It seems to be the case that the majority of the dreams we remember are dealing with our everyday concerns
and anxieties, either from our present or from our past. Every so often, though, we have the sort of dream
experience that Jung used to describe as a "big" dream. These are the dreams that we don't forget, the
dreams that move us beyond our everyday life and into the realms of spirital enlightenment or revelation.
These dreams are sometimes quite hard to interpret or explain using normal psychoanalytical techniques.
Sometimes, we need to refer to secondary sources of information such as myth and legend, or even religious
history and doctrine, to make any sense of them. At other times we must allow ourselves the luxury of
experiencing the emotions of the dream rather than analysing them per se. The experiential aspect alone can
be enough to satisfy our curiosity; sometimes there is no need for explanation; sometimes the inner knowing
and peace that the dream left us with is enough.
RECOGNISING SPIRITUAL DREAMS
So, how do we recognise spiritual dreams? Recognition is often dependent on our belief systems. A dream,
that has deep spiritual significance for one person, may hold no such magic for another. Religious figures
such as Buddha, Jesus, a Goddess, or angels, may appear in spiritual dreams, but then again, they likely will
not. Spiritual dreams do not always involve Godlike or divine entities, sometimes the dream will just open our
mind to a deep spiritual truth either about ourselves or our life in general.
Usually, spiritual concepts are cloaked in symbol and metaphor, and sometimes these can be unsettling. For
example, the idea of "transformation" (as a spiritual concept) is often presented in dreams by death and dying
since transformation requires a symbolic "death" of some part of the ego. White or golden light is often a
symbol for some spiritual awakening; but can be interpreted by the dream ego as something to be feared.
Whatever their nature, or the way in which they present themselves, you can be sure you've experienced a
spiritual dream when you wake up with a deep inner knowing that this dream had a certain quality about it that
most dreams do not have; it was different. Thinking about the dream, may move you to wonderment or joy, or
tears of happiness or sadness, or even fear.
AN EXAMPLE OF A SPIRITUAL DREAM
Here's an example of a dream that I felt was of a spiritual nature, taken from my own 2005 Dream Journal.
Perhaps by reading this you will get some idea of the flavour of such dreams:
Dream Title: A GLORIOUS DEATH
I was with others and we were comparing experiences of dying. One girl said that when she knew she was
about to die, (she was in a one-man plane and knew she was about to plummet to earth), she pointed the
plane towards the sun and soared up towards it. Welcoming it, joyously.
I said, "It's the way we die that matters, not the process of death itself, (because the process is merely a
transition to something else)."
The dream left me with a feeling of joy and empowerment. I sensed that death is not the end, it is only a
transition and is a time for celebration, not grief. Although I did consider the similarities with the myth of
Icarus, I knew that my dream was different. Icarus hadn't intended to die, he inadvertently flew too close to
the sun, his wings melted and he plummeted into the sea. Gravity is a powerful force that is constantly pulling
us downwards. To fall from the sky will result in the destruction of our life by the breaking of our body, as
happened to Icarus. Icarus died because he gave in to temptation and disobeyed his father, rather like the
Fallen Angel of biblical history. So, instead of plummeting back to earth, the girl in my dream chooses to turn
her airplane into the sun and die a glorious, radiant death in the sky. She chooses Heaven rather than Earth.
She chooses to be consumed by purifying fire rather than broken by falling back to earth.
At the time of the dream, circumstances were conspiring to lead me to a decision involving a major life
change. I was resisting this change for many (practical) reasons. It may be that the dream was suggesting
that it might be a positive move to take matters into my own hand and take action to follow my soul's desire,
rather than waiting until change was forced upon me.
CARL JUNG'S BIG DREAMS
Carl Jung wrote extensively on the nature of such dreams. Believing that they were:
|"the richest jewels in the treasure-house of the soul."
He showed, time and again, that these dreams have the power to transform us by giving greater meaning and
purpose to our lives. He believed that big dreams occur during major transition periods in our life; for instance
entering or leaving puberty, becoming a parent, approaching death. He gave evidence of such dreams being
present in all cultures, showing that they incorporate archetypal symbols, common to all humanity, and drawn
from the Collective Unconscious. These archetypes include such things as the Divine Child, the Wise Old
Man, the Nurturing Mother, the Old Crone, the Trickster; and their power seems to transcend understanding
and belief. Jung believed that when we encounter these archetypal symbols in our dreams, we may be certain
that higher forces are at work in our lives. He believed that all dreams tell us things about ourselves that we
may not be aware of; giving us information that might be different to our conscious understanding. But if we
listen to the inner 'spiritual' guidance in our big dreams, we will often find a new direction in life that will set us
on a course of action that will lead to greater fulfilment and happiness. These dreams, he believed, can help
us to find our true vocation and life's purpose.
