Abstract: Jane Tara Cicchetti is a homeopath and author with in-depth training in Jungian psychology. She has developed an effective method for analyzing the many dreams that occur in modern provings. In this article, she shares the pitfalls that occur from the way dreams are currently being integrated in provings and introduces a pioneering new process of dream analysis that enriches insight into the proving substance. Important suggestions for training dream researchers, as well as the importance of insights from dreams for contemporary needs are delineated
Some of the potentially most valuable information found in homeopathic provings is also the most neglected: The data that emerges from dreams. One of the characteristics of contemporary provings is the occurrence of many dreams. Some provings record more than one hundred. Since dreams are a connection to the symbolic world of the psyche, the dream imagery stimulated by the substance contains valuable information.
These images and symbols found in the unconscious add another dimension to the conscious mental/emotional symptoms and physical symptoms appearing in the provers. The question is how to utilize this information in a way that helps us to understand the proving substance.
As someone trained in Jungian psychology and its methods of dream analysis, I have contemplated this dilemma and have experimented with various methods during the provings that I personally have conducted and also while assisting as a consultant on dreams in other provings.
In this article, I will explain the results of these experiments and attempt to delineate the methods that appear to be most helpful – and those that are the least helpful – in gleaning this important information.
Two Traditional Pitfalls to Avoid
In provings, data from dreams are ultimately included along with other mental and emotional themes. In the past, two traditional missteps have limited the usefulness of this data. The first is listing this dream information without giving it the benefit of in-depth dream analysis, including all of the symbolic material those dreams contain.
Also, it is not useful to base final results on the individual dreams of the various provers: Dreams need to be considered in the aggregate. It is essential that the imagery and symbols in the dreams be carefully considered. Symbols must not be torn out of their context, which, in the case of multiple dreams generated in a proving, is the context of the entire “field of dreams.” The field of dreams means the aggregate of all the content of all of the dreams in the proving.
In any dream, the symbolism points to a greater reality which by its nature is mysterious and is not understood at first sight. In a proving, this is especially important as we are attempting to understand a substance through its effect on the human psyche. This understanding is only achieved through honoring the symbolic language of the psyche within the context of the entire collection of dreams.
Based on initial research, my finding has been that it is ultimately problematic to focus on each individual dream separately. One of the reasons is the need to differentiate the dream material that belongs to the individual prover from those that are truly stimulated by the proving substance.
To find the essential ideas being conveyed about the substance through dreams, it is necessary to find symbols and motifs that appear in many of the dreams of various provers. This helps to reveal a significant theme or themes that are stimulated by the substance and avoids as much as possible those that belong to the pre-proving psyche of the individual prover.
The analysis is done from the perspective of all the dreams being considered as one dream. Jeremy Sherr writes about seeing all symptoms “as if one prover” in his book The Dynamics and Methodology of Homeopathic Provings. He writes: “A proving is an artificial epidemic. All the individuals participating become a whole and unified organism. They share the same source and their vital forces merge.”
What is needed is a form of dream analysis that is consistent with the idea of “as if one prover.” A viable method is one that works with the entire collection of dreams and includes an understanding of the symbolic world. All of the dreams must be viewed as one dream, containing multiple symbols. Those symbols, when taken together, may or may not, depending on many variables, reveal important information about the remedy and its potential value in clinical practice.
I will now go through the process step by step in a general way with the hope that this will inspire others who wish to do a similar meta-analysis for their provings. While the steps are presented here in sequence, it is necessary to keep in mind that analyzing dreams is an art. One must be open to and be able to entertain possibilities that go beyond conventional logic.
Gathering All of the Dreams
First, list all of the dreams by number for easy reference. Then read through them all quickly – or skim them – to receive an overall impression and pick up certain ideas. In this first reading, some imagery or words will start to stand out as unusual, unique or repetitive.
This process might also stimulate the psyche of the researchers, for example by producing their own dreams. It is natural to jump to conclusions at this point, but the dream analyst must hold back on making any conclusions until the end of the process.
The Incubation Period
The next step is to allow the stimulus from the first reading to incubate for at least several days with the intention for the symbolism and motifs from the proving dreams – in the aggregate – to become clear. Historically, setting an intention has been an important part of dream incubation as it gives a message to the psyche. The stronger the intention, the better the response.
While the incubation period is important at this point, it is not only a separate step but also occurs throughout the entire process. The researchers should journal their own dreams and take notes on any imagery from the initial reading of provers’ dreams that appears.
This stimulates the researchers’ psyche so it may “speak” to them though dreams, reveries and imagination. However, one must be cautious with these insights and use them only to enhance their understanding of the provers’ dreams. Here also, it is vital for the researchers to differentiate their own personal material (which predates the proving process) from material stimulated by participating in the proving by making sure their insights are consistent with the aggregate of the proving dreams.
