Dreaming has always been an important aspect of my life; the images I see often feel like they are leading my direction or cluing me into some subconscious knowledge. Sometimes the images are just a jumble of chaos, processing extraneous information and setting it aside for later. Grasping these messages in waking life can feel like a puzzle.
Over the years, I’ve had many friends and family come to me to talk about dreams and their interpretations. This subject is something I want to dive more deeply into, as I continue to struggle in my own life with nightmares, nocturnal panic attacks, and complex nocturnal hallucinations.
In the next few weeks (months, years), I’ll be exploring a blog on how to interpret your dreams. This has nothing to do with looking up the symbolism on the internet or, as I did growing up, in a series of dream interpretation books. This will involve diving into real dreams, working through interpretation, reviewing books, and working on a personal dream journal.
I would like to invite you, if you have a dream you’d like to discuss, to reach out to me. With your permission, we will break down your dream, find the important symbols, find out how you respond to that symbol, and see if we can make sense of your visions while sharing the fundamental symbols here.
Some dreams are just the dumping of information; identifying which ones have more to tell us is a part of the process. Others give us insight into decisions we need to make and allow us direction. Reoccurring dreams often have important information that we are choosing to ignore or can’t quite find the seed of the message.
Along with individual dream interpretation, I’ll be looking at different symbols that are common in dreams and look at how these symbols have been interpreted over time and through different cultures.
I like to look at dreams as a personal tarot deck, with your own symbols and your own interpretation. Let us work to create your own tarot deck of dreams, your own dream interpretation bible, and find an entryway into each of our subconscious lives.
Calling All Dreamers
Have a dream you’d like to work on that you’re willing to share here? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through my contact page. I will only be working with one dream a week, although this may expand in the future.
The little girl woke with a gasp, her heart pounding, sweat running into her eyes. She looked around her room, stuffed animals piled in the corners, a little pink nightlight glowing next to the bed. She grabbed her favorite bear, Honey, nestled next to her, and dragged him from the twin size bed, across the floor, across the hallway, and into her parent’s room.
The little girl crawled up the steep side of the bed, snuggling in next to her mom.
“What’s wrong, baby,” said her mother, wrapping her in her soft arms, her voice slurred with sleep.
“I had a bad dream.”
“What happened?” responded her mother, holding her more closely.
“I dreamed I was an old lady.”
“Not yet, my baby, not yet.”
Her mother’s began to softly snore and Aubrey’s eyes grew heavy, safe against her mother’s breasts.
Aubrey woke with a gasp, her heart pounding, sweat running into her eyes. Her room was different; no pile of stuffed animals in the corner, the walls were no longer pink but a deep blue, there were posters of bands she had never heard of on the walls. Her body felt different; longer, fuller. Honey sat, thread-worn, on the top of a dresser.
“Aubrey! Wake up! You’re going to be late!”
Aubrey didn’t know how to move in this body. She pulled back the sheets and saw… breasts! Her legs stretched down to the base of the bed. She awkwardly tumbled out and saw clothes crumpled on a chair; jeans and a tee-shirt. There was a bra there and it took her a few moments to figure out how to put it on. It was binding and pinched her skin.
“Not today,” Aubrey said to herself as she took a few more moments figuring out how to remove the torture device. She saw a green sweatshirt on the floor in the corner and pulled it over her head instead of the t-shirt. She pulled on the jeans from the chair and groaned at their tightness.
“5 minutes! If you want me to drive you, you have 5 minutes,” her mom yelled from beyond the bedroom.
Aubrey threw open her door and ran to the bathroom. Seeing herself for the first time in the mirror, she was paralyzed. She remembered her eyes, but her hair had darkened from her childhood blonde into deeper brown and it tangled down to her waist. She had curves; not just breasts but hips and a butt. She was frozen in time, staring at her reflection.
Her mom peeked into the bathroom, “Hurry up, I have a meeting and I can’t be late.”
Aubrey turned to her mom, her face more lined than she remembered. There was grey at her temples and her hair had been cut to a shoulder length style, not the long curls she remembered.
“You okay, sweetie?” Her mom’s voice dropped in concern. “You look pale.” Her mother stepped into the bathroom and touched her face. “You don’t feel hot.”
“I’m, I think I’m okay.” Aubrey looked at her mother in wonder. “I just need to brush my hair and I think I’m ready?” Aubrey asked it as a question, because she wasn’t sure what else there was to do.
