I dream I am a Tigress, alone in the wilderness I stride with confidence and the strength of youth in my bones. I am fully content in the comfort of my wilds. As the morning rises, ripples of light intermix with lines of shadow to mark my ginger hide. To my right is a forest of greenery in every shade, and hue. It is a wonderful place for play. So I play as the sun rises. The umbrella canopy of dark foliage, glossy like jade, is suitable shelter from the rays of the high sun. To my left is the light drenched solace of the grasslands that bow in the winds. Sprawled out, I sleep in the fields of long grass, hidden from view, but I sense danger.
I remove myself from the intense heat as the sun sits high in the sky, and skirt the edges of the dappled forest. As the afternoon wanes, I casually wander towards the cool of the deciduous forest. I pause, and smell the air, for the first time unsure of my senses… the smoke of a bush fire? I see a Black Kite hovering mid sky with little effort, and striking skill. It peers intently down, then glides this way, then that way, to hover minutes more elsewhere…but I find no reassurance in this familiar sight. Something is not right.
With a sudden wailing cry, the Black Kite circles in the wind, startling me as it frightfully flutters past in shallow flight. With a bizarre shifting of its character it transforms into a black “V”, free flying, blown by the wind, string tail flailing, until it becomes entangled in the arms of a tree. I look upon this sight with disturbed concern, and continue my journey around the curve of the forest.
There the wood abruptly ends. The scent of fresh cut grasses, and overturned earth prick at my nose, as a flood of other unfamiliar scents confuse my mind; the hot smell of wet tar. I slow my pace, hairs bristle, muscles twitch, and suddenly there is an eruption from the ground before me. The dirt is flung up, turned over, revealing black, running thick, and slow like a molten river; black that burns, and sticks to my pads, smelling of death. A wall of concrete breaks the ground and pushes upward. Another erupts from out of the earth to join the first, then a third, and a fourth like a volcanic explosion of solidified magma; grey, hard, unnatural rock. All is dark around me darker than the forest at night. The noise assaults my ears, deafening my senses. Thunder shakes the terrain as I run to seek solace in the grasslands, but find none.
I am pursued by monstrous beasts, machines that rip away the field as jaws devour, and long necks swing wildly about, under bright construction lights. These lights blind me, all the while casting darker shadows, as the machines continue their motions. They consume and discard all things loved by me. With quickening bites they leave behind only the rancid stench of black tar. Out of this black erupts, still more square walls of brick and concrete. Higher and higher they climb, blocking out the sky. I dart in and around the commotion. Running through the scene, my paws becoming burnt by the fire; the blistering hot black. I would bolt in the opposite direction yet in all four directions, similar scenes. I narrowly escape the jaws of the metallic beasts who roar at me from unseen faces.
In the panic and fray a shrill sound fills the air. I jump backwards, twisting and turning as if convulsing. It is the sound of laughing children. I feel anger as if these are intrusive prey to my world. A thunderous roar spills out from deep within me. The sound shocks even me, and seems to resonate, permeating the city-scape. The children are momentarily paralyzed. Their laughter turns to high pitched screams. They jump from their places, and flee into the buildings. I pounce on the only thing moving on the landscape, instantly tearing to shreds a small red ball, which was the attention of play moments before. I turn my attention again to this bizarre unknown.
The city seems to continually rise before me. I enter through an open door. I see woman standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. She screams, and the dishes shatter as they strike against the floor. I bolt out through the open door, back into the darkness of night.
In desperation, I set my eyes on the forest, now a few trees where once uncountable stood, with hopes to soothe the searing hurt. I only find remnants, all greenery quickly withering from view, leaving only the maze of walls. The buzz and chatter of voices surround me like a thick host of insects on a muggy day. They pick at, and pester me, my senses weakened, and my courage lost; I am the hunted. Quivering from shock, darting in, and out between the walls; the grey and black, the walls themselves seem to be in pursuit of me, trying with all cruelty to trap, to crush, closing in.
Faster and faster I flee, sounds making me deaf, smells sickening me, senses dizzying my mind, sights making me blind. I run the opposite way, and the opposite way again, confronted by more; I am trapped. Then everything goes black.
