Recently I was working with a shaman who occasionally shares his dreams with me. He shared a dream that included a snake, a very popular image in dreams (along with spiders, but that’s a topic for another day).
Though a snake or multiple snakes in a dream can represent positive transformational, healing (especially if the snake bites and causes an elimination of bodily toxins), perceptivity, patience, wisdom, or rebirth energy, I thought that I would spend a moment looking at the negative energy associated with the snake image in dreams.
Snakes in dreams can suggest deceit especially of someone in your immediate environment, though it could also suggest your own deceit especially if the snake is biting someone or devouring them. There can be fearful or chaotic people in your life that are affecting you negatively. This may be even truer if a Medusa image shows up and you experience feeling trapped or imprisoned. This can represent someone who is highly critical of you or of others, or someone who just has negative thoughts about you and directs them your way passive aggressively, someone who literally steals your energy when around them.
In general snakes suggest that you may be experiencing some negativity that needs to be dealt with and cleared. Also snakes in dreams can represent unresolved issues that you have with others or people you’ve managed to annoy somehow. Consider also that they may be warning you of something you aren’t paying enough attention to. This symbolism can also be heightened if the snake is red in in color.
To deal with these negative energies you either need to confront them by standing up for yourself (this probably shouldn’t include any attacking strategy) if they are presenting as bullies or avoid being around them completely. You might also consider removing any other negative influences like negative movies or negative video games, or loud, gossipy people– basically anything and/or anyone that doesn’t serve you spiritually.
Shaman sometimes see snakes in their dreams when they are encountering or about to encounter some really negative energy. Interestingly seeing live snakes in your waking life can sometimes be symbolic of the same negative energy. This can be especially true if live snakes in your environment aren’t a common experience.
In the Australian Aborigine “Snake Dreaming” a snake is the protector of the land, the source of all life but also a destructive force if not treated respectfully.
I mentioned earlier that snakes can represent transformation, or change, this can be positive of course but change can also be negatively charged and regardless of what the snakes are doing in the dream you might want to compare their behaviors with your own waking world behavior or those behaviors of others e.g. are they just lying around, being sluggish, stealthily slithering, biting– snapping at you or others, poisoning the water with their presence, filling a pond or lake making it too scary to climb in, or crushing and trapping in their suffocating grip?
Note that snakes in dreams also present the dreamer with interesting dualities such as healing/poison, death/rebirth, charm/deceit, and life/death so that when they visit a dream they can represent both blessing and curse and therefor suggest that the dreamer apply both to their waking life.
In general animals in our dreams represent our instinctual feelings or behaviors. Some dream therapists think that animals come to us in our dreams almost as spirit guides, each bringing their own voice, symbolic energies, and usefulness to the dreamer.
Light comes in many forms within a dream. Sometimes it comes from whence it is born i.e. the darkness. It can be the dawning of some new awareness, a new beginning as with a rising sun or with the setting sun and clearing the stage for a brand new day.
It can be the symbol for transformation or a means for shedding some light on something unattended.
It can be a metaphor for God, the Spirit, the Tao, or for great wisdom. It can indicate the divine within.
In the beginning was the One. It lay at the bottom of the sea
in the darkness of the unconscious mind. The highest goal being
to bring it to consciousness and reunite what was separated once again.
Frequently light is paired with the image of a mandala where the light of creation resides at the center. When I dreamed the mandala above I experienced it rising from a ‘formless and empty’ black sea suggesting my unconscious mind, bringing with it a new awareness leading me to spiritual growth. At the time the mandala also suggested that I needed to look deeper into the darkness of that unknown part of me for it was in that blackness that a much needed awareness lay.
It can refer to the need for clarity, understanding, and insight. It can be about truth or if cloudy and shadowy it can suggest parts of the unconscious self that have yet to have been brought to full consciousness. If it’s particularly bright you may need to move toward a higher level of awareness.
Those who have been near death often speak of a bright light beckoning in the distance.
In the form of a light bulb it may suggest that you are ready to face some reality, or idea, perhaps even some new spiritual consciousness. A burned out bulb could refer to a loss of effectiveness or negative self-image.
Lighthouses can refer to the need for guidance. In the form of lightning it can suggest sudden awareness or spiritual revelation or even a shocking turn of events that is beyond ones control. To be struck by it might mean a permanent transformation or change taking or having taken place. All “lights can speak to the qualities of intellect, leadership knowledge, and transformation”.*
Light is often a symbol for the creative point in ones awareness, of bringing new light to consciousness. It can also be symbolic of beacons to follow and is also found within the third eye chakra, that is the “light between the eyes”. This light may be speaking to the primary force of life and creation.
