Each of us has symbols that are unique for us in dreams. There are things that have a significant meaning for me that can mean something entirely different for someone else based on life experiences/perceptions. There are many symbols and physical things that are common representations for most people, along with the dream archetypes. For example, water represents the emotions; a house represents the self with the various rooms being different aspects of the self.
The following dream essentials are symbols common in dreams and that also have common meaning and understanding universally – another level of dream archetype.
A Few Dream Symbol Essentials
Water represents the emotions. It represents cleansing, reviving and healing our emotions and bodies. Walking next to a beautiful stream can feel spiritually soothing and reflective. We should note any sounds in the dream that contribute to the feeling of a scene also. Taking a shower or bath in a dream represents something that is being cleansed or healed. A luxurious bubble bath represents a nurturing, calming time out. Observing the ocean represents the depths of emotion or the collective unconscious. Being tossed among tempest waves represents overwhelming emotions heaving around inside us that need to be expressed in order to heal.
The role of color in our dreams is significant. Again, we take into account what the color represents for us personally, and also learn about the meaning of colors. For example, in a dream we see a pond and it appears to be a clear blue. Looking at the pond gives the feeling of calm and balance. In another dream we see a murky yellow-green pond. The feelings associated with seeing the pond correspond with the image and colors. The feelings may be gloomy, stagnant, or unclear emotions about something. Blue can represent the spiritual and communication, among other things. Watching a blue flower blossom can be a message of spiritual awakening and growth. Black can represent the unconscious or unknown, so watching a black flower blossom may be a message that something in the unknown subconscious is beginning to open and be available to the conscious mind. See specific colors in dream dictionaries for interpretation.
The study of numbers and the mystical meaning associated with numbers is fascinating. It goes back to the ancient Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, who is considered the founder of the science of associating numbers to letters from words, showing us that there is a specific meaningful symbolic energy connected to everything. He combined the spiritual and scientific study of numbers. Everything is represented by a name and number and has a specific order and meaning. Scientists intimately know the order and power of numbers. The Bible, for example, expressed the spiritual importance of names and numbers. The number 7 is a mystical, magical, and powerful number and was referred to in the seven days of creation, with every day’s number having a specific meaning. The name Jesus has meant salvation. When the name Christ was added, the energy and meaning changed to include anointed. Siddhartha Gautama changed to Buddha when he achieved spiritual enlightenment and became a teacher. When the names changed, the energetic meanings and numbers changed. It’s the same when someone gets married and takes on the surname of their partner. The new last name’s number meaning is added to the overall symbolic energy meaning of the entire name.
In dreams, when numbers and names play a role, there is a symbolic spiritual meaning associated, which will be in tune with the message of the dream. For example, the number 5 represents change and the five human senses, among other things. In a dream, we watch ourselves write the number 5 on a blackboard. This could be a message about learning to go with the flow of change and a new lesson or experience is on the way. See specific numbers in dream dictionaries for interpretation.
Below is the numerology conversion chart where individual letters are identified with their number. For example, the letters A, J, and S each = 1 and the name Joy is 14, 14 is 1 + 4 = 5. The name Joy has an energetic spiritual vibration to the number 5 (change), so meaning can include someone who seeks different experiences in life, who doesn’t like too much routine, one who like changes of scenery, travel, work, etc…
Each number has a spiritual meaning, a special vibration and a symbolic message for you. We add numbers together, bringing them down to the lowest denominator to get our symbol. For example: 27 is 2 + 7 = 9, or 57 is 5 + 7 = 12, then 1 + 2 = 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
People in our dreams have varied representations depending on the theme of the dream, and again, our impression and how we feel is most important. Famous people can represent the personality aspects of those individuals we admire and would like to incorporate into ourselves, or they may represent the role of teacher and guide based on the significance that we have about the person. Family members and friends can represent aspects of ourselves we like or dislike, or the actual people themselves and the role they play in our waking life. A group of unknown people could represent several different aspects of us. And anyone who represents a loving teacher, guide, or angel can be just that! We meet up with deceased loved ones and pets in the dream dimension also. A deceased father may appear in his son’s dream to give his son tips on fly fishing or help in relationship to himself. People have dreams of deceased loved one or guides helping them locate something they lost. Dreams with other people are frequent because the role of “relationships” is the most important part of life. We will have dreams that reflect back to us information about our growth, healing, and how we perceive ourselves.
