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, dying fish in a fishbowl symbolically warn of an oncoming urinary tract infection. The fishbowl symbolizes the dreamer’s bladder, and fish live in water, so the dying fish indicate something wrong with that part of her body.
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 helps determine what they symbolize.
Generally, the wilder the creature, the more instinctive or primitive your related emotions or behaviors. 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.
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.
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, the symbolism of animals in dreams is given in the context of the dream-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.
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Sigmund Freud claimed that the most bizarre dreams say the most about the dreamer. It’s true most of the time. They’re also some of the best learning tools because if you see the meaning in the most bizarre and shocking dreams, you’re more likely to see it in everyday ones.
Which leads us to one of the more bizarre, shocking dreams I’ve encountered. It’s a long description and the real shocker comes at the end so expect a lot of buildup before you get to the best part. The description is edited lightly but left mostly intact so you get the full impact.
[In my dream] my friends and I sit down at a restaurant and order some food. I am starving and really wanting my country fried steak with mashed potatoes. The waiter—a built man in his 30s—brings out our food but then, for whatever reason, informs me that I need to pay for my meal now via an iPad-like device that requires answering 20 complicated questions. I say, “Okay, I will simply eat my steak and then I’ll happily pay.”
“Nope,” he says. “You need to do it now.”
I go to take a bite of my steak and he pushes it back and places his arms like seat belt straps on both sides of my chair so I can’t move. I become, understandably, irate—but my friends encourage me to just get it over with. I struggle against the man’s arms and finally begin the complex iPad questionnaire.
I’m angry and shaking with hunger and finding it impossible to complete this questionnaire. The waiter-man persists, after 15-or-so minutes I am done. When I go to eat my steak—it’s cold! I ask the waiter if he can reheat it for me and he gives an unequivocal no. So I get my ass up and wander around the now-huge restaurant trying to find another waiter or chef who can help me. Everyone refuses. I rant about how awful this restaurant is, how no one should ever be treated this way.
Then I see the very friendly manager and I tell him what just happened. He smiles and asks me to come with him through the employee-only door. I’m happy my problem is finally resolved, but then I see that we’re walking back to the parking lot behind the restaurant. I feel a little nervous. He asks me to get into the backseat of his car. Now I feel real nervous.
I sit down and he begins to unzip my pants, somehow able to squat in front of me. Then, out of nowhere, he’s Donald Trump. Disgusting, scowling, flat-headed Donald Trump. And he starts giving me head.
The weird part is, he likes to suck just the very top of my thing really hard. He is sweaty, creepy and making loud suction noises. In the end, I decide to just focus and get it over with and try to concentrate on finishing.
But I wake up before I finish. Probably the only time in history that’s a good thing.
This is not some liberal ploy or meta-statement, this actually just happened 20 minutes ago.
So the dreamer goes to a restaurant to enjoy a big, satisfying meal and ends up getting bad head from Donald Trump. The symbolic meaning of the dream is summarized in that sentence, but first let’s take it from the top and look at the dream piece by piece. Then I’ll reveal to you what the dreamer told me that puts everything into perspective. It’s worth the wait to find out.
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The dream starts off with the dreamer going to a restaurant with friends and ordering a big steak. But he’s told to pay before he can eat it and is forced to fill out a questionnaire. This symbolizes a recent move he made to a city he has always dreamed of living in. It’s like a big steak, but before he can enjoy having accomplished what he set out to do he has to deal with some major complications, symbolized in the dream as the questionnaire.
The way the scene plays out, with the muscular waiter pinning his arms, is a portrayal of the situation. There’s not a lot he can do about it at the moment, no room to move. He just has to deal. It’s making him angry and bringing up feelings of being wronged, depicted in the dream when he goes for help with his cold steak. He is supposedly living his dream but it’s turning into a nightmare as his expectations meet reality.
The scene in the car depicts the shadiness of the situation. In order to move to the city he had to find a roommate, and that person turned out to be a real piece of work. The roommate meets college guys through personal ads and dating apps and sucks them off. It’s not about finding a relationship or having sex or getting off, it’s a twisted head game. And the dreamer is caught up in it.
