The Dream Interpretation Dictionary

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



dream interpretation dictionary
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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.

dream interpretation dictionary
Logo of Reddit Dreams

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.

dream interpretation 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.”

dream interpretation dictionary
Cartoon: Singer


“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).

dream interpretation dictionary


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.

dream interpretation dictionary
Cartoon: Scott Hibuen

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.

dream interpretation dictionary

“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*”.

dream interpretation dictionary
Cartoon found on

“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.

Cartoon Wand found on Gocomics
The Ultimate Square


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

Mindfunda verdict:


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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 

Meaning of Dreams: 8 Ways to Start Interpreting Dreams

The meaning of dreams. If you remember a dream and it was intriguing, or emotional, the first thing you want to do is attach meaning to it. It is debatable if a dream ever has a definite meaning.

Meaning of Dreams: Literal

The first step I always take when someone shares a dream with me, is to find out if the dream has a literal quality. Health dreams, for instance, have a tendency to be very literal.

meaning of dreams

For instance, a business man kept having dreams of his secretary taking money out of the cash register. He interpreted it as a sign that he needed to give his female side more energy. He started to embrace and honour his anima (which isn’t a bad thing). But one day, he walked in on his secretary actually grabbing money out of the cash register. the dreams had been a literal warning.

Downside: of course not every dream is literal.

Meaning of Dreams: Symbolic

Usually a dream is interpreted symbolic. Either through the use of dream dictionaries or through personal association.


You write down your dream, make a list of every symbol in it and write down the first thing that does to mindful that symbol.

Downside: this method can block some people some times. When you ask them for their first association they look at you in despair and shrug their shoulders.

Meaning of Dreams: 5 Ways

When you are seriously interested in dreams you might have read some good books about them (here is a list of 10 books about dreams I recommended, let me know if i missed a good book).

But in reality, most people jump around intuitively from one method to another. Here is an interesting blog I have written about 5 popular techniques that can help you interpret dreams.

meaning of dreams

Shamanism is one of the oldest religions and the use of the shamanic drum can put you in a trance, with or without help from plants.

Gestalt is an intuitive technique that can help you find the gestalt in a dream. In that way, it resembles the use of Jungian archetypes rather close.

Jungian dream interpretation has been around for decades. It has become very popular, because this method is also very intuitive.

Dream Tending is -in my eyes- a very soft and gentle method, where you give a dream the chance to gently unfold.

Content analysis: there are several dream sites where you can insert your dream into a database that will be used by dream researchers. DreamsCloud is one of them.

Meaning of Dreams: Personal Consultation

This is of course my personal favourite. Getting professional advice on your dream can give your dream so much more depths and meaning.

A professional dream worker can use a variety of techniques. Read this blog that I wrote about questions that can help you determine if a dream worker will add value to your dream.

meaning of dreams

Of course you can always sent me an email if you want a dream consultation. You can also visit my online course page to se if there are courses that might enhance your general knowledge about dreams and mythology.

Because getting involved with your dreams is an investment in yourself.



What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independent site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Dreamfunda:  
Everything you need to know about dreams. Practical How to’s, the latest scientific research, the most commonly used ways to attach meaning to dreams. This and more is given to you for your everyday use in this part of Mindfunda

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.

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