It’s said that dream images come from our unconscious pool of wisdom and there’s much personal insight to be gained when we pay attention to our night murmurings in our dream time.
In November 2022 we aired an interview I had with dream expert Linda Yael Schiller. She told us that a dream has multiple layers and to expose its deeper meaning—its nuggets of gold—can be like peeling layers of an onion.
I spontaneously shared a recent dream of my own with her—and subsequently with the listening audience.
Because it seemed so powerful when I awakened, I wrote this dream down. It was on my mind during the interview. I had not planned to tell it on-air and I did not expect Linda to be so insistent on working we me—on the spot—on interpreting the dream. Because she was so firm in her pursuit to work with me, I reluctantly gave into the process and consequently was the recipient of a tremendous breakthrough of understanding. She is a true master of her craft. She didn’t interpret it for me but reminded me of images that I really hadn’t paid attention to.
This dream occurred the night of June 24, 2022, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark piece of legislation that made access to an abortion a federal right in the United States. The decision dismantled 50 years of legal protection.
Here is the dream and a transcript of our conversation:
I was in a red car, which was like the car that I had as a teenager. I was in the car, sitting in the driver’s seat, parked inside an antique store. The front of the store was behind me with a large plate glass window. A very sinister-looking man was trying to get into the passenger side of the car and I was having trouble trying to lock the door to keep him out.
I put the car in reverse and slammed my foot on the gas pedal causing it to fly backwards. I knew that I was going to crash through the plate glass behind me but I didn’t care. I just roared out of the antique store and, indeed, shattered the glass into tiny pieces.
Even though I had gone to bed feeling depressed about the Supreme Court decision, I awakened from the dream feeling elated and energized.
Linda responded to my telling of this dream: “So first, it’s clear to me—and it’s clear to you—that, for at least one layer of connection, you had a strong emotional and visceral response to the Roe v. Wade decision and that you’re not gonna go quietly into that good night, right? Your sleeping self, your dreaming self is saying, ‘We’re going to stay up and give you a dream that has to do with this.’
“And if I paraphrase and use my method of saying ‘if this were my dream’ and I was associating to your dream, I’d want to pay attention to what we call the emotional narrative in the dream. There’s a couple of different pieces here: first there’s the storyline narrative, and then the emotional narrative.
“The storyline is your referencing your own growing up, the red car reminded you of when you were a young person. So, something about the beginning of the dream is reminding you that you grew up in around the same era as I did when there were lots of fights in order to secure and protect abortion rights. You may or may not have participated in that but that was during that era.”
Justine responds: “You’re giving me an insight right now, about my youth. I had an illegal abortion at that time. I was 17 years old when I did that. It was a back room abortion before it was legal. I drove a red car at the time so you’re giving me an insight into the red car and my association with my own trauma that I had when abortion was illegal and was personally very dangerous.”
Linda then insisted we go on with the dream session with me. “So in the beginning we had the red car association that you made a connection with this experience in your childhood. In the middle, there’s this shady character in an antique store. There is something old and something sinister and that’s kind of what you had to go through. I imagine it is a little sinister and shady to get this abortion. Then in your dream, you’re not letting this creepy guy in your car. Hell no! Right? You lock the door, you put the car in reverse, which is an interesting thing. You’re going in reverse. Is that what we’re doing now in our country? Are we going in reverse? But then you put it in gear and you’re gonna crash. You roar the hell out of there and you feel empowered. So, this is not a nightmare because the dream ends with you feeling strong and powerful. And to borrow a metaphor, you’re crashing through a glass ceiling here.”
JUSTINE: “You’re absolutely right. I knew that I was going to crash through window and shatter all that glass. Yet, I was not afraid. In fact, it felt exhilarating.”
I was amazed at Linda’s ability to help me see the gifts, the gold nuggets in this dream.
Her work also includes dream incubation that you might want to tap into. This is an ancient art of turning to your dreams in a purposeful way of asking for information, for wisdom, for knowledge to help us in some way in our lives. You can tap into this wisdom from a dream and it can even flow into your waking life. If you don’t understand the dream, she suggests you ask for another dream—be a little bossy with your dream muse—and ask for another dream to make the original dream more clear.
Also note that our dream life can bleed into our regular lives: we might get images and metaphors coming to us in the daytime in the form of such things as billboards, a remark from a friend or family member. Look for connections in your life and places in the dream that seem to relate to your life.
We are all surrounded by helpful energy. Some call it Spirit, others call it Universal Mind that connects everything. Whatever the energy is, it is there to help us. We need to develop a sensitivity to notice the signs that are given to us both in our dreams and waking states.
This interview is available to download on the New Dimensions website:
Linda Yael Schiller, MSE, LICSW is a psychotherapist who has taught dream work and run dream groups for over three decades. She teaches and consults on trauma treatment, PTSD, and nightmares.
Schiller is the author of: Modern Dreamwork: New Tools for Decoding Your Soul’s Wisdom (Llewellyn Publications 2019) and PTSDreams: Transform Your Nightmares from Trauma through Healing Dreamwork (Llewellyn Publications 2021)