Compiling the Symbols and Imagery and Motifs
After the incubation period, the researchers proceed with a second, much more thorough, reading of all the dreams. They take notes on strong imagery and organize similar symbols and motifs into groupings. These are not ideas per se, but actual imagery, symbols and myths.
According to Carl Jung (1875-1962), imagery, or mental pictures, are a pre-verbal means the psyche uses to communicate with the conscious mind. Symbols are imagery that has a greater meaning than what is seen at first glance.
For example, depending on the context and meaning for the dreamer, a rose may indicate something about love, refer to Rosicrucian philosophy, the Grimms’ fairy tale Snow-White and Rose-Red, or myriad other possibilities. A motif is a story or theme suggested by the imagery.
Symbols, Imagery and Motifs That Expand and Clarify
Pay special attention to symbols, words and ideas that occur frequently in the dreams of provers. Sometimes a symbol or word in one dream will be expanded in one or more additional dreams. For example, an archetypal symbol in one dream may be expanded on in another dream through the appearance of a song, play, or film.
If the substance has strongly stimulated the field of provers’ psyches in a particular direction, there may even be further confirmation pointing to the importance of a motif through the appearance of a person’s name or a second myth. When multiple confirming symbols appear in various dreams, one is approaching a symptom that is “as if one prover.” These are symptoms that are almost certainly important themes in the remedy.
At this point, the emergence of various motifs can incite curiosity and there may be a desire to research their meaning, but it is important to gather all the information before proceeding. This is the time to explore the various types of symbolic material found in the dreams of provers.
Archetypes are primordial structural elements of the collective unconscious that present themselves as ideas and images. These universal patterns are the content of religions, mythologies and legends that express themselves in symbols and metaphors.
One of the ways to recognize an archetypal symbol is through its fundamentally timeless quality and its power to fascinate humanity throughout the ages. Jung has described archetypes as “instinctual images,” and believed that it was the task of each age to understand their content in a new way appropriate to that time.
Some archetypes will emerge more often and intensely during different eras. In times of great upheaval, as we are currently experiencing, symbols of the archetype of the apocalypse are frequently seen in dreams. It is not, therefore, surprising to find apocalyptic symbols in many contemporary provings. This is of particular importance as it reveals remedy pictures that are appropriate to help the suffering present in the current human condition.
Ancient and Modern Mythology
Early in his career, Jung observed that many of his patients had dreams or visions that directly related to ancient mythology. Many of these occurred in persons without any knowledge or contact with these myths. After observing the prevalence of previously unknown material appearing in the psyche, he developed his ideas about the collective unconscious.
Some of the most important imagery and motifs in the dreams of provers are those that emerge from the collective unconscious as archetypal themes. It is not uncommon to see symbols that relate to alchemy, various religions, folklore and ancient mythology.
Modern references such as films, operas, songs and poetry may be present along with ancient counterparts that point to a particular mythological motif. Identifying the thread of an archetypal theme or mythology that runs through the field of dreams is an essential part of the dream meta-analysis.
Now is the time to examine the symbols and mythological themes that have been compiled. Mythological references, both modern and ancient, must be explored in depth. For example, a song or a movie may appear in one or many of the dreams. It is important to understand the meaning of that reference in order to comprehend how it relates to the symbolism in other dreams.
It is best to avoid relying on reference materials that give only one single meaning to symbols, as this reduces and narrows what is a broad possibility of interpretation. There are some helpful references that give detailed information on several possible meanings of certain archetypal symbols.
One of the best of these is The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant. Useful references like this will give multiple meanings from various cultures, historical eras and traditions, enabling the researcher to find the interpretation that is most appropriate and works in context with entire dream field. While these references can be helpful, it is also possible that the meaning of the symbol or motif may not be found. As always, the researcher must keep an open mind to all possibilities.
Once the research is complete, note any significant connections among imagery and motifs that emerge. Recurrent words, images and ideas can be used to flesh out the messages from the dream field of the provers. Some symbols will be connected to the whole, while others will not. Some may simply not be understood at this stage. Remember that what is most useful are those that are connected to the entire aggregate of the dreams in the proving.
Contemplating the Emerging Themes
It is only now, after the dreams are understood as deeply as possible, that larger, over-arching themes can be developed. Ideas that come to mind about the possible use of the remedy, pathology, motifs and overall feelings based on the imagery, symbols, themes and their interconnection are notated. The analysis is kept open to possibilities at this point. It is more of a contemplation than a conclusion. As with all proving material, the ultimate test is how it translates into clinical practice.
The dream analysis is now compared with the rest of the proving, as well as the natural history, and mythology or folklore about the substance. The meta-analysis of these dreams may appear to be very different from the results found in rest of the proving. This is because it reveals another dimension or facet of the remedy.
