Thursday’s Vail Symposium event explores the world of dreams

John O’Neill
Special to the Daily
Ever wondered about the meaning of a dream? Dream specialist Rosemary Ellen Guiley discusses how understanding dreams can lead to sound mind, healthy body and extraordinary experiences on Thursday.
Special to the Daily |

Plato called dreams “the between state” – a realm that transcends time and space, a place where spirits offer guidance and direct experiences with the living or the dead elicit raw and real emotions.

Recognition of dreams goes back globally to ancient times. The Egyptians paid close attention to their dreams. The ancient Greeks, Babylonians, Asian cultures and tribal societies believed dreams held meaning. Those cultures used dreams to bridge messages from their divine beliefs, as guidance for decisions and even to legislate.

Landing in modern time, over the course of years, dreams have maintained their meaningful messages and society has grown adept to consulting dreams for daily life.

“These days, dreams give us a lot of valuable information for keeping on track,” said Rosemary Ellen Guiley who will give a lecture at a Vail Symposium event on Thursday and lead a workshop on Sept. 6. “We get guidance from our dreams. They help us make decisions, guide us through crisis and signify major life changes. Dreams tell us about who we are. They reflect our emotions about how we are doing in life.”

Guiley believes that dreams relate not only to our physical health, but also our emotional and spiritual health. Paying attention to dreams place people in a better position to make the right decisions for themselves and the people they effect, maintaining a healthy balance and harmony in life.

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But it isn’t always so simple.

“Dreams aren’t always precognitive with clear forecasting,” said Guiley. “They offer us consistent guidance through life, providing us with information we need for ourselves.”

Fear or faith?

Guiley says that explaining the consistencies is hard to boil down into a few sentences. She has worked with dream groups for years with stories of interpretation taking on many forms. There have been cases of profound healing, visits from the dead, pathways laid out for recovery, for instance.

Interpretation is one aspect of complexity, so too are the layers of symbolism. Guiley says that dream dictionaries are an interesting place to start, but cultural and personal differences influence what can be taken away from a dream.

Take dreams about dogs, for example. For someone who is having recurring dreams of dogs and grew up with a friendly dog in their family, that dream might signify faithfulness or protection. But for someone who was attacked by a dog, or lives in a place where there is case to be afraid of dogs, the dream might signify fear or aggression.

Guiley’s lecture at the Vail Symposium event on Thursday, and her workshop on Saturday will discuss these intricate details and how paying attention to your dreams can help you live a healthy and balanced life.

“Dream symbolism is very interesting,” Guiley said. “They can be uniquely personal. In our everyday lives, we all believe certain things to represent other things. There is cultural context, an individual context. But it is very worth paying attention to.”

John O’Neill is the program and marketing director for the Vail Symposium. Email comments about this story to

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