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World of Dreams

November 1, 2016 in Dreams





(Classical dreams, romantic dreams. 18 July 2017)


Hear the word “classical” and one thinks of a grand building complete with pillars and columns, and rectangular windows. Outside the world of architecture, classical is an attitude to life, an orderly and complete way of thinking about and doing things. It is classical action that sets matters in stone following a period of speculating, thinking and planning. However, the grandest building that ever was could not have come into being without another mode of thought, which is where the romantic comes in. TS Eliot has described the rift between the classical and the romantic as: “the difference between the complete and the fragmentary, the adult and the immature, the orderly and the chaotic”. Put this way, we can see that the form of the dream is the essence of romantic thinking, those fragmentary, half-formed ideas and imagery following upon one another, during the hours of sleep. No surprise then that two definitive novels that emerged during the cultural movement that is now called the Romantic era (c.1750-1830) were the results of the dream imagery received by their authors.

Newly ensconced in Strawberry Hill, his Gothic villa in Twickenham, Horace Walpole dreamed that the helmet of a suit of armour – in reality, furnishing his staircase – fell upon and crushed him. In 1764, Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto, sparking a fashion for we what today call Gothic novels. Exactly fifty-two years later, a young woman named Mary Shelley dreamed of a creature composed of pieces of dead men and brought to life by its mad-scientist creator. Today, the myriad movies and plays, spin-offs and send-ups that incorporate the name “Frankenstein” attest to the success of the story. And there is nothing to prevent any subject alive from combining fragments of dream imagery to create the next trend in world literature. But powerful though it is,  the romantic  is not enough.

The dreaming subject must be canny enough to recognize the potential of the nocturnal imagery sent him by his subconscious. He or she must have the guts and will power to sit down for the requisite hours (or days or weeks or years) that it takes to grind out a coherent tale from said fragments, and go through the final agony of putting it on the market. Hearkening to TS Eliot, I wouldn’t say that the classical is “complete” but it is most certainly the orderly and adult modes of thought and action that make the romantic complete. In short, the two modes complete and complement one another. Just now, I am away for my summer break and I look forward to receiving all of those fragmentary, incomplete and immature images from my romantic subconscious that the classical in me may turn into the next bestseller – watch this space.

(Dreams and the Chakra, 15 June)

The subject of the chakra has always fascinated me, you know, those fields of primal energy that permeate the various sites of our bodies, which sages on the subject have always expressed as colour. This is unsurprising, since it is the varying levels of energy or wavelengths of visible light waves that manifest as the colours that we are able to see. I say “visible” because the human eye can only perceive the wavelengths of a very narrow bandwidth of the entire visible spectrum – a subject for another day. Just now, I want to discuss the connection between colour in dreams and the colours of the chakra. On reading about charkas recently, it was remarkable to see how the colours of the subtle body and the significance of colour in dreams, as laid out in my dream dictionary, concur with one another.

Picture a person seated in a cross-legged position, corresponding to the lotus position in yoga. The root chakra, coloured red, occupies the area below the waist. Red stands for sexual energy and it is no surprise that our lower quarters are the fount of new life. Above this zone is the solar plexus chakra, named after the network of nerves that radiates from there to the rest of the body. This chakra is yellow and orange in colour and is connected with mental activity. My dream dictionary meanwhile, classifies yellow as a “mental tint”. Above this and coloured green is the heart chakra, connected with healing and serenity. In dreams, green involves dealing with other people. The blue-coloured throat chakra rules communication and in dreams, blue is a harbinger of prosperity in business. The indigo or third-eye chakra rules the head and face, and above it sits the violet crown chakra, which rules the more subtle, intuitive senses – how often have I cited purple and violet as the colours of higher consciousness? So, don’t neglect to record those colours in dreams to better decide what your subconscious is telling you.






(Choo-chooing your dreams, 12 May, 2017)

Perhaps no dream symbol is more potent than that of the train, a meme of industrial strength in the steam age, the “iron horse” being the original wheeled vehicle that did not require a four-footed beast to propel it along. For nearly two hundred years, this meme has fed into our consciousness and the image of the train has become one of the most common dream tropes.

