Mar 232007

I dream I am in a house that seems unsturdy. I am on the second floor while the lower level is being worked on. I am walking with some caution. The kitchen looks big and very nice, some furniture here and there. At one point my cousin and I are laying on bed chit chatting and I feel like the bed is going to fall through the floor. I keep telling her, “You know we should go downstairs.”

Yellow House, by Clinton Snider

Most everyone wants to live somewhere safe, beautiful and roomy because it reflects that we are in good health and well-being. Similarly, the houses in our dreams tell us a great deal about the condition of our Self in waking life.

While the house itself is significant, the rooms within our dream-house each hold a particular significance. You might dream of your childhood home, suggesting some part of your past is being re-animated. Or maybe the house is an amalgam of familiar & unfamiliar because you are experiencing a combination of old & new territory. If you are living in an unfamiliar house, consider that you might be living into new aspects of yourself.

When interpreting the status of your own dream-house, you can understand each of the rooms as aspects of your personality by their function, as well as noticing what ‘level’ of your house the dream is occurring on.

Steady foundations make for a stable Self

In this dreamer’s house, there is a feeling of unsturdiness on the second floor. This is the level of the bedroom, the realm of intimate relationship. In her case, Karina tends to get involved in unreliable romances which fall through at the expense of her foundations. The bottom floor is our grounding in the world. For Karina, this is where the real work needs to be done – around issues of security like career, financial independence and physical health. Once she stabilizes her own footing, she will likely attract a more solid relationship.

While attics are where we store forgotten things; memories and secrets belonging to the family, basements are the dominion of the unconscious; the place from which fear, desire and hidden power arises. In horror movies we say, “Don’t go into the basement!” In dreamwork we say, “It’s all about going down, honey!”

The most private of all the rooms, the bathroom is where we strip down to our naked truth. It is where we process the things we’ve digested, ‘express’ our held-in emotions, and wash away the accumulations of daily life. In the early stages of dreamwork, many people have overflowing toilet dreams because of how ‘backed-up’ they can feel.

The kitchen is the alchemical hearth of the home

The kitchen is the alchemical center of the house. It is the hub where raw materials are transformed into nourishment for the self and others. It is where we create and provide for our family and enjoy the fruits of our labour.

If you are in a period of transition, your dream might take place in a hallway or hotel. You might find yourself in a closet if you’re hiding skeletons. Stairs might represent a developmental hurdle in your life, while doors are opportunities, taken or refused. If you dream of discovering new rooms, you are finding out how big you really are.

What does your dream-house look like? Maybe it holds a clue as to what area of your life needs attention, and where your secret powers are hiding. If you really want to know what’s what, I recommend taking a flashlight into the basement first.

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  17 Responses to “Dreamspeak: Your Dream House”

  1. I had a dream last night that I was in the bathroom of a spaceship that was in outerspace. We had reached the point of no gravity, and I had to take a shit, and I wondered what would happen when I took a shit. Would it stay in the toilet or would it float? I looked back behind me after I was finished, and saw that two big dumps had floated out of the toilet and stuck on the wall behind me. I remember cleaning them up — cleaning off the wall. What do you make of the whole spaceship thing and zero gravity?

  2. Love this! I often have questions about the symbolism in my dreams related to houses – some of the dreams have recurring themes and others are homes that are unfamiliar. This is incredibly helpful and insightful in understanding them – thank you.

  3. I often dream dirty toilet… What does it mean?

    • Loreta – It depends so much on the context. The overflowing toilet might mean that you are having some unprocessed stuff ‘come up’ or it may mean that you haven’t come to terms with some of your (or other people’s) ‘crap.’ These dreams are pretty common, especially when one is undertaking inner work, because it invariably brings up our ‘shit’ – but the good news is that it tends to clear up after doing some focused shadow work.

  4. Great article! It’s amazing to me how many different houses show up in my dreams, including those I’m familiar with from childhood and homes I once lived in. Recently I had one that involved a change to the structure of the basement floor, and it coincides with major shifts in my daily life.

    It takes a long time to really understand the symbolism, the metaphor in dreams, doesn’t it? I’m grateful for your blog and for the wisdom you share here.

    • Yay! I’m glad you’re here, Deborah. Congratulations on your foundational shifting!

    • Thank you Deborah! You know, it can certainly take time to become fluid with symbolic language, but in my experience, you can get at the meaning of most symbols just with a bit of writing to explore your associations and feel into your feelings. I’m so glad you’re here & I look forward to connecting more 🙂

  5. Interesting article, my dreams take place primarily in hallways. Hallways and stairs, running parallel, to one another, doubling back, and me searching around them. This makes sense given the options I face with school etc., although it does concern me that my searching of the different hallways and doors hardly ever leads me to where I want to go, only back to a place I’ve already been.

