Dream about kittens interpreted
When interpreting a dream I look for details that tie together, a central thread that runs through the story. Two or more details point the same direction to reveal the meaning. This fact about dreams is a blessing, otherwise it would be next to impossible to pin down the meaning of some symbols.
Dream symbols don’t have pat definitions. Instead, the meaning is multiple choice. It’s like looking up the word “spring” in a dictionary. Does it mean spring as in ‘the season,’ or spring as in the ‘coiled piece of metal,’ or spring as in ‘jump’? You can tell which definition is correct based on the sentence the word spring is used in. Dream symbols are defined by the story they are in.
Take the example of kittens in dreams. One definition is kittens represent something cute, sweet, or playful. They can represent innocence and purity. A kitten can represent something about yourself or characterize someone you know. Kittens can represent something new in your life, since they are newly born. Or a kitten’s young age can refer to something that is immature, undeveloped, dependent, or helpless. Another possibility is the young age refers to a young child, or pregnancy. Terms like “puppy,” “cub,” and “kitten” are used to refer to a fetus, baby, or young child. On top of that, dreams can use your personal experiences with, and feelings about, kittens to create symbolism, raising more possibilities.
With so many possibilities to consider, how do you narrow them down? You tie the other details of the dream together with the kitten(s) in it. Look at the kitten(s) in the context of the story. Here is an example from a dream I helped interpret. [Link to original post at Reddit Dreams]
A few nights ago I dreamt that I was sitting on the ground doing something when a bunch of small kittens came over to play. I distinctly remember them being very fluffy and cute, which is strange because I hate cats (sorry!) and there were specifically a gray, an orange, and a white kitten. I was more drawn to the gray kitten.
Two details stand out to me. One, the dreamer likes the kittens even though she usually hates cats. Two, she is particularly drawn to the gray one. I will explain the significance in a moment.
A third detail that could be significant is the scene seems to show the dreamer in an ordinary situation just sitting down doing something that isn’t particularly important. It suggests that the dream is speaking to an ordinary part of daily existence. Some dreams draw attention to specific events or circumstances in your life. Some dreams are nonspecific and look at the overall picture. For example, if you are overweight it is an ongoing aspect of your daily existence, part of the big picture.
The dreamer gives more details about her situation that help clarify what her dream is about. Keep in mind that she volunteers this information without being asked, and one of the main ways of figuring out what a dream means is to simply talk about it and make connections based on what spontaneously comes to mind. This detail reveals the ongoing aspect of her life the dream is referencing.
I am currently 21 weeks pregnant and single. Baby daddy chose to step out of the picture and so naturally I’ve been experiencing a lot of pressure from all sides to “deal with it.” I feel like I’ve made a huge portion of my friends and family upset that I’ve decided to keep him.
Now we have a clue that the meaning of the symbolism of the kittens in the dream could relate to her pregnancy. However, more supporting details are needed before feeling comfortable with that conclusion. I conversed with the dreamer to find out more about her situation. She said when she first found out she was pregnant she wanted to abort but it was too late. Then she looked into giving up the baby for adoption.
She was going to go the adoption route—especially with all the pressure on her to give up the baby—but once she saw the baby on a sonogram and found out it’s a boy, she changed her mind. In the dream, the gray kitten she is drawn to is a boy, and the other two kittens are girls, a detail that our conversation revealed. This detail points the same direction as the kittens in the dream representing pregnancy.
The clincher comes in a third detail that emerged during our conversation. The dreamer had been considering the name Sterling for her baby boy. Sterling is associated with silver, and the color silver is close to gray. The dreamer is drawn to the gray kitten. The dream symbolizes her warming up to the idea of having a baby boy, the kitten growing in her womb.
All the details fit together now and point toward the dreamer’s pregnancy as the subject of the dream. That’s how I interpreted this dream about kittens.
Find out more about kitten symbolism in dreams by reading this post.
Meaning of dreams about oral sex and fellatio
Let’s delve into a subject most of us would like to hear more about. What does it mean to dream about oral sex?
Dreaming about oral sex
The symbolism of performing or getting fellatio or oral sex in a dream depends on the circumstances and your feelings about it. It can be related to pleasure—giving it or getting it. It can be a way of getting comfortable with your body, because allowing someone to give you oral sex requires a certain comfort level. The same idea applies when it comes to giving oral sex. You have to be comfortable exploring another person’s body and with your ability to give pleasure. Giving fellatio with confidence in a dream can symbolize ability to take control of a situation, including but not exclusive to sexual situations. It can mean you know what you want and how to get it.
Taking the idea further, oral sex puts the giver in a position of control. “Control through submission” has a complex psychology that is often learned through years of dealing with abuse, powerlessness, or unpredictability. (Though to be clear, it can be learned simply as a strategy for getting what you want.) For example, learning how to deal with an alcoholic parent can involve making the person think they are in control when actually their control or authority is being subverted or undermined. The person in the submissive position can use submission to reverse the power dynamic. Because sex can be used as means of manipulation, fellatio and oral sex can be associated with taking control through manipulation. The submissive person is actually in a dominant position. Dreams that use the symbolism this way will sometimes be accompanied by themes of seeking freedom.
