Ever wonder about the meaning of an exceptionally vivid dream or one that keeps nagging you the next day? Chances are, that sort of dream carries a hidden message ready to be decoded. Wise Dreams shows you how to understand your very personal dream symbols and how to decipher the concealed wisdom and insight your dreams bring to you, using extraordinary examples from a decades-long dream journal, including dream messages on:
revelations on nurturing the self
communications from loved ones
encouragement from dream guides
visions of the future
Wise Dreams includes a form to help you decode your own dreams.
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Read an Excerpt
Subtle Messages from The Inner Self
By Rebecca E. S. Cleland
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Rebecca E. S. Cleland
All rights reserved.
Fear, in many complicated forms, is our greatest adversary in the pursuit of happiness during the course of our lives. The fears that are mostly submerged during daylight hours are often played out at night in high definition in the form of nightmares or other frightening dreams. Although we dread having this sort of dream, those with fearful themes often serve as doorways to unraveling the issues that plague us most. We can use the insight in these dreams to more clearly understand and work toward resolving our fears. In this chapter, entries from my journals demonstrate how I approach fearful dreams to extract their insight.
I am in a house, staying with an older couple; it is another stop in my travels. I am made aware that something is coming after me—something very evil, very powerful. I have a premonition (it's as if I vaguely remember seeing this movie a long time ago) that the evil thing will come in the form of a dog. This dog will be invulnerable to any attacks, and I will not be able to save myself. It will kill me; there is no doubt.
I anxiously wait for it to appear, walking through the house with trepidation. Then someone says, or somehow I know, that it's here ... and I get a glimpse of it outside the door. It's a big dark Rottweiler-like dog—a calculating killer.
I retreat to another room, but it appears just ahead, staring at me balefully. I am full of fear, but I lunge at it, grabbing for its neck. I lock it in my grasp and twist its head around until its neck snaps. I am not convinced that I have subdued it, so I keep twisting until the head comes off and I throw it violently onto the floor and stab the neck stub with a knife. The carcass I hold in my hands then seems to be a doll-like thing made of cloth and dried meat.
* * *
I think this dream is an analogy of how my fears turn out in the end when confronted—nothing but a scary face on an impotent pretend-thing. As cloth is woven and rag dolls are pieced together, so have my fears been slowly woven into a massive fearful creature. The dried meat parts seem to represent fears that are no longer legitimate—they used to be alive and real, but now they are just husks of the past. My fear is an illusion; there is nothing there to fear.
The Overcast Sky
Last night I drifted into a hypnogogic state just before I faded into sleep, where I had a vision of myself from above, as if I were in an aquarium-like chamber full of water. The water was crystal-clear at first, but as the person inside raised her hands in apprehension, the surface of the water clouded in from the edges, opaquing the sky and obscuring her vision.
* * *
That's especially interesting, because it always seems overcast in dreams where I can see the sky. I recognize it as an analogy of how I see the world—overcast being my symbol for uncertainty and possible threat. It has been my cautious and fearful mode of operating in the world, and that is reflected in my dreams.
The following afternoon I had a further revelation: not only do I create the "overcast sky" by triggering it with my fear, but it also effectively blocks my receiving any information that would show me the true nature of what the world/sky outside my little clouded aquarium might be. Thus, my fear actually blocks out all other information! So I must get rid of my fear in order to see clearly.
Wrestling the Snake
I was doing my best to maintain a firm grip on a dangerous snake. It was very long and rather flimsy, shiny black on the back and light yellow-cream on the underside. The strongest part of it was its neck and head, staring at me with malevolent eyes as it writhed viciously, trying to evade my grasp. I had nothing to trap it in, so I was forced to hold it as strongly as I could behind its powerful head.
In the continuing struggle, I lost my grip on it a couple of times and was bitten on the hand, although it was apparent the snake had no teeth, and the bites felt like a small lizard's toothless clamp: not even enough pressure to leave a bruise.
This and the fact that the snake's body was not at all strong or muscular passed through my mind with a wisp of doubt as to the measure of its threat, but I held to my conviction that this was indeed a very dangerous snake which could not be allowed to get free. I knew that although it seemed harmless, other people were at risk should it get free.
* * *
I had this dream after asking the universe for help in dealing with a tremendous inertia and resistance to doing anything physical when I am at home. I was getting depressed about being stuck in this rut and being aware that the health of my knee joints was not the best, likely as a result of my mindset and lack of activity.
I think the message is clear: I am deathly afraid of a totally harmless beastie. The critter itself poses no hazard; it may seem strong, but it can do no harm with its strength. It's interesting that I should recognize that in the dream, but still desire to keep it under control so that others won't feel threatened by it. I seem to want to keep other people under the same illusion that I embrace: that this thing is a threat.
