Dreams in Esoteric Work
A Neglected Discipline
I grow up in a Rosicrucian family and my mother gave me a few rules about dream interpretation she had learned from her teacher. When I began dreaming some serious dreams around 49 it irritated me that there wasn’t any good esoteric theories for dream interpretation. The psychoanalysts had some theories, especially around C.G.Jung, but there was no immediate relation between Jung and the esoteric traditions.
I started a research to find that information and I found out that Jung took his starting point in the chtlonic religions, the elemental kingdoms, what relates to the subconscious, where the esoteric traditions took their starting point in the super conscious, the higher ‘I’, but Steiner had also a description of the subconscious and the Chthonic world. I found what the archetypes like anima, animus, false ego’s, I and the teacher also existed in the esoteric tradition of man, and in dreams.
Some years later I found a file on the internet describing old Christian (and Hebrew) dream interpretation, with thousand of years experience, and found out it was the same method as I had found.
I read Fritz Pearl’s dream interpretation and it confirmed my findings, just as also Erich Fromm did. Erich Fromm also told that man could interpret his dreams under hypnosis, but he lost the understanding after awakening. The dreams are sent to the astral body, physically represented by the limbic system, the subconscious, and from there we sometimes become aware of the dreams when we wake up. It seems to be a rest of an old communication channel from the super-conscious to the subconscious from before we developed our left brain hemisphere and our ‘I’.
Erich Fromm tells that this dream language are the same we find used in old fairy tales and in the Bible as parables, that these texts have more than one level of information, that our subconscious understand the deeper level where our conscious brain only understand the upper layer, just as in dreams.
The subconscious uses the dreams to influence our conscious thinking indirectly, but when we interpret our dreams we can increase our progress immediately where the subconsciousness takes a long time to reach the goal, if ever.
Jung concentrates on the feeling’s in dream interpretation where the other concentrates on the symbols, like Chinese characters, Logograms, as concrete guidance from God or the higher ‘I’, depending on context.
In the first part I have references to esoteric texts, in the second part a table relating the technical terms within different traditions including Jung, Steiner, Aristotle, and Kabbalah, and in the third part practical dream interpretation.
Esoteric views on Dream Interpretation
The Talmud says: “Dreams which are not interpreted are like letters which have not been opened.”
Rudolf Steiner has this general advice about the understanding of the spiritual world (GA156):
The only way we can experience anything from the spiritual world is to understand that we must take what it offers us as letters and words, which we must learn to read. That is it. And not to learn, to believe that we can spare ourselves learning to read the esoteric script, would be just as clever as someone taking a book and saying, “There are fools who say that something is expressed in this book. I thumb from page to page in it and see only pretty letters.” those who cannot read the letters absorb only what they see and are unconcerned about what is expressed.
He states that we should learn to understand the messages from the spiritual world, they are there to collect.
From the Content of the Esoteric Classes we have the following around the methodology:
One gradually notices that one’s dream life takes on a more regular character. The spiritual world flows into this at first. Meditation is the occult key for this. One should get a notebook and briefly write down characteristic dreams in the morning. Thereby, one gets practice in retaining what flows to one from higher worlds. That’s the first elementary method to later get to bringing spiritual experiences through, that is, that they break through into bright day consciousness… Only the symbolism is of value here and not the dream’s content. For the symbolic form is initially used by the spiritual world to introduce us to the forces of higher worlds. That’s why one must pay attention to the fine points of this symbolism.
I would add, get a notebook and write the dreams down each time you wake, there can easily be more than one message a night. Even the bible recommends taking notes, Dan. 7.1:
… Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. See also Dream Interpretation: A Biblical Understanding.