“No make-up today?”
Aubrey saw the brushes and pallets scattered on the counter, not having any idea where to start. She looked back at her mother.
“It’s good. You know I like your face better without make-up anyway.” Her mother smiled. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, just give me a sec.”
Her mother gave her a second look as she walked from the bathroom.
“Don’t forget to brush your teeth! Your breath is atrocious.” Her mom smiled at her as she closed the bathroom door.
Teeth! When she was smaller, her mom had to always remind her to brush her teeth and helped her get to the backs. She wasn’t sure which toothbrush was hers in the cup, there were three. She grabbed the purple one and covered it with paste, shoved it in her mouth and began to scrub.
The door burst open and a little girl burst in. She looked like Aubrey used to look, with thin blond hair and a sprinkle of freckles across her nose. The little girl stopped when she saw Aubrey and her face wrinkled into a tight knot.
“Mom!!! Aubrey’s using my toothbrush.”
“I’m… oh, hi, I’m sorry.” Aubrey pulled it out of her mouth and stared at it for a second.
The little girl crossed her arms.
“You are so gross,” she said. “I can’t believe you’re my sister.”
Her mom dropped her off near a fence line where groups of kids stood scattered. She saw smoke drifting up from one circle, another group was all in black. There was a group of cheerleaders and, next to them, tall muscular boys throwing a football.
One of the cheerleaders came skipping over to Aubrey, she had a high blonde ponytail and endless perkiness.
The girl gave her a quick hug and then stepped back, raising her perfectly manicured eyebrow.
“Oh my God, you aren’t wearing a bra! And… why aren’t you wearing any makeup? Where’s your portfolio?”
“My portfolio?” Of all the things this strange girl said, it seemed to be the strangest of all.
“You have your presentation today. In art… Why are looking at me like you have no idea what I’m talking about?
Aubrey was silent, her heart far too loud in her chest.
“I’m taking you to the office, I’ll tell the teacher you’re sick. Seriously Aub, maybe you need to lay down and take a nap.”
Aubrey woke with a gasp, her heart pounding. There was someone laying next to her, his body behind her, pressed against hers. His bare legs were wrapped around her legs, tangled together. His hand cupping her naked breast under her green and blue argyle sweater.
“What’s wrong, baby?” came a sleepy voice.
Aubrey froze. This room was not the nurses office where she had fallen asleep. Not her bedroom. They were cuddling tightly on a twin bed, another twin bed was unmade across from them.
“Where am I?” Aubrey whispered, afraid to move.
She felt the male shape nuzzle into her neck, kissing her.
“What do you mean?” he whispered back, his hand moving from her breast and tracing her belly.
Aubrey didn’t speak, unsure that she could even breath.
His hand stopped moving, frozen.
“Aubrey? Aub? Are you okay?” His hand pulled back suddenly. “Oh! Oh, my God. Aubrey. I’m sorry. I thought you wanted this! I thought, last night…”
The boy climbed over her wearing only his underwear, frantically pulled on his jean that were crumpled on the floor. She couldn’t see the front of his face, only the softly curling brown locks that lay at the nape of his neck.
Aubrey found her voice, pushing herself to sit on the edge of this little bed, “No, I didn’t mean that! I, I just felt like I was dreaming for a moment. I didn’t know where I was. I feel a little… disconnected?”
The boy turned around and Aubrey could see that he wasn’t a boy, not really. He wasn’t a man either. He inhabited some in-between space. He was tall and thin and the look on his face felt desperately like hope. His eyes were a strong blue and she felt like she knew him, knew his eyes. She was captivated and felt, the only way she could describe it, she felt thirsty for him.
“Aubrey,” he got down on his knees and held her hands in his, “I know it sounds crazy, but I have loved you from the moment I saw you. The fact that you are even here, in my dorm room, feels like a dream to me too. I love you.”
Aubrey looked deep into his eyes. She had no idea what his name was, but the familiarity was there.
Maybe this is all a dream, she thought, as she traced his face with her hand.
“I love you too,” she said, “come lay back down with me.”
The young man smiled softly and crawled back into bed.
Aubrey woke with a cry, her heart pounding, sweat running into her eyes, pain bearing down as she pushed and felt pressure that felt to split her in two.
“Push! You have to push, Aubrey! One more and the baby’s head will be out!”
Aubrey pushed, if only to satisfy what her body was telling her she must do.
