The journey begins with the story of the Aborigine dreaming into being and continues with references to Native American, Asian, Christian, and Celtic cosmology as a means of uncovering the genesis of one's own creation story.
What is The Dragon's Treasure? Walk with the author along a lifetime of twisting paths that weave a story through myth, poetry, dreams, thought experiments, personal reflection, and history to bring to light the underworld of the unconscious. The author tries to put the indescribable into words, so that the reader will learn the true meaning of magic in their life. They will also discover the formula for becoming a wizard in their universe through a thoughtful reading of waking and sleeping dream symbols.
By the last page, the reader will have discovered the Treasure, and become an active participant in his or her own creation story.
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The Dragon's TreasureA Dreamer's Guide to Inner Discovery Through Dream Interpretation
By R.J. Cole
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2009 R.J. Cole
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDreams Communication with the unconscious
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"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." -Edgar Allen Poe
Dreams are a way to peer into what is going on in your body, life, intuition, and deepest and most closely held self. Through dreams, one can lift the veil that seems to shroud reality. They can help one see through life's illusions-those created by the individual as well as the collective. Thomas Moore calls dreams "the royal road to the soul" and claimed that "it is impossible to care for the soul and live at the same time in unconsciousness." James Hillman thought of the dream as the psyche doing soul work.
Through dreams, one can learn what is necessary to create the world they envision. The answers are there, if one can only learn to read the signs and interpret the language.
The ancient Greeks used to send their sick to temples called Asclepieions to be cured. In these temples, dreams would be incubated and used as part of the healing process. These dreams were also used to predict the future. The idea that dreams could be used to predict the future was very much a part of both the Greek and Roman religion. To predict the future through dreaminterpretation is sometimes called oneiromancy (from the Greek word oneiros: to dream) and is a form of divination.
In ancient Egypt, the priests were dream interpreters, and these interpretations can still be seen in the hieroglyphics on some temple walls. The wizard Myrddin was not only a prophet but interpreted dreams as well. A story by the sixteenth-century writer, Ellis Gruffudd, tells how Myrddin interpreted the dreams of his sister, Gwenddydd.
In both the Old and New Testament, dreams were often referred to as a way in which mortals communicated with God or as omens. For example, in Genesis 37:5 of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Joseph dreamed an omen of his future success, and Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven where God spoke to him from the top (Genesis 28:12-17). In the New Testament, the Magi were warned to avoid King Herod (Matthew 2:12), and Paul was directed to travel to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10 RSV) through a dream.
If you look carefully at your own dreams, you can see your own mythology and gather information about your emotional and spiritual development as well as gain insight into the events and people around you.
What are dreams?
There is experimental evidence that dreams are how the mind integrates the waking day's events into the overall experience of the brain-for example, it solidifies what is learned, by restructuring short term memory into the long term. However, I also see dreams as revealing patterns within one's life that are unconscious to the waking mind. Because the mind has so much input during the waking hours that it needs to respond to just to survive, it has little time to observe objectively what is going on. Dreams provide this insight. Dreams can be the conscious mind's communication with the unconscious.
There is also some evidence that dreams may create some of our experiences when we are awake by making patterns appear to us in the waking world.
Others claim that dreams have a problem-solving function. In the age of computers, some use the analogy that dreams are a "cleaning out of the software," sort of an offline dumping of what is useless. Still others suggest that dreams serve no function and are just "throw away" material. Consider the following perspectives about dreams:
The quote from Edgar Allen Poe at this chapter's beginning is not unlike the Australian Aborigine's belief in the dreaming of creation. Are we dreaming ourselves into existence? Chuang Tzu, a Taoist philosopher from the fourth century BC, suggested that one could realize that life is no more than a dream as well. In his "Butterfly" story, he seems to be making the same statement where he dreams of being a butterfly and upon awakening asks whether he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu Philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) said, "I do not believe that I am now dreaming, but I cannot prove that I am not." The Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud claimed that dreams were wish fulfilling, though this might not at first be evident. He also thought that dreams might be a projection of one's fears based on past conditioning. Is it possible that dreams can bring themselves into reality, that dream images, especially fearful images, can be brought into existence in the waking world? Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and contemporary of Freud, believed that dreams have a self-regulatory aspect in that they maintained the individual's balance and harmony. He believed that dreams integrated the conscious with the unconscious. James Hillman was against the traditional theory that dreams tell people what to do. He thought that they were more for telling us where we are and that the images of the dream should not be broken down and analyzed for what they may say about the waking world but for what they may say about the psyche. To Hillman, dream work was soul work. I think that Jung would agree.
So why interpret dreams?
Searchers who want to understand the why of the world beyond its mechanics-most of all, the why of themselves-have to look inward for the answers. As I have said before, I used dream interpretation to help develop a reliable psycho-emotional portrait of the children I worked with, and you can do this for yourself as well.
