Through Rachel Norment’s Dream Explorations: A Journey in Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization, you can
• learn contemporary methods of dreamwork inspired by Carl Jung and developed by Montague Ullman, Jeremy Taylor, and many others; and
• discover the deep inner wisdom you have within yourself that can guide you towards spiritual growth and physical and psychological health and wholeness—toward becoming the person you are meant to become.
“Rachel Norment’s Dream Explorations … is a gift to us all! The combination of her careful attention to her own dreams over decades and her keen eye for the dreams and insights of other dreamers has produced a work of great depth, wisdom, and inspiration. It is a joy to read.”
—Jeremy Taylor, D.Min., cofounder and past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) and author of The Wisdom of Your Dreams
“In this valuable and highly readable book, longtime dreamworker Rachel Norment offers us her collection of dream treasures with instructive reflections on common symbols and dream themes. This book clearly illustrates the rewards of a lifetime of dreamwork to guide and heal our lives.”
—Chelsea Wakefield, Ph.D., LCSW, psychotherapist and author of Negotiating the Inner Peace Treaty: Becoming the Person You Were Born to Be
“Serious dream workers and seekers after self-knowledge will be delighted by this book. Rachel’s practical insights … into her personal symbols and themes are sure to bring light and guidance to anyone’s inner explorations. I highly recommend it.”
—Jean Benedict Raffa, Ph.D., author of The Bridge to Wholeness, Dream Theatres of the Soul, and Healing the Sacred Divide
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Read an Excerpt
A Journey in Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization
By Rachel G. Norment
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Rachel G. Norment, M.A.
All rights reserved.
Introduction: Going Within
How many of us live on the surface of life—going to work, doing our daily chores, interacting with co-workers, neighbors and family without being aware of what really matters most to us? Are we functioning on the same level we did a decade ago or have we matured and grown emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually? Is there any way we can learn more about ourselves without going to a psychiatrist or psychologist? The answer to the last question is "yes." We can learn a lot about ourselves by studying our dreams.
Our dreams come from a deep "inner knowing" within ourselves, the essential Self, the part of us that can connect our physical, mental, and spiritual bodies with the Divine Source, bringing into consciousness information and intuitive knowing that can help us grow and realize our full potential to become the "whole" persons we are meant to be.
Do we really want to know more about ourselves? I thought I did as I began a serious study of dreamwork. In one of my dreams early in 1992
I Decide Against Going Deep into Dark, Foreboding Woods
I am walking and come upon an area that is a meadow surrounded by woods. I think the area is beautiful and I walk some distance into the woods. If I were to go beyond a certain point it would become very dark and foreboding because it is too far from the opening where it is light. So I turn around, feeling it would be too dangerous to go farther, and head towards the opening.
Although I was not aware of this consciously at that time, the dream revealed I was fearful of delving too deeply into the unconscious. In the language of dreams, a collection of trees—the woods—often is a dream symbol representing one's unconscious. The term symbol refers to a tangible object or concept that stands for or suggests a deeper or more complex reality.
During the next seven years I attended many workshops and seminars led by nationally and internationally known dreamworkers and also read extensively. I wanted to become proficient in understanding dreams and to be able to help others explore their dreams.
Then in 1999 I had two dreams that showed I still had an unconscious fear of going within myself. These dreams spoke directly of going within. They used the metaphor of caves and going deep into the ground to represent going into the unconscious.
The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung tells us in Memories, Dreams, Reflections of the important dream he had of discovering a deep cave below the cellar of his house. For him, the cave represented a deep level of the unconscious and "the dream became for [him] a guiding image...."
Exploration of a cave (the unconscious) can lead to greater self-knowledge. The first of these two dreams of mine pointed to going within something as part of my education. Even though I was in my sixties at the time, the dream used the image of going off to boarding school or college.
We're Expected to Go into a Deep Underground Place on Our Own
I am being taken off to a strange boarding school or college by someone, perhaps my father. We enter a small building out in the middle of nowhere, which is to be my dorm. We go into a room that I will share with another girl. I wonder how I will get to classes. I don't have a car and this dorm is not anywhere near any other buildings. My father walks out, somewhat in a hurry, leaving me to my own devices. I notice that he seems to be fighting back tears—as if he hates to have to leave me in this situation.
