Last Updated on January 11, 2019
Have you ever gotten a message in a dream and ignored it only to later regret it? I certainly have. I once dreamt of a person I worked with holding a snake. As the dream progressed, the snake got bigger and bigger until my co-worker literally morphed into it. I thought the dream was odd, but I didn’t think anything of it, let alone try to figure out what the snake might represent. A few weeks later, the co-worker tried to sabotage me at work.
Once the work drama calmed down (thankfully the sabotage attempt failed), I recalled having the dream and wondered whether that dream had been trying to warn me in some way. Duh! Of course it was.
First, let’s consider snake symblism. According to one of my favorite animal symbolism sites What’s Your Sign , there are a number of possible metaphysical meanings for snakes. Among them:
- The start of a cycle
So how do you determine what the meaning is for you? While a snake can have many different meanings, my strategy for interpreting symbols typically starts with identifying my initial gut reaction to it. I am afraid of snakes and my first thought about a snake is that it is dangerous and can’t be trusted. You can’t get much clearer than that. When I apply my initial reaction, the word ‘cunning’ most comes to mind and that describes my co-worker perfectly.
That experience taught me to pay better attention to my dreams, as I realized that they’re often ripe with insights that I can apply to my life. Ignoring them was like cutting off my own foot. The only one missing out when I didn’t pay attention to my dreams was me. I’ve also come to believe that some dreams are more important than others. (Some dreams are truly psychological junk that our subconcious is cleansing.) But the Universe has a way of letting us know which dreams to pay the most attention to.
Symbolism in dreams
So here’s the thing about dreams: Rarely are they straightforward. That would just be too easy, right? Like why couldn’t my dream have simply shown my co-worker trying to take credit for my work? Instead, I was presented with the snake from hell.
When we dream, we often have to figure out what the dream is trying to tell us because our dreams are often filled with symbols. Carl Jung believed that our subconscous used symbols as something of a roadmap to our psyche. Ironically, that’s also how psychic ability works. When we get a psychic hit or our intuition flares up, rarely does it tell us something directly. Rather, it may give us flashes and symbols, requiring us to figure out what the insight truly is. For example, if I see a red light in my mind, that could be my intuition telling me to slow my roll.
So back to dreams. Here’s a good thing to know about dream symbols: They can often give us a clue that a certain dream is particularly important. Take it from the girl who got bitten by the corporate snake: The following types of dream symbols are ones that you should always pay attention to.
When it comes to dreams, anything that repeats itself is important. If you dream about a particular symbol more than once, it may be because you missed the message the first time.
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After you work with your dreams for a while, you’ll likely come up with your own dream symbol dictionary and realize that certain symbols are recurring to you on a regualar basis. Once you understand what the symbol means, you’ll be able to tell what your dreams mean immediately.
For example, vehicles are common recurring dream symbols for me and they represent my sense of control in my life. If I’m driving in a carefree manner in a dream, I’m in control. If I’m in the backseat, I’ve given my control away. If my car was stolen, I’m giving my power away. If I’m in an accident, I’m in danger of getting hurt.
Sometimes I find myself riding mass transporation in a dream. For example, about a week ago, I dreamt that I was riding on a passenger train and suddenly I knew that the train was about to fall off a cliff. Yikes! Yes, the idea of that dream was terrifying and when I woke up, I was unsettled. I wondered at first if the dream was trying to tell me that I was in danger. Then I started thinking about areas of my life where I’m going along on somebody else’s ride. And I’m looking out for situations where I may be going along with someone else’s program and am in danger of being led into a situation that I don’t want to be in. The dream reminded me of the importance of staying true to my own path.
Symbols that leave you afraid.
Remember when I mentioned my dream about the snake? When I thought about it, I realized that I’m afraid of snakes. That should have been a clue right there that the dream was something serious. When we dream about things that we’re afraid of, there’s something powerful going on.
Sometimes dreams can be used as a way to confront our fears. For example, dreaming about something that we fear could give us the opportunity to face that fear in our dreamworld and perhaps that could help us to become more comfortable with that fear when we wake up. In my case, I didn’t get that impression because I didn’t really interact with the snake in my dream. Rather, I watched a person I knew turn into a snake, an animal that I don’t trust and that I believe to be dangerous.
