Thursday, 30 October 2014

Interpreting popular dream themes (7) - Clowns

A clown dream tends to symbolise the light-hearted, childish (or childlike) and absurd nature of the dreamer's character, with the face of the clown reflecting their feelings or emotions. The behaviour of the clown represents the dreamer's uninhibited side or can be a sign of thoughtlessness, inadequacy or insincere actions. This is particularly true if the clown character in the dream is a happy clown. However, a happy clown may also be a signal that the dreamer - or someone in their waking life - has been putting on a smile or a brave face and using humour to deflect troubled emotions or hide their true feelings. There is unexpressed inner sadness.

To see a clown remove their makeup is a symbol that the person represented by the clown is becoming unmasked - additionally it may mean that the dreamer wishes to 'unmask' themselves or reveal the true nature of someone else who is hiding behind the facade. 

The clown also symbolises duality - it may be a sign that the dreamer needs to trust their instincts and therefore they should pay careful attention to the situation presented in the dream and the additional dream symbolism to ascertain where the conflict or choice between two options lies in their waking life. The clown - as a symbol of the unconscious - may be giving the dreamer an important message. The clown or joker may carry with them a wisdom which is overlooked due to their jesting nature. There is a possibility that the clown also symbolises the possibility of transformation in the dreamer.

If the dreamer has a phobia of clowns (coulrophobia) or sees an evil clown in their dream then the clown symbol is a metaphor for anxiety that someone in their waking life has ill intent or wishes to harm them in some way. That person may not be what they seem and the dreamer has doubts as to their true nature, fearing that they will be deceived in some way, because they 'paint' on a false face or are hiding under a facade. It may also be an indication that the dreamer is allowing trivial or silly pastimes to divert their attention from more important issues, or is a sign that they are - or likely to be - embarrassed by their actions in some way. The dreamer should question actions and decisions in their waking life - are they afraid that they will look ridiculous, foolish or incompetent in a certain situation? Have they taken a misdirected course of action? Are they preventing themselves from feeling fulfilled and 'whole' in some way? Is the dreamer - or the person represented by the clown - failing to acknowledge their true feelings? An angry clown suggests that the dreamer's fears and anxieties are reaching the surface and will threaten to unsettle them in some way.

If the dreamer is chased by a clown in their dream then is may symbolise that they are running away from problems which stem from their childhood.

Some interpretations suggest that clown dreams are a symbol of repressed insecurities, inhibitions or feelings of inferiority. It may be the dreamer who feels that they are wearing a mask and hiding their true self for fear that they will be mocked or deemed to deviate from a certain expected social standard. A sad clown is an indication that the dreamer feels they are not taken seriously or is unsupported. If the dreamer sees themselves as a clown it means that they are experiencing feelings of humiliation and are misunderstood by others.

If the dream clown is performing for the dreamer, it may symbolise that the dreamer needs to improve or lighten their mood and relish a more carefree attitude - stresses and strains or responsibilities of their waking life may be getting them down. If the dreamer enjoys the performance of the clown, this may be representative of a need to celebrate some aspect of their waking life and take more pleasure in their triumphs or successes. If the dreamer does not enjoy the performance of a clown, it is an indication that someone in their waking life - whose actions do not amuse the dreamer - has been antagonising or frustrating them in some way. The clown may also represent a situation rather than an actual person.

Clowns often speak or act in contrary, contradictory ways - they imitate and satirize others and put on a performance. Clowns are attention-grabbing and often obscene in their pretension and frivolity - there is a ritualistic, ceremonious element to the drama that they bring. In many ancient or tribal traditions, the clown is a sacred character related to medicine (consider the English idiom 'laughter is the best medicine') and fertility. They symbolise relief and also the path of life - with it's joys, tragedies and pitfalls. The clown represent learning without teaching - lessons are gained not by didactic approaches, but by stumbling upon answers or the truth of a situation being revealed through presentation of the opposite - the duality of the matter. The lesson comes in the form of laughter, jokes or threats. Clowns highlight idiosyncrasies and foibles and are thought to open dreamer's eyes to the reality of a scenario which appears to be hidden or obscured in some way. Clowns are full of contradictions, which is why they make fascinating dream characters to interpret. In many interpretations of the clown symbol, they represent both innocence and wisdom. The dreamer may only comprehend the wisdom of their unconscious if they strip away superficial things and pretensions, which may render them vulnerable. Wisdom may emerge from shame - in order to learn and progress, the dreamer may need to confront something which brings them shame. This leads back to interpretations of clown dreams which suggest that they symbolise a need to unmask oneself and face up to hidden emotions. By creating imbalance, balance may be achieved - which can be interpreted as meaning that through opening oneself up to humiliation, shame, mockery or other such negative consequences associated with clowns, honesty, personal transformation and progress can be made. This is what is meant by the curing/healing or medicinal nature of clowns, an aspect of the clown symbol inherent in Native American culture.

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