The dream chooses Donald Trump to symbolize his roommate because to the dreamer—and indeed, to most gay men—Trump is just about the most repulsive person he can imagine. There might not be a gay man alive who wants to have sex with him. Plus, Trump’s “let’s a make a deal” reputation ties in with the deal the dreamer presumably made when he moved in.
The rough and dirty way the Trump character gives head is probably an accurate depiction of reality. It’s not about giving pleasure, it’s about controlling and manhandling other men and even taunting them by giving them something they want but not the way they want it. And the dreamer’s reaction of just giving in and wanting to finish symbolizes trying to get what he came to the city for but he can’t close the deal. He can’t get no satisfaction. That scene ties in with the dreamer getting compensated for his cold steak, which we know is a way of showing his disappointment about the difference between expectation and reality.
Also note that the waiter, manager, and Trump are all connected and are really one character. They all represent the roommate and the situation with him. When the manager transforms into Trump it’s a clear indication that, in this story, they are one in the same.
In a few scenes the dream summarizes a complicated situation. Imagine if the dreamer was asked by an old friend to describe how his big move is working out. He could simply recount the dream and it says it all in a way that taps into the hidden dynamics and the dreamer’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
Talk about nightmare fuel! This picture is said to give people nightmares.
Donald Trump Invades Our Dreams
Donald Trump has officially invaded our collective psyche, judging by the spike in dreams where he features as a main character. The Donald has long been a notable and notorious public figure and a character in dreams. But now that he is within walking distance of inhabiting the White House, people are dreaming about him a lot more—in hilarious, telling, and sometimes scary ways.
I first noticed the trend in December when Trump started being taken more seriously as a candidate who could win the Republican nomination, instead of a sideshow act. December is also when families get together for the holidays and talk politics, and of course those experiences and conversations can be fodder for dreams. I’m a moderator at Reddit Dreams and read about a lot of dreams, and around the holidays I noticed Trump’s name popping up more often. Here is a typical example [edited for brevity and clarity, as are other examples given later]:
In my dream, Donald Trump is coming over to visit. He arrives with a couple of bodyguards and some of his “people.” Before I know it he is drunk and getting into a heated argument with my uncle—who is a big Trump supporter—about politics and immigrants and wars in the Middle East. The three of us end up fist-fighting. Trump breaks a bunch of furniture, climbing up onto tables and jumping down to break them in half, smashing chairs, and ripping apart couch cushions. I am shocked but somehow not surprised. When I ask his bodyguard what his problem is, he tells me, “Oh don’t worry, he does this all the time.”
What a picture this description paints! Can you imagine Trump throwing haymakers and smashing furniture like Hulk Hogan?
The dream stems from an incident during the holidays when the dreamer’s uncle came over, got drunk, and mucked up a nice family outing by spouting angry “Trump-ian” rhetoric. The dream is a dramatization of the incident. Fist-fighting and trashing the house are exaggerated representations of the uncle’s actions. Emotionally and psychologically, the uncle trashed the dreamer’s home and disrespected the occasion. Trump and the uncle are shown as two characters but really they are one and the same.
And the bodyguard’s statement that “he does this all the time” rings true, too. The uncle makes a habit of getting drunk and angry and ruining holiday occasions.
World events affect dreams same as politics. Back when the situation in Syria looked to be headed toward Armageddon, Reddit Dreams experienced a spike in dreams about WWIII. When Putin ordered the annexation of Crimea and got lashed by Western media, a popular dream theme was Russia invading the US and Europe. And now that the American political season is in full swing, dreams featuring Trump and the cast of related characters such as “Uncle Bernie” and “Madame Hillary” are popping up all over.
(I don’t recall Rubio or Cruz featured in many dreams, perhaps because neither of them make a strong impression.)
Trump is a rich tapestry on which to paint a story—and dreams really do “paint” a story using imagery. Bombastic, greedy, cocky, heartless, arrogant—any of these impressions of the man can be used as colors on the dream easel.