The train serves as a paradigm for so many situations, but particularly that of the group of mainly unconnected people travelling to a common destination but with different purposes – Alfred Hitchcock knew what he was doing when he made his movie, Strangers on a Train. The dream train can be in a recognised station or in the middle of nowhere, stationery or moving purposefully across the landscape. The implications are obvious: are you making progress in your life or getting nowhere fast? Be aware of the landscape and its significant symbols: is it lush and green or barren and blasted? Are you chugging through town or countryside? Is the ground cultivated and agricultural or is it a tangled wilderness? Is it populated or deserted, filled with mountains and lakes, forests and rivers? As ever, context is everything.

Unlike in a car, someone else usually drives the train – but if you are in charge of the engine and feeling confident, then it may be time to embark upon a new venture. If you are a passenger, who are your travelling companions and what is their significance in your life? If strangers, are they friendly or threatening, young or old? If you find yourself agreeing too readily to do a fellow passenger’s bidding, remember that Hitchcock movie!

(Wacky dreams, 23 April, 2017)

With a little effort and plenty of practice, expertise at analysing dream archetypes does happen along eventually. But what about those wacky phantasms that seem to make no sense whatever? In one dream, I wake up (sic) and am lying in my legitimate bed in my legitimate bedroom, etc. The sun is shining through the curtains and filled with the joys of life, I jump onto the lovely, floral carpet…eh? In reality, my carpet is plain buff. Friends, I stamped roundly and soundly upon that floor, in expectation of the carpet reverting to its norm, but it did not. The solid reality continued. I walked from the bedroom, across the landing and into the living room where furniture that I had bought (in reality) weeks earlier, was still in place. In short, everything was normal, except for that dratted floral carpet covering the entire floor. I am looking about in wonderment, wondering what to do about the phantom carpet when I suddenly sink to the floor and wake up, in reality. You can guess what I did next – and the relief of finding my beloved buff carpet in place is still palpable.

Just over a year later, I wake up, get out of bed and check the time on my convenient dial clock, 9:40. I go into the bathroom, turn on the tap and instead of the normal rush of clear water, out comes thick,  yellow mud. By now, a bathroom pipe is spouting water all over the floor. In summary, instead of lying in a warm and relaxing bath as a prelude to getting up, I am wrestling about in a horror of muck and water. Next, I turn to mush along with the muck and wake up for real. Again, you can guess what my priority was in the wake of that dream? Spookily, the time on my clock was 9:40, the same as in the dream. Like, how does a sleeping subject know? I wonder if our subconscious  sometimes sends  this phantasmagoria for the sheer fun of fooling our conscious brains into believing that something horrible is happening, just like a fairground ride in a haunted house? If so, thank you for the entertainment.
(Dream Houses, April 9)

When referring to their “dream house”, most people have in mind the house that they would/will build, when their financial ship sails into port. In dreams, buildings are metaphorical, standing for fears, hopes and desires. Because of our legacy of western architecture, certain building types are associated with particular social and commercial activities. These associations channel into our subconscious and express themselves in dream imagery. Buildings in which much commercial activity takes place, like banks and business headquarters, have often been built in the “classical” style, that is, with porticoed entrances and Georgian windows, carved friezes and string coursings. These references exude an aura of permanency and stability, important when imparting confidence to customers and trading partners. If your dream features a building like this, it is possibly a sign that you are confident about the future or have a very secure present.

Not everyone likes classical certainties, however. Medieval building references became fashionable during Victorian times, with castellated parapets, turrets and tall, narrow windows placed irregularly on the facades of domestic dwellings. The Victorian personality fancied a hint of the unexpected and the arcane – who knew what secrets lay hidden behind that turret window? To see a medieval building in a dream could mean that an exciting or unexpected event is about to take place – a lottery win, a new romance or maybe a turn of fortune in business? Purpose-built schools, hospitals and factories tend to be “modernistic” and devoid of ornament. In addition, buildings with shining glass and metal facades tend to house new, high-tech and dotcom-based businesses, in contrast to the premises of traditional banking and commodity-trading establishments. If you see a modernist building in a dream, it could mean that you need something new in your life, possibly taking a novel approach to an omnipresent situation.

As ever, the meaning of your dream house will depend on the accompanying imagery. For instance, if your classical building is on fire, it could be warning you not to take security or certainty for granted. Or if that deliciously spooky medieval house contains only the people and things you know and love, it may be a sign that you need not expect anything new to happen soon. Or if that shining, modern edifice pulls back to reveal a maggot-stuffed corpse – well, that’s for you to figure out. In my next post, I am going to write about those weird, wacky dreams that seem to have no meaning, at all.

