The Dream Interpretation Dictionary. Symbols, Signs and Meanings.
by J.M. DeBord
Visible Ink, 2017, $16.50 paperback ISBN-13: 978-1578596379; kindle $16.09 ISBN-10: 1578596378
reviewed by Drs. Susanne van Doorn
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Dream Interpretation Dictionary: Reddit
When you remember a dream and it was emotional, you want to know what it means. It is a natural thing.
Jason DeBord is a dream expert who is also known as RadOwl on Reddit Dreams. Reddit is an online platform where people wo are a member can post their dreams and ask questions about them.
Another cool thing to know about Reddit Dreams is that it organizes “AMA” or Ask Me Anything” hours where a dream expert is invited and members are allowed to.. yes you have guessed right, to ask that expert anything.
Dream Interpretation Dictionary: Yes or NO?
In the field of “professional dream workers”, using a dream dictionary is a no-go. You need to dive into your own associations, and build up your own dream dictionary.
It has to do with the way psychiatrists operated in the past. They where the “all knowing entities” and their interpretation of a dream was the only right one.
In the seventies of the last century, psychiatrists where pushed from their throne when it comes to dreaming.
Jason DeBord writes about this in his book: “Back than (in the mid-1990s), all I had to refer to were books written by psychiatrists such as Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. I’d wake up with a head full of dream memories and hunt around for anything to help me understand them.”
“My approach is that dreams are stories told through symbolism and can by analyzed the same basic way you would analyse a novel or a movie. And your feelings can tell you more than anything else about your dreams… You are the best interpreter of your dreams; you just need to know how” (page xi).
I always see dream as a sort of Rorsach test: whatever you see in it, tells you something about your own psyche. And a dictionary can give you a completely different vision on your original interpretation. I love that. I celebrate that. Or as my colleagues in the dream world say: a dream is multi-layered. And a good dream dictionary offers suggestions you can explore.
Dream Interpretation Dictionary: 2 Criteria
When I was preparing this blog I thought about how I could best show you, my reader, if and how this book could be useful for you.
There are already many dream dictionaries. Good ones like Ariadne’s Clue by Anthony Stevens but there are many, many more available.
What makes a dream dictionary stand out? For me there are two things. Let me know in the comments if you have other selection criteria, because I would love to hear them.
The first one is: does this dream dictionary tell me something I did not know already. You need to forgive my arrogance, but after interpreting dreams so long, most of the meanings of symbols are quite clear to me.
The second one is: does the dream dictionary invite me to explore my own emotions and associations? And unfortunately, most dream dictionaries lack in that department.
Dream Interpretation Dictionary: Example
I decided to use one of my own dreams to see if The Dream Interpretation Dictionary could live up to my standards. I choose a dream that falls into the category of often dreamed symbolism. It is a very simple dream. It features one of the most common dream symbols: back to school.
I am back at school and I need to put my bike away. Because the lesson is starting soon I don’t have time to put it away in the proper place, so I put it on the school square that in the middle of the building. This square is not used often, it can only be opened by teachers, who only do so on special occasions. But in my dream this square was accessible. I parked my bike and walked away with the intention of meeting the people I had an appointment with and I worried that my bike would be safe at this place.
The most important thing, as J.M. DeBord emphasizes, is my own interpretation. For me, school is about learning how to adjust to life. I get there on my own strength, using my bike. But somehow, now is the time to put my own way of moving forward aside and learn from other people. Another interesting feature in my dream is the square form where I park my bike with two wheels like round mandala shapes. Like there are two aspects of my psychology that help me adjust to the square, man-made world.
This interpretation is very general. Let’s get out the Dream Interpretation Dictionary and explore how this book can deepen my understanding of this dream. Does it offer me a new perspective?
Dream Interpretation Dictionary: School
Here is the list of symbols I have looked up in the book: School, Bicycle, Square.
School: “A school setting in a dream has a wide variety of possibilities for symbolism. The most obvious are related to learning and knowledge, but school symbolism extends much further to include topics such as authority, success and failure, social life, and preparation for adult life and career”* (page 347).
Bingo! That is why I sometimes use dream dictionaries: to get that different angel you had not thought off yourself. The last time I was at this square was at a high school reunion in the beginning of the century. I was at that square, standing next to the principle (a different principle as the one who was in charge when I studied there) and we were talking like equals.
“A familiar school is more likely to represent something about that time of your life or what you experienced there*”.
