Your boss calls to tell you you’re probably getting a promotion, but you have to call someone whose phone number you don’t have. You ask everyone around but you can’t track it down. Then you see on TV that a bus is driving off into the ocean in your hometown, and suddenly you’re there, being swept away by the currents. You wake suddenly in a panic. What does it mean?
Sometimes we get the sense our dreams are trying hard to tell us something. Even if they are not precise premonitions, they can tell us a lot about ourselves. G. William Domhoff, Research Professor in psychology and sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz says of his research on dreaming, “We have shown that 75 to 100 dreams from a person give us a very good psychological portrait of that individual. Give us 1,000 dreams over a couple of decades and we can give you a profile of the person's mind that is almost as individualized and accurate as her or his fingerprints."
For our indigenous partners in the Amazon rainforest, the Achuar, dreams are an important source of information. The Achuar are one of many indigenous peoples that are a practicing "dream culture." The Achuar use their dreams to guide their actions, and the division between dream and waking life is less distinct than it is for Westerners.
A Guide to the Subconscious
While the meaning of a dream will depend on the individual dreamer, some guidelines have been developed to help dreamers struggling with strange dream symbolism. Much of modern dream interpretation is inspired by Freudian theory, which placed importance on fulfillment of repressed desires as well as the events of the day preceding the dreams, what he called “day residue.” The interpretations below come from the Dream Moods dream dictionary and derive from Freudian and other psychoanalytic models of dream interpretation.
Chasing - If you are the one being chased, you may be avoiding a situation or “running away.” This dream represents your insecurity, unless your pursuer is an animal, in which case the animal represents your own repressed anger. If you enjoy being chased, it may mean you enjoy being pursued romantically and can even signal the beginning of a relationship.
If you are the chaser, it means you’re trying to meet a difficult goal or are experiencing aggressive feelings toward others.
Falling - In this case it depends on whether you experience fear as you fall in a dream. If you’re not scared, the dream means that you will overcome adversity with ease. Fear when falling indicates a lack of control or support in your waking life. You may be going through a major struggle or feel you have failed at a recent task.
Failure - Dreams of failing represent low self esteem and fears of inadequacy. You may not be applying yourself to your fullest potential or are overwhelmed by pressures to succeed.
Lipstick - Wearing or seeing lipstick in a dream means you’re not being entirely truthful about something and may need to watch what you say. If the lipstick is red, it may also signify sexuality.
Nachos - Preparing or eating nachos is a sign from your dreams that you need some down time! (To relax, and prepare nachos, for example…)
Searching - If you are searching for something in a dream, it means you’re missing it in your waking life. The search may represent your need to find love, spirituality, peace, or a solution to a problem.
Sex - While some would suggest all dream roads lead here, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus on what it means to actually dream about sex. It may refer to a bonding of different parts of yourself, reaching a kind of psychological completion. To dream about having sex with a stranger may represent uncertainty about what lies ahead in your life. To dream of sleeping with an ex signifies fears of moving forward. And a more literal interpretation is that it’s your body’s way of telling you it’s been too long since you’ve last had sex.
Unicorn - Spotting a unicorn in your dream may signify high ideals, hope, and insight, or possibly your own one-sided views. Unicorns also represent power, gentleness, and purity.
Unpreparedness - To be unprepared for something in a dream suggests your anxiety and lack of confidence around an upcoming event. You’re afraid you won’t live up to the expectations of others.
Waffles - It’s not clear how they came up with this one, but to dream of waffles means that you need to come down from your lofty ideals and take a more realistic point of view. You may also be “waffling” on an issue and need to take a clearer stance.
Z - To see the letter Z in your dreams means you need to get more Zzzs, otherwise known as sleep!