Standing on her left, holding her hand, was a man with deep blue eyes. Blue eyes that she knew, worried and full of anxiety. He was older now, his hair a bit darker and his face stronger. He no longer had the face of a boy.
He looked down at her, wiping her forehead.
“Aubrey, you are doing so good. She’s almost here.”
“That’s it! Your baby’s head is out.”
Aubrey looked down and saw the great swell of her belly, her legs spread into foot stirrups, the top of a head with a surgical cap between her knees. A face looked up, a woman’s face. She smiled.
“You are doing wonderfully, on the next contraction, you are going to push your baby out.”
Aubrey could hear the beeps of a monitor and saw a nurse standing back.
“Alright, one more big push,” said the doctor.
Aubrey pushed and the man on her left squeezed her hand, as if he was trying to give her his strength, or perhaps match her own.
There was a baby’s cry as Aubrey felt a piece of her soul leave her body.
The baby was laid on her chest, wrapped in a towel.
“You have a healthy baby girl, congratulations,” said the doctor.
Aubrey looked at the man to her side, tears were running down his face.
“She’s perfect,” he said as he bent down and kissed Aubrey. “You didn’t even think you were fertile.”
“I guess I was wrong,” said Aubrey.
“Best mistake ever,” he said with a soft smile.
Aubrey cradled the child in her arms and instinctively lifted her to her breast. The newborn mouthed her mother’s nipple, not ready to latch but already aware.
Aubrey woke with a jerk as the door to the bedroom softly slid open. A strong body lay to her left, and she felt warm and comforted under the umbrella of his deep even breath.
“Mommy,” came a soft voice.
“Hi baby, what’s wrong?”
“Come cuddle with me,” she said.
Light from the moon through the window showed Aubrey a little girl with brown hair curling about her shoulders; she had her father’s eyes.
The little girl crawled into Aubrey’s open arms, laying her head onto her mother’s shoulder, nestling deep into her warmth.
Aubrey snuggled closer into the man she loved, wrapped in the love of this child.
She felt safe.
Aubrey woke softly, as the world came in focus around her. The room was full of golden light and she could make out the form of people around her bed.
“It’s okay mom, we’re here.”
Aubrey’s eyes began to clear and she saw the woman, with big blue eyes, was holding her hand, tracing the lined and worn skin with her finger. Her daughter.
“You are so beautiful,” said Aubrey. Her voice was cracked and unused, her throat felt dry. Her daughter’s hair was streaked with grey and she had lines around her eyes.
“No mom, you are the beautiful one.”
“And who is this?” asked Aubrey as she saw three teenagers, two leaning against the wall, a boy and a girl, and the smallest, perhaps around 12, sitting with a bear in her lap, her hair a soft brown. A man stood at the doorway, perhaps a bit older than her daughter.
The bear was worn and loved.
“Helen brought you Honey, mom. She thought you might want to have her back for awhile.”
“Hi grandma,” said the little girl as she shyly brought the bear over.
“Why, I don’t remember when I last saw this bear.”
She lifted him up, her arms were lined and deeply bruised, the wrinkles carved into her flesh.
“Mom, you gave Honey to Vincent when he was born, do you remember?”
The boy against the wall gave her a little wave. He looked so much like the man with the blue eyes, his eyes perhaps a bit smaller, his hair a bit straighter.
“He looks like your father,” said Aubrey.
“He really does, doesn’t he mom.”
The girl leaning against the wall with long blondish hair spoke up, “And they always say I look like you, grandma!”
“Oh, I don’t think I was half as beautiful as you are,” said Aubrey. The girl blushed and was silent.
“Honey has been loved by all of your grandbabies, mom. You gave him to me, and then you told me that he should be loved by my babies. So Vincent had him until Genevieve was born, and then Genevieve gave him to Helen. Helen has been holding onto him until you were ready to have him again.”
“Where is your father?” asked Aubrey.
“He’s not here with us anymore, mom, don’t you remember?”
Aubrey could see his deep blue eyes, eyes that had been passed to her daughter and to her children.
“I miss him,” she said.
“I know, mom. You are going to see him soon.”
“I would like that, I would like to see his eyes again.”
As the light of the room began to fade, Aubrey heard her daughter as she began to cry. A different light began to glow around her, and Aubrey saw that she was witness to her own life; the five sided pentagram of experience. From infancy to childhood to teenager, to her own adulthood and now old age, she had lived.
