Interpreting Dreams in the pre-Internet World

This witty article was published this week in the good ol’ Memphis Flyer, one of the weekly papers for which I used to co-write an “advice” column. It was called The Dream Zone, which I co-wrote with Lauri Loewenberg for a decade before the Internet “killed the newspaper star”.  I miss that pre-Internet era sometimes… our column appeared in over 30 papers around the country every week. I did not own a cellphone when we started, and barely had email. Lauri and I wondered if this guy is making fun of us, but we don’t care if he is.  (smile) He certainly brings up some bizarre dream interpretations with a supernatural twist, and chose obscure trivia regarding our ordination and online spiritual school. But I enjoyed reading every word, fondly remembering the bygone days when I was a “columnist” and the word “blogger” didn’t exist yet.  Sigh…

Looking Back at a Time When We Cared About Your Dreams

Readers of the Flyer got such awesome advice from a syndicated column called “The Dream Zone” that ran in the back of the paper in the early 2000s.

The Dream Zone was the work of two leading dream experts, Lauri Quinn Loewenberg and Dr. Katia Romanoff.

While the Dream Team (I apologize) split up in 2012, [I don’t remember spitting up — we are still here, just the 30+ papers we used to be in are barely surviving since the Internet took over the world] they fielded some wild stuff from the minds of sleeping people. All you had to do was write a letter about your confusing dreams, and these two would tell you what it really meant.

For instance, Shelly from Prophetstown, Illinois, had a scary recurring dream about her dad driving over the top of a bridge and almost wrecking his car into the river.

That one is pretty obvious:  [I interpreted this one!] “The fear of crossing bridges is an ancient one. Our ancestors feared there were trolls and other nasties under bridges. This was really just a fear of the unknown. Just cross your fingers before you move onto the bridge. Crossing your fingers is also a practice used by our ancestors to ward negativity and nasties in general. It was called ‘making the sign against the evil eye,’ and may indeed have a calming effect on the often-fearful subconscious. Try it some time for your bridge fright and rest assured you are using an ancient tried and true technique of your foremothers and forefathers.”

There you go. Problem solved.

Today, Loewenberg, a “certified dream analyst,” appears on all sorts of television programs and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She was formerly a student of Dr. Katia Romanoff, who leads the Esoteric Theological Seminary from which you can get ordained in a boatload of priesthoods — the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon at Baghdad, for example — and sign up for the New Order of the Knights Templar or Third Millennium Angelic Alliance, which works “hand in hand with the angelic-warriors and divine messengers.”

These days, your weird dreams are your own damn problem. But back in the days before the internet could interpret your dreams with some fancy computer program, newspapers were full of syndicated columns of every variety. Columnists and cartoonists were pooled into services that papers could license from the syndicate.

According to a recent article in Editor & Publisher magazine, in the 1930s, there were 130 syndicates offering features and columns to more than 13,000 newspapers throughout the country. That number has dropped precipitously since then with the 2011 merger of United Media and Universal Uclick resulting in a single large syndicate offering some 100 features.

Everyone remembers News of the Weird, which we stopped running about two years ago. As if Memphis wasn’t weird enough. You don’t need to import weird to Memphis. Right next to the Dream Zone is Advice Goddess, whose face will be familiar to readers of a certain age.

Public-radio car gurus Click and Clack had a syndicated column, which I assume was 90 percent just them laughing.

But let’s return to the Dream Zone.

Carol, 43, from Ohio, wrote in June 2004 to complain about her dream in which she was house-hunting and almost got it on with the devil. To her chagrin, she woke up before things got properly sinful. Loewenberg told Carol that if she were really on the right track in her life, there would have been consummation. So, by logical extension, you’ll never know you’re on the right track in life until … oh dear.

