A few years ago, when I was having some troubles and needed someone to talk to, I began seeing a psychiatrist and/or counselor (I’m still not sure which one of these she was). I had low expectations for what I’d get out of it (and my psychiatrist met every last one of them), but in one of our more memorable sessions, she “hypnotized” me to find out what was going on in my subconscious. Presumably, she wanted to use whatever she found there — my beliefs, drives, passions, fears, worries, and so on — as a way to better understand whatever problems were plaguing me at the time. It was a complete (and comical!) disaster, of course, but ever since that fateful day on her couch, I’ve been interested in dreams, and the symbols and stories they contain.
With that in mind, I’d like to share the contents of the following, recurring dream that I had for many years. I don’t have it any more (or at least I haven’t had it in a very, very long time), but I’ve never forgotten it, partly because I’m quite interested in figuring out what it means.
Here is the dream as I remember it:
I am in my middle school library, sitting a large table in the back of the room, far from the circulation desk. The surface of the table is covered with large books, all of which have the same brown covers, like those you’d find on bound volumes of periodicals or academic journals rather than a set of encyclopedias. I am going through the books one by one and, aside from the librarian — who looked just like the kind-hearted old woman who served as the librarian at my grade school — there is no one else in the room. The fact that I’m alone doesn’t bother me. I don’t seem thrilled to be there, but I’m content as I sift through the books, trying to find a specific piece of information. What that bit of information is I don’t know. There’s the sense that I’ll know it when I find it.
Suddenly, the lights go out and the nice old librarian turns into a ghoulish vampire (or zombie) who really seems to want to bite me. Stricken with terror, but able to keep my wits about me, I (somehow) know that the only way to get the lights back on and make the librarian return to her human form is to get the book I’m holding into the book return slot at the circulation desk.
Because I’m at the far end of the library, and there is a veritable sea of other tables and study carrels between me and the circulation desk, the room becomes something of a maze. The tables aren’t much of an obstacle, but the carrels are tall and hard to see around, which the librarian/vampire uses to her advantage.
I make a break for it and dash to the circulation desk. The vampire is stealthy and quick, but always seems a step too slow. However, knowing that doesn’t diminish my fear. I make it to the desk and slide the book through the return slot. The lights come back on and the librarian becomes a human again. Relieved, I saunter back to my table, sit down, and begin going through another book. Then, just when I’m finally able to relax, the lights go out again….
So what’s this dream all about? With the help of Theresa Chung’s Dream Dictionary from A to Z, and Tony Crisp’s Dream Dictionary: An A to Z Guide to Understanding Your Unconscious Mind, I plan to find out.
Step one is digging into the meaning of the symbols featured in my dream, which I’ll do now.
To dream of books can be symbolize knowledge, wisdom, intelligence. The search for knowledge and the ability to learn from the opinions of other people. If you are surrounded by books in your dreams, this might suggest that you are more concerned with theory than practice. Depending on the kinds of books that figure in your dream, they can also suggest the world of imagination and escape…. If the books are very old, this suggests learning an inherited wisdom.
The way we respond to anxiety and pressure in real life is typically manifested as a chase dream. Often in these dream scenarios, you are being pursued by some attacker who wants to hurt or possibly kill you. You may be running away, hiding, or trying to outwit your pursuer. Chase dreams may represent your way of coping with fears, stress, or various situations in your waking life.
In dreams, a library can represent a storehouse of your experiences in life as well as in your intellect. If someone distracts you in the library in your dream, it may suggest that the ideas being considered in waking life are not worth your attention. If you are working on your psychic and spiritual development, the library will have added significance as a place where the collective wisdom of human kind is collected.
A symbol of clarity and insight, and it can signify the light at the end of the tunnel.
There is a clear difference between light and dark in a dream, especially if it features an indoor location. Darkness can mean that your situation is unclear or confused. It could also suggest being in unknown or difficult territory, or it may represent a secret part of yourself or a part that you do not know.
The most obvious image of a vampire is of a creature that is dead and sucks the blood of the living, rising from the grave at night to do so, then sleeping all day in a most inhuman-like fashion. Your blood is your life force, it carries with it everything you need to survive; if your blood drains away, you become weak and die…. Vampires are often repelled by simple, natural things like daylight; they are also turned away by religious symbols in mythology.
Dreaming of these parasitic creatures can signify a number of things: that a part of your existence is having the life sucked out of it, that you need to take a closer look at the most tiresome aspects of your life and dispel the worries connected with them or that you need to employ some kind of self-preservation or protection.
Step two is considering the meaning of these symbols and fitting them into an explanation that stays true to my feelings about the dream and makes sense in the context of my life.
I’ll do that next time. Stay tuned ….