Skip to content
You Are Here Dreams 1-2-3 » Interpret Dreams » Crash Course: How to Interpret Dreams the RadOwl Way

Crash Course: How to Interpret Dreams the RadOwl Way

radowl's crash course dream interpretation
RadOwl, the radical owl, aka J.M. DeBord
Online I’m known as RadOwl, aka best-selling author J.M. DeBord

3 Simple Facts + 3 Simple Steps

a radically simple and effective process of dream interpretation

To interpret dreams the RadOwl way, let’s begin with lesson #1 taught at Dream School, the online home for dream interpretation:

You already know what it all means because you create your dreams, albeit subconsciously. (Some dreams are not meaningful in the traditional sense.) Everything else about dream interpretation is a process of remembering what you already know.

Allow me this opportunity to show you what to do next to interpret your dreams the RadOwl way. I earned my nickname by teaching people everywhere a 3-step process of dream interpretation known as D3 that’s radically simple, effective and modern, and by writing best-selling books about dreams. I’ll show you how I do it in the briefest way possible.

The crash course on how to interpret dreams demonstrates the dream interpretation process through fascinating example dreams which have come my way during my 25 years of experience. You are receiving the boiled-down essence of thousands of hours of teaching, study, practice and most importantly, application as the main moderator of the largest online dream forum open to the public, where I’ve tested my system on people from all walks of life and everywhere in the world. More than 2,000 students in 200 countries have taken one of my online courses at

Everyone can interpret their dreams. In fact, you’re the only one who truly knows what your dreams mean, so learn how to do it for yourself. DIY dream interpretation!

New students, I recommend the following half-hour video to kickstart your learning process.

You have the option of taking my Free Intro to Dream Interpretation online class. Or become an expert yourself with the Master 5- Course Bundle on Dream Interpretation. It’s only $99 for a limited time.

3 Simple Facts about Dreams

Start now: Crash Course on Dream Interpretation

Simple fact #1 about dreams is you know subconsciously what your dreams mean.

radowl's crash course dream interpretation
Dreams take you into another reality

Simple fact #2: Dreams are stories, like parables that teach and illuminate. The most meaningful dreams are also the most story-like and engaging. They invite you into a make-believe world and you forget it’s make believe. Leave your everyday ego behind and enter the ultimate virtual reality where everything you see and interact with is part of yourself or the collective mind.

Simple fact #3: Dreams use symbolism. They tell stories using the language of symbolism, which is the native tongue of your unconscious mind — the very same mind that creates your dreams. Take my online intro course on dream symbols and language to get that story.

Remember these simple facts:

  1. You already know what your dreams mean.
  2. Dreams are stories.
  3. Dreams use symbolism.

3 Simple Steps to Interpret Dreams

  1. Break down the dream into story elements and narrative components.
  2. Interpret the symbolism and analyze the story.
  3. Connect the details in context and reflect on your life.
The D3 Dream Interpretation System

Step 1: Elements and Components. A dream’s story elements are its settings, characters, and symbols. Narrative components are the actions, reactions, and resolutions. Make note of them for Step 2. This practice teaches you to approach the dream as a story first. Then you tease out the meaning of the symbolism and the experience.

Step 2: Interpret and Analyze. Interpret the symbolism of the dream’s elements and components by using the three decoding techniques I teach: associate, simplify, amplify. Analyze the story for use of metaphor, exaggeration, comparison-contrast and other storytelling devices such as pun and word play. Translate the symbolic language, find the point or moral to the story, and uncover the hidden personal meaning and message.

Step 3: Connect and Reflect. All details of a dream connect together in context to tell a story about you the dreamer. The story is told in the language of symbolism, except on rare occasions when dreams are literal and objective instead of figurative and subjective. Only when the big picture is complete can you say you have interpreted a dream.

Step 3 is when the prep work of Steps 1 and 2 pays off. You take the ideas you generate and find out what they really say. Trace the dream back to its source and find out what it wants to teach or show you.

Close reflection on what’s happening, just happened or soon to happen in your life — outer and inner life — reveals the hidden meaning more often than not, or at least gets you started. Some dreams require more work, time, or growth to decipher. Some require or benefit from more advanced tools of dream analysis. And some dreams can’t be understood conventionally.

The Dream Experience

You crack open a dream to find the hidden meaning by using tools for decoding symbolism and analyzing the story that I’m about to give you. But the dream is also an experience — it’s never “just a dream” — and behind it is a question that aims at the heart of dreaming itself: why?

Why give yourself the experience? Why create a completely believable simulated reality for you to visit nightly? The answer depends, and finding it kicks starts the dream interpretation process.

A dream interpretation workshop by jm debord

For example, you go to bed with a big decision on your mind and wake up from a dream knowing it’s somehow related. You can scrutinize through that lens — you know why you had the dream, now work backwards to the meaning.

But be careful of jumping to conclusions. Dreams are known to defy expectations on occasion and reveal layers of meaning over time. They can speak simultaneously to many levels of you and your life. The much-respected dream interpreter Jeremy Taylor says there’s no such thing as a dream with only one meaning.

Your dreams: the story of your life as it is written

dream interpretation
Unlock the meaning of your dreams with RadOwl’s D3 process

Dreams tell the story of what’s happening in your inner and outer life and are sure to pick up on the major happenings. For example, if a big event happens during the day, a dream is almost certain to replay it by night, right? Probably, but in symbolic form. In story form.

