The meaning of the dream symbol: Head

The Head possesses six crucial characterizations, one being the mind, the second the face, and the last four being the individual eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Appropriately, we need to determine which aspect of the head is pinpointed in the dream imagery and examine the symbolism of that respective ‘part’. However, if the entire head is focused upon, we need to turn to the psychological structure of the dreamer’s self-image and perception of the world experienced.

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For example, if in a dream, our own head was screaming on the ‘chop block’ of an ax-toting executioner, who looked remarkably like ourself, we may be rather dramatically illustrating how our own personal actions have ‘severed’ our own personality and life-style. Case in point, our Unconscious may be demonstrating how we have needlessly cut ourselves off from society by adopting radical new methods of existence with no social merit whatsoever.

Symbolic arithmetic combines with the symbolism peculiar to the many-headed creature. The three heads of the goddess of the crossroads, hecate, or of cerberus, the guard-dog of the Underworld, relate to the relationship of goddess and dog with the three worlds, janus had two faces so that he could look forwards and backwards, into the past and into the future. The Ancient Egyptian god, Amon-Ra, was often depicted with a green body and four ram’s heads. According to Champollion they symbolized the four elements, the soul of the cosmos. Horapollon states that ‘in Egypt the coupling of two heads, the one male the other female, was a symbol of protection against evil spirits.’

Indra is a god with three heads because he rules the three worlds, just as Agni’s three fires denote the three lights which shine in the three worlds. An endless list of examples might be given, but the principle of their interpretation remains the same - the meaning of the number has to be combined with that of the many-headed creature depicted.

In Christian iconography there are many examples of saints carrying their own heads, like the statue in Notre Dame of the first Bishop of Paris, the martyr St Denis. Both his legend, and its depiction, symbolize the belief that the executioner has been unable to deprive his victim of life, that St Denis continues to live and move spiritually and that through the spirit he masters the power of death. The victim’s spirit, symbolized by his or her head, not only lives, but continues to be carried on Earth by those who share the same faith as it was by the martyr.