This morning I awoke from a dream just as a bolt of raw energy hit me from a stormy sky, my arms thrown wide as I was flattened on my back. I wasn’t so much frightened or hurt as irritated that in this battle with the heavens I had been knocked backward.
The dream had begun with a girl who was standing beside me. I didn’t know her, but felt compassion for her as she shook her hands and cried out. An electrical cord near her was melted in two, apparently from a shock that originated in her hands, though she was more frightened than hurt. I put an arm around her and told her we’d figure it out. As we moved away from what I thought might be the problem spot, static continued to emanate from her, shocking things around her, each time eliciting another sharp cry. We were seated around a table, several people sitting close to her now, as I scanned the gathering clouds in the sky, having begun to sense that it was the source of the shocks.
I could feel rather than see the lightning forming, and I stood between her and the cloud and shouted at the sky, “You can’t have her!” The challenge was exactly what was needed to send the lightning bolt, which struck above me but left her be. The electricity in the air began gathering again, like a midwestern summer storm, while I narrowed my eyes and looked around for something to protect her. My gaze settled on a large piece of cardboard, which I picked up and held over my head, to intercept the expected bolt’s trajectory to the child.
I yelled again, louder and more forcefully, “YOU. CAN’T. HAVE HER.” The challenge brought the next blaze of light and energy and hit the cardboard squarely, blasting it to nothingness and knocking me on my back. I awoke sincerely determined to take down the sky.
Dreams mean things. When they hang around in our memory, when they awaken us with sudden bursts of feeling, when there is a natural pause in their structure at our awaking, they are messages from a subconscious that has little other avenue of communication with our conscious. So I listen, and I think about them.
Memorable dreams usually have meaning on three levels. On the first level, we are all the characters in the dream, with aspects of ourselves personified in others, and a meaning intended purely for our personal development. On the second level, the characters represent forces or people in our immediate circle and things we have noticed about our interactions, with meanings meant to inform us in our interactions with them. On the third level, they represent truths about the larger world and help us understand the forces at play there. One of those levels may strike us in a given dream as the primary message we are intended to receive.
Deciphering a dream can be a challenging process if we are not practiced thinking in metaphors. A picture IS worth a thousand words, and the best metaphors are conveyed through images, and especially images in motion. The most complex doctrinal teaching we have in scripture is the Revelation given to John or perhaps the images Isaiah utilizes, and these were given as a series of related visual metaphors. As such, the images have to be translated to ideas rather than perceived as a meaningful story in and of themselves to make any sense.
Here is one process for interpreting the visual metaphors of our dreams. Write the “story” as the images unfold, with each meaningful idea (noun, adjective, verb, adverb) on a single line so that the dream unfolds as you read downward. Then begin deciphering the individual ideas, writing a definition on the same line. For instance, in my dream, a child could represent an innocent, or one without the experience to interpret what happens to her, or perhaps, one whose first response to a new experience would be fear. The electricity represents a life force or raw energy, a thing which draws other energies toward us, connects us, or is shocking. Lightning, being heaven-sourced, represents inspiration, revelation, or judgment, depending on the other elements of the dream. How one feels in a dream and how others feel are as much a part of the interpretation as are the other images, and should be included in the interpretation. If you struggle interpreting the similes, use an online dream dictionary for ideas (be careful.) Be “mindful” also of the plays on words that sometimes take shape – it’s not uncommon to have a colloquialism played out in action (I’ve dreamed of walking “over the hill” or someone “twisting my arm” once or twice!)
Then, read the dream again, reading only the definitions one after another, as if they are the action and images, leaving for the moment the images that your subconscious presented to you. Go back and read it again, discarding definitions that don’t “feel right” as the meaning begins to take shape into a series of ideas. Pause and think about your life, the things that are weighing on you, and let the meaning settle in. Think about what the people in your dream represent to you, what traits they have that stand out to you, and those are probably the traits within you that your subconscious is referencing, or the situations that your dream is highlighting. Be careful not to think too literally, sticking to ideas and not assuming that the people are there for any reason other than a reference. Because of this, it is nearly impossible for someone else to interpret your dream for you, because only you or someone who knows you well can be aware of all these nuances of meaning.
I write important dreams down in my journals because I find that they hold truths for me long after the incidents are past, and can often be reinterpreted down the line to shine added light on my life. Dreams are highlighted as important by the impact they make on us and how they hang around for long minutes after we awaken, but the details will fade quickly, so it’s most helpful to write down the dream immediately after waking. I have also found that some of my worst nightmares were not about impending doom, but a warning or enlightenment, and have been a great benefit, bringing me great peace once they were interpreted.
Still, some dreams don’t mean anything, and are an attempt to make sense of our overburdened and chaotic minds. These fade quickly away, making little impact on us. And we are also affected by our own sleep patterns (for instance, I discount most dreams that occur after I’ve eaten too late the night before – they are nonsense.)
A habit of converting images to ideas and interpreting them makes scriptural records much more sensible to us, revealing nuggets of golden truth of great value. If for no other reason, this benefit makes regular dream journals and interpretations a good practice.
So now, I return to my fight with the heavens. I’m feeling a bit wry, taking the lesson well enough. Our perspective is skewed, as is a child’s sometimes, by our failure to pause and evaluate with more eternal vision the incidents of our lives and the effect of different experiences. We are often fearful far too quickly, and interpret assistance as threat. Fighting against the heavens is a fruitless endeavor and will knock us off balance. We need to pause and consider before we conclude, welcoming the flow of energy rather than fighting it. In addition, the heavens are unlikely to back off merely because we’ve suffered a misinterpretation, and will follow us about, sending little shocks until we’ve figured it out, and that’s not a bad thing. No harm done. It is silly to resist transformation. We do each other a greater favor by helping our fellows to understand the aid of heaven than by feeding their fear and trying to protect them from the benefits they’re receiving. This particular dream will be worth future consideration on many levels. As always, very interesting, and en”lightning.”