Meaning of animals and creatures in dreams

dream interpretation spiders

Learn the meaning of animals and creatures in dreamsanimals in dreams

You might want to first read:

Primer for interpreting the meaning of animals in dreams.

In the next section I provide an alphabetized list of specific animals and creatures and what they can symbolize in dreams. These are only ideas to help you get the gist of how the symbolism works, based on my experience and dreams, not yours.

Decide for yourself whether any of the interpretations fit your dreams. And keep in mind that oftentimes the symbolism of animals in dreams is given in the context of the story being told. In other words, the white rabbit you chase down a hole might be related to something rabbit-like about yourself, or the rabbit might be a prop in a story about finding out how deep the rabbit hole really goes.

Animal Symbolism

Ant: Ants can symbolize being busy. Busy urban environments are compared to ant colonies because of the frantic activity. Ants can also symbolize feeling like a cog in the machine, one worker among many. An infestation of ants, or ant bites, can mean that something irritates you.

See also: Insects

Ape: See Gorilla

Baboon: Dreaming about a baboon can indicate that you are behaving inappropriately. Or the baboon can symbolize someone in your life that is acting wildly or unpredictably.

Badger: Badgers are known for their persistence. To dream about a badger can symbolize being persistent. If someone badgers you, they persistently annoy you. Badgers are also associated with certain sports teams.

Barracuda: Generally, a barracuda can symbolize a wild or aggressive person. The word is popularly associated with lawyers. Because barracudas live in water and water can symbolize emotion, they can symbolize dangerous, destructive, or primitive emotions. This is especially true in regard to emotions or feelings which have been repressed. They lie in wait under the surface of our awareness and grow more dangerous the longer they are ignored or denied.

Bat: The only mammal that can truly fly,

meaning of animals and creatures in dreams

Bats can symbolize finding direction or homing in.

bats only come out at night and have internal radar, associated with human qualities of nocturnal living and sense of direction.

Because bats are used as Halloween decorations, and in movies to represent scary creatures, they can be the subject of nightmares. But I’ve also known them to be good omens of “finding direction” or “homing in.”

Vampire bats are associated with “blood suckers,” which describes something that stealthily drains energy, like a negative relationship or a demanding job.

Bear: Bears hibernate, so dreams can associate them with dormancy or long periods of introspection, also with death and rebirth. Depending on the breed of bear they can be aggressive or docile. For example, Winnie the Pooh is a docile characterization of a bear. Panda bears are perceived as docile, but Grizzly bears are known for their ferocity.

Bears are slow to anger but overwhelming when they attack, so they can be used as symbols for the unconscious mind because it too moves slowly but can be fierce when roused or protective. A bear that is befriended in a dream can indicate a harmonious relationship between the conscious mind and unconscious mind, but a bear that is hostile can indicate an adversarial relationship.

Bears are traditionally associated with mother earth and motherly instincts. When kept in check, the motherly instincts of a “momma bear” create peace and security for her children. They are well-tended and well-cared. But when unchecked the motherly instinct can smother, stifle, and psychologically devour her offspring. Any female figure can play this role in its positive or negative aspect—older sister, aunt, wife. A bear in a dream can symbolize this motherly role, or the desire for a strong mother figure to care for and protect you. Depending on the content of the dream, a bear can symbolize a “negative mother complex,” an attachment to the negative aspect of the mother. This use of bear symbolism is found in the dreams of people who were neglected, abused, or overpowered by their mothers.

Because bears do not live in packs and are mostly solitary they can symbolize independence. They are also extremely powerful and can symbolize great strength. It’s a coarse sort of strength that should be used carefully, and when mastered can make you the master of your domain and a pillar of strength, especially in difficult situations. A bear in your dream can symbolize someone you know who is big and strong, or symbolize your own great strength. Additionally, a bear can symbolize something menacing about yourself, perhaps an aspect of your personality that uses power or intimidation to get your way. It can also represent the power of your creativity.

Figures of speech use bears as symbolism. “Hungry as a bear” expresses a need for large amounts of something like food or sex. “A bear to deal with” means difficult or grouchy. “Overbearing” means overpowering or arrogant.

Bears are associated with sexuality, and in dreams of men the bear can symbolize the dark aspects of female sexuality. Coming to terms with it can lead to a contented sex life, or it can be something that devours a man. For females, the bear in her dreams can symbolize the power of her sexuality and her connection with nature.

A teddy bear can symbolize a childlike desire for protection and comfort.

Finally, a bear can be used in a word play for “bare,” as in bare your soul, or bare naked.

A bear could symbolize someone in your life who dominates you or your relationship. In a dream I helped interpret, a mother dreamed that a bear came out of the woods and attacked her teenage son. It symbolized that she was overprotective as a mother, constantly fretting about her child’s safety. The dream told her that she was being overbearing.

Finally, a bear could used in a word play with the word “bare,” as in bare your soul, or bare naked.

Bee: Dreams about bees can symbolize the relationship between you and the community in which you live. Bees are communal, self-sacrificing, diligent, and orderly. Any of these ideas can be expressed in dreams featuring bees. In contrast to other dreams about insects, bees in a dream are generally a positive sign, but look at the context of the dream before jumping to conclusions. Obviously, being stung by a bee or attacked by a swarm is not a positive sign unless it is at heart a message that something about yourself or the circumstances of your life needs to change. In which case it is a sort of mixed blessing.

To dream about bees can symbolize hard work and being busy, as in the phrase “busy as a bee.” Often the work symbolized by bees is done as part of a community in harmony. You are part of the “hive.”

A bee hive can symbolize group thinking, as in the term “hive mind.” Another possibility is it is related to building something as a part of a community. The product of the labor can be something physical, but also consider the idea of building a sense of community, or cooperation among a group of people. Good relationships are built through cooperation, trust, and responsiveness to the needs of others.

If you fear bees, in dreams they symbolize fear. Another possibility is bees can symbolize something that annoys you. Running from bees can symbolize avoiding something painful, or allowing fear to control you.

Because bees make honey, they can be associated with wealth or sweetness. Honey symbolizes the product of your labor or good intentions. Honey is also related to the digestive process, including the digestion of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Bees digest nectar to produce honey. You digest your experiences in life to improve yourself.

