Dream Symbols: Houses


Throughout the 80’s I had recurring dreams about preparing to move into new houses I didn’t like. Here’s one I had in 1988, three months after I began recording my dreams.
#54 The Unsuitable New House.  We’ve sold the house I love and I’m walking through a rickety plywood house we’ll soon move into. I’m appalled by everything I see. The tiny kitchen has huge, old-fashioned appliances and a turquoise and pink wringer washing machine. The window air conditioner unit rattles noisily. The dining room floor isn’t level, the flimsy table has a rotting corner, and the ceiling fixture is made of the shoulders, head, and antlers of a deer! Worst of all, there’s no room for my beloved books: no library, no shelves, no desk. I hate everything about this incredibly tacky house. Why did I design it this way? How could I have ordered these hideous things? I am filled with remorse. I think I should try to like this house but cannot convince myself I ever will.
I went back to school for my doctorate in the late 70’s and spent the 80’s teaching university students. The unsuitable new houses in my dreams depicted my unhappiness with myself and my life. It took another year of dreamwork before I trusted my dreams enough to leave a profession that wasn’t right for me. Two days after I left for good I dreamed I was escaping from a prison!  That fall I began to write my first book about the inner life. That was when I had a dream about touring an exquisite house that was perfect for me. At the end of the dream the woman writer who owned it hinted that it would someday belong to me!
When I was five we moved to Florida and lived in a trailer until Daddy bought the dear crumbling old wooden cottage where I grew up. After he died my mother struggled to support us on a nurse’s meager income. I would not have attended college had I not miraculously earned a scholarship. By mid-life I knew I had not developed my true interests and talents and entered a long and difficult struggle to discover my true self. At the age of 45 I found Jungian psychology and began studying my dreams. Since then my house dreams have depicted my progress. Here’s the one I had last weekend.
#4253 Revisiting My Childhood Home.  I’m in my childhood home standing in a spacious kitchen that used to be tiny, dark, and dingy. Filled with light, it has gorgeous new hand-made cabinets and polished stone counters. A young woman is kneeling on the floor painting the cabinets a creamy white. A man in the adjoining dining room is painting trim around the open doorway. I stand back to look at the remodeled kitchen and am so astonished at its beauty and suitability that I begin to weep in gratitude.
This emotional dream depicts exactly how I was feeling the evening before. My husband and I were driving along a beautiful mountain road to join dear friends for dinner when I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I love the way I’m traveling through life! I love my family. I love my work, my friends, my lifestyle. I feel loved and am learning to love myself. I am so grateful, feel so incredibly fortunate. The houses are my psyche. Their kitchens and dining rooms are places of transformation and nourishment. The remodeling work I’ve been doing for 22 years is making them more suitable for me. I’m becoming the woman I always wanted to be, and it feels so good!
How do Dream Mother’s houses depict your feelings about yourself and the way you’re living your life?

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0 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie,
    When I finished reading your post, I felt your joy, love and gratitude. What a journey from a dilapidated house to your 22 years of work remodeling your house that now exudes beauty and fits “you” so well. To feel grateful for your life journey, the people in your life and for you to feel such love and gratitude living in and with your authentic Self – what a treasure to see, feel, cherish and share with you! I join you in your grateful celebration of your handmade beautiful and suitable life, in all its multifaceted aspects! I appreciate your courage, years of hard work, personal studies and your collaboration with your unconscious dream wisdom and your journey of discovering your true Self and living from that soulful place. Delicious and wonderful!
    You also asked, “How do Dream Mother’s houses depict your feelings about yourself and the way you’re living your life?” Thanks for asking and for your interest.
    After your reflection of the spiritual bully in my dream, I went to bed wondering how to deal with this bully. Can I befriend him? How could I find and develop his healthier nature? Since I also was in the process of making decisions about what type of work I would do in the next brand new chapter of my life – I also prayed for the grace and fortitude to follow God’s will. I was pondering 3 options (1- continue with my screenplay, 2- continue with my novel or door number 3 – the unknown answer). I was open to another answer, if God had a better idea.
    That night I had this “house” dream: I saw a man bleeding profusely from his mouth. OH MY! I look closer and it looks like Dustin Hoffman. I ask, “Is that Dustin Hoffman?” “No”, I hear a voice say, “It’s Captain Hook” (Dustin Hoffman played Captain Hook in a movie). The voice continues, “He is dying from internal bleeding.” I gasp. I realize Captain Hook represents my spiritual bully. Next, I see the image of a huge beautiful white mansion with four large white pillars surrounded by lush beautiful gardens and green grass. A light is shining from inside the mansion and bursting out of the house from every crevice, the house is all aglow. It’s Dustin Hoffman’s house. Dustin is also now smiling a big smile – transformed – filled with light. He is exuding joy from every cell of his body. I feel utter joy, awe and wonder witnessing this beautiful home, gardens and Dustin Hoffman’s (formerly Captain Hook – spiritual bully) miraculous transformation. This dream house reflects how I feel the miraculous glow in my life right now.
    I had another dream that night right after Captain Hook’s transformation. This dream was about maintaining a steady focus, observing, thinking, questioning and evaluating (positive animus characteristics) to find the “best” answer for my beloved cat’s (my inner feminine) health and welfare. I eventually found the truth and the best answer for my beloved cat. In a third dream that night I had to decide what I could and could not give, based on deeper self-knowledge (including recent personal shadow work, studies etc.) – creating a win/win.
    My “house” dream reflects how I feel the miraculous right now (the miraculous transformation of spiritual bully) and my other dreams reflect my positive animus. It turns out God did have a better idea – as the week passed, door number 3 revealed something different. I answered a “call” I now see was there all my life. Looks like and makes complete sense that I needed a miraculous transformation (with God’s grace and love) of my spiritual bully into my positive animus to answer the call of my deeper soul/spirit. Now was the time! My dream house reflects the glow and deep awe, love, and gratitude I feel for all aspects of my life! Your blog posts and replies, including you pointing out the spiritual bully in my dream played an important role in my evolving miracle. Thanks for your part!
    Cheers to you Jeanie becoming the woman you always wanted to be, developing and creating a life that fits you so well and that feels so good to you! Yahoo! – What a joy to share and celebrate with you “you,” your life’s journey and your gratitude! Thanks for sharing with us and for your mutual interest and this soulful, life enhancing and fun conversation!
    Best to you,