On the other hand, giving fellatio can be associated with pure submission. The symbolism is captured by the ways derogatory statements use references to fellatio. If someone says, “Suck my dick, bitch,” it means, “You will submit to me. I dominate you.”
More complex psychology comes into play when you consider that fellatio and oral sex in modern times have come to be associated with instant gratification. It is “safe sex” in the sense that it can be done with no commitment involved. You don’t even have to take all your clothes off. These associations can be used by dreams to symbolize situations where a person takes shortcuts, plays it safe, or makes compromises.
Consider also that fellatio and oral sex can be associated with getting intimate with a subject, situation, or person. For example, a graduate student that masters a subject can dream about it as giving fellatio. They are “taking in” knowledge and information. The same idea applies to learning a skill, especially an artistic skill, because being good at giving oral sex is an art as well as a skill. It involves technique and also a subtle understanding of the body and pleasure.
Another possibility to consider is that oral sex like fellatio symbolizes talking about sex. Oral is related to talking, so oral sex can symbolize talking in general, not just about sex. It can mean you have something to express or say. This symbolism is more likely in dreams featuring “deep throating,” because vocal sounds are created in the throat and formed in the mouth. Also, the playing of musical instruments like the trumpet and clarinet can be symbolized as fellatio because the mouth is involved and music has many associations with sex. Making a living by playing an instrument with one’s mouth is literally a “blow job.” Conversely, dreaming about playing such an instrument can symbolize giving fellatio.
Giving or getting oral sex in public can be associated with public performance and privacy. It can symbolize wanting or receiving public attention. It can also be a way of symbolizing unwanted attention. If oral sex is interrupted it can mean you didn’t finish something you started, or you are having issues related to finding privacy to have sex, look at porn, or masturbate.
Need I say more?
Taking the idea further, oral sex—whether in public or private—is associated with reward. The “birthday blow job” expresses this idea. For a married man whose partner no longer gives him fellatio like he or she used to, dreaming about getting a blow job can symbolize an unexpected surprise, or a return to the “good old days” of a relationship.
Giving oral sex to multiple partners can symbolize taking on multiple subjects or tasks at once. It is sometimes interpreted as the desire to have multiple sexual partners. Giving oral sex to yourself can stem from masturbation, because masturbation can involve fantasies about getting and giving fellatio. When you masturbate to fantasies of getting fellatio you are, in a sense, giving yourself oral sex.
A final consideration is that for some people, getting or giving fellatio is not part of the normal routine. In some cases it is something they rarely or never do. In which case, to dream about fellatio can be a way of saying that a person is breaking a routine or doing something they normally wouldn’t do. Some people consider fellatio and oral sex to be “dirty” or “forbidden,” in which case dreaming about it can be an expression of guilt, regret, blemish, rebellion, or defilement. Before the turn of the century, fellatio was associated with taking risks and breaking taboos. However, the banality of the blow job in modern day has largely erased this association.
Symbols for fellatio include eating a hot dog or banana, smoking a cigar, milking a cow’s teat, licking and sucking a Popsicle, and swinging a bat.
Now let’s look at a couple of dreams involving oral sex and what they mean.
Dream: In my dream my girlfriend has a penis and she forces me to suck it. I don’t remember much else about the dream except really going to town on her. I’m not gay and have no homosexual desires.
Interpretation: This dream followed after a night of the dreamer being beat down emotionally by his girlfriend. She accused him of being selfish in bed and it made him feel like crap about himself. The symbolism of giving her fellatio is related to him grovelling for her forgiveness.
Dream: I’m a homosexual male who recently “came out” and started having sex with men. I dreamed last night that I was eating a hot dog and found a pubic hair on top of it.
Interpretation: This dream symbolizes the dreamer’s experience giving fellatio. If you understand the hot dog as a symbol for a penis, eating one and finding a pubic hair on it is a rather obvious reference to oral sex.
See also my post about the meaning of penis in dreams.
Emotions in dreams: A key to decoding dream symbolism
Emotions are at the heart of many dream stories. The dream imagery and actions trigger emotions that would otherwise stay bottled up or unexpressed. So in that sense, dreams provide venting, like a volcano vents to release pressure. By releasing emotions during a dream you might avoid a blow up while awake.
Dreams can trigger strong emotions like rage, terror, love, and ecstasy. Experiencing these emotions while dreaming doesn’t necessarily mean you feel them in your waking life, but is a good indication you feel something similar. In dreams the gloves come off, your inhibitions come down, and the emotional centers of your brain are highly active. So you might not feel rage in your waking life, for example, but something is probably pushing you that direction, and if the situation is left unaddressed you could find yourself in a rage. You might not be in a state of ecstasy, either, but maybe you feel really happy—or could feel that way under the right circumstances. The potential is there.
A volcano erupting can symbolize rage
One of the golden rules of dream interpretation is that dreams exaggerate. They do so to get your attention and really express the underlying dynamics of a situation. For example, you are buried with work and dream that you are buried alive. Being buried alive is a much worse situation than being buried at work, of course, but in an exaggerated way it expresses how you feel. Many dreams can be interpreted simply by relating the emotions they trigger with your waking life. Look especially at how you react in a dream. When you react strongly to a situation in a dream, it’s a good indicator that it symbolizes something you feel strongly about, something that arouses powerful emotions in you.
