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The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming and Interpretation

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Editorial Reviews


“Athena Laz marries psychology and mysticism to present a holistic pathway to mental and emotional well-being. Her message speaks to a new generation of seekers, for whom decoding their unique inner worlds is the most important and rewarding work of all.” ― Ruby Warrington, author of Material Girl, Mystical World and Sober Curious

“The Alchemy of Your Dreams is a beautiful and poetic dive into the mysterious and rich world of dreams. A beautiful read!” ― Christine Gutierrez, LMHC, and author of I Am Diosa

“The Alchemy of Your Dreams is an ideal read for the times we are in. Dreams are an underused gateway to creative genius and self-understanding. This book is clear and accessible, and filled with nuggets of self-empowering wisdom. You will want to keep this one by your bedside.” ― Jennifer Freed, PhD, Author of Use Your Planets Wisely

“Athena Laz takes you on a great journey of self-discovery and deep personal growth. The Alchemy of Your Dreams is a must-read!” ― Shaman Durek, author of Spirit Hacking and creator/host of the ‘Ancient Wisdom Today’ podcast

About the Author

Athena Laz  is a counseling psychologist, dream expert, and intuitive. Her online site,, is a global platform that merges spiritual wisdom with psychological know-how. Thousands of people worldwide have enjoyed her courses, retreats, membership programs, and written works, all of which are aimed at helping individuals learn how to decode their dreams in order to live their most attuned lives. Her work has appeared in multiple media outlets like Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Men’s Health and MindBodyGreen.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


What’s Your Why?

A vast expanse of burned orange sand stretches before me as far as the eye can see. Rolling one upon another, the dunes create a never-ending vista mimicking water but made of earth. Each grain whispers a tale of time long forgotten, waiting to be heard. I stand mesmerized, breathing in the silence and beauty before me. The wind blows gently and I sway with it rhythmically. Fully immersed in the vast openness, I begin to remember that I’ve been to this very place before.

Slowly I move my hands through the sand. Pulling up a weighty handful of desert earth, I look down to see that the sand is glimmering. The colors change with every fractal of light as I pour the sand from one hand to the other. Focusing on the sensation of the granules against my hands, time feels still.

Both my hands are now open and the sand slips through my fingers. As each grain passes, I unburden myself from the heaviness of my history. I feel weightless, almost too light, so much so that I try to focus my attention on my bare feet. As I look down at them, they begin to disappear into the sand beneath me. Limb by limb, bone by bone, I am integrated into the desert.

Conscious of this transformation, I realize that I am the whole desert and also just a grain.

I wake up with an overwhelming sense of serenity, only to have it cut short by the alarm going off, grounding me right back into my everyday, human experience. And isn’t that just the way? How the mystical is so neatly wrapped up within the mundane. Acting as a sacred reminder that our lives are made of present moments, one following the next, until death transforms us once again.

Before you continue to read on, I’d like you to spend a couple of minutes thinking about why you are motivated to do dream work. Ask yourself: Why do I want to do this? Write your thoughts down on paper without censoring them. Then keep what you’ve written close so that you can refer to it later. Once you’ve done that, come back here and carry on reading.

Dream Work and the Psyche

Dreams help us to question and alter our deep-seated beliefs and to take note of what we are creating, and manifesting, in our everyday lives. They serve to help us live a fuller and richer life while also showing us which parts of our psyches are underdeveloped, so that we can work toward greater psychological integration and emotional well-being.

From a psychological and personal-growth perspective, that means working with the collective unconscious, your personal unconscious, emotions, drives, and the equivalent symbolic representations that appear in your dream work. Something I am actively going to show you how to do throughout the course of this book. From a spiritual level that means working in tandem with spirit.

Take my Desert Dream as an example. That dream helped me to more fully discover, and then express, my feelings around death and dying. At the time I was afraid of death on a deep emotional level. More specifically, my fear was about not knowing how it would happen. Up until that dream, I had never really given myself the space or permission to really reflect on why that was the case and how it made me feel.

If someone asked me how I felt about dying, I flippantly laughed it off, saying that “we all gotta do it sometime.” Or I redirected the conversation to another topic. In other words, my fears and emotions around mortality really freaked me out, and so to neutralize the anxiety that came up when I thought about it, I portrayed a breezy and light attitude-the opposite of what I was feeling internally.

My behavior in this instance is typical of a psychological defense mechanism known as reaction formation. A defense mechanism is when your mind responds in a specific way to help minimize internal conflict. All of us have defense mechanisms, and learning more fully about them can assist you in your journey of personal growth.

Specifically, reaction formation is when you convert how you really feel by presenting a more personally (or socially) acceptable response in order to lessen internal unease. This doesn’t mean that you have accepted how you feel. It means that you defend against it by showing the opposite of what you feel.

Although I reflected a calm exterior when the topic of death came up, my original fear did not disappear. It still existed but was hidden from my conscious awareness via my defense mechanism. In other words, my rejected thoughts and emotions associated with the topic of death persisted, but outside of my awareness. That is, unconsciously. So my dream came to shake me awake. To assist me in facing myself.

