Some of the most powerful and traumatizing dreams involve rape. Females and males have rape dreams. The first possibilities for symbolism to consider revolve around non-sexual definitions of the word. Think of times it is used in conversations to mean something other than physical rape. It’s heard in reference to losing in sports or video games when one side is dominated by another, or someone is humiliated. It’s used in reference to exploiting the natural resources of the planet, and as an expression of helplessness and anger.
Rape means domination, exploitation, violation and humiliation. Dreams enact these other definitions of rape, turning them into scenarios of sexual rape.
Another way that dreams use rape is to express the feeling that you’re being forced to do something you don’t want to do or be someone you don’t want be. It’s a frequent theme in the dreams of males and females who resist living up to the cultural ideals and expectations of their gender.
Some females resent having to wear make-up and heels, and are discriminated against when they don’t. Some males don’t want to act tough and distant, or to dominate, or to spend hours in the gym buffing up. Cultural pressure to live up to gender ideals can be intense, and the consequences of resisting it can be extreme. Even if a person tries to live up to gender ideals it can still feel like being coerced or forced. It’s not necessarily “consensual.”
A man has recurring dreams about being raped and connects it with being forced to hide his homosexuality. Instead, he tries to force himself to feel and act straight and to be attracted to women. Rape sums up how he feels.
This use of the symbolism arises more often in dreams about being raped by a group of men. It’s a way of saying “men in general,” not a specific man.
Being gang-raped in a dream can be an exaggerated way of expressing the idea of being ganged-up on. It can express the feeling of everything and everyone being out to get you or hurt you. It can express a dynamic about your inner life.
Rape in a dream can have roots in your inner life. In a graphic way, it shows how you treat yourself. One part of yourself overpowers the others. Your ego is coercive, threatening, takes what it wants. If that’s how life is in your head, it’s likely to show outwardly. Some people are best described as rapists just based on their personality and character.
Rape in a dream can have sexual roots. People who have been raped are likely to dream about it. It seems cruel to bring up a traumatizing event like that, but it actually helps by creating a psychological cushion between the present moment in time and what happened in the past. Once the dream is over it is in the past, and when something can be thought of as in the past it creates personal distance. The same sort of process happens with other traumas such as combat and abuse.
On the other hand, rape dreams can show that you’re still chained to the experience even though you have the potential to move on. For example, a woman dreams about finding her rapist working beneath a car. She coldly pulls out a gun and pumps rounds into him. The dream is an expression of her thoughts of revenge. She didn’t report the rape because her best friend’s brother did it, and it’s eating her up inside. Her thoughts of revenge rip open the scab and keep the wound fresh.
Dreams exaggerate, and rape in dreams can be used to exaggerate a situation related to sexual tension or exploitation, such as when a person is used as a sexual plaything.
It might connect with a recent or ongoing situation that’s dangerous, or potentially so, sexually or otherwise. It’s the sort of comparison dreams are known to make because dangerous situations can lead to rape. For example, passing out at a party. In which case, dreaming about rape connects with putting yourself in danger.
A rape dream can come in response to feeling vulnerable, powerless or disrespected. For example, after being hit on at a gas station by a creepy guy, a woman dreams that night about being raped at that gas station by a similar guy. It’s an expression of feeling raped in the sense of having her dignity attacked, compounded by recognizing her vulnerability to men who are stronger than her.
Dreams can act as simulations, and a dream about rape can be a way of acting out an issue related to it. For example, you hear a graphic story about a friend who is raped then dream it happens to you. It’s a way of really understanding what that friend went through and perhaps fearing it could happen to you—or taking steps to prevent it. Or you have a rape fantasy and dream about rape. Something about the idea of domination and humiliation turns you on.
For example, a young man with a rape fantasy had two dreams that when looked at together present a choice. In one, he has normal sex with a girl he is attracted to, an imaginary character, and in the other he rapes a random girl. The dreams are showing him his choices. On the one hand, sex with someone he is attracted to (normal sex) appeals to him but lacks the stimulation he feels at the thought of raping someone. The rape dream shows that the stimulation of rape comes at the expense any sort of intimacy. He can have one or the other but not both.
