Susanne Van Doorn of Netherlands on Mindfunda and dreaming

Susanne, how would you describe your personal relationship with dreams? What do dreams mean to you?

The first dream I remember was about an airplane that was stuck in my closet. I grew up near a military airport and the sound of fighter jets scared me deeply. My first childhood dream I remember is from a fighter jet that was stuck in my wardrobe. It does not seem like a bad dream now, but as a child I was in a deep panic…
I woke up crying and my mother took me in her arms and meanwhile my father was imitating a plane, spreading his arms and making weird sounds. I laughed and laughed and ended up joining him in the middle of the night. Father and daughter imitating a plane and making strange noises: it was a perfect introduction to the power of dreaming.

I started a dream journal after I had encountered Jung in a dream. At that point in time I had to decide about my future career: which new education to choose after finishing high school. I dreamed that I was walking outside on the green grass with Carl Gustav Jung and we were chatting away about psychology and the odd nature of the human psyche.

At the age of 16 I read Creative Dreaming written by Patricia Garfield and for me this was a whole new level of working with dreams. Sure I got dream dictionaries from the library before, but that you could interact with dream persons while you were dreaming, that stirred up a deep fire in my soul. I started to experiment with dreaming, I started to incubate dreams, I became a lucid dreamer, because I got used to asking dream figures what they meant. That whole other level of consciousness that dream figures have still intrigues me. Sometimes dream figures can be deeply offended when you ask them about their significance. Sometimes they seem to have expected this questions and they have a well spoken answer.

All this feeds an innate desire for exploration. My deepest desire is to explore consciousness on all its levels. And dreaming is a very interesting level, with various degrees of consciousness. I still hope that someone will develop a model of the specific levels of consciousness possible for human beings.

What made you start your blog How long have you been blogging? What keeps you motivated to continue?

I started Mindfunda in 2010 because I had an increasing necessity to earn money. I have a family of four persons, and my two children need support. Mindfunda grew with the aim to become a book-review site. Writing good book reviews takes a lot of time and unfortunately does not generate a lot of money.

I started to sell courses on Mindfunda and that was slightly more successful. My latest course, Midsummer Nights’ Dreaming, loosely based on Shakespeare’s poem, was a moderate success. I do have the intuitive feeling that there are special times in the year that are more suitable to generate powerful dreams. The Summer Solstices for example, times surrounding the crescent moon each month. I only have an intuitive notion for this, not hard evidence.

You seem to be very interested in mythology. In your view, what is the relationship between myths and dreams?

You must be familiar with the famous quote from Joseph Campbell: "Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”

People usually think that their dreams don’t have a mythological content. But if you put it into the perspective of identifying your personal myths, dream themes begin to stand out.
For example: the dream about the aeroplane in the wardrobe displays my personal mythology as a kid that I’d have to hide my force to be able to survive in the family I grew up in. The playful way that my father handled this made me realize in an unconscious way that it was safe for me to show my power and spread out my wings.

If you want to explore a mythological concept like the mother goddess, you could start by re-reading dreams about your mother. This is a good way to embrace the mythological parts of your dream life, and it will certainly help you to increase mythological themes in your dream life.

Sometimes you have a dream about a mythological creature that makes a deep impact. It happened to me one night that I was dreaming about a wanderer who only had one eye. Searching the internet I found out about Odin, the one-eyed wanderer god of Norse Mythology. These kind of “big” mythological dreams are more rare, but when they happen they are rather impressive and can even be life-changing.

I have always felt that archetypes are an intellectual category that may describe certain underlying patterns but have very little value when trying to understand my own dreams. Do you see archetypes as an important category? If so, how do you see their application in dream work?

Every time I explore a dream professionally, searching for archetypes is a point in my journey of discovery. I search for male and female or animus and anima characters. I search to explore how those forces relate to the dreamer and what conclusions I can draw about it for him or her. I ask myself: who is the hero in the story? How does the hero develop himself (or herself) in the storyline? Is there a death, and ending of some kind in the dream? Is there a wise man or woman? Or maybe a trickster? And of course, every dream has a seen or unseen Self. Who in the dream represents the Self? In my airplane dream, the Self was passive, scared and hiding away. Spreading your wings and making room (and noise) like my father did, was a brilliant option that balanced the energy displayed by the dream. Where the dream displayed fear and the need to hide, playing an airplane made me spread my wings and make noise.

As a dream worker operating in Netherlands, would you say that people in Netherlands are generally interested in dreams? Are there many local dream groups available, are there many professional dream workers? 

In the Netherlands we have a very good dream organization called VSD: Vereniging voor de Studie van Dromen. Translated its name means Society for the Study of Dreams. This organization gives its members the opportunity to unite in dream groups. Those groups come together on a regular basis and members teach each other methods to work with dreams. A very good way to keep up with (new) mythology and interact with colleagues.

As in many countries, it’s not very profitable to be a person occupied with dreams. You’ll need another occupation to be able to pay your bills.

You read a lot and regularly review books about dreams on your blog. What is your all-time favourite dream book and why? 

I don’t think I have a favourite dream book. I’ll mention some that I regularly use. On my desk right now is “Ariadne’s Clue, A Guide to the Symbols of Humankind”. What I like about this book is that it’s a comprehensive and well researched thesaurus of symbols. I have, on several occasions, been able to add more depth into a dream interpretation after looking up the symbols mentioned in it.

Another book I can recommend because of my love of the moon is Connie Kaplan’s “The Woman’s Book of Dreams”. This book has taught me how to facilitate a dream group and it has educated me in the possible influences of the moon on dreams.