Many if not most “light” dreams are part of the psyche’s way of reuniting what was separated at birth, i.e. wholeness and what the psychiatrist Carl Jung might have said was part of the process of individuation of becoming fully human.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
I’ve often said that dreams can be useful in the waking life. Often patterns in a dream reflect the same patterns in our waking life e.g. behaviors, problems, and emotions that show up in dreams show up our waking lives as well. Pay particular attention to the emotions in a dream either those that are experienced by you or by some other character. Notice if there are some repeating patterns of feeling. For example, does anger keep showing up in the dream, or in other dreams? How about conflicts with characters, or between characters in the dream? Do these reflect internal conflicts that you’re having with yourself, or with people or events outside yourself?
Frequently a dream can lead to solving some vexing problem in the waking world. You can even program your dreams to deal with external issues without having to wait for them to show up in a dream. This is called Dream Incubation and to varying degrees has been used for thousands of years as a means of healing and problem solving.
Let’s focus on problem solving for a moment, after all we all have problems, right?
To get things started, here’s an incubation technique that many dream analysts and behaviorists use. Be sure to be as honest with yourself as possible–this is all private, no one’s looking.
Before beginning, OWN THE PROBLEM. Whose problem is it? If it’s not yours, then why are you fooling with it? This process is not about solving someone else’s problem. Once decided that it’s your problem you can then move on.
Define the problem
What are you thinking may be the cause?
Have you thought of any solutions and have you tried them? Why won’t they work?
While writing these down, what feelings are coming up for you?
Can you imagine what benefits you might be getting from letting this problem continue as is e.g. is it easier, or safer to leave it be than to try to resolve it i.e. would you lose anything by solving it? Often at an unconscious level we are the reason that a problem perpetuates itself.
How committed are you to finding a solution? If not, why?
Sometimes just the process of taking time to work with a problem can reveal a solution, but you can also move on to the next step:
Request an answer from your dream self. For example, don’t use any “yes” or “no” questions and be precise: “ Show me why I am having problems with______________.”
Place a notebook and pen next to your bed to record your dreams.
In ancient Greece* in such dream incubation and healing centers (Asclepia) such as the one at Delphi, people would travel to the centers and follow certain rituals designed to get the dreamer ready for a healing dream. Candles often set the mood along with a ritual bathing with the intent of cleansing both the body and the soul. Abstinence of all drugs (except those prescribed by a physician), and alcohol and sometimes fasting were required of all seekers. I suggest that you do the same. A time for prayer so as to thank in advance a healing dream from the gods or some special deity was always invoked. You can do this by thanking God, or the spirit, your own soul, or the universe for the insights to be received.
Sometimes the dreamer would meditate, or relax to the sounds of naturally flowing water, or music, or rhythmic drumming as they lay down to sleep, keeping in mind the chosen Question from the Dream e.g. “Show me why I am having problems with______________.”
As soon as you awaken from your dream, record whatever you recall. Note, that it may take more than one night to incubate such a dream. This is not unusual, oft times an ancient seeker would take a week or more. The answer will come, try not to be discouraged.
As with anything worth doing, practice makes perfect and as with most human endeavors your commitment and ‘Will’ may be tested. In the beginning the wisdom of your inner psyche may not give up its secrets easily. If the problem were easy to solve you would have by now…solved it. The ancients as well as moderns go to the Greater Wisdoms than that of their ego-selves when problems (such as health, emotional, behavioral, or social) seem to be resistant to solution through personal manipulation e.g. when you can’t figure it out and no matter what you do the problem stays stuck.
In addition to the above rituals and techniques, you might share your dreams with a trusted friend, often the other person can see things in your dream that you cannot. The ancient Greek seeker would share their dreams with a priest, the oracle or others to aid in its interpretation. Group work with other seekers can be helpful as well as can working with a trained counselor.
* Though I’ve used the Greeks as an example here, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Turks, in the Upanishads from India, the Chinese, and many African tribes, as well as many Christian saints and mystics sought guidance through this kind of dream incubation method. See http://thedreamingwizard.com/history-of-dreams_290.html for more on ancient healing and dream incubation centers.
I’ve had a number of people ask what the real purpose of dreams are and one even suggested that they were only artifacts of a brain-clearing process and of no value at all. It was this last reader who comes the closest in naming the dream process though he should lose the “no value” component.
Research has shown that dreaming is the brain’s way of dumping all the stored data of the day, all the tens of thousands of input that we don’t even notice consciously, but that the subconscious picks up on, and then sorts through this material for what’s important for the conscious mind to retain and what’s not. Then it takes the saved material and stores it into the long-term memory files to be accessed when necessary. What’s left just degrades. Pretty simple, huh? So what’s all this ‘meaning’ mumbo jumbo that dream analysts apply to this data processing system?
Firstly, and I think most importantly, one might ask what is the filter through which the material is screened, what decides what is saved and what is dumped? Certainly it’s not the conscious mind, the part of the mind that most of us are aware of, the part that we identify as being ourselves. Something, then, is making the decision for me and where’s the free will in that?
