Fossil Cove.

I heard about Fossil Cove on the grapevine. A place known to some locals, shh don’t tell!

It’s a conservation area, a short drive from Hobart, where I live, and a steep climb down well-managed tracks and steps that lead to a magical feast for the senses. Etched abundantly across the rock shelves are snapshots of marine life some 250 million years ago. The closer you look, the more your eye adjusts, and the more you see: fish, shell, and plant fossils, all overlaid in complex and beautiful patterns, nature’s work of art.

I would have loved to have an interpreter, an expert to name the fossilised species and explain what the intricate patterns can tell us about marine life back then. Instead, I guessed: fish, shells, plants.

Perhaps you can already count the ways in which my tale of last Sunday’s adventure will link to dreams, and dream interpretation. But first, let me tell you more.

I should, at this stage, confirm that this adventure wasn’t a dream. Fossil Cove is a real place, and we went there. My muscles can endorse this. It involves a lot of steep climbing down and climbing back up. People ascending the path, all aglow, affirmed the value of the challenge to those negotiating the path into the depths, “It’s magical down there, so worth the effort!”

We had chosen a sunny day, warm but not hot, azure blue skies, and we timed our walk to arrive at the cove when the tide was low enough to be able to walk through a natural rock arch into the adjacent cove, also fossil-blessed. Some people were taking deeper journeys, scuba diving through the outgoing tide. Others sunbathed, picnicked, meditated, or immersed in the fossil patterns, taking photos.

No-one wanted to leave on such an idyllic day, and no-one really fancied the challenge of the steep climb back to the road home.

Home, now that was another surprise. For us, Fossil Cove was so close to home! How could we not have known about it before now?

Ok, so how many links have you made between my account and dreams?

A good starting point, when interpreting a dream, is to think of it as a metaphor reflecting your life experiences and perspectives. My trip to Fossil Cove, even though it really happened, is a good metaphor for journeying into dreams.

Maybe you’ve remembered your dreams for years, but have only recently heard, on the grapevine, about the great secret: there is such value in exploring your dreams.

When you decide to journey into the depths of your unconscious, perhaps it’s a little like taking that steep and challenging path down. You may worry: will it be hard, can I do this, will it hurt, will I be able to climb back out to my everyday life again?

Yet, like the track down into Fossil Cove, with correct and professional guidance you will discover that the journey is well managed, and the steps are clear and defined. Take one step at a time, and you will get there.

Once there, you can safely explore your dreams, while wide awake, allowing your senses to feast upon your dream symbols and dream dramas, and the ancient patterns they reveal.

You may not be quite as ancient as 250 million-years-old, but our dreams do reveal the patterns etched into our conscious and unconscious minds from as far back as very early childhood. If those patterns – those ways of looking at life, those beliefs, and ways of responding in the world – have been passed down through many generations, then who knows how old your fossilised behaviours and ways of being really are?

Dreams expose the foundational perspectives, beliefs, and patterns that can powerfully drive the way you live your life now. Those perspectives, beliefs, and patterns that are firmly etched into your unconscious mind generally hold the power over your conscious mind, which is why it’s so important to explore and discover your unconscious mindset.

Metaphors, by definition, have their strengths and weaknesses. The fossils I saw at Fossil Cove are powerless to drive behaviour today. Or are they? Follow that question, see what comes up for you! Take your time!

Well, what came up? What did you decide? What did you see? Asking the right question of a dream, and seeing what comes up, is another key dreamwork tool.

At Fossil Cove, the closer you look, the more your eye adjusts, and the more you see. It’s the same with dream work: the more you practise the techniques of looking at dreams, the more your eyes adjust to being able to see the meaning of them.

You see the overlaid, complex, and beautiful patterns that define your life – patterns you perhaps hadn’t known about before – and this insight gives you the power to enhance the patterns you value and change the patterns that are not working so well for you.

On Sunday, I guessed the nature of the fossils: fish, shells, plants. I wished I had an expert with me to help me interpret what I was seeing. We can all guess at what our dreams mean, and we may be correct, but it helps enormously to have an expert on hand. Or an expert guide (human, or guidebook, or online guide).

It’s wise to choose the right conditions for your dream exploration. My blue azure sky might be your sense of choosing a clear, open space in your day. My tide-out might be your readiness to be vulnerable, to see what your dreams expose. My sunny but not hot day might be you finding the right comfort level for you.

Like the people who shared the cove with us that day, your personal style of dream exploration might involve wanting to go even deeper (scuba dive), or to take a more relaxed approach (sunbathe), or to seek nourishment (picnic), or to meditate upon your findings, or to immerse yourself in the exposed patterns, or to make art or record memories from your dreams (take photos.)

But what of the steep climb back out? You might envisage challenges in taking what you have learned about yourself back into your everyday life. What might change in your life?

Take heart, as the work builds your strength, and there are always other people who have climbed these paths before, and who can inspire and encourage you as you emerge to live your best life.

Your dreams, like Fossil Cove, are surprisingly close to home once you know how to approach, explore, and interpret them. Your dream world, and what it can teach you, has always been there, waiting for you to discover the magic.

Jane Teresa Anderson's Books

Jane Teresa Anderson

Graduating with an Honours degree in Zoology specialising in developmental neurobiology from the University of Glasgow, dream analyst and dream therapist Jane Teresa Anderson has been researching dreams since 1992, and developing and teaching dream alchemy practices that shift perspective and reprogram unconscious limiting beliefs. Jane Teresa is a multi-published author (her latest book is BIRD OF PARADISE), and appears frequently in the media on television, radio, and in print. She is also host of the long-running podcast, 'The Dream Show with Jane Teresa Anderson', and offers her online study and certificate courses through The Dream Academy.