themselves, and keep a dream journal to get started!
Medical professionals define dreams as images the mind produces during sleep. They say dreams last on average, five to twenty minutes, and we forget about 95% of our dreams upon waking. Even if we don’t remember dreaming, they believe we dream three to six times each night anyways. Researchers think events in our lives, unconscious fears, or desires may fuel the topics of dreams, and that we may dream simply because the mind occupies itself during sleep.
Sometimes dreams are just that, the mind working. Increased nightmares during times of great stress are normal, and dreams of what exciting coming events in our lives may hold happen often.
However, through the ages, writings tell a different story. People have spoken and written of dreams and visions that came to pass, and dreams as a way of communicating with celestial beings. People have made major decisions based on dreams they believed gave instructions, and some have said the spirits of their ancestors have visited them in dreams. In ancient Mesopotamia, it was believed people’s spirits left their bodies and visited places during dreams. Today, some call this astral projection, and some even do this while in meditation, and very much awake. Some have had dreams of great disasters and were shown in the dream how to escape unharmed, only to have said disasters happen later, and thanks to the dream, they knew just what to do.
Edgar Cayce was an 19th Century American clairvoyant who accepted letters from clients, and he would put himself into a sleep trance to divine the answers to their questions. It was said that as a child, he heard a spirit voice tell him that if he could sleep, answers would be given to him. He went on to do decades of dreams on behalf of many grateful clients.
If you are blessed with the gift of having dreams that will come to pass, pay attention. You may not be as prolific as Cayce, but somehow, your mind is ahead of time, and letting you know what to expect. You may find you feel differently when having one of these dreams. Your body may feel heavier, and when you awaken, you might feel more tired. Your body may not feel different at all, but the longer you have these dreams, the easier it will be to recognize them. You might have dreams that are more symbolic than they are just relaying events in exact order, but the events still come to pass.
You may receive instruction in a dream to do something or go someplace. This may appear on its own, or it could be a response to a pressing question you have had. To try and initiate this type of dream, quietly meditate on the question or concern, and ask your deities or guides to speak to you in your dreams. You can likewise ask yourself, you are after all, your number one friend and ally, what is best to do. Without the stress of overthinking while awake, your mind may work out the solution for you in your sleep, with or without the intercession of other beings. Let your gut tell you if this is genuine instruction or just the mind occupying itself on this topic.
We are not the first to divine meaning from dreams for instruction. The ancient Egyptians wrote extensively about dream interpretation, and their famous sphynx was restored by Thutmose IV due to a dream he had, promising him he would become pharaoh if he did the restoration. Following the instructions of his dream worked for him, and he became pharaoh and ruled for years. People today benefit from good advice from dreams as well.
Communication with celestial beings is documented in many sacred scriptures, and literature. In the Hebrew scriptures, the god Jehovah appears to Solomon In a dream, and tells him to simply ask for whatever he wants and it will be given to him. The Buddha’s mother is said to have dreamed of a sacred elephant entering her, letting her know she had conceived him. In ancient Egypt, it was believed their gods revealed themselves to people through dreams. Many believe when they have a dream about a god, goddess, or sacred being, it is communication with them and not just a dream about them. Like reaching out to spirit guides, we can reach out to deities or sacred beings and have them communicate with us in dreams as well. Say a prayer, or give an offering to them. Some gods or goddesses prefer you make a charitable contribution to the needy as your offering. Falling asleep holding something sacred to them, or that which represents them is a good way to channel them in dreams. For example, to reach Kali Ma in a dream, holding a portrait of her or her yantra can help. Celestial beings such as angles, dragons, and other guardian spirits can likewise be asked to speak in dreams in this way.
Some people prefer to interpret individual symbols that show up in their dreams to determine meaning. It seems that each culture has different meanings for different symbols. In Western tradition, black symbolizes death, but in Medieval times, the death of a royal was symbolized with purple, and in parts of East Asia, white represents death. Chinese symbolism for bats is happiness, but to some Westerners, it’s a sinister symbol aligned with all things scary and dangerous. Snakes for Minoans represented goddess energy, but to those in Abrahamic traditions, they became the symbol for the fall of man. There is no need to look to other cultures for the meaning of certain things that appear in your dreams you feel has significance. Look within your own culture and tradition for the meaning of these things.
Our beloved ancestors come visit us in dreams as well. An American saying is “When you dream of the dead, you’ll hear from the living,” and sometimes this is exactly what happens. Sometimes, though, this is the dead communicating with us simply because they no longer have bodies, and our mind is the vehicle they use to visit us. Take note of all they tell you in dreams. Ancestors are widely known for watching over their descendants after they pass away, and some of them take this job very seriously. To reach out to your ancestors, asking them to communicate with you in either dreams, a small area set up in honor of them is an easy way to start that communication. Take a photo of them, and or something that belonged to them, and a gift in honor of them, and place these things together in a clean, quiet space. Give a plate of food they liked, and a glass or cup of what they liked to drink. Light a candle in that area, and speak aloud to them, asking them to communicate with you, and visit your dreams. Also, make sure to ask them to make their communications clear so you may understand them completely. If you are afraid of spirits, you need not be. Your ancestors are the same people they were during the time you spent with them while they were alive. They just don’t have bodies anymore. They will be happy to hear from you and you will enjoy hearing back from them.
Beginning interpretation of your dreams requires first and foremost that you trust yourself, and listen to what is being communicated. Not everybody is an Edgar Cayce or an ancient ruler with world changing goals, but the human mind is open to messages in sleep that don’t always come through when awake. Keeping a dream journal next to where you sleep is very helpful, in case you wake up during the night, and want to jot down your dreams. Writing down your dreams first thing in the morning every day will ensure you remember as many dreams as possible, and get the most out of your dreams. Each of us dreams differently, and the meaning of our dreams reflect that. As you learn to interpret your dreams, you learn to listen to your inner self, and the messages that come to you. Before you know it, you will understand your own dreams, and interpret them well.