You are everything in the dream
The persons who appear in dreams are all part of you, with few exceptions, if a person hinders you in the dream, it’s an aspect of yourself that are the cause (GA156), this is vital to understand, as it’s all too easy to project the dreams and problems onto others:
If, for example, one person fights or wounds another, you experience yourself as the inflictor of the wound and also as the soul that is wounded or attacked. You are everything in these images. You are utterly within them. If you had an image in front of you in which a beheading is depicted you experience yourself at the same time as the person who is beheaded and the person who does the beheading. That is how you experience yourself within this very fluctuating world of images. You yourself are every image and every movement in it.
Fritz Perls taught people to interpret every component of a dream as a part of their own self. If you are driving a car and some one is skating in front of you slowing you down, you are both the driver of the car and the skater. If you then encounter a woman whose pickup truck is broken down, you are both the truck and the woman seeking help.
The Hebrew and the Christians have worked with dream interpretation for many thousand of years, so it is no surprise that they are much more concrete than the abstract psychoanalysts, and when I found their description I saw that they matched my experiences.
Discerning Dreams About Yourself
At least 95% of your dreams will be about you – your inner self, your current situation, your relationships. Your dreams come from your heart and will express the things that are important to your heart.
The most common area your spirit will reveal will be your emotional, heart struggles and sanctification issues, expressed symbolically. Body and health issues are also important to your spirit, so they may be revealed, again in a symbolic way. Your relationships to other people are important to your heart, so these may be conveyed in signs and symbols. And the circumstances and events that surround your life, ministry or vocation are also important to your heart, so these may be portrayed symbolically in your dreams.
The source of the dreams
Steiner have the following, about dreams and the students relation to the higher self, From the Content of the Esoteric Classes, 10-26-’09:
Anyone who has a hidden opposition to his teacher will find that this feeling soon breaks through and adversely influences the effect of meditation. In an esoteric’s daily meditations he should keep it in mind that he’s mainly trying to get through to his higher self, and he should reflect on what this higher self is. He shouldn’t think that he’s supposed to bring something to this higher self — he should have an expectant attitude towards him and expect everything from him. Usually there are three ways in which it approaches a pupil on his path. The first way is a rather flitting one and it requires the attentiveness that an esoteric should have for all things. Namely, this is in a dream, and what happens there is what one calls a doubling of the ‘I’. For instance, one has a problem or wants to do something. Then someone appears to one in a dream who tells one what to do or who solves the problem, one who is better and cleverer than oneself. One should pay attention to such dreams.
The cleverer is what I later call the teacher. As most dreams are rather depressing, they tell where we go wrong and that we should do something to change it, it is very easy to get a somewhat strained relationship to the teacher, but the dreams are created in love to us, but the dream interface is so primitive that it can’t be done in a more gentle way.
Edgar Cayce is another well known source on dream interpretation:
Cayce reports that most dreams fall into the daily recapping and assessment category, with your higher self serving as the dream maker. In these dreams, you are given the opportunity to see how your thoughts and actions compare to your ideals – the person that you truly want to be. Study the basic theme of your dreams to discover if they reflect a theme or behavior in your life. If they are intense or recurring dreams, it may indicate an area of your life that demands your attention. Very often you will find clues to positive change right within the dreams themselves. Just remember that in most cases, your dreams are for your benefit…providing insights into ways in which you can change and grow. Understanding My Intense Dreams
And here on the three main actors in the soul of man, subconscious (astral), consciousness (I), and super consciousness (higher I):
According to Mr. Cayce, the most common influence impelling a dream is our subconscious and superconscious attempting to correlate life events and decisions to eternal, spiritual ideals. On one occasion Cayce modified the word correlation to “co-relation of subconscious and superconscious forces manifesting through the developing mind of the entity.” He frequently sought to remind us that we have three levels of consciousness, and they need to co-relate in order for us to have better integration of body, mind, and soul, each sharing in our life’s events, relationships, and decisions. Co-relating
In Job’s book (33:1-18), which is a description of “The Dark Night of the Soul” also called Metanoia, it says:
Why do you complain to him that he responds to no one’s words?
For God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.
It continues telling that those who don’t hear the message of the dreams becomes sick, as they don’t heed the warnings.