For example, a female dreams about a bit of drink spilling on her mattress during sex, while a condom is being put on. She flies off in a rage and kicks out her partner. Her reaction shows that she feels very strongly about whatever the spilled drink symbolizes. Turns out, it symbolizes the spilling of semen, and she fears accidentally getting pregnant. Only takes a little bit to get her pregnant.
Her reaction reveals that she subconsciously knows the meaning of the symbolism of the spilled drink. Otherwise, why react so strongly to something that on the surface appears innocuous? Her emotional reaction reveals the meaning of the underlying symbolism, and in turn reveals the meaning of the dream.
Cheating Dreams: What it means to cheat in a dream
Cheating in a relationship is a commonly reported dream theme. Rarely does it indicate actual cheating, though.
Instead, cheating is often related to insecurity. For example, you see your significant other getting friendly with someone and it sparks feelings of jealousy, or raises insecurities about your desirability or the security of the relationship. Cheating can also be used to symbolize any situation that feels unfair, such as a mate having other priorities or passions than the relationship. Or the theme can be used to describe situations that involve emotional or physical closeness with someone other than your mate, even if that closeness is completely innocent.
Cheating dreams pop up a lot with people who have been cheated on in a relationship, either a current or former relationship, but it’s not a prerequisite. The dreams can also pop up in relationship that are very secure.
Expand the idea of cheating and it can include other definitions of the word related to playing unfairly, breaking a rule of the relationship, or doing something that your significant other disapproves. Playing unfairly can include a situation such as bringing up past transgressions to win an argument. Breaking a rule of the relationship can include a situation such as not calling when working late. Doing something that your significant other disapproves—or vice-versa—can include a situation such as talking to someone that makes him or her jealous, envious, or leery.
Hmm, I bet they’re just renting a room for choir practice
If you consider the possibilities for symbolism and they don’t ring a bell, it’s possible that you have picked up clues that your mate really is involved with someone else. Just don’t jump to conclusions—most dreams about cheating are symbolic.
Next is a sample of dreams I have interpreted at Reddit Dreams that cover a variety of possibilities for what cheating can symbolize. In some cases I summarize the post rather than copy it directly. The links are to the posts so you can read for yourself. My user name is RadOwl, fyi, if you want to follow my exchanges with these people.
Dream: I have been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for five years. It recently turned into a long-distance relationship, but we’ve been making it work. In fact, we are happier than ever. But since coming home for the holidays and seeing our old friends I have been dreaming about physically and emotionally cheating on my boyfriend with some of our close friends. The dreams about physically cheating are very sexual, and the emotional cheating ones involve talking about my own deep issues. I wake up conflicted.
Interpretation: These dreams are sparked by the dreamer talking about personal issues with mutual friends when she should be talking about them with her boyfriend. The dreams depict the situation as cheating because she is establishing intimate closeness with those friends, combined with the fact that she is not talking to her boyfriend about the issues she talks about with them.
Dream: I have recurring dreams of cheating on my boyfriend of nine months, except no sex, I just meet these really interesting guys, feel a warmth from them, whether we end up watching a movie or dancing together dressed to the nines it is really nice. When I wake up I almost have this urge to find the guy I dreamed about.
Interpretation: These “cheating” dreams are sparked by the dreamer’s interactions with guys at school. She spends a lot of time doing schoolwork with them, and it establishes a friendly sort of closeness. Plus, with her heavy school and work schedule the dreamer doesn’t have as much time to spend with her boyfriend.
Dream: For the past week I have been having these dreams where my girlfriend is in my bed with another guy. It’s real annoying because I can never do anything about it. It’s almost like I get pushed out of the room.
Interpretation: “Cheating” in these dreams is a manifestation of the dreamer’s anxieties related to self-esteem issues. He has been unemployed and it makes him feel like a loser. Seeing his girlfriend in bed with another guy shows that he fears that someone more financially secure will come along and steal her away. He has been cheated on previously, so deep in his mind he expects it to happen again. Doesn’t matter how much his girl shows her love for him and tells him everything is all right.
Dream: I had a nightmare that I cheated on my girlfriend. In the dream I knew it was wrong, but some force wouldn’t let me just say no or not do it. No I’m not cheating in real life.
Interpretation: This “cheating” nightmare is sparked by the dreamer talking with a girl at work that his girlfriend told him to avoid. His girlfriend is jealous of any female who is even remotely attractive, and tries to control him. He said he only talks to the girl to be friendly with a coworker, but his motives do not matter. He knows if his girlfriend found out there would be hell to pay.
Dream: I had a dream my boyfriend was cheating on me while I was sleeping next to him in his bed. I woke up literally heartbroken. We have been together for five years. Anyway, I woke up and tried to ignore my feelings, but when I couldn’t do that anymore I told him about my dream. He shrugged it off. After a little time had passed that morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was actually up. I kept prying at him because he didn’t seem to really care or understand how I was feeling. Finally I guess I had pried so much that he finally told me the truth. He WAS cheating on me with a girl he had met at school. I packed my things and left.
No interpretation needed. The dreamer either picked up on subtle clues that her boyfriend was cheating, or she has psychic ability.
The next example is not about cheating, it’s about dreams of his wife leaving him for another man. The theme is similar to cheating dreams, and shows the feelings and dynamics of a personal situation that can spark cheating dreams.
