Dreams are fascinating windows into the workings of our mind. There is still much that we don’t know about them, but they are as old as time and connect all mankind.
The ground disappears beneath your feet, the landscape shrinks far below and a cool wind rushes along your face. You stretch your arms out – you’re flying! It feels so real, so exhilarating. And then you wake up. It was ‘just’ a dream, you tell yourself. But you can’t help but wonder what it means.
Across aeons and cultures, people have looked to their dreams for wisdom or guidance. More than mere nocturnal reveries, dreams seem to belong to another realm, where the rules of daily life don’t apply. As our unconscious self roams free, the line between fantasy and reality becomes fluid in a mind-bending mix where anything is possible.
The sense of the one world flowing into another when we close our eyes means that dreams are often seen as a gateway to a spiritual sphere. The Hindi god Vishnu dreams the universe into being while in a cosmic sleep, Native American tribes have long used dreams to communicate with ancestral spirits, and ancient Egyptians believed that dreams held messages from the gods. They would sleep on temple ‘dream beds’ and special priests were on hand to make sense of it all upon waking. We can also understand them, thanks to the Egyptian Dream Book found near the Valley of the Kings, replete with dreams of eating crocodile flesh, splitting stone and tending monkeys. Dating back to 1350 B.C., it is the world’s oldest surviving dream document.
Over three thousand years later, our dreams continue to captivate us today. In Japan, hatsuyume – the first dream of the New Year – is thought to predict your fortune for the year ahead. Dreaming of Mount Fuji or a hawk is seen as especially lucky. Yet, rather than foretelling the future, research indicates that dreams actually have more to do with our immediate past; a way for our minds to process the events of the day.
Although their exact mechanics remain mysterious, you could say that dreams offer an added layer, enriching our daily experience as night after night we discover the uncharted wilds of our innermosrt imaginings. As British author Neil Gaiman says: “People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories...” And these, of course, are every bit as important. Where else in life can you simply close your eyes and touch the sky?
The meaning of your dreams
Common themes and what they are thought to symbolise:
Animals – a connection to your primal instincts.
Attacking birds – being pulled in too many directions.
Babies – the desire for a new beginning, or to start a family.
Beach – a meeting between two states of mind.
Beautiful forest – health and life energy.
Being chased – feeling threatened.
Buildings or houses – seeking a sense of safety.
Empty attic – there are tough challenges ahead.
Falling – feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
Flying – hope, freedom, unlimited possibilities
Losing teeth – loss of control, powerlessness and general anxiety.
Losing hair – fear of a loss of vitality, confidence or self-esteem.
Secret room – hidden potential.
Spider – a symbol of feminine power or creativity
Starring in a film – looking at the bigger picture of your life.
Travel – a change in your life journey, progress, or a desire for change or escape.
Turning into a superhero – nothing need stand in your way
Water – calm pools reflect inner peace, while rough waves indicate restlessness.
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