Dream Interpretation: Escaping with kangaroo

I am in a compound of some kind…are we captives? We’re going to get out, me and the grey kangaroo. He is massive, very large, and I am riding his back – odd, in that he feels huge and yet barely large enough to hold me (I must be large?). Difficult to hold on, precarious, I adjust myself a lot as he is moving. We are in the streets of Burlingame (where I grew up), it’s nighttime, streetlights, we are escaping it feels like. I sense a deep love and connection between us, though a strange apprehension as well. His fur is very distinct to me, he seems so delicate on the top part of his body and so stable on the lower half. – Kelly

Life feels like captivity to you right now, but your magical and wise higher self is helping you break out. Grey is the color of wisdom, and the kangaroo represents your own higher wisdom and mind-body-spiritual energy. The kangaroo seems “large” and so do you to represent the importance and potency of wisdom and freedom to your psyche. You must have freedom of expression, absence of inhibition, no holding back. Part of this inability to express yourself freely stems from your childhood, thus the dream’s setting of your childhood hometown. Something in your past is affecting your feeling of being “captive” and needing to escape free. The wisdom of the ages is your faithful rescue. The deep connection is from your everyday self to your higher self, your god-self. You are slightly apprehensive because you have not fully utilized your higher wisdom-self before. This new personality has come to you like a dispensation and will never leave you. It brings earthly stability and surety to your situation, whatever it is, but also the delicate complexities of the heart. You will have stability and love, in other words as you succeed in breaking free from the “compound” that has been holding you back.

Very interesting! I am indeed feeling very ‘captive’ and ‘held back’ due to some financial/home issues building for years now (pending foreclosure, which is also creating stress on my marriage as we argue over what to do, etc. We have been in limbo, and I am a person of action). And while I actually have a deeply spiritual life and connection with my Higher/God Self, I have been going through a whole new level of opening up to my spiritual purpose and gifts (my work as an intuitive healer is taking off — breaking free! ;>), and it’s exciting but sometimes overwhelming as I adjust (“how do I ride this?”).

I am feeling pulled between the wisdom that guides me to let go and move on, to trust what we will find ‘out there’ if we have to move — and the situation at hand with my partner, wanting essentially to ‘not leave the compound’. Also, between expanding into the growing intuition and work I’m doing, and staying ‘safe and small.’ This dream and the interpretation reminds me that I need to continue to trust my higher wisdom as it will ‘carry’/show me the way, to continue to move forward,  even if I’m struggling to hold on, as it indeed will lead me through. 

Also, the town in this dream is actually where I ‘came into my power’ and ‘broke free’ after some years of intense struggle as a youth: It mirrors the precipice I’m on right now! I didn’t see this connection at all before.  Thank you – very helpful!

Dream Interpretation: Water in face, dog barking

My husband dreamed last night that someone’s hands were cupped and putting water in his face. He kept telling them when they’d put the water in his face to let him breathe but they kept doing it. What would this mean? Then he said he thought he heard our dog bark 3 times and it felt like someone was trying to pull on his leg. He thought someone was in the house ; he heard footsteps. But it was all in his sleep/dream.   – Melissa

Something or someone is getting in his face, making him feel choked with emotion and intruded upon. Water symbolizes your emotions and emotional state. Emotional issues are being shoved in his face, and there is an attempt to choke him. Some highly charged feelings – anger, fear, anxiety – are attacking him, threatening to drown him. Ask him if there is anything in his life right now making him feel attacked or trapped, unable to catch his breath. Three warnings of danger have been given already (the dog barking three times). Also someone may be trying to deceive him or trick him. Think of the old expression, “You’re pulling my leg!” meaning you’re trying to trick me, or you’re kidding me. Who or what is trying to get away with something at his expense? He fears they are getting close, are already “in the house” in his personal space. (Thus hearing their footsteps). Ask him what real life issue or situation might be putting him on the defensive. If he is upset by this dream, give him this exercise: cup some water in his hands and drink it right before bed while saying, I drink of the water of life, the living water. This will instruct his subconscious mind to stop scaring him with these vague unsettling messages, and just clearly give him the warning he needs!

Dream Interpretation: Deceased father shows up at wedding

I lost my Father in February to a massive heart-attack. I was at my Mother’s visiting with her and we were talking about different memories we had with my Dad. I was wearing a very bright blue shirt that day. I had a dream that night and we were at my wedding, my Father had already passed on and we were still waiting for him to show up. My Dad was alive for my wedding, which made this dream all the more strange to me. I was standing at the altar and all of a sudden my Father was there and he was wearing the same color shirt that I had on that day and he walked over to me, put his arms around me and told me he loved me. I then woke up and sat up in my bed. I do not remember my dreams very often but, this one seemed so real it had me quite shaken. I very vividly remember the shirt he had on and realized that it was the same color I had worn that day. I would be very curious to know what your feelings are about this dream.