In my dream I awaken inside a room, empty except for a steel mirror… I hear a woman’s voice. I stand on uneasy feet. My paws have become hands. The woman is watching me. I turn, and see a reflection in the mirror. It is of a girl. I look around at the grey; no greenery, no earth, no natural light, no wind, no wilds. An eerie awareness fills me. My sense of smell is fouled by the astringent stench of the sterile, the lifeless. My image in the reflection wavers as if a pebble was tossed into the water; full awareness overcomes. My body trembles as I remember metallic monsters devouring forests and fields. The smell of hot black, wet grey, cold unnatural stone causes fear to swell. I am trapped. My mind spins, staring at the sickly form that is me, yet is not me. I cry out, throwing my body against the mirrored image, again and again as my screams become a roar. I lunge from wall to wall, seeking any weakness, my claws scratching, but I find no escape from this confinement. I collapse in exhaustion, my fur wet with perspiration, as the echoes in my mind slowly fade. A man’s voice disturbs the momentary silence of my thoughts.
“You don’t belong here!”
I see the barrel of the gun raise. I hear the thunder. I smell the pungent smoke and hot metal; I feel the flash of fiery pain in my skull. Then all is darkness…
Awakened from my nightmare I sit upright and I write my dream down. I keep it for years and years. Eventually it becomes a fictional story but originally it was not fiction. It was a dream, a real dream. I still feel its emotion; I see the images like it was yesterday. It was a dream I had over 25 years ago, I wrote it down at the time because it was real, because I wanted to know, what did it mean?
Throughout history many philosophies, based on religious beliefs, popular beliefs and scientific beliefs exists concerning the purpose of, or meaning of dreams. “In Greek poetry of the classical period from Homer onward, as in popular belief, dreams are real if immaterial things” (Redfield p. 6). Throughout history people have believed that dreams where messages from the spiritual realm, or communications from a higher power. In ACTS 2:17 king James version “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” Studies support that even in Western cultures dreams as a form of divine guidance is a strongly held belief. (Nell p. 128).
Many westernized beliefs also hold that dreams are a result of external rather than internal factors. The character of Ebenezer Scrooge believed himself to be dreaming as a result of undigested food for example. This belief seems one designed more to negate the importance of the dream and limit the understanding of self and society that can be discovered in the interpretations of dreams. The analysis of dreams even found its way into the therapeutic fields, though according to a research paper by Miguel Montenegro that popularity has declined in current day. Scientists of current day studies believe dreams are merely the processing of the days or weeks events and memories to assist the brain in classification and learned responses. I can see the logic in this on many levels however in understanding our lives and how we cope with daily events, it would seem that dream interpretation would hold its value in this.
Yet popularity of interpreting dreams continues to wax and wane throughout history. The nineteen sixties through the eighties for example saw a number of dream interpretation publications. The Dreamer’s Dictionary by Stearn Robinson and Tom Corbett was first published in 1974. It was republished through 1986 and we have the oldest copy that we keep as a novelty behind the books on our bookshelf. This reflects my personal beliefs in using popular symbolism for the interpretation of dreams. It belonged to my husband’s father who read it devoutly for guidance and for deciding future prospects. Its cover is torn half way up the spine, the pages are aged to a dark yellow. It smells the musty smell you would expect in a box or 25 cent yard sale books that were just discovered on the top back shelf of someone’s basement or garage. Even turning its pages leave my fingers feeling dry and icky. However for the sake of exploration I will use this resource to interpret the above dream.
I am immediately faced with a challenge. Looking up “tiger” refers me to “animals” which describes dreaming about animals, not dreaming you are an animal… Strike one. O.K. so how about a kite, first let’s look at the bird. Well it says that flying birds are good omens, but this was not a “brightly colored bird” and though it was not injured per-say it did transform into an actual kite, so this rather negates what the book says since it doesn’t really apply. Now for the kite, the book states this is symbolic of an obstacle dream if it is damaged or it’s string breaks, it will turn out not to be in my favor. Well the bird becomes the kite and it is does become entangled in a tree so maybe that counts as an obstacle dream that will lead to “disappointment due to the careless management of your affairs” (Robinson p. 227). In my dream the forest was also significant. It was very green so that symbolizes a “release from worry”. However the forest is destroyed by the violent transformation of a city scape which I would also consider to be a negating factor. Strike two.
