Dream analysis: My mouth opened in utter shock... the hair on my head stood up straight

Psychoanalyst Michael Murphy examines the deeper meaning of your dreams
Dream analysis: My mouth opened in utter shock... the hair on my head stood up straight

What's in a dream? Our resident expert has the answers. Picture: iStock

Q. The room was furnished ornately like an 18th-century French palace. The plasterwork had exquisite moulds of leaves and ivy. On the left was a tall vase with green shoots. One wall of the room was entirely covered by an enormous mirror. The frame was decorated with golden ivy and leaves.

A ballerina began to pirouette across the floor. As she danced, I could see no reflection of either of us in the mirror. Her appearance began to alter. She changed from a young, graceful ballerina to a hideously decomposed mummy wrapped in the cerements of the grave.

I now had a view of myself. My face grew pale and my mouth opened in utter shock, gasping. The hair on my head stood up straight.

A. This dream is a graphic portrayal of the horror of death. The young, graceful ballerina changes into a decomposed mummy, while the observer grows pale with shock, can’t speak, and his hair stands on end. He realises that “I now had a view of myself” and the fate that awaits him. The death theme is emphasised by the absence of reflections in the mirror wall.

Dance is one of the physical arts protected by the Greek muse, Terpsichore.

Indeed, a famous French 18th-century ballerina, Marie-Madeleine Guimard, had a private theatre built in her palace called the Temple of Terpsichore. It was torn down by Baron Haussmann when Paris was re-built.

In mythological terms, the green shoots, ivy and leaves are associated with Apollo, the Greek god of prophecy, who foretells our transient fate. He is depicted as a handsome young man wearing a laurel wreath. Apollo has an ancient association with the plague and its control, which suggests that this dream of death is triggered by Covid fears.

Q. I'm in a rush to get home. The chain has come off my bicycle so I leave it at a repair shop. I attempt to cross a busy road, but the traffic is too heavy. A small blue car with an elderly female driver slows down, allowing me to get to the other side. I return to the repair shop to pick up my bicycle but the chain falls off again and the saddle is too high. The mechanic fixes it and I cycle off frustrated.  

A. Again, this is a Covid dream to do with lockdown. Cycling is an individual way of getting around and this woman is locked down because the chain on her bicycle has come off. She walks, but the traffic prevents her from crossing the road. The chain falls off again and the saddle is too high. These obstacles prevent her rushing home and the feeling in the dream is one of frustration.

She is compelled to slow down like the elderly female driver, who does yield to her. The mechanic also helps her. By accepting the limitations under lockdown and slowing down her life, the dreamer finds other compensations in the kindness of strangers.

  • Send your dream queries to feelgood@examiner.ie 

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