One of my favorite recurring dream themes is the incredible expanding house. It has many variants, in my personal dreams and in hundreds of dreams shared with me that feature this theme.
It might go like this:
You are in a house that feels like home, but then you discover that it has features that are not in your regular house. There might be an extra story, or even several floors above what used to be the roofline. You go up to explore, perhaps by an unusual staircase or elevator that, again, is not in your ordinary house. You may come up to a light-filled space, or a leafy terrace, or an attic room full of magical toys.
Or your explorations of a dream house lead you in different directions, through a door that you never knew existed before, into a library wing or an apartment where other people are living. Or you discover a trapdoor and go down into a root cellar or basement where you find objects and maybe bones from a long time ago, relics of ancestors of your bloodlines or of the land where you live.
Whatever else may be going on in a dream of an expanding house, it is often alerting us to levels of our identity and possibility that may have been invisible to everyday consciousness. If your dream house is expanding, maybe you are ready to expand your understanding of who you are and what is open to you. Up on that roof terrace, you may be able to rise to the perspective of a higher level of your self. Down in that previously unknown basement, you may connect with the ancestors.
Wanda dream she returned to what seemed to be her regular house and found her adult son entertaining some kids she did not recognize with ghost stories. Her son told the kids he would take them up to the attic to explore. Wait a minute, thought Wanda, as the kids eagerly followed her son out of the kitchen. We don’t have an attic. Through a door on the far side of the kitchen,Wanda found herself in a part of the house she had never seen before. There was a second kitchen, beautifully appointed and full of delicious aromas of baking. There was a laundry room where a pleasant housekeeper was engaged in folding linens. There was a wonderful, windy staircase that led up to a vast attic full of inviting things: steamer trunks, toys and clothes, a big puppet theater.
Instead of merely analyzing this dream, Wanda did what I would have done: she went back inside it through the technique of dream reentry, aided by shamanic drumming. She went straight to the laundry room, and found that it was a place of stories. The maid was preparing stories so Wanda would be able to unfold them smoothly and easily in a book she is planning to write. Among the linens she recognized the patterns of her grandmother’s quilts, holding the memories and gifts of a “wise woman” of the mountains of Appalachia. Up in the attic, she opened trunks and was delighted to find old books and journals, and beautifully preserved clothes from the Victorian era fit her perfectly.
A house of many stories.
Jung observed that “people live on only one or two floors of a large apartment building which is our minds, forgetting the rest.” In ordinary life, we can get stuck in a single story, a story that is worn and cramped, living on just one level of a a many-storied house that could be a palace of possibility. Our dream architects help us to get un-stuck, and into other and larger stories, by expanding our interior space. To “expand” means literally to “spread out” and grow larger. When our dream houses expand, we want to take action to grow larger in regular life too.