Dream Interpreter: Satan’s frustrations building the tenth level of Hell

The Journal‘s dream interpreter analyzes a dream about power dynamics and control

Image supplied by: Journal File Photo

I’m Meryl Sleep, Queen’s resident dream interpreter. I analyze dreams in an effort to decode the symbols in each Queen’s student’s subconscious. Today’s dream involves Satan, the tenth layer of Hell, and lazy construction workers.


I had a dream last night that I was Satan and I was building the tenth level of Hell. The construction workers weren’t staying on task: they kept taking smoke breaks, calling their wives, and eating sandwiches.

I had to hound them to keep working, like, “C’mon guys, I’m literally Satan. Why are you not doing what I say?” I just wanted that tenth layer all set up, and they were annoying me.

Dear Dreamer,

The heavy reliance on first-person narrative—the considerable use of “I” and the expression of your inner thoughts—within the description of your dream reveals the distinct level of self-awareness experienced throughout its duration. You seem to have been in control of yourself and your emotional responses, as you explicitly reveal your frustration at the poor work ethic and indifference of the construction workers.

Your awareness suggests the emotions in the dream closely mirror an emotional state you were experiencing in real life at the time the dream occurred, as though the dream was simply a continuation of whatever you were feeling that day. Remember, dreams are how the brain processes your actual experiences. They allow your subconscious to sort through thoughts, events, interactions, and emotions.

A few major symbols are present within your dream, including Satan, construction workers, and power dynamics.

In the dream, you’re Satan. Within the context of hell, embodying this role makes you the most powerful individual around. Despite your unparalleled superiority, you have a clear lack of control over your environment—you’re actively expressing your desires, but you’re still ignored by the construction workers.

In your real life, are you filling a leadership position? Whether it’s within the scope of formal employment or a casual extra-curricular, consider the challenges associated with being a leader. Do you find it difficult to convince others to listen to your commands, or find your leadership questioned by other members of the team?

The construction workers directly symbolize your team members: people who are supposed to assist you or bear some of the burden of your responsibilities. However, while they show up to the construction site, their distraction demonstrates that they don’t necessarily share your aspirations for the project. While you’re focused on the end goal, they have other responsibilities and passions which they’re adamant about maintaining. Perhaps you feel like your team lacks commitment towards your shared goals, and you secretly wish they’d take on more work.

Beyond the particular iconography of the dream, the description of events reads like a meditation on control. In particular, you’re fulfilling a position of leadership within a project you believe to be important, but your subordinates demonstrate a clear lack of respect for your instructions in accomplishing the task at hand.

Since you desperately attempt to persuade them to obey your commands, it seems that you don’t have control. By saying you’re “literally Satan,” you suggest that you feel your role should be enough to entirely justify your power.

Sometimes, when you feel that others are not demonstrating enough respect towards you, particularly when you’re in a role of leadership, it’s worth inviting them into a discussion about how you can improve the dynamic. Power dynamics are difficult to navigate, so it’s important to take the time to evaluate any issues that arise.

The description of your dream places a heavy emphasis on your own emotional state, describing your frustrations as the ultimate product of the situation. However, in times of conflict, it’s important to consider the feelings of the other people involved as well to reach some type of compromise and, ultimately, move past the disagreement.

Remember that in the real world, leadership doesn’t automatically justify control over other people—every success is still the result of collaboration with the entire team.

Sweet dreams!

Meryl Sleep


dream interpreter, Dreams

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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