Decoding Dreams


It’s common for children to wake up from a nightmare in the middle of the night and for their parents to calm them down by saying, “It’s just a dream, go back to sleep.” Walter Hrycaj, dream interpreter at Columbia’s School of Metaphysics, is trying to change that conversation by spreading the word about the powerful impact dream interpretation can have on a person’s life.

“What the School of Metaphysics really wants to strive for here in Columbia is to see the development of a community that values dreams and dreaming,” says Hrycaj, who also serves as director of the school. “Most people see them as fluff, but we want people to think about why they dream.”

By the age of 60, a person will have had, on average, 197,100 dreams, according to Hrycaj and his colleagues. Instead of waking up every morning and shrugging off a dream from the night’s sleep, Hrycaj and his students want Columbians to reach their full potential by offering dream interpretation services.

This month, the school is participating in the 26th annual National Dream Hotline. At 6 p.m. April 25, the School of Metaphysics will open its phone line to talk about and answer questions about dreams. The hotline — manned by the school’s staff and students — will continue to receive calls over a 54-hour period, ending at midnight on April 27. Over the course of the weekend, 16 branches of the School of Metaphysics, located across the country, will encourage listeners to call in to their local school to have their dreams interpreted. The world headquarters of the School of Metaphysics, in Windyville, Mo., will also open its phone lines to the world.

In order to prepare for the event, Hrycaj makes sure his students feel comfortable with both common symbols that show up in dreams as well as the uncommon dreams that they are bound to hear about during the weekend. Students enrolled at the school take weekly classes Monday through Thursday evening. During class, students watch movies related to dreams, study entries in the dreamer’s dictionary and even interpret their own dreams. This multifaceted approach ensures there is no dream too difficult to crack, Hrycaj says.

“It’s a language,” he says. “You learn as you go. Every day you get better and better at it.”

Christine Madar, the field director for the Columbia branch, has an even more expanded vision of the National Dream Hotline. She has worked with local hotlines in six states and served as the international coordinator several times in the 26-year history of the event. “This hotline serves people in every way. The callers get answers to their myriad questions, and teachers and students learn and improve their understanding of dreams,” Madar says. “We talk to people of all ages and all walks of life. I’m always impressed by the universal appeal of dreams.”

As Hrycaj’s personal goal is to get out the word on the power of dream interpretation, the mission of the school is similar: To aid any individual, willing to put forth the effort, to become a whole functioning self, not dependent on any person, place or thing, for peace, contentment and security.

Although anyone willing to learn and master the skill of dream interpretation can do it, Hrycaj says, passion is a necessary trait for success. Hrycaj loves what he does.

“I devoted my life to aiding others to know themselves,” he says. “My dreams have helped me tremendously and I believe others can benefit the same way!”

To participate in the Nation Dream Hotline from 6 p.m. Friday, April 25, until midnight Sunday, April 27, call 573-449-8312 or visit

Sleep Symbols

Everyone dreams, even those who believe they don’t. According to the School of Metaphysics, every dream is always about the dreamer, and every person, place or thing in the dream represents the dreamer. Although people can dream thousands of different dreams during a lifetime, there are a few common symbols.

  • People who appear in your dream symbolize particular aspects of yourself. Those of the opposite sex tend to represent aspects of your subconscious, while those of the same sex generally represent aspects of your conscious mind.
  • A tornado in your dream can represent inner turmoil and confusion.
  • Death is a symbol of change, the person dying in your dream can represent a part of you that is undergoing change or has changed completely. Similarly, a funeral represents the acknowledgement that some part of you has changed.
  • An alien, monster or any other unidentified being symbolizes an unknown aspect of yourself or a part of yourself that you do not yet fully understand.


Source: Columbia School of Metaphysics Language of Dreams and 25 Most Common Dream Questions

Christine MadarColumbia School of MetaphysicsdreamsNational Dream Hotline
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