Jungian therapist and spiritual director Bonnelle Strickling speaks of three levels of dream interpretation. The same dream can have something to say about a dreamer’s daily life, inner world, or relationship with the Divine.
Joseph relates two dreams to his family. In one dream:
We were binding sheaves in the field, when my sheaf suddenly stood up erect. Your sheaves formed a circle around my sheaf, and bowed down to it.
In the other:
The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.
Daily Life Interpretation
Joseph’s brothers know only the mundane level. They interject their own feelings into Joseph’s dream. “Do you want to be our king?” they ask hatefully.
Inner Life Interpretation
Joseph’s dream might also express his desire for a coherent inner life. As a teenager, he cannot sort through the confusing dynamics in his fractured family. He cannot distinguish feelings projected by his brothers from his own feelings. He hopes for a focused inner centre.
Divine Life Interpretation
The dream might also express Joseph’s desire for a relationship with the divine. Perhaps he hopes that, animated with God’s spirit, he will be able to stand straight like the sheaf and shine like the sun, sharing that spirit with his family.
Dream Interpretations Fulfilled
All three meanings eventually come to pass. Joseph becomes viceroy of Egypt, and his brothers bow down to him. He works through his difficult family memories, and invites his brothers into a new level of unity. Ant, through his trials, Joseph learns to express gratitude to God for gifts of insight.
If a powerful dream stays with you this week, follow Torah’s lead and attend to all three levels of meaning!