When Turks See Armenians in Their Dreams

Interpretations of Turkish dreams reveal collective perceptions, bias against minorities

Yesterday a friend called me from Turkey and said, "I saw you in my dream, Alin, are you all right?" I told her I was fine and broke into laughter. She was taken aback. I was reminded of a dream interpretation I had read many years ago.

On one of those dream interpretation websites, one Aliye O. wrote the following: "Greetings, I had a strange dream a few hours ago. Can you explain to me what it means to see an Armenian in your dream?" For Aliye, seeing an Armenian in a dream was apparently strange. How she realized that the person she saw was Armenian, or why she decided to interpret the dream not in terms of young, old, beautiful, ugly, but in terms of this person being Armenian - that is a mystery.

The explanation on the website read as follows: "Seeing an Armenian should be interpreted as suffering at the hands of a malicious superior, feeling sad, unable to get rid of grief; a person who does not show his enmity, a deceitful person."

“Having a dream in which you are an Armenian" was even worse. We are told that the dreamer of this dream loses their financial power due to mistaken steps, is spiritually ruined, feels filthy and sinful, and is therefore unhappy.

“Seeing an Armenian church in a dream,” on the other hand, signifies that the dreamer will come across evil people, cooperate with and trust them, and suffer from sinister and calamitous events.

Another user, a certain Aynur, wrote the following: "What does a huge, two-story, 10-room, beautifully furnished Armenian house signify?" Apparently, what Aynur had heard about the "wealth" of Armenians led her to imagine an Armenian house, perhaps her family lived in an "abandoned" Armenian house... The explanation of the dream was along these lines, in any case.

To see an Armenian house in a dream, it is said, signifies wealth acquired without hardship, relief from financial difficulties, promotion in one's profession, a successful future and fulfillment of a pledge. According to these interpretations, you could also have “sweet” dreams about Armenians. Having an “argument with an Armenian” in one's sleep meant that one would, so to speak, break the devil's leg, that one's business would prosper, that one's fortune would blossom.

There is no particular reason for Armenians to feel offended or panicked by these interpretations. Armenians are not the only ones discriminated against by these dream readings. Seeing Jews, Greeks, Assyrians, Communists, gays or lesbians does not bode well either. Kurds are hardly mentioned in the interpretations, while Alevis and Azerbaijanis receive positive remarks.

Seeing churches, monasteries, synagogues and other non-Muslim sanctuaries in dreams is interpreted as mishaps, lies, slander, persecution, and, drinking parties. According to interpreters, churches represent dungeons where devils gather, while seeing a priest in a dream signifies sin. Seeing oneself in a church doing something contrary to Christian customs, on the other hand, is interpreted as auspicious. Again, according to these websites, if you see a Jew in your dream, know that he is an enemy. If you dream that you are a Jew, you will turn to perversion, love the Jews and turn away from your religion.

If you see an Assyrian in your dream, it implies that you or someone close to you will get sick, and if you see a Greek, it means that you will become miserable. Seeing a communist in a dream is, of course, again extremely “worrisome.”

To see an Azeri in a dream, on the other hand, is a sign of doing good deeds, attaining abundance and peace, while to see a Frenchman is a sign of a happy future and a righteous child, while to see a German is a sign of a great breakthrough in a short period of time. The word for "dream" in Turkish, rüya, originally derives from the Arabic word for "seeing."

According to the definition of dream by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, all thoughts and emotions that take a back seat during the day, which are kept under control or repressed by social and ethical values, come to the fore visually with the relaxation of consciousness during sleep. Carl Jung, another famous psychoanalyst, argues that there are interactions between the conscious and the unconscious, but that dreams are fed by a third source, the “collective unconscious,” which emerges from this interaction.

*A long-time analyst on regional issues, Alin Ozinian holds a BA in International Relations and Diplomacy and an MA in Turkish Studies. She is currently a PhD researcher at YSU's Faculty of Political Science. Ozinian has worked at the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and has served as the Regional Coordinator of International Alert's Caucasus Development Network, based in London, and as a regional analyst for the Armenian Assembly of America, based in Washington DC. She served as press secretary for the Turkish-Armenian Business Council. In 2018, she received the Jampruk Research Award on migration issues, announced by the United Nations Association. Since 2021, Ozinian has been the executive director of the +GercekNews Portal.

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