Beyond the light, Aubrey began to see shapes taking form. Stepping from a sort of misty transparency, the man with the blue eyes stepped out to meet her. He was holding the hand of a little boy, the little boy who had been meant to be a part of their lives, but hadn’t made it past pregnancy. She remembered how much she had loved this little soul and wanted him to join them.
She saw her parents standing back, young as she had remembered them. Around her husband’s feet sat a myriad of dogs and cats; a giant Rottweiler, a fat little Corgie, a German Sheppard, and a tiger striped shorthair that she remembered as her best cat friend, Molly.
“I’ve missed you all so much,” she said, as she made her way into their arms. She realized that she was still holding her bear, holding her Honey. She bent down to her son, the son she had never met, “This is for you.”
Aubrey woke with a gasp, her heart pounding, sweat running into her eyes. She looked around her room, stuffed animals piled in the corners, a little pink nightlight glowing next to the bed. She grabbed her favorite bear, Honey, nestled next to her, and dragged him from the twin size bed, across the floor, across the hallway, and into her parent’s room.
The little girl crawled up the steep side of the bed, snuggling in next to her mom.
“What’s wrong, baby,” said her mother, wrapping her in her soft arms, her voice slurred with sleep.
“I had a dream.”
“What happened?” responded her mother, holding her more closely.
This story is dedicated to our little boy that never grew past pregnancy and the daughter I’ve had such honor to watch grow into a young woman.
I didn’t start this week thinking it was going to be generational, I started this week thinking about a nightmare (since I am prone to nightmares) and how this nightmare could become real.
I imagined a little girl waking up, climbing into bed with her mom, only it’s not her mom and there is some sort of monster with her mother’s voice and red glowing eyes. She jumps out of bed and runs through the dream (using the required words to create the dreamscape) only to wake up and have the same nightmare start again in the same way.
As I read the words, I realized they were really words that fit into our lives. They weren’t fantasy words that led to nightmares. The hardest to naturally include was pentagram. Pentagrams have 5 points, so what are the 5 points of life and how could I use them to tell this story; infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age.
I divided my words into these 5 sections, leaving out infancy as Aubrey was past that stage of her life. I could have ended the story circling around to her birth, but really wanted to end it with her death… looping to where she wakes from her dream and crawls into bed with her mother; almost a life flashed forward.
I want to clarify, this is a fictional story where I have added connections to my life. I chose to add my personal photos in honor of the real lives we all have, from birth to death. I wanted to connect the ideas to something real and tangible, and for the reader to exchange those faces with the ones that they know. I wanted to add the generations, making this story larger than just the words, making this story about the cycles of life. I included the names of some of my grandparents as Aubrey’s grandchildren; it seemed the right thing to do. The bear in the title photo is my mom’s childhood bear, Smokey.
The part of the story closest to me is the end, where everyone is waiting for Aubrey. It brought up a lot of emotion and continues to every time I edit. I imagined the boy I lost in pregnancy waiting with my husband, waiting with real animal companions that have touched my life. I miss this son, even though I never met him. I miss my cat, Molly.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers reading this. Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, and my grandma, and my great grandma, and all my mother ancestors before me on both my maternal and paternal side.
If you liked this story, I hope you’ll share it with someone you love. I publish a short story ever week and send it out on Fridays in my weekly newsletter, you can sign up for it here.
I am also in the process of building an art website for originals and prints. If you’d like to know when that is up and running, you can sign up now at Loscotoff Art.
I recently had a rough night of sleep. The hallucinations kept coming, one after another, for hours. Because I understand what’s happening, or at least understand it’s not real, they don’t last as long as they used to. I can generally pull myself out fairly quickly, but on nights like this I become afraid to close my eyes again and the anxiety rises. The adrenaline and fear is exhausting and at a certain point my brain begins to think something is really wrong. On this particular night, after hours of partially waking, I told my husband that I thought I was having strokes. I was mostly asleep, not fully conscious of what I was saying. Other nights I’ve told him I was having a heart attack. One night, I got up and told my daughter, full of panic, that my arms were too long. Yes, my arms were too long. In reality, my brain is somewhere in the in-between; not yet awake, not completely asleep.