Like your dreams do as well.

Dream Content and Your Hidden

Why | Dreams Reveal Your Interior Life

It is helpful to work with dream content. By dream content I mean the images, dream figures, landscapes, and symbols that appear in your dreams. I believe that dream content is influenced by spirit, our vibration, the collective unconscious, and the personal unconscious. I feel it is necessary to have an understanding of these terms (if you don’t already) to do great dream work.

Most behavior is heavily influenced by unconscious factors. That is, drives, motives, and impulses that are outside of your active awareness. For example, you may really want to succeed in a health or financial goal but every time you commit to changing, you find yourself self-sabotaging along the way. In an instance like this, it is likely that you are working with a deep-seated belief that is hidden from your awareness, which is getting in the way of what you are trying to create, manifest, and experience in your life.

You may, for example, have a drive to fail because you unconsciously believe that other people will cut you down if you become too “successful,” “good-looking,” or “visible.” (Success can take many shapes and forms; I’m simply highlighting a few common examples for brevity.) Your unconscious belief gets in the way. On the one hand you have a drive to succeed but on the other you are afraid to be successful. In order to mitigate these two diverging drives you self-sabotage by procrastinating, or simply by never taking the right action to get you there.

At the same time, in order to help you become more integrated as a person and to help you create a life that feels good to you, your dreams will offer you images or scenarios to make you aware of these deep-seated and unconscious beliefs.

Your dreams will be in the form of imagery designed specifically to alert you to how you feel on a deep level and what you need to pay attention to in your waking life.

For instance, you may have a dream that you are in an elevator that is taking you to the top floor of a building-only to then have the elevator doors fail to open. Or alternatively, you may dream of being in an elevator that suddenly starts rapidly descending, leaving you feeling afraid and panicked!

Your dream is symbolically telling you that while you are the person in the dream, your beliefs are the elevator. In other words: the elevator doors will automatically open up when you stop and face your own self-sabotaging beliefs. Your dream is alerting you to the need to willingly choose to descend (symbolically: the elevator plummets rapidly toward the lower floors) into the depths of your own psyche.

That is so that you can address any beliefs that are holding you back. If you do so, the doors of opportunity (and the elevator doors) will likely open too. Your dream is guiding you to a sustainable way of moving forward positively through addressing any issues that may be outside of your awareness.

Alternatively, you could have a dream in which you are in a flower shop intending to buy roses but instead you somehow end up with a bunch of tall poppies. You really wanted the roses but instead you are left with a bouquet of poppies. How disappointing!

In the context of the dream, the poppies are symbolically representative of the fear of experiencing “tall poppy syndrome.” This is a colloquialism used (commonly in Australia and New Zealand) to describe the desire to insult or cut down people who are highly successful.

The flower imagery here is the message of the dream. It shows you the difference between what you want (the roses) and what you are actually experiencing (the poppies). The fact that you are in control of buying the roses and then something suddenly occurs (outside of your awareness) that leaves you with the poppies, shows you two things:

The first is that you weren’t gifted the flowers. You went to purchase them (that is, this dream is about what is in your control). Had someone gifted you the flowers in your dream, then it is more likely that you are dealing with a relationship dynamic.

The second is that the dream imagery shows you that somehow in the act of purchasing the flowers you end up with the poppies, that is, something happened outside of your awareness that resulted in your ending up with a bunch of flowers that you didn’t want.

In both of these examples, the dream shows you images that are created to help you uncover your deep-seated unconscious beliefs and fears (and your associated energetic vibration) with the ultimate goal of transforming the belief for the better so that you can manifest and create better.

The dreamer, in this example, could succeed by simply allowing themselves to act more authentically regardless of “what other people think.” They could allow themselves to “grow tall” with success regardless of the perceived threat of criticism. They could become the rose.

Most of the time people ascribe these types of limiting deep-seated beliefs to the workings of the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind delineates some form of awareness just beneath the conscious mind. But really when people do this, they are actually referring to (from a psychological perspective) deeper aspects of the unconscious aspects of the mind. I prefer to the use of the word “unconscious” because it more accurately describes what it is.

Equally, a differentiation between the collective and personal unconscious can be made. This is not something that is done in reference to the subconscious mind and why I don’t actively use the term throughout the course of this book.

In order to work well with your dream content it’s necessary to grasp the difference between your personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. That is because dream content is influenced by both sources. And I believe that each source calls for a slightly different approach to dream interpretation or lucid dream interaction. As you’ll soon discover.

Understanding Your Personal Unconscious

In Dream Work

Your psyche is the storehouse of all the experiences you’ve ever had to date. That means all your memories and experiences that you’ve experienced, for better or worse, are stored within your mind whether you can remember them or not. According to the analytic theory developed by noted psychiatrist Carl Jung, the personal unconscious is the substrata of the psyche that contains these personal memories and experiences.

In other words, your personal unconscious houses any memories that you may have pushed out of your awareness and cannot actively recall. As well as any memories (both pleasant and unpleasant) that you may have simply forgotten over time. When I refer to the personal unconscious I mean to highlight the information that is present within your mind from your lived experience.

