The Dream and the Dreamer

For years I’ve been interested in dreams. I’ve had recurring dreams, meaningful dreams that I still remember vividly, and dreams that have come true much as I dreamed them. I once dreamed a portion of someone else’s lif and had them verify it.

Dreamer by Quinn McDonald (c) 2008What’s bothered me about dreams is that they seem personal and meaningful, but dream interpretation seems to be a impersonal, reduced to symbol searches. Many books list the items in dreams and assign them a meaning. You dream of flying, it’s a sign someone is going to die. In another book, flying is sex. (In that book, everything is sex. It doesn’t need to be 300 pages long, one would have been plenty.) [Editor’s note: WordPress automatically assigns links to posts based on keywords. Please be careful before clicking on the automatically generated links below this post.]

Another school of thought says that you are everyone in your dream. I’m not sure that works for me, either. Many of the people in my dream are known to me and many unknown that represent an idea or warning for me, but they aren’t me.

I think dreams are far more meaningful, and I don’t believe they are random images your brain fans out because you’ve eaten pepperoni pizza late at night. I believe dreams are a connection to the collective unconscious–the past of your cultural ancestors. I think dreams are a map of our lives, a colorful tapestry of adventures, a guide to the path we have chosen, an illuminated manuscript of both our imagination and our possibilities.

Currently, I’m enrolled in a seminar on dreaming, run by Robert Moss, the originator of active dreaming. Moss believes we can re-enter dreams, either in meditation or in subsequent dreams.

I’m keeping track of all this dreaming for both my dream journaling course and for some workshops on how to wake up to dreams, making them a useful part of your daydreams and waking life.

May 9 update: I had a dream in which I saw a woman who was a potential client in a crowd. She was very blond, almost glowing. The rest of the crowd was very dun-colored, as if a gray wash had been put over the whole scene. She began to bekon to me, but I couldn’t get to her, the crowd was too thick and not moving. [end of dream] I woke up and had this strong urge to email this person. So I did. Two days later she called me and said she had had a job come in, and hadn’t thought of me until she saw my email. I accepted the freelance job. I’m calling this a Quinncidence.

–Image: Dreamer, color pencil, aquarelle pencils on 100-lb. Bristol Board, Quinn McDonald (c) 2008 All rights reserved. This post is also under copyright by Quinn McDonald, who is a workshop developer and leader as well as a certified creativity coach. See her website at

16 thoughts on “The Dream and the Dreamer

  1. Hi

    I checked and I admit that you are correct that the dreams are 1/46th of the prophethood as stated by Muhammad in Hadith of “Muslim”.

    Thanks for correcting me.

    Kindly visit my blogsite and comment there and or for peaceful discussion on the posts/pages there on topics that interest you. You are welcome.


  2. Hi
    The dreams are very important but these have to be interpreted. I am sorry , I don’t know how to interpret the dreams.
    The truthful MessengerProphet Muhammad used to ask from the children as to whether they have seen any dreams and then he used to tell them the correct interpretations.
    Before Muhammad started receiving Word of Revelation from GodAllahYHWH he used to see truthful dreams and he mentioned that the dreams are 1/40 th of MessengershipProphethood.
    We also see mentioned in Quran (and also perhaps in Bible) that Joseph s/o Jacob saw a dream which his father interpreted correctly and that dream played a very important role in his life, rather the dream played a central part around which all his life revolved.
    Kindly visit my blogsite for interesting posts there and your peaceful comments or discussion there if you so like.
    I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

    —interpreting dreams is a personal and specific task. You learn by looking at what is related to your life in the dream and what is different. And I thought that the dreams of the Prophet were 1/46th of interpretation because that was the amount of his life he spent learning how to interpret his dreams. In any case, I do know that dreaming and symbolism is very important in many cultures, including Middle Eastern ones and Australia and the Philippeans. -Q

  3. Music is a life-long hobby of mine and during a few misguided years I played with a rock and roll band througout Colorado. One night a while back I dreamt I was walking out of a bar where I used to play and there were five tiny people, male and female, playing a small guitar which fit their little hands. The next day I was watching History Channel, a story about the 1939 Worlds Fair in NYC cancellation due to the Poland invasion. They were showing some of the acts slated to appear, one being a quintet of little people, male and female, performing on tiny guitars. When I saw this it gave me the idea for some lyrics to a piece of music a friend had given me and we were able to finish the tune. Regarding the portrait here, it’s a painting exercize forming an image shadows and light, and not lines.

    —Dream interpretation is a fascinating journey of discovery, imagination and source for art work. And yes, my art teacher is careful with technique and encourages us to use shading instead of line. It’s really hard, but I’m slowly catching on. I’ve seen your work, and it’s pretty amazing in detail and scope. -Q

  4. What a beautiful drawing Quinn, she looks so peaceful, really elsewhere.

    Whenever I try to summarize my dreams they lose all the perfect sense that they had before tried to pack them into words.
    I need my dreams pleasant and unpleasant and by now I manage to slip back into a dream after I had been awake to some level, awake enough to realize it. After waking up from ‘the second part’ of the dream I feel usually very tired and I wish I knew why.