  2. Oh dear Sandy,
    What a gracious, generous spirit you have. Thank you for all the kind words. I feel seen and appreciated. And thank you for your wonderful sharing that so beautifully illustrates the benevolence of the Beloved, its love for us,and its goal of nurturing our continuing evolution into our fuller, wiser, more joyful and conscious selves.
    Your dream of the transformation of the fictional character (the nasty Captain Hook) into the real person (Dustin Hoffman) who was only wearing a persona for a role and knew it, is an amazingly apt image of how this kind of inner work expands our consciousness and authenticity. And the fact that the other two dreams of the same night gave you more information about the direction you should pursue only underscores how helpful the unconscious can and will be when we enlist its help by becoming intentional about dreamwork.
    Finally, I just want to reiterate for anyone reading this comment how valuable shadow work is. I have no doubt the reason door number 3 opened to you in waking life is because of your willingness to explore your dark side and befriend your spiritual bully. It’s like a law of physics; call it “The Number One Inner Law of Psychological Transformation”. I’ve seen it again and again: when we face our shadows and work to befriend them, doors we never saw before suddenly appear and open to us. You are proof positive of the truth of this psycho-spiritual axiom, as am I and many others I know. It’s probably one of the best kept secrets about the inner life.
    Thank you sincerely for what you are adding to my blog and personal journey.

  3. What a great post, Jeanie! Years ago I had a series of house dreams which completely changed my life. I too left an academic program (Phd) and embarked on a career as a novelist. Those dreams pointed the way home over four years….Keep writing please!

  4. Jean,
    I think we can confidently conclude that houses are almost universally a representation of the dreamer’s psyche. The house is symbolic of the dreamer. In the case of someone else’s home, the house would represent the relationship of that person to the dreamer. For example, if I have a dream I am in my mother’s house that would suggest the dream is addressing an experience with or in relationship to my mother. In responses to my interpretations at my dream forum this application of houses has been verified time and again.
    As for being in the childhood home. My experiences are where there is a childhood home it is a symbolic representation {especially in the beginning of a dream} of an emotional experience{s} from that period of time in the dreamer’s life. The responses to this application in my interpretations have been pretty much verified without exception. I have consciously looked to this application of the childhood house in dreams and have found it to be accurate {from the responses to my interpretations by the dreamer}. Of course more dreams of this type must be analyzed to say it is a standard. And there will always be exceptions.
    In your dream and noting the ‘past’ childhood home I believe the key word is ‘used to be’. There is a change of an emotional aspect from your childhood to the time you had the dream. The childhood home would be a past description of some aspect of the your life during childhood. What was ‘tiny, dark and dingy’ would represent an emotional description os some aspect of your life during childhood. That has changed, improved. What was dark and dingy has been ‘purified’ with awareness and insights. Your home now has gorgeous hand-made {by your hands} cabinets {cabinets are were we store the emotions} and polished stone {strength} counters.
    I would be interested to know if this past childhood kitchen was an accurate description of some aspect of your childhood years. You have partially confirmed how your life is today which would fit with the newly decorated house in your dream.
    As for the rest of the dream I see the young woman as being you some time in your adulthood. The man could very well be your husband, as well as your animus. The significant emotional changes could be at the age of 45 {which is still a young age} or perhaps even earlier. The animus aspect would be a stronger masculine self. The trim may suggest a stronger masculine addition to your natural feminine identity. This is an adjoining room with an open doorway. Something in adulthood requiring masculine strength has ‘opened’ up ‘painting’ a part of who you have become. You can now look at what you have achieved and have gratitude for the better lief you are living, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