Always pay attention to the way you feel when you wake up from a dream. Which brings us to the next type of symbol to watch out for…
Symbols that spark emotion.
Intuition is not about logic. In fact, it’s the opposite of thinking and logic. Emotion is raw and instinctual. Our emotions are the most illogical parts of us. We can’t control how we feel, and our feelings are based on our subconscious perceptions. So think about intuition and dreams and how they are clues to what’s going on in our subconscious. We often feel things before we understand what they’re about. For example, we may meet someone and feel uncomfortable with them for no reason that we could name, yet subconsciously we may be picking up on the fact that this person is dishonest or untrustworthy.
The same holds true in our dreams. When you wake up from a dream, not only is it valuable to remember what happened in the dream, but it’s beneficial to understand how we felt about the dream. When you woke up, were you afraid? Were you angry? Were you happy? Did you feel safe? Your emotions surrounding the dream can help you to determine what the symbols were trying to tell you. If you felt afraid, then the symbol you dreamt of may be a warning. If you felt safe, then the symbol you dreamt of could be a sign of reassurance.
Symbols that have special meaning in your waking life.
We all have special symbols that mean something to us. When I was a child, my house number was 2138 so that number is special to me. Whenever I see it on a clock or on a sign, I know that’s a sign from the Universe and I often interpret it as meaning that I’m on the right path. Same goes with my dreams. If I have a dream and then see the number 2138, I’m going to know that that is an important dream that I should pay attention to.
Some people might consider birthdays or anniversaries to have special significance. Maybe for someone else else it is a song or the title of a book. If there are symbols in your own life that have special meaning, pay attention if you see them both in your waking life and when you are asleep.
Animals that play a major role in your dream.
Animals play a major role in metaphysics and symbolism. As I stated earlier, animals can have all kinds of special meanings. Whenever you dream about an animal, take a moment to try to figure out what the animal is trying to tell you.
Not only should you consider what the animal is, but you should also consider what the animal is doing. Is the animal playful? Is it threatening? Is the animal living or dead? Some believe that a dead animal symbolizes the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.
A shaman friend once told me that if an animal eats you in your dream, that animal is passing along its power to you.
Following that line of thought, if a wolf eats you in a dream, you should interpret that as meaning that you now have the power of the wolf at your disposal.
However, there is one caveat: if you are a pet communicator, you could be dreaming about animals that are trying to communicate with you. Some people who have a knack for working with animals are actually able to communicate with them telepathically. They may simply know that an animal is hurting or they may know instinctively what an animal needs. I suspect that many people who have this gift go on to become veterainarians or work with animals in other ways. Some mediums also have the ability to communicate with animals who have passed away.
Numbers that show up in your dream.
Just like I pay attention to animals in my dreams, I also pay attention to numbers. Certain numbers are particularly important such as those that are repetitive like 1111 and 1212.
It’s widely believed that repetitive numbers are signs from our Spirit Guides to pay attention to something or that we’re on the right path. Certain numbers also have special significance to us. According to the study of numerology, your life path number provides information about who you are and your purpose during this lifetime. If you dream about your life path number, that would be a very powerful symbol indeed.
Symbols that reflect a real situation or person in your life.
Finally we should always pay attention if a dream features someone who is currently in our waking lives. When we dream about someone, whether it’s a loved one or simply someone we know in passing, our relationship with that person should become front and center in our thoughts. We should ask ourselves why we dreamt about them and what the dream was trying to tell us. If there’s a symbol in your dream that’s associated with a person in your life (like the snake was associated with my co-worker in my dream), then do what I didn’t do: Figure out what the symbol means to you and then apply that information to the person when trying to decipher the dream.
Our dreams contain a wealth of information that can guide us, warn us and help us to make better decisions. They are like clues to the greater mysteries that characterize our lives. But in order to make the most of our dreams, we have to pay attention to them and even track them so we know the patterns and messages that are coming forth through the dreamworld. Our dreams are a gift and they are here to help us to meet and overcome the various challenges in our lives. Don’t waste that gift by ignoring the important insights that our dreams are giving us day after day.