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Helpful Books on Dream

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    Shelves devoted to dream in bookstores and libraries contain much gold, but also much dross. I thought I’d share some of the titles I’ve found helpful over the years, and invite others to do the same.

    I won’t mention dream dictionaries (I have a number of those, but most tend to present a one-size-fits-all approach to any specific dream image, which limits, rather than expands, understanding; I rarely open any of these anymore unless I’m completely baffled by an image in a dream – consulting a dream dictionary doesn’t give me an interpretation, but can provide a nudge that helps jumpstart the association process to get past the blockage – though, frankly, I find a competent symbol dictionary, of which I also have several, even better for that).

    And, wouldn’t you know, right after dissing dream dictionaries I come up with an exception:

    A Dictionary of Dream Symbols: With An Introduction to Dream Psychology by Eric Ackroyd.

    That 59 page intro to dream psychology is what makes this more than the usual dream dictionary: Ackroyd spends much time delving into Jung (and others), providing essential grounding: his nuanced approach is clear in the description of his dream image entries. This would be the dream dictionary to have.


    Some of the following are easy to find and relatively inexpensive via Amazon and elsewhere, while others I am surprised to learn are now rare, commanding prices of several hundred dollars (almost makes me wish I hadn’t scribbled so many notes in the margins – but then, I didn’t collect any of these for their investment value)

    I’ve also linked the titles to their entries on Amazon for convenience to learn more, but there are purchasing alternatives online (such as Powell’s Books)

    Inner Work, by Robert Johnson

    Johnson’s Inner Work was a game changer for me. Though I had read lots of Jung, I had trouble nailing down what he meant by the term “active imagination” (he refers to that a lot, but never really clearly describes it or gives examples in any of the volumes of the Collected Works that I have). Johnson provides multiple examples in “Inner Work” – wonderful for working with dreams. After that, when Jung would mention active imagination, I had a better idea of what he meant.

    Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming and Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art, and Travel, both by Robert Bosnak.

    The first title by Bosnak above really blew my mind as I realized that the characters we meet in our dreams have their own backstory and dream lives; whether dialoguing with a dream figure through active imagination, or stepping outside the dream me and into another character in my dream, this opened a whole new world – many new worlds – as I learned the surly conductor collecting tickets aboard the train in my dream had a sick child at home, or had just discovered his wife was having an affair, adding depth and dimensions galore to each dream beyond the concerns and occupations of my waking ego!

    Dream and the Underworld, by James Hillman

    A classic from the founder of archetypal (or imaginal) psychology that upended everything I thought I knew about dreams – starting with the awareness that my dreams had their own life and direction, so to speak, and didn’t exist just to serve my needs.

    Waking Dreams, and Invisible Guests: The Development of Imaginal Dialogues, by Mary Watkins

    These slender volumes don’t focus on dreams alone – very valuable studies by one of the founders (along with Hillman) of imaginal psychology. A key take away for me: “Imaginal,” as in imaginal realms, or imaginal psychology, does not mean not-real.

    The Secret History of Dreaming, by Robert Moss

    Robert Moss has written multiple solid works on dream for a popular audience, as opposed to depth psychologists or academics in general – but his work is grounded in depth psychology, and he knows whereof he speaks (he has been working with dreams for decades, and speaks from experience – his, and that of others. This book I find valuable not so much because it presents principles of effective dreamwork (Moss covers that in several other titles), but because of the historical anecdotes he shares about dreaming.

    Dreaming: Anthropological and Psychological Interpretations, by Barbara Tedlock

    Even though Jung (and post-Jungians like Hillman) really speak to my experience of dreams, I find it’s important not to paint oneself into a procrustean bed (see how easily I mix my metaphors – must be the Gemini in  me). Anthropologist Barbara Tedlock edits this collection of 10 different anthropologists on the ways in which dreams are remembered, recounted, shared (or not shared), interpreted, and used in a variety of primal cultures.

    and the Gold Standard:

    Dream Analysis: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1928-1930 (a 700 page transcript of sessions of the dream work seminar Jung conducted, in English, with a number of psychiatrists and psychologists), which provided a detailed, up-close look at how Jung himself applied active imagination),

    and Children’s Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936 – 1940 (468 pages of transcripts of Jung working with psychologists on dreams)

    Both volumes are dense (not a complaint – far from it – so much is packed into any one passage that I needed to sit with what I’d just read for a while and let sink in, then read it again) that it took well over a year each to get through – but these, for me, are the gold standard when it comes to dreamwork.

