Dream Symbols: 50 Common Dream Images Decoded

Dream Symbols: 50 Common Dream Images Decoded

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Though we all experience them on a nightly basis, dreams are mysterious occurrences; even scientists who study the brain have not been able to determine exactly why we dream. There are many different theories of dream interpretation, but most generally agree that dreams symbolize hidden aspects of our lives;

dreams are a way for us to recognize and process our unconscious fears, desires, and beliefs. Some people also believe that dreams can be omens that can warn us of upcoming changes or threats in our lives. At the most basic level, dreams are composed of images, symbols that come from our unconscious minds. As follows are the most popular interpretations for 50 common dream images, drawing on mythological and Jungian archetypes, folk wisdom, and a little bit of psychology (note that most images have multiple possible interpretations). What are your dreams trying to tell you?

Angel

Angel

An omen of good luck, prosperity, or protection

Delivery of an important message – Pay attention to what the angel or angels have to say.

Divinity, spirituality – Seeing three angels is considered especially holy and meaningful.

Animal

animal

Habits, instincts – Animals are simplistic creatures and therefore represent the most basic drives and urges that are key to our survival.

Depends on animal size and tameness – Small, tame animals can represent children or siblings, while large, wild animals can represent exciting, sexy people.

Depends on animal type – See below entries for common dream animal images CatDogHorse, and Snake.

Baby

Purity and rebirth

Good luck – Could predict success or good news.

Vulnerability – You are feeling vulnerable or are anxious about taking care of a needy person.

Barrier (or Wall)

Wall

Feeling stuck, limited, or restricted – Could relate to your love life, work, or another area of your life where you feel trapped

An obstacle to success or progress that you need to confront

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Blood

Passion, excitement, desire

Exhaustion or stress (if you are losing blood)

An emotional cry for help (if another person is bleeding)

Boy

Your inner child or “Child” archetype, which represents a longing for innocence

Motherhood/fatherhood

Masculine aspects of your character

Also see entry for Person

Bugs

Anxiety about problems you’re not facing

Something creepy or scary

Sexual thoughts

Depends on the type of bug – For example, ladybugs are said to symbolize good luck, while spiders, and the webs they weave, often symbolize manipulation.

Candle

Good luck, hope, and enlightenment (if lit)

Rejection, disappointment (if not lit)

Car

Ambition and drive – Your “vehicle” for personal transformation

Control over your life – Are you driving the car or is someone driving you?

Cat

Femininity – Your own feminine sexuality, or another feminine spirit

A cat-like person in your life – Could be a seductive, cunning person or a “catty,” spiteful person

Independence

Bad luck

Survival – Cats have “nine lives” and “always land on their feet.”

Also see entry for Animal

Circle


Perfection, wholeness of spirit, immortality

Being stuck in a rut or an endlessly repetitive situation

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Clothing

Others’ perception of you – Shabby clothing could mean you feel unattractive, while losing your clothing may mean you feel exposed.

A lifestyle change (if you are changing your clothes)

Colors

Depends on the color. Some common dream image color interpretations are below:

Red – Energy, power, passion, courage; also, shame, danger, sexual urges

Yellow – Happiness, harmony, intellect (in a good dream); cowardice, illness (in a bad dream)

Green – Peace, health, personal growth, wealth; on the negative side, could indicate deceit or jealousy

Blue – Tranquility, loyalty, truth, optimism, clarity; also, sadness (depending on dream context)

Black – Depends on if the dream is happy or a nightmare; indicates unconscious spiritual gifts in a good dream; and fear, death, or hate in a nightmare

White – Typically associated with purity, freshness, innocence, reawakening; conversely, symbolizes death and mourning in Eastern cultures

Cross/crucifix

A symbol of the Christian faith (your own or someone else’s)

Martyrdom or great sacrifice

A burden – You have a “cross to bear”

A symbol of death or the end of a phase in your life

Foretells triumph after a great struggle

Death/dying

Attempt to come to terms with a loved one’s death or terminal illness, or with your own mortality

A person who is “dead to you” or not a significant part of your life anymore; person who dies in your dream may also represent an aspect of yourself that you lack

You are going through a major change or transition – Signifies an end/new beginning

Demon

Feeling afraid or subject to emotional distress (if the demon is terrorizing you)

Feeling completely helpless (if you are possessed by a demon)

Symbolizes overindulgence, ignorance, self-destruction

The “Devil” archetype

Dog

Fidelity, loyalty, friendship

A good omen (if dog is friendly)

A warning to watch out for danger (if dog is barking)

A warning that someone you trust will deceive you (if dog is snarling at you or attacks)

Also see entry for Animal

Falling

Anxieties about losing control and letting go

Fear of failure

A feeling that your life is moving in the wrong direction

Returning to consciousness (waking up)

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Father

Authority, protection

Aspects of your father’s character in yourself

Unresolved issues with your father

“Sky father” archetype – Represents a male God

Also see entry for Person

Flying

Freedom

Rising above difficult circumstances

A symbol of your sexual ambitions – Flying high indicates a good sex life while trying to fly and failing represents sexual inadequacy.

A symbol of your ambitions in general

Food


alt=”food” width=”780″ height=”480″ />A good or bad omen, depending on if the food is good/fresh or bad/spoiled

Love and spiritual fulfillment (or lack thereof, depending on dream context, i.e., whether there is enough food and you feel full)

Gratification of your sexual desires

Knowledge (“food for thought”)

Games

A symbol of good or bad luck, depending on game’s outcome

Representation of a situation in your life where you might win or lose – Ask yourself how the game represents your waking life.