Dream: I have a recurring dream that my wife is cheating on me. I’m pretty sure she is not actually cheating on me, yet I dream about it repeatedly and it’s really disturbing. In one dream she told me she was leaving me because we don’t share the same interests or profession (she is a transplant nurse). In another dream she has broken up with me and texts to tell me about dates she goes on with other guys.
Interpretation: This recurring dream is sparked by the wife’s work situation. As a transplant nurse she works long hours and is often on-call. The dreamer knows the long hours away from each other and frequent interruptions of their home life are part of the job, but he can’t rationalize away his feelings. His dreams portray the situation as cheating because it feels unfair that his wife has to be away from him so much for her job. Also, some jealousy might be involved because she works closely with highly successful and desirable surgeons, while the dreamer is out of work because of illness.
Pretty fascinating, eh? The symbolism of cheating can apply to a wide variety of situations. If you have dreams about cheating, please share them in the comments.
Interpreting a dream about ghosts of illness past
Dreams bring to light subconscious information. Something important that escapes your attention is highlighted in bright color (figuratively) in your dreams. That information can be critically important.
For example, in my book Dreams 1-2-3 I recount the dream of a mother with a small child. She dreamed there was a small white pill beneath her couch, and her first thought was about the safety of her child. In the morning she checked beneath her couch and found a white pill, a powerful medication that could have severely harmed or killed her child. Luckily, she found the pill before her child did. My guess is she had seen the pill out of the corner of her eye but it didn’t register consciously, so her dream made sure she got the message.
The dream we are about to discuss is another example of subconscious information brought to light. The dreamer described it as the weirdest and scariest dream he could remember. It is a story, told through symbolism, about when he caught typhoid fever as a child and almost died. The event occurred many years before the dream. Keep that in mind as we delve in.
Interpreting a dream like this one requires being intimately familiar with the dreamer’s personal history. Otherwise, an outsider will have great difficulty connecting the details to the dreamer’s life. Some dreams can be interpreted simply by looking at the details and taking guesses at what the symbolism means. They are relatively easy to interpret because the meaning is right there in your face. Not with this dream, though as you will see, the meaning is in plain sight once you know the details of the incident the dream illustrates.
The dream opens with a scene that sparks fear in the dreamer. Fear is an important detail because the dreamer used it to figure out the dream by focusing on what made him afraid, and he remembered an important incident from the day before the dream, which I’ll explain later. The dreamer is an adult male. Here is the opening scene of the dream.
(Link to original post. This version is edited for brevity.)
I am living in my childhood home with my parents. It’s a rainy night and I am on a bed, half asleep. Suddenly, a noise catches my attention, similar to the sound made by the pages of a book when they are flipped quickly. I get up and flip the light switch, but it’s not working. I shout and my parents come and tell me that the rain caused a power failure, but they leave a candle to help me see in the dark.
I go back to sleep and the noise starts again. I take the candle and start searching for the source of the noise. Then I notice that it comes from a wall that has a lot of pictures of saints. Something is ripping the pictures, one by one. I get scared and run to my parents’ room.
As I considered this scene all I could gather from it is the dreamer is scared by something. However, the dream is referencing the incident when the dreamer caught typhoid as a child. It happened after a heavy rain that caused a power failure. His parents lit candles at night. The childhood home depicted in the dream is near where he caught typhoid, and is the same house where the dreamer first showed symptoms of the illness.
I’m not sure what to make of the pictures of saints ripping. I think it could be another detail from his life. His parents were Catholic and might have had pictures of saints around the house. Also, saints are prayed to when a person is ill.
The next scene is filled with more details from the experience with typhoid.
I hear kids’ voices and laughter coming from outside. My mom says, “Don’t worry. They are just playing outside, just let them be. They won’t bother us anymore if they are distracted.” But I am angry, and shout, “Well, I’m pissed off! Why can’t they just realize that this is not their world anymore!? Those parasites, they are worse than ticks! I wish I had a flamethrower, so I could go outside right now and start shooting flames until they shut the hell up!”
The laughter stops. But some minutes later, the room starts to get very cold. Then, I see the silhouette of a woman coming near me. She gets into my bed and covers herself with the sheet. I start shouting, and my mother tells me to make the Sign of the Cross to make her vanish, but my hands are paralyzed. Then the ghost woman says, “Don’t bother me! I am very, very cold! Don’t you see I have just managed to get out of the river?”
This scene is quite mysterious until you see how it connects to the dreamer’s childhood battle with typhoid. Begin with the reference to parasites. Typhoid is caused by a bacteria, which is symbolized in the dream as parasites. After the dreamer was diagnosed with typhoid, the doctors told his parents to burn everything: bedding, clothes, toys. That explains the reference to a flamethrower. The laughing children references how the dreamer caught typhoid. He was playing in a river, having fun like a kid, and swallowed some water. That explains the ghost woman’s statement that she had just managed to get out of the river, and the children’s laughter.
Two days later the dreamer caught a high fever. He was extremely cold as he lay shivering in bed. His parents took him to the hospital, and he was put on antibiotics. However, his condition worsened and the doctors said there was nothing else they could do. A priest was called to deliver Last Rites. That explains the reference to making the Sign of the Cross.