Vehicles usually represent how we physically move about in our daily life. A car can more intimately symbolize our physical mobility. An example in a dream may be one of watching our car slowly come to a stop at the side of a road and then have difficulty restarting it. If the dream doesn’t feel like a precognitive dream of an actual event with our car, which is usually quite lucid, this could mean that we’re physically and or emotionally exhausted and need a vacation. It could also mean that we may be having a physical problem, and we dream to get our attention, especially if we open the hood of the car, look inside, and see something is wrong. Another type of car dream would be that we have a recurring dream of seeing our car parked in a garage. Depending on the theme of the dream, this could be a message that we need to get up and get going with something we’ve been procrastinating on. See specific types of vehicles in dream dictionaries for interpretation.
A house usually represents the self with the rooms being different aspects of our self, which is a splendidly useful way of revealing what’s happening in our waking lives. The kitchen represents creative transformation where we nurture and nourish ourselves. The bathroom represents cleansing and elimination of behaviors, attitudes, and emotions. The living room represents our daily life interactions. Bedrooms represent the unconscious, rest, and our sexual feelings. One example of a dream in a bathroom would be trying to flush or fix a plugged up toilet. That dream may represent emotions we’re working on releasing and finally eliminating or healing. A dream where we see our living room bigger and brighter than it really is and we’re happily arranging new furniture may represent the fact that we’re positively expanding our daily lives in creating a new form of self-expression. Look for specific rooms or parts of a house such as porch, attic, basement, front yard or backyard in dream dictionaries.
Animals, like people, can symbolize a variety of things. They represent the instinctual parts of us – masculine or feminine – and the specific characteristics of an animal will disclose its role in our dreams, whether positive or not, which is a mirror for us. There is fascinating historical information about the archetypal representation of the animal kingdom. Animals can also be our own pets, alive or deceased. Our deceased pets will visit, protect, and guide us in the dream dimension. A dog is a masculine aspect that can represent one’s own loyalty and truth to personal values and expression. If we dream that we have a dog that isn’t being fed regularly or not consistently taken well care of, that may be a direct message reflecting back to our own negligence in meeting our needs and standing up for our values and desires. Birds can represent spiritual freedom, far seeing, the soul or the Higher Self in dreams. We see a beautiful eagle caught in a house with a low ceiling in our dream. The eagle is flying about, trying to find a way out, when suddenly the ceiling grows higher. The roof opens up and the eagle flies free. The dream can represent the need for expansion and freedom from over-protection – the lower ceiling representing a limiting, over-protecting part of our self that we are trying to overcome. Imagine the feelings in that dream! Look for specific animal names in dream dictionaries.
Something new is coming into being. We are about to give birth to a new direction, idea, plan, project, or higher awareness. If there is a desire to be physically pregnant, this may be a message from our inner being that conception has taken place. A pregnant figure/character larger than life may also represent the archetypal Great Mother.
A birth dream may involve giving birth, witnessing birth, assisting birth, or being born. If there is not a physical pregnancy, to dream of having a baby can symbolize the birth of a new attitude or viewpoint, a new project, a new recognition or acceptance of our inner child; opening to a new direction and new possibilities. We have a dream of giving birth to a dolphin. Dolphins are considered to be intelligent, beautiful, playful, and spiritually significant beings of the ocean, so this dream could represent giving birth to a higher level of spiritual awareness of the self. (Fish being spiritual food)
If we are not planning an actual wedding, a wedding in our dreams can represent the union of the masculine/feminine aspects of ourselves; the blending of the intellectual, strength, assertive (masculine) and the intuitive, creative, nurturing (feminine) parts of the self, which is considered a union of opposites and a reconciliation of differences; a need or wish for a harmonizing balance; transition; change; a uniting or bringing together of ideas, people, parts or aspects of self. To dream of marrying a former lover or friend suggests integrating the positive qualities of the person into one’s own consciousness.
The roles or games we play; attitudes we have. One’s social presentation or façade or appearance we wish to make upon the world. The type and condition of clothing in a dream may make a statement about one’s self-image. A change of clothing indicates a change of direction, a new phase of life, or a reckoning with one’s self. Shining luminous clothing, such as raiment of angels, indicates a conquering of the material world. A specific, and usually detailed costume dream may suggest a past life experience, presented because the lessons we are going through now are the same ones we were confronted with before, to help us remember strengths, weaknesses, and skills for us to utilize now. Look for specific articles of clothing and interpretations in dream dictionaries.
Transformation; Usually, dreams involving death are not literal warnings of impending physical death, but represent the decay and destruction of a stage of life, an attachment or a neurosis. Death is the stage of transformation from one stage to another and is necessary so that rebirth and renewal can take place. The old is dying, so make way for new beginnings in order to grow. Life is a process of death and regeneration into higher awareness; a need to revise our self-image; the end of one type of inner personification. The ways we stage death in our dreams will provide additional information to the overall content and feelings of the dream also.