If you have found this post because you were raped, dream about it and want help, try dream rescripting, used for chronic nightmares and treatment of ptsd. Search online for general info, and use this link when you’re ready to get to work: Dream rescripting worksheet.
So, I hear you’re looking for a dreamworker in Tucson, Arizona. Some people call them “dream interpreters” or “dream analysts.”
I know a guy.
He’s down to earth about dreams, and definitely not a Freudian. Most dreams use symbolism to describe what’s happening in your life. They help you answer questions, solve problems, resolve issues and get perspective. They reflect back your life to you in ways that help you see deeper into it and identify specifically what’s happening in your emotions. But some dreams go deeper, can even be life-changing, and those are the ones most likely to make a person seek help understanding them.
The guy I know is really knowledgable, but he won’t try to convince you he knows what your dreams mean. That’s a fool’s errand. Instead, he’ll help you figure out what you already know.
That’s right, you already know what your dreams mean, subconsciously. After all, you create them, right? Or did the aliens beam them into your head? In which case, sorry, can’t help you.
This guy will help you understand your dreams as stories about yourself and your life. He’ll help you decode the symbolism. He’ll then help you figure out what can be gained from them. How they can help you.
The guy I know has been working with dreams for like 25 years and has helped millions of people better understand their dreams. Granted, “millions” is a big number, but it’s fair to say because this guy is big on a website called reddit.com, where he’s been the moderator of the dreams forum for like, forever. Tens of thousands of people per month read his stuff. And when you multiply tens of thousands by forever, that really adds up! He’s known as RadOwl, the reddit.com dream expert. Or at least, that’s what his publisher calls him. It’s on the cover of his last book so it must be true.
The guy writes about dreams. His second one, The Big Book of Dreams, is due for publication in spring, 2017, and it’s the Bible of Dreams. OK, maybe dictionary is more accurate. I think he has a blog somewhere on the internet, too.
Seriously though, he’s the best around, and I’m not just saying that. Read his About Me page, and see the list of media programs he’s been on. Dude was on Coast to Coast AM, and host George Noory said he’s “one heck of a dream interpreter.” That’s some big praise.
It’ll cost you a dime or two to get this guy’s help. Or $55 per half-hour, whichever is greater. Or you can take a chance and post your dream at dreams.reddit.com and maybe he’ll notice it and offer some ideas.
The rate is negotiable. Dude just wants to help people understand their dreams, but he’s got a mortgage and all that so, you know, contact him and see what can be worked out. You can use the contact form on the About Me page linked above, message him on Facebook, or shoot an email to groovywriter at gmail.com.
Tell him Jason sent you. He’ll know who you mean.
And you can talk with him via phone or skype or whatever. You don’t have to be in Tucson to see this dreamworker, but if you are, hey, you might be neighbors.
In the meantime, here’s a picture of him with Santa.
Bee Dream | Interpreting the Meaning and Symbolism of Bees in Dreams
Bees in a dream are generally a positive sign, but look at the context of the dream before jumping to conclusions. Obviously, being stung by a bee or attacked by a swarm is not a positive sign unless it is, at heart, a message that something about yourself or the circumstances of your life needs to change. In which case it is a sort of mixed blessing.
Bees are communal, self-sacrificing, diligent, and orderly. Any of these ideas can be expressed in dreams featuring bees.
Dreams about bees can symbolize the relationship between you and the community or neighborhood in which you live, or the circle of people with whom you associate. For example, a school or work community can be symbolized by a group of bees.
Bees connect together a neighborhood or plot of land because they regularly visit every place with nectar to offer, and that idea can connect with anything that creates a sense of cohesion.
In that sense, if you think of the psyche as a collective, the bees are the beliefs, values, feelings, thoughts, and processes that connect everything together.
To dream about busy bees can symbolize hard work and being busy, as in the phrase “busy as a bee.” It can symbolize a family or community in harmony. You are part of a hive.