This is how the dream ends:
My mom pulls me out of the bed, and the woman disappears. My parents tell me to calm myself, but I am too scared. Some minutes later, I hear the noise of a coming train. As this house is near a railroad, this isn’t something out of the ordinary, but I am curious, so I get near the window to watch it. Then I notice that the engine is a very old model, one that couldn’t possibly be in use. A black steam locomotive, and there isn’t any steam coming out of its chimney! After it, there are wagons made of wood with people inside of them, shouting.
Then, another train appears, this time a modern one. To me, it seems that this one is real, not a ghost train like the previous one. The train gets off the tracks and moves towards me. I try to shout, but my throat is blocked. Then I wake up!
Ghosts are associated with death, and the dreamer nearly died. When his parents realized he was seriously ill, they pulled him out of bed and started to drive to the hospital. But along the way they were blocked by a train. I can picture the scene, everyone starting to panic and shouting as they wait and wait for the train pass. That explains the presence of the trains in the dream, and the shouting of the people. The depiction of the first train as being ancient could be a way of saying the incident with the illness happened long ago.
I struggled initially to interpret this dream, made a few suggestions to the dreamer about the symbolism that didn’t ring a bell with him. I told him to focus on the fear aspect and think back on the day before the dream, searching his memory for anything that caused him fear.
The typhoid bacteria, a strain of salmonella
With that in mind he remembered he’d had a visitor to his house the day before the dream. He smelled something foul on the visitor’s breath—the distinct smell of typhoid, which his mother smelled on his breath once upon a time and didn’t recognize—but wrote it off and didn’t make a connection. However, it did spark fear in him. The day after the dream the visitor was supposed to return, but instead called to say he had woken up with a high fever and went to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with typhoid!
Now the dream makes sense: the fear, the ghost, the power outage, the reference to a river, the parasites, the flamethrower, the Sign of the Cross, the train, the saints. All the details tie in with the typhoid incident. Rather than just recount the incident verbatim, the dream turned it all into symbolism. Smelling typhoid on his visitor’s breath sparked it all—a smell he subconsciously recognized but failed to make the connection.
It is one of the most extraordinary dreams I’ve interpreted. And it makes me wonder how many other dreams I haven’t been able to decipher because I didn’t know enough about the dreamer.
A dream about ghosts of illness past.
Interpretation of a dream about boots
The way you react during a dream says a lot about how you really feel. The dream presents a scenario and you react to it, but what you react to is the symbolism, not to the overt story. Subconsciously you know what the symbolism means and react to that. This fact can help decipher some of the most perplexing dreams.
Here is an example to illustrate what I mean. I interpreted this dream at Reddit Dreams (edited for clarity; link to post:)
While standing outside of a shop, sitting on a step, I got approached by two Chinese people—an old woman on my left, and a middle-aged man on the right—both quite shady in their overall demeanor. They sat and crouched next to me, while staring at my shoes. Then kept gazing at them while exchanging a few words in their language, which I couldn’t understand. Soon after, the man popped me the question: “Would you sell those?” I refused, but he went on insisting, also voicing out some quick evaluation concerning the actual state of my boots—a pair of sporty boxing ones I’ve actually wear irl. “They’re a bit worn out. 8 euro.” I refused again, a tad offended by the utter unappreciative offer as well.
The dreamer is asked if he wants to sell his boots, and his reaction is ‘no way.’ He is even a bit offended by the idea. Now the trick is to figure out what the dream is really asking him.
To do that we must know what the boots symbolize. Boots or shoes can symbolize the path you’re on in life, your willingness to take action, preparing for a personal journey, or something that helps your life move forward. That’s the generalized “dream dictionary” definition of the symbolism. But oftentimes a symbol in a dream is based on the personal associations of the dreamer. I asked the dreamer what the boots meant to him.
He replied that the boots were his “stage boots.” He used to play in a band, and hadn’t worn the boots since the last time he played with that band. He’d been thinking about getting back into playing music, but wasn’t sure if it was worth the hassle. Maybe he was getting too old. Maybe he should just settle down.
Those associations reveal the meaning of the dream. When asked if he wants to sell the boots, he is really being asked if he wants to give up on playing music on stage. When told that the boots seem worn out, it’s really playing on the idea that he feels worn out. When the old man offer eight euro for the boots, it’s probably a way of symbolizing the low value the dreamer is putting on an important part of his life. The low offer could also be a deliberate attempt to rile him up and spark his feelings.
He is really being asked, are the boots really worth so little to you? Remember, the boots symbolize playing music on stage. It has nothing to do with the actual value of the boots, but to what they mean to him.
If he had sold the boots, or maybe haggled for a better offer, it would show he is ready to give up on the idea of playing music on stage. But because he reacts by rejecting the offer, I think he isn’t ready to hang up those shoes, er, boots just yet.
The first rule of dream interpretation
Some dreams are full of archetypal imagery and themes that offer a view into the deepest reaches of the inner world of the dreamer. They are windows to the soul. Analyzing these dreams using techniques such as those offered by depth psychology can lead to astute, sometimes life-changing insights.
However, as the lead moderator at Reddit Dreams, a popular online dreams forum, I have observed that most of the dreams submitted to the site have more to do with daily life than with life of the soul. They reflect the dreamers’ thoughts, concerns, and feelings, and tell stories about recent events in their lives. They can be interpreted with no special training or techniques simply by looking for the obvious meaning.
