The mind boggles when one surveys all the books out there... which one is the best to choose?!? You may find yourself thinking, "I just want a simple, logical dream symbol dictionary...hmmm. ..I'll just choose this big one with 20,000 dreams symbols; that one should be good!" You may think this, like I did, only to become quite disappointed once you get the book home and see that it's mostly nonsense.
I'm convinced that it is scenarios just like this one above, that have played out many times with many different people over the years, that have led to the unpopular misconception that dreams are just fluff and nothing important, after all. This type of thinking becomes archaeic once you discover how helpful a good quality dream symbol dictionary can be! This article is designed to help give you a few pointers to arm yourself with before you go rummaging through the dream book aisles, so you don't end up with the worst book on the shelves and turn away from your intuition that dreams can have meaning that we can all benefit from if we could only learn how to interpret them.
Included will be reviews of several books on the market, and a "symbols duel" between these books and their interpretations, so you can see how varied (and wild!) the information can be.
One thing's for sure...you won't be as likely to reach for the prettiest cover or thickest volume first, without judging it's contents first. You're about to see why .
This is only a small example of the dream symbol books available out there. I picked them for their variety in style and representation. My reviews and opinions are my own thoughts on these books, and you may well have a different opinion. Vive la difference!
The Dream Book; Symbols For Self-Understanding
- - by Betty Bethards
The Herder Symbol Dictionary
- - translation by Chiron Publications
- - Websters, Funk & Wagnalls, et c.
Zolar's Encyclopedia & Dictionary of Dreams
- - by the mysterious "Zolar"
Mary Summer Rain on Dreams
- by Mary Summer Rain & Alex Greystone
The Illustrated Dream Dictionary
- - by Russell Grant
This one has beautiful illustrations by Vicky Emptage, and is tempting to buy because of this...which is why I own it. The symbols themselves are unusual and can be downright confusing, in my humble opinion. The book is entertaining but not often very helpful for one who has a serious interest in interpreting their own dreams.
The Dictionary of Dreams; 10,000 Dreams Interpreted
- - by Gustavus Hindman Miller
This book was originally published in Germany at the turn of the century. It reminds me of Zolar's. It has a "portense of evil" type of interpretation that isn't quite up to today's speed, as we turn into the next century. It's a rather interesting study on how perceptions change over time, but not very helpful for dream interpretations for today.
I'll list a randomly chosen symbol, then give the individual author's interpretations verbatum from each book. This should be interesting!
Betty Bethard: "To take away masculine power, assertiveness, strength; to destroy the ability to feel and create."
Herder Symbol: (not listed)
Webster's Dictionary : "To emasculate; to geld."
Zolar's: "Castrating a man: society will get along much better." (I'm not making this up!) "Castrating a lamb: will give a large dinner party." (does the desexed lamb commit suicide?) "Castrating a donkey: a big affliction is to come." (Homey don't play)
Mary Summer Rain: (not listed)
Russell Grant: "A contrary dream. Any form of castration means you'll beat the odds no matter what the odds are." (Maybe I'm missing this one, but I doubt any castrated animal would see himself likely to "beat the odds")
Gustavus Miller: (not listed)
Betty Bethard: "Protection, depending upon condition of the roof."
Herder Symbol: (not listed)
Webster's Dictionary: "The cover of any building; the top or the summit."
Zolar's: "A roof leaking: misfortune is ahead." (yah, when the roof caves in)
Mary Summer Rain: "Pertains to one's priorities; highest "capping" thoughts."
Russell Grant: "On a house and you should put new ideas into pra ctice. A tiled roof depicts happiness. Thatched and you are in for roman tic disappointment. Fall off or climb down from one and that success you ar e so proud of will be just a flash in the pan."
Gustavus Miller: "To find yourself on a roof in a dream denotes unbounded success. To see a roof falling in, you will be threatened with a sudden calamity." (What was his first clue?)
Betty Bethard: "Protection, cover. Avoiding contact with others; blocking both sending and receiving physical and emotional energy."
Herder Symbol: "Especially in medieval knighthood, it was an important symbol of law & sovereignity. A glove thrown at another was understood to be a sign of challenge." "-in Freemasonry gloves are a part of the ritual garb; they are usually white and signify purity as well as the work to be done."
Webster's Dictionary: "a cover for the hand." (Thank you for playing!)
Zolar's: "Finding a pair of gloves: "early marriage." "Buying gloves: a false friend is nearby." "Wearing old gloves: happiness."
Mary Summer Rain: "represent personal service to others. Depending on the style and condition of these gloves, the dreamer can determine if this service is for Self, begrudging or purely humanitarian."
Russell Grant: (not listed)
Gustavus Miller: "To dream of wearing new gloves denotes that you will be cautious and economical in your dealings with others, but not mercenary ." "-To find a pair of gloves denotes marriage or new love affair." "-If you wear old or ragged gloves, you will be betrayed and suffer loss."
Betty Bethard: "The way you see things now. One eye represents spiritual self, the eye of God, expanded consciousness, clea r seeing. Truth, power, clairvoyance. Both eyes opened means seeing with clarity; eyes closed means not willing to look at situations and lessons in your life."