    Not sure what the article means by new rooms and “finding out how big you really are,” if my dream houses are any indication I am unfathomably huge, whatever that means.

    When I do find my way into the attic it is a generally nice place, some other people hanging out and having fun (a ball pit in one case) which fits the happy memories I have of growing up with my cousins.

    Anyway, thought it was an interesting article and wanted to share my experiences. It has left me with a couple questions though; First of all why are my houses so huge? Secondly, why are the bathrooms so inconsequential when I come upon them? Dream me just thinks “this isn’t it, this is just the bathroom” and keeps looking around the house. I’ll have to make a point to see what shape my dream toilet is in next time 🙂

  6. I love this and I love dreaming of my house. I often dream of a house where I go and there are rooms that I decide to do up, some rooms undiscovered, some get discovered and I am in awe of them. I find it interesting as the more I explore, the more I find…and not only in this life. For instance the further back I go into the old farm house, the earthier the rooms become. I think that when we go discovering these rooms we find aspects of ourselves often forgotten. I recently had a dream where did up my kitchen and found a nook by the fire where I could curl up and be warm when I was cold. Reflection – I had just started to really nurture myself. The last dream was a house where all the new rooms I had done up totally white, I realised I could do anything to it….reflection….I feel like I am on the edge of creating a new life for myself. When I was little and life wasn’t so good, I used to dream of a corner of the house which was sagging and rotting.
    Knocking out a wall to put a window up to let some light in…..I just love my dreams.

  7. My dream house I visit often. It is old, elegant, gigantic and filled with treasures. However, I am only able to occupy a small portion of the house because the majority of it is haunted. The haunted part is where the real treasures are. Sometimes I step into one of the rooms to look around. Things are covered in cobwebs and the entire time I am on edge because the spirits are all around me. I cannot stay long, even though I want to reoccupy it.

    I also have this area outside the house, at the bottom of the hill, where there is a large pool that is similar in quality to a Roman bath. But it has not been tended to in a long time and it feels like it is going back to the earth. It has a decaying elegance to it. I think ceremonies are sometime performed there.

  8. Toko-Pa I love each and every one of your posts, I find them very illuminating and inspiring. It is so serendipitous reading this today as a woman in my Red Tent circle asked me to interpret her dream which featured her childhood home. Thank you for all of your generosity of spirit and sharing of wisdom so freely. Immediately of course after reading this I had to email my women’s circle and link this superb article. I am encouraging our group to start recording our dreams as this work of unravelling the unconscious is highly complimentary to the inner work into which we delve during circle. Much blessings to you beautiful woman.

  9. Also: when I was going a primary relationship breakdown I had a potent dream of standing on a river bank looking back at my/our house. It was in a state of disrepair, the foundations were crumbling into the river, boards were peeling off and looked as if to topple at any moment. Inside the kitchen was brand new and perfectly intact. I went outside, thought “this house is f**ked, I need a new one” and watched it burn to the ground. I ran down the road, never looked back and hitched a ride down the road with a bunch of young good-looking men in a huge vintage car. (Don’t worry about analysing that last part!)

  10. I have been having house dreams for the past 12 to 18 months, corresponding to the breakdown of my marriage. My dream houses are always different, always unfamiliar and always very shabby. I feel heavy and sad that it is this way and also feel anxious to clean and repair it. In a few of them there are wild animals outside trying to get at me, usually bears. I find this odd as I live in a remote wilderness area with grizzlies and wolves outside my door and I love and respect these creatures but do not fear them.

    Thank you for your posts, so thought provoking and beautiful. I have only recently, with practice, begun to recall my dreams and am so very interested to learn more about these messages from the subconscious mind.

  11. I have been having house dreams for several years, Quite often. There have been changes in my life during this time, mostly involving my health and losses. In all of them I am constantly finding new rooms, which I go to explore. I also dream of kitchens, mostly that there is more than one in the house, and they seem to have wonderful appliances! I love the line about discovering how big we are being attached to discovering new rooms! I have also been in therapy for several years, and have been doing much “soul and spirit” work. This post really speaks to me! Thank you!

  12. I don’t really have dreams anymore…I miss them. I started on a migraine medication about 6 years ago, and one of the side effects was no dreams. Even though I have been off of the med for almost a year, my dreams have still not come back. I still have hope they will return one day 🙂

  13. In last night’s house dream I discovered the “original” furnace/fireplace and was so in awe and happy with my find.
    It was blueish brick/stone and rounded, almost give shaped. The was a burning. Later in the dream I discovered a vehicle that allowed me to travel by thought but I couldn’t see the vehicle only my body.

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