There is no easy way to put into words what I learned in that period of my life (aged 12-18)… But if I have to relate it to this dream, I would say that, just like my bike has two wheels, my personality manifested in tow different ways.
As a junior I was self conscious about not being smart, and not beautiful enough to feel comfortable. I tried to adjust to girls in my class, who were only interested in boys, while I was interested in the nature of human consciousness. So I always was the odd one out.
In the second period of high school I found my own clan and dressed in a particular way, listened to “dark” music like the Cure, U2 and dressed in black. I still feels comfortable in black.
So what a wonderful way that this dream tells me that life is about balancing between those energies!
Dream Interpretation Dictionary: Bicycle
On page 50 J.M. DeBord writes about the symbol bicycle: “Since balance is required to ride a bike,, dreaming about riding a bike can relate to personal balance, such as balancing the psyche, balancing logic and feeling, and balancing work and play*”.
“Bikes have strong associations with independence and free spirit. They are one-passenger vehicles powered by individual effort” (page 51).
Ai, yes that is true. I am a very complicated person to work together with. I usually have my own vision. My heart rejuvenated when I watched Steve Jobs tell a story about how he and his neighbour collected stones, put them in a machine and how the next morning they need up being perfectly polished.
Great work and great things are accomplished like that. You work together with other talented persons and ether is friction. But the end result is a much stronger product.
Dream Interpretation Dictionary: Square
“As a shape with balanced sides, the square is a symbol of strength and solidarity. Square shapes are closely associated with our material world, and in dreams they can connect with being grounded or materially secure” (page 365).
I had not thought about how a (material) bicycle is different from a car or any other form of transportation but this fragment triggered me to do that.
I need to put away my bike, my way of moving forward in life on my own force. And I have no other option than to put it in a square, in a symbol of strength and solidarity. So in my eyes this dream tells me to unite with people. Search for, and connect with my tribe.
And I did so! Last year I became board member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.
Dream Interpretation Dictionary Conclusion
I can definitely say that this book meets the two criteria I defined in an earlier paragraph. The dream I used as an example has given me another vision, while I thought the dream was a walk in the park when it comes to interpretation. So yes, this dream dictionary tells me things I did not know before.
Now for the second criteria: does this book invite me to explore my own emotions and associations? Yes it does. And I think that is the Unique Selling Point (USP) of this book.
For example, this is what J.M. DeBord writes describing the concept of School: “Think expansively about what you learn. You can learn about yourself, another person, your limits, lessons in life and new skills. Life is a continual process of taking in new information and experiences and learning” (page 347).
- This book offers a lot of suggestions to explore with each symbol that is mentioned;
- You get invited to explore a particular symbol using your own experiences;
- Some symbols are described at length. For example Shadow is described on three pages;
- You can’t help but feel a lot of admiration for Jason who has so much knowledge about dreams and its symbolism.
- A dream dictionary is a dream dictionary. Nothing compares to hiring the expertise of a dream expert, like Jason or Susanne van Doorn. A dream expert can provide depth to the meaning of your dream you have not experienced before because he/she can tune into certain memories with the view of an objective observant.
* the definition in the book is more elaborate, these are just fragments I selected from the descriptions of the symbols
Click here to buy The Dream Interpretation Dictionary and support Mindfunda.
I like nothing better than to give away valuable information to make your life better. Here are two books to choose from: 10 tips to remember more dreams and a report on Mutual Dreaming
2 thoughts on “The Dream Interpretation Dictionary”
Hi Susanne, Upon waking I usually quickly scribble down my dream, close my book, put it away and leave it sleeping for the day whilst I get on with my routine. However just before I go to sleep I open up the book to work on my dream. It seems to work best for me this way … other friends tell me they like to work straight away … I guess we all find our own unique way.
I only have a couple of dream dictionaries which I use, often as a last resort when I wish to further explore the symbolism of i.e. tiger, or flower or a windmill. It was great to read your interpretation of your bicycle dream, as I sometimes have cycling dreams too. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insights. This book sounds great! Blessings always, Deborah.
The method you describe is called dream tending. Taking the dream with you during the day, meditating about it, letting the symbols speak to you. And yes, just like you I
sometimes encounter symbols I can not “place” in the dream story that I have deciphered so far. What I like about this particular book is the wealth of
possible meanings and the questions J.M. DeBord asks his reader about the dream. In my eyes that makes this book unique.