And if this is the data that I then depend on to help inform my actions, shouldn’t I have some idea of its veracity? If there’s something unconscious that’s determining the material I will use to live my life, I certainly want to know where it comes from and I’d also like to have some say on what gets in there. I mean, I have a choice as to what media I listen to in my waking life e.g. my neighbor, my church, the local paper, the National Enquirer, radio talk show hosts, TV news, or internet media. Why do I abdicate that choice to some unseen force in the unconscious part of the psyche? I want to decide what’s of value to my life.
This process of sifting through our experiences is happening when we are awake as well and informs us with data that is categorized as being similar in nature to whatever it is we are experiencing in the here and now. Which is why we can take an instant dislike to someone, or some place when we haven’t had the time to consciously assess them.
Remembering your dreams and then discerning their meaning, or consciously assessing something, or someone, in real time, brings some of that choice back to you.
Secondly, the unseen force to which I allude to above is often a product of all the scary, messy, distasteful and unwanted aspects of ourselves, or in our experience, that we have actively stuffed away so as to not have to deal with them. Also, hidden in there are the unconscious beliefs that our families placed in us, and those hurts and fears as perceived by the child and the decisions about life that that child made about those experiences. And beneath all that is a collection of human archetypes built into the DNA that have been developed over eons of evolution and designed as part of an instinctual response system to threat, only the threats are much more complex and subtle today than merely running from a saber-toothed tiger.
This is the system that filters your experience and provides the foundation for all your decisions and all of your responses and thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Of course if you were living in caves in the wild you may not need anything more than your built-in instincts to survive, but most of us now live in much more complex environments, but are still dependent on a system developed for living in something simpler and more straight forward e.g. throw a rock, or spear, or run like hell (though some would say that’s a pretty good skill-set for the streets of New York, or Los Angeles). Not that these instinctual responses aren’t still helpful at times, but they aren’t helpful in determining who to vote for, or how to deal with an idiot boss, or how to respond to an angry neighbor, or what kind of car is a responsible purchase environmentally, etc.
We can continue to let sleeping dogs lay and just ignore this arbiter of our lives, or we can take the revolutionary, and perhaps evolutionary, step of taking back full control of our lives. We can only do this when we know what it is that is making the decisions for us and what those decisions are. The access to that information lays in the unconscious mind, what some researchers have suggested makes up to 70% of who we are and the door to that hidden place is through the dream (there are other doors such as meditation, but I don’t want to get into that now).
However, even this 70% figure is challenged by Dr. Wayne Dyer who suggests that the unconscious may very well comprise up to 97% of who we are. That definitely suggests that we are mostly unconscious i.e. asleep. This suggests that the unconscious mind is the director of our lives. How do we get free of that? Perhaps the answer to that lies in our acknowledging things as they really are.
Lastly, all that data that’s being dumped is interesting and may hold many of the answers I’ve been searching for in my life. It is precisely this data that the artist, the poet, the writer, the inventor, the musician, the scientist, and the intuitive CEO tap into as they create. How much has been lost because we have not paid attention? I, for one, intend to pay attention.
I’ve been having dreams of people and things where there are parts or aspects missing and dreams of my childhood and childhood home where I see things and people I haven’t seen in years. There’s a common meaning between these kinds of dreams, that of something lost, something that used to be there but is no longer.
There’s an ‘energy’ in each of the images of a dream, an energy associated with each of the aspects of ourselves. Sometimes when something is lost or missing or that was associated with some part of our childhood but no longer present our deeper self longs for the missing part. What’s lost could be an admired aspect such as hope, or a dream of the future, or a feeling of excitement, or love, or of peace, acceptance, potential, possibilities, esteem, or meaning.
The list can be endless for when young, everything is possible and then life happens and the possibilities get whittled away and we learn to let go of more and more of our dreams. All these energies of the self that have been filed away or shoved down into the unconscious want to be recognized, reenergized if you will, and brought back into the self that is you.
For me it is enchantment, awe, and significance that has been carved away from my core, the suppressed expressions of my soul. My dreams serve as healers to the wounds suffered by my soul self and reminders of who I am. A dream of my eleven year old self has an energy that I gave up over time and sometimes this aspect will return in the form of my childhood bedroom or a beloved, but now gone, family member or pet and serve as a guide to regaining the lost energy.
The process is often called “soul recovery”. We may have lost some part of ourselves due to some pain or abuse, some trauma or heartbreak but for whatever the reason we cannot feel complete until we have learned to bring home the missing aspects. They’re still there, these missing parts of ourselves, they’re still part of us.
The eleven year old is still in there with the same dream for his or her life and the essence of the dream can still be expressed only now we have tools and opportunities gained through age and hard fought for wisdom that can help us to harness our missing energies and express the basic core of the dream. But first we have to recall the messages of our inner self through the medium of our sleeping dreams for it is in these dreams that the soul is trying desperately to communicate with us what we are really here for.