    Years ago I somewhere read this wise sentence: “the one who neglects his dreams is like the one who receives a letter and does not open it”

    —It’s true, dreams provide clues to the future, information about the past, and a vast history of our collective unconscious. In my reading, I’ve discovered that the idea for came in a dream, as did the idea for Starbucks. Not bad for dreams. -Q

  5. The best dream book I have encountered is The Dreamer’s Dictionary, by Robert Condron. I think dreams are about you…all about you and what you have learned that day that can help with your soul growth. By analyzing my dreams using this book and with the help of my brother, I have done more for my growth and understanding of myself then any therapist could have done. Bravo to you for figuring this out. I never say “it was just a dream” anymore…my dream life is as valid a learning environment as my waking, physical life.

    —-I’ll have to look up the book. I don’t know it. But it sounds like you have a firm grasp on your dreams and the power they give you. I’ll have to check out the book. -Q

  6. Quinn, first, your image is exquisite! I love the contentment in her face, a sense of peace and calm. I love what you say about dreams and I’m with you on your perception. Historically, dreams were used for healing (as in the asclepieions found in the ancient Greek temples of Asclepius) as well as for guidance or divine inspiration. Genece

  7. That class looks like so much fun.

    I’ve had very vivid dreams, but usually of frustrating things that I can’t mistake as anything else but obstacles I run into in real life. And lots of dreams with bears in them (one reason why I’ve adopted them as a token animal). I’d love to have a lucid dream like Barbara mentions above.

    —-You can train yourself to do lucid dreams. After I’ve finished my class, research and reading, I think I feel a dream class coming on. . . –Q

  8. Beautiful pencil drawing, Quinn. Wish I could find a drawing class nearby.

    Lucid dreaming does happen now and then and you can choose what path to follow in those dreams. Quite awesome. I look at dreams as an extension of my life giving me opportunities not always available to my waking self–also, occasional bursts of wisdom amid much nonsense.

    —-I’ve been able to do that a few times, but am hoping my research, reading and this class will help me make lucid dreaming a more frequent activity. The wisdom is incredible. –Q

  9. So the book on sexy dreams would have a field day with the dream I had the other night where this female beagle followed my (fixed) male golden retriever into the house and immediately gave birth to a mixed litter of golden retrievers, beagles and tiger striped kittens!

    In reality, a good friend of mine adopted a dumped female beagle which has since given birth to a litter of beagles and possibly rottweiler pups; simultaneously a barn cat dumped a litter of kittens under the porch and the mama beagle took them in. My friend had to go hunt down mama cat and return the kittens; mama beagle kept looking for them for a while until the pups took more of her attention. But it was a fun dream!

  10. wonderful, wonderful image – so rich!
    I’ve had therapists/psychiatrists tell me what matters about our dreams is what they mean to us – not someone else’s dream symbol. When I try connect to how the dream made me feel, that helps me figure out how to interpret it personally. I used to keep a dream journal but the entries were so bizarre it was a little scary to read weeks later!

    —I’ve had some bizarre dreams, too, and when I read them weeks later, I could see a pattern developing of an answer or an idea. It helps if you can pick apart what is familiar in the dream to what has a connection to a problem or its answer. –Q

  11. This image is lovely and speaks of dreams. Dreams have always fascinated me too and I always find it amazing how pertinent our dreams can be. And sometimes they seem to have no connection at all!

    –There really is something fascinating about them. I’m going to keep better track and do a little more research–I have a feeling that the ones that don’t seem to have a connection are telling us something, too. –Q

  12. Such a beautiful image – dreams have always fascinated me too – I have mixed ‘beliefs’ about them, mostly I view them as memories, messages and portents. I am most interested to read more of your explorations.

    —I sat in the library, reading research about dreams, and missed lunch. It has to be some mighty interesting reading to get me to miss lunch! I’ll keep you posted about my discoveries. –Q

  13. This is really good, Quinn.

    —Thanks, Lori. It’s another fascinating class in layering color. One of the things I learned was using shading instead of line–the nose has no outline, just shading marks. That was quite hard for me to “see” so I could accomplish it. Not so surprisingly, this one has 25 colors in it. And that doesn’t count the blue in the hair. –Q

  14. Your image is beautiful, Quinn. As for dreams, who knows? I sometimes wish I could figure mine out, too.

    —Once you look at dreams like interesting fiction, written by someone who knows the background, it becomes quite interesting to figure out what some of the fantastic themes or objects mean. –Q

  15. Well said, Quinn. I dream often and vividly, and always in full color. I can’t ever begin to define any meaning in my dreams. I do know that most are quite joyful, some absolutely nonsensical.


    –thanks, Vi. I dream in color, and I taught myself to remember them when I wake up so I can think them through from different states of awareness. –Q

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