To be stung by a bee can symbolize a stinging remark. Something someone said hurt you. Or think more expansively and it can mean that a situation you are in is painful in some way. Thoughts and feelings that attack your self-image or character can sting. A swarm of bees can symbolize symbolize disagreement with the community or dislike of teamwork. In particular, if the bees are angry it can symbolize that you have said or done something—or neglected to do something—that angered a group of people. Another possibility for a swarm of stinging bees is it symbolizes a swarm of thoughts in your head that attack you.

Beetle: A beetle in your dream can symbolize your protective shell or defenses. Their presence in dreams can indicate living in squalid conditions, or perhaps there is something that you have overlooked. Beetles crawling on you can symbolize that something is bugging you. Perhaps you are irritated, or minor issues are bugging you. Something might be gnawing at you or pestering you. In this way, the symbolism of beetles is similar to that of other insects.

A scarab beetle is a symbol of resurrection and renewal. A new you is emerging, or you are gaining protection from a bad person or negative situation.

Black Widow: To see a Black Widow in your dream can be a warning to watch out for a female in your life. You might feel trapped in a relationship, entangled in a web of intrigue, or suffocated by a venomous personality. Black Widows devour the males they mate with, and in dreams the idea translates to being devoured in a relationship, dominated, or threatened.

Dream: I am down in some sewers with a classmate when suddenly I realized there is a Black Widow on me. No matter what I do I can’t get it off because it crawls somewhere else or its webs are stuck on me. It never bites me, but I feel uneasy.

Interpretation: This dreamer’s ex-girlfriend has been trying to get back into his life and he isn’t sure if he can trust her. The dream is pretty clear that he can’t.

See also: Spiders

Bug: See Insects

Buffalo: A buffalo in a dream can be a symbol of strength and power. It can symbolize ability to move forward forcefully or endure hardship. It can also be a pun on word “buffaloed,” which means intimidated, manipulated, fooled, or baffled.

Bull: Bulls are often associated with focused fury and head-on attacks. They can symbolize strength and power. “Ride the bull” is a figure of speech about trying to control something powerful. “Grab the bull by the horns” means seize an opportunity. Bulls are also used to describe stubbornness, as in “bull-headed.” A “bull market” describes a prolonged rise in stock prices. “Gored” is a term used to describe being viciously attacked. If a bull shits in a dream, you might detect bullshit!

In some cultures bulls are associated with luxury and wealth.

Bulls are territorial and can be used in dreams to symbolize being in dangerous or protected territory, or being territorial about protecting your turf.

Bulls are also virile and associated with aggressive sexuality.

A dream about being a matador could symbolize toying with something dangerous.

Finally, the bull is associated with the sign of Taurus, and in your dreams it might symbolize someone you know who is born under that sign.

Butterfly: A butterfly in your dream can symbolize lightness of being, spirituality, and hope. It can also symbolize transformation, since caterpillars transform into butterflies. You might be going through a metamorphoses, or your unconscious mind is letting you know the energy for transformation is building inside you. The sight of a butterfly brings to mind inspiration and peace of mind.

A butterfly landing on you can be a sign that your subconscious mind approves of something you have been doing lately, probably related to personal development or service to others. It can also symbolize that you can be trusted with delicate things.

Another possibility is a butterfly can symbolize being “flighty.” You never land anywhere for long, especially among social groups. You prefer to sample from here and there and move on quickly. You are a “social butterfly.”

Calf: A calf in your dream, like other young animals, can symbolize that you are ready to develop something in yourself. The young age of the calf hints at immaturity, but that word can simply mean undeveloped. If you are an adult, a calf in your dream can point back to childhood and draw attention to where you left off, or to something about yourself that was never fully explored or developed. This meaning of the symbolism is particularly true of people who were made to grow up too quickly by being burdened with adult duties and expectations at a young age. In the calf they see the child in them that wasn’t allowed to just be a child. Later in life it can lead to rejection of responsibility and acting out childish impulses.

If you are a parent and dream of a calf, it might represent your offspring. If the calf wanders off on its own, it might be a sign of your child needing direction or guidance. If the calf sticks too closely to your side, or at the side of an adult cow, it might be a sign of overdependence.

A golden calf can symbolize overemphasis on material things or wealth. A wounded calf can symbolize being in a vulnerable position, or it can symbolize a wounded calf muscle.

Camel: A camel in a dream can symbolize the conservation of resources, related to the fact that camels store water in their bodies, making them good animals for long journeys. In a related way, people store up resources for their journeys through life—especially emotional resources but also material and personal resources. In a positive sense, storing emotional resources gives you what you need when you need it, such as motivation, patience, and determination. But in another sense it can mean that emotions are held onto instead of released. For example, holding onto a grudge is holding onto emotions instead of releasing them. Or perhaps you are a frugal person. You how to prepare, how to “stretch a dollar” and make the most of limited resources. Frugality cuts both ways though. Perhaps you need to be more generous—with yourself and with others.

A camel in your dream can mean that you are preparing for something that requires endurance and patience. Or if not preparing, it shows the personal journey you are on or have completed. The camel is a humble animal, and in it’s humility and modesty it is noble. It asks very little in return for its service.

Because camels are beasts of burden, you might feel like you are carrying burdens. Perhaps you have too many responsibilities and duties, too many people to care for, too much crap dumped on you. Or the load you carry can be of a psychological nature: regrets, guilt, notions about yourself, self-image issues. You might be on the verge of breaking down, as in the phrase “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Or perhaps you are obedient to a fault.

Also consider the personality of the animal. Camel are known to be docile and easy to manage if treated well, but when treated badly they become ill-tempered and stubborn. People can be the same way. Because of the bellowing sounds camels make, they can be associated with grumpiness.

Cat (domestic): Cats are associated femininity, curiosity, leisure, promiscuity, and independence. A cat in your dream can symbolize qualities in yourself that are “cat-like.” Think of what you associate with cats and ask yourself if it fits the narrative of your dream. The associations that matter most, as with all dream symbols, are your personal ones.

Sayings like “curious as a cat,” “scaredy-cat,” and “cat got your tongue” can be used by dreams to describe people, feelings and situations, among other things.

Cats are known to be independent, and I’ve known them to symbolize independence or freedom in dreams. But some cats are quite dependent for attention and affection, and this association is used, too. It depends on the personality of the cat and the dreamer. A caged cat can symbolize that the dreamer needs freedom to roam.

