A Guide to Dream Interpretation
Death and Resurrection in Dreams 

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Death, Yours, Mine, Ours

 (excerpt from The Dragon's Treasure Ch XIV)


"Tell me not, in mournful numbers, life

is but an empty dream! For the soul is

dead that slumbers, and things are

not what they seem. Life is real! Life is

earnest! And the grave is not its goal.

Dust thou art; to dust returnest was not

spoken of the soul."


—HenryWadsworth Longfellow




Doesn't this vision of death that says when the ego dies

the soul lives on reinforce the incorrect notion that they are


I like what James Hillman in The Force of Character

had to say about death and aging. He suggested that when

we substitute "leaving for dying and ...preparing for aging,

then what we go through in our last years is preparation for


He didn't like this idea because he thought that to focus

in this way was to distract a person from life. He wanted to

focus not on what is leaving this world and goes on to some

metaphysical reality, but on what is left behind—the character

images and "force of character" that is left in the lives of the

living. He sees these images as sometimes independent voices

that continue to inspire and advise. In this way, the death of the

body does not mean that the character of he who lived in that

body has ever left. He or she is still here in memories, and not

just the fond recall associated with the person who has died,

but the fact that memories that impact and interact with those

whose bodies are still functional.


"When we are dead, seek not our tomb in

the earth, but find it in the hearts of men."

— Rumi's tomb, the Tomb of Mavlanain

Konya, Turkey


I agree with Hillman when he implies that this idea of the

soul leaving the body (ego) behind only serves to reinforce the

concept that there is a dichotomy, a separation between body

and soul. Just because the body has left does not mean that ego

has left. I would go even further and say that the soul hasn't

gone anywhere either in that, as essence, there is no other

place to go. This essence continues to advise those who are

still living. Every thought or image of them interacts with your

thoughts and has impact.

Though I may like the idea that the character images of

those who have died continue to interact with me, I miss the

physical character and my relationship with it. It's hard to have

a dynamic relationship with a memory; it's so one-sided. In this

idea, the influence of the dead may live on, but the soul and its

projected ego representative with all its flaws and brilliance has

moved on too, leaving a rather poor two-dimensional substitute.

Better than nothing, I guess, especially for a melancholy junkie

like me.

Before continuing, take some time to review your own

beliefs, hopes, and fears concerning death.











For the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and

Islam), the Old Testament suggested that death came to be

when Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge after having

been warned by God. Genesis 2:17 says, "For in the day that

you eat of it you shall die." And in the New Testament, Romans

5:1245 states, "Sin came into the world through one man, and

death through sin." Literal readers of the Bible will claim that

this proves that there was no death before the fall. I won't

try to use logical reasons for why that interpretation won't

bear scrutiny, but the symbolic meaning may indicate that the

creation of opposites caused by the eating of the fruit means


45 Both Bible citations are from the Revised Standard Version.


death itself came to be. The physical body dies; the spirit does

not. Man dies when he does not know that he is spirit and not

body. Is it possible that the tree of knowledge is also the tree

of ignorance?

A Navajo legend tells the story of when the people placed

an animal hide on the river because they had been told that

for as long as it did not sink they would live forever. But they

turned their attention from the water, and while they were not

looking, Coyote threw rocks onto the hide, and it sank. Coyote

did this because if he did not, there would eventually be too

many people in the world.

When burying their dead, the Navajo would carefully wash

and dress the body because if it were not done right, the spirit

may return to his former home and not move on. Everyone is

careful not to show too much emotion at the burial because

the moving on of the soul could be disrupted, and it would be


Buddhists do not see death as the end of life in that it is just

the end of the body. The spirit will move on and attach itself

to another body. Buddhists are very careful what they present

in the world because what they present will cause the same to

them either in this life or some future life. This is known as the

Law of Karma. The best way to prepare for death is to cultivate

good Karma by doing good deeds. All of this is outlined in the

Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (Sogyal Rinpoche, 1992).

The Hindu also believes in rebirth and the reincarnation

of the soul and that these souls are imperishable. According

to the Bhagavad-Gita, the soul either follows the path of the

sun and is never seen again, or it follows the path of the moon

and will return. Previous deeds, the state of mind at death, the

circumstances at the time of death, whether the deceased's

kin have performed the funeral rites correctly, and sometimes

even the intervention of God can affect which path the soul


In Taoism, the eternal is in life itself. When you die, you

still live in the memories of others and in a reincarnated form.

Prior to the reincarnation, you return to be one with God or the

Tao, the way, the eternal.