I am not sure how we are to have our meals. Perhaps we have a little kitchen. I have hardly had time to eat when an unidentified man appears. He is to take us to our "class." We are not taken to any classroom building. Instead, we are outside in the wilds and are led through rough terrain. At one point I discover what appears to be the entrance to something deep in the ground. I have the feeling we are expected to go into this on our own. I stand by the entrance wondering what I should do. I'm fearful and reluctant to go in—wondering if I'll be able to get back out.
The action of my father in the dream was in keeping with what my waking-life father valued, for he always encouraged me to learn and grow intellectually, psychologically, and spiritually. But he died seven years before I had this dream. Thus my father in the dream represented the "wise old man" part of myself that realized the way to self-knowledge is not easy; I may traverse "rough terrain" as I go to the place where I must go deep within. However, "he" knows this is for the best. My ego (the "I" in the dream) was fearful.
The second dream, occurring three months later, expressed my unconscious fear of someone coming out of a cave.
We Fear the Person Coming Out of the Cave Might Be Threatening
My husband and I are walking outside and are passing an entrance to a cave or a passageway deep into the earth. I glance in, but then we hastily walk on because we're fearful of being seen and followed by someone who is coming out.
Even though I had been exploring dreams for many years by this time, apparently a part of me still was not convinced it was safe to "go within." Maybe I feared what the man coming out of the cave might represent—an assertive, energetic masculine energy within myself. As I look back on this dream now, I realize that this masculine energy could and would help me undertake various new activities in the coming years. But at the time I had no idea how my life was evolving, and we humans often fear the unknown.
In 2001 a dream showed there had definitely been a shift within my psyche. Here is the dream:
I See a Woman in an Orange Dress Emerge from the Woods
I'm in an unidentified location with other people. We're in a wooded area beside a small body of water. I'm talking with others when I notice something orange in the water quite some distance away. I think I'm seeing an orange fish. Then I realize I'm seeing a reflection of the bright orange dress worn by a woman just coming into view as she emerges from a more densely wooded area by the water.
In this dream I saw a woman who represented a part of myself that had been deep in the woods—my unconscious—and was now coming into view in a dress—a symbol of an intuitive, feminine outlook. The color orange may indicate a blending of emotions and intellect, abundant energy, and a friendly, outgoing manner. I evidently was no longer fearful of going into my unconscious and was acquiring a greater understanding of myself. I had gained desirable attributes. The dream offered metaphors for gaining knowledge, achieving growth, making progress along life's journey toward wholeness.
A well-known therapist in the fields of psychology and psychoneuroimmunology, Paula Reeves, writes in her book Heart Sense: "Our dreams ... urge us to discover who we truly are and what we must believe in order to be true to our core self." At several conferences I have heard her state: "When you don't know or care what matters most to you, that then becomes the matter with you." Our dreams are messages from our core self. From them we can learn what matters and what can contribute to a healthy future.
Even the most frightening dreams are coming to help us. If a dream points to a personal characteristic that is not flattering or a situation that is frightening, it does so to enable us to do something about it. As dream analyst Jeremy Taylor, co-founder of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, says, "All dreams speak a universal language and come in the service of health and wholeness. There is no such thing as a 'bad dream'—only dreams that sometimes take a dramatically negative form in order to grab our attention. No dream comes to say: Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah—you have these problems and you can't do anything about them!" Once we get the message from our dream, we can begin to act upon it in some appropriate way to help ourselves grow and mature into the persons we were meant to become.
Now after more than two decades spent learning how to explore dreams and sharing some of this knowledge by facilitating workshops, seminars, and small dream groups, I am convinced of the great value in dreamwork. I hope by sharing some of my experiences with dreams in this book I will inspire you, the reader, to begin to remember, record, and learn how to explore your own dreams. You will benefit greatly from this undertaking.
Self-Knowledge Through Dreams
The study of dreams can be a valuable way to learn about oneself. Dreams come from deep within the unconscious and give us many levels of information. Some dreams literally delineate and analyze everyday occurrences, but many use symbols and metaphors to give us insights about ourselves and our relationships with others and our culture.
