Starry night, a painting as a dream

‘Starry Night’ from Vincent van Gogh. He painted it in 1889, before he got into a major depression. A famous painting.  This Mindfunda looks at ‘Starry Night’ as if it was a dream.

"The sight of the stars makes me dream". Vincent van Gogh wrote this to his brother Theo. And: "I dream of a painting and then I paint my dream".

Mindfunda is invited to Cultura Galerie in the Netherlands to talk about dreams and art. The painting Starry Night of Vincent van Gogh serves as a starting point for artists to make their own interpretation of the painting in the specific style of Vincent van Gogh. Mindfunda invites you to look at the painting as if it depicts a dream of Vincent van Gogh. Like Vincent once wrote to his brother Theo: I dream of a painting, and then I paint my dream”. If Starry Night is a dream, what does that dream tell us about Vincent Van Gogh.

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If you look at the painting you see twelve bright stars in the heavenly sky. The number twelve has a particular significance in human history. Robert Gongloff explains in his book Dream Exploration: “We find twelve in all walks of life, from religion and politics to measurement and mathematics”. He goes on to give examples: twelve arts and sciences are considered essential to spiritual growth by the Rosicrucians, twelve followers of Jesus, Twelve followers of Odin. The list goes on. Twelve is a very religious number and Vincent painted Starry Night in a very religious period of his life. Body, soul mind and spirit are united in the number twelve. It represented the inner peace Vincent was longing for.

Seven stars and the moon are above the first wave. The moon is in its last quarter, the need to let go and make way for a new moon.  The number eight symbolizes things that lay beyond nature. It was a very spiritual time for Vincent. He was searching for meaning, searching for a style, for a way to support himself.

If you look at the colors used you see the color yellow. the Dutch writer Ada de Boer wrote a book “Kleuren in dromen” about the meaning of color in dreams. She tells about the bad reputation the color yellow used to have. “Yellow is seen as the color of Satan and Judas. Outcasts were obliged to wear yellow to be recognized by ordinary citizens”. But luckily, dreaming of yellow can be an encouragement to show yourself more.

The color blue that is very dominant in the painting. Dark blue in dreams is associated with rules, uniforms. Often according to Ada de Boer signifies dark blue an alternative that can not be reached by the dreamer. If you look at Starry Night you can see that dark blue is mixed with black. A symbol of the upcoming depression of Vincent van Gogh.
But there is also light blue in the picture: the church roof is light blue, like religion offers Vincent an escape out of his worldly struggle, out of his feelings of not being appreciated for his talents.

The cypress tree that is quite dominant in the painting is known as the mournful tree. Sacred to the spiritual watchers of other realms. The tree has the shape of an exclamation mark towards the sky. Its color is a nearly black-ish green. In dreams, green is a very positive color. Ada de Boer writes: “Green is the life bringing force, when there is no green left in our dream, our powers of living stop flowing”. And indeed, unfortunately Vincent took his own life almost a year after he painted Starry night.

Here is the invitation to the presentation (in Dutch):

Kunstfestival de Smaak van Van Gogh Ede juli  2015 Lezing over dromen en sterren.

Psychologe en droomdeskundige Susanne van Doorn geeft op zaterdag 11 juli om 15.00 uur in Cultura een lezing over dromen. Robert de Jong geeft vervolgens een lezing over sterren. Deze lezingen zijn in het kader van de expositie ’De aanblik van de sterren laat me dromen’ naar een uitspraak van Vincent van Gogh in één van zijn brieven aan zijn broer Theo.

Geïnspireerd door dit citaat toont Cultura Galerie de sterren van het witte doek zoals Marilyn Monroe. De sterren van het Facebook project Selfie & van Gogh. Hedendaagse kunstenaars tonen in licht objecten, olieverfschilderijen en etsen hun aanblik van de sterren.

Susanne van Doorn gaat in haar lezing in op de betekenis van dromen. Niet alleen de betekenis van dromen voor Vincent van Gogh maar ook voor andere kunstenaars zoals Salvatore Dali. Susanne van Doorn studeerde psychologie in Tilburg en volgde daarna de academie van het Jungiaanse Instituut in Nijmegen. Robert de Jong van de sterrenvereniging Astra Alteria vertelt u over de sterren die we boven ons hoofd zien.

Een interessant uur waarbij u van harte welkom bent.

Lezing De aanblik van de sterren laat me dromen

zaterdag 11 juli 15.00 – 16.00 uur Cultura
Molenstraat 45 6711AW Ede Toegang gratis

10 Dream books you should read

I have been working with dreams for several years now, and I read a lot of dream books. But sometimes there is that one book that really has a special edge. A way you have not looked at dreams before. Here is my list of 10 dream books you should read i.e. I can recommend all of you to buy and read. Please let me know if you agree with my choices. If one of your personal favorite dream books is absent, let me know by using the comment section below the blog.

