I received a text this morning from a friend:
“I had a dream of broken glass in my mouth and pulling large shards out of my tongue. PS my dad just had massive stroke.”
It occurred to me that this short snippet of a dream and the accompanying information presented a good opportunity to illustrate two themes in dream work.
The first is the notion of association. Whether the images in this dream connect in any obvious way to the relationship between the dreamer and his father, we can be absolutely certain that there is one. How do we know this? Well, the dreamer has told us so. By including this piece of information in his text, the interpretation has already begun. And whatever meaning we derive from examining the dream, we absolutely must connect it to issues that may exist between father and son at this time.
The second point I can illustrate is the way in which a symbol itself can be broken down to yield some interesting results. In this dream, it is glass that intrigues me. While most people might gloss over this image and go right to the juicy details of the shards of glass stuck in the dreamer’s tongue, I suspect that if we look at glass itself for a moment, we will get a distinction worthy of the effort it will take to get it.
Looking for the universal meaning is best done by examining the use or essence of the thing itself. Since we don’t know what this particular glass was used for (it’s now in shards) let’s consider its essence. Glass is a fine material that is made by heating sand to very high temperatures, changing the molecular structure into the transparent, brittle substance we are familiar with. When it is broken, the sharp edges can be very dangerous indeed.
So now to the dream itself. Any obstruction to the mouth in a dream is going to connect to issues of communication. This dreamer is expressing dangerous obstacles associated with communication, things either said or unsaid. My inclination is to go with unsaid and here’s why: Sand is made up of small particles of rock. Rocks are symbolically associated with memory; they contain the blueprints of the past through the study of geology. Sand can be made into glass under the pressure of extreme heat. It is possible that the shards of glass causing problems today may be the result of old ideas, heated up over a long period of time, transformed into glass. And since we know his relationship with his father is key, it is safe to say that his exploration of what this dream is representing should be concentrated on those things that have been left unsaid that may be causing pain in the present.