Don’t give up on your soul dreams. Listen to that small quiet voice from within that wants you to know who and what you really are.
As I finished writing I pushed away from my desk and took a break, pulled on a jacket and stepped outside into a brightly crisp morning and bid the just rising sun a good day. As per my morning ritual I closed my eyes and welcomed my part of the earth into its new course– standing before each of the cardinal directions and whispering a heart-filled gratefulness. With each breath in and out I chanted the morning’s mantra, “Earth am I, air am I, fire and water and spirit am I. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us”
I opened my eyes once again to the east and the sky was ablaze with gold, the distant trees dark silhouettes against its slowly strengthening glow. Turning to the North again and preparing to turn through the compass once more I was stopped in my tracks, for this morning the Earth had given me a new gift. Rising before me stood a brightly colored and full-arced rainbow with one foot planted near a Sycamore at the end of the street and the other stretching off to the south as though challenging me to follow.
The crows were flying out of the northwest on their morning pilgrimage and flew through the multicolored arc, winged black caricatures of the magical arts transformed into soaring messengers of joy. This is going to be a soul dream of a day.
Realized or not or intentional or not authors project themselves into their stories. Successful stories depend on good writing but they also draw on archetypal aspects that at an unconscious level resonate with most human beings.
Earlier someone shared part of a dream that included the image of the Tin Man from the Wonderful Wizard of OZ (1900). This got me to thinking about the other characters and aspects of L.Frank Baum’s story and who or what they might represent symbolically. However, my projected meanings are in no way intended to convey the meanings that Baum had for them these are just possible meanings that one might entertain should they show up in their dreams.
Tinman: a Tin Man may be someone with no heart but deep down a heart as big as it gets. It can represent someone acting without compassion or being unsympathetic, or be someone unforgiving or unkind. When oiled e.g. given some kind, caring attention he/she becomes less rigid and stuck in their position. Do you know someone like this?
Cowardly lion: a person who acts tough but misses a golden opportunity out of fear. Are you feeling inadequate? Do you need to face your fears? Are you or someone you know wearing the mask of the tough guy thus keeping people at bay? Often this is the definition for someone who bullies. Are you limiting yourself by adhering to an inner dialog that has you feeling less-than?
Scarecrow: someone who looks scary but is using it as a cover-up so as to protect a vulnerable interior. Do you think of your self as being inferior? Is your exterior not matching your interior? Has your self-presentation been tattered?
Wicked witch: the negative feminine, in this case her insensitivity, and lack of focus except inwardly thus creating self-involvement, and being socially rejecting thus separating herself from others. She is the witch of the west and symbolic of darkness and endings that which needed to be faced in order to bring back the light and a new beginning.
Consider also that a witch can represent ones mother and the magical effect she has on you i.e. she is both nurturer and punisher.
Wizard: your inner wisdom and hidden power. This wizard also played the role of the trickster and was symbolically he who helps us to transcend our conditioning e.g. our learned behaviors, the behaviors and attitudes that limit us in life.
Glinda the good witch: she is the antithesis of the wicked witch, a goddess figure and the divine mother symbolizing feminine power, nurturing, and the coming of age for a young girl on the cusp of becoming a woman. She is the witch of the south that is symbolic of new beginnings, vulnerability and emotions.
Note that each of these characters is representative of Dorothy herself. Feeling unloved, unimportant, disconnected from her real power, with low self-esteem, lost and feeling as though she doesn’t belong, she dreams of a place where she can regain her self by returning home to herself. All aspects of her show up in the dream so as to help her heal and come back to her core being.
The psycho-emotional healing in most stories seems to center around the need to bring resolution to separateness and to unify the disparate aspects of the story i.e. to bring things back into balance. When we get out of balance catastrophic things can happen to help us find our way back home. This goes for societies and countries as well.
This I think is the function of our nightmares (individual or collective), which surly were depicted in Dorothy’s feverish dream i.e. to shake us up a little so as to point out the wrong road we’re on and head us toward the better road, the yellow brick road of hopefulness that leads to a place of healing and personal growth i.e. the green city of OZ while along the way we reconnect and make friends with the rejected parts of ourselves. The monster in the nightmare is not the hero save that they point to the fact that something isn’t working in the individual or societal psyche. As with Dorothy it’s only when we face our nightmarish bully that we can find our way home.
There’s magic to be had from the wisdom center of our unconscious minds and I receive quite a number of dream requests that involve religious themes and images. I thought that from time to time I would present a few of these as an adjunct to my spiritual and psychological musings.
The following dream was sent not too long ago. I have redacted any reference to the dreamer and made a couple of minor changes to aid in flow, otherwise the dream and response are word-for-word.
