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5 Ways to Interpret Dreams

Updated on August 9, 2017
BizGenGirl profile image

Bema is an avid dreamtime traveler & teacher, who loves sharing her experiences & adventures in hubs and blogs, for others to benefit from.

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When thinking about what my dreams might mean..

..or when I'm asked to interpret dreams for others, I have 5 methods of interpretation by dream type, which I like to use to help me decide what they most likely mean, which sometimes includes multiple or combined meanings.

In this hub, we'll cover 5 common dream types & ways to interpret and/or derive meaning from each one. If you find these methods as useful as I have, hopefully you'll feel much less lost when trying to interpret dreams & less in need of 'dream gurus' to tell you what

To die... to sleep... To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there's the rub. For in this sleep of death, what dreams may come..."

— William Shakespear

What's the first thing you do after waking up from a dream?

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1. Into the Psyche - Subconscious Tribulations & Intuitions

The most common interpretation for dreams and this mainly muggle world, is the most "scientific" method, which predetermines that most all dreams are simply a person's subconscious minds way of trying to work out various challenges and obstacles in life, most usually of the emotional or existential kind.

Using this particular method, if you were to say dreamed that your most beloved pet from your childhood had come to greet you and then gotten run over by a big truck or been taken away by two strangers, the psychological interpretive method would suggest that the dog was your minds interpretation of a part of yourself that you are more in touch with when you were younger, has been killed off or stolen away by your adult minds beliefs about its which you need to be like or what you think other people think you need to be like in order to be a "proper" adult. But in this form of interpretation, pretty much all things seen and experienced within your dreamscapes, are figments of your subconscious imagination, which your subconscious mind is trying to use to communicate with your conscious mind, to work out what ever problems are going on within you or around you.

Within the psychological method, there are two distinct forms of sub-interpretation. One is that your subconscious mind is using metaphorical or symbolic imagery your experiences to communicate with your conscious mind, and the second is that your subconscious mind is using more literal in a tree and experiences. The above dream example would be the more metaphorical or Jungian type, while a more literal interpretation of that same dream, is that your most beloved pet just recently passed away and your mind is just trying to figure out how to deal with that emotionally, or if your pet passed away when you were younger, it could simply be that you still miss them very much and your mind is just continuing to try and work out those emotions.

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2. Tell me More... Prophetic Dreams

Some dreams are prophetic, which depending on which are spiritual and/or scientific beliefs are, can either mean that you all are being given information through your dreams about various things that are likely to come to pass in your future, or your subconscious mind is intuitively picking up on things that you're conscious mind has been unable to focus on where notice, which could otherwise help you consciously predict the things that your dreams are revealing to you.

As an example, you might have a dream about going to your mailbox and pulling out some mail and suddenly feeling very happy. Then a few days after you forgotten about that dream, you might be instantly reminded of it when you just happen to go to your mailbox and get a letter from an old friend that you haven't heard from in forever, and it makes you very happy.

Clairvoyant or profited dreams, are often the most challenging to pinpoint. You could have a dream that's near completely psychological in it's purpose and meaning, but if the dream is lucid enough, and happens to appear to you with various people that you know in your waking life or include scenes from places you actually go are things you actually do, it could be very easy to assume more misinterpret that the dream might be prophetic. Likewise, it's easy enough to presume that a dream was more psychological than anything else, when it was in fact been to be prophetic information.

This doesn't mean that one can't the naturally have for learn to develop the ability to tell the difference between each kind of dream, though it is part of the reason that I prefer to have several methods for which to interpret dreams. That way, I don't have to rule out either. If I think about my dreams and the psychological sense, even if they were truly prophetic, I still get some general value out of thinking about what my subconscious mind might be trying to work out an ally can help myself get to a resolution sooner and more consciously. Likewise, even if the dream is mostly psychological, it doesn't hurt anything to keep my mind and eyes open for future situations that might be recognizable from the dream. If such a thing does happen, then that also gives me the ability to recognize more often when my intuition or spiritual guides are actually sending me information or communications for my dreams. So using multiple methods for dream interpretation, at least for me, is more beneficial than just trying to stick with one method for everything or even just for each individual dream.

