How to Use Dream Journals to Understand Dream Content
We are now in a very active dream zone, with a stellium of planets in the mutable sign of Pisces this month. Pisces is a water sign and one of the more psychic signs of the zodiac, but Pisces is also ruled by Neptune, which makes it the dreamer of the zodiac.
Anytime there is Pisces or Neptune energy in your day, or in your birth chart, your dream life is going to be very active. This is true for both your daydreams and your night dreams. All of us are having Pisces energy touches our day over the next few weeks. So today we’re going to look at how to understand that dream content that is so heavy right now.
Writing dream symbols in your dream journal can only be so effective. Journaling alone is not going to really help you understand your dream content and how to use the messages in your dreams to help you succeed in your daily life. Let’s look at what two leading researchers on dream content, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, recommend to do next after you’ve written in your dream journal.
Sigmund Freud: Free Association of Images
One method that Freud used when he was exploring the subconscious and analyzing dreams was what he called free association. The term free association is basically another word for brainstorming. Think of word clouds when you think of free association. Let’s say you wake up in the morning, and you remember a red cat in your dream, so you write down the word ‘red cat’ in your dream journal. Well, how does that help you now?
Freud would say, “What’s the first thing that you think of when you write down ‘red cat’ in your dream journal?” Did it remind you of a red car that you saw yesterday? Write that down. Once you think of that red car, you think of somebody that you know owns a red car, write that down.
Keep doing this until you have absolutely nothing left to jot down. You will find that you are left with a pile of words that you have no idea what to do with. You went from seeing a red cat in your dream, you now having a long list of things about a person who owns the red car that makes you feel a certain way, and you still don’t know why you’re thinking about them in your dreams.
Freud would say, the meaning might not come to you right away, but doing this exercise helps keep it in the back of your mind until you have a moment of clarity and realize what it means. This is Freud’s method of dream analysis using free association.
Carl Jung: Collective Unconscious and Archetypes
Let’s delve into Carl Jung now. he advocated what he called the ‘collective unconscious’, which is basically a fancy way of saying we all as a group of humans collectively have the same unconscious life. His method also uses symbols that he called archetypes in his dream study. Every archetype is a symbol that means something.
We see a lot of these archetypes in the tarot. For example, drawing the Empress card in the tarot is an archetype of a mother, or a deeply feminine, figure. So if you see a robust diva-type lady in your dreams, Carl Jung will tell you this is the archetype of the female figure and your dream is about a woman that will mean something to you.
The collective unconscious that Carl Jung developed then, was basically the notion that we all think and feel the same things as human beings. When someone lies to us, we feel angry. This is a global human behavior. It’s natural and normal to feel angry when someone lies to you. It’s natural and normal to feel excited and happy when you are loved.
Jung claimed these feelings come from our unconscious, and this collective unconscious applies to every human being in every single culture that ever was. That’s how Carl Jung decided it was easy to interpret dreams because, at the end of the day, we all feel the same way about certain things in our life.
According to Carl Jung, the most common and easiest way to analyze dreams is to apply it to a fairy tale, myth, or story that you could relate to. For example, let’s say the red cat that you saw in your dream was also wearing shoes, but while it was running away from someone, it lost one of its shoes. What fairy tale does that remind you of? Cinderella, of course.
If you are using this method of analysis, the red cat dream would bring you likely upon a complex romantic scenario that you’re currently worried about, or a complex family situation that is causing you stress. It may well bring you to that person who drives the red car, that could very well be either your prince charming or your fairy godmother that will enrich your life!
Having a dream journal is so important. Writing down the symbols and all the details you can remember is a great practice. You also need to know how to go one step beyond and use those dream symbols to analyze and understand your own dream content. When you want to use these to fancy-sounding concepts in your dream content and dream analysis in your dream journal, use these symbols as connections to the real world.
There is no right or wrong way for you to interpret your dreams. When you explore your dream meanings you will end up with an interpretation that makes the most sense to you, and that’s always the right answer. What kind of dreams have you been having lately?
Related Article: What Your Dreams Are Trying To Tell You