“Cat around” means sexual promiscuity or flirtation. A “tom cat” is a term to describe a viral male.

Cats are commonly associated with feminine qualities. They are felines, associated with females, as in the term “cat fight.” Being scratched by a cat in dreams can symbolize arguments with a girlfriend or other female in your life.

There is also an association between petting a cat and indulging dark thoughts like revenge. It can be a way of saying that vengeful thoughts stroke the ego. Another kind of petting is otherwise known as foreplay, and this theme arises often in the dreams of young men who have been making out with their girlfriends.

Cat owners who dream about their cats should consider their personalities and characters and it how connects with themselves and the dream story. For example, if you have a cat that is normally skittish but in a dream it bolts out the front door, there might be a timid part of yourself that wants to be more assertive.

(Read the interpretation of a dream about a man giving birth to a kitten.)

Cattle: If you dream about cattle you might need to slow down and approach a situation with caution. Alternately, you might be caught up in a “herd” mentality. Perhaps you would rather get lost in a crowd than make waves. In which case cattle in a dream implies the loss of individuality.

Cattle used to be associated with wealth because they were outward signs of wealth. The more cattle you owned, the more wealth you had. And the fatter the cattle, the more they would sell for at market. That association is not as prevalent in this day, but it’s still possible to make, especially for people who grow up around cattle. Cattle are also associated with strong sexual urges and primitive instincts, but that’s another association dropping out of common knowledge. Cattle are also associated with hard, physical work.

Centaur: A centaur is a mythological creature that is half human, half animal. In symbolic terms the centaur can represent the unification of the human and animal nature, intellect with instinct. In more general terms, the centaur can symbolize the union of any two opposites. In the zodiac the centaur represents the sign of Sagittarius.

Chicken: A chicken can symbolize fear, or lacking courage. If someone is chicken it means they’re afraid.

Symbolism can be created from the behavior of chickens and popular associations with them, such as pecking, preening, nesting, foraging, and fighting. The term “pecking order” derives from social hierarchy in chicken flocks, and humans have hierarchy too.

Pecking can symbolize annoyance or irritation. Perhaps something is slowly eating at you. Preening can symbolize grooming. Nesting can symbolize creating a safe, comfortable space for yourself—in your life, or inside yourself. Foraging can symbolize searching, or scrounging for a buck. Fighting is self-explanatory, except consider that a fight among chickens might be better described as a squabble.

The symbolism of chickens can connect with the fact they lay eggs.

A chicken with its head cut off is the image of panic and frantic, mindless activity.

Keep in mind that symbolism often shows actions. If a dream scene shows a chicken but no egg, it’s likely to have anything to do with the symbolism of eggs. Symbolism related to irritation from pecking will show in the act of pecking.

Cobra: The presence of a snake (or snakes) in a dream presents many possibilities for symbolism, but the type of snake narrows down the possibilities. A cobra is one of the deadliest and most feared snakes in the world, so in dreams the cobra is likely to represent something that causes fear or is perceived as a danger. Cobras are also associated with being mesmerized, and their presence in a dream can signal that something has a strong hold on you. For example, being powerfully attracted to someone, or an idea gets into your head and you can’t think about anything else.

See also: Snakes

Cockroach: Insects and bugs in dreams generally refer to something or someone “bugging” or irritating you, but the symbolism of cockroaches has other possibilities related to living in a low state physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They are associated with filth and disease, and are used as an analogy for people with low character or bad reputation. An infestation of cockroaches can be a way of saying that your mind is infested—with negativity, bad memories, irritations, or depression—or your life is infested with problems or misunderstanding that won’t go away.

See also: Insects

Cow: Cows are slow-moving and can symbolize obstacles, stupidity, lethargy, or laziness. Something might be slowing you down or blocking your way. Then again, cows are also docile and mostly harmless, so a cow in your dream might symbolize a passive or docile nature. A herd of cows can symbolize a need to belong to a group, or symbolize a group of people who are slow, easily led, or an obstacle. Because cows provide milk for human consumption they can be associated with maternal qualities. Milking a cow can symbolize work and effort, or it can be a play on the phrase “milking it,” meaning getting all of the value, worth, or mileage from something.

Coyote: To dream about a coyote can indicate that someone is untrustworthy, selfish, or cruel. Coyotes are generally disliked and known as thieves, so they symbolize situations where deception is involved. To be attacked by a pack of coyotes in a dream can symbolize struggling with selfishness. Perhaps you are putting your own needs first when you should be considering the needs of others.

Crab: Because crabs have hard shells, they are associated with defensiveness and introversion. Also, because their legs are valued as food they can be associated with leg issues.

Crocodile or alligator: These creatures are known for big mouths with sharp teeth, a possible symbol for a big-mouth person who says sharp things. They also ambush their prey by coming up out of the water, a way of describing destructive emotions or personal attacks that come out of nowhere.

In a dream about a crocodile lurking in a shallow pool of dark water, the dreamer is seeing a supervisor that she recently learned she can’t trust. A danger lurks there that she needs to be aware of, because trusting that person could end up getting her hurt.

Deer: Dreaming about a deer can indicate nervousness or skittishness, since deer flee at the first sign of danger. They can symbolize something that is elusive, such as the solution to a problem, or a person you can’t pin down. A deer can also symbolize an easy prey.

Dinosaur: To dream about a dinosaur can mean that you face something that seems overwhelming, especially in relation to personal attacks and conflicts. It can symbolize something you want to avoid, something huge, loud, fearful, dangerous, dominant, or primitive. As a figure of speech a dinosaur describes a person who is out of touch with the latest trends and ideas. It is synonymous with the words “old,” “outdated,” and “extinct.”

I give an example in my book Dreams 1-2-3. A teenager dreams that a dinosaur is after him. His friends make noise and inadvertently attract its attention. He makes himself as small as possible to hide from it. The dream is about the scrutiny of an elder figure he was trying to avoid. His friends would say and do things that aroused the suspicion of the “old dinosaur” keeping an eye on him. To avoid scrutiny he made himself as small as possible in the figurative sense.

