By Ron Masa, Ph.D.
Every single night, everybody dreams. One of the more frequently appearing dream symbols is the house. Every dream symbol includes powerful, personal meanings and generic, archetypal levels as well. Each dream symbol contains much condensed wisdom seeking to become conscious; knowledge which can guide and enrich our lives, but only if we listen.
First, our body “houses” us in one sense. A dream house with many unexplored rooms suggests that there is great undiscovered potential within us. A house’s condition may also comment on the state of our mental and emotional well-being. A run-down house suggests we need rest and physical self-care.
Our house is a refuge and place of identity, so houses often tell us about our place in the world and how we identify ourselves. If you exaggerate the pronunciation of the letters in the word “house” it sounds like “How-You-See” and, indeed, our “point of view” may be examined and shown to us. Nothing is more invisible to us than our own assumptions or point of view. Don’t expect a fish to notice the water he takes for granted.
When we dream we are back in a childhood house, this gives us a frame of reference for the phase of our personal history the dream is addressing. This may also address child parts of the psyche which are still present in us.
In a given house, we lived with certain people and we dealt with particular issues; these influences may also be addressed. It helps to ask, during what years of my life did I live in that particular house? In retrospect, could you find a theme or two that described that portion of your life? How does that issue apply to today? These will get you started unraveling the many layers of meaning in the house in your dream.
There are many symbols of the interior of houses. The dream house may have higher levels (like a second floor or attic) that connote spiritual values, or less positively, ungrounded intellect or “living in one’s head.” A basement could evoke the unconscious or perhaps sexuality, while hallways indicate a passage or transition of some sort.
The favorite room of many dreams is the bathroom! This may be because such universal processes are hidden there… just as our interior life is hidden from our waking self. Also, the release of toxins and the process of cleansing are very important to having a healthy mind and heart. Plus, all that plumbing connects toinvisible, hidden resourceson which visible life depends, just as the invisible realm of dreams underlies and supports our daily life.
Dreams offer a kind of cosmic feng shui, altering our interior homes as a way to nudge us toward health and wholeness. Poet Mary Oliver wrote in “Winter Hours”:
“The condition of our true and private self is what dreams are about. If you rise refreshed from a dream–a night’s settlement inside some house that has filled you with pleasure–you are doing okay. If you wake to the memory of squeezing confinement, rooms without air or light, a door difficult or impossible to open, a troubling disorganization or even wreckage inside, you are in trouble–with yourself…”
How at home are you with body and spirit? Your next dream of a house may let you know. Happy Homey Dreaming!
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Ron Masa, Ph.D. taught and wrote about dreams while in private practice for 25 years. Dr. Masa and his significant other, Debbie Hart co-lead the University of Yourself, “Helping You Hear the Guide Inside” at http://www.UniversityofYourself.com.