    I own many other books on dream, but these are the works I find myself returning to and referencing over and over.

    For anyone into dreamwork, please feel free to share what works best speak to your experience?


      Hello Stephen; I’m posting in this thread this morning because I hope people will take a look at your inventory of Dream book suggestions and encourage a more extended conversation around this. We’ve been talking about Dream material in a couple of other threads and the suggestions you’ve made have been extremely helpful and perhaps others will add theirs as well. Last night is a perfect example which I will explain more at length what I’m getting at. (Many of these insights about this as well as the following comments you’ve already covered.)

      So last night we were having a small group discussion off Forum about Dreams concerning different areas and Dennis Patrick Slattery’s book called: “Riting Myth Mythic Writing” was one of the topics as well as other strategies for approaching Dream work after which I went to bed. As luck would have it this topic appeared in my dream in the form of a shadow confrontation with a large male figure in a mirror arguing with me about what I knew. Well; upon confronting this figure he did not like my response to this; got angry and started throwing things then stormed off. Upon waking I immediately jotted a few things down about this and then went over to my little library of Dream resources you have been recommending; (including some of the Robert Johnson Active Imagination and Shadow material along with Slattery’s book and began researching some of the themes these images seemed to represent). It occurred to me that people cross-referencing resources as well as techniques might be helpful in exploring our inner landscapes and how these things manifest not only in our daily lives but might also be helpful to those just starting out.

      For instance the chapter in Slattery’s book on the: “Wounded Self” and Johnson’s: “Inner Work” concerning the Shadow; along with James Hillman’s: “The Souls Code – In Search of Character and Calling” and his idea of the Diamon were enormously helpful in getting an insight into some of what was in play in my Dream. Seeing one’s unknown face in a mirror was difficult but necessary in understanding how a symbol or narrative was playing out in my life and trying to develop a dialogue with this figure and the results were quite revealing. We don’t like to see our dark selves; especially if they are behaving badly; and listening to them is not easy.

      Jung and Campbell would probably offer much to say about this; but my point refers to something Joseph mentioned in Diane Osbon’s: “Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion” included in the poetic arrangement of quotes on pages: 16-26; (“If you want the whole thing the gods will give it to you. But you must be ready for it.”) I was taken by surprise to this revelation with my reaction to my dream because my Shadow was telling me something about myself I didn’t realize; and if I hadn’t had the reference books it would have been much more difficult to track it down. Also the Eric Ackroyd book: “a dictionary of Dream Symbols” has been very helpful as well.

      There are others from your list and previous recommendations I have on my list as I can afford them; and they are opening a doorway that would have been inaccessible without this prior knowledge of what to get. During our Covid lockdown the library has not been an option since being a senior I’m still waiting on my vaccination. At any rate I hope others will share their suggestions and Dream input as well. Thanks again for all your helpful advice.


      “I am going to add an addendum book suggestion that is highly thought of that may be of some help and Stephen is familiar with called: “The Book of Symbols – Reflections on Archetypal Images” by Taschen. I believe some of the images that were used came from Joseph’s private collection.


      Firstly, a big thank you to Stephen for posting rich resources for those interested in dreams, and secondly to  James for guiding me to this thread to search dream resources and to place some of my own. This applies to all those who land onto this thread, please enjoy perusing this section of Looks like a gem to me.

      Like you, Stephen, I had a number of dream dictionaries, which I voluntarily discarded, and now am leaning towards getting, “A Dictionary of Dream Symbols: With An Introduction to Dream Psychology by Eric Ackroyd”, you suggested. Your other two recommendations: Dream Analysis: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1928-1930 (a 700 page transcript of sessions of the dream work seminar Jung conducted, in English, with a number of psychiatrists and psychologists), which provided a detailed, up-close look at how Jung himself applied active imagination), and Children’s Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936 – 1940 (468 pages of transcripts of Jung working with psychologists on dreams) will have to wait, until I catch up with what I have resting at my desk, waiting to be read.