The eruption of the city out of the ground is also hard to interpret using this reference. The book covers eruptions of natural phenomena but doesn’t talk about eruptions of buildings and concrete and tar… Strike three. However for the sake of completion, let’s continue and just call that one a foul. The children in the dream are supposed to symbolize coming happiness in domestic affairs…the ball is also supposed to be a good omen of happy news… but the children are seen by me as foreign, they don’t belong and the ball I attack and destroy in anger. I would count that as another foul. The washing of the dishes, the book says if the washing is done by hand “you should refrain from getting involved in the personal affairs of others” (Robinson p. 372). However I wasn’t the one washing the dishes, but we will let that one slide. The chase aspect is another interpretive option. According to the book, if I participated in the chase it means I will be comfortable in my old age; then again I was the one being chased. Being trapped is a ‘warning to steer clear of gossip and/or intrigue” (Robinson p. 360). Well that sounds simple enough. A gun in the dream forecasts injustice. O.K… Finally, since most of the other symbols in the dream were not found in the book, death. Being dead in a dream is supposed to indicate being worry free or recovering from illness. Wow. Now I am more confused than ever. I am definitely declaring this an out.
I do not negate the predictive ability of some dreams, given as they have been throughout history, gifts from God through a means of communication. I have always felt the stronger impression a dream leaves the more likely the significance of that dream, however I do not believe that all are warnings or messages from God. Scientifically speaking, dreams are a natural process of the brains ability to process. The mind has to interpret what has happened in the waking day in order to determine learned responses and categorize said emotions. Some scientists call this predictive coding, meaning that the dream state helps the brain process waking events to better deal with and make real time, often unconscious predictions in problem solving everyday conflicts. I agree in part, however when scientific theory goes as far to say that, “The bizarre occurrences in dreams never characterize everyday life” (Llewellyn p. 1), I draw a line of caution. According to Wei Zhang, it is merely a biological process of self-organization and memory consolidation. ( Wei ) I have to disagree. I believe the interpretation of dreams are symbolic, but on a highly personal level. I believe it is also on a highly emotional level as well. Prior to this dream I had suffered trauma in my life. I was taken from a rural environment in which I loved the nature of, the forests and the fields and rarely the sound of civilization. I was, at this youthful and impressionable age, taken through cities that I had never seen the likes of before, towering buildings that intimidated me. I was placed in a locked institution. As a new arrival, I was not even given a room to sleep in. I was given a plastic mat on the floor of the common living area so that I could be viewed at all times by the overnight staff at the facility and stripped of all personal objects, freedom and dignity. This was my experience preceding this dream. To this day I feel the emotional impact of the dream. It can easily be concluded that it reflected the actual events of my life at that time. It was so vivid and its impact on me so strong I felt I had to write it down, so I did.
Scientific studies have found that “brain connectivity during REM to be consistent with the extraction of patterns from past events. REM sleep selectively processes personally-significant material (Llewellyn p. 3). In saying this I am aware that the bio-physiological interpretations of dreams could result in an “inhibitive effect on the role of the dreamer, as it effectively undermines any attempts on the part of the dreamer to pay attention to or interpret their dreams” (Nell p. 8). This would be sad indeed. Dreams to me resemble our personal ability to create, to understand, to process, to feel, and to grow. This is similar to the beliefs of Synesius, a Greek philosopher and bishop, who believed that dreams were an …““enquiry into the whole imaginative soul” which has not yet been treated by any Greek philosopher… dreams were the product of the imagination, a faculty of the soul that was divinely implanted in the gulf or vacuum at the point where the body and the soul merged in the spirit” (Neil p. 23-24). In this, dream interpretation is not a waste of time. It is a culmination of body, spirit and soul. It is also not based simply on popular symbolism to interpret future events. I would be just as likely to rely on the fortunes printed and placed inside sugary confections than to rely on dictionaries of dream symbolism. Dreams are personal, based on personality, perception and potential and this was my dream.
Llewellyn, Sue. “Dream To Predict? REM Dreaming As Prospective Coding.” Frontiers In Psychology (2016): 1-16. Web. Mar. 2016.
Nell, Werner. “Contemporary Dream Beliefs And Practices: A Qualitative, Sociological Study.” South African Review Of Sociology 45.1 (2014): 122-139. Web. Mar. 2016.
Montenegro, Miguel. “A Comparison Of Freudian And Bossian Approaches To Dreams.” Existential Analysis 2 (2015): 313. Web. Mar. 2016.
Wei, Zhang. “A Supplement To Self-Organization Theory Of Dreaming.” Frontiers In Psychology (2016): 1-4. Web. Mar. 2016.
Neil, Bronwen. “Synesius Of Cyrene On Dreams As A Pathway To The Divine.” Phronema 30.2 (2015): 19-36. Web. Mar. 2016.
Redfield, James. “Dreams From Homer To Plato.” Archiv Für Religionsgeschichte 15.1 (2014): 5-16. Web. Mar. 2016.