Bear with me for a moment, because the distinction
between signs and symbols is rather difficult to explain.
And after reading my
explanation - you may want to momentarily sit back and chew on it real,
real good before swallowing...
Signs are images that point to something else. They
have little or no intrinsic meaning. They are images that are as-'sign'-ed
agreed upon meanings.
for example the old traditional road signs such as "Speed Limit 65"
or "Nashville 25 miles." These are signs that have no meaning in themselves.
Years ago, they were as-'sign'-ed agreed upon meanings - and over time
we all come to learn what they mean.
example of using road signs has gotten even better over the years with
the now common advent of using picture images on road signs.
is a sign with, for example, the picture of a deer. It treats the image
as a sign, because we've as-'sign'-ed the picture of a deer with the
specific meaning of "Danger A Deer Crossing."
an image treated as a sign. If
you happened upon the picture of a deer when skimming through a magazine
- you (most likely) wouldn't immediately think "Danger A Deer Crossing."
Images, when treated as symbols, are images that have meaning in and
of themselves. When
you see the image or picture of a deer - what qualities do you "naturally"
attribute to a deer? Gentle,
loving, free-spirited, large doe-eyed innocence, graceful, beautiful,
image of a deer, looked at as a symbol, is pregnant with meaning, amplifications,
and associations for each one of us. And
no one has to tell you what the image of a deer means to you...
For most of us, the
answers we'd give regarding the qualities (and our various mental associations
with the image) of a deer are rather similar and typical.
course, the personal amplifications for someone who once had the misfortune
to hit a deer with their car - their personal associations with a deer
would probably be quite different than most of us. These
folks might associate a deer with death, blood, destruction...
Yep! A deer might have
any of a whole host of unpleasant meanings for them...
Freud primarily reductively treated dream images as being little
more than signs.
believed the unconscious was purposely hiding the meaning of the images
from our conscious minds. He believed that dreams contained a secret,
hidden key - and the lock had to be broken into by force.
Freud - almost everything ultimately had a connection with sex, death,
taboo and incest. Further,
Freud obviously didn't much like or trust the unconscious. He saw the
unconscious as primarily being a dark, forbidden wasteland and trash
on the other hand, treated dream images as life giving symbols intent
on bringing much needed healing to the psyche. Images, when treated
as symbols, are images that have meaning in and of themselves. Jung
believed the unconscious was purposely trying to speak to us in our
dreams, in order to bring forth a sense of wholeness and added meaning
to our lives.
Jung, our nightly dreams weren't trying to hide anything from us.
believed our dreams were trying to communicate with us. Jung
believed the language of images and symbols, that our dreams utilize
in communicating with us, is actually the very best possible method
our unconscious has of imparting (getting across) the vast, myriad of
their meanings to our conscious, waking minds.
Symbols - A Sacred Open Secret
According to the mythologist Karl Kerenyi ("Papers From Eranos:
The Mysteries;" ed. by Joseph Campbell) the ancient "Greek
mysteries" were originally a "sacred open secret."
The mysteries were an "open secret," because there was no
serious intent to literally keep them a secret and hidden behind the
various stories, symbols, and images.
to our dreams, the Greek mysteries were "unutterable." They
defied rational, logical description. It wasn't that the stories, symbols,
and images were hiding the Greek mysteries, but that they [the mysteries]
couldn't be spoken. The symbols and/or imagery of the Greek mysteries
were in fact the best way of attempting to express what was otherwise
impossible to fully express.
the Greek mysteries, the symbols and/or imagery of our dreams are in
fact the best way our unconscious has of expressing to us what is otherwise
impossible to express. Problem
is, though, that the right-brained mode of communication that our dreams
utilize - images and symbols - is archaic, primitive, and generally
unfamiliar territory to our modern, left-brained mode of thinking.
that's why their meaning often seems so hidden and mysterious...
The Top Ten Rules of Thumb to use
in the interpretation of dreams
The Thumb To See The Top Ten Rules
Many of the so-called "Dream Dictionaries" one sees on the shelves
of a book store treat dream images as signs. Sure...
they might even use the word "symbols." But
pay close attention to the way that they treat the dream images...
the dictionary treat dream images as signs or as symbols?
never, ever embody a dream dictionary with the authority of being
the "final answer" to the meaning of a dream symbol.
The following books treat dreams and dream content as a language
of living symbols and images. They can assist you in the beginning steps
of learning how to interpret dreams for growth of the soul. If you're
looking for a simplistic "cookie-cutter" approach to dream interpretation,
then I'm afraid you're probably in the wrong place.
Z's Recommended Books on Dream Interpretation at Amazon
article - Field of Dreams, Page 1,
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