For example, a big argument between close friends could be translated symbolically into a dream about a civil war, every loud word like a gunshot or bomb going off, every pain felt and hurt inflicted like a bloody wound. Or say you face a huge decision about a change of career or school and your dreaming mind translates it into a story about being chased by a scary dog. It means that fear related to loyalty (dogs are known to be loyal) lurks behind the thought of a big change. The moral of the story is, face the dog and what it represents before making your decision.

Other dreams shine a spotlight on your deepest inner processes and give voice to what you aren’t hearing or noticing.

Dreams provide experiences like virtual reality simulations to pass on the information for you to better know, better understand, better adapt, better plan, better decide, better create, better feel. The unconscious mind, your dream creator, looks behind the scenes and at the big picture and shares with you what it sees. It responds to what’s been on our mind and heart. It shows, teaches, and guides. Get to know this fantastically vast other side of yourself and you will thank yourself for the rest of your life and possibly beyond.

FYI, “Why Dream” is an intro lecture offered in my Master Course at that plumbs deeper into the many reasons why we dream. Below is the short lesson.

2 words for you: psychological digestion

dream interpretation dictionary by jm debord
Defining a radically new and effective approach to dream interpretation

Props to Dr. Rubin Naiman, a sleep medicine specialist and dream explorer, for the best two-word summary of why we dream:

Psychological digestion. We dream to digest the experience of life.
We self-regulate through dreaming, according to Dr. Carl Jung.

Emotional digestion is included. Dreaming helps us cope.

Now add to Dr. Naiman’s insight, dreaming digests life with the end goal of uniting the mind and becoming the ideal you, a fully integrated and actualized individual. Dr. Jung calls the process individuation.

Life is a daily building process. Everything you take in and experience is processed, digested, and either absorbed or put aside while dreaming. The daily process is the small and fast wheel that turns a big slower one: your evolution as a person, which if the dreaming mind has its way will follow nature’s blueprint developed over thousands of generations of our species and encoded in the unconscious mind, the creator of your dreams.


To understand dreaming, you begin with what it does for you daily, such as memory processing, emotional regulation, and overall rejuvenation. Your dreaming mind has an agenda for the long-term, too, and it’s the primary driving force behind your development as a conscious being alive in this time and place. Reread the last sentence if it didn’t grab your full attention.

Now we’re building steam. We’re about to plow ahead into the fascinating and enlightening dream interpretation demos. First, give me your info below so we can stay touch and you can receive my newsletter:

radowl's we love dreams newsletter
‘We Love Dreams’ is my newsletter and email course for all things dreams.

Subscribe to We Love Dreams, my newsletter and correspondence course in dream interpretation


Video: the D3 process

Rather than explain each step, I will demonstrate through example in the coming lessons. Use my 3-step process and keep in mind the three simple facts about dreams. Dream interpretation doesn’t get any simpler. But this is only the start — a very good start. You will know my way of interpreting dreams by the time you reach the conclusion of Demo #5 then review. My way, my D3 process, is simple, thorough, modern and effective.

Use the video playlist below to discover more about each step of D3. It’s worth the time. Skip the intro and go right to the Dream Settings video if you want. The video playlist below is a cut-down version of my Free Intro to Dream Interpretation course.

My 3 steps of dream interpretation

Now you know the basics of RadOwl’s way of interpreting a dream.

3 Simple Facts. 3 Simple Steps. That’s the foundation. Next, I share with you the process.

You can go ocean-bottom deep with other Dream School lessons on dreams and their interpretation. Think of this crash course as your submarine and the ocean as your inner world. Your dreams are your inner world projected out for you to interact with and explore. You don’t need a submarine — a dream interpretation process — but it helps you figure out where you’re at and where you’re going. It takes you deeper and farther than you can go on your own.

Before we begin the demonstrations…

Expect to find layers of meaning in your dreams that don’t have to be uncovered all at once. Time has a way of brushing away things that prevent you from apprehending what you desire to fully know and understand.

Why did you give yourself the experience of the dream? What are you really trying to tell yourself? Answer those questions as you walk through the D3 process.

And please remember the point isn’t to be right about everything. It isn’t to reduce the dream to cause and effect or to some theory or another, though those are royal roads to the meaning and I will teach you as we go. You interpret your dreams so you can have a better and more personal relationship with the mind that creates dreams, the unconscious. It leads you to being the greater person and personality you are meant to be.

Now the fun really begins. Demo #1. Coming next in RadOwl’s Crash Course on How to Interpret Dreams. Demo #2 links from there and below.

4 thoughts on “Crash Course: How to Interpret Dreams the RadOwl Way”

  1. I lost my Mom to cancer 13 years ago. Her mother is 88 and lives alone 8 hrs from me. Last night I dreamt my mother was lecturing me about not visiting my grandmother in a while. She seemed pretty upset about it. Then she tells me that she is going to go to my grandmother’s. It felt very real when I woke up this morning. I felt like my Mom came to get my Grandmother. Especially since my grandmother hasn’t been doing well.

    1. Always ask what you are telling yourself through your dreams. Your mom is a character in a story and she acts out your thoughts and feelings. What we should say if she were here and knew her mom wasn’t doing well — would she ask you to make the long drive to visit? She can’t be there to do it herself, and that’s what the dream could be saying in the detail about her going to your grandmother’s.

As Dr. Frasier Crane says, I'm listening. Leave a comment.

Discover more from J.M. DeBord Dream Interpretation

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading