A Theology of Dreams

I realise that in defining a theology of meditation and altered states of consciousness I need to also touch on dreams, archetypes and symbols.

Oneiromancy is the study of dreams and their interpretation and it is found throughout the Bible. The books of Daniel and Acts are obvious starting points but the question I hope to provoke by invoking the word oneiromancy is: what makes dream interpretation Christian? Dream interpretation was a form of pagan revelation also, it wasn’t just the prophets that engaged in it. Phenomenologically there is no distinction. So how is it ontologically different? It is the deity that is invoked as guide.

But I wan’t to take this further. How do we interpret the archetypes and symbols that arise in dream consciousness. Recently I have been wondering about powers and principalities language in the letters of Paul, to what degree were these internalised or externalised. It is not clear Paul made a distinction. Some theologians, such as John Howard Yoder, have proposed that powers and principalities language can provide a framework for understanding collective sin / structural injustice. I’ve been wondering to what extend this may also be employed to provide a framework for understanding inner phenomena, the archetypes that inhabit the collective unconscious.

Anyway, my thoughts are still quite embryonic on all this so feel free to comment.

One thought on “A Theology of Dreams

  1. God, how wonderful!
    I became interested in dream meanings when I was in High School. I bought this one book that was basically an alphabetized list of symbols and their meanings. After going through it, I was struck by how my inner compass just kept pulling farther and farther away from it. It just wasn’t right.
    Now, I think they have to be interpreted according to what those symbols mean in the life of the individual.
    I had a dream with a woman named Jane in it. This woman looked like the 50 or 60-something woman I used to go to Church with. I recognized her very clearly. No one else in the dream was anyone I actually knew. But later as I reflected on it, I realized that she was standing in for another Jane in my life. My Grandmother.
    I was not allowed to call her “Grandma” or anything like that because I was the first Grandchild and that apparently made her feel old. So I was instructed to call her “Jane”. It was weird – and as a child, I knew it was weird. So I felt self-conscious about it.
    But once I saw that the intense recognition of this Jane character was so that I could experience the story without being traumatized but then later figure out what was really going on once the parallel was drawn, I realized that meanings must be rooted in the dreamer themself in order to bear the weight of the drama.
    I don’t know how this worked with Daniel and all, but it’s easy to see when Nathan tells David the story of the man with one ewe lamb. All of the weight came crashing down on his head once the parallel was made. It was like that.
    I’ve been thinking about the P&P’s today. How much of that is actually demonic. How much of demonic is actually external to us. How much is internal or just institutional momentum. I’m still hanging onto my belief in demons. I believe that they are creatures seperate from us and that they disguise themselves and trick us. I believe that they “inspire” institutional momentum. I believe that they literally feed off our sorrow and destruction like it’s a crop that they harvest.
    I also believe that humans learn and rehearse their lore like it’s a sort of music that soothes the soul. We need Shadow characters in our waking and sleeping lives. We need places to store our fear and rage so that we can function day to day. We have to tell stories about how the Good Guys win and the Bad Guys lose so that we can feel victorious. And we have to tell stories of sorrow and loss to so that we can grieve.
    The collective sub-c. is a big concern to me. The reason why a Prophet is never honored in their home town lies here. I have much to think about…. but I must go.


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