Electric Dreams

Look Both Ways

David Jenkins, PhD

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Jenkins, David, PhD (2006 December). DreamRePlay: Look Both Ways. Electric Dreams 13(12).

Dreams and Ambiguity: There are Two Sides to Every Dream

Whatever you think your dream means, don't forget to consider the exact opposite. If you are sure your dream means just one thing, stop! Take another look.

Almost all methods of dream work have a built-in "warning" system to remind you to consider the alternatives. In ancient Greece it was believed that dreams were sent by the gods. On their way to you they passed through one of two gates, either horn or ivory. True dreams passed through the gates of horn; false dreams passed through the gates of ivory.

In other words, dream meanings are always tricky; they can flip flop.

This is particularly important when your dream "suggests" taking some critical action in the waking world. If your dream seems to clearly tell you to change your job, or that your boyfriend is having an affair, think carefully before quitting your job or accusing your boyfriend.

I dream that I wake up and find that I have got a terrific new job to go to.

That's nice but, flip it around, and it may well mean you had better wake up if you want a terrific new job.

Calpurnia's Dream

Shakespeare offers a perfect example of the way in which a dream can be understood in two different ways. In the play "Julius Caesar," Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, dreams that a statue of Caesar was flowing with blood and many Romans wash their hands in the blood. She is sure it means Caesar will be assassinated.

Caesar tells the dream to Decius. But Decius (who is part of the plot to kill Caesar) says it means Caesar is so great that Rome shall be nourished by his blood; that Rome will be revived by Caesar. He adds that it would look bad if Caesar gives in to Calpurnia's fears.

Both interpretations are feasible. Calpurnia's judgment was good. Decius was lying. But Caesar, swayed by his own pride, followed Decius' interpretation. He went to the forum and the rest is history.

The problem with all dreams interpretations is that they have this ambiguity. There is no final way to resolve the matter.

The Moral

Interpreting dreams always leaves room for opposite conclusions. Pride and vanity will often push you in one direction. "Bad" dreams can have a "good" interpretation and vice versa. If you are dealing with practical matters in the waking world, be wary of simply taking action based on a dream.

By and large, Dream RePlay avoids this issue because we wait for the next dream and watch the progression. A good rule of thumb (unless you have to go to the forum today) is to wait for two more confirming dreams.

In next week's column we'll discuss dreams of infidelity: what do you do when you dream that your lover is cheating on you? You'll see that there are many possible interpretations.

Dream Groups

The Saturday drop-in group ($20) is from 10 am to noon at 2315 Prince Street in Berkeley. The nearest major cross street is Ashby and Telegraph. Please let me know if you are coming.

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email: davidj@dreamreplay.com
phone: (510) 644 2369
DreamRePlay web site: http://dreamreplay.com