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Personal Vs. Universal Dream Symbolism


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#1 MarsPrime

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:22 PM

I am not that well-versed in dream interpretation but I was just reading about dream symbols and noted that this article mentions that "no two people have the same inner world." This idea is always what's held me back about dream interpretation. I guess my question is when do we assume that a dream symbol has a personal meaning moreso than a universal meaning? When does personal meaning override a universal meaning? And if we can't really think of any personal meaning behind a dream symbol, are we to assume the symbolism is universal?

#2 wren

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:29 PM

I think most dreams are just randomness occuring when the mind does whatever it does in REM. The Big Dreams are obviously important and need no interpretation.

#3 voidgazing

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 11:36 PM

My thinking here is this:

There is no such thing as a universal symbol. There are symbols that have commonly accepted meanings within each culture, but that isn't the same thing, and not everyone within a culture will necessarily be familiar with them. The shrinking of the world, the globalization of cultures, makes these waters even murkier.

Each of our internal symbolic dictionaries is formed organically from a combination of the cultural ones and of our own impressions of the world.

Snakes mean healing in some places, sex in others, and sin in some. So we have that part, but say you had a pet snake growing up who shared many adventures with you and even saved you from a chicken attack. when you see a snake, the parts of your mind that light up in response aren't going to be the same as the ones in the brain of your fundamentalist Christian neighbor who watched your snake eat their pet chicken.

So if you dream about a snake, it might just be a cigar, or it could be some pulsating freudian metaphor. Your brain holds the only right answer. Digging it out isn't simple.

For these reasons I think that dreams which require interpretation should be viewed in the same way as the I-ching or some Tarot spreads: from lots of angles, through which truth emerges even if the assertions of the oracle are individually useless. The act of attempting to interpret, if rigorous, will supersede the potential inaccuracy of symbolic interpretation.
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#4 MarsPrime

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 11:19 PM

View Postvoidgazing, on 02 February 2017 - 11:36 PM, said:

My thinking here is this:

There is no such thing as a universal symbol. There are symbols that have commonly accepted meanings within each culture, but that isn't the same thing, and not everyone within a culture will necessarily be familiar with them. The shrinking of the world, the globalization of cultures, makes these waters even murkier.

Each of our internal symbolic dictionaries is formed organically from a combination of the cultural ones and of our own impressions of the world.

Snakes mean healing in some places, sex in others, and sin in some. So we have that part, but say you had a pet snake growing up who shared many adventures with you and even saved you from a chicken attack. when you see a snake, the parts of your mind that light up in response aren't going to be the same as the ones in the brain of your fundamentalist Christian neighbor who watched your snake eat their pet chicken.

So if you dream about a snake, it might just be a cigar, or it could be some pulsating freudian metaphor. Your brain holds the only right answer. Digging it out isn't simple.

For these reasons I think that dreams which require interpretation should be viewed in the same way as the I-ching or some Tarot spreads: from lots of angles, through which truth emerges even if the assertions of the oracle are individually useless. The act of attempting to interpret, if rigorous, will supersede the potential inaccuracy of symbolic interpretation.

Excellent explanation - I really appreciate it. This makes a lot of sense to me. Like the above poster noted too, I have some dreams that just seem like silly dumping grounds of the day's events whereas others seem to be a cryptic message. I think you're right that these messages are personal and require personal decryption. Thank you for your thoughtful response!





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