More insight ... The wimpy snake in my dream that I was so afraid of represents what I perceived as a dire problem in sitting and doing nothing. I feel today, after reading this again, that the sitting-around behavior is just a symptom of not feeling inspired to do anything in particular. I needed to find something that excites me and drives me to use my free time to pursue it. I have that now—I'm writing a book! And I am pursuing that with joy and fascination.
The "problem" I had with sitting around was a negative—a hole, a lack of something there—which disappeared as soon as I set myself on this path of inspiration.
The Grief Bear
I was a child locked in a large, light, spic-and-span building like a big modern school. I understood that there were other children here and there throughout the building as well. Somewhere near the center of the building a grizzly bear was let loose to go roaming around. The children were all vulnerable to the bear's attack if it was hungry or just felt like mauling someone.
I was in a long hall full of lockers at one end of the building. I stood next to the locked door looking out through the glass entrance, and then fearfully back down the hall, waiting for my fate. There were a few people outside watching as well. I imagined that I could hear the bear sometimes, and did everything I could do to make myself invisible and wished I could make myself unsmellable. I even breathed very softly and shallowly; but I knew it could show up anytime. Or perhaps it would be delayed by finding other children and I would be able to escape before it came down this hall. It seemed like there was a timer for the bear-baiting scenario; if you could make it alive long enough, you could get out of the building and away from the bear.
Finally I was able to get out and found myself at the top of the driveway at my parents' house, where I walked down the driveway and out in the street in front of the house.
* * *
I know that this was a dream about the grief bear stalking me – my parents are in their eighties, and they will leave this physical plane sometime soon ... I am trapped; there is no escape from this bear: I will have to bear the grief when the time comes, and it's going to be very, very hard. I will miss them terribly.
Other children of parents are in the same boat with me; none can predict when their turn will come to embrace the claws and teeth of the grief bear. No one knows who will meet its power next. Maybe I will escape this time. But eventually, I will meet it on intimate terms. There's no other way through this gauntlet.
Lack of Security
This morning I dreamed that Ben and I bought a house. It was very modern-looking with a creative architectural structure and inside design. When we first saw it, we said we'd take it. We loved it, but when we got ready to go to bed that night, we found that the bedroom door to the outside would not secure and could not be kept closed. It looked almost like there should be another door beyond it, the way the building was constructed, but it was completely gone. The inner one didn't quite reach to the other side to be secured; it was too short. I wondered what else might be wrong with this house we so impulsively bought, but that seemed to be it.
* * *
This is another dream about feeling a lack of security. It is the latest, evolved version of a kind of dream I've had for a long time. The first ones consisted of simply trying to hold some cardboard panels together as a makeshift shelter from a storm. These dreams have moved progressively to better and better lodging, but always with some security issue somewhere. Evidently, even with a house we own and financial security seemingly in place, I must have some uncertainties about life in general. And even with my spiritual attitude about the "safety" of life. Oh well, I'm not perfect!
A later insight:
Then again, it may reflect the state of my "wholeness" as an enlightened person: it's continually getting better, but I'm not there yet!
Under Siege by Tyrannosaurs
I was in the company of many other people—students, instructors, presenters and the like, in a huge modern building that seemed to be an instructional building or conference center of some sort. It was many stories tall, with an atrium open to the highest level, made of glass and a silvery metal, very finely constructed, although simple in design.
We were all trying to keep everyone out of sight of all the places where we could be seen from the outside; as long as we could maintain everyone's cooperation in this, we were relatively safe. But if someone was seen by the dinosaurs randomly roaming outside, the beasts would ram through the delicate structure and devour us all. There was little but fear, fear, fear, and God-awful scenarios of terror running through our heads.
* * *
The previous day I had told my mother about the vision I had about doing a line of pottery I wanted to call Hands of Spirit, and how I was afraid to tell her about it because I really wanted to keep it a secret so no one would know to judge me if it failed. I think this elegant fragile building is the symbol of my vision; I am trying to keep the predatory forces outside from seeing that it has any sign of life in it, or they will destroy it immediately.
So, what predatory forces can I be thinking of? I believe they are varied, and include things inside me, like my left-brained business mindset, day-to-day drudgery, brain-dead nothingness that pervades me now, but sustains me monetarily, so I feel I must hold onto it with a death grip. The fear itself, that makes me sit and do nothing just from paralysis, and then hate myself for it. I am also thinking of the potential disapproval and the vast gulf of miscomprehension from my parents, from many important people in my life, and from society at large. Those are the predators which search endlessly for FOOLISHNESS to tear apart and devour without a trace, and who endanger my airy, fragile, lovely construct.
But I am told that I don't need to hold so fiercely to something that does not support me spiritually, and my spirit longs for the freedom to shape the physical with beauty and love and offer it to the world ...