In dreams, we can be both the observer and the one observed and play multiple roles. Sometimes we are aware of this in the dream. However, in most dreams, the conscious ego simply observes and interacts with other people—either unidentified people or those we know in waking life. Many dreamworkers hold that all people, all creatures, and even inanimate objects in a dream represent some aspect of the dreamer. Therefore, by noting their characteristics we learn something about ourselves.
Can you recall a morning when you awoke from a disturbing or frightening dream? I imagine you were glad you were awake and it was just a dream. Can you imagine how you also might be thankful for having such a dream? You probably think I'm crazy for even suggesting this possibility. However, our dreammaker—an "inner knowing" within us that connects us with the Divine Source—gives us such dreams to tell us something it is important for us to know. Some people have told me they were afraid to study their dreams, afraid of what they might discover. But we need not be afraid. Even nightmares are coming to help us by making us aware of certain situations and suggesting ways to make improvements. Some dreams remind us of hidden talents. Jeremy Taylor, who has worked with dreams for over 40 years, assures us that we will remember the contents of disturbing dreams only when we are ready to deal with whatever the issue might be. We just need to figure out what the message is.
Nightmares often use images designed to shock the ego out of its complacency. In 1999 I had such a dream, one I found puzzling and disturbing:
I Observe Cannibalism
I'm out in the frozen landscape with others. I watch from several feet away as a scene unfolds. There is a woman lying flat. Another approaches, leans over and begins slicing off a section of the person's forehead, which seems somewhat larger than normal. As this is being done the forehead has the appearance of a large slab of meat. I wonder what in the world is happening. Then I realize what is happening as I watch the person begin to eat from the slice. Cannibalism! There has been no bleeding when the slicing occurred. I had thought the prone person was alive, but maybe not. That person must have been dead, perhaps frozen, and those remaining are trying to survive. I'm out there with them, although I seem to be just observing from a distance. Does this mean I, too, am in danger and will need to do likewise to survive?
John D. Goldhammer, in his book Radical Dreaming: Use Your Dreams to Change Your Life, recounts a similar dream of cannibalism. The dreamer tells of eating meat, which he noticed was the dead body of a man. Goldhammer explains that "[t]he dreamer lives on the money his deceased father left.... [H]e is unhappy because he wants to prove ... that he is a useful member of society and is able to make his own living. In the dream, he literally lives off his dead father.... He has become a cannibal."
Goldhammer explains further that "when we turn our backs on our true potential, we are choosing to sacrifice our authentic lives, to allow self-destructive, societal influences to cannibalize the soul, devour our creative ideas, rip our authenticity to shreds."
In my dream, I—my ego, my conscious self—was observing other women eating a woman's flesh. These other women might represent certain aspects within me and also within women in general. My ego was observing women in our culture who have suppressed their creative expression and individuality as a means of survival. This might suggest the patriarchal atmosphere in which we exist. I then wondered if I, too, would have to do this to survive. As aspects of myself, the other women were doing this. The dream was bringing awareness into my consciousness. It invites me to ask myself how I was denying expression of my authentic creative self and why. Have I done so thinking it is my only means of survival? How can I change my beliefs and my actions to improve the situation? These questions can lead the way into the various stages of my journey towards wholeness, as they can for many people—both male and female.
Understanding one's dreams is often difficult. Because they speak to us through metaphors and symbols, they can seem very mysterious. Sometimes this is actually stated in the dreams, as in a dream I had in 1999.
I See a Monster and Other Strange Creatures In and Near an Old House
I'm outside an old house that is flanked on both sides with open space. The land on the right side slopes down hill and goes out of sight. I see a very strange-looking creature go way down the hillside. The creature was not anything I have ever seen before. It makes us think it's a monster of some kind. I go tell my husband, who is getting out of a car in front of the house, that some big mystery is going on and I want to find out what it is.
Next I'm inside the house looking out from a second floor window. I see a different creature come from beyond a house up the street. Later I see what appear to be small white objects the size and shape of irregular-shaped stones moving in a group, coming out of one of the rooms of this house. Then two men come out of the room. One sees me and speaks to me saying, "I see you have met - - - -," meaning the flat pile of "stones." As he says this, the stones take on a more plastic-looking form and the individual stones assemble themselves into a mask that moves on its own and actually speaks to me in response to the man's comment. I'm surprised and wonder what is going on. I feel the men have somehow created whatever this is.