Dreams weave together personal impressions with current events to create symbolism. Take a look at this example of how a dream processes impressions of Trump:
Had a dream last night that me and someone else break into a old, creepy-looking warehouse. Hearing screams and some other kind of sickening noises, we walk around to find the source. In a dimly lit area, standing alongside an animal pen, there he stands…Donald Trump. Inside the animal pen are Fallout 4-size mole rats in all their oversized, irradiated viciousness.
Next thing I know he motions some henchmen over and they throw two small Mexican children into the pen to be ripped apart. As the children are being eaten, Trump is yelling something about “anchor babies” and how if he can’t build a wall he will use these animals to hunt down and kill illegal immigrants along the Mexican border. Apparently it’s going to be ‘uge. About that time we knock something over and all eyes are on us. Epic mole rat chase ensues.
It’s easy to see how news about Trump’s call to build a wall between the US and Mexico worked into this dream. If you are a big fan of his, you probably object to this dream’s portrayal of him as a heartless bastard who feeds Mexican babies to mutant rats. But in dreamland, it’s fair game. If you really listen to the rhetoric about Trump, especially the comparisons to Nazis and Hitler, the dream’s portrayal accurately reflects some of what is being tossed about. Trump scares the shit out of some people. To them he’s a bogeyman. Talk about nightmare-fuel!
Another example of a dream dramatizing Trump’s rhetoric against Mexicans:
So two of my friends and I decide to go to Mexico for Spring Break, and just as we cross [the border back into the US], this group of Mexican dudes ask us for a ride. Of course we say yes. Just as we’re trying to fit everyone into the minivan, the cops spot us and start chasing us down and we speed off in GTA-like fashion. It gets intense and shit goes down like crazy. We do evasive maneuvers and watch cop cars crash into one another, bullets fly, and we somehow get away by pulling into a 7-11.
While we’re about to go inside to get Arizona Iced Teas, what do you know, Donald fuckin’ Trump comes out and asks us for a ride to his house. We can’t say no. So the Mexicans have to hide in the car somewhere. My two other friends are stuck trying to tuck them away somewhere in the car and I’m on diversion/stalling duty to keep Trump from getting in the car. Nonetheless, he manages to get by me. We’re terrified he’ll see [the Mexicans] but when he opens the door, they’re not there. And when he opens the trunk, they’re not there either. They had found a way to hang onto the underbelly of the minivan, luckily.
So we drive off and drop Trump off at his home. Just as he is about to open his front door, one of the Mexicans says “fuck you.” And immediately, Trump calls in a military raid against us and we (somehow) go apeshit on the entire US Border Patrol.
Hilarious! Can you guess what impressions and associations the person has that the dream uses to create this story? My guess is, in certain company—namely, around Trump supporters—the dreamer hides his true feeling about Mexicans. They’re cool in his book, but he knows better than to say that too loudly.
[I live in Tucson and have witnessed tirades and “speak fuckin’ English why don’t ya” comments. Never mind the fact that many of the people of Mexican descent around here have lived in the area for many generations and are fully American. And the ones who come over the border are mostly just looking for work and are a backbone of the local service economy.]
Other impressions of, and facts about, Trump are used to create dream symbolism, too. Such as in a dream a young female had about choosing him as her new gynecologist and going to his estate for her appointment. She gets lost along the way and scared he will be angry because she’s late. The sun is in her eyes, almost blinding her as she drives. When she finally arrives he agrees that they can skip the physical exam. He then anoints her with peppermint oil. The dream ends with her wondering how she is going to pay for the appointment, thinking that going to such a powerful man will have a high price.
The meaning of that dream is a mystery. We began analyzing it by considering the dreamer’s relationship with a powerful man she knows. I thought it was possible that Trump is used by the dream as a surrogate for the man, and the rest of the story can be understood as a metaphor for the relationship. Perhaps she wonders if it can remain platonic, or if the “price” of knowing him will mean at some point he will want sex (symbolized in the dream as a physical exam). Being anointed with oil might symbolize her inner preparation for that possibility. The sun can symbolize powerful masculinity, so the part about the sun almost blinding her could be a metaphor for being dazzled by the man’s power and persona.