Dog: Dreaming about a dog presents a wide variety of possibilities for symbolism. The first possibility to consider, as with other animals in dreams, is the symbolism is related to a particular quality or characteristic of dogs. Some dog qualities like loyalty, devotion, and approval-seeking are easy connections for dreams to make. Dogs are also protective, sometimes demanding. One of the main ways that dogs are used as symbolism in dreams is in relation to their positive qualities, especially faithfulness and loyalty. Dreams can show those qualities to be lacking, too, such as lack of faithfulness or loyalty.

There are figures of speech to consider, like “going to the dogs” and “hair of the dog.”

Also consider the breed of dog and your associations with it. A bloodhound can symbolize being “on the scent,” pursuing something. A doberman can symbolize alertness. A yapping poodle can symbolize something small and annoying. A bulldog is relentless and protective.

Perhaps the most popular symbolism related to dogs in dreams is based on their association with friendship. Dogs are “man’s best friend,” and that association can be used to describe many and varied situations involving friends. For example, a black dog can symbolize the shadowy or dark aspects of a friend. A sick dog can symbolize a neglected friendship. A dead dog can symbolize a dying friendship. A growling or attacking dog can indicate a conflict with yourself or a friend. Being guided by a dog can mean that you need help with a difficult problem or situation, or that a friend is providing guidance or direction in your life. Buying a dog can symbolize buying your friends. Or maybe you need companionship.

A giant dog in a dream can symbolize over-sized loyalty or admiration for a friend. Being followed by a dog can symbolize a friend who is a “follower.” Ignoring a dog can symbolize ignoring your instincts or ignoring a friend. A decapitated dog can symbolize that you are ignoring the advice of a friend. Being forced to kill a dog can symbolize pressure to do something that can jeopardize a friendship.

A dream about a dog peeing on your bed can mean that someone close to you is disrespecting your ambitions and goals or attacking your character.

Because dogs run in packs, dreaming about dogs—especially packs of dogs—can symbolize your social side, how you feel when among groups of people, and the role you play. Are you a leader or a follower? Packs of dogs can also be related to squabbling and quarreling.

A barking dog can symbolize grumpiness, or be a play on the phrase “barking orders.” You might need to go easier on people, or be less demanding. Alternately, someone needs to be less demanding of you. It can also be a warning to watch out for danger or intrusion.

A dog chasing its own tail can mean that your approach to something isn’t getting you anywhere.

A dog bite to the leg can indicate lack of balance in your life, since legs are used for balance. A dog bite can also symbolize betrayal by, or conflict with, a friend.

A dog fight can symbolize a conflict (or conflict of interest) between you and someone close to you.

A dog biting a wrist can symbolize loyalty holding you back.

A puppy can symbolize a new friendship, or a playful and carefree nature. A puppy can also be a symbol for a child, or symbolize the relationship between a parent and child. Rescuing a puppy can symbolize trying to preserve something “puppy-like” about yourself, or trying to save a new friendship.

Dolphin: Dolphins are playful and intelligent, and can symbolize qualities of enthusiasm or intellect in a person. They can symbolize fun, affection, and enjoyment. They are innately friendly and known for rescuing endangered swimmers, so they can be used in dreams to symbolize guidance or mentoring. And since they often swim in packs, they can symbolize good relations and strong connection with a person or group of people.

Because dolphins are at home in the water and water can symbolize emotion, a dream about dolphins can symbolize ability to navigate your emotions.

Dreams featuring dolphins can be good signs that a person’s life is headed in the right direction.

Donkey: See Mule

Dove: Doves are associated with peace, so in a dream a dove can be a sign of peace. They can also be a sign of good news, for example, that a family member is pregnant. A dead dove can be a sign of ill news or conflict.

See also: Birds

Dragon: Because dragons breathe fire, in dreams they can symbolize a huge argument, fiery temperament, and fierce temper. They can represent a person that is intimidating and relentless, for example, a boss or in-law. They can symbolize a cold and calculating intellect, smoldering sensuality, passionate sexuality, and powerful attraction.

Psychologically, dragons can symbolize the unconscious mind, especially in relation to creating harmony between mind and matter. The unconscious mind is immensely powerful and requires a strong ego to tame it and create the proper balance. Fighting a dragon can represent taming one’s wild or dark side, defeating the monster within. In myth and legend slaying a dragon is a sign of courage. The knight that slays the dragon and rescues the virgin is symbolically taming the wildness of his sexuality. In relation to sexuality the dragon can symbolize the dark side of it which is devouring and consuming.

Elephant: Elephants are the largest and strongest animals around, known for long memories. Because of their long memories they can indicate a need to let go of the past. Alternately, maybe you need to remember the past. You might be forgetting an important lesson or experience.

Elephants can be used in dreams to describe something or someone that is immovable.

They might symbolize the need for patience or understanding with yourself or others.

Elephants are associated with deep wisdom, as in the saying “wise as an elephant.”

The saying “elephant in the room” describes something obvious that is overlooked. It could mean that there is a big problem in your life you are avoiding.

Riding an elephant can symbolize that you are in control of yourself, know your strength, or have a good relationship with your subconscious mind.

The elephant is the symbol of the U.S. Republican party. It could symbolize conservative views or abundance of caution.

Dreams 1-2-3

For more about dream symbolism, see the author’s book, available at B&N

Fish: In dreams, a school of fish might symbolize perceptions about a group of people whose actions are closely tied together, or who are easily swayed or directed.

Because fish swim and the bloodstream has components that travel in it, dreams can use fish to symbolize antibodies. In a dream where a fish with huge teeth ate coffee from the dreamer’s knee, the symbolism related to the body repairing itself. Fish can also describe the internal PH of the body, since they live in water and bad water will harm them. I have associated pale fish with low energy or lack of vitality — pale shows what is missing from the bloodstream, maybe because the dreamer’s diet is deficient. Fish are also considered a healthy food.

Colorful fish can symbolize something that is distracting, because it is easy to just sit and watch colorful fish swim back and forth in a tank. Fish in water can describe how thoughts or feelings are explored, but a “fish out of water” implies someone out of their element. Because fish live in water, more cross-associations are possible with waking life activities like swimming, bathing and urinating.

A fish swimming to the surface of water can symbolize that a subconscious issue is being brought to your attention. You might also be receiving guidance from your subconscious.

