Consider the following parable said to have originated on the subcontinent of India:
A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable". So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said "This being is like a thick snake". For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, "elephant is a wall". Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.
One of the most important elements of Spiritual Dream Interpretation is context. Without context we are like the blind me in the parable who each see individual components and come to widely varying understandings of the meanings, none of which may actually be helpful when the entire creature is what needs to be described. While I may be able to determine the meaning of every individual symbol or metaphor within a particular dream, if I consider them outside of the context in which they are found, it becomes very difficult to determine their actual meaning in relationship to the entirety of the dream in which they exist. We often are reminded that individual scriptures cannot be interpreted out of context. Just like when we are reading a book (the Bible) and we cannot truly understand a single sentence (verse) without considering it in relationship to the whole story, it is very difficult to properly determine the meaning of a single symbol/metaphor from a dream without knowing all of the other things that are going on within the dream. This is even more true when trying to determine whether the symbol itself has a positive or a negative meaning.
Take the following symbol and pause to consider it for a moment before reading further. Determine for yourself, based upon your first impression whether this symbol carries a positive meaning or a negative meaning:
A BEAUTIFUL BLUE BIRD
Is this symbol positive or negative? Taken alone, with no additional information, most people who see this symbol will generally consider it to have favorable or positive implications if it were to come up in one of their own dreams. While this might indeed be true, without the context of a complete dream it is actually impossible to know for sure. Consider the same symbol in the context of the sample dream related below:
While I was sitting by the window in my bedroom, a beautiful blue bird flew up and perched on my window sill. As I watched, it began to sing a very sad and haunting tune. The sound of it's song had such a tremendous impact upon me that I began to cry. The longer it sang, the more deeply my emotions were effected, until it reached a point that I finally left my work and laid down on my bed unable to complete the task that I had been engaged in.
Within this context of a complete dream, ask yourself again whether the "beautiful blue bird" is a positive or a negative symbol. Given this additional information, most people who originally considered the symbol to be positive will now be likely to have changed their mind and see it as negative. The context in which the bird is found and how it is interacting with the other elements of the dream have changed our perspective upon its nature. While blue is a color often associated with revelation, it can also be associated in many cultures with the concept of depression. Knowing which meaning that the color blue carries is totally dependent upon revelation from Holy Spirit and the context in which it is found.