(Mary Phelan, 2017)


Dream Glossary

November 1, 2016 in Glossary of Dream Terms

Press the button on the right to access this Dream Glossary. It is a collection of several of the more common terms and names relevant to dreaming and dream analysis.  Feel free to copy and paste this glossary into your word processor and use as a basis for building your own collection of dream buzzwords. I have used bold text for those words that you stumble across in books and in blogs, but are not quite certain of the meaning, like “NREM” and “Gestalt” and “Cayce”. And you will meet many more on your own, highly personal journey through the world of dreams and their meanings.

Archetypes: Dream archetypes are those images and characters that appear again and again in various dream situations, over a period of time – just think of the same characters appearing in many different plays and movies. When analysed, each archetype can be interpreted as a facet of your own personality.

Analysis (Dreams): Many methods of dream analysis are in use, for example, the hypnosis techniques of Sigmund Freud and Edgar Cayce, the shamanic method of Carl Jung, the Gestalt technique, or simply by identifying archetypes and placing them in context.  

Aristotle believed that disturbance during sleep, for example, a draft or a faint noise, could trigger off a dream without waking up the subject. Free of the judgement of conscious hours, the sleeper accepts uncritically all of his fantastical experiences, and waking up brings that familiar jolt of surprise. Aristotle’s theory is not a million miles removed from where our dream theory is now.

This was in contrast to his fellow Greeks, who were very superstitious. In addition to devotion to their gods, they believed in ghosts and portent through the Delphic and other temple oracles, and through dreamtime experiences. Plato’s adherence to divination and belief in esoteric worlds reflected this, but his pupil rejected all notions of the supernatural and fortune telling in relation to dreaming.

Cayce, Edgar: Cayce was a pioneer of dream analysis who developed his career as a hypnotist and healer following illness of his own. His method was to go into a trance and “find” an answer for the patient’s problem. Because of this, Cayce was able to heal patients through correspondence rather than direct personal contact. Later on, he began lecturing on philosophy and experimenting with therapies like exposure to ultraviolet light, massage and diet, and healing with the help of gemstones.

Today, many of these therapies are valid, with light therapy on offer to patients suffering from seasonal adjustment disorder or SAD. He knew that tapping the unconscious mind was a more certain channel to self-knowledge than the conscious, logical mind.

Consciousness: is the objective state of being awake and aware of what is happening in the environment, the flipside of being unconscious. However, researchers have identified varying levels of awareness within waking consciousness.

Daydreaming: Psychologists have written much on the nature of this subject. The majority of them agree that while daydreaming, the subject is in a state between waking and sleeping. One difference between the dreams of day and those of the night is that the conscious subject is in control of the imagery her or she perceives, is able to drive it and is in possession of potential for great creativity. Yet, the daydreaming state puts the subject in touch with his or her subconscious. Detached from the automotive mode of consciousness, it is the ideal place for thoughts to flow. Even when a daydream does not result in a great and wonderful idea – most often, it does not – experts agree (and daydreaming subjects affirm) that a short period of detachment from the fully conscious state is akin to taking a quick nap. The subject returns to consciousness once more , capable of tackling whatever task is in hand.

Dream capture: Effective dream analysis is possible only for the routine recorder of dreams, and the most efficient method is to record every dream upon awakening. This is a task that requires discipline, persistence and dedication, but it is worth the effort. Many dreamers like to record their imagery in a hardcover notebook, with the date of each dream overhead, a good and useful way to do it. Typing dream notes onto electronic media adds another dimension, allowing you to identify recurring themes and archetypes using the word search facility, and adding insights months or even years beyond the original dream. The worst mistake the dream hunter can make is to record only those dreams that sing in the memory long after they have taken place. Extravagant dreams are important, but concentration only on these will leave gaps in the total picture of your psyche. Big dreams are like blockbuster movies, filled with memorable characters and riveting events that everyone talks about for years afterwards, but just think of what life would be like if we got our information only from blockbuster movies? The “little” dreams of fragmented images, whispered sounds and half-glimpsed words that are tied together by feelings rather than events are more likely to reveal the information that we are seeking.

Freud, Sigmund: It was the lateral thinking of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud that opened the way for the therapeutic interpretation of dreams. Freud’s therapy involved hypnotising a patient until he or she could talk openly about everything, including intimate matters that were taboo in repressive, late nineteenth-century Vienna. He reasoned that if the intimate musings of a patient were symptomatic of his or her state of mind, the same must apply to the dream imagery that stems from the patient’s unconscious. This pathology is equivalent to blood analysis for detecting physical disease. It was this engagement with the random juxtaposition of everyday objects – the crux of dreaming – that gave rise to the creative movement called surrealism. 