A bee hive can symbolize group thinking, as in the term “hive mind.”
Another possibility is a hive symbolizes building something as a part of a community. The product of the labor can be material, but also consider less tangible possibilities such as building a sense of togetherness or cooperation. Good relationships are built through cooperation, trust, and responsiveness to the needs of others, all of which are exhibited by bees working together.
If you fear bees they can easily be used in dreams to symbolize a fear. If so, you can express to react with fear to the presence of bees.
Another possibility is bees can symbolize an annoyance that won’t go away, something that pesters. This use of the symbolism is likely to be accompanied by the action of swatting or stronger actions to rid yourself of bees. For example, grabbing a shotgun to get rid of an annoying bee in your house can symbolize a strong desire to be rid of a house guest who drops by and won’t leave. You are ready to take drastic action.
Running from or avoiding bees can symbolize avoiding a responsibility or pain. Avoiding a colony or swarm can symbolize avoiding a group of people or a collection of related thoughts.
An angry swarm of bees can symbolize symbolize disagreement with, or within, a community, or a distaste for teamwork.
Angry bees can symbolize that you said or did something—or neglected to do something—that angered a group of people. For example, you post something on Facebook that draws a lot of stinging comments.
Another possibility for a swarm of stinging bees is it symbolizes a swarm of thoughts in your head.
It’s also a picture that says one word: trouble! It’s something you want to avoid, such as a bad disagreement among friends or a perilous situation.
More possibilities for a swarm of stinging bees are it symbolizes a swarm of stinging thoughts in your head, or confusion, or pain—especially nerve pain.
To be stung by a bee can symbolize a stinging remark. Feelings such as regret and guilt can sting. It can symbolize the ways you say things to yourself that hurt.
Think more expansively and it can mean a situation you are in is painful in some way.
Because bees make honey, they can be associated with wealth and sweetness. Honey symbolizes the product of your labor or good intentions. It can symbolize a reward or indulgence, especially the intimate and sexual varieties of indulgence.
Honey in a dream can relate to the digestive process, including the digestion of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Bees digest nectar to produce honey. You digest your experiences in life to improve yourself. When you dream, especially REM-stage dreaming, your mind digests the experiences of your day so you can learn and grow.
Bees landing on flowers, extracting nectar and depositing pollen, can symbolize something related to fertilization. Perhaps you are laying the groundwork for a future endeavor or personal growth. Or take the idea further and it can symbolize conception, the fertilization of the female egg with the male sperm.
The image of a bee on a succulent flower is charged with sexual references. The flower is associated with the vaginal area, and a bee extracting nectar and leaving pollen is a heck of a metaphor!
Using Contrast with Dream Characters to Create Symbolism
A primary way that dreams create symbolism and meaning is through comparison. Detail A in a dream is comparable to Detail A about the dreamer. For example, driving off a cliff in a dream is comparable to “going over the edge” somehow in your life. Comparison is used in metaphors and figures of speech such as “drive off a cliff,” and it’s the #1 thing I look for when decoding dream symbolism.
But what about comparison’s fraternal twin, contrast?
When a dream creates contrast, you can bet it’s symbolism and a great place to look for meaning.
Take for example the following dream shared at Reddit Dreams by a young female:
About a week ago I had a dream much unlike any I’ve ever had before. In the dream, I am back at the community pool I used to frequent while growing up in California. I am 22 now, but in my dream I feel as if I am somewhere around age 14.
In my dream, I meet this other girl who is a few years older than me. She is a lifeguard at the pool. She has very short boyish hair and an upturned nose. She is confident, easy-going, and seems to have this lust for life and an ability to live everyday as if it is her last. She doesn’t seem to let anything bother her and takes every setback as a challenge. Don’t ask me how I know all this, I just know it upon seeing her in my dream.
From the moment my dream-self ses her, I know I am in love/she is my soulmate/meant to be etc., etc. Fast forward (anywhere from a few weeks to a year, who knows) and my dream-self and the mystery girl are dating (?). I visit her at the pool and she sees me at school. I am shy to kiss her in front of other people, but she has no qualms about being openly gay. For some reason, I know in my dream that she has all the qualities that complete me and contrast my qualities.