  • Dream books tip #1: ‘Creative Dreaming’ by Patricia Garfield:
    Years ago, in the eighties, I read this book, in one night. It was the first book ever that discussed dreams as creative material. I fell asleep and had my first lucid dream (a dream you have while being aware that you are dreaming). This is not only about lucid dreams however. It is about getting the most out of a dream to make your life better. Patricia was criticized for not being scientific and for not having visited the Senoi people she wrote about. But that does not change the fact that this book gives you a method you can use that will change your dream-life. Patricia was on the panel I organized on the conference of the International Organisation of the Study of Dreams (IASD) in 2014 click here dream books tip #1
Dream books tip #1: Creative dreaming – Patricia Garfield


  • Dream books tip #2: ‘Extraordinary dreams and how to work with them’ written by Stanley Krippner, Fariba Bogzaran and Andre Percia de Carvalho. This book gives you such a good insight in all the different types of dreams: creative dreams, Lucid dreams, Out of body dreams, healing dreams, mutual dreams… It is carefully organized and there are a lot of references to very good research about dreams. There is even a paragraph about “Working with dreams within dreams”.  I have only come across this phenomena in books about dreams in Frederik van Eede’s Dromenboek  (A Dutch lucid dreamer and writer who was in the same circle as Carl Gustav Jung).
    This book will give you so much information about dreams, your head may spin. read it one chapter at a time so you will digest all the information in it. After all these years it is still a source of reference for me. dream books tip #2
Dream books tip #2: Extraordinary dreams and how to work with them

  • Dream books tip #3: ‘a Branch of the Lightning Tree’ Stanley Krippner came over in 2013 to do a workshop Personal Mythology in Utrecht. Identifying mythological themes in your life and your dreams can give you so much more understanding. About yourself, about the situation you are in and about the steps you can take. Reading  a Branch of the lightning tree written by Martin Shaw has taught me a lot about distilling mythological information out of stories. Dreams are stories told by the night. So even though this book is not about dreams, it will help you understand them better. dream books tip #3
Dream books tip #3: A branch from the lightning tree


  • Dream books tip #4: ‘Active Dreaming’ – Robert Moss is an excellent writer. He knows how to tell a story. When he came to Utrecht to give a workshop Active dreaming, people were glued to his lips. His books are filled with useful well researched information. Robert has written a lot of books and they are all good. I have chosen Active dreaming because I like the exercises in them. There are coincidence games in it, the mapping of your energy path, a low maintenance plan for your health… It is just a very good book. A dream is something to act upon and Robert gives you the keys to unlock the secrets in them. dream books tip #4
Dream books tip #4: Robert Moss Active Dreaming

  • Dream books tip #5: Another book that changed my way of looking at dreams is the ‘Woman’s book of dreams’. The knowledge Connie Kaplan shared about the moon and dreaming is something I have never read before in any other book.  She connects dreaming with astrology. It made me grab my dream notes and look at what sign the moon was in while I had these dreams. In that way I made discoveries about myself, my dreams and their content that I would not have been able to make without reading this book. She also discusses a way of working with dream groups that I have used several times. One time, before doing a workshop with pregnant women and their dreams I took this book out of my closet in a dream. It made me change my workshop in the “Connie Kaplan” way and it was a good decision. In the workshop some very profound discoveries were made and people were able to engage with each other on a deeper level because of the method I used. dream books tip #5
Dream books tip #5: The woman’s book of dreams Connie Kaplan


  • Dream books tip #6: ‘Lucid Dreaming’ – Robert Waggoner is a very experienced lucid dreamer. But what is so intriguing about this book is that he helps you to shift perspective. He asks you who the writer of your dream story is (you can read more about this perspective here). A lot of people who are involved in dreaming are against lucid dreaming. A dream should take its natural course. Don’t mess with it because that would be messing with the natural psychological process that dreams are made off. But Robert simply asked “Does the sailor control the sea?” and shows us that no lucid dreamer ever fully controls the content of the dream. And he has some other thought-provoking suggestions and experiences to share. dream books tip #6
Dream books tip #6: Lucid Dreaming Robert Waggoner


I have not read his newest book ‘Lucid dreaming plain and simple’ yet.
He wrote it together with Caroline McCready. But it is on my list. I plan to do an interview with him and put it on this blog, so stay tuned! dream books runner-up
Dream books runner-up: Lucid dreaming plain and simple Robert Waggoner and Caroline McCready


  • Dream books tip #7: Robert Gongloffs’ book ‘Dream Exploration’ changed my way of working with dreams because he taught me to take a step back. In this book you will find a matrix that enables you to look at the theme of a dream. Not focus so much on the meaning of a single symbol but look at the greater picture. dream books tip #7
Dream books tip #7: Dream Exploration Robert Gongloff


  • Dream books tip #8: I used to think alchemy was mighty interesting but beyond my understanding. So many old manuscripts, very hard to read and even more difficult to understand. Then a friend of mine gave me a copy of Monika Wikmans’ ‘Pregnant Darkness‘. She leads you through the alchemical process using dreams and symbols. Reading this book gave me so much more understanding of the path of transformation we all have to travel in live. It is well written and the examples she shares with us make us reconsider our own dream material. dream books tip #8
Dream books tip #8: Pregnant Darkness Monika Wikman


  • Dream books tip #9: Communing with the Gods’ is a well documented anthropological exploration into dreams. Charles Laughlin takes the reader on a journey to explore his neuroanthropology of dreaming. An attempt for a cross-fertilization between neurology, psychology, sociology and anthropology. Ambitious yes, but very interesting. I wrote about this book before you can read it here. The way Charles Laughlin builds the evidence for his Neuroanthropology of dreaming will give you a new way of looking at dreams. dream books tip #9
Dream books tip #9: Communing with the gods Charlie Laughlin

  • Dream books tip #10: Last but not least, my translation of Vasily Kasatkins’ classic ‘A theory about Dreams’. You can hear my presentation about it in this link. The reason why this book will change your vision on dreams is that it makes the relationship between the body and the dream content crystal clear. Even a hard-core scientist as psychiatrist Vasily Kasatkin was convinced that dreams are the early indicators of physical illness. A dream can safe your life. dream books tip #10
Dream books tip #10: ‘a Theory about Dreams’ – Vasatli Kasatkin translated by Susanne van Doorn

Did you enjoy this list of Dream books? Please use the comments box below to share your thought!