It took a pandemic to kickstart my ability to remember dreams. Normally, I wake up in a puddle of sweat, bugged out on adrenaline with no recollection of the catalyst. Now, thanks to COVID-19, my dreams are unforgettable decoctions of primal fears and symbolism.
This is not to say I consciously feel afraid for my life. I don’t. Subconsciously, it may be another story…
Other People’s Dreams – Yawn
Don’t worry; this won’t be one of those rambling recollections of my weird-ass dreams. I promise to stick to the interesting bits, namely cool dream symbols, something I have an amateur interest in.
Back in my undergraduate days, I cut my teeth on Jungian dream analysis with a fabulous writing course in college called Fairy Tales & Individuation. I liked the idea that our dreams can reveal deep-seated desires and fears, but I totally dug Jung’s concept that the language of dreams is symbols and mythic narratives.
Jung believed that dreams perform a function: they integrate our inner self and our outer self, a process also known as individuation. No interpretation necessary! Just dream the dreams, and the work is carried out in your psyche. But where’s the fun in that? I like to pick at them to see what they reveal, kind of like poking a stick in hole to find out what creature lives there.
I’m a bit rusty, and I’m definitely no sage Interpreter of Dreams, but there’s some fun to be had—and have it I will!
So Yeah, About My Dream…
I had this trippy dream the other night, featuring a non-linear timeline, clunky Groundhog Day-esque flashbacks, gnarly subtext, AND a bevy of cool symbols.
A Vacant Store
The building in my dream was a vacant discount store from my childhood, so… Yikes! I’m almost afraid to unpack that one!
Analysis: Buildings symbolise the Self, as in one’s personal architecture. The vacant store probably picks up on recent empty shelves in supermarkets. I suspect the childhood element points to a feeling of vulnerability. Discount… Hmmm. I might save that one for my journal.
Which Way to the Restrooms?
This place had nothing but a big selection of toilets—weird toilets. Like the prop ones at IKEA, these units weren’t plumbed in. They sat on the concrete floor in doorless cubicles. Some were bizarre extrapolations—they were made of white porcelain with flush handles, but the arrangement was discombobulated. One was spattered with blood stains.
I couldn’t use them (even if I knew how to), and I wouldn’t use them because they were soiled and there were no doors and people would see me not knowing how to use them.
Analysis: Toilets are, apparently, a common feature in dreams because they are a common feature in life. On a symbolic level, they represent a need for relief, a need to discharge something. As a dream symbol, they crop up in times of stress. No explanation needed there…
This dream shows I have a pressing urge for relief from the current uncertainty and vulnerability, but I feel unprepared, ill-equipped and exposed.
The Most-Holy Assembly of the Cleaner-Than-Thous
Oh, look! The vacant building now has tenants. Weird tenants…
Lucky me, I’d waltzed into a Cleanliness Cult who held their meetings in the vacant discount store. I started to notice the old store was immaculate, right down to the corners, where dust would normally collect. These folks were So Clean.
Analysis: A place of worship can represent a transition into a new mindset or phase of life, such as would happen in a baptism. A cult may symbolise manipulation or mindless devotion to a cause.
I clearly have insecurities about not being clean enough to keep my family and me safe in the pandemic. And about being judged. Maybe deep down, I’m worried this germaphobic mindset is a bit fanatical.
Good one, Luna. Geez. My dog fouled their temple, and someone other than me had to clean it up. I apologised to the brethren of the Cleaner-Than-Thous, but they weren’t understanding or forgiving.
Analysis: I couldn’t get relief of the toileting kind, but the dog sure did—no problem. In my waking hours, I am paranoid about spreading sickness. I don’t really fear contracting the Corona Virus, but I do fear spreading it to family and friends. That, for me, would be ‘unforgivable.’
My little dog… I suspect she represents the instinctual part of me. Or perhaps the part of me I can’t control. Lord knows I can’t control Luna IRL.
A (Dirty) Rat
My little dog scrambled to chase something outside. She came back carrying a dead, fat, white rat. I made her drop it because I was afraid it had rabies.
Analysis: Traditionally, rats symbolise deceit and disloyalty. They can signal a fear of being cheated or let down. In Chinese culture, they represent cunning and survival. How ironic that 2020 is the Year of the Rat? One dream dictionary suggests that the rat’s colour is important. Black rats are harbingers of bad news, while white ones indicate help from an unlikely source.
The disloyalty explanation doesn’t resonate with me, so I have to consider what rats mean to me. I equate rats with the plague and poor hygiene, invaders and destroyers. Isn’t it interesting that this creature-symbol turns up in my dreams at a time of plague, when I, like so many others, am hyper-focused on cleanliness, paranoid of germs, and cognizant of a rampant virus?
In this dream sequence, the dog redeemed me (in the eyes of the judging people) by helping chase away the threat. It’s curious that the alleged defiler is also the ‘redeemer.’ The unlikely source of help (white rat) is my wild side, my animal instincts, which I’m not always in tune with.
The Enemy Inside
The next night, I dreamed about a crazed shooter loose in my house. While he was upstairs hunting down my son, I was downstairs, hiding inside a cupboard. I woke up when the killer opened the door…
Analysis: It’s obvious the crazed shooter is the virus. What I find interesting is ‘my son.’ I have only daughters. My gut tells me ‘my son upstairs’ represents my courage. It’s in my head, but I need it ‘downstairs’ in my life, where the action is.
I hope Jung is right, and my dream is doing its work, helping me connect with that brave, instinctual part of my self when I need it most.
Your Pandemic Dreams
While we learn to navigate the unfamiliar landscape of a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic, I hope your crazy dreams help you tap into the well of resources deep within you. Feel free to share some symbols that are coming up in your dreams—and add to my analysis of my crazy dreams.
Stay healthy and safe, and sleep well my friends.
- Dream – Photo by Jaime Handley on Unsplash
- Empty Shelf – https://unsplash.com/photos/DBu9IrkuPFM.
- Toilets – https://unsplash.com/photos/UcUROHSJfRA
- Spray Cleaner – https://unsplash.com/photos/__ZMnefoI3k
- Rat – Photo by vaun0815 on Unsplash
- Mask – Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash
- Toilet Roll (featured image) – https://unsplash.com/photos/Pd2hIHv95FY