Jung and Steiner
If both Jung and Steiner were right, they had to have a common ground. I don’t describe precisely what Animus and Anima are, as it’s explained better by others, but I show where they fit into the seven layer model of man, and how they fit into the model of Steiner, Aristotle and Plato. It may extend the understanding of both models.
- Orektikon, Eros, Sentient soul represents Anima for men and Animus for woman,
- Kinetikon, Logos, Intellectual soul, also called Heart and Mind soul, represents the Lower ‘I’/Persona/Ego, and
- Dianoetikon, Thumos, Consciousness soul, represents the Higher ‘I’.
The last soul component is the least developed, but we are currently working on it.
This table relates the Jung symbolism to various esoteric models, especially the model of Plato/Aristotle/Steiner:
From – To
|Feminine associations||Usage In Dreams|
|Physical Body||0 – (7)
|Ether or Life body
|(7) – (14)
|(14) – 21
New Age Ego
|21 – 28
|Intellectual soul or
Heart and Mind soul
|28 – 35
|Maria, Cleophas wife|
|Consciousness soul or
|35 – 42
|Virgin Sophia||Higher I
The Divine Child
Transformed astral body
|Spirit self||42 – 49
The Wise Man or Woman
Transformed etheric body
|Life spirit||49 – 56||The World Mother|
Transformed physical body
|Spirit body||56 – 63
Karma and Dreams
My experience is that dreams 99,9% of the time has to do with the previous day. They are not good to tell you deep spiritual truth or intricate stories about the future, so it’s only in rare cases dreams contain other than help for your daily life.
When you go through the events of the day, just before you sleep, you may recognize situations where you created karma, and by understanding what you did wrong, you may correct the error in the current life, instead of postponing it for future incarnations.
Dreams have a similar function, they try to instill your subconscious to evade the situation if or when it would happen again, but if you understand your dream, you can work consciously on it also, sparing yourself from many depressing experiences.
A few Examples:
If you dream that your car is broke or you can’t find the key’s, it means that you don’t do the right things.
If you jump on a trampoline it means you do a lot of work without getting anywhere.
If you are too late for the train, you didn’t take an oppurtunity which fate had set up for you.
If you start in kindergarten, you have behaved childish.
All of these dreams is a reference to the day before.
If we don’t react on the dreams, and handle the problems, the dreams may become nightmares.
I think dreams get more intense with age, as the possibility to understand and change the situation grows with maturity. You should see the dreams as messages from your Higher I telling you where you went wrong. These dreams are usually depressing as they tell you to correct things, but if you do well, you may get a dream in between where you fly on a private jet, move up to a higher class in school, even a chaste kiss for particularly good work in a complicated situation, and so on, showing progress.
Dream Symbols and interpretation
Anima/Animus represents the base unconscious Feelings and the Ether body, and are female actors in mens dreams and male actors in women’s dreams, for example your husband/wife, friends, colleagues, classmates, old girlfriends/boyfriends, or an unknown person.
As it concerns feelings, you seldom speak with your Anima/Animus, it’s mostly some kind of action, Love or some affection, or the opposite to that, showing the state between your feminine and masculine side.
Animus/Anima can in real seldom situations represent your physical body, maybe in connection with health problems. Remember, it’s the opposite of your own gender.
Ego, Persona or Lower ‘I’
The Ego, the Lower ‘I’ represents Thinking, the dreamer in the dream. One of the goals is to unify the Lower ‘I’ with the corresponding Anima/Animus, that is Feeling and Thinking. Related to the Chymical Wedding.
Shadows or False Ego’s
There can also be other actors (Shadows), playing the role of False Ego‘s . Typically friends, classmates, colleagues, or less common, typically in groups, unknown players. These persons sometimes characterize traits which tells what the dream is about, but in all circumstances it’s easier for the “dreaming facility” to use an existing person than to create a new personality.
The Shadow’s I see as debris flowing around in the unconscious mind blocking the Chakras. They are the background for the plot of the dreams.
