Some of the traditional dream interpretations are ancient, and have often been used as a mystical tool of prediction. Dream symbolism has its place in the ancient folklore of most cultures, such as the gypsies or travelling people, those of The Native Americans, the Ancient Egyptians, the Chinese and the early Christians.
The Language Of Dreams
Language cannot create thought, but must be created by thought. Thus the first expression of articulate thought must have been through symbols rather than through words. For before attempting speech, man must have perceived objects, and their meaning. Use and similarity would have established themselves in his consciousness, before anything else. Spoken words have evolved as expressions of symbols. Symbolism is purposeful and significant, the outcome of inherited memory, tradition, cultural heritage, and history, as well as the individuals own creativity.
The translation of the dream symbol, is very much dependent on the dreamer’s own recognition of what the symbol might mean to him or her personally. The emotions felt by the dreamer during the dream are also vital to its interpretation; As how the dreamer feels about the dream symbol, will also apply to what the symbol represents. Freud argued that in sleep the mind allows suppressed material to come forth in a disguised form – the symbol. When someone dreams of climbing a high mountain, we are aware that this symbolizes a struggle in their life. This corresponds to the conceptual metaphor – that ‘life is a journey’. And the concept of conquering a mountain, links this object as a symbol of a person or endeavour. It is easy for us to equate the language with the visual image in an interpretation. But only the individual will know, what his or her struggle is.
The Origins Of Symbolism
The scale of symbolism is vast and encompasses all areas of life. The symbol is the primitive expression of speechless man, and it is also employed by great minds. Beethoven, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Dante and Blake have bequeathed the world symbols that will out-last time. The Wise Men in the East with their Frankincense and Gold – and the person who wears a poppy on Remembrance Day, can be likened to Symbolists.
Our dreams can often be fantastic, terrifying and hard to comprehend because they do not seem to be contained by the rules of our everyday lives. Some of the most bizarre and disturbing distortions of reality are commonly experienced by dreams, and the interpretation of these distortions has been given much attention by some eminent psychologists and researchers. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the father of psychoanalysis, believed that the unconscious used symbols in dreams to represent real emotions and feelings. Alfred Adler(1870-1937), originally a follower of Freud, believed that dreams reflect the individuals lifelong drive for power and success. Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), was convinced that the symbolism contained in dreams reflected a wider collective unconsciousness, and was common to all mankind, regardless of race or culture.
There can be little doubt that dreams do have symbolic significance, and certain archetypal symbols are now quite generally accepted in the field of psychoanalysis. Applying knowledge of these symbols should do much to enlighten the individual as to the meaning of his or her dreams. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that dreams are very personal, and it is only in the knowledge of the dreamer’s own mood and feelings, and also his or her circumstances, past and present – that dreams become truly meaningful.