EDGAR CAYCE AND THE AKASHIC RECORD
Dreams from Spirit were recognised by Edgar Cayce, who believed that we all had access to our Akashic
Records through our dreams. He was careful to point out that, if we are to make the most use of our dream
messages, we must learn discernment, that is; learn how to distinguish between those dreams that originate
in the egotistical, material world and those that have their origins in the Divine Mind.
The Akashic Records, he believed, contain the entire history of every soul since life began. They are a
reservoir of archetypal symbols and mythic stories, and all those things that have influenced human
behaviour and experience since time began. This concept is sometimes equated with Carl Jung's Collective
Unconscious, although followers of Cayce believe the Akashic Realm to be of a higher spiritual nature.
Cayce believed that the contents of the Akashic Records moulds and shapes human consciousness and that
the record themselves are a portion of the Divine Mind. They are the unbiased judge and jury that attempt to
guide, educate, and transform every individual to become the very best that she or he can be. They
encompass a dynamic array of possible futures that are formed and dissolved again as we interact and learn
from our accumulated experiences.
It's interesting to note that the followers of Edgar Cayce have found reference to the existence of such a
record in the Bible; as evidenced in Exodus 32:32. After the Israelites had sinned by worshiping a golden
calf, Moses pleaded on their behalf, offering to take full responsibility for what they had done,
"Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written."
Again, in Psalm 139, David makes reference to the fact God has written down everything about him and all
the details of his life,
"even that which is imperfect and those deeds which have yet to be performed."
The New Testament too, makes reference to such a record. We are told that those whose name is not
written in the Book of Life will not be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven.
HEALING SHRINES OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
Of course, the Dream Temples of the Ancient world, where dreams were incubated for healing purposes,
were seen as a direct link to the divine energy of Spirit and dreams dreamed in those temples were always
interpreted as though they had been sent directly from the gods. The most well-known (at least to us) of the
incubating shrines were those dedicated to Asclepius, a legendary Greek physician whose symbol of the
snake wrapped around a staff is still used today to symbolise the medical profession. You will find that the
name is not always spelled the same way. The Romans adopted the cult of Asclepius, but changed his name
to Latin; they called him Aesculapius. The cult became very popular during the 3rd century BCE and the
shrines of Asclepius were a focus for pilgrims wanting to find a cure for their ailments. The patient would
spend the night in a dormitory and be instructed to incubate a dream for healing. During the night they would
hopefully be visited by the god in a dream. In the morning, Priests would interpret the dreams and then,
based on this interpretation, recommend a remedy or give advice on how they could be cured. There were
many centres and schools of medicine, from Trikkis in Thessaly to the island of Cos. Hippocrates, a great
doctor of antiquity and often described as the father of modern medicine (all Western medics must take the
Hippocratic Oath before they can practice), was said to be a descendant of Asclepius.
A MORE MODERN VIEW
There are those who believe that dreams are one of the most overlooked forms of communication used by
God. Indeed, in the New Testament, Acts 2:17, there appears to be confirmation that God continues to use
dreams as a means of communication:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your
sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall
Jeremy Taylor, an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister and long-time dream worker, believes that all our
dreams may be of divine origin and are a more authentic communion with God than communication through
the Rabi or the Priest. In our modern, more pragmatic, ecclesiastical societies, his ideas are quite radical but
he encourages and helps people to record and interpret their dreams with enormous success.
Modern Shamanism also teaches that great spiritual truths are accessible through our dreams, indeed the
word Shaman originates from the Russian word saman which means, loosely translated, one who knows, or
one who sees in the dark. Although many modern Shamanic practices focus on journeying in an altered
state of conscious awareness, it is probable that Shamanism has it's origins in the dreamtime. By tradition,
those members of a community who were "strong dreamers" were assigned the responsibilities of Shaman.
Dreams that are today classified as Psychopompic may also be described as spiritual dreams. These are
the dreams where the dead appear to us, often with a message of comfort or hope, sometimes with a
warning. Whether the psychopompic characters are projections of ourselves, perhaps stemming from a
deep desire to communicate with the person again, or whether they are discarnate entities "from the other
side", is a matter that must be decided by the dreamer.
Whatever your beliefs and whatever your spiritual views, be assured that when you have a spiritual dream
you will know you had one. You may not realise it immediately, it may take time for the spiritual message
carried within the dream to permeate into your consciousness. But when it does, you'll probably feel a
tingle in your spine and experience a flash of insight that shows you a new way of looking at an old issue.
May love and spiritual light brighten all your dreams.
Copyright JCHarthan, PhD. (2006)