      I once had “The Secret History of Dreaming, by Robert Moss”. As I looked at my my present, very lean collection on the subject, I have Jung, James Hillman and Robert Moss, and also Johnson. S

      My recommendation is  Moss’ “Three Only Things — Tapping the power of dreams, coincidence and Imagination “.  Yes, there are dream stories, coincidence stories, and the power of imagination, all packed in one little book. Chapter 10 is rich with ideas, insights, and secrets, yes secrets of imagination. How things happen to Robert Moss, on a plane, at the airport, or standing in a line, is more than mysterious, but in his chapter 10, he has seven secrets to share with the reader.




      James and Shaahayda

      I apologize for the slow turn-around in response – seems like I’ve been doing a lot writing the last few days, and then work issues demanded my attention on top of that . . . but I really appreciate your recommendations, and hope others follow your lead and continue to add to the list. The more choices, the better.

      I do agree, Shaahayda, about Robert Moss’ Three Only Thing – Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination – that’s one I don’t own, but I did check it out of the library way back when.

      And James, your reference to Hillman’s The Soul’s Code and Dennis Slattery’s book on “Rising Myth” (love that play on words) highlight an important point. Though neither is technically about dreams, dreamwork is actually a portal into so many related fields, from psychology to mythology to divination and more. Though we think of dreams as subjective, they really can’t be properly studied in isolation; in many ways, they pull us out of ourselves and back into the larger world.

      We’ll save this thread for further recommendations; I hope to take a look at the dream you posted, Shaahayda, in another thread, but not sure I’ll be able to get to that today.



      Hello James,

      Your rich post on dreams touches so many important points, and this part in particular for me, You wrote, ” Seeing one’s unknown face in a mirror was difficult but necessary in understanding how a symbol or narrative was playing out in my life and trying to develop a dialogue with this figure and the results were quite revealing. We don’t like to see our dark selves; especially if they are behaving badly; and listening to them is not easy.”  Moss has a solid chapter on the subject in his book. He writes, “Dreaming is medicine. This is true in ways that are easily evidenced by medical data.”  Clinical studies suggest that people begin to recover from depression when they begin to dream more. Well, I have been dreaming a great deal more than a month ago, and perhaps that’s a good sign too.

      James, you had posted something on emotions by Jung, but perhaps through our chat messages. Is it possible to post that reference somewhere here?  In last night’s dream, it was a surprise to me that I was driving on a road, and it was midnight, but then my car too, might not have had any lights, because the whole place was pitch black. Dreams show us our conditions, our physical and emotional conditions, and also our surroundings.

      All the best James and thank you so much.




      Everyone is invited to add to this list of helpful works on dreams, with the idea of creating a crowd-sourced resource for those interested in dream work.

      Two more titles to add, both by C.G. Jung.

      Psychology and Alchemy (Volume 12 of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung)

      In the nearly 200 pages of the second half of this volume (“Individual Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy”), Jung examines a series of dreams reported by an individual who remains nameless throughout (though today we know the dreamer in question was Wolfgang Pauli, who in 1945 received the Nobel Prize in Physics after being nominated by Albert Einstein). Prior to the release of the two Dream Seminars detailed in the initial post above, this work offered the best glimpse of Jung’s approach to dreamwork as he charts how these dreams portray Pauli’s process of individuation over time.

      Dreams by C.G. Jung

      This work consists of excerpts on dreams from Jung’s voluminious writings (including the selection above from Psychology and Alchemy )



      Thank you Stephen for this idea of sharing books, essays and journals that helped us on our path to understanding our dream world:

      1. Marie Louise Von Franz: Dreams: A Study of the Dreams of Jung, Descartes, Socrates, and Other Historical Figures (C. G. Jung Foundation Books Series Book 9) Marie Louis’ essays approach dreams through many lenses, through a psychological lens, a religious lens, and a historical lens.  In her view, dreams can uncover hidden departments of your inner world.  She also describes C. G. Jung’s  examination of his own dreams and the fascinating connection between his dream world and his  life.   A fascinating read.