Do you believe people can have prophetic dreams?

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3. You've Got Mail! -- Messages from Higher Powers

In my mind, I consider there to be at least two different types of dreamtime messages from higher powers (in whatever ways you think of them). The first is through prophetic information, which is why it's listed along with intuitive prophecy dreams in the above method. The second type of messages, are often just general messages that your spirit guides, higher self, patron deity, or other being might desire for you to know, or that you've asked for them to teach or tell you about. This information is usually not prophetic, and is usually more about information gathering or other forms of learning.

For example, you might have been working on learning to use the law of attraction, and have been diligent enough about developing your practice of it, that you either decide to consciously ask for more information from your prefered higher powers, or your subconscious mind might put out the call for further information. Either way, the call for information goes out, so that you can master the laws of attraction and manifest whatever it is you've been desiring. So in order to communicate that information to you in a way you can understand, you're preferred higher powers might present you with a dream in which your mom or brother appears to you and tells you to work on your obsession with what you're lacking in your life and to focus more on appreciating what you already have. Keep in mind also, that your mom/brother could use literal words to tell you this info, or they could play out a visual scene that basically tells you the same thing. It's also fairly common for your preferred higher powers to use metaphorical or symbolic languages to get you this information, much of which can be near impossible for your conscious mind to make sense of, but which your subconscious mind can easily understand and put to use for you.

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4. Into the Great Beyonds -- Astral Travel & Other Experiences

If you believe in and/or have personally experienced astral travel, lucid dreaming, shamanic journeying, out-of-body or near-death experiences, than you'll likely have no problems grasping the notion that sometimes dreams are not actually dreams, but are instead just another form of experience. For the purposes of dream interpretation, these dreams are usually not dreams but memories of your experiences in this or other realms and realities

Interpreting these dreams is often more challenging than actual dreams, because sometimes there's nothing to interpret. It's just memories of the things you did while traveling astrally. Other times it might be that your energetic self travelled to another realm or sub-realm to get some specific bit of information or to experience something you couldn't in this realm or in conscious reality. If that's the case, then it's not so much about interpreting the dream, as it is about trying to understand what you learned or experienced.

5. Remembering Your Rememberings - Past & Future Life Memories

This isn't a form of interpretation that I find myself relying on often, or rather, it's not what usually feels like the answer for me. That being said, I have had some dreams like this, as have plenty of other people around the world for millennia.

These dreams, in a similar fashion to astral dreams, are actually memories and not really dreams. They're memories of past lives you've been through and are remembering in this incarnation, or memories of future lives -- which you can already have memories of because quantum time is not linear, and the past and future can sometimes happen at the same time as the present. That however, is a conversation for a different hub. So to get us back on track, when it comes to dreamtime memories of other lives you've lived or are living, the trick is not so much in trying to figure out what the 'dream' means, but more or less about learning to recognize when you've actually experienced a past or future life memory rather than an actual dream. From there, I often think about whether or not I've remember this rembering just because it floated out into my mind while I was sleeping, or if I remembered it because I'm going through a similar karmic process in my current lifetime that reminded me of whatever I remember that I experienced in that past/future life, or if one of my guides has opened my sleeping mind to this prior experience so that I can use it in some way in my current life.

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...Random Happenstances...

While it's not nearly as much fun or as mystical, it's not entirely uncommon for a dream to just be a random conglomeration of weird things your conscious & subconscious mind decided to through together to amuse themselves while the rest of your body sleeps.

Yes, sometimes our minds just make stuff up for entertainment.

It happens.

When it comes to these random happenstances, I can't say that I have come up with any distinct method of determining that a dream has just been a bit of random entertainment brought to me by the weird little wires in my mind. Though sometimes I'll have dreams that are just so bizarre or just don't feel like they fit into any of the main 5 dream types that I'm aware of, so I'll often just chalk those dreams up to a bit of randomness, and the weird way my minds work.

So when it comes to offering you a method to determine if you've just had a random dream happenstance, the best thing I can think to suggest, is that you'll just know when it happens and that if you keep a dream journal (which I do recommend), that you should still record these random dreams, and over time, you'll develop the ability to better recognize the times when your minds were just really really bored that night.

