In October we examined the symbolism of house/home structures when such imagery appears in dreams. This month, I’m focusing on how to interpret dream fragments. I’ve often heard someone say, “I don’t remember much about the dreams I have, and of what I do remember, nothing makes sense.” Then, the individual recounts one or two images that seem meaningless. These small dream pieces are fragments of a larger dream or the images might be brief and fleeting visions. What’s important to remember is that even many small remembrances can provide you with plenty of symbolism, all of which you can analyze and use to improve your life physically, mentally, and/or spiritually. Let’s take a look at how to interpret dream fragments to see just how much insight these symbols can provide.
As an example, let’s imagine you have awoken from a long night’s rest only to remember the brief appearance of autumn leaves blowing in the wind. Believe it or not, such a remembrance hosts a wealth of symbolism. If you were to reflect or meditate on the image of the leaves you saw, you might realize an even deeper layer of meaning. The image of leaves on the wind can represent so many things, and what the vision represents for one person may prove to hold a completely different meaning for another. Let’s break down some of the potential meanings to explore this idea in greater depth.
Take apart the images for analysis: In the dream fragment, the leaves are blowing in the wind. Here, there are two main symbols, which may not seem like much, but you’ll be surprised at how much meaning they can supply. Take a look at each symbol separately, and then take a look at them together. Much like snowflakes, every leaf is slightly different from the next, thereby symbolizing individuality. The wind is associated with the element of Air, and is therefore suggestive of communication. When viewing both symbols together, the dream might be a suggestion to be more expressive about your personality, or to focus on communicating your individuality to others. In an image of leaves, there is more than one leaf – this could symbolize the gathering/movement of many individuals or a crowd. Consider if a dream like this might mean you should make an effort to “stand out from the crowd.”
Color: If you remember the color of the leaves you see, you can dig even further into dream symbolism. Let’s imagine for this example you see red, orange, and yellow autumn leaves. Red is a color of strength, personal power, and the life force. Sometimes in certain situations, it can represent danger. Orange is a color of attraction. Yellow is a color signifying communication, but in some situations, it can indicate anxiety. What’s more, color symbolism can change when viewed through the lens of different cultural understandings. With the latter color symbolism under consideration, ask yourself, “are you attracting danger in your life or are you perhaps attracting things that empower your personal will and strength? Are you communicating effectively or is something causing you anxiety? Further dream analysis may clarify your questions.
Environment: Autumn signifies seasonal changes, cycles, and transitions. The season hints at the future dark and cold coming of winter, but its yearly return promises a future life cycle as well. The season signifies death, but the potential of rebirth. Thus, your dream might be telling you about events in your waking life relating to endings and new beginnings, cyclical changes, “a coming of age,” or a time of final harvest, whether it is literal or figurative. The environment of the dream can reveal much. Was the sky clear? Was there a storm brewing? Were the autumn leaves blowing in the wind while out of the appropriate season – for instance, was it snowing as well? All of the latter conditions can be interpreted in different ways. What about the direction of the wind? Are the leaves moving about in all directions or one? Is the movement East, South, West, or North? If moving about everywhere, the direction might signify chaos or chaotic energies. If moving in a specific cardinal direction, you might discover additional meaning. Leaves blowing East might signify new situations, conditions, or new beginnings stemming from the conclusion of something else. If the leaves are blowing in the direction of North, it can symbolize a need to ground or to turn inward to tap into your personal power. If the leaves are blowing South, it suggests the direction of the Fire element therefore connoting purification, personal will, ambition, drive, inspiration, and the spark of life. When the leaves are blowing West, it might signify the realm of emotion, the deep subconscious, or the world of spirit. Cardinal directions are also representative of seasons, and could signify a movement from one season to another. East is spring, South is summer, West is autumn, and North is winter. Thus, the dream might hint at the movement of a condition/situation/event from autumn to spring, summer, next autumn, or winter.
Emotion: Consider what emotions the images evoke. Did you feel a sense of peace or happiness? Were you calm or apprehensive? Did the leaves evoke memories, either fond or undesirable? Also note how you felt upon waking. Sometimes dreams produce lingering emotions you carry with you throughout the day. Make a note of your emotions and compare your feelings with those you might be having in certain waking life situations/conditions/events, or relationships. Do you see any potential correlation?
Language: Occasionally dream symbols are a play on words – the images may point to sayings, cliches, or idioms you know. For instance, perhaps your dream of leaves is telling you it is “time to turn a new leaf,” or is a situation about to “leaf out” for you by expanding and “budding?” Perhaps you are in a situation where you should leave, “no leaf unturned,” or are you behaving like another in such a way that it is like you are “taking a leaf out of someone else’s book?” Consider some of the sayings you are familiar with when you are assessing your dream imagery.