Publication of the Results
The meta-analysis is published along with the proving. The original provers’ reports, including dreams, should remain intact. The meta-analysis is not published alone, since important information could be lost and the juxtaposition of the differing facets would remain unappreciated. The aim of this method of dream analysis is to enrich the original proving data, not to replace it.
TRAINING THE DREAM TEAM
For contemporary homeopathic provings to benefit from in-depth dream analysis, it is necessary to train researchers. Two aspects of training are needed. The first is developing sensitivity to dreams, and the second is learning how to turn this knowledge into useful proving results.
A few years ago, I did a dream analysis for Misha Norland’s proving of Monotropa uniflora. The proving contained approximately 200 dreams. After my analysis was complete, Misha commented that this type of analysis requires both imagination and knowledge. Imagination and knowledge are both significant factors in scientific research in any field, and especially important in dream analysis.
Albert Einstein has alluded to imagination being of utmost importance in scientific research. He wrote “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”
Developing Sensitivity to Dreams
In order to be proficient at dream analysis, it is vital for the researcher to develop a propensity towards the dream state. In other words, one should be a dreamer as well as a researcher. In all traditions that work with work with dreams, there are those individuals who connect deeply with dreams and have the ability to analyze the dreams of others.
Producing a meta-analysis of dreams in a proving is an opportunity for those gifted with this ability, or who are ready to develop it as a contribution to homeopathy. These people do not necessarily need to be homeopaths or even homeopathic students, as most dream-sensitive people can be trained in the process.
A crucial aspect in beginning to analyze dreams is to connect with one’s own dreams. Keeping a dream journal helps in remembering dreams, as it sends a message to the psyche that someone is listening to the messages of the dream world. It is similar to encouraging someone to speak to you by listening carefully to what they have to say.
Another way to connect with your own dream state is to have the intention to remember dreams on falling asleep. Once dreams are remembered more regularly, intention can be used to ask for information from them. For instance, you can ask for a dream to help understand the meaning of a particular motif that is emerging in the proving you are researching. Working with intention not only gives a particular result, it also opens the communication between the waking state and the dream state, giving more access to the subtle layers of the psyche.
Learning the Process of Dream Analysis
There are differences and similarities between the interpretation of an individual’s dreams and the meta-analysis of numbers of dreams in a proving. The difference is that Jungian dream analysis for an individual takes into account the dreamer’s view of the dream imagery. In the analysis of multiple dreams from a proving, it is the relationship of the dreams to one another that influences the interpretation. Training in basic methods of individual dream analysis is nonetheless beneficial.
What is similar in both these cases is the importance of archetypal symbols, myths and motifs. The study of archetypes is a vast field, as there are innumerable archetypal symbols. Fortunately, thanks to internet search engines, this research no longer requires access to vast libraries of esoteric material. However, learning to recognize and research such myths and symbols is a skill that must be developed.
Also similar in both situations is the need to respect every part of a dream: Every image must be treated as significant and must be included in the analysis. Some symbols may eventually show themselves not to be significant, but creating themes based on a cursory and partial aspect of dreams will not lead to a useful result. Carefully working with all aspects of a dream is a process that can be taught.
Dreams are a significant part of modern provings. Due to of the number and quality of dreams in recent provings, they cannot be ignored. Recent provings not only include many more dreams than older provings but contain more specific symbolism.
While homeopathy relies on older provings to a great extent, contemporary provings are crucial because they are experienced through the minds and bodies of individuals living under present conditions. Since early provings were conducted, more than 200 year ago, humanity’s relationship to the state of the psyche has changed. The physical, emotional and existential needs of individuals have changed as well. Therefore, it is important to find a way to precisely interpret what the multitude of dream material in new provings signify.
If you would like to read the Misha Norland proving of Monotropa uniflora, with the final meta-analysis of dreams (with all these steps appearing one by one), it can be found here: https://www.schoolofhealth.com/docs/Proving_of_Ghost_Pipe_BLK_FINAL.pdf .
(The dream meta-analysis appears in Appendix One.)
It is my hope that this method of meta-analysis of dreams will give the profession of homeopathy valuable information leading to deeper insight into our remedies. And that this understanding of the symbolic realm of the psyche expressed in dreams can be of help to those who seek homeopathic treatment for the health challenges inherent in contemporary life.
If you wish to discuss how to implement dream analysis in your provings or you would like mentorship for your provers, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I would be happy to reply.
 Jeremy Sherr, “The Dynamics and Methodology of Homeopathic Provings” ed. (Malvern, UK: Dynamis Books, 1994), 32
 Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, “The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols,” (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1996).
 Albert Einstein, “Einstein on Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorism, (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2009) 97