Even before early humankind learned to draw on the cave, wall symbols were an important part of the human experience. The Universal symbol of an open hand; an open hand or palms turned up was an obvious gesture displaying no weapon. Today and every day, we are bombarded with symbols. Symbols, tell us where to go and how to get there, warn us of danger and give us information at a glance.
Both Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud wrote about universal symbols, specifically for use in dream interpretation. Many artists have delicately woven symbols into the artwork of their Tarot decks. Over the ages, symbols have been gleamed within the random pictures transformed by eyes of one looking at tealeaves in the bottom of a cup or a candle flame in a darkened mirror or a bowl or water. You can find many books and articles on symbols and dream ingurgitation, each with the author’s own ideas of interpretations. Although such a glossary can be a helpful guide, being able to connect with the esoteric meaning of your own symbols is the only way to understand what is going on in your own dreams.
When you are sleeping, you are using many different types of symbols. Each of these types of symbol is used in the same way, but springs from different sources of knowledge within each of us. These symbols are stored in our subconscious mind and sorted according to their associative value. Our subconscious mind uses images dreams rather than using words; one picture, for many words.
Universal symbols, which called archetypal or primal symbols, seem to be connected to a collective unconscious of humans.
Cultural symbols their name is from the cultural belief system of each individual.
Personal symbols of which may only have meaning to the individual and are based on that persons life experiences.
I am fascinated with Universal symbols and their connectedness with the Divine. These symbols have a commonality of types of symbols, which are archetypal in nature and seem to be connected to a collective unconscious of humans. This very fact seems to be proven when you find the same symbols to be consistent in their meaning across all cultural lines and time. As an example of one of these types of Universal symbols an open hand; an open hand, whether as a handshake or palms turned up are around the world a gesture of friendship. The open hand is an obvious gesture displaying no weapon. It is important for anyone wishing to learn to interpret their own dreams, or even to do spell work to truly understand Universal symbols.
Cultural symbols seem to be almost as permanent as Universal symbols. Cultural symbols are things like an old favorite pair of jeans. They fit right and we wear them repeatedly. We hear them as kids, our parents perpetrate them, as did their parents before them, they can be regional, and it is almost as they are born with us. These symbols become part of our own internal database.
It is here where each your own personal meaning of symbols becomes most important. The subconscious mind of many people has trouble sorting out personal symbols without some prior knowledge of Universal and Cultural symbols. In order to gain an understanding of their own experiences each individual needs to understand the resulting symbols now stored in their subconscious mind. Otherwise, no one can arrive at a satisfactory meaning for his or her personal symbols without first knowing what memories are being used to provide which symbol for the individual.
You will not find your personal symbols listed in a dream dictionary. You may find Universal Symbols or Cultural symbols, but the writers of dream dictionaries do not know who or what “a pink balloon” means to you. They might in a vague way be able to derive some meaning from their own personal symbols, which may come close to yours, but only you, the dreamer, know what a pink balloon means to you. You might not consciously be aware of it, of this symbol. However, you do know it as your experiences created it.
Personal symbols always take the most time to interpret. It takes time for each symbol to be understood in depth. You will find personal symbols are many layered or levels if you will. This means, whatever the symbol presents in the dream can be related to feelings and emotions, rather than actual outer experiences. Symbols related to past events as far back as childhood, anything in your subconscious could be displayed to you in the form of a dream. (Some might even argue as far back as a past life.) Therefore, when you are ready to interpret your dreams, you must be ready to pick apart each symbol to ascertain its meaning in each dream, and its relationship to other symbols which may be in the same dream, if you take the time and make the effort to decode your personal symbols you will not be disappointed. It is not easy to do but will help you know more about you as a person and how you relate and the world around you.
If you want to learn to interpret your own dreams, it will take time. This is not the lets go to McDonalds kind of quick fix. I like my students to keep a dream journal for six months but you could try three months. This journal is kept right beside of your bed and is written in every morning before you go to the bathroom. I have learned though years of teaching that as soon as the toilet is flushed, half of the dream is faded and gone. Write first, toilet after.
After you have a good collection of dreams, it is time to sit down and begin to pick them apart. This is no easy thing to do, as symbols are not always something large the smallest thing can make a big difference. As you do these ask yourself these three questions about each symbol, “What is it?”“ What does it do?”“ What does this mean to me?” The answers you get will be the answers you put in your log and will be what the symbols mean to you.
The dream journal will grow and your dream log will grow as you continue to dream, soon it will be very easy for you to understand your own dreams. You will learn to separate and understand which of your symbols are Universal, Cultural, and which symbols are Personal.