Speaking in Symbols

Learning the language of the subconcious

Archive for the tag “Psychology”

“The dagger represents you completely”

A few nights ago, I had a dream. I dreamed I was at a seance (for lack of a better term). I was in a small room dominated by a large table, with many people gathered around. The walls were covered with pictures, plates, and other tchotchkes. The table was covered in a cloth, with many random images painted onto the fabric. The table was also bisected with a line of ash.

The man leading the séance (or whatever it was) instructed us to gather as closely around the table as we could, but to be careful not to touch the line of ash. He began by talking to a young man a bit to my right. As he pointed out symbols on the wall and on the table-cloth that represented the young man, his thoughts, feelings and desires, I unconsciously leaned forward to listen, resting my arms on the table, and disturbed the line of ash.

Pre-Roman Iberian iron dagger forged between the middle of the 5th century BCE and the 3rd century BCE. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Pre-Roman Iberian iron dagger  Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The man turned to me and called me by name–which startled me, because most people mispronounce my name the first time around. He said that I should not have been able to touch the ash, and that in doing so, proved that I had a great potential. He then pointed to an image of a knife on the tablecloth. He said “The dagger represents you completely.”

This dream, especially this line from the dream, have been subject to a great deal of scrutiny and confusion since that time.

A dagger is a weapon, pure and simple. It is designed to stab and slash–it is not a tool for, say working with food or skinning an animal.  It is ancient, with daggers being found from the neolithic era.

It is also a very masculine, aggressive symbol.  It represents conquer and aggression.  Everything about a dagger speaks of aggression, of force, and power. It is a tool of betrayal–to be an effective weapon, the wielder of a dagger has to be close to his victim.

In short, I couldn’t find much of anything to reconcile the dagger as a symbol for myself.

A few days of pondering this dream, and the thought came to me “What makes you think he was telling the truth?”

Huh.

I’ve been dealing with major depressive disorder for over 20 years now. That voice inside that’s telling me that I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not ANYTHING enough is very familiar to me, and I’m still learning to control it. The thing about that voice is that logically, I know it’s a product of my brain not processing chemicals correctly. Emotionally, it’s really hard to ignore.

By realizing the man in my dreams was a liar, it puts a face to my depression (which would be infinitely more useful if I could remember his face). It also shifts the important symbolism of that dream away from the dagger, and onto other elements–the ash, perhaps, or the fish and rice that played a role in a different part of the dream.

In speaking about depth psychology to my therapist, she said that learning these symbols is like learning the language of the soul. Different symbols, different images will have different meanings to different people. While books and websites like the ones i use as reference materials are helpful, I’m really the only one who can interpret what my soul is saying, and what my personal symbols are.

And that includes characters from my dreams.

 

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Stairs

While I have begun to notice and documents the symbols that pop up in my life, I don’t believe in signs or omens. A big part of me wants there to be a mystical side of life, but I have a hard time accepting that the universe really cares about what we do in our day to day lives.

That being said, I firmly believe in the subconscious. I think our bodies, and our minds know what is best for us–it’s just that we don’t always know how to listen. A big part of the work I’m doing with my therapist, and with this blog, is learning how to speak the language of the mind. It’s too bad that occasionally the mind has to use the body to get it’s point across.

I live in a 3rd floor walk up with exterior, concrete stairs. I’ve lived in my home for about six years. I am up and down those stairs at least three times a day, and can count the number of times I’ve tripped on them on one hand. That is, until today. I’ve tripped on my stairs twice within the last 36 hours.

Yesterday,  I tripped going up the stairs, I discounted it as simply wearing bad shoes and being in too much of a hurry. I also happened to have a little dog under my arm, and I considered the giant bruise on my knee a small price to pay, as long as Lulu was unharmed.

Flip flops. Not even once.

Flip flops. Not even once.

I didn’t think much of it.

This morning, I was chasing a dog (Lulu again–I wonder if she’s jealous that Max has become an archetype, but she hasn’t.) and I stepped wrong on the last step, spraining my ankle and going down hard. I didn’t hit my head, but the pain in my ankle, and in my bruised knees (the bruise from yesterday was freshened up, and it got a friend on the other knee) was bad enough, I thought I was going to pass out. Thankfully, I didn’t, and was able to collect myself enough to hobble through my morning appointments, and safely make it back upstairs where I could rest, ice, elevate and compress my hurt ankle. Oh, and figure out exactly how many ibuprofen I could take before overdosing, then taking exactly ONE LESS. (kidding. kind of.)

Maybe it’s because one of the appointments I had this morning was with my therapist that had me thinking of these accidents in the frame of the subconscious. I know that accidents happen, and that stairs are dangerous. But at the same time, it seemed odd that I should have two accidents on the stairs within two days of each other. The first didn’t cause the second–the first bruise hurt, but it didn’t affect my walking in any way. The second spill was caused because I wasn’t paying attention to where my foot was on the step, and I wasn’t balanced enough to keep upright. If the brain sends messages though dreams, random thoughts, images that pop into the mind and the like, then why not in the footing on familiar stairs?

With that in mind I started researching the symbolism of stairs and tripping. What I saw made me laugh.  From Dream Moods: *

“To dream that you slip or trip on the stairs signify your lack of self confidence or conviction in the pursuit of some endeavor. If you slip going up the stairs, then it means that you are moving too fast toward attaining your goals. If you slip going down the stairs, then it suggests that you are moving too quickly in delving into your subconscious. You may not be quite ready to confront your subconscious or repressed thoughts.”

Other sources had similar things to say, going up means you are successfully obtaining a goal, going down represents the hidden, and the subconscious. Tripping and falling is symbolic of being held up–not necessarily stopped. Tripping and falling are humbling acts, and happen when we get ahead of ourselves, or seek to usurp power.

This actually makes perfect sense to me. When it comes to intellectual projects, I tend to dive in head first, without checking the depth of the water, or even if I know how to swim. I get overwhelmed easily, and become doubtful of my ability to see things through. Interpreting the symbols that come into my life has been no exception, and it makes a lot of sense that my mind is trying to tell me to slow down, that I may not be ready for what I find.

Also that I need new shoes.

 

 

*Symbols are symbols, as far as I’m concerned. If they pop up in a dream, day dream, free write, meditative session, or on my shins, as in this case, the meaning doesn’t change.

 

 

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