Gestalt: During the 1890’s, the Berlin School of Experimental Psychology became the centre for the practice of Gestalt or Gestaltism, its chief advocate being psychologist Kurt Koffka. His quotation: “the whole is other than the sum of its parts” has gone into history. Put simply, our conscious brains have a tendency to “compensate” for what we think is missing from a series of images or sounds.

Graphic designers and advertising executives use this phenomenon to great effect, nudging our brains into recognising brand names and associating consumables with our favourite sounds from the hit parade. In the real world, constant mental compensation can lead to a deficit of “true” knowledge, misperception and ultimately misunderstanding. Gestalt therapists bring their patients through various exercises, helping them see the total picture of a situation or even their own personalities, the raison d’etre of dream analysis.

Hypnagogic/hypnocampic: you are now in a deep sleep, says the hypnotherapist to his patient, in many a television thriller. What he actually does is put the patient into a stage between the waking and sleeping state, thus making him or her susceptible to suggestions like “you are now filled with confidence” or “you will find smoking a cigarette horrible”. The theory is that the suggestion sinks into the subconscious of the patient and that he carries the effects of the session into everyday life. The word “hypnos” is Greek in origin, derived from Hypnus, the mythological personification of sleep, with Sonmnus being the Roman equivalent. This etymology has given rise to interesting word variants. When you are falling asleep, your brain is in a hypnogogic state and when you are emerging from dreaming sleep into wakefulness, your brain is in a hypnopompic state. In the hypnogogic state, your brain is highly open to suggestion, which is the basis of hypnosis.  

Jung, Carl: Early in his life, Carl Jung saw a luminous figure coming from his mother’s room. The head was detached from the neck and floated in the air in front of the body. The response of the Jung family was to send her for treatment in a psychiatric hospital but this experience had a profound effect upon Carl. While yet a boy, he created his own private world in which he believed that he communicated with a mannequin carved out of wood.

Years later, he learned about tribal practices like belief in totems, that mirrored his own actions, a step to his forming theories about the collective unconscious. Jung entered the University of Basel in 1895 to study medicine. His colleague, Eugen Bleuler, whom he met in the Burgholzi psychiatric hospital in Zurich, introduced him to Sigmund Freud. Initially, the two psychologists were in friendly, professional collaboration, but their theories began to diverge. Jung believed that dream images stemmed from the collective unconscious, a pool of ideas and visions that were possibly ancestral memories – hearkening back to the supernatural experience he shared with his mother. Freud stayed with the notion that all dream imagery stemmed from the repressed desires of the dreamer. In 1912, Jung published his book, The Psychology of the Unconscious, which led to his final break-up with Freud.

He recorded everything he heard and felt in his red notebook. For the remainder of his life, he travelled and lectured, forming friendships with priests and shamans. He recognised that particular tropes were common to certain cultures and wondered why, in the west, many people described a ghost they might have seen a “grey lady”? The UFO phenomenon that erupted during the 1950s captured his attention and made him wonder about “flying saucers” and “little green men”. Jung also wrote much about individuation, that is, healing the person by balancing the personality with underdeveloped traits.  

Kekule, August: The creative world is awash with tales of artists who dreamed and turned their downtime phantasms into daytime reality. Paul McCartney reputedly dreamed the lyrics of the hit song, Yesterday. Elias Howe found the solution to perfecting his invention, the sewing machine, when he dreamed of a fierce, spear-throwing tribe – and the spears all had holes close to the arrowheads.

The world of chemistry still charts how August Kekule’s dream of an ouroboros, the ancient symbol of a snake swallowing its tail, enabled him to establish the structure of the benzene molecule. For years, he and other chemists had puzzled over it, and Kekule solved the mystery when he realised that it might be circular rather than linear. Interestingly, Kekule received this information in a daydream, a state of consciousness in between normal wakefulness and lucid awareness.

Individuation: This is a process whereby we develop powers and personality traits that our conscious mind has hitherto ignored or rejected, traits that our subconscious mind often reveals to us in dreams. Carl Jung developed this process for the better functioning of the self, redefining psychoanalysis as not just a treatment for the mentally ill, but an exercise whereby “normal” people discover new routes to living fuller and more rewarding lives.  