I am told to focus on a detailed vision of what I want to be, but when I do that, fear takes over and picks it all apart in front of my eyes. I am thinking now that I will not look so far ahead, but will simply focus on the next object that calls me to make it, for no fear is involved there; just love, in the doing of that simple thing. So maybe that's the way to go, just for me, just for right now. For love.
The Cave of Fear
This past week I had a dream that Ben and I were traveling, driving through some remote countryside when we came up to a detour where you had to park your car and get out. Then some dark-skinned men took us through a building into a room where there was a smallish white rectangular tent-like setup. They led us around to the other side of it, which was open, and led down a really narrow staircase, which was built of nothing but loose dirt. We were told that this detour passage was two miles long; then we would return to the road. I don't know how we would get our cars back; maybe we would get new ones.
I started down the cramped little passage, turned at the landing, and descended to the opening that led under the building, where it was dark as pitch, and I would have to duck my head to get inside. I stopped there and looked up. "I am NOT going down there!" I declared to the man who'd been directing us.
* * *
Synchronistically, I ran across the following quote from Joseph Campbell yesterday:
"Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center."
I think it's time to go right to its source and look it in the face.
It's a bright and sunny day, and the crystal in my window is throwing little rainbows across the door. The thought of going into the dark is hard to conceive; but I can think of the bright day as my goal at the end of the dark passage.
* * *
I just finished a meditation in which I went down the dark passage. At first, the blackness was complete, and I went blindly through, looking, feeling for what might be there. I heard a voice say, I'm a slave. I said to the space, I want to bring love here to you, and the voice said, Yeah, hallelujah. I kept going, and then there was enough light that I saw a baby lying on the floor and the baby was crying, and I saw the memory of a long dark sharp object piercing through between her legs. I thought, there's still some of this kind of pain buried here.
And I picked up the baby and said to her, you are safe now. There is nothing left now but love; love and healing. And I felt waves coming up from deep within from down to up, from the very root of all being, waves of love and light, each more loving than the one previous. And I held the baby, who was resting and peaceful now, and we were in the love and there was nothing else, nothing at all, but the beautiful healing, cleansing waves of love in the colors of soft reds, oranges, pinks and yellows. I felt tears running down my cheeks and came back to the present to write this down.
Opportunities Not Taken
Some of the most helpful dreams I have had are contained in the following pages. Using the symbols of beautiful but unreachable crystal formations and lovely, exotic, but disappearing clothing, they have enlightened me about my tendency to bypass all sorts of opportunities in order to avoid perceived risk. Upon learning that I have nurtured this growth-resistant programming in my subconscious, I have been able to work toward breaching my fears and stepping forward to grasp what I want instead of watching from the sidelines as others go for their goals. The wisdom I have gained from these dreams has increased my confidence and joy and given me rewarding experiences.
The Crystal Mountain
Ben and I were driving in some mountainous area in the Appalachians when we noticed there were crystals protruding here and there from rock faces by the sides of the road. First, I saw a huge quartz crystal sticking out from an outcropping over a stream, probably a yard long and eight or more inches wide, with a perfect slanted point on it. Then we saw several thin, square or rectangular crystals of what seemed to be pyrite of substantial size seated in a rock face parallel to the road. We grew very excited, for we greatly value naturally-grown crystals of semiprecious stones and minerals. We decided to stop and collect some of the crystals.
When we pulled off the road a short distance past the crystals, we came upon a large building, the site of an organization which apparently controlled access to the crystals. We went inside and were processed through as customers, found bags for collecting crystals, and finally got back outside, ready to start gathering our prizes. I had a very small, inadequate sack, but Ben had acquired a bigger suitcase-sort of bag which would hold many more crystals. Unfortunately, he had left it in the restroom and there was no way to get back because of all the pressing people.
Outside, we had to make our way down a hillside, partly on stairs and partly on pyrite crystals sticking horizontally out of the hillside in deep enough relief to provide decent footholds. Looking over the area we were heading toward, I saw lots of big pyrite formations glinting on the ground ahead. I hoped we would be able to go back and claim the formations we had previously seen; I wanted to go back to the big quartz point over the stream and the pyrite rectangle along the road. At the same time, I realized that the recent, sudden extrusion of all these crystals meant that the area was under pressure from volcanic action beneath, and knew there was a risk of danger in delaying long in the area.
I woke up before I put my hand to any treasure.
* * *
This sounds like a "not enough" dream. In spite of surrounding riches, I believe in controlled access, limited possibilities and hazardous going. That's it.
Excerpted from Wise Dreams by Rebecca E. S. Cleland. Copyright © 2013 Rebecca E. S. Cleland. 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.
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Table of Contents
Wise Dreams.................... xv
Opportunities Not Taken.................... 17
Cats as Parts of Myself.................... 31
About the Author.................... 99