If we are presently in school or contemplating going back to school, it may relate to anxieties about performance/abilities. If out of school, are we the teacher or student in the dream, and how are we coping? Life is our school; we are here only to learn and grow; going through a learning experience and learning one of life’s lessons. We are taught by all people and all situations. Life’s lessons never change until we learn them. Each night we are out of our body and learn in schools on higher levels. Each level of consciousness is teaching us something about the nature of self. It is likely that some recent situation awakened old insecurities about our skills and abilities. Attending school in a dream might reflect feelings that one lacks certain types of experience needed to round out the curriculum of life.
Places (Landscape, Country, Cities/Towns)
Landscape: Landscapes, the settings and backgrounds of our dreams, can suggest where we are in our life or relationships, and how we’re viewing the world and our place in it, so it’s important to take time to derive our own association and meaning about the setting. We create our surroundings in dreams, and landscapes depict what feelings we ourselves generate and live in; moods and attitudes, but particularly the set of habitual feelings we meet life with. Sunny days suggest a lighter, more optimistic viewpoint than cloudy or gloomy days. Daytime suggests more activity than dreams with a nighttime setting; but they may also be related to inner masculine (sun) or feminine (moon) issues. A scene that changes from night to day may represent becoming more aware of material in our unconscious, becoming more enlightened, aware, and alert. Usually, inside locations speak of psychological work while outdoor settings have to do with spiritual values or with expanding viewpoints, escape, freedom, and recreation.
Country: Images of the country or countryside can suggest time for growth, creativity, and relaxation; many creative choices and options; our feelings about a particular country or cultural view of it; being in a new or changed life situation. If we are in another country, or going traveling to another country, it suggests making a change or doing something new; wanting to escape our present environment; getting away from it all; listening to our own natural wisdom or hearing the wisdom of our own childlike awareness of nature.
Cities/Towns: Intense networking of people or parts of self and a need for community and working together, reaching out to others; we are being forced to communicate and cooperate as cities represent collective observances of certain rules, laws and behavior standards; intense energy, need for balance and taking time to smell the roses. Generally, cities are symbols of the masculine/active principle, since their skylines bristle with thrusting tall buildings and the technology (a product of intellect). Cities also have their feminine/passive aspect as repositories of a society’s greatest cultural expressions, in the museums, performing arts, artists, and cuisine. The meaning of a city in a dream depends upon our own personal associations. Is a city a desirable place to be or an undesirable place, and why?
Moving into unknown parts of self or depths of the unconscious; not seeing things clearly; cut off from inner light or guidance; dark, unconscious shadow aspects of self; hidden aspects of ourselves threatening to, or working to emerge; lack of awareness/insight; secrets. The night is ruled by the Mother Goddess, so is therefore, also related to the lunar/feminine symbolism. Night can also represent the darkness of the womb, which is protective and nourishing, the alchemical darkness that is the destruction of the old and the death that precedes rebirth. Night is also related to sleep, winter, and exploring the depths of personality.
Daytime represents light, consciousness, and awareness; clarity of thought. Daytime suggests enough light or energy to see with clarity; things are exposed to us, but we must choose to look; our mood; being conscious; “seeing” what we are doing in our waking experience. If the dream extends beyond one day, it may represent the passage of time, past or present. Three times a day (morning, midday, afternoon) often represent the seasons of spring, summer and fall. Consider the symbolism of the number of days. If a particular hour of the day is emphasized, it can have personal symbolism related to a present attitude, a past situation, a reminder of something that needs to be done, or an appointment.
Artwork: Image Unknown
Dream Books/Dictionaries – I recommend having at least 2 dream dictionaries on hand as interpretations can vary. Some books have more extensive information than others.
The Dream Book: Symbols for Self Understanding by Betty Bethards April 2016 edition
Cloud Nine – A Dreamer’s Dictionary by Sandra A Thomson
Dream Dictionary – An A to Z Guide to Understand Your Unconscious Mind by Tony Crisp
The Dreamer’s Dictionary – Understand the Deeper Meaning of Your Dreams by Stearn Robinson and Tom Corbett
The Encyclopedia of Dreams – Symbols & Interpretations by Rosemany Ellen Guiley
http://www.dyed4you.com/colors.html (details on color meanings)
Triza Schultz Copyright © 2017 – All rights reserved. Permission by author to copy articles in their entirety.
Click here to return to the Dream Guidance section.