Fish are associated with Christianity, a symbol used throughout Western culture. Jesus and his follower were known as “fishers of men,” and one of the most famous stories about him is the feeding of the masses with a few fish. This symbolic use of fish shows up more in the dreams of practicing Christians, but the stories are widely known and fair game for dreams to use. Ingesting fish in these dreams is associated with Christian teachings. Fish that slip away can symbolize not following the teachings.

When you interpret the meaning of fish in dreams, think creatively about what fish do and how they are perceived. Consider figures of speech like “slippery as fish,” which is self-explanatory, and “fish food,” used a lot in crime stories to describe death. There is also the saying “something fishy” to describe suspicion. More plays on words can be made with the action of fishing, since fishing can mean searching for something, and with types of fish. For example, carp means petty criticism when used as a verb. Consider these possibilities, remembering that your associations are the most direct route to the meaning.

In one of my dreams I was fishing in a shallow lake. At the time I was looking for employment and felt that the “job pool” was shallow.

Frogs: Frogs are commonly associated with a person’s inner nature. It relates to the fact that frogs are very sensitive to their environment. The inner nature of a person is also very sensitive, quick to jump or duck for cover, and is therefore closely guarded under the water line of your mind. Small fluctuations in a frog’s living environment can make huge differences in their state of being, and the same goes for the inner, sensitive you.

Dreams about frogs squished or split open can be analogies for how you feel deep down: exposed, or flattened by events or people in your life. Dreams of caring for frogs can symbolize the care you give to the inner you. Dreams of frogs getting away can symbolize the need to take better care of yourself, or a slippery situation.

There are some negative associations with frogs. They are slimy. They are used in Biblical tales of plague. They are described as “unclean” in Revelation 16:13. And they croak, which can be associated with death or unintelligible noise.

Fox: Foxes are associated with feminine beauty, as in “foxy lady,” and also with sneakiness. The difference is found in the action. A fox teasingly running its tail across your neck might symbolize temptation or flirtation, while a fox sneaking in your back door might symbolize being taken advantage of or robbed.

This dream is about a fox being pursued by a wolf and hunters. I think it is telling a story about being pursued because of sexual attractiveness.

Giraffe: Because of their elongated necks, giraffes can be used in dreams to describe “sticking your neck out,” or as symbols of a long distance between the head and the heart.

Goat: In Biblical times the goat carried the burden for sins, and today the idea is used to describe someone that takes the blame. Goats are also known to be stubborn, and they eat anything. “Get your goat” means to annoy to the point of anger. An angry goat won’t relent.

Gorilla: Territorial and alpha behaviors are associated with gorillas. They are also associated with human evolution, and with a low state of mind. They are known for surprising displays of sweetness or vulgarity.

In this dream, a gorilla symbolizes a wild and unpredictable roommate.

dream about geese and gosling

Ryan Goosling?

Goose: The phrase “silly as a goose” comes to mind, as in this dream mixing Ryan Gosling (a celebrity) and baby geese. A gosling is a baby goose.

Horse: Horses in dreams are commonly associated with movement in your life, but there are many other possibilities based on figures of speech and personal associations.

Horses are strong and able to travel long distances. Therefore, they can be associated with ability to plow through large amounts of work. This dream about a horse drowning in a pool symbolizes the dreamer being unable to ask for help at work.

“Healthy as a horse” is a common saying to describe strength and virility. A horse can symbolize your inner strength or sexual prowess.

Riding a horse can symbolize a high position of authority, or a high opinion of yourself, as in the phrase “get off your high horse.” Alternately, it can symbolize the strength  to endure a long personal journey.

“Riding a white horse,” long associated with heroin use and Biblical prophecy, is also used by dreams to indicate moving forward in life with the aid of the unconscious mind. Being chased by a white horse can indicate conflict with issues of sexual purity.

Other phrases that can be depicted in dreams include “beating a dead horse” and “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

A dream about a horse with back problems can indicate you are having trouble enduring a situation or finding the strength to accomplish a difficult task.

Taming a horse can symbolize taming wild instincts. A horse out of control can mean that your passions are running wild.

Dreaming that you’re a horse carrying a burden can symbolize feeling like you carry other people’s personal burdens, or people dump their problems or responsibilities on you.

Finally, horses are associated with the Sagittarius zodiac sign.

Lion:

For creatures that are rarely seen in person, lions sure do appear in the dreams of a lot of people. It’s probably related to the powerful impression they make and the multitude of associations with them.

The alpha among cats, lions are associated with ferocious temper. Perhaps a lion in your dream symbolizes losing your temper, or someone you know lost their temper. Think back on the day before the dream and try to remember if that’s the case. Remember that the symbolism is usually shown in the actions of dream. For example, a lion sleeping in a cage is not likely to refer to losing your temper, but a lion roaring or pouncing sure could. If you “roar like a lion” it means you make a frightening sound or impression.

Lions are “king of the jungle.” Perhaps someone you know acts like an alpha, or that describes you, and it is symbolized as a lion. The symbolism is captured by the phrase “proud as a lion.” It suggests a high sense of self-worth or egotistical behavior. A similar association is suggested by the phrase “brave as a lion.” Lions show no fear. They are dominant. They bully. Does that describe yourself or someone you know?

Associations with wild animals like lions are also made by thinking about how you might react if you encounter one. Most people would be terrified. They would much rather avoid a lion than confront one. Therefore, a lion can symbolize something or someone that frightens you or that you would rather avoid. Encountering a lion is a potentially threatening situation.

Lions are known for being savage, though in reality it depends on the temperament of the lion. Most creatures will not survive a lion attack. In dreams an attacking lion might symbolize a savage emotional or psychological attack, or a situation that threatens great harm, such as a bad illness or auto accident. The symbolism can also be used in situations where a savage reaction is expected or feared. For example, you know that tomorrow you have to give a presentation and fear being ripped to shreds by criticism of it.

A pack of lions can symbolize a group of influential, power-hungry, or egotistical people. They dominate other people and attack in groups.

A caged lion can symbolize a need for kitty to be let out to play. You need freedom to roam, explore and live the way you want to. Then again, a caged or tamed lion can represent taming one’s temper or wild instincts.

Finally, the lion is the animal associated with the astrological sign of Leo. A lion in your dream can symbolize someone you know who is born under that sign.

(Dream interpreted: two lions in a dungeon, about an ambitious person who feels held back at work.)