Herder Symbol: "...closely associated with light,the sun, and spirit. It symbolizes mental a nd spiritual perception, but it is also-as the "mirror" of the soul-the organ of spiritual and mental expression. The right eye is sometimes associated with activity, the future, and the sun; the left eye with passivity, the past, and the moon. Buddhism speaks of the third eye as a symbol of inner vision." "...In the Bible the eye is a symbol of omniscience, vigilance, and the protective omnipresence of God."
Webster's Dictionary: "1. the organ of sight. 2. the faculty of seeing; vision; often, a developed visual perception."
Zolar's: Having crossed eyes: "will be short of money." Having small eyes: "you are deeply loved." The eyes of a sick person: "you will have a long life." Having hazel eyes: "Gossip by friends."
Mary Summer Rain: "Defines one's personal perceptual characteristics. Bleeding eyes indicate an empathetic nature. Blinking eyes refer to a lack of seriousness. Cloudy eyes a lack of clarity."
Russell Grant: (not listed), although having bushy eyebrows "suggest money is coming your way."
Gustavus Miller: "To dream of seeing an eye, warns you that watchful enemies are seeking the slighte st chance to work injury to your business." Blue e yes: "denotes weakness in carrying out any int ention." (This book denotes paranoia after awhile)
Betty Bethard: (not listed)
Herder Symbol: (not listed)
Webster's Dictionary: "An inviolable sanctuary giving shelter to criminals and debtors, as anciently a temple or altar, etc. 2. Any place of retreat and security. 3. An institution for relief of the destitute or afflicted, esp. one for the insane."
Zolar's: "Serious troubles ahead." "A young girl dreaming of being in an asylum: will marry soon." (Sometimes, ya just gotta love Zolar!)
Mary Summer Rain: "Warns of "craziness" going on in one's life."
Russell Grant: "Serious trouble is ahead. You must discuss your worries with a friend or professional advisor."
Gustavus Miller: "denotes sickness and unlucky dealings, which cannot be overcome without great mental struggle."
As you can see, having just one book is going to be frustrating sometimes when you go to look up a perplexing symbol, but it isn't there; or even worse, you get gibberish that defies logic. I find it helpful to have at least 3 books: one dream symbol book that makes sense to me; a universal symbol book like Herder's or any other good one on the market, for a "cosmic consciousness" type of symbolism. This type of book gives meanings of certain "universal symbols" through-out the ages, and is quite interesting, to boot. And lastly, a simple plain dictionary, like Websters or Funk & Wagnalls. Although it may seem too simplistic for some people, it has a way of cutting through to the heart of the matter by giving clear concise definitions of something you may be making too much of, due to your own confusion over the complexity of the dream itself.
When you do decide to go to a bookstore, take the time to first write out a list of symbols you are interested in finding the meanings for, and take that list with you. Ideally, this list will include symbols from dreams you have already had, so you can judge the individual books on whether their symbology makes sense for you, and seems to have more hits than misses. Then choose an armful of books, go to the nearest empty table and go through each one, comparing symbols. This will narrow the playing field down really quick, and you will soon be making your final choices. There will never be one single book that fulfills all your needs, so over time you will likely buy several to have on hand. I myself have bought many of them over the years, but I always reach for the same three over and over if I ever get stumped about a certain symbol. At the same time, I try to give a new book a chance to impress me, keeping in mind that the german turn-of-the-century book by Gustavus Miller became outdated sometime during the last century, and so could my current choices. It would be wise to consider the publish date on each book, because dream interpretations have come a long way in the last 25 years. Zolar's, for example, was originally published in 1963. It reads like a book from the 1800's. Each book has it's own particlar gems to offer, and it depends largely on what you are looking for.
A word about symbols: Some people get the wrong idea about symbols, like they are somehow evil or perhaps just juvenile. Our civilization is built upon symbolism, borrowed from the past or created anew. Is the fish symbol for Christ "evil"? Of course not. Just look at logos in advertising and you get the idea. Look on the back of an American dollar bill, and you see symbols of the above mentioned eye, inside a a pyramid or triangle which, in Christian art spanning the centuries, has symbolized God the Father in the Trinity; as well as other symbols of Americana such as the American Bald Eagle.
How many people world-wide recognize the logo/symbol for Disney World or Coca Cola, who otherwise do not speak a word of english? Symbols reach across language barriers and are recognized by our subconscious minds. Indeed, symbols are the language of the subconscious mind. That is why the term "universal symbols" exists...because they are generally recognized all over the world, by many varied cultures. Basic symbols are usually universal, such as the sea/water, earth, the sky, fire, etc. Those types of symbols common to mankind everywhere are generally accepted to have a particular meaning, although each dream must be taken in it's own context and judged soley by the individual dreamer him/herself.
And that is where dream symbolism enters the picture. Our mind's dreamspeak is symbolic, using metaphors and puzzles complex enough to stump a mensa candidate sometimes, but once that language is understood or you find the answer key, you can unlock the code and decipher your own mind's symbols. It sounds much harder than it actually is to do. All you need are the right tools... keeping your own dream journal, finding good symbol books, and utilizing your own gut-instincts. It's a learned skill, like reading or writing. You can become your own best dream interpretation expert, which will help you cut through any daily confusion and help you make informed choices about your life.
I hope this article on how to choose a dream symbol book is helpful to you, and lessens some of the confusion over which book to choose; as well as hopefully giving skeptics out there the idea to give the thought of responsible dream interpretation another whirl.