Levels of Awareness: Author Colin Wilson defined various levels of consciousness. State 1 is deep sleep or the non-rapid eye movement state or NREM. State 2 is both the hypnagogic (moving into sleep from wakefulness) and the hypnocampic (waking up after sleep), which are both rapid eye movement or REM states.  State 3 is that groggy impaired awareness after just having woken up, but with dream imagery just vanished. State 4 is normal wakeful awareness and state 5 is lucid awareness, which Wilson defined as faculty X. This is a state of “superconsciousness”, in which the subject experiences a kind of heightened reality, the kind of consciousness that inspires artists, writers and other creative people. Researchers using electroencephalographs have established the objective existence of these states. Dream experts believe that everyone has the potential to reach all of them, even faculty X, since we experience “normal” awareness, and dreaming and dreamless sleep without even trying to.

Lucid Awareness: see Levels of Awareness, above.

Nightmares: ‘You are nothing but a bad dream,’ I said, on encountering a dark humanoid figure alongside my bed – and I woke up. The room was empty and I was unafraid. One accepted way of dealing with recurring nightmares is to not run away from whatever oneiric phantasm is bothering you, but to engage with and face it, to resist it, whatever strength of mind it takes. Doing this will rob the images of their power and they will go away.

The “defiance” method will work for the majority of us, since the very act of trying to speak is usually enough to shock the body fully awake, and thus vanquish the phantasm. However, if your are afflicted with frequent, frightening dreams that you cannot deal with, seek clinical help.

Night terrors: the majority of subjects that suffer from night terrors are young children. Seeing the subject sit up in bed with widened eyes as if in dread or terror of something, often with limbs trashing about, is the chief symptom. You cannot waken the subject, who usually falls asleep again. Later on, he or she has no recollection of the incident. Researchers have found that night terror victims are in the NREM or non-dreaming state of sleep. Children usually grow out of this affliction but adults who suffer night terrors require clinical attention, since the condition is closely related to sleepwalking 

Oneiric: the scientific term for dream-related experiences.

Prophetic dreams: numerous accounts exist of subjects experiencing dream imagery of events in advance of their occurrence. Many psychologists have dismissed the notion of prophecy in dreaming, theorizing that we are all dreaming all of the time about everything and that the events foretold by the seemingly prophetic dream would have happened anyway. There is no doubt a grain of truth in this; a stopped clock is right twice a day, they say. Keeping a dream diary is one way to discover if dreamtime brings on your prophetic powers, to establish if the subconscious mind has channels to knowledge that your normal, waking consciousness has not.  

REM/NREM: During the 1950s, scientists used EEG equipment to establish the various wave frequencies given off by the mammalian brain throughout different states of consciousness, including sleep. Subsequent research in sleep clinics established that this REM or rapid-eye-movement phase of sleep is when the subject is most likely to experience bouts of vivid dreaming. Initially, we shut our eyes and fall into a deep sleep that lasts between 60 and 80 minutes, a phase known as NREM or nonsynchronized sleep. For the next 10 to 20 minutes, the brain stem gives off pulses of electrical activity. Presently, these pulses move until they finally shift to the occipital lobe, the area of the brain that controls the eyes. It is at this phase of sleep that the eyes of the subject begin to move rapidly underneath the lids. Incidentally, the REM phase is not a function of vision, since babies, foetuses and people without sight, experience it.

When the REM phase is over, the subject enters another 90-minute sleep cycle, that is, about 80 minutes of NREM sleep, followed by 10 or so minutes of REM. Clinical trials have established that on awakening, the majority of subjects are experiencing dreams during this time, with few dreams during the NREM phase. The healthy sleeper takes between six and eight hours sleep per night, and so experiences four to eight sleep cycles. As the night advances, the amount of NREM or deep sleep within a cycle decreases, with a correlated increase in the amount of REM or dreaming sleep. This explains why we experience our most vivid dreams towards morning.  

Shaman: Every ancient culture has its version of the shaman, from Native American and Aboriginal tribes, to the Inuit of Alaska and the Sami of Lapland. The role of the shaman varies from culture to culture but generally, he can heal illness and envision the future, evoke memories and interpret dreams. If you have a problem or if you see trouble ahead, the shaman can help you take action to circumvent it. In the same way, shamanic interpretation of dreams can point you in the direction of opportunities. The shaman believes that during a dream, your soul goes to the dreamtime where everything about your past, future and present is known. What you learn there can enable you to have a say in your own future. The parallels with getting in touch with your subconscious are fairly apparent.  

