As I recall, I was eight or nine when my father first said, "Be careful at the picnic Shelly, because of all those little uncles running around. I know that it's chilly today, but it'll be hot tamale." I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. I like to think that me finding this idiotic pun so hilarious was not so much an indictment of my mental abilities as that of my father. Unfortunately, my mirth only encouraged him. Dad often cajoled me and my brothers. When we pouted about having to watch a war movie on Daddy's visitation instead of the far more interesting topic of dragons, he assured us it was about dragons. "It is too about dragons, kids. They're dragin' a cannon all over the country!" I thought he was the cleverest man in the whole world.

Playing with the English language is fun and the play on words called the pun is especially so. Many people do it. It's like my dentist Bob who calls himself "Oral Roberts." A couple I know claim to have met in Transcendental Meditation by "chants." Our local priest boasts of phoning the other parishes "parson to parson." I have new age friends that sport bumper stickers saying "My karma ran over your dogma." Why do we find this all so funny?

I remember hearing a recovery Guru charismatically proclaim on stage "I am a human doing, not a human being!" and the audience applauded as if some Solomonic wisdom had just been bestowed on them. The guy charged $300 a seat to convince people to blame their parents and call out goofy little sayings like that!

The fun in the pun mentality seems to enjoy an audience in recovery too. Just look at the walls of the clubs, "Know God, Know Peace: No God, No Peace," OK, I'll admit that is clever--but when members start chuckling in meetings at such idioms as, "I'm powerless over alcohol and my wife is unmanageable," "turned my bills and my wife over to God," and "He will restore us to vanity," I cringe. I can see my dad laughing as I cringe and he would be the first to say, a "hangover is the grapes of wrath."

After a few years sober, I went to college and studied our subconscious. Apparently our mind uses the pun and other word plays as a normal part of internal dialogue. This can reveal the truth of what we think in something called the "Freudian slip." (for alcoholic's that's "Freudian sip!") Verbal or written mistakes can be linked to our subconscious desires such as calling a current spouse by the last spouse's name. Or the hostess greeting her spouse's ex meaning to say, "I'm glad you're here," and mistakenly saying, "I'm mad you're here." We get repressed messages from our tricky little brains all the time, including in our sleep.

Thus it appears that my conscious mind is a rational adult but my subconscious is like my dad! Yikes.

One aspect of our subconscious seems to be a creative Jokester that, since the says of Freud, has delighted in finding ridiculous uses of words and plopping them into the pool of the collective unconscious so that in symbol interpretation we can "think" or swim. Our subconscious uses words that rhyme, words that sound alike but mean different things, words that can be taken apart to form other phrases, and any crazy hodgepodge of expressions that deliver cryptic messages. Following are a number of word-play groupings. These are examples of how the subconscious might decide to befuddle our waking conscious mind from the wonderful world of dreams.

Name Homographs: These are names that have a meaning in addition to the person named. On our first list are names which may contain covert messages that our subconscious might ascribe to the figures in our dreams. For instance, Jane, who is dating a guy who is abusing her, has a dream wherein she calls him "Peter" as she opens the door. The dream is telling her that it's time for him to "peter out" of her life. Another woman dreams of having a baby after five o'clock and she names her Joy. This is telling her that after she labors through the 5th Step, a whole new life will be born to her and it will be "joyful." A man's new supervisor is named Buck in his dream. Buck looms before him at the entrance to the boss's office. The dream tells him not to "buck" the system at work.