A need for leisurely activities in your life (if the game is fun)

Girl

Your inner child or “Child” archetype, which represents a longing for innocence

Motherhood/fatherhood

Feminine aspects of your character

Also see entry for Person

Ghost

Unconscious, possibly repressed parts of yourself – the “Shadow” archetype

Regrets or guilt about your relationship with a person who is now dead

Ignored aspects in your life that your subconscious is trying to communicate with you – Find out what the ghost wants.

Hair

Vanity, sexual attractiveness, virility, health

Confusion (if your hair is tangled or knotted)

Personal change (if your hair is cut or dyed)

Hands

A symbol of relationships, connection, communication

Could represent hateful communications, depending on the gesture

Purpose, intention

Horse

Strength; a powerful physical entity

Wild, “untamed” inner forces or sexual energy

A good omen (white horse)

Mystery and the unknown (dark horse)

Also see entry for Animal

House

A representation of your inner self and soul, a.k.a, the “Self” archetype – Pay attention to whether the house is locked, empty, cluttered, haunted, or in disrepair, as these conditions symbolize aspects of the self; rooms also represent different aspects of the Self.

Childhood and the past, security (if it is the house you grew up in)

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Knife

Anger, separation; a wish to “cut ties”

Sexual tension and frustration

A person who has power over you (if another person is holding the knife)

Man

Represents feelings you have about the man in the dream (if man is known to you)

Represents characteristics in yourself or characteristics that you desire in a partner

Represents your masculine qualities if you are a female, a.k.a., the “Animus” archetype

The “Wise old man” or “Sage” archetype

Also see entry for Person

Mirror

A reflection of the self you present to the world – the “Persona” archetype

A lack of clarity (if mirror is clouded)

Breaking away from your old self (if mirror is broken)

Money

Self-worth, often in terms of your sexual desirability

Success, prosperity, power

Passion and love

A representation of your place in the world – If you have no money in the dream, then you may fear that there is no place for you.

Mother

Nurturing, protection

Aspects of your mother’s character in yourself

Unresolved issues with your mother

“Great Mother” (mother goddess) archetype

Also see entry for Person

Mountain

An obstacle or challenge to overcome in your waking life

Your higher consciousness/spirituality

Music

Harmony, healing, prosperity (if music is pleasing)

Discord in your personal life (if music is out of tune)

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Paralysis (or being trapped)

A situation where you feel stuck, confined, hindered

Inability to progress

Person

Depends on context and relationship, including whether the person is known to you or a stranger, the person’s relationship to you, the person’s age and gender, and how the person is behaving.

Represents a hidden aspect of your own psyche, more often than not (even if you recognize the person as being someone else)

Phone

A means of communication with other people or even with the spiritual realm

Difficulty communicating (if you can’t reach someone on the phone)

Road

Your life’s path and direction; progress toward meeting your goals – Obstacles represent setbacks to completing your personal journey.

Sex/intercourse

Psychological completion, unification of conscious and unconscious emotions

Depends on the person and the context – Could indicate your desire for that person or your desire for sex in general, but not necessarily; you may just admire qualities of the person in your dream (if the experience is positive).

School

Learning, expanding your knowledge

Anxiety, vulnerability, insecurity (if dream is a bad one)

Fear of failure (if you fail a test)

A parallel of your work situation

Snake


Dangerous, venomous aspect of yourself or of a male who is close to you

Fear of sex or intimacy; temptation or forbidden sexuality – Snakes are phallus-shaped, so they often symbolize sex in dreams.

Anxieties, worries

Emotional or physical healing; positive transformation

Also see entry for Animal

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Star

Aspirations, ideals

Fate, luck

Promise of success

Teacher

Desire to communicate with your higher self

Need for advice or guidance

Issues with authority or need for approval from an authoritative figure

The “Mentor” archetype

Teeth

Concerns over your physical appearance, age, and overall sexual attractiveness (if teeth are falling out)

Representative of your confidence, self-worth, and level of success, financial or otherwise

Television

An objective view of the things on your mind

Communication between your conscious and unconscious selves (the “Ego” and “Shadow” archetypes)

A desire to “broadcast” yourself to the world (if you are on TV)

Tree


Your life and physical connection to the earth

Your desire for personal growth

Stability, protection

Water

Represents your emotional state – Is the water peaceful, turbulent, murky, clear?

Spirituality, renewal, purification of consciousness

Your feelings about a recent life change – Could be positive or negative depending on whether the dream is a nice one (bathing in a beautiful ocean) or a nightmare (being pulled under by the rip-tide).

Wedding

Unification of opposite parts/masculine and feminine parts of your psyche

A new change in your life – Pay attention to how you feel at/about the wedding.

Anxiety about your upcoming wedding

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Represents feelings you have about the woman in the dream (if she known to you)

Represents characteristics in yourself or characteristics that you desire in a partner

Represents your feminine qualities if you are a male, a.k.a., the “Anima” archetype

Also see entry for Person

To help you figure out which interpretation best fits your situation, pay attention to the context of your dreams. For a more detailed analysis of the most common dreams, check out 25 Common Dreams and Their Meanings.

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