I've tried a number of techniques to both recall my dreams upon waking and then to interpret their meaning. Certain techniques seem to work for me more often than not, and I'll share them here in hopes that they will help you to get started.
First, it takes a real commitment to do this because recalling dreams doesn't usually start right away. You may not recall a dream for days or weeks, and then if you remember anything, it sometimes seems like just a fragment. But fragments are good; write them down-it reinforces the system. Besides, fragments can have meaning if taken in the right context.
There is also what, for me, has been the arduous work of interpreting the dreams that I have written down. This difficulty has sometimes acted as a deterrent. Why are dreams so hard to interpret? Jeremy Taylor suggests in his book, Dream Work, that dreams have "multiple levels of meaning woven into a single metaphor of personal experience." He goes on to say that some dreams are modeled after verbal puns, though in a pun, one word can have multiple meanings and with dreams everything can have multiple meanings.
I have found that though multiple meanings can be discovered in my dreams, I can become obsessed with finding them. This can become quite tedious, and for me, it's discouraging over time. I have learned that I don't have to go looking for every possible meaning and can still get value.
Keeping a journal
I always keep a journal or even just a piece of paper with a pen or pencil beside the bed. Whatever I recall in the morning, I write down. In the beginning of this work, I found myself waking several times during the night to jot down things. This obsession can upset sleep patterns. But don't worry; it will probably pass. If it doesn't, then stop reaching for the pen during the night. Reinforce only normal morning dream recall, and the obsessive behavior will extinguish itself.
When I start to settle in, I remind myself that I want to remember my dream. This seems to help program the system.
When you recall a fragment or full dream, write it exactly as you remember it and do it right after you waken. The longer you wait to write a dream the less data you will have to work with. Don't worry about spelling or punctuation-the subconscious mind doesn't care. Don't judge it, edit it, or try to figure it out at this point. In short, just get it down on paper.
I usually assign a title for my dream to recall it or summarize its content. I've found that this can aid in the process of interpretation. I also write the date and where I am when I have the dream. You can see examples of this process on the dreams that I've written throughout the book.
If I have time, that is if I'm not pressed for work or some appointment, I begin the process of interpreting or analyzing. When interpreting, I always write down the salient points, themes, and symbols (e.g., animals, people, numbers, buildings, death, falling, etc.) in an outline. Using this format seems to naturally separate the different parts and characters of the dream and allows me to interpret the pieces in isolation and then look for patterns when reviewing the whole. My first go at their meaning is usually some form of what they mean to me. I ask what thoughts about George or Betty do I have that may give me a clue as to what they represent in my dream.
Remember that one person's symbols are not necessarily the same as another's. In Derek and Julia Parker's book, Dreaming: Remembering, Interpreting and Benefiting, Carl Jung is quoted as saying, "No dream symbol can be separated from the individual who dreams it, and there is no definite or straightforward interpretation of any dream."
There are, however, certain themes, patterns, or concepts that seem to show up universally, so a good dream dictionary can be helpful. I've included a short version of one that includes the universal symbols and their meanings that I've found useful in my inner work through dreams. The clue as to whether any interpretation to a symbol or theme is accurate is whether it resonates with you. Do you feel the light turn on, that "Ah yes, that's it!" If so, then you can use the assigned meaning.
I also look for the main action. What is the overall activity of the dream, such as running, flying, hiding, fighting, etc.? Who you are in the dream should be noted because it can speak to how you play your role in your waking life. I also note feelings and reasons for actions. For example, I might ask why I don't go into that dark room.
Another very important aspect to dream analysis for me has been to assume that everything pertains to me. "Yes, Virginia, it is all about me!" Every character is you, every being is you or your personality, behavior, wishes, or fears. A personality placed on some character in the dream from someone you know in the waking world is a personality trait that you recognize in yourself or a fear that you lack. You even have the traits that you don't like to some degree, whether you are conscious of them or not. This fact can be quite useful for those who wish to make changes in their lives but aren't sure where to start.
Actually, you can only see in others what is already in you, like it or not. It's amazing what things about yourself you can discover through dream work.
Whoa, back up a moment! I just said that you can only see what is already in you. This is a hard concept for those of us that are proud that we don't have certain traits in us. I find a sense of solace, peace, and pride in the fact that I wouldn't hurt a fly, as the saying goes. But I can see the murderous evil in some other people. Am I saying that is in me? Not exactly. Negatives that you see in others are usually traits that strongly conflict with a value in you that you admire. It's not that the negative trait isn't in the other person. It's the contrast that is being "projected" onto the other person.