I am a Lay Preacher in a church in the United Kingdom. Before the dream I had been reading one of my study units Christ is Alive. I used to only remember the waking moment of a dream, but now I sleep less heavily in a sort of 50/50 world. Often in the dreams I hear a narration or overhear what is said. I had a waking dream this morning and many of the symbol words are not listed on your site. So would be pleased for your view as I am not an interpreter of dreams.
Joseph and Mary where in a garden [&] I was listening to them as they spoke and saw them; it was when she was young. Below is what I heard.
Joseph was saying I will build you a shelter in the garden, I know you and your cousin Elizabeth enjoy sitting in the garden knitting. But the weather is getting colder, you need to keep warm I will build you a shelter, so you can enjoy the sun but out of the cold wind. I will build you an arboretum out of wood, darkened on the inside, and will surround it outside by close-planted cedar and larch trees. I will make an entrance by removing one of the stone pillars and I will make it ‘L’ shaped with a space for your donkey. I will make a seat for you to sit on from a piece of finely polished oak that I have in my workshop. I then saw a view of the finished arboretum before I awoke. That was my dream of Joseph & Mary
A Possible Interpretation:
Let’s focus on some of the images e.g. Joseph and Mary as the parents, or caretakers of Jesus: This may represent your own “care-taking” responsibilities. The garden: This can represent a need to cultivate new skills, or your spirituality. Love is also a factor in this dream. If it were a representation of the garden of Eden it could represent the need to recapture your innocence, or your faith (building this garden might also suggest a building of faith). Building of gardens or being within gardens might also suggest some career development needed. The shelter: This may be a security symbol, but could also represent you, your inner self (much as a house or building would). It could also reflect your fear of things, ideas, and/or people who are different from you.
Trees in general, may refer to your hopes, desires, and personal development. Larch trees are often shamanic symbols of strength and protection as is Cedar (though Cedar is also a symbol for healing).
The warm sun and the cold wind symbols are essentially opposite in nature and may reflect that enlightenment has its colder side even though you are trying to avoid it e.g. shelter from it. This could be read as a need to be conscious of some vulnerability, or that you may need to be open to whatever comes your way. The “sun” can also represent “son”, in this case Jesus, while wind can be the breath of God, but it can also represent some turmoil/stress (inner or outer), especially if the wind is strong.
Pillars can represent strength and stability, something that holds you up (such as faith). It can be how you’re standing up to the stress, or how you’re being ‘supported’ by others. Using it to create a doorway can be about personal transformation into something more personally fulfilling.
Because many dreamers have asked for a broader list of dream symbols with their possible meanings I have also collected over 5000 dream images from over 3000 dreamers and included them in a new book “Morpheus Speaks: The Book of Dreams” coming out in paperback this November (more on this later).
The Waking Dream:
The dreamer wrote back that they were indeed having a crisis of faith after two failed sermons, an argument with a church member, and an admonition from the lead pastor. He had to temper his own ego in order to make a course correction. This he did and has had two successful Sundays at the podium since.
The dreamer’s inner place of wisdom came to him in a time of need and offered solutions for growth and healing. Trusting this place within you can add great power to your everyday life. Dreams come to us in part for our health and well-being. They are also a place where the mind works through the experiences of the day. Being aware of this process can give you a leg-up in dealing with what life throws at you.
Over the next several weeks I will deal with the elements of the meditative mantra, “Earth am I, air am I, fire and water and Spirit am I.” These elements also show up in our dreams and it is their meaning in dreams that I will be sharing.
The Earth image can speak to our need to be grounded i.e. realistic or be symbolic of your inner unconscious being. The image can show up as a cave or cavern, an abyss, a cellar, a mountain, a garden, a forest, or a grave. It can represent the body, your inner strength, or your mother.
As a mother it is the mother of us all, that which gives us life and brings us into the world. It is the grounded aspect between the father, the sun, and our spiritual self e.g. the other side of the Heaven and Earth or the mind/body dichotomy.
Scientific evidence as well as orbital pictures shows that the Earth is a great orb bulging near the middle because it’s spinning so fast (a little over a thousand miles per hour or 1675km/hr), 25,000 miles in diameter, thus taking approximately 24 hours to rotate once (thus our 24 hr day). The planet has been here quite a while, nearly 4.5 billions of years, but has only had life on it, multicellular life for the last 3.6 billion years. We animals didn’t show up until the last 600 million years or so. Human-like animals showed up about 2.5 million years ago so we’re pretty much the youngsters of the kingdom.
In its early stages before life the Earth was an inhospitable place, hurling through space being bombarded by huge boulders from the outer reaches of the solar system, with most of the land mass covered by scalding volcanic lava, corrosive acidic rains, and an atmosphere devoid of oxygen but full of sulfur gases.
