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Robert Herrick, poet who lived from 1591 to 1694 wrote this poem on dreams:

“Here we are all, by day; by night we’re hurl’d by dreams, each one into a several world.”

How true are his words! Once asleep we enter into our own private world of dreams. Since dreams are from the subconscious mind, symbols are most often specific to the dreamer. In my book, Do Butterflies Dream? I give suggestions on how to record dream symbols. My favorite method is to make a personalized dream dictionary with 3 x 5 index cards. Label the cards from A to Z and begin listing symbols as they manifest in dreams. For example, under ‘A’ I have listed the word ant. Then I have meanings written for what an ant in a dream might mean to me:

A – ant: pesky, irritating, annoying, bothersome, smelly…

If you are confused by a symbol in a dream and the meaning is difficult to pinpoint, do an internet search for that symbol and see if any words feel right for the symbol’s meaning. 

One night I dreamed about a woman who recently lost her husband. The dream was short, but left me with a feeling of sadness and loss. The woman was me. There was a little girl who was about six years old. I was the woman yet I was watching the woman and her child. They were at the park. The woman was sitting on a blanket and the daughter was playing when she came running up to her mother and began hugging her. When the woman looked up she saw the spirit of her deceased husband smiling at them.  I knew that the woman would never be alone, the husband would not be far away.

When I woke up I felt the woman’s feelings because in the dream world, her feelings and emotions are symbolic of feelings and emotions within me. I thought it was unusual that my dream scene took place in a park. As I pondered what ‘park’ meant I decided to write down some words in my dream dictionary. 

P – park: play area, restful, fun, family.

The definitions I came up with didn’t quite fit the feeling I had with my dream, so I looked up the meaning of ‘park’ on the internet and added only the words that felt like a correct representation of the word.

P – park: play area, restful, fun, family, green, public, playground, recreation

With the ‘park’ symbol clearly defined, I began to see which words felt most accurate for my dream interpretation. I ended up using one of the words that I had originally listed, but seeing other choices helped with choosing the correct meaning. 

At the time of this dream my youngest had recently gotten married and left home. I was experiencing great sadness at the loss. All of my children were now married or living on their own. The woman and daughter represented feelings and emotions of nurturing that were connected to fun and family (the park). The action and idea that the man symbolized in the dream was that of the family unit. My subconscious was revealing a message to me that even though my children were gone from the home and I was missing them, the action and idea of the family unit, our togetherness and ‘recreation’ we enjoyed with each other while they still lived at home, would never be far away.