You may have this trait also, but it may be that deep down, you fear that weakness or vulnerability that you judge to be in the other who does have the trait. There is also the possibility that you are not always true to your value; you may have a hidden trait that is in conflict with your value. When I succumb to my fear associated with wanton murder, my internal reaction is to want to destroy the threat, obliterate the perpetrator, grind them into dust, and spill the blood of their worthless being. This reaction scares me, and I want to purge it from me. I find myself making extreme statements about the other person. I am "projecting" my fear of my reaction away from me and onto them.
This is where strong judgments in both the sleeping and waking dreams can help you become conscious of inner motivations. Awareness then allows action to be taken if you choose to do so. For me, the awareness of my dark side allows me some control over its expression. And instead of resisting it, which seems to only serve to strengthen it, I can now work on accepting its presence.
Jung thought that dream work was essentially a theater in which the dreamer is the scene, actor, producer, author, and audience.
I have also found it useful to become part of a dream group from time to time. The points of view from others regarding your dreams can be quite enlightening, as can listening to and interpreting the dreams of others.
There is a caution here in that this kind of gestalt dream work, though useful for enhancing individual insight, can give the dreamer permission to not go deeper into material that they may be in resistance to. I found that sometimes if the group skirted around a certain embarrassing issue that I was dealing with through a dream, I would let it stay hidden. This, in effect, kept the issue unresolved.
Sharing my dreams with family or trusted friends has been very useful in that it helps to formulate my ideas, and their feedback has been frequently useful. More formal groups can be found online or through formal class work or workshops being presented by various local dream instructors and gurus. It takes a little personal experience and persistence to find a group that feels right, a group where you share similar temperaments and interests, though I have also found groups where I felt totally out of my element yet the group turned out to be quite uplifting though uncomfortable. Perhaps if I had stayed with the discomfort longer I might have discovered something valuable.
When I interpret my dreams, I always do so in the context of the rest of my life, especially in what's happening in the here and now. It helps to write a short explanation about what's happening in the margins so if you don't get back to the dream for a few days, you can remember context. Sometimes I'll also go back and rework a dream when other ideas come up and any notes about what was happening in the waking world are always helpful.
In this book, I have included a bibliography of books about dreams and dream analysis that have facilitated some of my growth over the years.
As I suggested earlier, I began titling my dreams upon waking to help me remember them. I started doing this sometime during the early '90s. Titling also helped me in the interpretive phase. As I looked through old dreams to use in this book, I was struck by the variety of titles and how often they told a story all their own. Though just fragments, they seem to have their own poetry.
Below is a sampling of my dream titles:
"Eyes," "Flirtation," "Under the Overpass," "Alien Classroom," "Snakes Everywhere and a Small Elfin Woman," "Death and Resurrection, Remember Who I Am and How I Got Here," "Like," "To Help Him Find a Way Out of His Body," "Scurrying Ants" "Just Let Go and Be With the Ride," "The Disoriented Communications Center;" "The Black Mask of Evil and Blood Flows Through Her Wound;" "Stop Carrying It Around;" "The Train Wreck;" "The Dissolving Picture, Algebra Class, and a Class of Alien Cultures;" "Behind the Lines in Bosnia;" "The Dolphin and Flying;" and "The Clothes on My Back."
Types of dreams
4 The types listed here are an amalgamation of dream themes whose sources include C. Jung, S. Freud and J. Taylor, among others and are generally accepted by professional dream analysts. The definitions are my own.
I have found that dreams have repetitive themes. They are sometimes nightmarish, psychological, health-oriented, spiritual, or housecleaning in nature. Some can be interpreted as wish fulfilling. Some have been problem solving or conflict resolving types and at least two seemed to be precognizant. I say seemed because the subconscious picks up virtually everything that's happening around us and processes this information while we are asleep. So information that may not be held consciously is being recorded and can come out with sometimes uncanny timing. Whatever the dream, each dream is the best you can have at that moment for the subconscious to communicate what it has to say.
Excerpted from The Dragon's Treasure by R.J. Cole Copyright © 2009 by R.J. Cole. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
Contents18 Steps for Becoming a Wizard in Your Universe....................xi
II My Dreamtime....................30
IV Of Dragons and Ships: The soul and its relationship to the ego....................61
V How to throw a wrench into the gears of the creation....................76
VI Protecting the Treasure, taking care of the soul....................83
VII A Still, Quiet Place....................98
VIII The Role of Religion....................108
IX Love, Hate, Neglect, and Socialization....................119
X Choice, Free Will, and the Lizard Brain....................131
XI The Power of Intention....................144
XII What About Time?....................152
XIII It Is Never Good Enough....................159
XIV Death, Yours, Mine, Ours....................168
XV Magic and Transformation....................185
XVI I Am, We Are....................196
Suggestions for Further Reading....................267