SYMBOLS & METAPHORS
The language of dreams is expressed through symbols. Symbols are images that represent the dreamer's energetic state of being. Symbols can portray a person, an object, a group, a process, or an idea. What matters most, however, is the energy that the symbol embodies. If you see a pillar in you dream, for example, it is safe to say that it's a phallic symbol. On a deeper level, however, a pillar is the embodiment of masculine energy. In this regard, a symbol functions as a metaphor for something else.
One challenge we face in dream analysis is the fact that the language of dreams is typically inverted. That is, what you see in your conscious, rational mind represents inverted energy. So, if you see a pillar - which embodies masculine energy - it is the inverted image of the dreamer's otherwise feminine attitude toward the situation at hand. In this regard, the unconscious mind sends symbols that compensate for your conscious state of being. As a rule, inverted symbols do not contradict the conscious mind. Instead, they function as a balance for the conscious mind. Those who are familiar with the signatures of Odu Ifa will notice that what the client sees is an inverted image of what the diviner sees. In the signature above, for example, the client sees Owonrin Ogbe. The diviner, however sees Ogbe Irosun. The symbols are not reversed; they are inverted.
Your conscious mind cannot always accept what you experience in life. Perhaps a loved one has died or you've lost your job or your home has gone into foreclosure. If the experience is too overwhelming, you might go into various levels of denial. Still, your unconscious mind wants to rectify the situation and help you deal with the reality before you. So it sends you symbols that are disguised in ways that you will accept and perhaps even find appealing. The first - and most powerful - experience I had of this was very early in my career. I was woking with an elderly man in Mexico. He told me of nightmares he was having. In the dreams he would sometimes see his brother. Other times, he would see his sister. Both of them had died tragically in different situations. He wanted revenge. But upon further analysis, which included Ifa divination, I discovered that the images were not what they appeared. In reality, they were disguises. In reality, it was his ancient ancestors who were sending symbols that he would easily recognize. They wanted him to sacrifice so that they could rectify the situation for him.
Recently, I dreamt I was in my old house, where I lived with my ex-wife. The climax of the dream was when I got into an argument with a tall Caribbean dread. As the argument escalated I finally exclaimed, "I don't even KNOW you!!!" At that point, he became super indignant... "You don't know ME? You don't know ME??? I'm Rashid!!!" Instantly, I was transported from the house and I found myself outside, near the lake. I started to run down the street and then woke up. Sometimes, a single image can be the fusion of numerous symbols. In this case, a Caribbean dread who was not a rasta, but a Muslim. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Rashid means "the Guide."
In spite of the spiritual, metaphysical and emotional importance the Yoruba attach to dreams, dreaming is widely believed to be a foolish exercise. The Yoruba say, Ala go (dreaming is foolish). This based upon the belief that a dream is only a partial message that cannot mean anything by itself until it is supplemented by additional information that only the dreamer or the interpreter can provide.
Among the Yoruba, dreams are interpreted from three perspectives.
Now, let's take a look at some dream symbolism and interpret them according to the perspectives mentioned above:
Interpreting dreams is generally regarded as a spiritual gift and only those gifted are versed in the art of dream interpretation. Some highly talented Ifa priests sometimes do dream interpretation. The interpretations above are simply place holders, based upon generally accepted Yoruba symbolism. The historical or social background of the dreamer definitely will provide necessary insight. For example, a symbol could mean one thing to a 25 year old woman and something completely different to a 55 year old woman.
In many ways, dream interpretation, like divination, requires collaborative decoding by both the dreamer and the interpreter: the former provides additional context for his dream while the latter provides paradigms for establishing correlation between a symbol and its meaning.
Within the art and practice of OrisaLifestyle, dreams fall into several categories. Some are dreams of instructions -where the person can be taught different types of OOGUN - magical formulas/medicines. There are dreams that tell you of the past or a past event. There are some that forewarn you of an event that is yet to come to pass.
There are also initiatory dreams in which you are initiated in a different dimension, known as IJO ERIWO. This realm is where dearly departed olorisas and babalawos dwell.
Similarly, there are dreamlike visions - ASTRAL TRAVEL - in which you participate in a meeting of the elders of the night. This typically happens as the result of taking IMULE - an oath - with the elders of the night, who are commonly called AWON IYAAMI AGBA.
IMULE are used for the priest to get the blessings and protection of the elders of the night and to know what they are doing. Some IMULE will endow you with some aspect of the powers of the elders of the night. For example, you might acquire clairvoyant powers or they will tell you about things before they happen.
Nobody will ever tell you that they are AJE or AGBA - witches - although all good or powerful olorisa and ifa practitioners do have the imule that protects them from witchcraft. Do not believe people who will tell you that they are AJE or that they will initiate you into that society. It is EXTREMELY secretive. Those who tell don't know and those to know won't tell!
Most initiated priests of orisa are supposed to have the power of dreams, but it varies from person to person. In addition to ALALAATA, who are the professional dreamers, there are also practitioners who are versed in GBE ALA MO - the art of knowing through dreams. One way to acquire this ability is through ASEJE (my temple students will be familiar with this). It can also be achieved through GBERE - incisions - or OSE DUDU - black soap. All of these will make use of ETU - activated charcoal - which I have written on in my blog. Either way, when a person uses these preparations, he or she will have GBE ALA MO.
COURSE ON DREAM INTERPRETATION
Dreams and sacred text are both driven by the power of symbols. A symbol is much more than an image that represents something other than what it appears to be. For example, we might say that a fruit symbolizes fertility, productivity or success. And while that is true, from an intellectual perspective, it doesn't stop there. The symbol is also a receptacle of energy. When you see a fruit in your dream or in a divination, you're actually coming into contact with the energy of productivity on a psychic level. As you analyze and decode the dream, you learn to release the POWER of productivity within you. It is through accurate interpretation that you activate the power of dream symbols in real life.
For the first time, I am offering a mini course on dream interpretation. In this course, you will explore dream interpretation according to best practices of West Africa and Jungian psychology. Are you ready to unleash the power of your dreams using OrisaLifestyle and Jungian methods? Enter your contact information to learn how!