In my capacity as a professional dream worker, I travel all around the English speaking world, (both IRL - "in real life" - and on the Internet), on a daily basis, working with peoples' dreams, and helping them figure out more about what they mean. This gives me the opportunity to carry out an extensive, on-going, informal survey of the collective "trends" in the content and imagery of peoples' dreams. One of the patterns I have noticed, as we approach the millennium, is that more and more people are reporting dreams of great storms, particularly "tornadoes".
At the same time, even a casual eye on the news media in waking life informs us that the world's weather has gotten dramatically "worse" and more intense over the last decades of the 20th century. "Global warming" appears to be the culprit in the waking world, and of course, that, (plus the emotional impact of the news stories of storm damage, and the tragic deaths and dislocations of peoples' lives which inevitably result from these great storms), is sufficient reason alone for the number of "dream tornadoes" to increase - but I believe there are other, even deeper collective/archetypal reasons for the steady increase in this particular type of dream imagery.
The individual and collective problems and dilemmas we face at the end of the 20th century are all, in a very real way, the consequence of incomplete (still evolving) conscious awareness. I am increasingly convinced that it is the huge disparity between our immensely sophisticated knowledge about how to manipulate the physical world, (skills which we inevitably try to use to satisfy the incoherent jumble of our less-than-conscious desires), in contrast with our almost total lack of reliable self-knowledge about the deeper structures of our interior lives, which is the main cause of the terrible situation(s) we find ourselves in at this perilous historical moment.
In the dream world, "wind & water" have been archetypal symbols of spirit ("which bloweth where it listeth") and emotion, (which "runs deep", even when it's still) for thousands (if not millions) of years. In the waking world, peoples from all over the planet share stories where the "voice of the God(s)" "speaks from out of the whirlwind". Non-technological peoples, (including the vast majority our own ancestors, back to the Old Stone Age an beyond), have viewed the "tornado" as "the finger of God", which points with precision and unparalleled power to the psycho-spiritual mysteries of guilt and hidden meaning. Like the imagined "Hand of God", the tornado demonstrates breath taking power, and leaves one life relatively untouched, while the life standing directly next to it is totally torn and shattered forever.
Each time we dream of "tornadoes", these ancient, collective layers of symbolic association reveal themselves anew. Each "dream tornado" is, at some level, a harbinger of change, in the psyche as well as the waking world. Although only the dreamer can say for sure what his or her dream images mean, dream "tornadoes" are compelling metaphors of the individual and collective social change that we "feel", (that we know in our secret heart of hearts), is necessary , and is coming. We intuit, as dreamers, that ultimately the "power of this impending storm" is not just a consequence of incomplete human consciousness and planning failure alone. The forces of change are also "forces of nature" - "divine forces", like nature herself. The dream "tornado", over and over again, turns out to be symbol of the dreamer's own personal relationship to the deepest unasked and unanswered psycho-spiritual questions is his/her life, and these issues always have transpersonal implications as well.
Of course, these inevitable, unconscious, archetypal associations echo back "out" of the dream world into our perception of the changes in the global weather patterns that are the other main inspiration for these dreams. No matter what we think and believe consciously, our nagging fear that these "earth changes" are a "punishment" is an inevitable reflection of our realization that we are misusing the divine gift of increasingly conscious self awareness. This "theological" belief creeps into the emotional tone and rhetoric of our debates over controlling ozone-depleting emissions, and the destruction of planetary bio-diversity in the service of short-term economic gain. We know, from the same deep, unconscious place that the dreams come from, that these global, political, economic, ecological issues are ultimately "spiritual" - that these issues both shape and reflect our deepest relationships with the most important meanings of our individual and collective lives, (a situation which our ancestors have always equated with our relationship to "God" and "the Divine"...)
When such tornado dreams are remembered, it means that the dreamers are, in fact, equal to the psycho-spiritual tasks of increasing self-awareness and self-acceptance that the unknown frightening future demands, whether they feel or believe they are equal to these tasks, or not. ALL dreams come in the service of health & wholeness, and that means that NO dream, (even the dream of the 'terrifying tornado"), ever comes to say: "Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah - you have these problems and you can't do anything about them...!"
To have and remember such a dream is an invitation to the individual dreamer to search even more deeply within for the creative energies that are given shape in the "dream tornado" itself, for this image is, at another important level, a spontaneous symbolic meditation on the divine, as-yet unknown, unconscious creative energy that resides within each evolving human psyche.The dream tornado is an indication of the as-yet-unused-and only-intuited power of our own human ability to grow and change and evolve - the creative ability to change both ourselves and our planet in the process of our development. As long as such dreams continue to be remembered, there is every reason to believe that we can and will grow beyond even these "earth shaking" problems that our incomplete sorcerer's apprenticeship in consciousness itself have created. At this level, the "dream tornadoes" are a manifestation of that archetypal creative energy bubbling up in the collective psyche, asking for morally responsible creative expression in waking life.
© Jeremy Taylor, 1997