      2. Robert Moss; Three Only Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination. There are three themes in this book, a theme of dreams, of imagination and of coincidence. Through stories, of personal coincidences, and  their interplay with  the dream world, Moss shows us how we too can connect with sources of wisdom and happiness.  Our dreams can help develop a new vision, a new perspective on life here on earth. If you like stories, and serendipity, this book is for you. Moss shows us ways to tap into the nine powers of dreaming, the nine rules of coincidence, and the seven uses of imagination.

      3. Robert Moss; Conscious Dreaming: In this book, Moss teaches us how to incubate dreams, how to remember them and then to journal them. There are many categories of dreams; the Shamanic dreaming, dreams of our departed loved ones, our angel guides, our spirit guides. He explores the magical and sensuous impact dreams can have on our daily lives.





        Are there any recommendations on books about The Neuroscience of Sleep and Dreams ?
        Thank you


        Another incredibly helpful book on Dreams:

        When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science & Mystery of Sleep by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold (c. 2021)

        I picked up this just published volume on the Yale campus a little over two weeks ago, and was immediately smitten, consuming much of it on a train to New York, and this past weekend over on the lengthy flight home to California. Zadra is a professor at the University of Montreal and a key researcher at the Center for Advanced Sleep in Medicine (he’s appeared on Nova on PBS and the BBC’s Horizon), and Stickgold is a professor at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition – his writing has appeared in Scientific American and Newsweek.

        Almost every single page is chock full of scientific info I did not know about the dream cycle, the physiological functions dream (from “housekeeping tasks” for the brain, to memory retention and more), as well as a survey of the field, discussions of Freud, Jung, and ways of working with dream. This is the most up-to-date science as to what dream researchers do know about dreams, what they suspect, and what mysteries remain . . . well worth the price.


        Thank you Stephen for your review of When Brains Dream: ‘Exploring the Science & Mystery of Sleep by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold (c. 2021)’ I just purchased the book on your recommendation. This is the third book in one month, based on your recommendations. The one before this one was “The Spell of the Sensuous”, preceded by “Dream Dictionary’ By Eric A, preceded by “Joseph Campbell – Correspondence”.  Except for Campbell, I had no knowledge of the other three, and I must admit I have loved all three, and of course Campbell’s letters as I read them one by one.

        So wonderful to see you back on the forum, although, you were never far away and answered questions even while travelling.  Thank you for that too.



        Robert – I covered this title in a new post in this thread, and then I saw your question, so I’ll refer you to the brief review below of When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science & Mystery of Sleep by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold (c. 2021). These two brain researchers share the most up-to-date science on the subject – a truly fascinating read.


        Books on Lucid Dreaming (the first two recommended by forum user andrewl)

        Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge

        “LaBerge gives interesting examples of how professionals in different fields have used lucid dreaming to benefit job performance, good examples being a programmer who used lucid dreaming to work out bugs in thier code, and a surgeon who used lucid dreaming to practice complex surgeries.” – from andrewl

        Stephen LaBerge is no touchie-feelie type, but a serious dream research scientist: his 1980 Ph.D. dissertation at Stanford University is titled “”Lucid Dreaming: An Exploratory Study of Consciousness during Sleep,” and he is the co-author of a number of scientific studies on the various aspects of this subject.

        Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self by Robert Waggoner

        “Waggoner focuses more on the metaphysical and philosophical/spiritual implications of lucid dreaming, as well as the different elements at play in lucid dreams, including the general development of the skill over time, a roadmap of sorts of how the skill generally develops for most people, from beginning to expert. His discussions of what he calls the ‘conscious unconscious’ is also illuminating.” – andrewl

        And I will add the following title:

        Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep edited by Ryan Hurd, M.A. and Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D.

        This fairly expensive two volume set is an in-depth, multidisciplinary exploration of lucid dreaming from the perspective of science, psychology, and education in one volume, and religious traditions, creativity, and culture in the other.

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