Insects: When you look around a busy city, do you see a comparison with an ant colony? Have you ever watched people swarm like flies to take advantage of misfortune, or been in a school or work environment that can be compared to a hive? The term “hive mind” has been become a popular way to describe the mentality of some Internet forums, and it applies to institutions and groups that seem to share one mind. The comparisons are all around us.

Insects in dreams tend to be related to what insects do. Two of the most common references I encounter are to biting and stinging. In the dream, an insect bites you on the neck, and it corresponds to a situation that is a “pain in the neck.” In the dream you are stung by a bee, and in life you are stung by someone’s comment. In the dream your house is infested with cockroaches, and in life you are being taken advantage of by people who can be described as cockroaches, or your personal habits are gross.

Insects in dreams can describe anxieties and irritations, something that literally “bugs” you. I dreamed of finding grubs in the bottom of a drink cup used at work and associated it with something that was “bugging” me about that environment.

Those are all negative comparisons, and I know some good ones involving insects. I interpreted a dream where a butterfly landed on the dreamer for several minutes and flew away, a sign that the dreamer could be trusted to care for delicate creatures. It stemmed from an incident earlier in the dreamer’s life when she was left alone to babysit her sister’s young child and the child got hurt. The blame and guilt stuck with the dreamer for many years, and she didn’t trust herself to be a good caretaker. The dream told her she could trust herself again, same as she could trust herself with the butterfly — or seen another way, same as the butterfly trusted her.

Mouse: As guides mice, know for navigating mazes, show you where you need to go. They fit into small places, as in the phrase “small as a mouse.” They can express the feeling of wanting to make oneself unnoticeable.

I interpreted a dream where a mouse symbolized a message to not overlook the small things. They can also symbolize disease and infestation, though in my experience rats are more often used to make that association.

A mouse in your pocket can symbolize being volunteered for something without your permission.

A mouse in your house can symbolize dwelling on small problems or little worries.

Mice nibble, so they can symbolize anything that nibbles away. For example, a run of bad luck can nibble at your confidence. Or a person who often needs or borrows things from you could be said to be nibbling away at your resources. Minor annoyances can nibble at your patience.

Finally, mice are used for experiments. Perhaps someone is experimenting with you!

Monkey: Dreams can enact the phrase “monkey around” as a way of describing people who cause a ruckus, or time lost to trivial pursuits. Monkeys are also clever and crude, and associated with a primitive phase of human evolution.

Mule: “Stubborn as a mule” describes someone who won’t budge. “Mule-headed” brings to mind someone who won’t listen. They are also beasts of burden and can symbolize carrying a burden.

Octopus: The symbolism of an octopus is usually derived from its tentacles and the way it engulfs prey. It can symbolize a situation or problem that has many facets or layers, or something entangling or ensnaring. For example: multitasking, possessive or clingy relationships, juggling several relationships, or being ganged up on by a group. Perhaps you are involved in too many things at once or feel pulled in many directions.

An octopus can symbolize the ability to camouflage or to squeeze through tight spaces. Remember that the image of an octopus camouflaging or squeezing is a physical representation of a personal situation. For example, people are said to camouflage themselves when they are trying to avoid notice or scrutiny. And some people are adept at getting themselves out of tight spots.

Like other sea creatures, an octopus can symbolize something from the deep reaches of a person, the foreign, wondrous, sometimes frightening things encountered in the unconscious mind. In psychoanalytic tradition, the octopus is seen as a symbol for an overwhelming mother figure, someone who will devour and possess you. People who lack security, identity, and boundaries can be terrified of separation or loneliness. They attach to and feed off the light and energy of people around them. Remember though that dreams are subjective, and if someone you know is represented as an octopus, it is your subjective perception. Perhaps you feel that way because you have issues setting boundaries or making attachments.

Also consider that the clinging, devouring octopus might represent something about you with which you need to contend. Perhaps you are clingy and possessive, terrified of separation or needing close attachments. This use of the symbolism is more likely if you battle an octopus or the dream recurs.

An octopus has eight tentacles and is therefore associated with the number eight.

As with all dream symbolism, the meaning depends your feelings. If you see an octopus and react with fear, it suggests that whatever it symbolizes bothers you, is difficult, or arouses your emotions. On the other hand, if you eat an octopus it might mean you are looking forward to taking on several tasks at once, or are happily involved simultaneously in several relationships.

Panther: A panther can symbolize something that stalks. It can also symbolize seduction.

Pig: Pigs are most often associated with selfishness and overindulgence. People can “hog” the spotlight or “eat like a pig.” Rolling around with pigs can be a metaphor for excess or getting dirty in the figurative sense. Then again, spend enough time around pigs and you’ll see that they have sweet qualities, too. Pigs are also associated with chauvinism and crude behavior.

Rabbit: Rabbits are most commonly associated with sex, as expressed in the phrase “mating like rabbits,” and with petting. Petting can be associated with foreplay.

Rabbits can also represent luck, since a rabbit’s foot is considered to be a good luck charm. They can also represents warmth or abundance — abundance because rabbits have large litters of offspring.

Finally, rabbits are associated with Easter. The presence of a rabbit in a dream can symbolize fond memories from childhood. By extension, it could be related to searching for a prize or reward.

Raccoon: Raccoons in dreams can symbolize something related to scavenging, ferocity, or sneakiness. Scavenging and ferocity are two well known characteristics of raccoons, and the sneakiness association is derived from their nocturnal nature and appearance of wearing a bandit mask.

Read this post about a dream of a raccoon attack to get more ideas.

Rat: Rats are associated with pests and disease, so dreams of rats can relate to anything that pesters you or rubs off in a bad way. For example, anxieties and worries pester you. Keeping the company of bad people can rub off on you.

People described as “rats” spread the disease of bad character. They can’t be trusted.

However, people who keep rats as pets might describe them as lovable or harmless, so rats in their dreams can have different associations, perhaps related to protecting something that’s small and harmless. Pet rats can be associated with rat-like instincts that have been tamed, or with trying to find your way through “the maze of life.” For example, taming a rat could symbolize overcoming a desire to be a tattletale.

Also consider that rats scrounge for food and shelter, and in dreams they can symbolize struggling for survival.

Rat is another word for informant or tattletale. “Rat race” describes competition and crowding.

