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What are dream symbols?

cc Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney on Flickr

Dream symbols are the way our subconscious mind communicates with us.  Dream symbols are metaphors.  A metaphor uses  images that are NOT literal representations of something to communicate an idea, concept or experience.   Dream symbols can be much more intense than simply seeing words in our dreams.  Symbols communicate much more depth than simple words can.  Dreams are much like movies that take place within our own mind or imagination.  Just like a movie, there is a story or a theme to the dream.  And like many movies, there is often a “moral to the story” of the dream. 

Interpreting the symbols accurately is the key to understanding the messages your dreams are sending you.

Dream Symbols are Universal

Some dream symbols are universal in nature and will mean the same thing for every person.  These symbols emanate from our collective consciousness.   A universal dream symbol that most people can relate to is flying without the aid of an airplane.  The universal symbol of flying is a metaphor for a feeling or desire for freedom.  When this symbol shows up in a dream – the dreamer, or a dream interpreter, looks into the dreamer’s life to interpret whether flying is symbolic of a feeling of freedom or the desire for freedom.   

Dream Symbols Can Be Cultural

Other dream symbols are shared by a culture, nationality or race because of the shared heritage.  These symbols can sometimes also be picked up by people who were not born into the culture but have spent a lot of time within the particular culture or have an affinity for the culture in question.  For example; dreaming of a panther can be symbolic for shape shifting when related to the indigenous cultures of South America, while in the United States it is more likely to be symbolic for stealth and strength.  In some cultures the symbol of an elephant will mean royalty, while in another it means to overcome any obstacle.

Dream Symbols Can Be Unique

Still other symbols are completely unique to the dreamer in question.  Yes, you will have symbols that are completely unique to you.  When this occurs, you will want to look at the symbol as a metaphor in your life to understand it’s meaning.  You will realize that your symbol(s) are unique to you when you look them up in a dream dictionary.  None of them will seem to connect with what is going on in your life.  Sometimes your symbols won’t be listed in any dream dictionaries.  If you have trouble sorting it out and it is in a dream that you feel is really important, you can either meditate for the meaning, ask for a dream to get more information about the dream in question, learn a style of dream interpretation that can help you decipher your personal symbols or engage a dream interpreter.  If you meditate, dream symbols are similar to experiencing a vision during meditation.

There are many resources to find meanings of dream symbols.  We have some listed on our dream dictionary where you can add your symbols to our list.  We also have links and recommended books as resources to continue your life long journey of dreaming, understanding your dreams and using them to improve your life experience.

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