I will give you some examples and explain how I interpreted them, with the hope that you will better understand the everyday dreams that make up the bulk of your dream life. For the sake of brevity, I chose dreams with short descriptions (edited for brevity and clarity).
I’ve been dating this girl for six weeks and things are going great. But last night I dreamed she was at my house, in my bedroom, and wouldn’t allow me in. She said it was “too risky.”
When I interpret dreams I look for symbolism in the settings. The symbolism is often related to the function a setting has in daily life. A bedroom is for sleeping. It can be a place of privacy. It is also a setting where people have sex.
The young man who had this dream is ready to have sex with his girlfriend, but she is putting it off because it’s “too risky.” Combine the idea of “too risky” with the function of a bedroom as a place for having sex, and the meaning is obvious.
Now look at the next dream, also with a bedroom setting, and try to figure out what it relates to. The dreamer has a roommate; the roommate referred to in the dream is a person he lives with, not a fictional character the dream invented.
In my dream a gorilla jumps around my room being violent. I tell my roommate to lock him up. Then the gorilla comes to me and I am sweet with him, but in the back of my mind I’m afraid he could get violent again.
The reference to the roommate in this dream indicates that the gorilla is a symbol for him. Otherwise, why would the dreamer ask him to lock up the gorilla? The dream clearly connects together the roommate and the gorilla. The dreamer said his roommate would invade his privacy by entering his bedroom uninvited and messing with his computer. He also said that his roommate’s behavior could be described as acting like a gorilla, and he handled him delicately, leery of his unpredictability. (Read the original post if you like.)
Just for fun, let’s look at other possible interpretations for these dreams. The dream about the girlfriend could be interpreted as the dreamer denying his feminine side, because the girlfriend character shuts him out of his bedroom, a way of saying he is cut off from a feminine-oriented part of himself. We could spend hours talking about getting in touch with his “inner woman,” when really he just wants to physically get in touch with his girlfriend!
The dream about the gorilla could be interpreted as symbolizing the dreamer’s inner nature. We could end up talking about following instincts and getting to know his animal side, when actually the dream is describing his roommate.
My point is, keep it simple. The most obvious answer is often the correct one. When obvious answers don’t apply, we break out the tools Carl Jung and his contemporaries in depth psychology gave us to interpret dreams. With most dreams I don’t find it necessary, though.
This is another dream for which the obvious interpretation is the best one:
I dream that my fiance is completely blind. As we sit on the couch together I forget that he can no longer see my face and it makes me cry.
A reference to seeing someone in a dream can mean to see the person they are, to see the inside of them, not the outside. By portraying her fiance as blind, the dream is saying that the dreamer feels like he doesn’t really “see” her. There are other possible interpretations, but I zeroed in on this one because of the dreamer’s reaction. It hurts to know she is engaged to someone who doesn’t really see her for the person she is.
In comparison, check out the next dream, about processing perceptions related to the person the dreamer is about to marry. The dreamer is engaged and her wedding day is right around the corner.
I dream that it’s my wedding day and I’m about to say my vows in a big church full of people I know. Suddenly my ex-boyfriend barges through the doors and says he is there to rescue me.
The meaning of this dream seems obvious to me. She needs someone to rescue her from marrying the wrong person. She knows that marrying the person she is engaged to is a bad decision, but is blind to the obvious. She can’t figure it out for herself so her dream makes it unmistakable.
Dreams show us what we don’t realize consciously. They amplify the small voices in our head that are sometimes ignored or overlooked. They teach us what we need to know to make good decisions and live our lives better.
Depth psychology provided my introduction to dream interpretation, and I am forever grateful for how it expanded my mind and opened my life to new possibilities. It is invaluable for understanding those occasional dreams that have no obvious connection to daily life and ordinary concerns. The deep dreams about life of the soul. But before breaking out those dream interpretation tools, follow the first rule of dream interpretation and consider the obvious first.
Dream Interpretation: Apocalyptic Battle
Dreams exaggerate. They take something going on in your life or in yourself and blow it way out of proportion. They do this to get your attention and be memorable. You can have as many as 20 dreams in a night, and among all that content the few dreams that are the most important need to stand out. Many dreams simply process memories of the day and don’t really have anything to teach you, nor important meaning. Some are very important, very meaningful, and have much to teach you.
The dream about an apocalyptic battle I’m about to analyze is a great example of exaggeration to get a point across. It was shared at Reddit Dreams, where I’m a moderator.
(Link to original. I’m “RadOwl” in that discussion. I changed the dream description to present tense and lightly edited it.)
In my dream, I travel just about as far forward in time as it is possible to go, which is actually so far that time somehow loops over and takes me back to the very beginning of time, where the world is jagged, rocky, and constantly blanketed by a thick, silvery mist. There, the last remnants of humanity — super-soldiers augmented with cybernetic parts to enhance their combat prowess — are fighting an endless battle against an invading enemy force: strange, mantis-like humanoids that seem to be swarming en masse from the center of the earth, intent on eliminating the very last human settlement in history.
dream interpretation about an apocalyptic battle
Somehow, after briefly observing the battle, I know that things are going even worse than usual for humanity, so I go inside and voice my concerns to the person in charge — a tough-as-nails black woman in her mid-fifties — who then goes outside and fires the general overseeing the battle.
