Exploring the Unconscious World of Dreams
Personal Dream Analysis/Group Presentations

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How To Interpret Dreams
My Methodology of Interpreting Dreams-Page 3
By Jerry Gifford

"Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."

Identifying Images/Symbols That Define Psychological Tendencies
I've often referenced in my analysis of dreams what I believed to be images defining personality traits. By personality traits I mean images that point to specific personality traits, recognizable images beyond masculine/feminine qualities {anima/animus qualities are present in most all dreams}. In some dreams I also attempt to define the symbolic reference to possible future life tendencies an image may point to. Many images point to unconscious 'foundations' that come from early life experiences and influences. Some are from inherent traits handed down through the family tree while others may be linked to archetypal energies that have merged with life experiences/influences. Since my intent of this page is to help others learn about basic dream interpretation I will only briefly touch on these personality and 'foundation' aspects. They are one, hard to define without extensive experience working with dreams, and two, are concepts from my experiences and not something that seem to be a part of fundamental Jungian concepts. These are my experiences, my assumptions and I don't want to imply they are concepts established by the master Jung.

Specific Dream About Personality
I will use a dream from the Dream Forum {Lion & Tiger dream below} that specifically I believe denotes personality traits of the dreamer. A repsone from the dreamer confirmed much of what I proposed in my analysis. Few dreams, at least those that provide images that can be proven to denote personality, go to the extent this dream did in examining the dreamer's personality. The dream title in itself Lion & Tiger} seem to contrast possible personality issues. This is a dream from 2009 and although I provided a general interpretation I did not interpret the images {as I often do}. There is a further explanation of the dream symbols in my commentary below the dream post, interpretation and response.
I will post the dream below but so not to take up notable space I will do so with a fold and unfold script {hides the dream until it is accessed}.
Click on each title to unfold {and fold}

  • Lion & Tiger Dream

  • The Interpretation

  • Dreamer's Response

As is often the case with my interpretations from earlier years I only referenced one aspect of the dreamer's psyche and not the 'at least two applications' I now offer in most of my interpretations. My analysis of this dream focused on his 'outer' self, his personality. Upon re-examination I see the within the dream references to his inner search. Looking to the response the dreamer made this statement, "more like the lion in the Wizard of Oz that is trying to find its courage." I see this as a clue of where he was involved in a deeper search. A rule of thumb in analyzing dreams is anyone under the age of 30 look to outer experiences as the prime intent of the dream, with the deeper aspects a secondary reference {although the deeper reference is just as if not more important}. I'll address these 'deeper' inner issues in my commentary. As a matter of 'fact' I know for sure this dreamer {Rook} was indeed involved in a spiritual search, his having posted numerous dreams over a period of 5 years at the Dream Forum.

Examination of the images & and an re-examination of the dream
The dreams open with 'I am in a city' which is pointing to the 'whole self'. Because all dreams address the whole self in some aspect, this opening statement would be a clue to the whole self as a 'total' search {including an inner search} and not just an outer exploration. For those who are not familiar with Jungian psyche or/and the inner journey, the whole self would not only be the ego world of personality with the material body and social/cultural influences, but also the inner world of soul and psyche {psychology}. This is the 'at least two interpretations
' I refer to as being a part of every dream {except in young children who have yet to form an ego because they have no real life experiences}.

A clue that the dream was addressing personality were the words 'companionship of friends'. This alerted me to positive feelings the dreamer {friends} had of himself as well as something that is closely connected to the dreamer {companionship}. We must always remember the dream is addressing the dreamer's emotional state of being. The 'friends' {especially unnamed} are positive aspects of the dreamer's psyche as is the 'companionship' to this positive aspect. This opening statement also sets the stage for what the rest of the dream will be focusing.

That is immediately followed by '(not permanently ? exploring / journeying alone). Note this phrase is in parentheses, as an dream 'afterthought', offering an explanation. I treat this as the same as any other image or phrase but with an 'emphasis' on the words which point to the direction of the dream. A good possibility it is the beginning of the formulation of a 'pattern', which of course is what we look for in dreams. Not permanently suggests something that is likely to change, about the dreamer. The 'exploring' is both the inner exploration of self as well as the ego life and probably suggests part of it is already consciously realized or known.

Then he enters an old building which I see as a reference to his past. The building of course is the dreamer and the old would be something older within his psyche. It is empty which suggests the 'old' is void of something that influences who is as an adult. I see this as a reference to early life experiences/influences. It is these experiences/influences that shape who we become later in life, laying the foundations of the 'building' blocks of personality and psychology.

Dreams Referencing Childhood Images

This is an area of dream interpretation where I have formed my own opinions based on my experiences in working with dreams. Whenever I have a dream {primarily from the Dream Forum} that has within its opening statement images of a child, a childhood home, a reference to a time and/or place from from childhood, I normally take it as a direct comment about the dreamer's childhood. Within the past few years {beginning in late 2012} I have taken notice of patterns where this 'childhood reference' has occurred and I commented as such in my interpretation. From the responses I received from the dreamer about 'childhood experiences' referenced in a dream, it has been uniformly confirmed that my assumptions about the childhood reference were in fact correct. The language in the dreams ranged from 'I was with my dog from childhood' 1 to 'I was walking through the neighborhood that I grew up in' 2 to 'I'm in my childhood home standing in a spacious kitchen that used to be tiny, dark, and dingy' 3. The last reference was from noted author/speaker/professor Jean Raffa's dream 'Revisiting My Childhood Home'. I'll post the dream here with my interpretation as well as the original response from Jean at her MATRIGNOSIS blog page.

