Working With Dream Themes: Holiday Symbolism

Christmas Tree as Tree of Life

Christmas Tree
Pin by Sheree Graves

With the holidays soon upon us, and a recent dream I had of a Christmas tree, I was reminded that dream symbols reflecting Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year often commonly appear this time of year. No doubt the dreams containing these holiday symbols are drawing off the powerful energy and high intensity of feelings, remembrances of past holidays and gatherings with old friends and family that the holidays bring. So during this holiday season, pay attention to your holiday symbols and ask what they mean for you. Because these symbols are so powerful and are so connected with important times and passages in our lives, they have much to offer in new insight.

Dream: Christmas Tree of Transformation

Many years ago, visionary dreams were fashioning the course for the remaining half of my life but I did not understand those dreams then. They were so surrealistic and majestic that I only knew they didn’t pertain to my humdrum life at the time. One such dream was a Christmas tree dream in which I dreamed that I was standing in front of a very tall and beautiful Christmas tree. Taking up my full field of vision, it was lavishly decorated with brilliant lights and tiny magical ornaments in the shapes of different women. The tree was so stunning it took my breath away. A voice came in the dream and said, “This tree is your life. All those beautiful ornaments and lights on the tree are the various heartaches, difficulties and challenges you will face in your life. Eventually, they will turn from something repugnant into something of beauty, light and wonder—like these ornaments. This tree is part of an agreement you made before you born.”

In terms of symbolism, it was clear that the magnificent tree represented the Tree of Life, my life. The shining lights indicated the celebratory end of a healing process. The tiny figures of various kinds of women certainly represented me in all my aspects—and at the same time could possibly represent all the people I was meant to help, since most of these have been women. (Dreams often uncannily have simultaneously an inner and outer meaning.)

In mentioning the contract I already made, the voice in the dream seemed to imply that it was my job to help make sure the negative aspects of my life turned into positive and literally glowing results. I was already starting to accumulate my share of negative experiences so I knew the dream was pointing out something important! I also thought it very intriguing that the voice said this was something I agreed to before I was born—an interesting concept which I later learned Plato had written about as well as other metaphysical thinkers such as Edgar Cayce and some of the New Age writers.

At the time, the Christmas tree dream seemed to make no sense from a practical standpoint other than give me a lot pleasure remembering the beauty of it. It actually added a burden by implying I had a mission to do, as if I could turn lemons into lemonade! I could easily count the hurts to tally up the lemons but my dream gave me no clue about the pesky details: how, when, why and who would be involved in turning the lemons to lemonade. And besides, what did this have to do with immediate and practical problems of paying the rent, accumulating a 401K, or earning vacation time? However, the dream had a much deeper meaning, pointing to a far reaching and fundamental purpose of my life.

Indications of Growth and Progress in Dreamwork

When my students do dreamwork (the recording and working with dreams to learn something from the dreams) on a regular basis, what I sometimes get asked is this: How do I know I am making progress in working with dreams?

This is a good question, because unless I am working with someone who knows a lot about dreamwork such as a dream mentor, the answers may not be all that apparent, especially in the beginning. However, in the long run, progress will definitely become more obvious because of the positive changes the dreamer will see in his or life.

Indicators of progress in dreamwork can be seen in the following:
  • Dreams become more vivid and easier to remember. A beginner usually has difficulty remembering dreams. Just having the intention to remember dreams will often prompt the dreamer to remember his or her dreams. Need help in remembering dreams? See Tried and True Tips to Better Remember Your Dreams at
  • Dreams seem to “come” when one needs or wants them. Just making the intention to do regular dreamwork or participate in a dream class will often encourage the psyche to offer the dreamer a sudden outpouring of dreams.
  • Discovering that dreams do respond to requests for information and wisdom with appropriate insights. Asking for a particular dream (Dream Incubation) and getting a helpful answer is truly empowering for the neophyte starting the study of dreams. It’s like meeting a powerful helper for the first time. This experience gives the dreamer confidence to ask for more help from dreams. For information on incubating a dream see Ask and You Shall Receive: Incubating a #Dream at
  • Experiencing a lucid dream. A lucid dream is one in which the dreamer feels like he or she is awake and aware in the dream, all the while knowing it is a dream. Conscious choices can be made within the dream.  One feels one can create the dream.  Like dream incubation, this is an empowering to the dreamer.  Lucid dreams can be also be requested for or intended in order to heal, problem solve or gain information.
  • Experiencing healing, a solution or guidance in a dream or through information received in a dream.
  • Discovering and evaluating what contributions dreams have made. After recording dreams for a significant period of time, one can go back and review dreams to find how they related to events and experiences in waking life during that time. This can be an eye-opening experience of discovery when one sees that many dreams do come true, show the processes and transformations one is going through in life, and support and nurture the dreamer from a deeper source.