After that, I am back in the base for some reason, and I am being given a tour that showcases all the futuristic weapons and equipment that the soldiers are fighting with. The one that stands out the most for me is a sort of foldable APC: light as a feather but tough as a tank, it is made out of a material that looks like plastic but can withstand just about anything, and the whole thing can be collapsed like a tent and carried around by hand.
Wow, this dream has it all: time travel; battles to save humanity; futuristic technology; interpersonal drama; powerful alien enemies. It’s like an episode of Battlestar Galactica or something.
To interpret it, I began with the idea of battling something, because that’s the main theme of the dream. The other main idea that clued me in is the part about time travel, reaching the end only to go back to the beginning. The picture I got in my mind reminded me of people I know who work in high-pressure environments. They finish some huge project only to find another one waiting for them. They have a constant sense of alarm as they race to meet deadlines and stay on top of a tidal wave of work.
Specifically, I thought of someone I know who works for a major video gaming company. The team he is on work really hard and fast to produce a game, then work even harder and faster as the game is getting ready to launch. They sometimes eat and sleep at work. They do all that frantic work, finish the project, only to turn around and have a new project waiting for them. Rarely do they get a chance to take a breather.
I told the dreamer about the thoughts her dream sparked in me, and she related. She works in the front office at a private school and says there is always something that has to be done right now. The panic button is always being pushed. The work is endless. One project is finished and another immediately begins.
So with that in mind, take a look again at the dream’s description. The super-soldiers augmented with high technology are an exaggerated representation of the modern office worker armed with powerful computers and smart phones. The dreamer and her workmates are like soldiers fighting battles against on onslaught of work and responsibilities. The weapons the soldiers fight with represent the tools the dreamer uses to do her job. The mantis-like creatures are the impersonal forces she and her workmates face everyday in their work. If they fail to win the battle, they could end up harming the organization or losing their jobs.
To understand what the APC represents, the keyword is personnel. What is something high-tech that helps manage personnel? Sounds like a smart phone to me.
I thought at first that the black-lady leader and the general could represent someone getting fired at her workplace, but then with more thought about what a general does, I realized that this detail could be related to delegating work responsibilities. Generals lead. They also delegate. The black lady could represent a part of the dreamer that wants to be tough-as-nails when it comes to delegating responsibility and work load.
So as you can see, everything in this dream relates back to the dreamer’s work life. The dream could easily be confused for some sort of apocalypse in the dreamer’s life, but instead it’s an exaggerated representation of the apocalyptic battles she fights at work every day. She says she loves her job so leaving it is not an option. It might be a good idea though to take a breather and delegate more responsible.
Difference between precognitive and ordinary dreams
As a dreams expert who does a lot of media interviews, I am asked fairly often how to distinguish ordinary dreams from precognitive ones. In fact, I was recently asked that question on the Christine Upchurch Show. (I was her guest on Aug. 1, 2014 show. Scroll down to her archive).
Short answer: look for personal symbolism and rule out other possibilities.
First rule out that a dream you suspect to be precognitive is actually about something personal to you. The majority of dreams for most people are entirely personal. Ask yourself if the dream is residue from the previous day. Or does it express your anxieties or wishes. Physicist Russ Targ, who has studied precognition as a scientist and written extensively about it, uses this example: You know you haven’t studied for a test, you dream you fail it then really do fail it. That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and not precognition.
While everyone has the ability to precognitive dream because it’s an innate ability, in my experience only a small subset of the population does it regularly and remember when they do. Most people don’t remember their dreams well enough to know if they do it or not.
An example of how to separate an ordinary dream from the extraordinary can be found in my book Dreams 1-2-3: Remember, Interpret, and Live Your Dreams. I used the case of Sugar Ray Robinson’s dream about killing his opponent in the ring. Before his welterweight bout with Jimmy Doyle in 1947, Sugar Ray dreamed that he knocked out Doyle and he subsequently died. Sugar Ray was so unnerved that he tried to back out of the fight. The fight promoter brought in a priest to assure Robinson it was “only a dream.” The rest is history.
Sugar Ray knocked out Doyle in the 8th round. Doyle died that night.
If I was the person brought in to counsel Robinson about his dream I’d begin by asking him if the details matched waking reality. In the dream, was the arena the same as the one he was scheduled to fight in? Were the people nearby, like his trainers and the ref, the same people he anticipated to be at the fight? Discrepancies between waking reality and dream reality are a sign of personal symbolism, though precognitive dreams are known to use symbolism and metaphor, too.
Next I’d explore the possibilities for symbolism. Killing someone in a dream can express personal hostility. Was there bad blood between him and Doyle, so that Robinson felt he “could kill that guy” in the figurative sense? If so, there would be a chance the dream expressed those feelings and was not precognition.
Then I’d explore if a subconscious fear was showing itself in the dream. Fighters die in the ring, rarely but it happens. Sugar Ray had no desire to actually kill someone – he was a great fighter with a vicious punch but was an honorable sportsman. I’d ask him if he feared he could kill Doyle because Doyle had taken too many hard blows to the head.
