Inner Imaginal Conversations

Indigenous peoples for thousands of years have considered dreams to be guides to their lives helping them in decision making, especially in regards to significant life events. Jung believed that dreams promote growth and individuation and that dreams are sources of informative and creative power. He believed that each person is able to explore their dreams by keeping track of them, meditating on their meaning, and examining them in detail. A series of dreams can bring clarity as important images recur allowing for a deepening of understanding of what these dreams are conveying to the dreamer. Sharing dreams has been an important element in the lives of Native Americans and indigenous peoples. As an example, the Iroquois listened carefully to their dreams and made decisions according to what they felt their dreams were offering them in guidance.

Today we see Native Americans and indigenous people worldwide finding ways to create dialogue that allows them to build bridges and create solutions to take action on common interests. Sharing of dreams is often part of that dialogue.

All dreams are gifts sent as guidance, as a path to greater meaning and wholeness. The responsibility for interpretation rests with each individual and brings awareness to what was previously unconscious. Individual dreamers who share their dreams in community or are witnesses for others dreamers find that synchronicities often occur when in the communal fire with others. Baring witness to the telling of an offered dream in a community setting means listening deeply to the language of dream and honoring the dreamer who is dreaming through you.

For many who are familiar with Jungian analysis or other analytical approaches, sharing unanalyzed dreams may seem like heresy. After years of personal analysis and participation in dream groups, I believe that the final authority on any dream interpretation lies with the dreamer. An inner imaginal conversation with others offers community support and another way to turn dreams this way and that, further amplifying their meaning for both individual and community growth.

Turn your dreams this way or that
When sharing dreams or witnessing in an inner imaginal conversation without interpretation, there are many ways to honor individual dreams and the community dream.

  • Include drawings or paintings as part of an individual dream journal, or create individual drawings and paintings that can later become a community dream book with additional text added in the form of poetry, words, phrases, and archetypal images.
  • Play with dreaming a dream on by extending the plot, developing characters, changing actions, revising the dreamscape, and finding resolution if desired.
  • Create community murals by painting, drawing, or creating collages of photo images reflecting themes or archetypal images from dreams shared.
  • Enact a dream through dream pantomime. This offers the dreamer an opportunity to play with dream characters and images through enactment with the facilitation of a supportive cast from the community.
  • Visit a natural setting or sacred place together as a group and continue the inner conversationin a new location.
  • Coordinate a group action in your community to contribute to the common good.

Questions for your consideration:

  • Do you pay attention to your dreams and synchronicities?
  • Do you share your dreams with friends and family or just with a Jungian analyst or therapist?
  • Have you been a member of a dream group? What was your experience of the dream body?
  • Do you feel connected to ancestors and guides through your dreams?
  • Do your dreams connect you more deeply to the natural world?

© Copyright 2010 by Mary Alice Long, PhD. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • healy

    December 20th, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    dreams often make me think of what actually lies within them…after all they give us a peek into what is deep inside of our own mind…sometimes it is pleasant sometimes it is not,but all dreams,I believe,do convey a message…and it is for us to decrypt it…!

  • bH

    December 21st, 2010 at 3:12 AM

    I don’t believe too much in this ‘dreams-are-telling-a-lot-more’ thing.We dream what is on our mind and although sometimes you may be surprised with what you dream,it had been on your subconscious mind.There isn’t really too much in all that.

  • Mary Alice Long, PhD

    December 21st, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Dreams offer us an opportunity to journey beyond our limits and live fully with *greater purpose. I encourage you to pay attention to your dreams, engage with them in your own way, and bring a bit of curiosity to the conversation. You might find one bit or two you are unfamiliar with in that dialogue that sends you on an unknown path, and then another….wherever you walk or fly in your night dreams or daily dream you will be led by your heart.

  • Karin

    December 21st, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    I go through phases of paying close attention to my dreams. When I do, I learn a vast amount; however, I find it very exhausting as I sleep less well! My dreams connect me more deeply to the natural world and myself. I was recently a member of a Social Dreaming Matrix at a Jungian conference. This was very interesting as we all shared our dreams and themes emerged which reflected on the group in the conference process.

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