This week, we’re reviewing the basic tenets of dream interpretation while looking at a dream about falling into the water. Here’s the dream:
My brother and I had to cross a river which we were supposed to do by using a boat ferry. But the boat was narrow and unstable; it looked kind of like a kayak. My brother stepped onto the front of the boat, and immediately the boat moved away, with him on it. There were no oars, but somehow he managed to maneuver the boat to the opposite bank where there were a bunch of brooms lying on the ground. He grabbed one, and I thought he was going to use it like an oar, but he just kept waving it in the air—kind of joking. The next thing I knew, he had fallen in the water—first up to his waist, and then up to his shoulders. He was still hanging onto the boat. I remember thinking that, if we finally got to the other bank, he would have to spend the whole day in his drenched clothes.
Isolating the symbols
While the dream is being told, if you can take shorthand, as if you were a court reporter, you will end up with a list of the most important words or phrases in the dream. Although this list might need a small amount of adjusting, what you have is a list of the most important symbols in the dream. Your list might look something like this:
Brother, cross a river, use ferry, narrow boat like a kayak, stepped in front, boat moved away, no oars, maneuver, opposite bank, brooms on the ground, didn’t use as oar, waved in the air like a joke, fell in the water, to his waist, then shoulders, hanging onto boat, spend day in drenched clothes.
Initial analysis of the symbols
Notice, right away, how many of the symbols are not nouns. Symbols can be any dream image that leaves an impression. In addition to nouns, verbs—actions—are common symbols. Adjectives and adverbs can also be important if they are a prominent element in the dream. Words like “hot,” “tired,” or “upset” are all common dream symbols.
In the above dream, there is a lot of action, and each one involves some kind of object. For example, “cross a river” is one of the phrases that got written down. This is really two symbols. The dreamer would want to find out what a river symbolizes, and then he would want to discuss the implications of crossing it. Another, similar phrase is “didn’t use as oar.” The dreamer would want to know what an oar means, and then ponder the symbolic implications of deciding not to use it.
All of these subtleties provide clues to what the dreamer is trying to communicate to himself from his subconscious. It’s not critical to isolate every one; the dream message will still be clear. But, obviously, the more detail, the better.
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