The False Ego’s are the persona’s we set up when relating to other people to hide us behind, protect our selves, or to impress other persons. Their role in the dreams are to show that they are there and to remove them you have to recognize them. There can of course be persons in the dream which is only extras just to give the background, but then they will be out of focus, they will be difficult to remember.
A friend of mine dreamed that she was playing on a tin drum in a concentration camp, followed by many anonymous people walking in ranks. It showed that her fear for other peoples views made her entertain a lot of false ego’es to please everybody, but it was a virtual hell for her soul.
Higher ‘I’, The Divine Child
The Higher ‘I’ represents the Willing, and is usually represented by a child, or teenager in the dream. Whatever happens to the child is a result of your life. The more the child prosper the better. The goal is to become the Divine Child.
The Wise Teacher
One more role is the Teacher, which I presumes represents the Spirit self, and in dreams usually is shown as your Father, Mother, a Teacher, or Chief from life, who you have some respect for. In dreams they often come down from upstairs or leave upstairs. Can be of both sexes, but I it’s mostly of the opposite gender.
Three other symbols which are paramount in dreams are your House, various Schools, and Transport Vehicles:
In dreams the House usually represents your physical and psychical state of development. Is it clean, is it in chaos, are you building on your second or third floor, is it finished? Working on the first floor tell’s about work on the higher consciousness, and windows or a television tell’s about spiritual vision.
The schools tell a little about how it is going, are you in a kindergarten, school, High School, or the University? Do you have a table? Have you forgotten your books? And so forth.
If you are reading Donald Duck or other zines you are wasting your time with inferior reading stuff.
Big golden or old looking books is about your collected wisdom, precisely what it means depend on context. It could be related to a chakra.
In dreams transport vehicles tells about how your journey is progressing. If you are riding a bicycle you are not doing especially well. Your car can go out of gasoline, or you can’t find the keys, you may have lost your ticket for the bus, come late for the train. If everything is going as it should, which is more seldom, you may get a first class ticket for the airplane, or the train is waiting for you at the central station, saying that you have done right and you are on the track, even that a new period is started.
It is extremely seldom to remember numbers in dreams, as it normally have no meaning. It’s like reading a book in a dream, without remembering the text, where the reading is vital not the text. If you remember a number it’s important to write it down quickly. What the number signifies depends on the context; it could be the number of days, time of day, number of hours, a specific date, and so forth.
It’s also seldom to hear Noun’s in dreams, so when you hear one, try to find out what it stands for. Names in dreams can be quite humorous, but still contain vital information.
All the time my wife have been part of my dreams she had played the role of my anima, and other woman have also played the role, depending on the archetype needed in the message of the dream.
Anonymous dream persons
Actual people from the real world are played by anonymous players, you have to use the context to decipher the real world implication.
The times where the dream have involved my wife or other real world people, it has been played by an anonymous character.
The table show seven-year periods connected to various chakras. Each period handles a given set of problems each person have to work with, and the chakras describe these. Cycles of Seven.
Here and Now
Most dreams are rather concrete, and they accentuate specific problems from the day before, and these problems are typically waves of underlying currents, life themes, waiting to be handled.
What makes dreams difficult to understand are that we live in the middle of our problems, that we can’t overview our own situation; but our dreams can, and if we learn to interpret our dreams it will help us to understand our own situation.
Dream Interpretation and Chakras
From time to time there are dreams telling about your progress or in which areas you have problems; here some symbols and colors related to the Chakras.