However, after discussing these possibilities with her we came up with another way of looking at the symbolism of Trump as her gynecologist: It’s a metaphor for trusting her healthcare to corporate behemoths that are only in the business to make a buck. Considering her family history of disease, she could end up paying with her life if she doesn’t get the care she needs.
The dreamer also sees the possibility that the dream reflects her opinion of Trump not giving a rat’s ass about people, and his followers being scary as hell. She is dazzled by Trump’s power and craves having her own power to influence people and society in good ways. Under this interpretation, her thoughts about the high price of her appointment with him reflect fears about the high price the country could pay if he’s elected and is already paying by seriously considering a demagogue as president.
In another dream posted to Reddit Dreams, Trump’s son (completely fictional person) in a boxing match is used to tell a story about the dreamer sticking up for himself. He sees how Trump stands up for himself and, like a son emulating his father, learns from that example.
Then there’s the dream that takes place in Trump’s Chili Emporium and the dreamer sees the man himself alongside “little” Marco Rubio putting laxative in the chili . Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
I don’t know what The Donald would think about the way he is portrayed in dreams, but if this trend continues I might be the one who ends up talking about him in a therapist’s office!
More great dreams featuring Trump. To get an idea what they mean, read through the comments. I’m RadOwl in these discussions:
Dream TopicsComments Off on Dream Reactions: Testing Your Limits
Dream Reactions: Testing Your Limits in a Simulation
Dreams tell you so much about yourself. They are like nightly therapy sessions in a simulated environment where you can explore your desires, test yourself, and find out through your reactions what you are really made of. Then every so often a dream like the following one comes along and takes this idea to the extreme. It was recently recently submitted at Reddit Dreams and is about cruelly cutting down a horse:
[I had a] lucid dream in which I slashed down a horse with a sword. Before the slash, I already knew it was a dream and that my actions can be anything, but I don’t understand why I was so cruel towards it. Afterwards, I wanted to find a doctor for the horse or treat it in some way. I felt horrible and wanted to help it even though I KNEW it was a dream but that it was my fault it was bleeding.
I was a knight with a big castle. I thought I was all powerful with impunity in my dream, then I felt so pathetic and regretful over what I have done.
In my discussion with the dreamer, I began by talking about the symbolism of the horse. I mentioned an example of a dream where a different dreamer watches a horse drown in a pond and does nothing to help it. The horse symbolizes the dreamer. He is a “work horse” who can plow through a long list of things to do. But sometimes it gets to be too much, and instead of asking for help he just takes the entire burden onto himself. His reaction of watching the horse drown symbolizes his inability to ask for help when you needs it. Instead, he drowns in work.
But the person who had the first dream does not see himself in the horse. Instead, he says this:
In Crime and Punishment, there was a dream of a horse beaten to death by its owner and bystanders while a child tries to save it. This is referenced as a news article in the Brothers Karamazov. But that’s not it. Perhaps that’s where the animal [in my dream] came from but I don’t think I relate to the struggles of the horse.
Sounds weird, but I want to be cruel/tyrannical if I was all powerful. If there is no god, then everything is permitted. That’s why I cut down the horse on purpose. And yet, I can’t face my own cruelty…so I desperately want to save it afterwards.
What a twist! The dream is a simulation to show the dreamer what he’s really made of. On the one hand, he has thoughts about being cruel and tyrannical if there are no consequences or constraints. On the other hand, he sees in the dream how he would react to his own actions if he actually carried through with his dark impulses.
Cliff’s Notes says the following about the scene with the horse in Crime and Punishment referenced by the dreamer. The main character has a strong drink and falls asleep in a park. Then:
He dreams that he is back in his childhood, seven years old, and as he is walking with his father, he sees a drunken peasant trying to make his old horse pull a heavy wagon full of people. When the crowd laughs at him and the ridiculous spectacle, the peasant gets angry and begins beating the old, feeble horse. He beats so ferociously that others join in the “fun.” Finally they begin to use crowbars and iron shafts. The old horse at first tries to resist, but soon it falls down dead. The boy in the dream, feeling great compassion for the stricken and dead mare, throws his arms around the beast and kisses it. All through the dream the peasant owner is screaming that the mare was his and he had a right to do whatever he wanted to with her.