The dream sets up a contrast between the dreamer and the main dream character. What is the contrast saying? Let’s start with what it’s not saying.
It’s not saying that the dreamer has a desire to date a woman. It’s not revealing a secret gay desire or anything.
It’s not saying the character is a personified aspect of the deep psyche, such as an anima figure, which is what the dreamer first wondered. A female can’t have an anima figure because her conscious personality is female, and anima is, by definition, contrasexual.
However, this idea is on the right track if you consider that dream characters can be personified aspects of the dreamer.
The dreamer herself tells us what the dream character represents:
I know in my dream that she has all the qualities that complete me and contrast my qualities.
Other details from the dream support the idea that the character the dreamer falls in love with is a personification of everything that she wants to be. The dream-story takes place when the dreamer is 14 years old. That’s a formative time of life. A person’s basic personality is set. It’s when the dreamer’s shyness and timidity took root. As she says in her own words:
I just remember waking up [from the dream] and thinking to myself, “Wow, she is everything I’m not. I stress at every little thing that can or does goes wrong, while she laughs in the face of danger. She has no anxiety whatsoever and is completely free to be herself (openly gay amidst people who believe it is wrong, has short hair, etc.) while I hesitate to be myself even around friends.”
I don’t really think the dream has anything to do with me being gay and not knowing, I think she just represents the self I wish I were. I tend to have a lot of anxiety and am not the type of person who just floats through life carelessly like she does.
Now, why the reference to a gay relationship? The dreamer tells us she admires the dream character being completely free to be herself, even in the face of social pressure, which is true for gay people in many situations. It’s a comparison. But I think the reasons go deeper.
Falling in love in a dream can be a way of creating and strengthening bonds between your ego and other aspects of the psyche. If you love someone you will do anything for them, even become more like them. In this case, the dreamer falls in love with her “other half” because in the character she sees everything she wants to be. And the good news is, her dream paramor is part of her that’s unconscious and thus can become conscious.
Basically, the dream is showing the dreamer what she can be—what she already is deep inside—through a contrast with the dream character.
In other words, opposites attract, and through that attraction they unite. Everything in the psyche is made of opposites, and when united they “transcend” to create something new.
As Betsy Perluss says:
[Carl] Jung says that holding the tension of the opposites is essential to bridging the gap between ego-consciousness and the unconscious. If the tension between the opposites can be held long enough without succumbing to the urge to identify with one side or the other, the third, completely unexpected image, one that unites the two in a creative new way, comes into view.
Language is full of sayings such as “proud as a lion,” “slippery as a fish,” and “free as a bird”—rich with symbolism for dreams to use. Dreams bring to life these sayings and use animals to tell stories about you and your life.
For example, in a dream about the health of the dreamer, fish dying in a fishbowl full of bad water symbolically warn of an oncoming bladder infection. The fishbowl symbolizes the dreamer’s bladder, and fish live in water, so the dying fish indicate something wrong with the liquid in her bladder.
In a dream about finding a white horse in a snowstorm, the horse symbolizes ability to move forward under treacherous personal conditions.
In a dream about three kittens drowned in a pool but one still alive, kitten-like qualities in the dreamer are symbolically “killed off,” but one kitten left alive shows that the dreamer is trying to preserve a part of himself from extinction: the gently playful side of himself succumbing to teenage peer pressure to toughen up.
Other associations can be made with fish, horses, and kittens though. For instance, if your only experience with a horse is when one kicked you, you aren’t as likely to dream about it in a good context. What an animal in your dream means to you matters more than pat definitions like the kind found in typical dream dictionaries!
Consider the characteristics and qualities of animals that appear in your dreams. A dog to one person is a loyal companion; to another person it’s a noisy nuisance. Both are common perceptions—which one fits your dream?
