When the setting of your dream is particularly prominent in your dream, it is usually trying to convey to you some kind of message from your unconscious. The setting of a dream is the environment or landscape in which the action takes place. Sometimes the place reflects your mood but it can also be a reminder of a particular time in your life or of particular people. In general, the setting signifies the environment in which the main action of your life is happening. For example, if you dream of walking across the road in a busy city in the rain, your dream has a completely different setting to going for a walk in a park on a sunny day.
Try to assign a feeling and function to the setting of your dreamscape; that busy city might convey the feeling of purpose and speed, together with the function of work; that park might suggest the feeling of relaxation and the function of refreshment. When you have defined your feeling and function, try to see what part they play in your waking life and what the other details of the dream say about them. Bear in mind, too, that you need to consider personal associations. A countryside walk may conjure up an image of heaven for some people but of hell for others, particularly if they suffer from severe hay fever.
Interpreting the symbolism of the dream setting can give you an insight into your own inner landscape. If the setting is familiar, look out for symbols of your work or home situation to decide whether the dream is about your professional or personal life. Such a scene may also take you back to childhood or a time of learning. If the setting is not familiar, or from your past, think about how it may relate to the emotional climate of a current situation. Recurring landscapes in dreams indicate feelings to which you often return; if the same scenes recur, they suggest habitual attitudes with which you approach a situation. Recurring scenes of your past represent a stance you developed at that time in your life. Although landscapes do tend to reflect habitual feelings rather than temporary moods, if the landscape does change in your dream, perhaps you need to make corresponding changes in your everyday life or in your approach to life. Composite scenes, consisting of many images that you recognize in one setting, are usually drawing your attention to particular qualities or moods which have relevance to the content of the dream. The country where your dream is set may also have significance. Bear in mind, too, that the light, the weather and other features of your dream landscape all contribute to the setting and are all saying something about your mood or the feelings the dream inspires. Light is a common symbol of consciousness, so a sunny landscape will indicate clarity and awareness and a bright and sunny place will suggest fun and liveliness. Dark places in general represent the unconscious, although landscapes that become dark or dreary during the course of the dream may also refer to your subjective view of the world; for example, a dark shadowy murky scene signifies feelings of depression. A place that becomes lighter and brighter during your dream suggests possibilities and potentials, whilst the dim illumination of moonlight is a common symbol of intuition.
The nature of the weather in your dream will also express how you are feeling. Bad weather may foretell of troubles lying ahead, rain falling may indicate a release of tension, whilst the appearance of a rainbow across the landscape might suggest your troubles have found some sort of resolution. A beautiful place in a dream may be encouraging you to use your creative imagination in waking life, a sheltered place might be offering peace and security, unknown places could be revealing aspects of yourself of which you may be unsure and wide open spaces offer you a taste of freedom from confinement, whether emotional or physical. The structure of the landscape also reflects your feelings about the content of your dream. A landscape that is hard to travel over or live in says much about the emotional or practical obstacles in your waking life. Your dream may have created a symbolic scenario to show you the things that are preventing you from being happy and fulfilled. What you see lying ahead of you in a dream, such as a mountain or a flight of stairs, is significant as it represents the challenges you have yet to face. Obstacles in dream landscapes may express your everyday concerns. For example, you may find it impossible to cross a busy street in your dream; the street may well be a symbol of an impending exam. If some aspect of your dream landscape did not seem right or was out of proportion, perhaps you are not seeing things straight in waking life. In your dream, look out for other symbols that suggest some aspect of your waking life is out of proportion.