Themes: As you review the dream symbols, you might note a running theme. For example, if the leaves in the wind were yellow and spinning around chaotically, you’ll see a commonality in symbols. The wind and yellow are both symbols associated with the element of Air and are therefore connected to the cardinal direction of East, new beginnings, individuality, communication (particularly through sound.) As mentioned earlier, leaves are representative of individuality, but so is the chaotic dispersing of the leaves – the leaves are separated, moving to and fro in an individual way in different directions. Thus, you can see a running theme of communication, individuality, expression, and differences.
Synchronicity: Sometimes dreams are a part of synchronistic occurrences. Synchronicity refers to two or more events that appear connected, related, and meaningful, without an identifiable causal connection: events that seem like more than mere coincidence. For instance, when I began writing this article I knew I would use leaf imagery to explore dream meaning. I came up with the title: “Leaves in the Wind,” after I thought about the image of autumn leaves and windy days. A few days later I encountered one of the myths about the Sibyl in ancient Greece. The story tells of a woman/priestess with prophetic powers, the Cumaean Sibyl, who lived in a cave. She would prophesize people’s fates and document them on oak leaves. The leaves were placed within her cave near the entrance. The Sibyl’s votaries would consult the leaves to prophesize the fate of each individual. Here is where the strange synchronicity comes into play: if a wind blew through the entrance of the cave and dispersed the oak leaves everywhere, scattering them on the wind, the Sibyl would lend no assistance in bringing the original prophetic messages back together again – fantastically, I had no prior knowledge of the latter story when I created the title for this article!
I have given the latter example so you can do the same when you are reviewing dream imagery. If you see leaves in the wind in your dream, pay attention to what goes on, not just in future dreams, but your everyday surroundings. You might encounter leaves actually blowing in the wind, or you could encounter the imagery in myriad ways in your waking life. I absolutely love synchronistic events. I believe they are “sign posts,” telling us to pay attention, that we are on the right path, and that we are where we are meant to be in our lives. Synchronistic events can also serve as confirmation of a higher power and the role it plays in our lives – a subtle reminder that the Universe is responding to your heightened awareness. Indeed, the more you pay attention to synchronistic events, the more such events occur.
Archetypes: It is often quite easy to identify dream archetypes once you assess the symbols you see. For instance, as I spoke of earlier, the Greek Sibyl is a priestess who writes prophesies on oak leaves. If you saw oak leaves, your dream might connote a connection to the prophetess or priestess archetypes. Autumn leaves represent a part of the life cycle where one is aged and has accumulated wisdom via experience as well – thus the imagery connects to the archetype of the Crone. You can find more information on the prophetess, priestess, and other important archetypes and how they relate to dream messages, in The Esoteric Dream Book: Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind (Schiffer Publishing, 2013.)
Leaf Types: The type of leaves you see will give you an indication about the archetype associated with your dream images. Let’s look at a few examples. As we have already mentioned, oak leaves are representative of the Sibyl, but they are also representative of the Oak King. Which archetype is correct? Only you will know by how you connect with the archetype you choose. Perhaps you have an affinity for the Oak King or you feel a deep connection with the archetype of the Sibyl. Your feelings will point the way to choosing the right archetype to examine further.
Since anything can happen in dreams, what if you saw mistletoe leaves? Or grape leaves? Or Laurel leaves? Mistletoe might represent Christmas for one person and the Holly King for another. Grape leaves might suggest an archetype of Bacchus or Dionysus. Laurel leaves might be representative of Apollo. The images you connect with personally when you think of the leaves you have seen are the appropriate symbols for you to consider – there are no wrong or right answers when making symbolic connections.
Questions to ask yourself:
What parts of the dream fragment do I remember?
What colors were present?
In the example of leaves, what type did you see? Can you identify specific elements of the image that will give you more clarity on dream symbolism?
What was the environment like?
How does the dream make you feel?
Have I experienced events in the recent past that relate to the imagery?
Are there any archetypes relating to the images I’ve seen? If so, what do the archetypes symbolize?
Future Steps to Take:
Note if any of your future dreams feature similar imagery. How is it the same? How are the images different?
Keep an eye out for synchronistic events. What do the seemingly connected events mean to you?
About Dayna Winters: Dayna Winters is a solitary Witch, author, and artist. She is the co-author of three books written with Patricia Gardner and Angela Kaufman including, “Wicca: What’s The Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions,” “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space: Everyday Tools for The Modern Day Witch,” and “The Esoteric Dream Book: Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind”, all of which are published by Schiffer Publishing. You can find out more about Dayna and her work at her blog: http://daynawinters.blogspot.com/.