Some digging through historical accounts of the bout uncovered this possibility. Doyle was known to have head issues. He was a tenacious Irish fighter who publicly proclaimed he was fighting Robinson to earn the money to buy his mother a house. I think it’s possible Sugar Ray’s dream reflected a fear that Doyle should not be boxing anymore, then the fear came true. The dream might not have been precognitive in the strictest sense. Unfortunately, we can’t ask Robinson the questions needed to make that determination.
However, in his autobiography Robinson wrote, “I had knocked out guys before, dozens of them. But in those fights, I always had a good feeling, a conquering feeling when I saw them being counted out, maybe because I could see that they weren’t really hurt. But now, with Doyle stretched out and his eyes blank, I had that empty feeling you get when something in your life is really wrong, and all I could think of was the dream.”
Robinson added, “You warned me, God. You told me. Why did I let everyone talk me out of it.”
I think Robinson’s dream was precognitive, but it’s easier to judge after the fact.
A guy once asked me if a dream he’d had about a plane crash warned him he should not get on a flight he was scheduled to take the next day. I asked him if details from the dream matched waking reality. Was the airplane in the dream from the same airline he had booked? Was it the same type of plane? Were the airport and concourse the same? While precognitive dreams can use symbolism and metaphor, it’s not as likely to be used for details like these.
What I find is, if a dream is precognitive and metaphorical, the entire dream will be metaphor, not just pieces of it. I also asked the guy if something in his recent life could be symbolized as a plane crash. Planes take us to personal destinations. This dream theme often pops up when people are beginning something new and exciting like a romantic relationship or a business venture. The guy said yes, something with his job that he’d had high hopes for recently “crashed” in the figurative sense.
At the risk of being wrong I told him I did not think his dream was precognitive. I watched the news the next day with butterflies in my stomach, and fortunately there were no reports of plane crashes.
A piece of evidence used to support the existence of precognition comes from the fact that planes and trains that crash tend to have more empty seats than usual. An investigation of train crashes on the U.S. east coast during the 1950s showed that the trains that crashed or derailed had fewer passengers than the same trains on other days. The four passenger planes hijacked on September 11, 2001 had half their usual numbers of passengers.
There are many reports of people who did not take flights that crashed because they had a bad feeling. Sometimes though the reason why people miss those flights appears to be dumb luck. For example, Seth MacFarlane was booked on American Airlines Flight 11 on the morning of September 11, 2001, but he arrived ten minutes late because his travel agent gave him the wrong departure time and he was hungover, so he was running late anyway.
Which brings me around to the best way to tell a precognitive dream from an ordinary one: intuition. It’s a gut feeling. Some people who’ve had precognitive dreams report a buzzing sound during the dreams or a ringing in their ears when they wake up. The dreams have an unusual clarity. There can be a feeling like deja vu that accompanies them. For many people, trusting their gut feelings is a new experience. They don’t trust it and don’t know that precognition is a fact of life.
If you analyze a dream that you suspect is precognitive and it a). is not related to residue from the previous day, b). is not an expression of anxiety, c). does not express a wish, and d). is not personal symbolism, then consider that it’s precognitive. But most of all, trust your gut. The most important thing to remember is precognition is not prophecy. Precognition gives us the ability to act ahead of time, to change the possible outcome. In that way it’s more like a forecast. And forecasts can always change.
Visit my website Dreams 1-2-3.com to learn more about my system of dream interpretation. Or to hear more of my radio interviews, visit my media page.
Further information about precognition:
Researcher Ian Wilson’s theory about precognition. Well-researched and cited.
Essay: An Experiment with Time by J.W. Dunne, a seminal work about dream precognition.
Russ Targ’s TED Talk Not exactly about precognition but psi ability in general.
A dream interpretation: bathroom doors
The theme of bathroom doors comes up frequently in dreams related to privacy. The phrase “having a private moment” refers to using the bathroom. In Japan, public bathrooms are equipped with noisemakers so that you can drop a load and not bother your neighbor. Privacy and bathrooms are closely associated, and in the next dream the symbolism really shows itself:
I start out in a setting I like, a bookstore, office, etc. Then I have to use the bathroom. So I go find it and there’s not a soul in there but me, there’s dozens of amazing stalls, but no doors on them! The bathrooms are so lovely and I long to use one of them but I just can’t fathom the thought of using one of them without a door, in case someone walks in! Sometimes I’ll find a stall that has a door but it’s disgusting…. I’ve had these dreams since I was young.
Open or closed? The dream imagery gives away the meaning
The dreamer herself indicated that she thought the dream was related to privacy. It is a recurring dream theme, indicating an ongoing situation. The part that really gives away the meaning is the difference between the bathroom stalls. When there’s no door on the stall the bathrooms are “lovely.” When the stalls have doors the bathrooms are “disgusting.”
I conversed with the dreamer about the symbolism and she caught on quickly. Here is her reply:
I think the bathroom dreams might have something to do with my home life with my parents. Maybe because I feel like life is great with them but that I have no privacy, and when I do finally get the chance to shut them out and have my own life, it will not be as luxurious.
No shabby, insect-ridden hell hole apartments for this young lady. She prefers the luxury of living with her parents…at a price of not being able to shut them out. The door (or lack of it) on the stall symbolizes being able to shut people out of one’s private life. The same ideas applies to dreams about bathroom doors, not just stall doors. Case solved. Next dream.