An Introduction to Dream Interpretation
(c) Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2005

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."
--Oscar Wilde

Dreams are a unique experience for each one of us - they are often called the triumph of fantasy over reality. It is a state of mind where we always have the leading role and we are the only audience. The best approach to studying Dreams would be to pursue studies on Sleep. If you want to improve and understand your dreams, you must improve and understand your sleep.

The best way to learn how to interpret dreams is to study and know your own self. You have to be able to cultivate your own individuality and creativity as well as understand your own fears and motivations. While there are many types of dreams, most dreams are often largely symbolic which indicates an area of our awareness that is not operating in its full creative potential. Very often our depression or unresolved issues can feed our creative life and our creative life is what nourishes our self-esteem.

Journalling is a very effective study tool. Documenting your own dreams is a good discipline to acquire if you are sincerely interested in dream interpretation. It is a good practice to write your dreams in one colour and make later notes, i.e. things that occurred in mundane life that may relate to the dream, in a different colour. Investing in a good book on symbols and symbolism is a good idea.

People are usually quite informed about and pay attention to their dreams in their own lives so it has much wider acceptance due to the commonality of the dream experience. There are a great many superstitions and omens about dreams. If you have the same dream three nights in a row it will come true. If you have a bad dream you can ward off any side effects by spitting three times (in an appropriate place please) when you awake. In Native spirituality they say it is the soul leaving the body to travel over strange lands.

People can spend a lot of time asking themselves "Why?" "Why did he/she do that to me?" "Why did God allow that to happen?" They did it because they could and God allowed it because he can. If you are stuck on "Why?" then you are choosing suffering in your life. It is one thing to have pain - we all have pain at sometime in our life and another thing to suffer. We live in a world where people can be cruel and disappointing. Our pain is different than our suffering and dreams can be a valuable resource in understanding the nature of our suffering. Suffering is either worrying about something in the future or grieving something from the past.

Try to keep things simple when analyzing a dream - or any other aspect of your life for that matter. Less is always more. Dreams tend to fall into four categories: retrocognitive (past life); other life (future life); prophetic (a warning or a blessing to come which is inspirational, factual or precognitive) or housekeeping (rehashing the day's events, digestive upset, something on TV or consumption of alcohol). Dreams that fall into the prophetic category are usually worth exploring, housekeeping dreams should be discounted.

The first step in interpreting a dream is to make note of any colours, numbers, letters and initials of people in the dream. There are significant messages to be obtained in this way. It is quite fun to play around with the initials and find words or phrases contained in the dreams. Remembering numbers from your dream is a very fortunate omen. Colours can indicate the mood or emotional background in the dreamer's life.

The next step to is break it down into individual symbols, paying attention to size, differences, uniqueness or deformity, right or left, facial features, furniture and locations, to name a few. Next comes the most important step, I sit down and think about it , making notes of my first impressions. I consult two or three different books which offer interpretations of symbols and gleen what feels pertinent from there. It is then necessary to turn all of this information into an insightful observation. A good vocabulary is absolutely essential.

Here are some simple questions to begin your interpretation and will help with your journal entries, if you choose to keep one. The following questions are designed to use as a Tarot reading, shuffle in your usual method and lay out your cards in 3 rows of seven. It is not necessary to have a Tarot deck to use these questions to interpret your dream.

1. What were my feelings when I woke up after this dream?

2. What does this dream remind me of from my real life?

3. How does this dream relate to who I am?

4. Is this dream based in memory?

5. Is this dream related to past events, situations or people?

6. Is this a problem solving dream?

7. Is this a dream about a change I have to adapt to?

8. Is this dream trying to awaken a new potential within my Self?

9. What do the colours in the dream mean to me?

10. Is there a reason I needed this dream?

11. What am I trying to avoid in this dream?

12. What am I trying to confront in this dream?

13. Who are the people in my dream? (real, imaginary or aspects of self)

14. What do I like about this dream?

15. What do I dislike about this dream?

16. Is this an emotional dream?

17. Is this a physical dream?

18. What is this dream suggesting I do to take action?

19. What does this dream remind me of?

20. Is this a healing dream?

21. What is the positive message or lesson of this dream for me?

We live in a world where people are very disconnected from themselves and each other. We are experiencing spiritual deprivation and hunger. We lack the discernement to figure out whether our problems are stemming from our own submission to issues or issues that are subjecting us. We live in such a busy and businesslike world that we are also experiencing sleep deprivation. It is said that the curse of parenthood is sleep deprivation and anyone with children can relate to this. In the past two generations we have seen the erosion of our families and the near elimination of the middle class, people are stressed and vulnerable. People are looking for spiritual food and spiritual practice - the new Holy Communion is coffee and a donut at Tim Horton's.

It is most important to remember that you are dealing with sacred thought. The Light of God (however you may conceive God to be) is Eternal Truth but we as mere mortals cannot even begin to comprehend, much less fully express, what Eternal Truth is. The best way for us to understand and express parts of the concept of a Higher Truth are in myth, legend, folklore, music, dance, poetry and our dreams. They are like light refracting through God's prism. What the light reveals the light can also heal.

A dream is always the truth and always a lie. The spiritual guidance that can be accessed through understanding our dreams should not be taken for granted.


This page was created March 31, 2005 and updated on January 28, 2007.