Here we are in Pisces season, the season of dreams.
In Pisces we often feel lost in a fog. After a month of the mental clarity of Aquarius, and before that the inspired action of Capricorn, we feel a sudden jerk back into the waves of our unruly emotions. We might get grumpy, blistered, doleful, like toddlers trying to keep the tears at bay when they feel the rising sere of disappointment. Pisces season is a difficult time for many of us, but it’s also an extraordinary opportunity to get in touch with what’s going on in our depths.
Pisces’ ruling planet is Neptune, the king of the unconscious ocean of myth and fantasy and dream. He’s a big fat planet with a lot of pull, so it’s hard to ignore his call. And though when he does get in touch it feels as miserable as a wet blanket, it is through his domain that we gain access to our souls’ messages, and there really is no better route than through the bizarre pathways of our dreams.
In modern psychology dreams don’t mean much. But to 20th century psychologist Carl Jung dreams were the direct communication of our souls. Jung argued that dreams seem meaningless because the unconscious does not speak in the language of the conscious mind. Instead it speaks in images, feelings, intuitions. It speaks through a neptunian lexicon nonsensical to the brain. But you can absolutely learn this unconscious language. So, my friend, if you feel a bit out of touch, a bit out of your depth, a bit lost in the wild Piscean haze, here’s 5 steps to begin understanding to what your soul is saying through your dreams.
1. Write your dreams down when you wake up.
Obvious first step, but essential. To retain as much detail as possible, it’s best to log your dreams first thing. I recommend doing it digitally so that you can search for keywords. I wouldn’t have discovered how much I dream about picking ice cream flavors if I didn’t search “ice cream” in my log one day. (Some will say this is sacrilege—dreams should be written by hand! But friend, it’s 2019.) The more you log the more data you’ll have to recognize the patterns that are bound to emerge.
2. Do a body scan.
Because the dream language is not intellectual, we must check in instead with how we feel. Is your chest tight? Do you have a bad taste in your mouth? Are you antsy or very calm? Do you still feel the cringing from the snake sliding over your feet? The thumping anger after your father’s blustery voicemail? The body experiences the dream in a phantom realm, and may carry some strong sensations into the real world for longer than you realize. These feelings will help you understand what you feel, or rather what you are feeling unconsciously.
3. Notice the weird stuff.
If you have a dream about walking your dog and then your 3rd grade teacher comes over to give you a banana, don’t just write the dream off as gibberish. Our unconscious makes associations, intuitive connections between things. Your 3rd grade teacher may have been the one person in your childhood who always supported your dreams, and you may think that bananas are a very nutritious snack. This dream, then, might be an offering of support from an inner mentor, someone saying I believe in you and will feed this new plan that you instinctively know is right (are pets are our instincts). Yes, you may have just watched a show about teachers, or just bought bananas at the store, but that doesn’t mean those things slipped in for no reason. What did you feel while watching that show about teachers? What were you thinking when you bought those bananas? The dream may be pointing to something that came up in the moment that you didn’t process or follow-through. Everything is there for a reason!
4. When in doubt, amplify.
One of the best techniques Jung developed in dream interpretation is amplification. Amplification is working with a certain dream symbol until it starts to “click”. I once had a dream about being trapped in an old apartment that was not mine, and the exit was guarded by a wolf. I totally got the stuckness, the strange apartment, the dusty haze, the curtains, etc. But I didn’t understand the wolf. I didn’t have any feelings about wolves, never thought much about them at all. So I worked on amplifying the wolf-symbol. I asked, What do wolves do? Where do they live? How do they act? I collected my responses and then asked broader questions, What stories are about wolves? What myths? What gods appear as a wolf? In playing with the symbol itself, as well as its representations in the human canon, I had a pretty good understanding of what a wolf might be doing in my dream.
5. Finish the dream when you’re awake.
Oftentimes we’ll wake up before a dream really feels resolved, or there’s more to the dream than we can actually figure out. This is a good opportunity to try out Jung’s process of active imagination, which is a lot like lucid dreaming. Sit comfortably in a quiet place and bring the dream scene into your mind. Try walking around where you are, pick up things, turn to see what’s behind you. Once you’re submerged in the dream space, try talking to someone, or going back down the stairs, or confronting the bear. The idea is that your imagination, motivated by the unconscious message of the dream, will release your conscious control. But WARNING! Active imagination can sometimes get away from you and become intense. It may be a good idea to have someone check in on your after a bit, for mental and emotional support.
Try this out, friends, but give it a bit of time. This is about opening communication with your unconscious, not demanding answers. Be slow, take care, go dream!