A dream about a house infested with rats can represent that your life or emotions are in disarray.

As with other symbolism, consider the context and your feelings. Obviously, if a rat in a dream is running on a wheel and you feel sorry for it, the dream is most likely using the rat in the context of “rat race.” If the rat is in your bed, it could symbolize that you feel betrayed by someone close to you. Rats running throughout your child’s dorm room could symbolize the perception that he or she lives in squalor.

This dream about finding a dead rat in bed symbolizes betrayal.

Rattlesnake: An extensive discussion of snake symbolism is available under snake. A rattlesnake can have specific symbolism related to its rattle. It warns against danger, so the rattling of a snake might be telling you to beware. It is also comparable to a person that makes loud, defensive sounds or is boisterous.

Reptile: People described as reptilian are concerned about one thing: survival. They look at the world solely in terms of what they can get and how they can dominate. Reptiles are ruled by impulse and survival instinct, so if either of those subjects were part of the day, reptiles might appear in dreams that night.

When reptiles appear in my dreams, I search for feelings related to struggle and survival. They are easy to overlook, especially when the struggle is emotional. We tend to discount how it feels to be exposed in large groups like school and work environments, with rules of the game that revolve around simple dominance and survival. It is not a stretch to see how dreams can describe these conditions with reptiles or even insects; it only has to be comparable on some level.

From the viewpoint of the dreaming mind, emotional survival is as important as physical. Dreams use scenes of physical peril to describe what it feels like to defend oneself emotionally. The violence is a metaphor for how it feels to “take a beating” emotionally from cold or impersonal sources comparable to reptiles. People literally “fighting for survival” will dream of reptiles to describe how it feels to scrape for something to eat, or struggle for heat on a cold night.

Roach: Roaches can symbolize disease, as in “dis-ease” caused by anxiety or stress. They can symbolize a low state of living, as in this dream about roaches infesting the dreamer’s mom’s house. And they can symbolize an undesirable aspect of yourself or someone you know.

As a bug, roaches can have the general symbolism of something that “bugs” you. They can symbolize an irritation, or anxieties.

Shark: If you dream of sharks, it’s wise to watch your back because people can be sharks too. Swimming with them is inherently dangerous. You need to be extra alert to danger. You might perceive that someone is out to get you or has bad intentions. The analogy connecting sharks with people is used quite often in dreams of women who are wary of men and their intentions.

That is the first possibility to consider. “Shark” also describes a person who is almost unbeatable at card games or billiards, a “card shark” or “pool shark.” The word is used on Wall Street to describe its top players. The association is derived from sharks being a top predator in the ocean.

Another possibility is sharks in a dream can symbolize wild or predatory instincts. Sharks are unpredictable, and people can be unpredictable, too, especially when gathered in packs or groups. Sharks and people can prey on weakness and smell blood in the water.

Sheep: Masses of people following a shepherd is a common comparison regarding political and religious movements. Sheep blindly follow their shepherd, which people are known to do, too.

Sheep provide wool, a deep insulator, so the dream image of sheep covered in wool can symbolize something deeply insulated.

Snake: The snake can represent a venomous or poisonous person or situation. Being bitten by a snake in a dream can symbolize the way treachery strikes, hurtful comments bite, or bad influences and negativity work into a person, like venom. A talking serpent is a symbol for the shadow side of the ego, while a “snake in the grass” is an analogy for a treacherous person.

A snake like a python can be used to describe feelings of being strangled by something constricting. Relationships are sometimes said to be constricting, as are beliefs, rules, and restrictions. Snakes are also symbols of temptation and are used in that role in many stories, such as the story of Adam and Eve.

However, since snakes shed their skins, they can be used by dreams as symbols of transformation. Shed the old person and become someone new. A snake bite on the wrist, in particular, is known as a sign that the dreamer should shed their skin, because the wrist is a connector to the hand, and hands are what we use to take many actions. Something new inside the person wants to get out, and certain actions might have to be taken first, such as changes in lifestyle, thought patterns, and self-image. A caterpillar changing to a butterfly is similar symbolism.

As with all symbolism, look at the action to determine the meaning. If the snake is trying to crawl up your leg under your pants, it might be a phallic symbol. But if the snake is on a rock sunning itself, it might symbolize something in your life that is “warming up.”

Because of the many possibilities, I wrote a post about snake symbolism.

Also see: Interpretation of a dream about a tree made of snakes.

Spider: Spiders are known for their webs, associated in dreams with the webs that people weave and situations that entangle. Extra-marital affairs and business schemes are situations known to spark dreams about webs or spiders.dream interpretation spiders

Fear of spiders can also be fodder for dreams. In a dream, a guy at work sees a big spider. A co-worker traps it in a jar and the refraction of the glass makes it look massive. The magnifying effect symbolizes the dreamer’s “blown up” fear of spiders, and the co-worker symbolizes the fearless quality the dreamer needs to gain perspective.

Creatures that cause anxiety, such as spiders, snakes, and roaches, can symbolize anxiety. Some symbolism in dreams is used to trigger feelings and emotions that are relevant to your waking life, so if you have been feeling anxiety, your dreams are likely to produce imagery that triggers anxiety, providing an opportunity to confront it. For example, if you dream about a spider crawling on you and you are able to control your reaction, you can apply that lesson to your waking life.

Some spiders are venomous and therefore dangerous, so something like a Black Widow bite in a dream can describe something poisonous, like excessive drinking, or a person who is a bad influence. In this dream a black widow describes a devious ex-girlfriend. “Black Widow” is also used to describe women who kill their husbands.

See also: Black Widow

See also: More about spiders in dreams

Stag: A stag in a dream can symbolize sexual potency or virility, or great physical strength.

Tiger: Tigers are closely associated with temper, because they are known for being ferocious. Tiger dreams can follow after situations where you lose your temper or get into a ferocious argument. Perhaps you need to be ferocious in order to get our point across or motivate someone, including yourself, or someone is ferocious toward you.

Along this line, a tiger can symbolize someone who is harsh or severe. You might be too harsh and severe with yourself.

Tigers are fierce and powerful. As a dream symbol they can represent an aspect of yourself—your inner strength and potency, especially. Tiger is used to describe people who are highly competitive and dominate opponents. They have the “eye of the tiger.” Tigers pounce when the time is right and opportunity presents itself. They stalk and camouflage and have keen instincts.

