Symbolism and ontology go hand in hand. Both can be obscure. Yet symbolism is usually that which is known, that which is accepted. Like Bulls. Or Lions. Or Doves. (In one of my illustrated booklets I deploy animals: an Owl; a Sloth; a Giraffe; a Lion; a Fox; a Raven; a Pig; and a Ram. Any guesses why?) Yes, some symbols are so atavistic, so ancient and readily recognizable that one hardly needs guess. Still, ignorance is forgivable. Should one not be raised in a given culture, or have had opportunity to be apprised of certain symbols as one grows up, they can mean nothing but the thing itself. Seven virtues or seven sins can have many idols.
But things by themselves, having no other significance, is very much the Existentialist's view of things. As such God and all Constructs, all meanings that we give things, are taken as interesting at best, and foolish quite frequently. What do you mean you were given a sign? What do you mean you took an incident as a demarcation point in your fortunes, your point of view, your perceptions, your intuition, your spiritual alignment, your route to enlightenment? Things are what they are, period. That you dreamt of a bear, or of dead flowers, or of a friend who then called to say he needed you, or of the (um) intimacy of your life is pure coincidence.
That's what the Existentialist says. Yet...?
Ontology is the big word we give meaning-making. And meaning-making is the very thing that has created through the centuries the religions and ideologies and beliefs and even the political systems that hold us in their sway. It is difficult for most to go against the streams of their upbringing. The family dynamics hold one accountable. And then there's the fact of one's race, one's country of origin, one's ethnicity, one's genes. Differences of dress, of custom, of facial expression and even of language are sufficient to differentiate, fragment, and divide us. We do have different dreams.
Yet, are dreams necessarily about what we want? Are dreams necessarily about the subconscious working itself through you? Are they indeed programmed by an Overseer who designs them, matrix-like, to worm through our sleep into realities of emotion, positive or negative? Or are they journeys on which we travel in a parallel universe? Parallel universe? Which part of the universe is not everything? Or are we here-again creating yet more constructs?
I'm waffling. My own dream last night was very visceral. It concerned vacuuming dead flower leaves, receiving from a person insisting on anonymity a food donation to give another friend in health distress. It involved pre-teen-aged children gliding silently into my apartment, and one of them opening the door to my study, with me anxious and even angry as he reached to touch my model ship, and my getting him out with my strong remonstrations about how all the precious things in my life have been taken, used, abused, and neglected. Then I locked the door against him. And when I again tried to open the door for me I realized it would not unlock from the inside. I was trapped in my room; trapped within my womb. And surely... Whuh! I woke up.
I felt ugly. Selfish. Mean-spirited.
Much meaning churns in me. The Indelicacy of revealing all that might be reasoned or gleaned or construed from my dream prevails. Yet at issue is not so much my own dream here, but that we dream. And for some, indeed, dreams do have their meaning.