Common Dream Symbols
Please keep in mind that these interpretations are generally
accepted definitions. Most are based on what Carl Jung referred
to as the "shadow" side of our personalities and the archetypes
of the "collective unconscious".

The "shadow" of our personalities is that portion that we repress
or refuse to acknowledge -- even the most kind-hearted nun has
emotions and urges that are not confessed.  In addition, it was
Jung's belief that each of us has access to mythological, cultural
and historical symbols that we somehow genetically inherited
from our ancestors. He referred to this knowledge as the
"collective unconscious".  It is my personal belief that we have
access to this knowledge and symbolism as a result of our
previous lives -- we remember everything, but can (usually) only
access it in our dreams.

I would like to make it clear that the following are meant to be
suggestive interpretations and are by no means to be considered
the definitive definition.  Each and every one of us is unique in
our experiences and this must be taken into account when
interpreting dreams.  The overall feeling of the dream, positive or
negative, and the other symbols in the dream will also affect the

Please keep in mind that it is not my intention to interpret your
dream symbols for you.  I strongly believe that we each must do
this for ourselves.  Another's interpretation may send us off in the
wrong direction altogether and can do more harm than good.
angels - goodness and purity.  An angel may be your guide, leading or guiding you
to the correct path of your life.  Psychologically, may be a messenger from your
subconscious and indicates that the message delivered is important and should be
listened to.  Or, the angel may just be telling you the good or right thing you should
do (as in the angel and devil sitting on your shoulders).

animals - generally symbolize basic, instinctual actions and emotions.  These
instincts are usually repressed in the shadow side of our personalities.  The quality
or feature that comes to mind when you think of this animal is indicative of the
instinct or emotion you may be repressing.  For instance, cats are thought to be
feminine or intuitive, if you dream of cats perhaps you may be repressing your
feminine side or sexuality.  Lions are ferocious, dreaming of lions could indicate
that you are harboring anger.  The animal and the trait that comes to mind to you
about the animal are the keys to deciphering this symbol.

blood - vitality and our life force.  If you dream of bleeding profusely, you may feel
like someone or something is "bleeding you dry."  Violent, bloody dreams may be
an indication of an emotional upheaval.  Menstrual blood may mean fertility and
"having blood on one's hands" may be a sign of guilt.

building -  usually represents the dreamer's physical body or dwelling of the soul.  
(See my dream,
Water, Water Everywhere.)

cars -  a sense of freedom, being in control or a means of escape.  (See my dream,
The Landlord Cleans Up.)

Christmas tree, crucifix, menorah, Star of David - these are obvious signs that your
spirituality is at work in the dream. (See my dream,

death/dying - many people dream of a loved one dying and are afraid it is prophetic.  
This is very rarely the case.  If you think of death as merely one phase of life, than
dreaming of death may symbolize a phase in your life coming to an end.  Since the
people in our dreams often depict different aspects of ourselves, then the person
you see dying is important to deciphering the dream.  What does this person
represent to you? For instance, a child can symbolize you're maturing in some way
and leaving a childish aspect of yourself behind.   If you dream of yourself dying
then you realize (at least subconsciously) that you are going through a major life
change -- probably for the better.

driver - is the person in control.  (See my dream, The Landlord Cleans Up.)

drowning - if water symbolizes the emotions then drowning symbolizes the fear of
being overcome by or drowning in these emotions (sometimes it's just that
simple).  (See my dream,
Water, Water Everywhere)

eating -  may refer to partaking of physical, emotional or intellectual nourishment;
metaphorically may symbolize "something eating at you" or being "eaten alive".  
As always the context of the dream will indicate the interpretation.  (See my dream,

Day at Work.)

fire - it destroys, it cleanses, it purifies.  It often signifies arousing passion and
sexuality.  Jung believed fire represents transformation.  (See my dream,

food - see eating above; (see my dream A Day at Work).

friends - (see people); sometimes "friends" are just there to remind us that we are
not alone.  (See my dream,

hands -  on the positive side hands signify building, creating, healing and praying or
"giving a helping hand" to soothe or aid.  Clasped hands can symbolize unity or
agreement.  Negative connotations include someone being "heavy handed" in a
situation or relationship, theft or deceit.  Wringing and/or washing hands can mean
the dreamer is working on a worrisome issue or feels a need to "wash his hands
of" a situation.

instructor - see teacher below; (see my dream A Day at Work)

intern -- see student below; (see my dream A Day at Work)

knot -  a constraint or restriction of freedom of thought, feelings or actions,
indicating a situation that must be untied.  Conversely, it may symbolize being in
control or having things "all tied (or wrapped) up".

mountain -  climbing a mountain, achieving a goal; descending a mountain, letting
go of insurmountable odds; looking at a mountain, evaluating a major decision.

naked -  being naked in dreams is suggestive of being vulnerable or a fear of you or
your actions being exposed to others.  It may also be symbolic of freedom and
feeling uninhibited.  The real question here is --  how being naked made you feel --
guilty or confident?

ocean - large bodies of water such an ocean often represent the subconscious
itself.  The calmness or turbulence of the water is an indication of one's emotions.  
(See my dream --
Water, Water Everywhere.)

people - people in our dreams are usually projections of aspects of ourselves. The
key to deciphering what the person represents is to ask yourself what one
character flaw or strength would you use to describe this person.  This person
represents that trait in yourself.  Of course, there are exceptions to this and only
you would know for sure.

road -  represent one's direction or goal in life; straight and narrow -- all things
worked out well; winding or bumpy may reflect the changes and/or obstacles
encountered along the way.  A fork in the road signifies the dreamer must make a

student - represents learning or a lesson that needs to be learned

smoke - "Where there's smoke there's fire" comes to mind, this sign is usually a
warning. (See my dream,

train -  Freud viewed a train as a phallic symbol; missing a train may indicate a
missed opportunity in life; being the engineer on a train suggests the dreamer's
control of the train going down the tracks (of life).

tree -  a symbol of knowledge and or/spirit.  The size and condition may indicate
how one views one's inner strength and spiritual or intellectual growth.  (See my
dream --
Trees for Two.)

weather -  the weather in a dream is often indicative of the overall emotional tone
of the dream; storms and wind indicate turmoil or conflict; rain suggests
depression or sadness; sunshine and rainbows imply hope, love  and happiness.

work - a common dream scene, after all we spend a significant amount of time at
our jobs.  It may actually be referring to your job or be job related or it may be telling
you that you have a job to do.  (See my dream
A Day at Work.)

yarn -  can symbolize a creative pursuit or the telling of lies; if the yarn is tangled
then the dreamer's emotions or something in the dreamer's life may be in a knot; if
the dreamer is untangling the yarn, then they may be in the process of correcting
the situation.  Yarn is also a synonym for a tale -- perhaps the dreamer suspects
someone is telling him (or themselves) a tale (a lie).

zoo -  the saying, "This place is a zoo," comes to mind and may indicate the
dreamer's need to reorganize the chaos in a situation or the need to cage the
"animals" or emotions.
Copyright  2002 Bobbie Ann Pimm
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