In the Chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, it is said,

"Being at one with the Tao is eternal. And though the body dies,

the Tao will never pass away." With the mind open and being

in alignment with nature, know that everything is eternally

recurring or unvarying. With the heart open and acting nobly

and in service to everything, one can attain the divine and

with this, a person will be at one with the eternal, undying

Tao. In the way of the Tao, the theme of the "eternal return" or

the "forever recurring" speaks to the fundamental quality of

reality that the universe eternally recurs.

The ancient Celts also believed in life after death. They

believed that the Otherworld existed within the world of the

living, alongside it, as it were. Because they thought that the

soul needed an unobstructed path to move on after death, all

windows and doors would be opened in the deceased's house.

The Celtic warrior seemed to believe, according to Lucan in

his Pharsalia (1.458), "death is the middle of a long life," that

according to Celts in the Classical World, Rankin suggested

that the Celtic warrior expected to go on warring even after


The Australian Aborigine believes in two human souls.

One is like the ego, self-created, like our own personae. The

other comes from God or "the Dreaming." The ego-soul stays

near the body after death, somewhat like a ghost. It eventually

dissolves and disappears. The other soul becomes an "Ancestral

Soul" and becomes eternal. These transitions are facilitated

by ritual.

The ghost or "Spirit Being" shows up across many cultures.

According to some Native American traditions, some of these

beings can be harmful and cause sickness. The Apache believed


46 As translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, Vintage Books,



that some souls of bad people would transition into owls

and cause harm to others while good souls went on into the

underworld. Many tribes had both the concept of heaven and

hell. A bad person's soul would be judged by the "Master of

Breath, then sentenced to torments commensurate with the pain

he had wrongfully inflicted on others throughout his life."47

A great deal of literature, mythology, drama, and dream

analysis deals with themes of birth/death/rebirth. In the dreams

of both our waking and sleeping lives, the end of one form

of something and its transition into another is symbolized as

death. It is said that death is what defines life and vice versa.

Just like all opposites, one cannot exist without the other. You

might say, "This is fine, but I still don't like it and will resist it

for as long as possible."

How you resist it, however, is what actually creates your

experience of life. You could sequester yourself, taking little

or no chance at meeting death, or you could choose only those

things in life that appear to be the safest. You could allow

yourself to be really depressed and leave little room to enjoy

what is happening, or you could try and control events and

people around you so that you can protect yourself from death

(or the ego equivalent, but more on that later), distract yourself

with all kinds of entertaining "doingness," or open yourself up

to unlimited possibility while still being responsible for the care

and feeding of your life. You choose; you write the scenario of

life and death.

In his book Be Here Now,51 Ram Dass talks about the you

that dies as being the ego you. He says, "The fear of death

only comes through the brittleness of the ego." When you give

up your attachment to the ego, there's no fear of death. When

Albert Einstein was asked about his fear of death he replied, "I

feel such a sense of solidarity with all living things that it does

not matter to me where the individual begins and ends."52


47 According to an article by Donald Panther-Yates at the panthers lodge.

com Web site.


The Egyptians who lived in 1300 BC believed that a person's

Ren or soul48 lived on as long as the name of the person who

died continued to be spoken by the living.

I've introduced the concept that ego is an illusion and that

consciousness is non-local or super-local. I've also introduced

the idea that time doesn't exist in its linear form, that it is the

"everywhen" of the Aborigine cosmology. I have also discussed

the Vedic concept of pure consciousness, the Atma, and the

divine nothingness. How does all this relate to death?

While in the experience of the still, quiet place, the mind

seems to become quite orderly, and its boundaries seem to

disappear. In this state, I begin to sense something greater than

myself. It is as though the ego and the self have transcended

when in this space of pure consciousness. The mind or ego-self

becomes non-local, that is, it's not in any specific place but in

all places and all time.



In Roshi49 Phillip Kapleau's 1989 book, The Three Pillars of

Zen, he suggests that the essence of one's mind is not affected

by either birth or death. He is saying that the essence of who

you are is not in the body, that who you are is not located in

one place, that your nature is super-local (my word). If this is

true, then upon the death of the body the Self, what I call the

"observer" does not vanish for it is eternal, existing apart from


48 Actually, the Egyptian soul was thought to have fi ve parts Ren,

Ba, Ka, Sheut, and Ib. The Ren was the individual's name, while the Ba

was the individual's personality. Ka was the life force, and Sheut was

their shadow self. To the ancient Egyptians, the Ib or heart was the seat of

emotion and thought, not the brain. The Akh was a sort of ghost that lived

beyond the deceased. The ancients seemed to have their own version of the

individuation process outlined by Jung in that they thought that the Ba and

Ka reunited after death rather than the reuniting process occurring during

life as described by Jung.


49 Meaning venerable teacher, an honorific title similar to Rabbi,

but not as formal or official as pastor, priest, or minister.


the body before, during and after its existence. It cannot die, for

it was never born. It is not a production of the physical brain,

but it does manifest through the physical brain.