The Figure are the symbol of the Chakra, hold the cursor above the symbol, a short text maybe with a word in UPPERCASE, tells what which part to look for, as an example is Muladhara’s symbol a Square. Clicking on a symbol opens a Vortex of Light description of the Chakra. The Crown chakra has no dream symbol as I am aware of.
|Indigo||Clairvoyance, psychic abilities, imagination, dreaming, Venus.|
|Blue||White elephant||Pressure when you are not communicating your emotions properly, Mercury.|
|Green||Birds, animals with antlers||Lack of compassion, Sun.|
|Yellow||Sacrificial animal||Personal Power, anger or a sense of victimization, Mars.|
|Orange||Water animals||Emotional problems or sexual guilt, Jupiter.|
|Red||Elephant, horse, and other big and heavy animals||Earth, survival, grounding, stillness, Saturn.|
Dream Interpretation: A Biblical Understanding
Af Herman Riffel:
Many believers read the scriptural accounts of dreams and never think it could happen to them. Today, though, many are realizing that God has never ceased using dreams and visions to guide, instruct, and warn. This book will give you a biblical understanding of dreams that you never had before!
A short but very well written text on dream interpretation.
Discerning Dreams About Yourself
At least 95% of your dreams will be about you – your inner self, your current situation, your relationships. Your dreams come from your heart and will express the things that are important to your heart.
The most common area your spirit will reveal will be your emotional, heart struggles and sanctification issues, expressed symbolically. Body and health issues are also important to your spirit, so they may be revealed, again in a symbolic way. Your relationships to other people are important to your heart, so these may be conveyed in signs and symbols. And the circumstances and events that surround your life, ministry or vocation are also important to your heart, so these may be portrayed symbolically in your
This Step by Step Approach describes Dream Interpretation in a way usable with my terminology. It also has descriptions of how to combine the I Ching with Dream Interpretation:
I find that a very useful guideline for dream interpretation, especially at first, is to take everything in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer.
For example, if the dream involves the person travelling in a car with their uncle, then the car represents some aspect of the person’s life, and the uncle also represents a part of the person. This isn’t the only way to interpret dreams, but it’s a very good starting point, I think.
Here’s the step-by-step approach that I use.
I hope that by going through the example and then trying the exercise you’ll start to get a feel for what’s involved in trying to interpret a dream, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.
Example: The House in Your Dream
Each dream image holds enormous data, emotional response, and created patterns of behaviour. So in considering the house in your dream you need to remember you are in touch with a full surround databank of fantastic information about you, your past and your possibilities. You can interact with this information by exploring it in the right way. And to help with this let us look at and question some of the possibilities your dream house might hold.
Contains many interesting and usable entries about the Archetypes used in dreams.
Example with House:
Seeing a house in your dream, represents your own soul and self. Specific rooms in the house indicate a specific aspect of your psyche. In general, the attic represents your intellect, the basement represents the unconscious, etc. If the house is empty, then it indicates feelings of insecurity. If the house is shifting, then it suggests that you are going through some personal changes and changing your belief system. Dreaming that you are cleaning your house means your need to clear out your thoughts and getting rid of old ways. You are seeking self-improvement. Seeing an old, run-down house in your dream, represents your old beliefs, attitudes and how you used to think or feel. A situation in your current life may be bringing about those same old attitudes and feelings. Alternatively, the old house may symbolize your need to update you mode of thinking. Dreaming that your house is broken into, suggests that you are feeling violated. It may refer to a particular relationship or current situation in your life. Alternatively, it indicates that some unconscious material is attempting to make itself known. There are some aspects of yourself that you have denied. Dreaming of a haunted house means unfinished emotional business, related to your childhood family, dead relatives, or repressed memories and feelings. Dreaming that a house disappeared, indicates that you are not feeling grounded. You feel uprooted by a particular circumstance or relationship in your life.
This entry looks quite ok, I havent checked other entries.
From Dreams and Dreaming:
Dreams as not really nonsensical, but a lot of them are crypted somehow. Major psychologists have studied how dreams work and why they appear, and whether they occur according to patterns, and which patterns. Carl Jung, Medard Boss, Calvin Hall, Montague Ullman and others have decreed that dreams do carry meanings, but you need to understand how dreaming functions. Dreams functions on their own terms. Through the basics of dream interpretations to get a hold on many of them.