Upon awakening from the dream, Raskolnikov renounces that “accursed dream of mine” and wonders in horror: “Is it possible that I really shall take an axe and strike her on the head, smash open her skull. . . God, is it possible?” He then “. . .renounces this accursed fantasy of mine” because he will never summon up enough resolution to do it.
The last part refers to a fantasy he has about killing an old lady. He hears that the following night she will be at home alone, providing an opportunity to carry through on his evil desire if he wants to. In the analysis of the chapter, Cliff says this:
When Raskolnikov goes to sleep in the park, Dostoevsky lets us know that “A sick man’s dreams are often extraordinarily distinct and vivid and extremely life-like. A scene may be composed of the most unnatural and incongruous elements, but the setting and the presentation are so plausible, the details so subtle, so unexpected, so artistically in harmony with the whole picture, that the dreamer could not invent them for himself in his waking state. Such morbid dreams always make a strong impression on the dreamer’s already disturbed and excited nerves, and are remembered for a long time.”
Thus, Dostoevsky is announcing to the reader that Raskolnikov’s dream now and later will have special meaning to him and thus all the dreams are symbolic in one way or another.
Find out for yourself if Raskolnikov follows through on killing the lady. It’s a wonderfully twisted bit of storytelling. One of the morals of the story is about how people live with the consequences of their own actions, even when cruelty is self-justified or dished out without legal consequence.
The person who had the first dream finds out from his reaction after cutting down the horse that justifications don’t mean a thing when faced with the harm he commits with his own hand and seeing an innocent creature die. He even KNOWS it’s a dream and still feels terrible about what he did.
In my mind, his reaction says everything.
Dreams are fantastic opportunities to test your limits, to project out your thoughts and feelings into realistic simulations and see how you react. The dreamer finds out that if he was allowed to be as cruel as he wanted to be, he still has his conscience with which to contend. Perhaps the dream allows him to test himself in a simulation before he would do such a thing in reality and find out the hard way that, in the psyche, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
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Oh, what a dream symbol the UFO is—and popular, too. It is common in dreams—not as much as, say, cars and animals, but more so than the majority of other symbols. Plus, it really raises the curiosity of people and sparks all sorts of wild speculation about what it means and why it appears in dreams.
A great number of personal and cultural meanings are projected onto UFOs. They have mythic status in society. Dr. Carl Jung wrote a book titled Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky, and while it is not specifically about UFOs in dreams, it provides a starting point for narrowing down the possibilities and understanding the symbolism.
Begin with the idea that a UFO is something unknown or unidentified. Fear of the unknown is a primary possibility to consider for the meaning of the symbolism, because UFOs are both unknown and sometimes feared. Of course, if instead of fearing a UFO in a dream you welcome it, fear is not the meaning. On the contrary, it might mean welcoming or embracing the unknown. For example, the night before meeting a relative for the first time, or going on a blind date, you dream about a UFO as a way of symbolizing meeting an unknown person.
Roots of a Modern Myth
Expand on the idea like dreams do, and a UFO in a dream can symbolize not just fear of the unknown but fear of just about anything. Younger readers have grown up with a different idea of UFOs and aliens than the Cold War generations. To them, UFOs were a recently popularized phenomenon, and incidents like the 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds firmly planted the idea in the minds of the masses that the occupants are hostile. Then starting in the 1980s, movies like Close Encounters and E.T. started a trend toward portraying the occupants of UFOs as friendly and enlightened.
Also, a new danger from the skies entered the mass psyche during the Cold War: nuclear bombs. Dr. Jung closely tied the UFO phenomenon with the widespread fear that any moment, horrific death can rain from above. If you weren’t around to experience the hysteria it produced you probably can’t wrap your mind around exactly how much the possibility of thermonuclear war created an atmosphere of pervasive fear and dread—especially fear of things that could drop from the sky, such as missiles, bombs, and UFOs.