The Importance of Dreams for Recovery of Soul Loss

Dreams: A Pathway to the Soul

Dreams: A Pathway to the Soul Image via Pertash Koul

Do you feel out of touch with yourself? Do you feel that your culture is shallow and vapid? You are not alone. In 20 Diagnostic Signs That You’re Suffering From “Soul Loss,” Lissa Rankin, M.D., states that this is a very common malady in today’s world. She says not only individuals suffer from this but so do cultures. In my opinion, religions, and in particular, churches can also suffer from it. Whenever we, whether individually or collectively, have lost sight of what animates us, what makes us come alive or what drives us, we suffer from a form of soul loss.

Dreams and holding on to a dream are some keys to recover the soul’s enlivening power in our waking life. Dreams come from the soul itself and speak for the soul and its needs. It is no wonder that so many individuals suffer soul loss when they don’t value their dreams and don’t make an effort to remember them or work with them. Institutions lose soul when they lose sight of the founder’s vision or dream for that organization. This is particularly true of religions and churches which become social clubs or babysitting stations for kids when the ties to a deep spiritual connection have been broken or not promoted among the followers.

Therefore, a remedy for recovering from soul loss is studying about dreams, learning both how to work with them and learning from them:

Individually, this means keeping a dream journal and doing dreamwork on an on-going and consistent basis.

Collectively, this means studying and learning from the dreams and visions of the founders. Institutions can recapture their original dynamism by going back to the basics, to be once again inspired by the founders, learning what defined the organization and why it was started in the first place.

Dreams and visions are all about purposes of soul and how soul presents itself in the world. What is your true dream? In that you will find your true inspiration.

The Bible, Dreams and Spirituality

In Dreams: A Way to Listen to God Morton Kelsey says, “…the Church has developed no theory that can bring the spiritual world closer to human beings.” This is a powerful statement. One would think that it would be a primary function of Christian religions to do this. Instead, the mainline Christian churches have traditionally offered biblical and theological studies which provide intellectual and cultural understandings of Christianity, but have moved away from experiential forms of spirituality which might let us personally “taste and see” the glory of God. I think this is one reason so many people have left mainstream Christianity to explore yoga, meditation and other experiential approaches to connecting to something greater.  Yet, as Kelsey points out in his book, dreams have always been part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and he heartily recommends using them as a spiritual methodology to bring the spiritual world closer to us.

It’s not like the spiritual world isn’t trying to contact us. It does so nightly in our dreams! But how few people make an attempt to remember their dreams, and of those who do, how few make it a practice to honor, record, reflect and learn from their dreams?

One only has to pick up a Bible and see the frequent references to dreams and the important role they played in shaping people’s lives. People who could interpret dreams, like Joseph and Daniel, were held in high esteem because it was thought that God spoke through dreams. In the Bible, the information received in dreams is shown to be very important such as in predicting times of flood or famine or helping a person in need. Joseph, the husband of Mary, was one of many who received an important message in a dream. He was told to not worry in taking Mary as his wife since the child she had conceived came in a most unusual way. All these characters in the Bible worked with and let dreams shape their lives—even when their lives depended upon it.

Perhaps, if we let God into our lives through our dreams, our lives would take on a much greater meaning and significance compared to the trivial and myopic views we hold in an uninformed waking life that is often driven by the demands of others as well as egoistic and material needs.