In the journey to connect with your creativity and follow your soul path, dreams provide insights and symbols for contemplation.

Once you have started recalling and recording your dreams (see “Dream Recall and Interpretation”) using dream stories and symbols to inform your art is a valuable way to continue the dialog with your spirit.

Recording and researching dream symbols and stories

  • Use your dream journal to record the dream, underlining or otherwise highlighting the symbols and situations that felt the most charged with meaning.
  • Sometimes what would take me 3 sentences to describe is faster to relate it a quick sketch. Try sketching what you saw. I find this especially useful for dreams featuring houses or rooms with doors and other objects and people because the position of these items in relation to one another can be significant.
  • Animals are potent totems with strong messages. If an animal appears in a dream, note the situation and how you feel about the animal. Are you shared, happy, loving, wary?
  • The internet can be a good start for researching a symbol. I like for animal totem info…but there are many, many sites to choose from. The key here is to pay attention as you are reading to see what things resonate with you. If you have a strong YES!!! feeling, or a strong OH I DON”T LIKE THAT feeling, pay attention. Those are  indications that you have some introspection to do in those areas.
  • When you have done your internet research, or if your story/symbol does not lend itself to simple internet searching, go back to your journal and start writing. For each sybol, situation, person, write stream of consciousness to dig down for further insights.

Techniques for working with symbols and stories

There are 2 techniques I like to use to work with symbols and stories.

  • Incorporate the symbol into art. Do not worry about making it look perfect. This is about recording the feeling and exploring it, not about making a beautiful piece of art. Say you had a swan in your dream, start sketching swans. Make swans out of clay. Close your eyes and draw swans. Draw swans with your non-dominant hand. The idea here is to let go of making something look a certain way and to just start creating it. Note any feelings that arise as you work with the symbol in this way.
  • If you are hardcore, try getting up as soon as you recall the dream and making art right then and there. I recommend watercolors and watercolor paper. Soak the entire sheet of paper in a tub of warm water until the fibers just start to soften. Remove from the tub and wipe off the extra water. This will create really soft images when you paint…watery stuff that makes it impossible to be too precise, and it is also very forgiving. You can create the impression of the images and will not be able to make them exact, which is really what we are after.
  • Do some writing about the symbols. For example, if you have a swan, write as if you are the swan. This is a Jungian technique. Write “I am the swan and I represent _________________. I am here to teach you about ______________.” Write anything and everything that comes to mind. Do not censor or judge.

If you try any of these techniques, or have others you use, let me know. I would love to hear about your experience.