Among the images of the Earth can be found volcanoes suggesting explosive personalities or situations and forests that symbolize the subconscious mind, or ones instinctual self. Walking through a forest can be about life transitions or changes in self-understanding. Forest fires can be about anger and the loss of control but it can also be about transitions and changes leading to something new.
Caves can be about your unconscious mind, the deeper you, but it can also represent the safety, warmth and retreat from the burdens of responsibility. Walking in a dark cave can be symbolic of exploring your inner self.
An abyss or canyon, can be an obstacle that is creating anxiety, something that one needs to overcome. It also represents the unknown. Standing before it can be about fears of “taking the plunge” and perhaps failing. Dark abyss’ can also be metaphors for hidden feelings and be a pit of despair and depression. Perhaps the dreamer is wallowing in negative self-talk?
A great plain can be about freedom, wholesomeness, smooth paths, or a pun on being “just plain”. A plateau in a dream might suggest that you are not growing or are in a rut, that you have “plateaued”.
Mountains also can represent obstacles or challenges to be overcome. Being on top can signify success, full potential– they often represent having a grand and bigger perspective on the world. The top of the mountain can also suggest a higher realm of consciousness, knowledge and/or spiritual awareness on the dreamer’s part.
To climb the mountain can symbolize the need to tackle some problem or to do what is necessary to grow in one’s job, personal life, spiritually or ones understanding of self. If the dreamer falls off the mountain it might suggest that they are rushing too fast without thinking things through e.g. being too impulsive. Falling can also suggest that the dreamer is giving up on something, perhaps too soon? Walking around a mountain instead of climbing it may suggest a more prudent action, that the dreamer needs to know their limitations and pace themselves. However, avoiding a mountain altogether because it looks too rugged or high could reveal a tendency to give up on, or avoiding, demanding situations.
Being in a grave or seeing a grave or hole in the ground can be about searching ones subconscious mind in search of something that may solve a problem or put some issue to rest, though it can also suggest the desire to cover something up, hide it, “bury” it so it won’t be found. We often do this with feelings, issues and aspects of our self and life that we find distasteful and don’t want to deal with. Graveyards often suggest the discarded aspects of ourselves.
To fall into a hole or a grave might suggest that you have dug a hole for yourself, created a problem for yourself, and are having trouble getting out of it.
Gardens or a farmer’s fields can be about personal growth and/or doing what is needed to encourage and tend that growth. To see weeds in that garden or field might suggest that the dreamer may be neglecting their spiritual growth or inner development.
Finally the Earth or any planet for that matter can be symbolic of exploration and new adventure. Because the Earth can represent ones body they might want to look at the condition of the Earth image.
Dragons turn up in dreams from time to time but what is he or she trying to tell us?
They have a long history in both Europe and in the far-east. In Europe they often lay waste to villages, turn brave knights into ash and steal fair maidens for feasting.
In the English story of St. George and the Dragon the knight does battle with the Dragon that has stolen the King’s daughter. He eventually slays him but is that all there is to it? Is it all just a fairy story, probably not because every story is symbolic of the psyche of humankind? And the story of Saint George is no different. Psychologists suggest that the story may be archetypal in that it represents the battle between good and evil I all of us. This shows the selfless courage of the hero and is an attempt by the psyche to integrate the opposites and that Saint George’s conquest represents when someone has successfully done so. But all dragons are not always demonic aspects of the self.
The Dragon is actually the major symbol of good fortune in Chinese Astrology. The Dragon constellation, for example, is accorded the honor of being the guardian of the Eastern sky. Traditionally the Dragon brings in the Four Blessings of the East: wealth, virtue, harmony and longevity.
Of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac the Dragon is the most special, as it is a mystical being rather than an earthly animal. According to Chinese astrology it’s a karmic sign and we can expect grand things from this year.
Chinese mythology sees the dragon as a symbol of wisdom.
Interestingly enough the root word for Dragon in ancient Greek was Drakon that means “to see clearly” or “that which sees.” This might be interpreted as wisdom.
Confucious (a famous Chinese philosopher) compared Lao Tzu (the writer of the Tao Te Ching) to a Dragon.
A good luck and wisdom symbol. Many pictures show the dragon handing the “Pearl of Wisdom”, or the “Pearl of Potentiality”to a shaman. Good, life-giving energy (chi) is channeled along “Dragon-lines” that in China were said to follow underground water or magnetic fields.To dream of a dragon is considered by some Chinese to be very auspicious.
The Lung dragon was the most powerful of the three species of Chinese Dragon and was considered a divine animal. The Cha-yü dragon only showed up when a ruling sovereign showed a lack of virtue. This dragon was known for eating men (symbolic of an leader who consumed the virtue and life force of others).
In Chinese mythology the Dragon of Hidden Treasures is a symbol of vigilance and the guardian of their fortune.
The Chinese New Years Dragon represents benevolence, but also power, representing the forces of nature. It is a rain bringer and dragon of fertility that brings only benefit to the people.
