Monday 16 October 2017

Watching People Drink Poison

 photo courtesy of

The emotional impact of dreams is often antithetical to the dream’s message. That is the case with the dream we will examine this week. The dreamer was distressed by her dream and was quite taken aback to learn that it was delivering a message of encouragement and congratulation.

A dream about people taking poison
In my dream I’m walking in an outdoor setting. It’s not really specific, but there are occasional areas of the terrain that I have to think about before crossing them. Then I come to a small open space, and on the other side of it, there is a wall-like tangle of trees and underbrush that I will have to climb over. It’s a real obstacle, and I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to get past it. Then I look in this open space and I see a bunch of people. They are all in the process of preparing to drink a liquid that is a lethal poison. They don’t seem particularly upset by it, but I am alarmed. I try to convince them that they should stop this destructive behavior, but they ignore me and continue with their preparations. In desperation, I go up to one couple. They are sitting on the ground, facing me, and I notice that, behind them, is a beautiful vista with lush and colorful plants and blue sky. I try to encourage them to look at this gorgeous scene, but they won’t. Instead, they each drink their poison and lie down, waiting to die. I look around at everyone else, and it’s clear that they, too, have drunk their poison. They’re all lying down, calmly, waiting for the poison to kick in and kill them.

Separating dream content from emotional impact
This dreamer found this dream so disconcerting that even when I beamed with delight on hearing it, she still was unconvinced that it was a positive experience. She and I had to work quite a while before she could begin to step gingerly away from the distressing image of a group of people taking poison to end their lives. Finally, although reluctant, she let the imagery recede in importance, and allowed herself to accept the dream’s message, which is anything but tragic!

Death in dreams
When dreamers dream about someone dying, the distress—or even shock—can be overwhelming. As with so many upsetting images in dreams, the tendency is to take the scene literally: Is this a portent? Is my best friend really going to drown? Am I responsible?

Death in dreams often symbolizes a supremely positive state of affairs. Here’s why: In order to change and grow, we have to learn new things and begin to live in a new way. Implicit in that statement is the understanding that, simultaneously, we have to let go of something older that’s no longer useful to us. In dreams, this “letting go” process is often symbolized by images of death. While I am careful not to interpret dreams until I have worked them through with the dreamer, this dream, with a journey, an obstacle that needs surmounting, and people dying just beforehand, is pretty straightforward.

We’ll start interpreting on Wednesday.

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