When I was in high school I slept with my lamp on. My dad, always conscious of the energy bill, would come in at 2 or 3 in the morning, my light having somehow woke him. He would switch it off, unintentionally waking me, and quietly reprimand me for keeping it on. I’ve come to learn it was a sleep survival instinct. Research has shown that increasing light pulls the individual out of the hallucination. That’s why, in second grade, the skeleton on my shelf didn’t disappear just because my dad came in the room. It disappeared when he turned on the light. Many nights, with the lights off, I would see doors in my bedroom walls. My brain told me I needed to go through the doors, curious about where they went. Only I couldn’t get to them, something was in the way. That something was often a dresser or bookshelf, and I would fully wake trying to move them.
You’d think a solution would be to sleep with the light on. As an adult, I wish that were an option. I do sleep with a salt lamp, but that often feels too bright and doesn’t allow me to fully sleep. Nightlights cause shadows. Those shadows become stories, creatures, forms. Those shadows become anxieties to my sleeping mind.
I go through stages of hallucinations, my mind fixating on certain subjects, sometimes for years at a time. I’ve had weeks of aliens coming through the ceiling, years of an important ring that I have lost or swallowed (and the loss of that ring to my sleeping mind will end the world), fairies flying around the room, floods. Lately my mind has a preoccupation with electricity. All of these are symbolic and visions into where my subconscious is centered. I will go more into symbolism, both in dreams and in hallucinations, in future posts.
Could there be something really wrong? This condition can be found in completely normal, healthy individuals, but there are some genuine medical reasons that people experience nocturnal hallucinations. I just don’t seem to have any of them. I don’t have hallucinations during the day, either visual or auditory, which is common in Schizophrenia. I don’t have Epilepsy. I don’t use drugs or alcohol. No sight deprivation, Parkinson’s or Lewy body dementia. Complex Nocturnal Hallucinations are also common in Narcolepsy, however Narcolepsy has several other defining factors such as excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep paralysis (neither are issues that affect me.) Also, it started when I was in 1st grade, (perhaps earlier, I just don’t have the conscious memory), which makes me think it is just how my brain fires.
What types of things have you experienced while sleeping? Any common symbols that keep coming up for you?
Want to explore deeper? Here are some studies about Complex Nocturnal Visual Hallucination:
I was only in first grade, nestled into my blankets on the loft of my bunk bed. It was late, everyone asleep, all the lights out. I opened my eyes from my deep sleep. Sitting across the room, on my book shelf, sat a skeleton. Not a little one, like a toy, but a full sized boney form, staring at me.
I kept screaming.
It kept staring at me.
My dad burst into the room; the skeleton sat until my dad flipped on the light. Mercifully, the light banished my visitor.
At school, I told the third grade girls who I so delightfully looked up to about my experience. They were convinced I had been visited by Bloody Mary and I feared they were right.
This is my first memory in a long history of sleep disorders, all falling under the umbrella of Parasomnia. Parasomnia includes common sleep disorders you’ve probably heard of like Sleepwalking, Sleep Talking, and Nightmare Disorders, but it also includes sleep disorders a little less familiar, like Hypnagogic Hallucinations (upon falling asleep), Hypnopompic Hallucinations (upon waking), and Complex Nocturnal Visual Hallucinations (middle of the night.) While Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Hallucinations are often connected to Narcolepsy, Sleep Paralysis and Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Complex Nocturnal Visual Hallucinations often disappear with increasing light and don’t cause that same exhaustion during the day.
Through my years of sleep disorders (Sleepwalking, Sleep Talking, Nightmares, Teeth Grinding, Complex Nocturnal Visual Hallucinations) I’ve become deeply invested in the world of sleep, how our dreaming brain works, symbolism and dream interpretation.
This blog will be an exploration of dreams and symbolism, mandala work, art, meditation through art, and sleep. It may lead us down unforeseen paths, like the time I followed a red balloon through my parent’s room, trying to convince them it was real and them trying to convince me I was asleep and needed to go back to bed. I hope you will join me on this journey.
Analytical cookies are used to understand how visitors interact with the website. These cookies help provide information on metrics the number of visitors, bounce rate, traffic source, etc.
The _ga cookie, installed by Google Analytics, calculates visitor, session and campaign data and also keeps track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookie stores information anonymously and assigns a randomly generated number to recognize unique visitors.
Installed by Google Analytics, _gid cookie stores information on how visitors use a website, while also creating an analytics report of the website's performance. Some of the data that are collected include the number of visitors, their source, and the pages they visit anonymously.