When we were growing in our mother’s womb, we passed through the whole spectrum of evolution. You grew from a tiny seed in your mother’s womb, and as it did so it took you through the whole process of evolution, through the vegetative phase as cell division, then into a creature with gills and then the reptilian phase and up to the mammalian. Then you entered the time when you learned the amazing computer like program called language, up until then you were a little animal. See animal children
In fact you ride an ancient beast. The ancient beast is your body, and your conscious self is the modern and recent rider of it. Some ‘riders’ do not understand their animal needs – and the fact that we have several levels of brain that are independent of each other proves this. Still active in us are our Reptile Brain, our mammalian Brain, and our Human Brain, and the reptile and mammalian brains are still very active and constitute a large part of our human unconscious. Without understanding our inner animals we are only half functioning. See Brain Levels and Dreams
In older societies this was recognised and was part of children’s education/initiation. East Coast Africans saw the uncircumcised as animals; meaning that they had not integrated and grown beyond their animal and instinctive self. They had not made conscious the human or the animal aspect of an uncircumcised boy’s life. If that were not done the animal or instinctive nature could dominate the person. This is evident in our present world where enormous killing of another race or people of another belief system is seen. Ox Herding The ancient heritage that dreams portray as our animal is not simply a psychological belief. It is built into our body and is very evident in the fact that we have three interwoven brains.
The second part of your brain is called the Limbic System. This is wrapped around the R complex, and is something we share with other mammals such as cats, dogs and horses. It developed about 60 million years ago and deals with your emotions, feelings responses to people and events, the subtler inner life you feel in love and sex, and it provides a deep wisdom about social and individual relationships.
Dreams often use mammals or apes to portray the influence in your life of this part of your unconscious drives and intuitions. The third part of your brain is the Cortex. This is unique to humans and takes up five sixths of the brain mass. It deals with all the things that are distinctly human, such as logical thought, writing, analysis, self awareness and conscious movements.
An American advertising company, describing these three brains in its instructions to planning advertising campaigns says, “Our Reptilian Brain is more powerful than the Limbic (emotional) Brain, which in turn is more powerful that the Cortex (thinking) Brain.
It is best to take all three brains into account when planning a marketing/branding campaign.” Connecting this with the animals we dream about, waking animal phobias, unless rooted in an actual encounter with an animal – for instance being bitten by a dog – may still represent our personal struggle with and fear of our own instinctive reactions and feelings. It is also probably true that all of us, left-handed or not, experience deeply moving feeling reactions such as anxiety in response to many events of our everyday life. But as findings suggest, some people are physiologically, and thus also psychologically, better equipped to deal with such high levels of impulse than others.
This can be thought of as a stronger or more resistant threshold for impulses such as fear or aggression to pass through before they impact upon the conscious personality. Therefore, in some people, such as women in general, and the left-handed in particular, their ‘animal’ is a much more insistent beast in their dream life. See Animal in your Brain.
Example: A huge black panther chased me. I fell and it clawed my back. It was about to chew my back to bite me. I didn’t know whether to relax or struggle. After being floored by the Panther I managed to get up. I later imagined being the panther. I allowed the panther to eat me, and I thus became the panther. Then I, as the panther, noticed a tiger. Feeling enormous temper – anger – hate I leapt upon the tiger to claw and devour it. I really felt strong temper. It kept really appearing to get smaller and smaller. Eventually I saw it as just a toy cuddly tiger. Then its head came off as a pantomime horse does, and I was amazed to see that my cousin Sidney was inside it, who I felt had mercilessly teased me as a child. The panther was my own feelings of anger.
Example: A 35-year-old man told me that, until he became interested in the metaphysical, he dreamed persistently that he was being eaten by a lion. Even as a child he had this dream. The lion represented his bad temper. He had never tried to control it until he began to work on himself, at which time his dreams of lions ceased.
Example: I wondered what the arrows and javelins could be, and was it I throwing them, firing them at this beautiful beast? Gradually it clarified that we continually injure this wonderful natural process in us. Being aware is a special state that acts in all manner of ways for this great ancient beat that is our body or process that is behind our existence. It is the process of life which is there with us as we go through our conception. As that we are simply a mass of cells, which then slowly evolves into an aquatic creature with gills, and slowly on to form a body that can breath air. So we are very much an animal who has only recently become self aware.