The Chinese frequently paired the dragon with the image of a phoenix bird (Fenghuang, or the August Rooster). Since Neolithic China these two were considered two of the four Supernatural Spirits symbolizing both the four directions and the four seasons (which seem to have been added to over the millennia e.g. The dragon, phoenix (or the Feng bird for short), unicorn (or deer), tortoise and tiger). They were often thought of as the “Gentleman and the Sage” and given that the Emperors of China often thought of themselves as descended from the Dragon, the Phoenix was often seen as his mate. Thus this pairing has been likened to the union of the Yin and Yang. An old saying in China goes, “When the Dragon soars and the Phoenix dances, the people will enjoy happiness for years…”
For the ancient Chinese culture dragon were primarily symbolic, but the idea of the actual existence of Dragons surfaced Millennia ago as the philosopher Chang Qu found gigantic bones of a dinosaur and mistook them for that of a dragon.
In Chinese myth, dragons originated as rain deities. Folk legends say that the dragon lives under water half of the year, rising into the sky during the spring when the constellation of Draco, the dragon, is at its highest. In China, dragons are symbols of authority, fertility, goodness and strength, and the benevolent giver of wealth and good fortune.
They were generally portrayed as protectors, guarding treasure, temples, or even Heaven itself, keeping watch over sky and waterways. This image of beneficent power was appreciated by China’s rulers, who used the dragon as an imperial symbol. The emperor occupied the Dragon Throne, wore dragon robes and even slept in the dragon bed. Chinese people sometimes referred to themselves as children of the dragon.
In Chinese culture, the season of the Dragon is mid-spring, its direction is east by southeast, and its fixed element is wood.
Symbolic meaning of the Dragon in dreams:
The dragon and the snake have a rich symbolic history in the mythology of mankind. In general, animals were seen to have certain attributes that were often observed in their natural behaviors. It was these attributes that people wanted to take on for themselves and it was thought that aligning ones self, or by extension, ones nation, or tribe with the animal it would assist in this process. This practice still exist to some extent in military banners and national emblems, note the Eagle in the Marine Corps banner as well as that of the national emblem, or the double headed eagle of Greece or the eagle in the Egyptian flag, or the dragon in the flag of Wales.
The Dragon is often the protector of treasure with the TREASURE representing YOU. (which was the point of the book The Dragon’s Treasure. It can represent fears that have to be overcome before recognizing the true self. Often it can be the guardian of the spirit. For some it is their ‘Spirit Guide.’
The fearsomeness of the Dragon could represent the fear felt regarding the unconscious.
Dragons and snakes are interchangeable in many cultures. Giant snakes like the Naga can be found in many cultures, Hindu, Buddhist to name two of the most well known. They often represent rebirth and death. The Minoan Snake Goddess of early Greece represented wisdom and the snake of the Asclepion was a healing snake that we still see emblazoned within modern medicine. All can be considered symbols for meaning in the dream world.
• Dragon totems in some Native American traditions represent messengers of balance. They are also seen as the masters of all the elements: earth, wind, fire, and water. They are seen as powerful guardians and guides and embody the primordial power.
“A Dragon totem is one of the most powerful totems, representing a huge range of qualities, emotions, and traits. When Dragons come to us, it could mean many things.
The most common message a Dragon totem [may] carry to us is a need for strength, courage, and fortitude. Dragons are also messengers of balance, and magic – encouraging us to tap into our psychic nature and see the world through the eyes of mystery and wonder.
More specifically, Dragons are the embodiment of primordial power – the ultimate ruler of all the elements. This is because the Dragon is the master of all the elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind.
As a totem, the Dragon serves as a powerful guardian and guide. Encourage communication with your Dragon, and acknowledge your Dragon’s presence as often as possible.”*
With the Native Americans of the North and Southwest there were a number of Dragon and serpent legends. Most of these Dragons and serpents stole children and were associated with water. Some stories may have been used to scare children away from water and thus the serpent became a type of bogey.
Examples: Amhuluk (Oregon); Ancient Serpent (Piute); Angont (Huron); Kolowisi (Zuni); Msi-Kinepeikwa (Shawnee); Palulukon (Hopi weather Dragon-similar to Chinese version); Stvkwvnaya (Seminole Dragon with a magic horn on its head).
The Australian Aborigine speaks of the Dreaming where two Serpents Yingara and Ngalyod (mother and father deities) are revered as the Rainbow Serpent creators of the world.
From the Wiccan perspective it represents a person of power and if in the dream you are riding on it, then it may be about spiritual insight.
A winged Dragon may also mean some kind of transcendence, a passing from a “lower” to “higher” level of maturity.