Tigers are protective. They take no gruff. They are proud and noble, virile and seductive.

A caged tiger in a dream might indicate that you are being held back. You can’t show your true strength, or don’t have freedom to roam. You need to be free of your constraints, whether physical or personal. You need challenge and adventure.

Containing your temper is another possibility for the symbolism of a caged tiger. It’s a part of yourself you deliberately hold back. A tamed tiger has similar associations with taming part of yourself.

A tiger can symbolize a dangerous or potentially life-threatening situation, because if you encounter a tiger in the wild you are probably in deep trouble. Danger and trouble are associations with tigers, so ask yourself if either word is applicable to your life.

Tigers are known for tearing prey to shreds. In the figurative sense, you can be torn to shreds when you make a mistake, get caught doing something wrong, or take on something you can’t handle.

A tiger cub can symbolize a young child—your “little tiger.”

Turtle: Turtles are associated with long lives and protective shells. Dreaming about a turtle can indicate that you are being protective of yourself, or that you need to “come out of your shell.”

Turtles can snap, and people are known to snap, too.

Vampire: The symbolism of a vampire in a dream is usually tied to common associations. Perhaps the most popular is the association with vampires drinking blood. Blood is life and energy. Vampires drain the life out of you. It can be a person or a situation draining you. The analogy covers everything from a person that feeds off your energy to a job that sucks you dry. You are the giver and something or someone else is receiving. It’s a one-way relationship.

Expand that idea to include more possibilities, such as a vampire representing a person who is constantly borrowing from you or is emotionally needy (an “emotional vampire”), or an illness. A condition such as anemia can be symbolized as a vampire because it involves the blood and is noted for producing weariness.

Vampires are perceived as evil, and as a dream symbol they can characterize someone who is emotionally cold (vampires are physically cold), predatory, or remorseless.

Becoming a vampire in a dream can symbolize turning into a person you don’t like, or feeling threatened with it. For example, certain professions regularly see the worst of people and society, such as homicide detectives and bartenders, and it can rub off. It can make a person cynical and pessimistic. The idea can be expanded to include anything that is a bad influence. Vampires are people transformed into evil. They don’t start out that way.

Another association is vampires are creatures of the night. A vampire in a dream can mean you had a bad night—tossing and turning; sick; turmoil.

Vampires are seductive, an idea that applies broadly to people and situations. Seduction is usually referred to in the sense of sexual seduction and conquest, but it applies also to anything that lures or manipulates you. You can be seduced by a person, idea, temptation, or mood, for example. Seduction is a powerful internal dynamic, too, because in many cases of seduction you actually talk yourself into doing something or going along with it. Also, the dark side of the ego—the shadow—uses seduction as a means of persuasion and manipulation.

Vampires can symbolize something out to get you, or the feeling of it, because they stalk their prey and are relentless in pursuing it.

The traditional image of vampires has expanded because of portrayals in movies and media as emotional, moody, passionate, and lovesick—a perfect description of some teenagers. Any of these associations can be used to create symbolism.

The final and most important consideration for the symbolism is maybe you see something about yourself in the image of a vampire. You identify in some way.

Vulture: The symbolism of vultures in dreams is often based on associations with taking advantage of weakness, misfortune, desperation, decay, and death. A vulture might symbolize a person who preys on the weak, or a situation where you feel vulnerable. For example, a person is being evicted and “the vultures” gather to pick over their belongings. Or it might simply be a reflection of bad character.

People described as vultures are shameless. They will do anything to get what they want.

To be watched like a vulture means you feel like someone is just waiting for you to slip up.

Werewolf: A werewolf is a heck of a metaphor for the dark side of someone and seeing something that lurks beneath the surface. It’s a way of saying a person has two sides. The idea extends to situations, too, such as when you know that people are only being friendly with you because of the circumstances. The key association is the change from human to monster. With werewolves the potential is always there.

Werewolves are also used by dreams in association with sexuality. It can symbolize animal passion and lust or a person’s wild side. It can be a way of saying you have something powerful inside of yourself that needs to find expression.

With werewolves a situation can quickly spiral out of control. Emotions can explode. Dark forces threaten.

Also consider that werewolves can symbolize general fear or paranoia. Any creature that sparks fear can symbolize it.

Wolf: A wolf in a dream can symbolize something wild or dangerous. It can characterize a person or situation. And like most dream symbols, the possibilities expand far beyond the typical.

The symbolism of wolves can be associated with their ferocity and defensiveness. Wolves appear threatening and will fight to the death. They growl over their food and snarl. They are predators.

In people, those associations can be tied with traits and qualities such as aggressive, territorial, relentless, and ruthless. In situations, those associations can describe fear, danger, competition, or ganging up. For example, a group of family members gang up on you like a wolf pack.

A wolf pack can symbolize “pack mentality.” A situation where you argue heatedly or get into an altercation can be symbolized by wolves snarling and fighting.

Wolves are led by an alpha, creating an association for dreams to use to describe a ‘leader of the pack.’ Alphas are the strongest and most assertive. A pack of wolves in a dream can symbolize a group of bullies led by a chief or alpha.

As wild and instinctual creatures, wolves can symbolize raw sexuality and passion. Wolves can symbolize instincts in a person to protect their young, defend their turf, display aggression, or mate.

The relentless way that wolves pursue prey can be used to create symbolism for exhaustion and being worn down. A wolf attack in a dream can mean you are doing something to provoke a person or otherwise court danger. Wolves don’t generally attack humans unless provoked or threatened.

Provocation and threat are not just physical situations. Emotional and personal situations can be described that way, too, such as when facing a threat from someone getting too friendly with your spouse, or you are a threat to yourself. If you sense that someone is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it means you sense a threat despite outer appearances.

While many associations with wolves are negative, some are positive. They are closely associated with nature, especially its wild and unpredictable side, and native cultures. “Running with the wolves” means in one sense to be uninhibited and free to roam. Wolves have a hierarchy among the pack and are loyal to each other. They mate for life and form strong family bonds.

Zebra: The black and white stripes of a zebra are a way to describe interracial mixing, police authority, or someone of one color that identifies with people of another other color. Also, a zebra in a dream can describe a situation as ‘black and white.’

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