To find out what an animal in your dream means, associate the animal with your experiences, perceptions, and feelings. Also consider figures of speech that might apply, and caricatures from books, movies, cartoons and TV shows that imbue everything from ants to birds to elephants with human qualities and voices. Your experience with, and impressions of, the creatures that appear in your dreams help determine what they symbolize.
Generally, the wilder the creature, the more instinctive or primitive your related emotions, behaviors, or instincts. We all have instincts reminiscent of certain animals or creatures. For example, rabbits and bulls are notorious for the instinct to mate. Gazelles and deer are known for the instinct to run. Lions and dogs are known for the instinct to protect territory. People have those instincts too, and dream animals to represent them.
Also, people are compared to animals and creatures in figures of speech like “stealthy as a cat,” “friendly as a dog,” and “treacherous as a snake.” One image can sum up a person’s behavior or personality. Comparisons to animals can be highly accurate ways of describing what we observe in people—and in ourselves.
Animals can be used to symbolize the dynamics of a situation. For example, a school of fish swimming together can symbolize a group of likeminded people. An elephant can symbolize something that’s inevitable, that can’t be stopped.
As with all symbolism, the meaning is interpreted by tieing together details and analyzing the symbol within the context of the story. Just because an elephant is in a dream doesn’t mean it represents something that can’t be stopped. But if the elephant pushes forward through barricades, it’s a supporting detail that suggests the symbolism is related to something that can’t be stopped.
Pay attention to the age of the animal. A puppy, cub, or other young animal can represent something new or young in the dreamer. An old dog might be a play on the phrase “you old dog.” It could symbolize an elder figure or something coming to an end.
Parents of young children are known to dream about baby animals, because comparisons between young children and young animals are easy to make—and in fact are made frequently in media and everyday conversation. For example, a mother might call her child “my little tiger,” then dream about a baby tiger and not realize the relationship between it and her child.
And keep in mind, animals can be used as props in a story. In other words, the white rabbit you chase down a hole might relate to something rabbit-like about you, like the desire to hide or protect yourself. Or it might be a prop in a story about finding out how deep the rabbit hole really goes.
Roni wrote to me using the site’s contact form but gave me a bad email address for my reply. My hope is she will see it by visiting the site.
I dreamt about a big very old and mean cow with an old dog in its mouth.
It was hurting the dog. I was in my husbands truck and honked loudly.
It dropped the dog and looked like it was going to charge me.
What’s it mean?
And my reply is:
Most dreams use symbolism to show you something about yourself or your
life. The dream is about your inner life or outer life. So the first step
is to ask yourself, does my dream describe something about my inner life or
So look at the detail. Can anyone you know be described as an old mean cow?
How about an old dog? Dogs tend to symbolize friendship, companionship, and
loyalty in dreams, but the possibilities vary widely.
Or does the cow and dog describe something going on inside of yourself?
Does it reflect moodiness or grumpiness? Or are you as immovable as a cow?
Don’t be offended by the comparison if it fits. Dreams create analogies and
comparisons that can sum up an idea in one image. Since you are in your
husband’s truck when the action takes place, another question to ask is,
does that image of the cow with the dog say anything about you and him? Is
your relationship contentious but ultimately you are companions?
The most commonly used tool for decoding dream symbolism is the association technique. It harkens back to the beginning of modern psychological study of dreams and is practiced today in therapist’s offices and dream groups as well individually by people wanting insights into their dreams.
Association is simple. Anyone can do it. You say the first words that come to mind in relation to a dream symbol. Like this:
If I say “rocket,” you say?
If I say “basketball,” you say?
If I say “father,” you say?
Association helps to uncover the personal meaning of your dream symbols because your personal associations are used by your dreams to create symbolism. Oftentimes associations are thought of in the general sense, such as rockets generally being described as fast, powerful, and capable of flight. But your personal experiences in life with the symbols from your dreams are more revealing to the meaning. Rarely are these associations accurately guessed by outsiders because of the infinite variety of personal experience that can be used to create dream symbolism. It’s up to you, and I can only show you how to do it for yourself.