Following is a list of name homographs that can help you recognize hidden messages and double meanings:

Angel, April, Art, Bill, Bob, Buck, Carol, Charity, Christian, Chuck, Clay, Cliff, Crystal, Daffy, Daisy, Dawn, Dick, Don, Dot, Duke, Earl, Eve, Faith, Fawn, Fern, Flint, Ford, Frank, Gay, Gill, Glen, Grace, Grant, Harmony, Holly, Honey, Hope, Iris, Jack, Jade, John, Joy, June, Major, Mark, Mat, Max, May, Mike, Miles, Miller, Miner, Moore, Nick, Olive, Page, Pat, Patsy, Pearl, Peck, Peter, Pierce, Pilar, Price, Rainer, Ray, Read, Reed, Rich, Rob, Robin, Rock, Rocky, Rod, Rose, Rush, Rusty, Rye, Sandy, Sergeant, Shawl, Stern, Stew, Stewart, Sue, Tailor, Trump, Van, Victor, Wade, Warden, West, Will

Word Homographs: These are everyday words in the English language that have two or more meanings. Unless we hear them in a sentence, we won't know what they refer to. For instance, in a dream someone receives a phone call from an old friend whom he or she ripped off in their drinking days. A servant hands the phone to the dreamer, saying, "It's collect and you should accept." This dream is telling him or her the person would like to "collect" the debt, and the guide (servant) tells the dreamer it is time to make amends. A second example is when we see ourselves arguing in a dream with a cop. Our friend tells us, "You're not too bright," This could be our subconscious telling us that we are "dull-minded" for not listening to authorities in our new life—that we are "copping" an attitude and that we don't "shine" with the light of our Higher Power. Both "cop" and "bright" are used in a double entendre expression.

Following is only a partial list of the many homograhic words that our subconscious might use. We should always see if a word contains another meaning in order to shed more light on what our sleeping reality tells us:

arm, ax, bark, batter, bear, bill, bitch, branch, bridge, bright, buck, buff, can, case, cast, change, charge, check, coat, coke, conductor, cop, cover, cross, dart, diamond, dirt, down, draw, duck, dump, fall, fan, fast, feel, fine, finish, fire, fired, fly, foot, fork, ground, head, hide, jerk, kind, lap, laps, left, lie, light, like, line, lord, man, mean, note, novel, nut, over, palm, patent, period, point, pot, power, racket, range, rear, relish, right, ring, road, rule, saw, scales, seal, sentence, sharp, short stop, skin, smart, sound, spectacle, spotted, star, step, straight, strong, stumps, suit, tax, top, train, trunk, type, vessel, watch

Homonyms: These are words that sound alike but may be spelled differently. Homonyms include names of people, places, and things as well as words in everyday language. An example of this type is a dream in which a young man kneads dough in his dream. His helper takes the dough and says, "It will not rise in the pot, but only out of the pan in the sun." The interpretation should let him know that even though he "needs" money (dough), it will not "pan out" from growing "pot," but only by trusting in the "rays" (raise) from his Higher Power (sun=Son). A new member to the program could dream about not being able to stand up straight, and a doctor examines her foot and says, "In order to stand straight on your sole, you must correct the heel." This could mean that the married man she is having the affair with is a "heel" who won't allow her to"heal" or stand straight (upright), causing pain in her "soul."

If we think about it, we can probably add twice as many to the list of homonyms that follow:

ant (aunt), bear (bare), bee (B), board (bored), bore (boar), buy (bye), carrot (karat), cellar (seller), cents (sense, scents), chance (chants), cheep (cheap), cheetah (cheater), coughin' (coffin), days (daze), deer (dear), desserter (deserter), Don (dawn), dyeing (dying), eight (ate), eyes (I-s, ayes), Finnish (finish), flea (flee), flew (flu), Flo (flow), foul (fowl), Gail (gale), gate (gait), gorilla (guerrilla), grease (Greece), hare (hair), Harold (herald), Harry (hairy), heel (heal), herd (heard), hey (hay), higher (hire), hoarse (horse), hoes (hose), hole (whole), Jean (gene), knit (nit), know (no),lion flying, line), lock (Loch), maid (made), male (mail), Manuel (manual), Mary (merry, marry), meet (meat), miner (minor), Moore (more), naval (navel), need (knead), Nichole (nickel), night (knight), none (nun), not (knot), one (won), or (oar), pail (pale), pain (pane), peace (piece), pier (peer), plain (plane), prey (pray), principle (principal), Pryor (pyre, prior), purpose (porpoise), rain (reign), raise (raze, rays), right (rite, write), roam (Rome), roll (role), Rune (ruin), Russian (rush in), sale (sail), sea (see, C), seem (seam), sole (soul), son (sun), stare (stair), Starr (star), steak (stake), steel (steal), Sue (Sioux), sunny (sonny), tacks (tax), tail (tale), tailor (Taylor), to (two, too), tow (toe), turn (tem), urn (earn), vein (vane), waist (waste), walk (wok), wanting (wanton), war (wore), wear (where),Webb (web), week (weak), weighs (ways), Wendy (windy), whale (wail), which (witch), whine (wine), Wolfe (wolf), wrap (rap)