Sleepwalking: Many myths and theories exist around this condition, which is also know as somnambulism, Like night terrors, bouts of sleepwalking occur during the NREM stage of sleep, and the subject has no recollection of his or her activity when fully awakened. The difference is that the sleepwalker gets out of bed, moves around and in rarer cases, and engages in daytime activity like getting dressed or even enacting a hobby. Like night terrors, the majority of afflicted subjects are children who usually grow out of it. But adults who are chronic sleepwalkers require clinical attention, since certain activities can place themselves, and others, in danger.  

Sleep paralysis: Experts believe that a condition called muscular atonia or weakness, causes sleep paralysis. This is a phenomenon that the majority of us experience, if we do at all, few episodes in our lifetimes. The subject awakens and finds him or herself unable to move or speak. He may also experience a sensation of suffocation and a strong feeling that someone else is in the room. A number of subjects actually see their nocturnal companion, and this hallucination can be grotesque and terrifying. The phenomenon has given rise to many creative works, from the incubus and succubus of folklore, to Henri Fuseli’s painting, The Nightmare. The clinical explanation is that the mind of the subject half awakens but because of muscular atonia, the body is not yet in tandem. Because the mind is in the hypnocampic, the still-dreaming stage of waking up, the sensation of body paralysis leads him to believe that he or she is the victim of assault, and it creates a narrative to explain his or her condition. Sleep paralysis can also occur when the mind is in the falling asleep or hypnagogic state. Bouts can last from between a few minutes to an hour or more.

Generally, it is not a problem but for a minority, it is a serious condition that requires clinical help. Most people respond to therapy that involves relaxation techniques, and taking control when an episode occurs. Over time, the patient grows calmer, more relaxed and less likely to engender the kind of anxiety that causes him or her to hallucinate.  

Subconscious: it is difficult to describe an entity that has no objective existence. But it may be helpful to liken the subconscious to a repository of dreams and memories that we keep in store, like placing objects in a cupboard for occasional use. Keeping them constantly in our conscious brain will only weigh us heavily and slow down our immediate mode of thinking. When we dream, we draw upon this repository of memories and impressions to construct the archetypes that act out our nocturnal dramas. Just as a total stranger can look into your closet and build a credible biography from the possessions that are important to you, continual scrutiny of your archetypes can reveal your state of mind – to you. 

Surrealism: In the wake of Andre Breton writing the Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, the surrealist artists and poets emerged, their dream imagery becoming part of popular culture, for example, the paintings of Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst. The artist Man Ray referred to a line in a poem “Maldoror”: beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella. This word image provokes that queasy sensation as experienced in a dream when we encounter an unusual, unlikely or even unsettling juxtaposition of people and events, for example, seeing our best friend’s mum in a compromising situation with a male relative of our own.   

Unconscious: unlike the subjective subconscious, the unconscious state is an objective one, the NREM or deepest level of the sleeping brain in which the subject is responsive to neither sensation or dream imagery. Less common than we imagine, since most of our sleep time is spent in the REM state, experts believe that we need bouts of unconsciousness for the body to become proactive in repairing bodily tissues and simply resting the brain in preparation for the rigours of the waking hours.


Dream Archetypes

March 12, 2016 in Dream Archetypes

Angels: in the phenomenal world, angels are a number of things, including business financiers and compliant, willing humans, often nurses.

The beach is a place caught between sea and land. The beach is made of sand, a material used in construction. Until used, however, sand represents uncertainty, i.e., shifting sands, making it the archetype of many possibilities. The sea stands for the subconscious, a kind of Underworld, a repository of dreams and memories. It stands for time, tide and eternity. Its colours, blue, green, purple, occur at the “higher” end of the spectrum, making it the archetype of higher consciousness.

The chemist or scientist is the archetype of the alchemist, the magus, magician or wise man – what today we call the scientist. It is he who has the ability to zap his fingers and make things work. He is also represents forces of attraction and communication, the winged Mercury, in fact.

Documents are made of paper and are usually white. They form the basis of receipts and invoices, bills, warnings and references. They are covered with words that can be trusted, but sometimes not. Documents “document” things; events that have happened. However, their meaning is ephemeral, and subject to change.

Eateries, cafés, restaurants are places of people and of food, denoting ambience. However, ambience can also translate into arrogance and entitlement.