Dream: Revisiting My Childhood Home

I'm in my childhood home standing in a spacious kitchen that used to be tiny, dark, and dingy. Filled with light, it has gorgeous new hand-made cabinets and polished stone counters. A young woman is kneeling on the floor painting the cabinets a creamy white. A man in the adjoining dining room is painting trim around the open doorway. I stand back to look at the remodeled kitchen and am so astonished at its beauty and suitability that I begin to weep in gratitude.

I think we can confidently conclude that houses are almost universally a representation of the dreamer’s psyche. The house is symbolic of the dreamer. In the case of someone else’s home, the house would represent the relationship of that person to the dreamer.
For example, if I have a dream I am in my mother’s house that would suggest the dream is addressing an experience with or in relationship to my mother. In responses to my interpretations at my dream forum this application of houses has been verified time and again.

As for being in the childhood home. My experiences are where there is a childhood home it is a symbolic representation {especially in the beginning of a dream} of an emotional experience{s} from that period of time in the dreamer’s life. The responses to this application in my interpretations have been pretty much verified without exception. I have consciously looked to this application of the childhood house in dreams and have found it to be accurate {from the responses to my interpretations by the dreamer}. Of course more dreams of this type must be analyzed to say it is a standard. And there will always be exceptions.

In your dream and noting the ‘past’ childhood home I believe the key word is ‘used to be’. There is a change of an emotional aspect from your childhood to the time you had the dream. The childhood home would be a past description of some aspect of the your life during childhood. What was ‘tiny, dark and dingy’ would represent an emotional description os some aspect of your life during childhood. That has changed, improved. What was dark and dingy has been ‘purified’ with awareness and insights. Your home now has gorgeous hand-made {by your hands} cabinets {cabinets are were we store the emotions} and polished stone {strength} counters.
I would be interested to know if this past childhood kitchen was an accurate description of some aspect of your childhood years. You have partially confirmed how your life is today which would fit with the newly decorated house in your dream.

As for the rest of the dream I see the young woman as being you some time in your adulthood. The man could very well be your husband, as well as your animus. The significant emotional changes could be at the age of 45 {which is still a young age} or perhaps even earlier. The animus aspect would be a stronger masculine self. The trim may suggest a stronger masculine addition to your natural feminine identity. This is an adjoining room with an open doorway. Something in adulthood requiring masculine strength has ‘opened’ up ‘painting’ a part of who you have become. You can now look at what you have achieved and have gratitude for the better lief you are living, emotionally, physically and spiritually.


Jean's Interpretation of Her Dream

This emotional dream depicts exactly how I was feeling the evening before. My husband and I were driving along a beautiful mountain road to join dear friends for dinner when I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I love the way I?m traveling through life! I love my family. I love my work, my friends, my lifestyle. I feel loved and am learning to love myself. I am so grateful, feel so incredibly fortunate. The houses are my psyche. Their kitchens and dining rooms are places of transformation and nourishment. The remodeling work I?ve been doing for 22 years is making them more suitable for me. I?m becoming the woman I always wanted to be, and it feels so good!

Jean's Response to My Interpretation
Hi Jerry, It’s great to hear from you. Thanks so much for your comments. They add great depth to the potential meanings of house dreams. I agree with all you’ve said, and am especially grateful for a few insights I didn’t have; one, that being in someone else’s house suggests an issue the dreamer has with that person.
Also, I hadn’t associated the cabinets as a place where we stow emotions! So thanks for this help. The strength of the stone counters resonates deeply.
Were there aspects of my childhood that are aptly described by “dark and dingy?” In a way, yes. I think that would be an accurate description of early feelings of sadness and loneliness, of not having my mother around enough to bring pleasure and light and happiness and safety. And then, of course, my father died. I got so used to being alone that after a while it seemed normal, but sometimes the sadness would break through into my awareness. And yes, I have opened up to many masculine aspects of my personality that have greatly enriched my life!

Thanks again for the opportunity to learn more from this dream.


What this tells me that when in a dream there is a statement about a childhood, home, age/time frame, or experience you can pretty much count on there being a true experience related to the dreamer's childhood that is being referenced. Jean's failure to note the childhood home may have been an oversight. But likely it wasn't an important thought on her part and her basic interpretation was of recent experiences and not the deeper aspects of her psyche. Jean is an experienced Jungian analyst. Not many 'trained Jungian analysts' will make such broad statements as I have about childhood references. But until I am proven wrong I will include my assumptions in my analysis of dreams having childhood references. It does seem to be in the opening statement {paragraph} this reference holds true but not always true in other parts in a dream. The opening statement usually describes what primary emotional energies the dream is attempting to communicate. If something about childhood is referenced in the opening statement then I would strongly suggest the dreamer look at that time frame and determine what experiences occured that possessed strong emotional energies. These years are the formative foundations and such experiences remain within the psyche {as motivators} throughout life. Often they are controlling, unconscious motivators for personality and personal attitudes.

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