P.S. I think it may be important for you to know that I had been estranged from my parents for the last nine years.
Sincerely, Michael

Wearing of the same shirt symbolizes something quite profound: that your Dad is still alive, he is alivein you. Children are the immortality of their parents, and genetically speaking we *are* our parents, grandparents, ancestors. He is “one” with you. Your dream also reminds me of the famous Bible verse, “I and the Father are one.” The wedding means a huge family milestone, a new stage of existence, and above all a union. You say for nine years you had been estranged from your parents but then had a reunion – reunited–  and your father passed away earlier this year. I believe he came to you from the Beyond in order to deliver a  very important message to you — reassurance that he loves you — because your separation of nine years was so long, he wanted to be sure you knew things were still good between the two of you. And he brought the symbolic message that he is still alive in you – his DNA is singing in your veins and every cell. Feel his presence. Your subconscious certainly senses his presence and therefore helped you “connect” with him and “receive” that message. Very awesome dream!

Thank you very much for your input, one of the questions I am always asking myself, is if my Father still loved me…so I hope your interpretation is correct. I hope he knows that I have never stopped loving him. My sister told me he would always drive by my house hoping to see me and talk to me, and I remember seeing him several times but, he never stopped, I guess stubbornness is something he and I have in common, as I used to do the same thing. I am his oldest and we are very much alike. What you say about the wearing of the same color shirt, makes sense to me. I originally thought that he was letting me know that he was watching over me by letting me know that he knew what I was wearing that day. I have to be honest, I was never a big believer in dream interpretation and the paranormal but, this dream has had me re-thinking that logic. My wife is a big fan of yours and has two of your books and I used to tease her about it…whenever I had a dream that I could remember, she would look up the keywords and try to interpret it for me and I would not take it very seriously.

Dream Interpretation: Purse taken, jewels left instead

Here’s my dream…I ran to go catch this bus…it was almost dawn….and the bus number was 113…someone at the bus stop said to me “well, aren’ t you going to get on?” I said “No, it’s too early” and the bus was just sitting there for a while, empty, with the lights on inside…..and in the same night, I also dreamt my purse and wallet were gone…but then I realized they left the wallet behind and just took the purse, and I found jewels/jewelry with my things. These jewels/jewelry didn’t belong to me, but were apparently very valuable. Again in the same night, I dreamt a friend who loves to cook and bake but not by trade…was cooking food …..and invited me to go see what she was making….I haven’t seen this friend in probably over a year…. Thank you, Antonella Yasuna

Some say the number 113 is a warning regarding the end of the world, others believe it is a good luck number that “follows” some people around. In esoteric lore 113 symbolizes sacrifice for the survival of others. You ran so you wouldn’t miss a pre-dawn bus, but you never got on. There is a group or “crowd” you don’t want to miss out on, yet you want the timing to be just right. You don’t want to jump into a situation too early for fear of losing your identity (purse and wallet) and getting lost in the crowd. You don’t want to be just another number, but you also don’t want to miss out on an opportunity. You fear the time is just not right for this “journey” in the darkness before the dawn. You had a brief identity crisis recently but it wasn’t as bad as you originally feared (wallet was not stolen after all). In fact, you lost your purse – your normal financial practices – only to find it replaced with other financial gains, the jewelry. It’s almost like you lost on the broader stock market in the recent crisis, but somebody bought you some gold! Or else you are handling someone else’s finances or valuables in life. Whatever your financial situation is, you feel the valuables do not belong to you, but yet somehow you are responsible for protecting them. What people, situations or things are you protecting or “stuck with” or handling that are not technically yours? What values showed up uninvited in your life after some kind of  loss? You also have an invitation to join a new venture – see what’s cookin’ in someone else’s “kitchen”. Are you going to take this person up on their offer? The person could also be another aspect of your own personality. Have you come up with an offer for yourself, but your other self is afraid to accept it?  Your old friend with culinary skills (nurturing skills) symbolizes a person, career or other situation that is making you an offer you don’t want to refuse, but also have a fear about timing. We know it is an informal or semi-professional offer because the friend is not a professional baker/cook but is just as good as one. The overriding theme here is you trying to work with the numbers in your life, from finances to timing. Perhaps you are weighing whether to start your own business or change your work situation. Very intriguing!