These days, old and new ideas and perceptions of UFOs have mixed together to produce an enigmatic dream symbol. Much personal meaning can be projected onto UFOs and their alien occupants. Let’s do a quick rundown of the main possibilities, picking up where we left off.
Many Possibilities for Symbolism
As a symbol of something feared, a UFO in a dream can represent something like fear of separation (UFOs abduct people). Separation is one of the greatest and most common fears, ranking right next to death in the minds of many people. Psychoanalysts trace it back to the infant’s trauma of leaving the womb, separating physically from mother.
Analytical psychologists (Jungians) trace the fear to the psychological separation that occurs when a child becomes a teen, or a teen becomes an adult. Until that separation happens and a child becomes a distinct, independent person, their identity is enmeshed with their family. Separation can be a terrifying prospect—it can feel like something in yourself is dying or being murdered—and UFOs are terrifying for some people, too. The symbolism is created by tying fear of UFO abduction with fear of separation.
But don’t stop there. Because of the blank canvas presented by the UFO phenomenon, any sort of fear can be symbolized—fear of failure, spiders, declining health, evil, God, your true self. You name it.
Alien can mean “foreign,” and since aliens are the occupants of UFOs (supposedly), UFOs can symbolize something that is foreign to you. It is outside the scope of your experience—unknown. An alien might symbolize a foreign person—also referred to as an “alien.” You might find yourself in a “foreign” place in your life, such as being pregnant with this unknown thing growing inside you, or an unfamiliar situation. Dreams are famous for this sort of word play.
More powerful dynamics come into play because people react strongly to new experiences and encounters with anything foreign to them. Also, learning something new rewires the brain. The rewiring process occurs during sleep. So for example, dreaming about aliens beaming messages into your brain while you are asleep might actually be a representation of a physiological process.
Combine the “foreign to you” aspect of UFOs together with the powerful personal and neurological processes associated with learning something new and now you see why your dreams might pick UFOs to symbolize it. The association is easy to make because in the image of a UFO you have a summary of the experience.
Take a step further and consider that “unexplained” and “UFO” go hand in hand. Unexplained can mean “don’t understand.” You can’t explain why your relationship with your spouse is estranged, and in response you dream about sleeping in the same bed with an alien. You can’t explain why you failed a calculus exam, and dream about being perplexed by alien hieroglyphics. You don’t understand why you are unhappy with your life, and dream about being taken by a spaceship to live on an alien planet, symbolizing the desire to make a radical change or have new experiences.
Something else that people can have a hard time explaining is themselves! The greatest mystery of all is the human being.
The psyche is constructed of two main parts, the conscious mind and the unconscious mind, and they can be as far apart as Mars and Venus. The unconscious mind came into existence with the human species and is shaped by the experiences of our ancestors during millions of years of evolution. The conscious mind is a product, by and large, of modern society. In simplistic terms, it’s caveman vs. astronaut. What the unconscious mind wants and perceives and what the conscious mind wants and perceives can be vastly different.
When you look into the eyes of an alien or see a UFO in a dream, what you might actually be seeing is an estranged, unknown, foreign. or “alienated” part of yourself—your unconscious mind personified.
Stretch the idea and in the UFO you might see something new about yourself emerging, like a UFO rising out of the ocean or appearing suddenly in the sky, or an alien occupant exiting a spacecraft. When it first emerges you have no idea what it really is, but in time the picture clears up.
UFOs: Encounters with the Alien God
Dr. Jung made a strong connection between UFOs and spiritual experience. People who don’t have some sort of spirituality deny a basic need. Take belief in God and all that out of the equation and look at it simply as a fundamental need of the psyche. People need to feel connected. They need community. They need meaning and purpose. Denying it creates an imbalance in the psyche, and as a self-regulating system the psyche will eventually snap back—powerfully, too, depending on how much imbalance is compensated and how long it is neglected.
