Dream Questions from Robert Johnson's BookInner Work, Using Dreams & Active Imagination for Personal
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Search: Robert A Johnson, Inner Work, Dreams)
Collated by Nancy Pfaff, MA
By working on dreams we focus a great deal of energy within the inner world.
This often creates a parallel energy in the people and situations around us. On
the other hand, if we repress a part of ourselves and keep it out of our
conscious life, it turns into a robber and starts
"stealing" our time
and energy by creating an emotional disturbance such as a compulsion or
obsession. Assume that the dream has come to: Challenge you, help you grow, wake
you up to what you need to learn and where you need to change. Adjust any
Use the following to work with persons that appear in your
What is this person conscious of? What are his/her values? Desires? Points
of view? What set of beliefs, what opinions, does this character function out
of? Do I consciously hold that same opinion without realizing it?
What is this person trying to communicate to you?
What pattern of behavior does this person reveal? Where is this pattern in
your personal daily life? What attitude is revealed in this pattern? What part
of me is it that feels like that, thinks like that, behaves like that?
Since neither the conscious attitude of your ego nor the unconscious
attitude of your inner self is the final answer, what would be the
"in-between" attitude? The unconscious attitude usually compensates
the ego attitude.
What does this person want and mean to you? Invent a name for the person
that seems to capture the personís character.
Get close to this inner person, find out what his/her character and
functions are, and learn from him/her directly what information or qualities
he/she has to offer and what his/her role is in your inner world. Where is
this functioning in my life lately?
Use the following questions to work with images, symbols and archetypes.
- What image had the most energy?
- Does this image remind you of a life-principle at
work within you? A
set of values? An inner sense of what way of life is most true to your
- What feeling do I have about this image? What words or ideas come to mind
when I look at it? Does the symbol seem to be a warning or an affirmation? (A
sickly green would be a negative sign, a healthy green more positive.)
- What colloquialisms does this bring to mind? Myths? Biblical stories? Other
- Do you see a universal pattern (archetype) in your dream, such as Great
Mother, Old Wise Man, or Young Princess? What are its characteristics? What is
its role in human life? What myths or fairy tales may help? How are you
letting this archetype incarnate in this world? What is this archetype doing
today in my personal life? What does this have to do with me individually? Note:
You can recognize an archetype is present because your dream will have a
mythical quality, such as taking place in ancient times, in legendary places.
Another sign is that things are bigger or smaller than life, animals may talk.
Archetypal figures seem to have an aura of royalty or divinity.
- Where is the Self presentóthe awareness of unity in ourselves and in the
cosmos? (Generally represented by a circle or square, but could be other
- One of the most frequent uses of places in dreams is to show you whose
"turf" you are on, whose influence you are under. To understand the
significance of place, ask to whom it belongs.
- Has something of childhood come up? Does the dream seem to be talking about
the overall picture of your life, the progression or developmental stages that
have gone on since childhood up to the present? Is there a passage from one
developmental stage to another?
Use the following to help with interpretation.
- What goes on inside me that this dream speaks of?
- What is the central, most important message that this dream is trying to
communicate to me?
- What is the dream advising me to do?
- What is the overall meaning of the dream for my life?
- What is the overall picture of my life the dream brings to me?
- How can I apply this knowledge gained from the dream?
- Write your interpretation on paper. A helpful interpretation will have a lot
of energy behind it.
- If you think the dream is calling you to take a certain action, argue both
for and against doing so. The final understanding may take truth from both.
- List events going on in your inner life over the last few days.
Use the following to make your dreamwork transformative by involving your
- Ritualize your dream by expressing the inner attitude change that the dream
called for. Involving the body takes the transformation into the deepest
levels of our being. (The best rituals are physical, solitary and silent.)
Sometimes only lighting a candle is enough.