Puns with Names: Many names lend themselves to adulteration and can be fashioned to give us sound-alike messages from our sleep. A very religious person might see Saint Thomas wagging his finger at them. The dream is a chastisement to go "to mass." A sponsor could have a dream and the new person they are working who laughs at them. In the dream they say, "Robin, go away," even though their name is not really Robin. This sponsor is being warned that the new person is a thief and may "rob 'em" of energy, time, and even valuables.

On the lighter side there are always the names that people swear are real, like Rusty Pipes, Jason Rainbows, Helen Highwater, Warren Peace, Rock Starr, Jerry Rigg, Hans R. Dirty, Tyrone Shoelaces, and Dusty Rhodes. Our subconscious might not be so whimsical, but we need to stay alert to the possibility. Every name in a dream may give you layers of meaning. Here are some of the many possibilities:

Aaron (air on), Abigal (a big girl), Aida (aid a), Alden (all done), Aldrich (all rich), Amazon (amazing), Amos (aim us), Andrew (and drew), Armand (our man), Ashburn (ass burn), Balkan (balking), Bennet (bend it), Bertha (birth of), Bobbet (bob it), Borden (bored 'em), Campbell (camp bell), Coleman (coal man), Conroy (con Roy), Conway (conway), Darrell (dare all), Darren (darehim), Diane (die and), Eleazer (he lies to her), Ellis (hell is), Ellsworth (hell's worth), Everett (ever it), Fillmore (fill more), Fonda (fond of), Freda (afraid of), Gino (gee no), Griffin (grief in), Gunner (gun her), Harmony (harm her knee), Harriet (hurry it, hairy it), Herman (her man), Hunter (hunt her), Isaac (eye sick), Isadore (is a bore), Jasmin (jazz men), Jason (chase 'em), Kendel (Ken doll), Kissinger (kissing her), Klingon (cling on), Laura (lore of), Lemmie (let me), Marian (marry 'em), Melanie (Mel and me), Meredith (Mary's death), Michael (my call), Mikey (my key), Morgan (more gone), Nixon (nix on), Osgood (us good), Philip (fill up), Prescott (press Scott), Raffaello (rough fellow), Reagan (ray gone), Rearden (rear den), Redford (red Ford), Redman (red man), Roberto (rub her toe), Robin (rob 'em), Robinson (rob her son), Roosevelt (rose he felt), Roxanne (Rocks on), Sharon (share on), Sherwin (sure win), Shirley (sure Lee), Skipton (skip town), Soviet (so be it), Stephan (Step on), Swanson (swan song), Sweden (sweet on),Taylor (tailher),Theresa (tear ass of), Thomas (to mass), Toby (to be), Truman (true man), Walker (walk her), Wallace (wall us), Warren (war on), Welborne (well born), Willa (will of), Willie (will he), Yeltsin (yellin' is sin), Yukon (you con)

Word puns: These are the same as the name puns and so prolific that it is only possible to give a tiny glimpse of the variations we can come up with. But this will give an idea of how clever our "pun-conscious" can be. In a dream one might see a sponsor stick his or her fingers into the plug receptacle and marvel that it didn't hurl. The dream might be alluding to a need for the sponsor to "socket" to the dreamer. Another person may see a man in a tuxedo serve him or her a tray full of vice-grips. The dreamer may remark, "Sir, I can't eat that!" This would be telling the dreamer that "Sir Vice," with defects still gripping your personality, isn't nourishing to anyone. This person may be trying to work the 12th Step and forgetting the others which are our foundation. Here are some word puns to help get you started:

