Dream interpretation: Theme alchemy

Here’s an example from my life. It’s the story of three waves.

No, it’s not a drunken, lisped take on ‘dream alchemy’. It’s a way of reading across your dreams, instead of considering each dream individually. It helps you to find light when you need it most.

Here’s an example from my life. It’s the story of three waves.

Once upon a time, I had three dreams about tsunamis. Each dream was on a different night, spaced over one week, and each dream was different from the last.

As a child, I often had the classic tsunami dream – a very common dream theme for many people. Generally, this dream theme involves running away, or trying to run away, from a tsunami or huge tidal wave.

You can glimpse the meaning of a dream by summarising it in one sentence, starting with the words ‘I feel’ and including the word ‘something’. Most people who have the classic tsunami dream come up with something like this:

“I feel threatened by something huge and overwhelming that I cannot escape.”

This one sentence summary usually applies to your waking life in the day or two leading up to the dream. Like most tsunami dreamers, my childhood dream came up whenever I felt overwhelmed by issues I didn’t know how to address. Turn away and run seems the only option, but, as dream after dream goes to show, tsunamis and unaddressed issues catch up with you in the end.

My adult tsunami dream trilogy went like this:

Tsunami dream number 1

In the first dream of the series, I knew a tsunami was coming. I was on a beach and had a foreboding feeling. I warned everyone of the distant tsunami, hoping advance warning would save them. It felt good to give the warning in plenty of time.

My dream summary was “I feel thankful I have advance warning of something overwhelming coming my way.”

I could relate this to my waking life. I could feel the threat of an emotionally charged issue gathering force on the horizon. I knew from experience that you can’t escape an issue by running from it, but that you can diffuse it, and escape damage, by working out a solution to the issue. Thankful for this, I applied myself to possible solutions.

Tsunami dream number 2

The second tsunami dream came a few days later. The dream started in the same way, but then, as people listened to my warning, I saw the tsunami on the horizon start to recede. It was still big, and it would still roll on in up the beach and beyond, but the potential damage was much reduced.

My dream summary was “I feel relieved that something that felt overwhelming now seems a little less threatening.”

I could relate this to my waking life since I had spent the previous few days looking at possible solutions to this issue. This had made me feel more empowered, more capable of defusing the issue, though I wasn’t quite there yet. The dream gave me hope that I was on track.

Tsunami dream number 3

A few days later, I had the third tsunami dream. In the dream, I was sitting by a river when a whale swam by, trailing a large V-shaped ripple in its wake. I watched the ripple gathering momentum as it spread from the point where the whale’s fin broke the surface of the water. I looked closer at the fin, noticing, in the dream, that it looked like a shark’s fin but knowing, absolutely, that this was a whale. Caught in the moment I almost forgot to jump up as the ripple hit the river bank, spilled over the edge, and splashed over my legs before subsiding. I danced about at the river’s edge, like a child playing in the waves, happy, laughing loudly enough to wake myself up from my dream.

My dream summary was “I feel happy that something that appeared to be ominous was really something beautiful.”

I could relate this to my waking life as I had looked for the positive in the negative – looked for a win-win solution to the issue – and, in so doing, transformed the shark into a whale, the negative view into a positive one, the overwhelming deluge into a ripple of joy. (Did you spot the dream pun – the ripple in the ‘wake’? I was ‘awakened’ to see a ripple in place of a tsunami, a whale in place of a shark. Perhaps there was even a V for victory in that V-shaped ripple. And doesn’t laughter come in ripples?)

I danced about at the river’s edge, like a child playing in the waves, happy, laughing loudly enough to wake myself up from my dream.

I danced about at the river’s edge, like a child playing in the waves, happy, laughing loudly enough to wake myself up from my dream.

But where is the Theme Alchemy in all of this? Haven’t I just done the usual thing and interpreted three individual dreams? Didn’t I promise, at the start of this article, to show you a way of reading across your dreams, instead of considering each dream individually?

To read across your dreams, select a number of dreams on the same theme. In this example, I chose three dreams on the tsunami theme. My dreams were close together, all taking place within one week, but you can choose dreams from any time period. If you have been keeping a record of all your dreams, you might like to select all your dreams on a certain theme from the past year. Or you might just like to stay vigilant for a run of dreams like mine.

The next step is to summarise each dream using the method I outlined in my example – the one sentence summary starting with “I feel” and including the word “something”.

Then place these one sentence summaries together to produce a continuous reading – a reading across your dreams. Here are mine, as an example:

“I feel thankful I have advance warning of something overwhelming coming my way. I feel relieved that something that felt overwhelming now seems a little less threatening. I feel happy that something that appeared to be ominous was really something beautiful.”

Reading across your dreams (dreams on a similar theme) shows you how you are progressing with an aspect of your life. In my example, I was progressing well, tuning into a negative, ominous feeling, taking heed of the warning, deciding to do something about it, and, finally, settling on the solution of looking for the positive in the negative. Once I found the positive, the negative disappeared.

You take a reading like this and apply it to other life situations. In my case, I learned to see the whale in every apparent shark, long after the situation that triggered this dream trilogy.

When I woke from my third dream, I did a dream alchemy practice. I took the good ending and amped it up. I visualised the whale, the ripple and the happy sensation of the ripple splashing over my legs. I repeated the visualisation over the next weeks until my unconscious mind firmly and automatically responded to every shark by looking for the whale.

Faced with a difficult situation you can ask, “Where is the whale in this?

Faced with a difficult situation you can ask, “Where is the whale in this?

You can also simply turn an insight like this into a contemplative question. Faced with a difficult situation you can ask, “Where is the whale in this?”

Sometimes, when you read across your dreams, you’ll see they keep going round in circles, rather than progressing. You can learn from such a dream reading that you are not progressing. Take action and, when you are awake, do this dream alchemy practice: visualise changing the ending of your dream. Eventually your dreaming mind will produce a dream reflecting your progress. Keep reading across your dreams on the same theme to monitor – and celebrate – your progress.

Theme Alchemy is applying dream alchemy practices, like visualisation, to a run of dreams on the same theme. It’s about reading across dreams on a similar theme to gauge your progress, and then applying alchemy practices to hasten that progress. It’s about finding a chink of light in a series of dark dreams, and then widening that chink until enough light comes pouring in to show you the way through. Once you’ve done this, you have a magic formula ready to apply if ever that old dream theme reappears. In my case, whenever I have even a trickle of a tsunami dream, I wake up and start looking for the whale in the shark, the positive in the negative.

If you keep a dream journal and you have one or more recurring dream themes, you might like to copy those dreams into separate journals – Theme Journals. You might have a Tsunami Journal, an Animal Journal, or a Plane Journal, for example.  Practice the art of reading across the dreams in your Theme Journals, until you see the light.

[Copyright Jane Teresa Anderson, December 2007. First published as a Dream Sight article.]

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One Response to Dream interpretation: Theme alchemy

  1. Attractiveness is in the heart of the beholder.

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