A Hydra is a many-headed dragon. Legend has it that Hercules kept cutting off the heads, but they grew back. To dream of a hydra might suggest that you are having a recurring issue in your life i.e. something that keeps coming back and never seems to get handled. Some sources (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snap-dragon_%28game%29) suggest that after Hercules killed the dragon he made of it a flaming meat and named it “Snapdragon.” A game of this name was played by children in some English speaking countries from the 16th through the late 19th centuries on both Christmas eve and All Hallows eve. In a bowl of blue flaming brandy were placed raisins that the children would try to pluck out without getting burned and then eat, all the while chanting,
“With his blue and lapping tongue,
many of you will be stung
Snip, snap, dragon.”
The symbolism of conquering danger in both the legend of Hercules and the dragon and in the playing of the game, “Snapdragon” is inescapable. We humans are always telling the story of conquering evil, of being the heroes of our own personal myth. Thus continues the ongoing reconciliation between the opposites good and evil.
As with some other animal symbols the Dragon and/or snake may also represent your sexuality, especially if your sexuality scares you. Does it threaten to rule your life?
Some time ago I was down in Santa Barbara attending an introductory course on a relatively new approach to dream work. It’s called Dream Tending and though I’m only just scratching the surface of its potential, it has created enough of a change in my perspective that I want to alter the manner in which I work with a dream–yours and mine.
Today’s blog entry I think will reflect some of that change. As I learn and practice I’ll share this already transformational journey.
I’m walking down a forested path with overhanging bushes and trees. I’m looking down a downward sloping path that seems to go into darkness as it bends slightly to my right. Oh, oh, there’s a skunk walking around the corner and out of the darkness, waddling rapidly toward me.
I’m feeling a little fearful. “Will it spray me with that foul smell?” It doesn’t seem menacing, but I’m unsure as it passes me on my right, brushing alongside both myself and the bushes along the path. It’s heading up the path and as it does it seems to be changing from a skunk into a furry, fat old raccoon, less menacing and certainly less fearsome, though I still cringe at the thought of it spraying me once it has passed.
Here’s where I would normally begin the interpretation part of the dream work, however following at least the spirit of the Dream Tending technique, if not actually the letter of it, I continued to work with the image of the creature. What I am attempting to do is to keep the image alive so that I can continue to work with it and interact with it as opposed to doing forensics on it, which requires that it be still so that I can take it apart and study it. The old method requires that the image be unanimated e.g. dead and of course in this state it can only give me information about what was and provides nothing ongoing–it flattens, or two-dimensionalises what started out as an interactive three dimensional being within the dream world.
Both of us seem focused on where we are going as though we each have a mission. As I’m working on this image I’m engaging the creature and say to it, “Good Luck!” and it responds, “Same to you!” There’s a sense of us being on the same team and performing our prescribed duties in a communal manner.
I’m having a sense that the creature is female and that she’s emerging (ascending) from where I’m headed–she having a purpose in the upper realm while I have a purpose in the lower realm.
We both seem excited by our respective missions. The mission seems like one for the planet versus a personal mission. She is coming from the mother, while I am going toward the mother with us both traveling along this two-way path.
I’m imagining the path now to include lots of back and forth traveling, doing the business of the planet. I’m noticing that this has always been the path that I have been on, but I didn’t have the eyes to see it. Now it feels as though I’m part of it versus being separate from it i.e. in true partnership. I’m feeling hopeful and energized.
I don‘t know what’s around the corner and though I’m feeling a little hesitant, I’m letting that pass and head down anyway. This transforming creature (from skunk to raccoon) reminds me of Alice’s Rabbit whose imaginal emergence becomes an invitation into a world beyond the normal–a world beyond our collective illusion–a glimpse of a world yet more real.
Though the skunk may represent my hesitancy in that I might need to protect myself, it also changes into something much more benign and welcoming.
I seem to be on the road to embodying my new position on the planet in that I am marching to its center to pick up my orders, so to speak.
I’m noticing that the thought, “Living life intentionally” comes up and that the dream seems to embody and encourage this intentionality.
I’m also struck by the animal’s femaleness and wonder if she is also a metaphor for transforming my relationship with the feminine. Am I finally recognizing our connection, our true partnership? Is the animal Psyche, Gaia, Earth Mother– the feminine side of God? Is she welcoming me as she did in the “Blue Fresco” dream summarized in the posting of 8-30-2016?
Am I being invited to help in bringing the feminine back to the world so as to heal its overly masculine imbalance? Is the image in the Blue Fresco the Sophia of the ancient Jewish tradition, the feminine aspect of God, the wisdom side of the masculine?
These are archetypal symbols that dramatize and establish core meaning to the images of the dream and invoke the divine that is in all dreams e.g. the Divine Mother and Wise Old Woman. They can be seen in virtually every mythology including those that were scribed as drawings on cave walls (the original temples serving as both tomb and womb, and earthly connection with the underworld and the spirit), or carved from clay before the dawn of the written word.