Look at the associations I gave for a rocket. They are typical. But what if the rocket is on a launching pad in a dream? It’s not displaying its speed or power or capability of flight. The person who has the dream associates the rocket with “potential.” With that clue, the decoding process goes in the direction of analyzing how the dreamer is like that rocket’s potential for speed, power, or flight. Those words can be used to describe a person as well as a rocket. You might say that the dreamer is ready to take off.
Now let’s go a step further in showing how association works. I have a terrific example provided by a post at the reddit.com dreams forum, where I am known as “RadOwl” the dream expert. First, here’s how the person describes the dream:
I dreamed last night that I was camping in the wilderness, when the ground suddenly gave out beneath me and I fell, still inside my tent, hundreds of feet until I landed in a raging river. My tent floated like a boat and I rode out the rapids until the water got calmer.
There was a raccoon stuck on a rock in the center of the river. It couldn’t swim to shore, so I tried to help it. But it attacked me instead, ripping my tent to shreds and making me fall into the water. I woke up after that.
The dream provides a few symbols that help tell the story and are ripe for using association technique to uncover the meaning. Camping is associated with getting back to nature, going it alone, survival, and living simply. The wilderness can symbolize being lost or trying to find your way. A tent is a shelter that’s flimsy, a temporary dwelling. A river is associated with the course of a person’s life. A raging river can be thought of as a symbol for turbulence in life.
But the symbol and associations that really uncover the meaning of the dream are the raccoon and its actions. Symbols by themselves give us only hints of meaning, but when put into context and shown in action they are very revealing, such as the river shown as raging at first then calm later. “Raging” and “calm” help to define the symbolism of “river.”
To help this person decode the dream, I first used another dream decoding technique: simplification. It’s a quick way of aiming right at the heart of a dream’s meaning. Sometimes people get caught up in analyzing the minutia of a dream and miss the big picture. The meaning is right there if you simplify the story down to a sentence that sums up what it is about. It’s not always the best way to approach a dream, but comes in handy when pressed for time. This dream, to me, is best summed up as being punished or attacked for trying to be helpful.
That’s what happens when the dreamer tries to help the raccoon. But why does the dream use a raccoon? If you think of common associations with a raccoon you might say “scavenger,” “nocturnal,” or “wild.” Also, because a raccoon looks like it’s wearing a mask, it is commonly associated with hiding or concealing. Do those associations fit together with other details of the dream to tell a story? Not really. The association the dreamer came up with is too personal for an outsider such as myself to guess. Here’s what he said:
I did used to go camping a lot when I was a kid, and my family would always get mad at me when I tried to feed raccoons. Maybe it has something to do with that…being punished for trying to be helpful.
Now we’re getting somewhere. We have an association that might explain why the dream puts the dreamer into a scenario where he is camping and the raccoon attacks him. Only the dreamer knows that when he was a kid his parents got mad when he tried to feed the raccoons.
The next step is to compare what we’ve learned about the dream to the dreamer’s recent life. Most dreams are based on events in a person’s life from the past day or two. The events can be part of outer life or inner life. In fact, most dreams connect with a person’s inner life. With that in mind the dreamer has a place to focus and a question to ask that might reveal the meaning of the dream: In what way (if any) does he feel like he is being punished for trying to be helpful?
That’s where we left off so I can’t tell you what has happened recently in the dreamer’s life that sparked the dream. It might not be an event but instead the dream is trying to show the roots of a pattern. Perhaps the dreamer hesitates to be helpful because of his early childhood experience with the raccoons. Perhaps his self-defenses are flimsy like the tent, but are also the only thing keeping him afloat personally. Perhaps the dreamer went through a recent period of turbulence in his life and somehow the lesson about not helping raccoons translates to hesitance to help himself. It’s hard to say without more information.
But through the use of association technique we have strong clues to the meaning of the dream and ultimately to learning its message.
I love to talk about dreams and keep my readers up to date on my latest work and news about the world of dreams. If you’d like to be included, add your info to the signup form below. By including at least your first name along with your email address, you are more likely to get my emails (spam filters tend to catch emails that don’t include a name).