When this happens, the conscious side of the mind is forced to confront itself and what is lacking. The atheist dreams of visitations by angels. The agnostic is given visions of heaven. UFOs hover over your home and aliens appear in your bedroom.
Not to say that all cases of UFO sightings and alien abduction are the result of compensation or imbalance in the psyche, but spirituality is a major component of the cultural phenomenon of UFOs and aliens. The belief is widespread that our extra-terrestrial brethren are going to provide the answers we seek. For a person searching for meaning, there is nothing like a UFO encounter to provide it! It can be life-changing.
Dr. Jung himself compared the UFO experience to an encounter with the Christ archetype, the ultimate symbol of transformation and the Self—the complete person internally united. UFOs in your dreams can mean you are being called to go through a great change, a raising of consciousness and transformation of yourself and how you view life and the cosmos. “UFO” and “God” can be said in the same breath because both are “out there” somewhere in the universe—or beyond it.
Consider another possibility for dream symbolism tied with UFOs. What are the odds you can fight off or outwit the occupants of a UFO? That perception of being outmatched by superior power, technology, and intelligence is an easy association for dreams to make when you are up against something overwhelming, or feel powerless.
For example, say that a much larger company wants to gobble up your company in a hostile takeover. That situation could be symbolized in a dream as an alien invasion. Or say you are dealing with a hostile government bureaucracy, matching you and your limited resources against something that is vastly bigger and more powerful than you are. Yep, aliens.
Symbolism can be created from how people would react during a crisis like an alien invasion. They’d lose their minds! In an exaggerated way the situation is comparable to others things people panic about, such as foreigners coming over the border. A situation where people panic and lose their minds can be symbolized as an alien invasion. Or perhaps the situation isn’t that dramatic. Maybe you are just really busy at work, school, or home and every day feels like a battle.
believed to be a depiction of a sleep paralysis nightmare
Into this soup of possibilities for symbolism we add another ingredient, sleep paralysis. Read enough UFO reports and you notice a trend that many begin something like this: “I woke up from a deep sleep and…”. The person sees lights outside of a bedroom window, hears strange noises in the house, or encounters little green guys at their bedside.
Sleep paralysis occurs naturally while dreaming to prevent the body from physically acting out dreams, officially known as REM atonia. However, a person can wake up and still be dreaming—and paralyzed. Paralysis creates fear, and the dreaming mind responds to fear by producing fearsome imagery.
If a person fears witches or demons or something like that, they might see witches or demons during sleep paralysis. Witch, succubi, and incubi myths are believed to originate this way. If a person fears aliens and experiences sleep paralysis, well, the dreaming mind produces imagery of aliens. The hallucination is completely realistic. Your eyes are open and you are still dreaming.
Fueled by the bizarre circumstances of waking up paralyzed, your half-asleep mind may try to make sense of the experience by creating nightmarish hallucinations to “explain” what’s happening. Like dreams, these explanations are drawn from our unconscious beliefs about reality—including religious and cultural interpretations. –Rebecca Turner
Finally, an explosion of interest in paranormal subjects is saturating media and entertainment outlets with imagery and references. Shows like Ancient Aliens attribute to aliens everything from the building of pyramids to natural disasters. Interest in the paranormal has penetrated deep in Western culture (and probably other cultures as well), creating a wealth of personal references for dreams to draw on.
Dr. Jung describes flying saucers as a “modern myth.” He doesn’t mean myth in the sense of something fake or unreal. Instead he uses it to mean a central point around which people build meaning and describe deep personal experience. Myths are a canvas on which we project our psyches, providing a story structure to explain things that are otherwise difficult to put into words or unexplainable.
For example, slaying a dragon is an archetypal myth, meaning it appears in some form in most if not all cultures. Slaying a dragon is a way of describing overcoming the forces of resistance to exploring the unconscious mind, or overcoming the ego or some bad character trait. Dragons are a relic of the past, from before we knew they don’t exist. UFOs are a myth that describes the experience of living in the modern world, and we still don’t know if they really exist (though if you really look into the subject, there is no doubt). In a sense you could say that dragons are the aliens of previous eras, because aliens, too, can symbolize what you fear about yourself and your unconscious mind.
