Someone recently asked me how I work on my dreams, so in this and the next two posts I’ll demonstrate my process using my latest dream as an example. I have only a vague idea what it could mean and frankly some of the symbolism worries me, but it feels important so I’ll begin by exploring my associations with the symbols. When I want more information about a symbol I’ll consult The Herder Symbol Dictionary or J.E. Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols. Here goes…
Dream #4337: I’m at a social gathering in a large square rooftop deck of an apartment building. I’m holding an empty clear plastic cup and want to fill it with water but there isn’t any here. A protective railing surrounds the platform. I step over the railing on the right side to get to the water.
Now I’m on a runway-like ramp (about 12 feet wide) that rises up and out far beyond the rooftop platform. It’s bordered on either side by silver metal railings. As I walk up I notice X (a waking-life acquaintance) sitting at a table against the right railing. She’s absorbed in some sort of creative work. She asks what I’m doing. I show her my cup and say I’ve come for water. She says I shouldn’t go up there; it’s dangerous. I think she’s being silly. I feel bold, confident, and determined to continue on to the water fountain.
I look beyond her and see that the runway narrows and curves around a small, all-white bathroom at the end. The door is open and I see a white toilet to the left and a white sink against the back wall. I wonder why I expected there to be a water fountain up there, then realize there’s a tap in the sink. I wonder if the water is pure and safe to drink. I tell her I’m not afraid; there are railings on either side I can hang on to. But as I look more closely I see that the left railing gets lower and lower and is only a foot high where it connects to the bathroom wall. Once inside I’d feel safe but there is little protection near the end. It could get windy and I could lose my balance and fall over the edge of the ramp. Should I continue?
Summary of Paragraph I: I’m in a high place with four sides. I’m thirsty, but my cup is empty. I leave the group to search for water. Following are my symbols and associations:
High place: being in my head; intellectual, psychological and spiritual aspirations and ideals.
Clear plastic cup: cups, like chalices, symbolize overflowing abundance when full and, in Christianity, the cup of salvation or fate and the draught of immortality. That I’m thirsty but my cup is empty suggests I’m feeling the need for more nourishment, self-understanding and meaning. That the cup is plastic and not made of a firmer, more natural material like crystal or metal suggests my soul’s container is somewhat fragile and needs strengthening.
Water: emotions; abundance of possibilities; the primal origin of all being; bodily, emotional, and spiritual cleansing and the power of renewal; spiritual fertility and spiritual life when associated with the fountain. “Psychoanalysis regards water primarily as a symbol of the feminine and of the powers of the unconscious.” (Herder)
Square platform: Jung saw the square as a symbol of matter, life, earthly reality, and because it has four sides, wholeness. A platform is a man-made level rising above the earth.
Stepping over the railing and leaving the group: crossing a boundary from one place to another in search of nourishment; taking an individual psycho-spiritual journey.
To be continued. Meanwhile, feel free to comment with your own associations.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave