Our dreams can tell us a lot about our waking life. My fave psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, believed that dreams were a way of tapping into our unconscious and that while most dreams are very personal, some have a more mythical, symbolic quality that can only be explained through knowledge of the collective unconscious.
These universal themes pop up at times of great transition or struggle, and the archetypes you meet along the way can help you to figure out your next move in the great wheel of life.
**While I could talk forever on Jung’s theories, I can’t go into too much detail here for sake of space, but if there’s something you’d like to know more about, drop me a comment below!**
Your persona is the mask you show the world; your public image. Created from the expectations of society coupled with your own aspirations, your persona is made up of all those likes, dislikes, traits and values you have collected throughout your life, which may or may not fit with your true self. Some people even believe themselves to actually be their persona, we mostly call those people fake, though sometimes they can’t help it…
When your persona appears in a dream it may be in the form of a mask, doll, scarecrow or someone socially outcast like a tramp – you may be naked or dressed outrageously. This kind of dream is often telling you it’s time to dig deep and get real, you’re letting your persona take over and you need to find out what’s really important to you.
Ok, time to get our hands dirty. The shadow is the part of your unconscious which contains all the icky parts that you’ve repressed throughout life, these could even be positive traits that you’ve disowned for some personal reason. If you don’t confront your shadow and try to accept it, it will cause all kinds of blocks in your conscious life.
The shadow can usually be seen in what we project onto others – do greedy people really get your goat? Then there’s probably some part of your unconscious which craves more more more. When you see the shadow in your dream, it’s usually something dark or sinister, often portraying the very qualities that you’ve repressed. This dream is telling you to own it baby. All of it.
This is a complicated one, and probably an article in itself, but here’s the general low down: Jung theorised that everyone has an anima/animus, an opposite sex archetype which brings certain unconscious qualities to your psyche. A man’s anima will be feminine, and a woman’s animus, masculine. The more you repress these, the more they will spill over into your conscious life without your control. We’ve all met those super macho guys who secretly love cuddles and crying at romcoms…
Dreams containing your anima/animus will often include a figure or symbol of the opposite sex. It could be your brother, lover, a stranger, or one of the more collective symbols like a ship, cow or something hollow and womblike representing the feminine, or an eagle, lion, bull or phallic structure for male imagery. Pay attention to what they say and do, you may be repressing the needs of your opposite sex.
The Great Mother
This one’s a little more self-explanatory. The eternal nurturer may appear in your dreams as your own mother, grandmother or female guardian. They will have a message of guidance for you or may just appear at times when you need a little comfort, so let yourself be nurtured and endeavour to be kind and gentle with yourself – everyone needs some mothering at times, whether it comes from outside or from within.
The Divine Child
A childlike character in your dream, whether human, animal or magical like an elf or fairy, represents your innocence and vulnerability, but also your creative potential. This archetype will often visit your dreams when you’ve been working too hard or not seeing the fun in life anymore – time to lighten up and go play, sweetie!
The Wise Old Woman/Man
Kind of like Gandalf or the witch in Snow White, but totally on your side, these guys are here to guide you and give you wisdom from the collective unconscious. Sometimes accompanied by a young woman or the divine child, these authority figures will help to steer you in the right direction, though their messages may not be immediately decipherable, so listen real good and hope to learn a thing or two.
This charming character represents deception, illusion, and cunning. He’s inquisitive, rebellious and sometimes mean, exposing you to your own flaws so you can understand them a little better and take yourself less seriously.
Often represented by a coyote, fox or raven in dreams, the trickster shows you things you need to work at in order to transform in your waking life, though you may not like the way he goes about it!
The land of dreams can be a confusing one, and your own interpretation will be different from someone else’s, this is the nature of archetypes – we fill them with our own meanings, creating a rich tapestry of symbolism that often we alone can interpret.
Try keeping a dream journal and noting when these characters appear – what do they say/do/look like? Who are they with? When do they appear? If you can decode their symbolic messages, you’ll be one step closer to understanding yourself a little more.
And if you’re really stumped, or want a fresh pair of eyes to untangle the symbolism of your dreams you’re in luck – I offer personalised dream interpretation for those that wish to dig a little deeper.
What was your latest dream? Comment below and let’s see if we can work it out!
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