Dream Interpretation: Interruptions thwart amazing meal

I have had the same recurring theme in my dreams for many years. I will sometimes dream that I am preparing to indulge in the most amazing meal. I can see and smell everything that is arranged in front of me. But each time I have never gotten past fixing my plate. There are always a thousand random things getting in the way of my actually getting to sit down and enjoy my meal. This last one I had, for example, first I had my two nieces come crying that they were hungry so I put my plate down to fix theirs. Then I would always forget something — like a fork, a condiment or whatever, that would stop me from eating my meal. By the time I finally get everything settled and resolved and get ready to chow down, I WAKE UP!! I can literally feel my frustration in the dream, so much so that I wake up angry! What is this all about?! Please help me…it’s “eating” me up!!   – Monica

This is a very fascinating dream theme that comes to people who are unable to nurture themselves for one reason or another. You often put the needs of others before your own. Your outer life is so full of distracting obligations and events that you never have time to “feed” the inner you. You know how to take care of yourself, you know what needs to be done, but every time you start to focus on yourself something comes along to interrupt. Are you too polite to someone that is taking advantage of  you? Are you enabling an unhealthy relationship? Are you a pushover when you need to stand up for yourself. Ask, “How am I not nourishing and nurturing my inner self? What distractions are keeping me from closing the deal on something?” Also ask yourself what in waking life makes you angry and frustrated. Answering these questions will give you a clue as to what things are triggering this dream and thus what areas you need to work on first. Good luck and be sure to let us know the details if you get this dream again.

This interpretation is dead on! Especially when you said this:
“You know how to take care of yourself, you know what needs to be done, but every time you start to focus on yourself something comes along to interrupt. Are you too polite to someone that is taking advantage of you? Are you enabling an unhealthy relationship? Are you a pushover when you need to stand up for yourself…”

I am EXTREMELY passive-aggressive and until I get fed up, I am usually having my kindness taken for weakness. I knew that it had something to do with some type of obstacles (I am a self-proclaimed junior dream interpreter myself lol), but I just wanted more clarity and specifics. Thank you so much for helping me put things into perspective! 

Dream Interpretation: Being chased, can’t get away

I’ve been experiencing nightmares since my early teens, even sometimes night terrors where I wake up swinging at the air or pillow and screaming. There’s always a common theme of someone or some group chasing me and I can’t get away. I panic and I feel out of control and very anxious. I do not take any medications and am a very healthy individual but wonder why the heck I am so anxious in my sleep? I would like to get this solved and sleep in peace. Any insight and help would be very much appreciated.
Thank you,

There is some issue in your past that you have still not gotten closure over, or not resolved. It keeps chasing you and you keep trying to get away from it. You are avoiding (out of fear) facing something, someone or some event from your past, probably dealing with your teen years since that’s when the dreams began. It could be earlier, in your childhood, however. The inability to get away in the nightmares may stem from a feeling of helplessness and uselessness in waking life. This nightmare may be triggered any time you feel useless or unable to resist something during the day. What are you avoiding facing? Anything? And what is making you feel out of control in your daily life? It could be something small or something buried in your past, but whenever you feel the slightest bit out of control it triggers this anxiety program in your mental computer. Up comes the program and starts its mission of seek and destroy. It destroys your calm sleep and your normally calm demeanor. There is something you’re not able to look at just yet, but very soon will be able to. Self-examine, observe, observe. You will find the unresolved issue and once you do, it will finally have to go away. Just identifying it “solves” it when it comes to nightmares. Another solution is to hold onto the nightmare after it wakes you up and try to go back into it while still awake. There you are, just woke up in a panic, but don’t turn on the lights, don’t open your eyes, don’t get out of bed. Instead go back, find those people that were chasing you…remember what they were like this time. See ’em? Look at them. Picture them stopping the chase and standing there behind you. Now turn yourself around (in your mind’s TV screen) and face them. Yes, look squarely at them and speak. Say, “Who are you and why are you following me?!” Now wait. Listen. See what the pursuers “answer” back in your self-guided dream replay. Usually some message will come forth, just see what pops into your head — what they “say” — after you ask that question. Demand an answer! If the dreams keep coming night after night and no luck with this post-dream replay method, you can conjure up the dream right before sleep. Then enact the scene described above. Turn, face, confront, demand an answer. For some people the before sleep method works better than the after-awakening from nightmare method. Try one or both — and let us know how it goes. Good luck, we’re here for ya.


