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Universal and Personal Symbols

When most people see a piece of artwork depicting a mother cradling an infant, thoughts of nurturing, mothering, or love may come to mind.

The symbol of the mother is a universal symbol, so from culture to culture, many people would view this expression of motherhood in the same way.

Universal symbols are symbols that have similar meanings around the world, no matter the culture. Examples of universal symbols would be a dove, water, a snake, the mother, the father, the child, the moon, a circle, a star, or a rose.

But what if you dream of a universal symbol and find that its universal meaning is absolutely no help to you in discovering the hidden meaning of your dream? This symbol may be a personal symbol rather than a universal symbol.

Personal symbols are symbols whose meaning varies from one person to the next.

You dream of a dove; a universal symbol for love and peace. But, say you set doves free at your wedding, and they alighted on your wedding cake, rendering it inedible. You may not see the dove as a symbol of love and peace, but rather as an annoyance.

When interpreting your dreams, itís important to view each symbol as both potentially a universal symbol and a personal symbol. Universal symbols tap into the power of the collective consciousness, yet personal symbols tap into our own personal mythology, making them powerful tools for spiritual and emotional growth.

Even Dr. Carl Jung, who considered dreams to be our allies on the road to transformation, believed that to be able to understand our own personal mythology and our own personal symbols would help us to open the doors into the inner realms where dreams connected with us on a soul level.

"The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens into that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was a conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach." Carl Gustav Jung ó The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man, 1934

Universal symbols connect us to our dreams on a cultural level and personal symbols connect us to our personal stories. Itís important to remember that our strengths and weaknesses are born from our own personal mythology, and ultimately, our sense of being is created, all through stories that may, or may not, be true.

In the dreamtime, those personal symbols work to awaken and heal us, and bring the light from our soul into conscious understanding.


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