Consciousness is its eyes and ears, its fingers and mouth, its means of experience, and its way of learning. And whatever we feed back to that fundamental part of us is deeply felt. Perhaps this is not a very accurate description, but it is like a loving and willing dog that out of its instinctive being tries to do all that we ask of it, tries to grow, tries to learn. But it is so sensitive, so when we are angry with it, or frustrated, or direct criticism at it, it cowers, it feels failure, its exuberance diminishes. So also with this great wonderful beast within, this mysterious process of life that is at our core. It withdraws. But we can also call it out into further expression, enabling it to extend beyond its previous capabilities, by loving it, by acknowledging its wonder, by calling it forth. That is a wonderful way to lead our inner being forward, by loving it and working with it toward being more that we were. But what many people find is that they are frightened of their dream animal, or have never learned to help it evolve into the human world. This means that many people have a great lack in themselves and in their dreams they have to meet and work with the animal in them. As a child we are often told not to do things that would allow us to mature with our animal self intact.
These inbuilt traits are represented or depicted in your dreams by various animals and the situations your dream process places them in. Without feelings of fear for instance, you would, especially during childhood, enter into situations that could be life threatening. These dream animals illustrate the many natural responses you have to events and people you confront.
Because we see them in so many ways, such as the cunning of the fox, the strength and mystery of the elephant, the loving fierceness of a lioness with her cubs, and the almost unconditional love dogs give us, the animal in your dream can express a very wide spectrum of meaning.
Useful Questions and Hints:
What feelings are connected with my dream animal – fear, anger, love, wisdom – and in what way is that entering my life?
Is this an animal I know in life – if so what are my feelings or experience of it?
What is the dream animal doing, and metaphorically, what is that suggesting? Perhaps try the method of talking as.
Example: Ethnologist Ivar Lissner theorized that cave paintings of beings combining human and animal features were not physical representations of mythical hybrids, but were instead attempts to depict shamans in the process of acquiring the mental and spiritual attributes of various beasts or poweranimals. Religious historian Mircea Eliade has observed that beliefs regarding animal identity and transformation into animals are widespread. The iconography of the Vinca culture of Neolithic Europe in particular is noted for its frequent depiction of an owl-beaked “bird goddess”.
Depending upon how the animal in your dream is presented, and what it is doing, dream animals represent your fundamental drives such as the fear reaction, anger, need for food, urge to breathe, sex or procreative drive, parental urges, drive for recognition or dominance in groups; survival drive; love of offspring; spontaneity; home building.
They depict these drives perhaps stripped of their social forms of expression. As such the animal can portray your relationship with the fundamental life processes in you. Dreams depict these processes as intelligent and responsive, not just as chemical actions and reactions as modern medicine so often does. Therefore your conscious attitudes influence these fundamental living processes in you – processes that maintain health, digest, beat your heart, rebuild damage and fight infection. Negative feelings or attitudes can cause these ‘animals’ is you to despair or lose motivation, and thus lead to depression or illness. Remember that in looking at the animal in your dreams you are yourself an animal. You as a person are a tiny spark of consciousness, a little bit of self awareness riding an incredibly ancient animal you call your body.
Remember that your body has formed from cells and genetic information that has gradually developed over millions of years. It holds that information in it unconsciously. The animal in your dreams depicts this ancient wisdom and how you relate to it. It shows you how you are dealing with the urges in you that are natural, but might need to be helped into modern life or transformed in some way, not killed out, maimed or tortured. See: The Rock Beast.
Animals are one of the most frequent of symbols that appear in dreams. Because we see them in so many ways, such as the cunning of the fox, the strength and mystery of the elephant, the loving fierceness of a lioness with her cubs, and the almost unconditional love dogs give us, the animal in our dream can express a very wide spectrum of meaning. As we project these characteristics onto animals, we may dream of an animal to represent the feelings we have about a person. An attacking dog for instance may be used to depict how we see someone who is being aggressive toward us.
Thus dream animals are complex symbols, and they portray many shades of meaning. Some animal dreams for instance display personal need for affection, desire to be touched, or the need to care for another creature and thus feel needed. Sometimes they depict pregnancy and parental caring. Because of these huge variations, the long commentary at the end of the individual description of animals has been added to help awareness in looking at such dreams. Each animal is also given an entry, as the character of the various animals suggests different things to us. Pets, for instance, have given to each of us very different experiences. We therefore have personal associations and feeling responses to pets we might dream about. See excellent example of this in the example under ferret. See: ape below; birds; creatures; pets; reptiles and snakes; the unconscious.