Work With Your Dreams
A DIFFERENT WORLD
In ancient times, dreams were thought to be sent by the gods. When we work with them, it is easy to understand why. Dreams are wondrous and mysterious. They offer messages and gifts. They take us into a different world, with different rules – a magical world that is likely to vanish like Cinderella’s finery if we so much as clean our teeth before writing down what we experienced there. In this chapter we will learn how to enter that world with awareness and bring its treasures back to use in the waking world.
It would be useful to start with a very brief introduction to the pioneering work in this field done by the Austrian psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud and his Swiss contemporary Carl Jung. Their work underpins all the methods and approaches I will be describing in this chapter.
Freud and dreams
Sigmund Freud had enormous respect for dreams, and considered his book The Interpretation of Dreams to be his most important work. The hundreds of dreams transcribed in it make it a rich resource for writers. Freud’s studies confirmed his view that nothing we have experienced is ever fully lost to us. Events which are inaccessible to conscious memory, remain in a vast subconscious store which can be tapped through dreams and visualisation. Even the most trivial details are retrievable: ‘the wart on the forehead of a stranger’ as he puts it.
Such details are truly ‘gifts from the gods’ to a writer. That wart might be the very thing that wins the Booker Prize!
Jung and dreams
Carl Jung also placed great emphasis on dreams. In the second half of his book Dreams, he relates individual dream symbols to mythology and alchemy. Again, this is a rich resource for writers. Jung gave us the theory explored in Chapter 3, in relation to visualisation – that all elements of the dream represent aspects of the dreamer’s personality. We will be looking at a number of ways of working with this, later in the chapter.
In order to open himself fully to what a dream had to offer, Jung would start from the premise have no idea what this means. To get to the heart of the image and extract its full meaning, Jung would say to his client ‘Suppose I knew nothing at all about a . . . Describe it to me in the greatest possible detail’. This open approach is yet another way in which we can surprise ourselves rather than limit our possibilities to what we ‘know’.