Next I'm outside watching another strange "happening." A man is bending over an old-fashioned bathtub that is partially filled with various levels of a curving "plastic" substance. The man is molding what looks like part of an upper torso, and it is moving as if has "life" in it! What is this? Did the men create the "monster" I saw earlier? It was very large, as big as a gorilla!
A house in dreams is usually a metaphor for the dreamer. Men inside the house in a female's dream can represent attributes which we consider "masculine"—assertive, aggressive, outgoing, intellectual aspects. Carl Jung used the term animus to designate this archetype within a female's unconscious. The feminine attributes within a man are thought of as his anima.
Each of the tiny white stones might be a symbol for some small characteristic of my personality. These moved together and shaped themselves into a mask, that which hides my real self from others and maybe even from myself. I felt that the men, my "masculine" attributes, might be responsible for what was happening. What in my life could this be related to? What parts of myself was I obscuring—covering over—through my intellectual pursuits, assertive actions, etc.?
The man outside the house might refer to masculine influences outside of me. They seemed to be creating something "monstrous," something frightening to both my husband and myself. Perhaps my internal dreammaker was pointing out how a patriarchal society molds people into forms that appear monstrous to both of us.
I don't recall working on this dream when it occurred. But the fact that I chose the dream to discuss at this time probably indicates that it is important—for me and for the collective. In my opinion, overly aggressive, negative forces have been molding national and world events in an ever-increasing degree during the past two decades. Was my inner dreammaker trying to warn me, us, about this with this dream?
From a different perspective I might question whether this was true—that the creative force was outside myself. Perhaps "I" wanted to believe this to be the case. Perhaps they were simply truths I didn't want to face and projected onto others outside myself. It is possible for both perspectives to be true. They certainly are truths I might be frightened of, but need to face. Since the dream was bringing these into consciousness, I was ready to learn them.
Excerpted from Dream Explorations by Rachel G. Norment. Copyright © 2013 Rachel G. Norment, M.A.. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION: GOING WITHIN.................... 1
Chapter 2 SELF-KNOWLEDGE THROUGH DREAMS.................... 6
Chapter 3 WAYS TO LEARN MORE.................... 11
Chapter 4 STUDYING DREAM SERIES.................... 15
Chapter 5 RELATIONSHIPS IN DREAMS.................... 19
Chapter 6 ASPECTS OF LOVE IN DREAMS.................... 38
Chapter 7 HOUSES IN DREAMS.................... 53
Chapter 8 BATHROOM DREAMS.................... 64
Chapter 9 THE BODY AND HOW IT IS CLOTHED IN DREAMS.................... 74
Chapter 10 FOOD IN DREAMS.................... 84
Chapter 11 COLOR AND MUSIC IN DREAMS.................... 95
Chapter 12 FEARS REVEALED IN DREAMS.................... 105
Chapter 13 NATURAL DISASTERS IN DREAMS.................... 126
Chapter 14 MORE ABOUT WATER IN DREAMS.................... 138
Chapter 15 MISCELLANEOUS THEMES.................... 149
Chapter 16 ANIMALS IN DREAMS.................... 162
Chapter 17 BABIES & CHILDREN IN DREAMS.................... 179
Chapter 18 CREATING A BOOK.................... 197
Chapter 19 HEALING THROUGH DREAMWORK.................... 205
Chapter 20 TRAVEL IN DREAMS.................... 219
Chapter 21 NEW INSIGHTS THROUGH DREAMS.................... 230
Chapter 22 A SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY.................... 243
Appendix: Dream Contents by Titles.................... 270
Cover Art: Transformation Mandala.................... 285
About the Author.................... 286
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is very helpful for someone looking for ways to understand the messages our unconscious sends to us in dreams. Rachel gives examples of her own dreams to help guide the reader in looking at dreams with a new understanding. I use this book as a resource for exploring what my higher self is trying to tell me, and to aid me in making decisions and changes that will be beneficial to my personal growth. BAMorris