Great feedback!! Thank you!!
When I was 12 my mom would let anyone come over and boys were allowed in my room alone. I had sex at 12 and was date raped at 13. I felt unprotected and so ashamed. I also grew up in a home with lots of yelling and my mom would “freak out” under almost any semi-stressful circumstance. You never knew when the next outburst would be. So that explains it more. So what do I need to face is a question I need to answer. To be haunted all these years, literally, is exhausting. I’m frightened to face the past, and my mom, for fear she’ll blow up!!! I would like to face this head on and not run anymore. Will try the staying asleep technique and do dream journals and see if there’s any success. I’ve been in therapy on different occasions over this issue with some success, but not full, and currently nightmares are very often. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 9 month old and as you know with children, you can’t control anything. I get tense when I feel out of control and have to make a conscious effort to breathe, and just chill. I’ve had success in my daytime life with being “chill,” but have an uneasiness I carry around with me. When I’m around my mom I go on major “chill” mode but inside I want to scream!!! Any further advice would be appreciated. Thanks again!!
Anonymous, 30 years old, Calabasas, CA.

Tips to Eliminate Nightmares

As many of you know, I worked as a dream interpreter for years and still co-write the column The Dream Zone for Sedona Magazine with my friend Dr. Lauri, “the dream lady”. This item came to my inbox today, 14 Tips for Getting Rid of Nightmares. It’s got the wisdom of the world tucked in between. The technique I used the most with my clients was number 10 — Not one of the ancient wisdom ones, but very effective. The author’s free ebook at the end looks good, too. — +Katia

By Ryan Hurd
Dream Studies
September 2, 2010

Sometimes the only dreams we remember are the ones we wish we could forget.
Nightmares can be instructive, and most psychologists believe that they are
a healthy part of life. But if you are plagued by repetitive nightmares and
are losing sleep, sometimes changing your daily habits can reduce nightmare
frequency. In general, nightmares can be caused by insufficient sleep, poor
exercise and diet, and stress. The tips below all are aimed at cultivating a
healthier sleep and dream life, drawn from my ebook Enhance Your Dreamlife:

1. Don't go to sleep angry or stressed out. Give yourself time to cool down.

2. Regular sleep patterns = better dreams. Including weekends.

3. Don't eat right before bed. In particular, foods that take longer to
digest, like meats and cheeses, can increase nightmares.

4. Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption.

5. Cultivate gratitude. If this doesn't come easy, do a "thankfulness"
exercise every day in which you list the aspects of your life that you are
thankful for.

6. Reduce exposure to violent images in the media, especially in the
evenings. Horror movies can cause lingering nightmares for years.

7. Spend time in nature as often as possible, even if this means sitting in
a city park for fifteen minutes every day. Many therapists believe that we
all suffer from "nature deficiency disorder."

8. Don't sleep on your back. This encourages a special kind of nightmare
known as sleep paralysis, in which you feel like you are awake and alert
while at the same time you cannot move. Sufferers also feel breathless
and/or sense an ³unknown presence² in the room.

9. Start a gentle body practice like yoga, walking, or tai chi. In general,
moderate exercise increases the quality of sleep.

10. If you have repetitive nightmares, role-play how you will face your
nightmare attackers next time.

11. Keep a dream journal. Often writing it out can dispel a lot of the
powerful emotionality.

12. Join a dream-sharing group. Many larger cities have them. If not, start
your own.

13. Give yourself some self-love and acceptance. Easy to suggest, but hard
to do. I use journaling to remind myself that I am loved. Affirmations --
while they can seem cheesy at first -- are effective as well. My backlog of
journals is essentially a history of pep-talks I've given myself over the
years and it still works.

14. Keep fresh flowers or aromatic oils in the bedroom. Research shows that
good smells positively effects your dreams.

Note: If you have numerous, repetitive nightmares that are related to
childhood scenes or some personal trauma you encountered, I recommend seeing
a counselor or therapist. Severe nightmares are a common symptom of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can be caused by war, devastating personal
loss, rape and suffering through a natural disaster. Ministers and priests
are also good resources for dealing with nightmares if you attend a church;
many are trained in working with the spiritual and traumatic side of dreams.

