My nephew Zachary is about to go off to college this fall. Both he and his sister Sarah have been sharing their dreams with me since they were little. This one seemed worth sharing with you all because it illustrates one of the primary tenets of dream symbolism (houses as self). In addition, the timing of the dream and the context of some of the details in it connect so obviously with the journey of a young man leaving home and facing the college experience, it is a good example of how exploring a dream can reveal what the unconscious wants you to know.
There are so many rich symbols in this dream worth exploring. For the sake of this article however, I am going to limit my interpretation to just one theme – otherwise it would be the length of a short term paper! Here is his email to me:
Hey Uncle Mike,
I had a question about a [possibly reoccurring] dream. We have a family friend who is a doctor and lives a few towns away. They live on some 14+ acres with a house that is nice but not excessive in size or decoration.
I remember having a dream a couple months back about a house (more like a mansion) that would be found in a place like Tuxedo Park (wealthy town in New York State). In the dream the house belongs to this family friend. Throughout this dream, I remember exploring and finding different hidden staircases and such around the house. I only remember a few places in this house. One is a huge library (in which I’m never on the ground floor, I’m on some kind of balcony that runs the perimeter of the room with no staircase to the ground floor). One is an outside corner of the house (grey/tan stone, green grass and old windows: think old stone mansion). And the last is a large basement that looks like it could be on the back end of a cruise ship. Huge open space and a pool table are what come to mind right now (blue, green, gold, chrome and a bit of blue are the colors I remember. I remember running around this house a finding staircases going from the basement to the library or other places.
Last night I had a different version of this dream I guess. Same library same house but the basement was different. The basement was 2 floors instead of 1 and was completely empty. The walls were exposed cinderblock and the floors were empty. There was paint on the floor at the base of the walls but it wasn’t spilled. It looked like someone had tried to paint the floors with a paint roller but only did the edges of the room in like random strokes. This time I used the main staircase to get into the basement (but I still do not know how I got to those stairs). When I reached the lower level of the basement I noticed that there was water entering the basement. It wasn’t rising fast or dangerously but I know I thought it was because I remember feeling frightened and started heading for the staircase that led to the library. Next thing I know I’m in the library.
I know that in both of these dreams I was not exploring alone. I never saw who I was with but I knew someone or multiple people were with me. I did see other people in the dream though I can’t remember who I saw.
I’m not exactly sure what to make of this but I figured it would be worth asking you.
Please let me know what you think,
Houses in dreams connect to our sense of self. This idea of being in a mansion in your dreams is a common experience and relates to the way in which our sense of who we are gets bigger and bigger as we move through life. Exploring a mansion in your dream life is a sure sign that your sense of self is expanding in a very positive way and is a natural place for you to be in this year of your life where you put the chapter of childhood behind you and go off into the beginning of your life as an adult.
Libraries are filled with books and connect to the availability of knowledge and information. I am fairly certain that this image is coming up for you because of the imminent change in your life that going to college represents; you are about to embark upon a journey where the symbolic library of your inner self will need to be accessible and utilizable. Being stuck on the second floor with no apparent access to the rest of the house could indicate some fears around how difficult it might be to connect to your intellectual prowess and still manage to stay grounded in the rest of you.
The basement connects to what is down below the consciousness of our psyche. Not so deep that you can’t access it, but below the surface of your day to day experience of yourself. In the first dream, it is interesting to me that the basement has a lot of images that represent leisure time activities – a pool table, a cruise ship. In the second, more recent dream (which I don’t need to point out is coming at a point when you are just weeks away from going to college) the basement reflects a level of being unfinished and sloppily attended to. Additionally, it goes down to a deeper level of your consciousness (2 floors instead of 1). The closer you get to the responsibilities to come, the more your unconscious is expressing the fears of not being quite ready. The slow rising water might be the emotional expression of these fears; not overwhelming, but clearly there. This is a good thing and is, in fact, necessary for you to face what is on its way to you with courage and fortitude.
You are not alone in the dream. And you are not alone in your life. Both as a symbolic expression of the aspects of yourself that you have to call upon (your innate intelligence, your desire to please, your willingness to push through difficult circumstances) and as the people in your life that will be there to support you that you haven’t even met yet – the new friends you will meet at school.
As you have more dreams like this (and I think you will likely have more) use them to understand how your journey is evolving.