A single dream can be more important than a thousand realities..."

— J.R.R. Tolkien
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What is "Truth" anyways?

If you decide to use these methods of interpreting your dreams, you might find that they work just fine as they are, or that they need some tweaking in order for them to work better for you. Either way is fine, which I want to emphasize, because it's super easy to find oneself looking for "dream experts" or mentors who might be able to magically tell you exactly what kind of dream you've had, what those dreams mean, or what those dream meanings might mean for you at the moment.

Though the truth is that there really are no "Dream Guru's" or anyone who can ultimately or definitively tell you exactly what type of dreamtime experience you've had, what it's supposed to mean for you or tell you, or what, if anything, you should do about it. In the end, whatever you feel in your gut and mind is the true meaning of your dream, really is the true meaning of your dream.

What I find nice about taking the time to run through each type of dream and it's potential interpretation under that type, is that I can study my own feelings and reactions to each meaning and decide what feels right for me. You might find yourself thinking intellectually that your dream was really just psychological and some crazy thing that your subconscious mind created to help you deal with one thing or another, but in your heart of hearts you know that it wasn't psychological and was in fact a past life memory or astral journey. I find that in those moments, the only reason I rationalized that the dream was psychological, is because that's what it feels like I'm supposed to do when I have no evidence to the contrary, or that's what makes me feel less like a big crazy weirdo. Though in it's own way, that really just waters down the experience, which if you like the idea of traveling more astrally or of remembering more from past/future lives, actually trains your energetic self to avoid doing more of that in the future. So if you already believe in astral traveling, past lives, and other spiritual or esctatic experiences, and you have a dream that you know in your gut was one of those forms of experience, than don't let your rational mind shame or coerce you into believing it wasn't. Sure, it's true that your rational mind might be right, but that doesn't make it right, and the world is so much more enjoyable and magickal with cool experiences like the ones you've had but are afraid to let yourself believe in.

Dreams are unanswered questions...
Dreams are unanswered questions... | Source

Let the records show..

..that there's immense value in keeping a Dream Diary or Dream Journal, especially if you're looking to better understand your own dreams or get better at helping others understand their dreamtime escapades.

It's also an easy practice to start & simply requires a writing utensil, some paper & the will to start recording your dreams in your journal.

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    • BizGenGirl profile image
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      Bema Self 2 months ago from Seattle

      Thanks for the comment @Ryan! Glad this hub provokes some positive prognostication! I've experienced similar things to what you're saying. Sometimes my mind seems to be working some things out, other times the dreams are so weird it seems like it must've just been boredom. Still other times the dreams, to me at least, are clearly astral travels or lucid dreams meant to give me some source of information.

      Sometimes though, it's hard to differentiate between one or two potential types and their possible meanings. Like sometimes I know I'm having a lucid dream, but that doesn't necessarily mean i traveled anywhere or received any info. Sometimes it's just a dream of entertainment, and i just happen to be lucid of it happening, which can be confusing. Usually I'm only lucid if it's important, whereas entertainment dreams i might be aware of but won't be lucid in, or won't be aware of until i wake up. So sometimes i spend a little more time contemplating why i was lucid in a random entertainment dream, just to make sure nothing felt important, lol

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 2 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      Sometimes I feel my dreams are just for entertainment. Other times I feel like I am getting an answer to life's questions. Sometimes they put my worry to sleep. Great article. Thought provoking and truly informative.

    • BizGenGirl profile image
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      Bema Self 2 months ago from Seattle

      Thanks for the comments Penelope and Milenda! I agree (obviously), that dreaming is definitely a form of communication. Of what kind, only the dreamer can really know, I think! lol

      @Milenda, in terms of waking up having convo's with unknown people around your bed, does that happen mostly when you're still in that place between sleeping and awake?

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      Milenda 2 months ago

      I wake myself up having conversations with unknown people surrounding my bed.

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      Penelope Bucket 2 months ago

      great article, went and took the quiz too. Dreaming is indeed a form of communication of some kind.