Your personal unconscious is also home to any complexes that you may be working with. Very simply, a complex is a collection of thoughts, images, ideas, and memories that are emotionally charged and that come together to form a single theme. For example: love, sex, power. All of us deal with complexes, and for the most part, they only become a serious issue when we flat-out deny their existence.

In your dreams, evidence of any complexes that you may be dealing with will appear through the imagery, scenes, and symbols that you dream about. Let’s say that one night you have a dream where you are stuck in a small space. Then, a few nights later, you dream that you are in a car being chased by a person in another car. A week later you dream that you have to make an important call but can’t find the phone. And so it goes.

Although all the dream places, figures, and images are different in the three dreams, they all are charged with the same emotion-an overwhelming anxiety. This is reflected by the feelings of tension and worry that run through all three of the dreams. The dreamer is being made aware of how they feel at a core level and the complex that they are dealing with.

A complex points out that we may be in a state of tension. This doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. It simply means that we are resisting something, and by doing so, creating inner tension. Dreams then offer us guidance about this tension. They offer us a better way forward. They show us what we are resisting through specific and evocative dream scenarios and imagery, so that we can get the message to alter our vibration and lives accordingly.

When you dream in relation to a complex, your dream attempts to draw your attention to any polarized experiences or concepts that you may be grappling with. Dreaming also raises your awareness of the paradigm of opposites or duality. Once you become aware of these polarized experiences (good/bad, light/dark, sterile/fertile), you can then alter how you feel about and relate to them.

As was the case with my dream of the desert and sand. In that dream, I was shown that I was grappling with two opposites: life and death. A tension that exists at all times. My dream was pivotal in helping me to unify my inner conflict around living and dying. The dream left me with a sense of serenity and peace, the reverse of my emotional and mental fears, showing me that I could accept my feelings around dying to reach a new level of acceptance.

Through that dream I learned that death can be a great motivator and liberator, and that I could live more fully, and authentically, by accepting that death is certain. Death is ever present as long as we are alive. Opposites do not cease to exist, but a third way of living appears through the radical acceptance and containment of the one in relation to the other, and vice versa. As you read these words, you have the ability to hold these opposites in union by bringing your awareness to both.


From the Publisher

A modern guide to the ancient art of lucid dreaming and interpretation
The Alchemy of your Dreams

Unlock the power of your dreams to lead you on the ultimate journey of self-discovery

Image of cover of the book

For anyone who has ever felt that their dreams have true meaning, this book provides the exact tools

The journey to understanding your dreams continues with The Deliberate Dreamer's Journal.

Additional information

Publisher ‏

‎ TarcherPerigee (August 31, 2021)

Language ‏

‎ English

Paperback ‏

‎ 256 pages

ISBN-10 ‏

‎ 0593327799

ISBN-13 ‏

‎ 978-0593327791

Item Weight ‏

‎ 11.2 ounces

Dimensions ‏

‎ 6.02 x 0.7 x 8 inches

9 reviews for The Alchemy of Your Dreams: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Art of Lucid Dreaming and Interpretation

  1. Gina Kearney

    An Amazing Adventure into Your Dreams Awaits!From the moment I started reading this book I began seeing my dreams and a whole new way. Athena Laz is a wonderful writer who makes the art of interpreting dreams accessible to everyone. She teaches how to find personal meaning in dream symbolism and how to use it as a guide in waking life. Highly recommended!

  2. Juliann Zoetmulder

    Best book on dreaming I have ever readThis book is fascinating and easy to read. It serves as inspiration to decipher your dreams and a grounding on how to do that. Once I set my intention to remember my dream, it is happening 8/10 times.

  3. JLKOhio

    My daughter loved the book & the journalPurchased this for my daughter for Christmas this year along with the journal that goes with it. My daughter absolutely loves them.

  4. Christina Ramirez

    This book will support you in digging deeper into your dream patterns so you can heal.I really loved the authors knowledge, family history and perspective of how to understand your dreams. I’m such a vivid dreamer and have been looking for a book to help me better understand and explore what I dream about. I also bought the dreamer journal and finally used it today after completing this book. The journal is a great help to get you started in writing down your key symbols, patters and overall dream recall!Get this book if you want a great book to help you explore and get more curious about your dreams.

  5. Jay

    Almost finishedIt’s good and has useful information but i guess i was expecting more but i like it !

  6. Trenton Kotlarz

    Excellent addition to your collectionAn excellent adventure in to the possibilities of the dreamscape. Practical, easy to read and friendly for people with zero knowledge on the subject prior to picking this up. Highly recommend reading it if you are interest in dreams and dream work.

  7. A Happy Reader

    BRILLIANT!!!I feel like I learnt so much about myself from reading this book! I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in personal growth and dreams! Interestingly enough my dreams have gotten more vivid since reading the book too!!

  8. Cassandra Russell

    Great read!My grandson enjoyed reading this book!!!

  9. Colombo

    InterestingThis book opens my mind to the lucid dreams. A good introduction but roughly complete.

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