‘It’s What You Don’t See’ | Dream Times

The study of dreams (outside the scientific arena) mainly focuses on basic dream content: images, universal and personal associations, characters, settings, directions, feelings, colors and symbols. Dream work techniques are based on the interaction of this type of dream content and their cycles, frequencies and outcomes.

“It’s what you don’t see” that may have equal or greater significance in relation to identifiable dream content. Omitted material may be like the dark matter that flows mysteriously throughout the universe — the glue that holds it together.

For example, technology is one of those omitted elements in dreams. It is rare to receive dreams where the dreamer or characters are doing computer work or listening/calling/texting on cell phones even though these tools of communication are commonplace and the norm in modern society and cultures world-wide.

I have noticed, however, that these items have started appearing in updated versions of dream dictionaries, so technology is making inroads into the collective unconscious probably from the millennials and younger populations.

Kelly Bulkeley studied this phenomenon and determined, “…the most frequently appearing type of modern technology in dreams is one that was invented more than one hundred years ago [i.e., cars, boats, et al.]. Newer technologies like computers and videos have not (yet) made as big an impression on the dreaming imagination.” (Psychology Today, February 2016)

The following dream fragment illustrates how the absence of an electronic device such as a phone may show up:

An old woman is alarmed by mud coming through the window. She tries to shove back the sludge with her hands and I notice her lips appear in the mud and she tries to retrieve them. ~M.L.E.

I was struck by the image of the lips (indicating the capacity for communication) in the mud. The elder woman may represent an aspect of the dreamer who is mired in the murkiness and density of trying to function in a fast-changing technological world that may slow her down. It is like she is trying to find her voice/words amidst the overwhelming world of technology to facilitate her desire to communicate.

When our technological lifestyle will appear more frequently in dream content is anybody’s guess. Make note if your Bluetooth, Alexa or iPod show up in your dreams or if you read from your Kindle or watch Smart TV or stream on your electronic devices, as they are indicators of assimilating our culture. People who visited ancient dream temples in Greece or Egypt practiced dream incubation and asked for healing. We can only guess if their dream content included togas, snakes or magic oils as reflections of their culture. In an agrarian society, was it common to dream of golden fields of grain or picking apples? What type of content was in our ancestor’s dreams as they huddled under animal furs around a fire pit in caves and watched their shadows on the walls? Will Tibetan monks dream of data input or will Aborigine do their walk-abouts with MP3 players? New lifestyles take time to absorb and assimilate into the collective unconscious.

When technological devices become a part of archetypes, will tech gods stand shoulder-to-shoulder with existing ones? These questions will take time to be answered as acculturation develops. In your next dream, note what you don’t see and explore if the electronic age has started to integrate into your dreaming mind.

Marlene King, M.A. is a writer, artist and mental health professional and has been a dream practitioner for individuals and groups for more than 30 years. Her column and articles have appeared in Dream Network Journal and various other publications.

Dream Times welcomes your questions or dreams you would like to explore. I invite you to submit them to dreamtimesguide@gmail.com or visit my website at www.dreamtimesguide.com