Alaska (I'll ask her), alligator (I'll get her), arrange (a range), cargo (car go), cauliflower (call her flower), cauterize (caught her eyes), cheetah (cheat her), Chinese (shyness), Christmas (Christ mass), contest (con test), empress (impress), gangrene (gang green), Garden of Eden (garden of eatin'), goodness (God nest), higher self (hire self), incense (in sense), inner space (in her space), ketchup (catch up), kindergarten (kinder garden), knot holes (not holes), lettuce (let us), lilac (lie like), liquor (lick her), managed (man aged), millionaire (million airs), moron (more on), muffler (muffle her), naughty (not he), nirvana (near Vana), orgasm (or gas 'em), paradise (pair of dice), parents (pair ants), people (peep hole), poker (poke her), policeman (pole ice man), psychopath (cycle path), pyramid (peer amid), sausage (saw sage), service (sir vice), smartest (smart ass), socket (sock it), spirit (spear it), sticker (stick her), sun's rays (son's raise), swatter (swat her), tacks collector (tax collector), telephone (tell a phone), tequila (to kill ya), toupee (to pay), tulips (two lips), weekdays (weak daze), which doctor (witch doctor), women (woe men), yoga (you go)

Lexigrams. A lexigram is a way to delve deeply into the subconscious and unlock the riddles of the names of people, places, or things. In a lexigram we find all the sub-words contained in a name by using the letters found in that name. Then we make short phrases or sentences from the words formed, giving us the message contained in the name. For instance, in her book Star Signs Linda Goodman's first example is "messiah." She finds all these words contained in that one word:


It seems the "message" in the word "messiah" is one of unity with the self and the universe.

Lexigraming is not an exercise for beginning dream processors but is for the more advanced. It's not that it is so difficult, but rather that in the beginning we have so many areas to explore that lexigraming is just too multifarious. Only as dream interpretation becomes second nature to us can we can turn our attentions to the more in-depth study of lexigraming the names presented in our dreams. The amount of information can be intimidating, so we have to be prepared for more information than we thought we wanted! Here is one dream that I had years ago that lent itself to lexigraming very well:

I am with Elvis Presley, who is troubled and asking for my help. I tell him he can't be helped in four or five lifetimes without the Christ Spirit. But the Christ Spirit is a gift and, if he receives it, he can be well tomorrow. We were looking in a book together and tears of compassion came to my eyes.

This is a message about my work with chemically dependent people and the books I write to help them. It is also pregnant with symbology in the lexigraming of the name "Elvis Presley," who represents the addicts of the world. His name lexigrams to these words:

Severe pill spree spells sleep; evil eye sees Elvis; Elvis is VIP; sever evil eye; Elvis rises, yes.

In this dream Elvis represents all of us addicts seeking redemption. Although one may be rich in worldly treasures (fame, money, adulation), it all comes to naught before the powerlessness to addiction. In his name we find hidden the words "evil, lies, viper, pyre, vile, spy, leer, piss, servile," and more. We also find that he can rise— "Elvis rises" and "Elvis lives" or "ye rise" and "ye live." Also consider that he lived in "Graceland." In my dream he seeks my help, and I explain that even in four or five lives he would have a hard time straightening out all the damage he did in this one.

Basically Elvis, being known around the world, represents "addicted" people around the world. I am told to help them by showing them this gift. The reference to reincarnation tells me not to withhold my metaphysical knowledge (something professionals have warned me not to disclose or I would impugn my credibility in professional circles). Looking in the book represents how to help—write! And the tears signify cleansing and empathy for all the addicts of the world.

Working with the play on words in our dreams can bring rich and illuminating messages from our higher self. As you work with these, you will get better and better at revealing the hidden messages. And remember, there is only expert in dream interpretation and this is you..

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