When working with dream symbols no one image should be taken in isolation or viewed out of context. Visualize the symbols in detail in your mind’s eye. What exactly does the person, place or object look like? Pay particular attention to your emotions. How does it make you feel? What is happening? Are you starring in the action, or are you an observer? Are you dreaming in black and white or color?
Animals are common dream symbols and we’ll explore that theme in this article. The meaning to an individual will relate to the person’s own feelings about the animal. Generally animals appear as an indication or some form of instinctual behavior. It’s important to identify the animal in detail: size, color, posture or actions. Are you excited to encounter this creature or feeling terrified? Is the animal wild or tame? The animal may be saying that you can already draw on its qualities, or you may feel frightened because you don’t yet know how to exhibit this particular strength or characteristic.
Some examples of animal symbolism include bulls that symbolize strength, prowess and stubbornness. Cats embody resilience as in the fabled “nine lives.” Felines are nocturnal hunters, showing their skill at finding things in the dark. Cats also have an Egyptian connection and convey both independence and mystery. Cows and cattle have symbolized nurturing, wealth and domestic urges for ages. Dolphins are magical guides to the spirit world and can be rescuers of humans in danger.
Dragons are mythical beings that usually symbolize transformation and the alchemical process of deep spiritual work. They are sometimes seen as positive and at other times seen as miserly creatures, hording gold and jewels. Horses are generally seen to represent the human body and the ability to move through time and space. Many myths link horses to the sun and magical rides through the sky like the famous winged steed, Pegasus. By contrast the mouse may indicate what’s hidden from everyday awareness and perhaps where we are being opportunistic in nature. The owl, another nocturnal hunter, can be a symbol of wisdom or death. Likewise the serpent is a symbol of both wisdom and sexual energy.
Birds are almost always universal symbols of messages from the spirit world. Their capacity for flight makes them natural couriers from the human realm to higher planes. Birds denote flight, freedom, an aerial view and an opening to the higher self. Birds are messengers of Spirit and typically carry potent shamanic significance. If a bird appears in your dream consider the following: is the bird caged, in flight, or perched? What kind of bird is it, a highflying raptor, a shy forest bird, or a water bird? Each has a unique quality. Most importantly, what are your feelings about the bird both in the dream and upon waking?
Crows usually represent news. Traditions vary on whether the crow brings good news or is a harbinger of ill fortune. A white dove is generally a symbol of peace and also signifies the soul. White doves, which are sacred to Venus, are also symbols of the Holy Spirit and the Great Mother.
Ducks appear to glide effortlessly on the surface of the water, but underneath they are paddling furiously. Are you “ducking” an issue? The eagle is a high soaring bird that sees clear and far. Mythology says the eagle is the only bird unafraid to fly in a storm. Magpies are birds of great power to Native Americans, but can equate to noisy nuisances to others. The Robin is seen as the harbinger of spring in certain locations and usually carries a positive connotation. In Native American tradition woodpeckers are drummers and herald a message and perhaps a new rhythm in your life.
A swan is a symbol of the soul in many cultures. Is the swan white or black? The haunting sound of a dying swan, known as “swan song” is a phrase that implies an ending. By contrast hummingbirds are icons of joy and strength out of all proportion to their tiny size. Vultures, like scorpions, are known to be good mothers, fiercely protective of their young. Because they eat carrion, vultures, like the Egyptian god Anubis, are symbols of transformation. The vulture goddess, Nekhbet, was the ancient symbol of Upper Egypt.
Always notice the context in which the symbol appears and your feelings and emotions. Remember, it’s your dream and your feelings and intuition are what counts. If you wake from a dream that stays with you and evokes strong emotion, write it down, and be willing to spend some time musing on the night time messengers who are speaking to you in the timeless language of symbols.
About The Author:Julie Loar is the multiple award-winning author of six books and dozens of articles. She has a BS in Psychology, has done postgraduate work, and has been certified in numerous professional training and development programs. Julie was a Human Resources executive in two major corporations, and an independent training consultant, working with large companies. Her latest book, Goddesses For Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around the World, (available at Satiama) has won three national awards. Her popular astrology feature appears in ATLANTIS RISING magazine, and she is a featured contributor on John Edward’s web site, InfiniteQuest.com where she has her own internet TV show. She has traveled to sacred sites around the world, researching the material for her books and teachings. Each year she leads a sacred journey to Egypt. Visit her at http://www.julieloar.com