Fire is energy from the sun. It is warm and golden, a bringer of light and cooked food. Fire can be destructive and dangerous, as in gunfire. It is the same word used to get rid of someone from a job. Fire stands for heat and light, orange and red, dancing, glancing energy – and romance. Fire can bring ruin and waste, devastation and destruction, leaving behind soot, cinders and ashes – and despair. Fire stands for cleansing and rebirth, renewal and growth – and hope.

Green stands for fertility, growth and development, and food that is good, but that you might not want to eat. It stands for nature in general and spring in particular; newness, innocence, youth and freshness. Green stands for unreadiness, backwardness and naivety.

The old house has parasites growing on and in its walls; wasps, spiders, birds and rodents. There is also moss, lichen and creepers. The windows are obfuscated by dust, denoting lack of vision. The new house stands for modernity, readiness and forward thinking.

An international journey is the archetype of new ideas, movement and networking, energy, vibration and conveyance vehicles. This is also the archetype of malfunction and culture shock, obscure language, loneliness and loss of identity. Local journeys are inconvenient, expensive and boring, the archetypes of things you may not want to do.

Keys are metallic and magnetic, attracting things and openings things. The key is a way into something. The key is an adjunct to locks and chains, ties and responsibilities 

Light means easy to carry. Light is brilliant, dazzling and coruscating. Light is purity and innocence. Light is daylight, wavelength and colour. Light is archetype of throwing light on a matter, which is why illustrations used to be called illuminations.

A male (in a female dream) is the archetype of a robust go-getting attitude, of strength, physicality and practicality.

A necklace and other jewellery is the archetype of great fortune, as gold and silver denote wealth and links with the past – the costlier, the better the outlook for you.

An orchestra consists of musicians playing a variety of instruments and it can denote either harmony or discord, according to the skills of the conductor. Beware of working for a company or organisation that does not have a purposeful leader.

A palace or grand house is the archetype of everything that you might want. It stands for heaven on earth, and its treasure-filled rooms stand for the many lives lived in it. A grand house also represents a dichotomy; one of nefarious and dark deeds.

A Queen or royalty in a dream signifies fortune and ambition. The same is true of encountering celebrity.

A river is the archetype of a warning to not to get carried away. Rivers are material, sustaining boats and people, fishing and swimming. Rivers are beautiful, sustaining birds, plants and fishes. Rivers are mythical, giving rise to folklore and legend.

A school is a place of learning, in which many disciplines are taught, in which one encounters multiple personalities. One is subject to severe discipline and hard work and whatever the rewards, it is a place of suffering or, at least, not a place to be happy. The teacher is an arcane symbol, a repository of knowledge, wisdom and learning discipline.

A tree is strong, rooted, lovely, attracting life and colour, supplying food and shelter. It is also an arcane symbol of life, linking heaven – or sky – with earth.

Winter is the archetype of longings. It stands for Christmas gifts, loads of food and warmth, time with family. It is also bleak, cold and bare of leaves and comfort.

The zoo is connected with animals of all kinds, and their various qualities. The lion denotes strength and majesty while bears are grumpy yet cuddly.


Pandora’s Box – check out my new novel!

August 13, 2013 in Pandora's Box


Pandora’s Box is the story of single mum Caitlin Brewer, who has spent all her young years bringing up her beautiful daughter. In order to help Suzette with a school project, Caitlin buys an old trunk from a junk dealer. With Suzette safely in university, Caitlin now has time and space to fulfil her own dreams, beginning by going to live with long-term boyfriend Dave Gross. She quits her boring job and begins a  course of study.  Just when everything should be perfect, life begins to crumble around Caitlin. Is the old trunk having a pernicious influence on events or not? Caitlin has to find out….

Pandora’s Box is published on Amazon Kindle (ISBN 978-0-9559419-4-8) and I do hope that readers enjoy it.

Read Pandora’s Box promotional essay on Hub Pages.

About Mary Phelan

August 2, 2013 in Mary Phelan

I am an art historian and copywriter, journalist and author.

I am wild about words and music, Greek mythology and chocolate, art and literature, architecture and popular science, film and fluffy animals – though not necessarily in that order.

Click my Dream Diary link on the right to read my cool column and learn what your night time adventures tell you – about you!

Read my inimitable articles on art and architecture, film and photography on

Fall about laughing as you peruse the wacky world of modern product design on my Design Victim blog.

And don’t forget to read all about my novel  Pandora’s Box – look right, folks!