For more information about getting better sleep and exploring dreams,
download my [Ryan Hurd's] free ebook Enhance your Dreamlife

Dream Interpretation: Headless zombies

Last night I dreamt I was at a swap meet and they had headless people hanging in the eating area. This one body near my mother and I had partial of his head. There was also a raffle going on. Some lady close to us won the raffle and the hanging body fell and was like in zombie mode and alive. Now I understand that bodies can stay alive due to motor neurons running through our body and since the brain can no longer control it, it is like a chicken without a head that still runs around. But I don’t understand. And they were taking kids.   – Nadia

All those dead bodies are parts of YOUR personality that you want to kill off, but want to keep around in case you need them. They have lost their heads…meaning in some area of your life you have gotten too passionate, too emotional, and caused “loss”. You want these dead-to-you aspects of yourself to be there in case you need to utilize them, but you also are horrified by the whole self-eating process your mind and emotions are putting you thru. You know the saying, “it’s eating you up inside.”  Ask yourself what is eating you, eating your head (intelligence, common sense) and what is “taking” the kids, in other words, taking your childhood or childlike happiness. The raffle means you took a gamble on something or some one and now you are not so sure it’s gonna work out. It got set up on automatic and you can’t stop it. If you can figure out what in your waking life is at the root of this dream, you will suddenly realize the connection and the problem will stop haunting you.

Dream Interpretation: Having unexpected baby unprepared to feed

Every week for the past 10 years I interpret two dreams for an advice column called The Dream Zone, which I co-write with Dr. Lauri Loewenberg “the Dream Lady”. I thought it might be fun to start posting them here…

My dream was: I entered into my boyfriend’s room and I found him on bed with somebody else. I was able to see her face, but I was not able to recognize her. I grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the floor, and I also slapped her. My boyfriend had a smile on his face while all this was happening. Then I jumped on top of him and we start making out. Isn’t this weird? Hope you can help me interpret this dream.
Evelyn, Age 30, Miami, Florida

Katia interprets: This is a fun dream with two messages for you. Your boyfriend secretly wants you to fight for him, to show how passionate you are about maintaining your relationship. He may be a bit childish in this desire, but it is not unhealthy. The other possible meaning for you (and both can be true at once, as is the unique nature of dreams) is that the woman is an aspect of your own personality. There is a man-stealing desire within you, flirtatiousness toward other men, which you don’t like, that you want to slap around and get rid of. You know it will please your boyfriend if you conquer and neutralize this behavior pattern, probably because he is a bit jealous when you smile or are otherwise friendly with other men.


My name is Gina, 32 from California. I have this dream at least twice a month. It’s a little different each time but almost the same. In my dream I have a baby I wasn’t expecting. Like I was pregnant but didn’t know, and then all of a sudden I have this baby. And I’m trying to gather things to take care of it. In my dream I keep saying how happy I am but I am hurrying to go buy everything for the baby. But the weird part of the dream is that I keep forgetting to feed it. And the baby is crying. I bring it close to me and keep telling it how sorry I am for not feeding it. I tell myself in the dream why do you always forget to feed your baby and what a bad mother I am. Please HELP! This dream really bothers me after I wake up because I can’t seem to make sense of it.

Katia interprets:  Aha! The baby is a beloved but vulnerable part of your future, a long-term goal, a cherished project, that you feel bad about not seeing through. What future plan or vision for your life are you unprepared for? Every now and then an opportunity to nurture this vision comes suddenly and unasked into your life but you have never acted on it. You can’t keep focused enough to “feed” this wonderful thing. Is it something educational, some kind of occupational opportunity or other calling you keep passing up? The dream is trying to tell you you’re going to regret and feel guilty about this, so it’s time to take the plunge. Stock up on “food” for this great endeavor; prepare for the new and wonderful life that you very much want to give birth to. Next time this opportunity whatever it is, literally falls into your lap, you will have plenty of life force (baby milk) to energize it. The guilty feelings will be gone forever. Hard work and constant attention will be required, yes, as with all “babies”, but you are up to it. Good luck and get going!

To submit your own dream for interpretation, please visit