As a modern myth, UFOs are a sort of umbrella under which a wide variety of experiences and associations can be placed: fear, unknown, foreign, fantastic, power, paranormal. When UFOs appear in your dreams, take your pick among the many possibilities for symbolism. But remember that the experiences and associations which matter most are your own.
Dreams may be our visualized thoughts, even prophecy. It is our impulse to envision our future, like dreams are already giving us the hint of what is to come in our lives.
Dreams leave things left to be pondered most of the time rather than give the answer to every question. This is where our desires become graphical. This is where our aspirations are accomplished beyond comprehension, as if all the things we have designed to hope for exist in realms we are very much aware yet chose to ignore. What doesn’t happen in reality, as we think so much of it, becomes a subconscious byproduct in our dreams. What our emotions have triggered in our every dream may subject itself as the focus of our thoughts. It could vividly trigger something in us to contemplate on the repercussion of our actions once we switch back to waking reality.
What our dreams could mean to us is always subject to interpretation. But at the very least, we seek to have the closest, or the most convincing analysis of things that appear and events that transpire in our every dream. How our subconscious mind takes over smoothly as we doze off is like switching or shifting to another setting of our brains. On how a partition works on a Central Processing Unit (CPU) could be our best analogy when it comes to how we toggle from consciously aware to subconsciously responsive in dreams. This practically explains that we are capable to course through emotions while dreaming: we laugh, we get highly emotional, we even shed tears. And dreams, in a much broader sense, are the accumulation of our thoughts: be it desired or otherwise or even random and provides perspective that we can pick up on—as the source of our strength or as a reminder of our fears.
Dreams’ purpose is so enigmatic we might need the expertise of online dream analyzer to dissect its interpretation. As the activity of our brainwave gives birth to the content of our dreams, it is of utmost importance to seek out a specialist that has the professional credibility to analyze and convert the visuals or experiences in our dreams into something that can be used to interpret what the future holds. What dreams represent is often misunderstood and largely, the misconception is bred by the outcome or by the aborted resolution that transpired in our dreams. More often than not, we tend to have a hard time disconnecting what transpired with our dreams from the reality.
It is as if what came out from it has to continue in the real world for reasons unknown. Possibly because it is to serve our satisfaction or it fits our own narrative, or could be anything that we think as better version of things. There are perspectives that, if we lack the experience and knowledge to explore it, it often results with disenfranchisement. It leads into that misconception that could spell the difference between favored interpretation, from the analytical interpretation only an online dream analyzer can properly construe.
How online dream analysis is being framed constitutes the state of mind of an individual. What comes out from a person’s mental standing is as fallible as any other folly one is always capable of. Nonetheless, these are products of our thoughts—an indirect representation of who we are and our life’s objectives. While we tend to get indiscriminate scenarios or experiences while dreaming, there is an analogous interpretation as to why these events transpired in our dream—regardless of the timing it appeared and whether or not it holds importance to an individual’s current dealings. This is where online dream analyzers help us not to put so much weight to the obvious, as there was no objective nor material basis to ponder on with results of the subconscious mind.
Online dream analysis uses tools to properly deduce our dreams and use it as our own instrument to deviate from all the fallacy people often are inclined to in dealing with their dreams.
It’s just a wonderful thing to realize that with today’s availability of online dream analyzers right at the convenient click of our fingertips that we can properly thread through the mysteries of the subconscious. How dreams can be a tool towards the realization of our goals and how it can shed light to things that are beyond incomprehensible. It allows us to become more credible as a decision-maker; our choices in life couldn’t be well-guided as it is with experts adept at making sense of the furtive characteristic of our every dream. This is such a great point of discussion to share with everybody and it would be great to have you all chip in your own thoughts so feel free to leave comments about your dreams and how online dream analysis are such great tools to achieve higher learning of the interpretation of the subconscious.