A 2001 study reported in Lancet by Pim van Lommel

et al., dealt with near-death experiences53 when, after being

unable to account for patient's near-death experiences through

either "psychological, neurophysiological, or physiological

factors," he entertained theories that consciousness and

memories may function outside the body. In a separate letter,

Dr. van Lommel wrote to Jeffrey Long, MD,54 where he asks,

"Could the brain be like a TV, radio, or a mobile telephone?

What you receive is not generated by the receiver but rather

electromagnetic informational waves?" These waves were what

Simon Berkovich, professor of engineering and applied science

at George Washington University called "extra-corporeal

organization of cognitive information."

The essence of a cell phone is those magical pictures and

sounds that travel through the air to your phone and are there

whether your phone is turned on or not. The pictures or sounds

will only manifest when the receiver is alive and turned on. At

some level, these pictures and sounds are apart from time or any

local receiver. There are some theorists who are suggesting that

this is how the human receiver and its commensurate "signal"

or essence works as well.

This theme of signal and receiver is repeated in the work

of Dr. Bruce Lipton, a university cell biologist who produced

some phenomenal studies while teaching at the Stanford School

of Medicine. In his book, the Biology of Belief,55 Dr. Lipton

suggested that the human cell was but a receiver of information

from outside the human in which it inhabited. The idea that

certain proteins on the outside of cells identify as the person

they are in and if any cell not of that identity invades, then

the immune system is triggered and the alien is dispatched, is

nothing new.

What is new is the idea that the proteins don't make the

identity any more than an antenna makes what is on the TV.

The TV receiver and its antenna are independent of the signal,

the essence of a television. He pointed out that the signal is

what makes the identity and it is irrelevant whether the TV is

working or not, the signal remains. When any antenna/receiver

combination that is like the original—for example, when a new

antenna/receiver is tuned to the same channel—then the signal

will continue on. Exchange the antenna/receiver for the body of

a human being and the signal, which is the body's real identity,

continues on as well.




      Death in Dreams (The symbolic meaning)

"Without death, life would be meaningless...limitation enables you to fulfill your being."

                                    –C. Jung

Basically he's saying that death is a condition for the meaning of life.


Death often relates to the ending of something. But it can also suggest our relationship, or attitude towards death e.g. how do we feel about it?

As an archetype it can show up as a sunset, crossing a river, twilight, a skeleton, gravestones, a cemetery, blackness, the grim reaper, an old man, or woman, a fallen mirror, a stopped clock, or an empty abyss. Dead animals can also be metaphors for our own demise.


                                  Images of death

Associated with death is also rebirth and resurrection. Here, such things as a cave, or an egg, Spring, dawn, the cross, a snake, a seed, a bird taking flight (though if it were to fly off into the sunset it might suggest death), a Phoenix, flame, a pearl, or the womb.

The body itself is in a constant birth, death and renewal cycle in that individual cells need to die in order to be replaced and renewed without constant injury to the body's cells, fresh cells could not revitalize. This is the idea of creating by destroying. The Hindu god Shiva is the destroyer of the world (actually the ego—the false identification with form, and the letting go of habits and attachments). Brahma then recreates what has been destroyed. In short, all that has a beginning must also have an end. The only thing that dies according to this concept is the illusion of individuality. In this way Shiva is the great purifier.




The ancient Greeks believed that a person's well-being depended on the opposing forces of dissolution and creation. The Caduceus with its entwined snakes and being the symbol of the healer can be symbolically linked with Psyche interacting with matter and transforming both. This idea of the snake representing both death and renewal sheds its old skin to reveal something new and revitalized, thus dying so as to be reborn.



Dead people in Dreams:

In most cases this is about the dreamer trying to deal with the passing of someone close. It's all a process of letting go and of resurrecting the one you interacted with on a physical level into the memory of that same person. For some the deceased becomes eternally living within the memory of those left behind.

To see a dead person in a dream:

This can represent some area in ones life that has "died" such as a feeling, a relationship, or situation. Sometimes anger repressed in your waking life can kill ones vitality and satisfaction. It can also represent a part of yourself that you would like to leave behind (to see that part, look at what aspect the dead person may represent).

To see your own death in a dream:

This can suggest a transformation in the way you have been, in thought, in feeling, or in attitude. It can also suggest the transition of one phase of your life into a new one.

Violence in dreams is not an unusual occurance, but it should not be ignored. Click on the parchment scroll and portal jump to a page that deals with the anger and killing that shows up in dreams...

The Summer Day


“Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”


                            – Mary Oliver

If interested in more regarding the concept, mythology and symbolism of death and dying, purchase the book The Dragon's Treasure.