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There are many different points of view about dreams. You can interpret dreams; you can say they tell you important things about past and future, about yourself, about life and earth…
What is true? How do we know, what dreams are good for? What do they want to tell us? Where do they come from? Are they just the trash our brain tries to get rid of during the night or is there any meaning?
What we believe depends on who we are, what religion we believe in, what culture and history we have, where we come from.
Last but not least- the time is important. Regardless of who we are and where we live, our opinion depends on the year we live in and the latest stage of science that influences us. Let’s have a look at what that means.
We should not say that only one of the explanations is true. Many of them depend on one another and have influenced one another while they were developed. That means that maybe one of the points that we like and want to believe would not exist without some of the others.
1.1 Dreams in philosophy
People have always been researching for the meaning of dreams. The first answers were found, 4000 before Christ in Greece. At that time, people began to write down dreams they thought were important or common. In 1300 before Christ, the first book about dreams was written. It contained 200 explanations of different dreams.
During that time, people were convinced, that dreams are sent by Gods, that try to send messages to earth about the future and about things people have to do or should change. There are still many examples in the Bible.
From then on, many different views were created.
For example, Artemidorus from Greece said that dreams only tell something about the person who has had the dream. Plato thought dreams show the truth about the person and should be kept secret. Aristotle, a philosopher, tried to understand the physiology of dreams, without any connection to any meaning.
Hippokrates had a completely different thought. He said dreams show that the person will become ill. Accordingly, only ill people dream, others usually don’t.
Beside philosophy, different religions tell us about dreams.
All of these views completely ignore the connection of frequency and contents of dreams and external stimuli. One of the first who researched about that was Alfred Maury, a psychologist. He wanted to get out of that chaos by finding statements that could be proved by research and not only based on belief and superstition.
Sigmund Freud, a German psychologist, followed him. His special field was researching about dreams.
Third, there is the huge field of superstition. There are thousands of different views about where dreams come from and what they are good for and want to tell us. Yet, people seem to wish to have individual answers to their questions about dreams. There are many different books written about that topic and we get more and more confused. That is why nobody can decide what to believe and what might be true.
2.1 Sigmund Freud
The most important person we have to know is Sigmund Freud. He is a German psychologist. He has made a theory about the development of people.
2.1.1 what does Freud say about that?
He said, inside every person there is a special energy, he called libido. This energy is everything that keeps the person alive. It is not possible to influence that energy, because it is a drive. Freud says there are three different types of drives: Aggressions, things like hunger, thirst and pain that keep us looking after ourselves and the sex drive, the libido.
That libido has to develop itself. It needs to get through five different stages. What the person’s character will become like depends on how the libido is treated, that means, whether we get what we want or not.
That has to be seen in connection with the personality of the person. That consists of three parts: The libido-like part, called Id, the one that only exists to tell us what we want to have or to do. For example, for a baby it is absolutely normal that it gets something to drink when it cries because it is hungry. After some time, everybody has to learn that it is not only possible to get everything we want at any time. We have to wait or to suppress it.
The second part, called ego, the one that is created by our parents and society is the one that tells us what we should do or not do. For example not fall asleep at once whenever we feel tired. It forbids us to sleep because the society we live in has taught it, when the right time has come.
There is a third part, called super-ego. That part decides who is right. The first or the second part. It often has to find a compromise, for example stay awake but go to bed early in the evening.
That causes one big problem. There are so many things we want do or to have and we cannot get them. That makes us feel bad and ill without knowing it. We suppress it. It is still deep inside us, but we don’t know about it.
That is the point where Freud’s theory about dreams begins:
Freud thinks a dream wants to express a wish we have but had to suppress without knowing about it, it is unconscious.
But there is a problem. The wish cannot just be expressed at all, because it would be that wild, crazy or even bad that we would be shocked about it and about us and never could sleep quietly. Because of that our mind cuts the dream in pieces, gives it different colours and changes it a little, so that we cannot understand it. It is really difficult to understand the real message of a dream, because it does not appear in its natural form.
Interpreting dreams has become an art. You do not need to visit a wise woman or a witch any more. You just read one of the thousands of books or talk to your neighbour. Everybody wants to know what the dream they have had might mean. The old traditions of interpreting dreams or religious views about the meaning of dreams are too general or even might worry people. They do not give a direct answer.
Dreams are interpreted by symbols. You have to recognise something in your dream and then look up what it means. There are a number of different symbols and pictures that might appear in a dream. If you combine them with one another you might get the picture you have seen in your dream completed and you get the chance to understand completely what it tries to tell you.
As we have already seen, Santiago is a very busy dreamer. If we believe what Freud says, there are a number of things he might dream of without remembering it later or without finding it important. That might be a thing he often thinks of or has a lot to do with in his life.
Sometimes he gets ideas and makes decisions “over night”. There might be a connection to his dreams. He believes in different languages. Maybe dreams are a part of the universal language, too. If he interprets them all, he could make decisions earlier and without so many doubts, maybe.
Let us try to think of what Santiago might dream about in addition to his “special dream” about the treasure and let us try to interpret them.
Maybe that is the way to find an answer to Santiago’s problems before he himself does. In addition to that we certainly can find out something about him as a person.
3.1 Santiago’s “big - dream”
What is Santiago’s most important dream about exactly? It appears again and again. A child comes and fetches him. He follows the child and they arrive at the pyramids where the treasure is.
Santiago visits an old woman who tells him the meaning of his dream. Let’s see whether she is right or Santiago should better have asked us about his dream.
There are three main elements in the dream.
