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)