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Dream Gates

Toilets at Ostia.JPG“Shit is good!” The elderly Italian grocery store owner’s eyes twinkled as she bagged tomatoes and homemade pasta. “If you crap in your dreams, it means money.”

Her reading is an ancient one, still alive in many family traditions. The association between excrement and wealth isn’t silly, when we remember that gold and silver come from under the earth, the repository of night soil. One of the names of Hades, the Greek lord of the Underworld, is Pluto, which means The Wealthy.
Sometimes our dream producers make the link impossible to miss. I once dreamed I was on the potty and produced a gusher. What might have been an explosion of diarrhea was a great burst of liquid gold. I woke laughing, feeling a happy release and also a terrific sense of possibility.
As with any dream symbol, the poop, doodoo or kaka in your dream isn’t necessarily the same as in mine. A good guess, with many dreams of defecation, is that you are eliminating something that needs to come out of your body or your life. To “take a dump”, in a dream, may be to dump what you need to let go. When your feelings tell you that such dreams are positive, they may indicate effective cleansing and releasing, perhaps a return to good health. A bowel movement, in a dream, may herald or accompany a move beyond a blocked or stuck situation. We sometimes say, “I’m feeling constipated” as a metaphor for the sense that things just aren’t coming out of coming through as they should do.
The “Mother of All Poop Dreams” involving elimination (as the dreamer herself titled it) comes from Janice, who dreamed she was with beloved departed family members when

I
excuse myself to use the ladies room. When I finish I look in the bowl
and see  not only the biggest poop I have ever seen — but also a poop of
such nature I have never seen before.  I call my mother in to show
her and there it is:  Within the poop is another poop that seems to
be alive — sort of growling or grunting and moving.  I am not afraid, but
absolutely I don’t know what to say or think — I am more or less
standing there wideeyed trying to figure out what exactly it is.

I
didn’t like this growling poop within poop, but thankfully it is out of me and
in the bowl. I wake feeling shocked – but also released.

A common variant of the poop dream is one in which we need to go but find ourselves doing it in public. Sometimes this reflects a need for privacy in the dreamer’s life. Sometimes it’s more about whether and when it’s okay to “let it go” in front of others. Guidance on that may come from the reactions of others inside the dream. If other people in the dream don’t seem to notice or mind, that may be telling you it’s okay to let it all out. Let’s remember that in some cultures, going in public was normal bathroom procedure, as witness the picture of a Roman communal toilet from Ostia.

Colloquial phrases involving shit or its synonyms may also give us a clue to the meaning of a dream of this ilk. Relevant phrases that plop to mind include:

I’m pooped

The shit hit the fan

I’m in deep doodoo

Shit for brains

He/she is a real shit

That’s crap

On the shitlist

Time to shit or get off the pot

(the list is endless – add your own phrases)

This dream theme has been actively discussed for as long as people have been dreaming and needing to go. Some of the best pages in the most famous dream book of the ancient world, the Oneirocritica (“Interpretation of Dreams”) by Artemidorus, are devoted to ????? (the Greek word for shit, from which we derive the term “scatological”). Though I am no fan of dream dictionaries, I have a soft spot for Artemidorus, because he was always careful to note that similar dreams mean very different things according to the varied circumstances of the dreamer, and he checked on incidents that followed a particular dream.

If you see a lot of human shit in a public place, according to Artemidorus, you won’t be able to accomplish anything there. In general, it doesn’t bode well if someone is shitting on your head. But that depends. “I know of a man who dreamed that a rich friend was defecating over his head. That man received a fortune and was named the heir of his friend.” On the other hand, a man who dreamed he was “befouled with dung by a poor acquaintance” later suffered great damage from the person who shat on him in the dream.

Defecating while in bed is not a good thing in a dream, says Artemidorus; it could mean you’ll be bedridden. It could also mean that your relations with a spouse or partner are in trouble, since the bad has been defiled. On the other hand to defecate copiously while seated on a toilet means “good luck for all men”, including “the alleviation of many cares and all distress. For the body is lightest after it has relieved itself.” It’s also a happy event when you dream you relieve yourself this way at a place in nature, on a road or in a river. Watch out, however, if you dream you are pooping in a temple, a place of commerce, or a public street.

Good stuff, though I’m not sure I’d be happy if I dreamed that anyone was pooping on my head.

Don’t be shy about posting on your own dream products!

Roman public toilets at Ostia
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