Some dreams reflect mind content that pertains to tasks and problems and other issues the mind gets deeply involved in. And parts of the jumbled “video clips” within may just present “left-overs” from days before. Dream interpretations need to be tentative, perhaps open-ended too. Consider the deep feelings and messages involved in the recurrent and most impressive dreams you have had.
Decode and interpret the flows of various icons, images, scenes, actors, happenings, concomitant feelings so as to arrive at tentative or putative postulates about what impressive dreams could mean. In such work there is help in mulling over single, outstanding ideas or episodes inside the stream or flow of a single dream. Take notes of them and learn to draw special illustrations that serve you in a log book. all of it could help, but it may be time-consuming work that had better be done for the whole life. In short, you have to learn to assess well.
Here we come upon something of the utmost importance for the applicability of dream-analysis: the dream describes the inner situation of the dreamer, but the conscious mind denies its truth and reality, or admits it only grudgingly.
More on Carl Jung’s Archetypes.
Jungian dream interpretation: a handbook of theory and practice
Sufism, Dreamwork, and Jungian Psychology
In Greek Sculpture and the Four Elements J.L.Benson references Steiner on Aristotle’s description of the soul of man:
Aristotle distinguishes in man the vegetative soul, by which he means approximately what we call ether body, then the aesthetikon or sensitive soul, which we call the sentient or astral body. Next he speaks of orektikon which corresponds to sentient soul, then comes kinetikon corresponding to the intellectual soul, and he uses the term dianoetikon for the consciousness soul.
J.L.Benson writes in Greek Color Theories and the Four Elements :
To my knowledge Steiner, working closely with concepts from Goethe’s scientific work, is the only modern thinker to give full weight to the macrocosmic aspect of the microcosmic foursome. Above the physical body (which Aristotle dealt with en passant : de An. 411a he uses the term etheric body for Aristotle’s threptikon or nutritive soul, astral or sentient body for the aesthetikon or sensitive soul and ego for nous.
One gradually notices that one’s dream life takes on a more regular character. The spiritual world flows into this at first. Meditation is the occult key for this. One should get a notebook and briefly write down characteristic dreams in the morning. Thereby, one gets practice in retaining what flows to one from higher worlds. That’s the first elementary method to later get to bringing spiritual experiences through, that is, that they break through into bright day consciousness. Dreams that are only reminiscences from daily life or that are based on heart disturbances, headaches or other bodily conditions are only of value if they’re clothed in a symbolical form, for instance if the thumping heart appears as a cooking oven, or the painful brain as a dome into which animals creep, etc. Only the symbolism is of value here and not the dream’s content. For the symbolic form is initially used by the spiritual world to introduce us to the forces of higher worlds. That’s why one must pay attention to the fine points of this symbolism. In your case — according to your capacities — it’ll also be good if you compare the dreams that you become aware of with the experiences of the next day. For your dreams may soon take on a portentous character. If this happens we’ll say some more about how this thing can be made productive for your spiritual life. Please give these indications a try and tell me how things are going in about eight days.
This site offers an abbreviated introduction to the Chakra System, applications for meditation and healing using this system, and its relationship to other healing systems.
Visual appealing page on the Chakras.
Contains information on a deeper Esoteric level
Paracelsus in “The Life of Paracelsus” by Franz Hartmann
“If we desire to enter into communication with the spirit of a deceased person, we may make a picture representing that person, and write his name and the questions we wish to ask him upon it, and put that picture under our head after retiring to rest; and during our sleep the deceased appears to us in our dreams and answers our questions. But the experiment must be made in a spirit of unfaltering faith, full of confidence that it will succeed, else it will fail, because it is not the picture that brings the spirit, but our faith that brings us into communication with it; and the picture is only made for the purpose of assisting the imagination, and to make it more powerful (Philosoph., v.).
Previous version of the text
The earlier version: What are the feminine and masculine sides we all talk about? My goal was to find the relation between Jung’s vocabulary and esoteric terminology, together with hints on dream interpretation, there are written much wrong on the subject.