    1. Hi Jerry, It’s great to hear from you. Thanks so much for your comments. They add great depth to the potential meanings of house dreams. I agree with all you’ve said, and am especially grateful for a few insights I didn’t have; one, that being in someone else’s house suggests an issue the dreamer has with that person. Also, I hadn’t associated the cabinets as a place where we stow emotions! So thanks for this help. The strength of the stone counters resonates deeply.
      Were there aspects of my childhood that are aptly described by “dark and dingy?” In a way, yes. I think that would be an accurate description of early feelings of sadness and loneliness, of not having my mother around enough to bring pleasure and light and happiness and safety. And then, of course, my father died. I got so used to being alone that after a while it seemed normal, but sometimes the sadness would break through into my awareness. And yes, I have opened up to many masculine aspects of my personality that have greatly enriched my life!
      Thanks again for the opportunity to learn more from this dream.

      1. Jeanie,
        If I may I would like to post this dream { Revisiting My Childhood Home} at my Myths-Dreams-Symbols Dream Forum http://mythsdreamssymbols.com/dreamforum.html. Your confirmation of my thoughts about your childhood home and actual childhood experiences fits with what I often find to be a pattern within dreams {especially in the beginning of a dream}. Although we should never give a fixed meaning to any symbol there does seem to be a consistent pattern here. The great thing about having the Forum {on line since 2005} is I do get a response to many of my interpretations which helps me gauge their accuracy as well as verify Jung’s concepts on dreams. It also provides an archive of information. Having someone of your experience collaborate {at least in this dream} the childhood home pattern says a lot about the possibility of it being a norm.

  5. Jerry, of course you may post this dream on your wonderful site. I’d be honored. In the past 8 years you’ve established a strong data base for testing Jung’s theories about dreams as well as your ability to understand and explain potential meanings of dream symbols. This is a valuable contribution to the field! Perhaps some day you’ll write up your results? I hope so. Jeanie

    1. Thank you Jean. Of course I will add a link to your book Dream Theatres of the Soul, the book that introduced me to your wonderful work on dreams and has been an inspiration for my interest in dreams.

    1. Thanks, Jerry. I checked out the link and the update of your site. It’s looking good. I see you’re in the Orlando area now. Welcome! Florida needs more dreamers! Jeanie

  6. “House dreams” are really interesting.
    My “house dreams” often symbolize the body. Things that happen in the attic or uppermost storey are tings that are going on in my head / ratio / waking mind or that I tend to identify with, whereas the cellar usually houses the more “shady” goings-on, things that I am unaware of or don’t want to look at, like weird sexual scenes or depressing “dark” moods. The “5th storey” sometimes also symbolizes the 5th dimension.
    Then there are dreams of looking for an apartment (=home?). Some years ago I had a number of dreams about apartments that were too expensive for me. My “dream teacher” told me that things you can’t afford in dreams are a symbol for how far out of reach you feel they are for you. The higher the “price”, the more remote the thing you want seems to be. If they get more affordable in your dreams, that means the possibility of having them in real life has increased.
    Lots of times I also dream of keys – of doors that don’t shut properly, of places where I have to take good care to lock them properly, or sometimes it’s important that I am the only one who has a key to the place. The “door that didn’t shut properly” was actually the door to my mind. Because I wasn’t exercising my “house right”, anything could just come in because I wasn’t taking proper care of which thoughts I would admit into my mind and which ones I should better keep out. 😉 So it’s not just the “outer life”, the past or changes in lifestyle that my house dreams are about, they are very much about my “inner house” and sometimes also symbolize places on the inner planes.
    Some months ago I had an interesting house dream about moving into a community. It had flying battle tanks in it! I’m not sure if it’s okay to post it here, it’s really long. (My dream blog is in German, so I can’t link to it.) Would love to hear what you think though. I really love your blog! 🙂 I was amazed that you commented how happy you are to find people who share your interests in synchronicity and C.G.Jung – as if there are not enough people interested in these things -, because I find that hugely interesting! I really admire Jung’s work, he is a giant. I’m always happy to read your new posts.
    Many blessings,

    1. Hi Zarah,
      It’s so nice to hear from another lover of dreams and dreamwork! I live in a community in which, if there are lots of people who share my interests in synchronicity and C.G. Jung, I’m only aware of perhaps 20 or so, and I don’t get to see most of them any more since our Jung Center closed down. So, apart from meeting people at my presentations or the occasional Jungian conference, opportunities for having in-depth conversations with like-minded people are rare. Florida is quite different from California, where I should probably be living!! 🙂 Anyway, that’s why communicating via the internet with so many people who share these interests has been such a big deal for me.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about house dreams. You’ve added a number of associations I haven’t addressed here, and I know they’ll be helpful to many other readers.
      Since your “flying tanks” dream is really long, it probably would be best if you sent it to me via email: jeanraffa@aol.com. I may not have the time to comment on it for a couple of weeks as I’m leaving for Athens the day after tomorrow, but I’ll respond as soon as I can.
      Sending many blessings to you too,

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