3.1.1 The pyramids
Pyramids have a geometric shape. The person has reached a stage in development, which allows it to understand abstract and complicated things of the world. Old things change and get a new meaning. People begin to think about who they themselves are and what they are like.
The person can be satisfied with what its life is like.
The pyramid itself says that the person is even looking for new views. It is the centre of power, it promises a lucky future, lots of money and many things that change.
3.1.2 The Child
A child shows that there are many chances in a person’s life, which it only has to use. The person has to get along with conflicts that come up because the person has not much experience yet.
3.1.3 Gold/ money
Finding Gold or money means, that the person has found a new realization.
In addition to that, Santiago and the child travelled to the pyramids.
While travelling in dreams, you might visit a few stations or places in your life where you like to stay.
It might also mean that you would like to leave your way of life and make some changes. While travelling, you begin understanding yourself better and better. You take responsibility for what you do.
Whether that is good or bad depends on how the dream-journey is like.
If it is good, you might be lucky in the future. If it is bad, something terrible might happen soon. It even might mean that you have bad luck in love.
If you travel far away in your dream, you will find a solution for a problem quite fast or do a job you have to do very easily.
3.2 Other things Santiago might dream about
3.2.1 A camel
The camel tells the dreamer to be patient and keep on doing what he is doing, because that is the way you can find solutions for problems and be successful with what you do.
Camels usually carry heavy things. That tells you that even if you have a bad time you will be strong enough to make it and won‘t lose trust in yourself.
If you have had problems and now think, everything has turned all right, you might be wrong. Maybe there is still something wrong you don‘t notice.
If you buy or get a camel, you will become very rich. Dreamer, that own a camel may hope that the things they are doing or planning to do will make them rich.
If we summarize that, a camel tells you to go on with your stuff and everything will get okay.
Maybe Santiago gets homesick sometimes but does not want to tell us. Maybe he then dreams about his sheep.
If a dreamer sees sheep, he will make new good friends. If the dreamer even talks to the sheep, he is going to get to know a secret, his future will be positive.
3.2.3 an oasis
Whenever you see an oasis in your dream, your life will be quieter for some time; you get some time to relax.
If you see one in the desert, you feel as if you did not get what you have wished for your life. But you should go on working.
You should not stop trying, but it will be a long and difficult way towards your aim.
For Santiago the dream he has is the beginning of new views of old things. He begins to think about himself and about life and after some time, finds the universal language and his own philosophy.
One evening, Santiago had a vision about birds. We cannot be really sure that he was awake and not dreaming.
So if he saw the birds in a dream, something is just happening to his spirit. It needs more freedom, because he has got so many ideas and such a strong phantasy.
A bird can be a symbol for the soul itself.
If there is everything all right with your soul depends on what the birds are doing and what they look like. Black birds mean that there is something bad somewhere. If the birds are very nervous and fly around, you are certainly sad or depressed. If the birds just fly across a field or something like that, if they are totally free, your soul can be free, too.
3.3 What does that tell us about Santiago?
This question cannot really be answered here, because it depends on how the reader interprets things.
Santiago’s dream is the beginning of the story. Everything might happen from that on.
What do we expect to happen? Santiago is not satisfied with his way of life any more. Now he dreams about pyramids. Maybe his mind has changed. His life has been quite boring up to that time. His mind has had lots of time for preparing itself for other things. Santiago now is ready to understand more difficult and abstract things that other people do not even think of.
As he does not know, what the ending of the dream is like, whether it is good or bad, he should become a little nervous, because there is the chance for him to become absolutely happy, or very bad things are going to happen. Maybe that is not decided yet. Whoever decides that.
Santiago has not really done many things in his life yet and lacks much experience. That might cause conflicts, maybe when he comes to the oasis. There he often does not know what to do and how to behave. The child shows that. Of course, if he decides correctly, something he needs some luck for, he has many chances and all he has to do is use those.
I think, as the dream appears that often, it becomes more and more true. I suppose Santiago’s life changes ordered by the dream.
Seeing money in a dream means that the person has found a way of seeing things from a different point of view. Maybe Santiago was not able to do that when the dream appeared for the first time. But as he learns more and more about the universal language, the meaning of the dream becomes more and more true.
Travelling means making changes. Of course, Santiago finds several places where he likes to stay during his real journey. For the first time he stayed with the crystal merchant. The second time he wants to stay with Fatima at the oasis. But staying anywhere is not possible. That is shown by a camel, which Santiago might have dreamed about.
We do not know what else the guy really dreams about. But all things he might possibly see in dreams are “good omens” and if he makes some decisions correctly and has a little bit luck everything should become okay.
4. Dreams in different religions
4.1 Dreams in Buddhism
Buddhists in China still believe, that only dreams can show the real character of a person, because when our spirit is awake, it can never be really free and completely uninhibited.
Of course, they interpretations of dreams might be completely different from the ones above.
They probably still use the art of interpreting dreams for trying seriously to find solutions for problems.
In Europe, I believe, after Freud and his colleagues, not many people believe in that.
4.2 Dreams in the Indian culture
Here you can see a “dream catcher”. Indians, put it up over their beds, make it. They believe that all the bad dreams coming to the sleeper during the night will be caught in the net. The good ones fall down to be dreamed.
When the sun rises and the morning light comes, all the bad dreams that have been caught during the night get burnt.
If somebody dies, he has to stay at the camp for several days. Several gods, who will take the spirit of the dead person with them when the time has come, visit the body.
Of course, only good guys may visit the person. No person alive may get near the body during that time. So they make a really big dream catcher and put it up over the dead person, that that it is safe.