Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Do You Do It?

Dear Peregrin,

I like your translations and wonder if you have any formal education concerning the subject of dreams. When you do a translation do you see or feel anything about the person whose dream you are working with. Curious and wanting to learn more about Dreams.

Thanks,

Charlie

Good morning, Charlie.

I can claim no formal training in this subject. Dreams were my only escape from an all-too-dreary reality during childhood. Until adulthood made real escape possible, I read everything I could find about dreams and dreaming. When I began to notice discrepancies between the many "dream dictionaries" published, I realized that the symbols found in dreams are much more personal and their meanings can vary from dream to dream, even within the same individual. In my opinion, the meanings of the various dream symbols can be found in the context of the dream most of the time. Even more important than the symbol is your emotional state during the dream. If you dream of a lion and feel happy, that is very different from dreaming of a lion and feeling frightened.

So, if the meanings of dreams are so dependent upon the individual, how is any interpretation possible at all? Well (again, in my opinion), we are all much more alike than we are different. Let's go back to that lion. Lions have their own set of behaviors; their own personalities, that make them a universal symbol among humankind. This is the archetype of a lion.

Then there is another layer, that of language. In English, "lion" can sound like "lying." Puns like this are very much a part of the subconscious mind. Remember, it's trying to send a message, but it can't quite figure out how to communicate effectively.

In addition to the language layer is the social layer. In the US, most lions are in zoos and safely contained. But if you lived in a place where the lions roamed free, then they may be much more threatening to you.

Religion adds its own layer, as well. The lion is used as a symbol for Christ; C. S. Lewis made good use of this icon in his Chronicles of Narnia.

A lion can enter into your dreams just because you went to the zoo the day before, or you were thinking about them before sleep. One popular method of dream control comes out of this fact.

Then, of course, each individual adds their own unique experiences to the mixture. These are the things you couldn't interpret unless you know the dreamer very well. Was he attacked by a lion? Did he have a beloved toy lion? Did he watch the Thundercats cartoon avidly (or, for the older crowd, the Daktari show)?

So, the basic idea is to think of as many possible meanings for each major symbol, then see if they fit into the context of the dream. It's rather like an anagram puzzle, except that each word can have a different key and the words are mixed up, too.

When I read my mail, I usually pick the dreams I will translate based upon how interesting they are, and whether any possibilities occur to me on an intuitive level. I tend to ignore most of the teen fantasy/wish fulfillment-type dreams, as they are usually so straightforward as to hardly need translation at all. Once I've decided to attempt a translation, I re-read the dream, making it my own for the moment, and see what the symbols mean to my mind. If any of it fits the context, I use it. Then I see what holes are left in my translation, and brainstorm for a bit to see if I can come up with other possible meanings for the symbols not translated.

If any of it turns out to be helpful to you, I wouldn't mind hearing about it. Thanks for dropping me a "lion!"

Pleasant dreams,

Peregrin

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