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Animals as Dream Figures

Like any other animal, human beings have developed certain physical and behavioural traits. Some of these traits, such as a new born baby attempting to suckle the breast, and attempting to bond with its mother, are rooted in millions of years of past experience and can be thought of as instinctive. To be abandoned by ones mother, even for a short time, was a life threatening danger in the past, and is still felt as such today by an infant because of the millions of years of imprinted experience.

We can observe such instinctive traits in a dog in such behaviour as cocking of the leg in male dogs. We can see some of our own traits in such things as the human desire to elect leaders. Many of these habits are psycho-biological or social. In our dreams we represent these drives or habits in the form of various animals. Our restrained sex drive or aggression may be shown in our dream as a dog on a lead. The power of drives such as the urge to parenthood via sex might be shown as a horse which we are trying to control. More than anything else though, our dream animal represents our powerful feeling reactions to situations – reactions developed through centuries of human experience in frequently terrible situations. This aspect of ourselves is rooted in the older portions of the brain. The feeling reactions indicated are those such as the fight or flight reaction; the drive to protect property or territory even to the point of killing another human being; the urge, often not accepted in its naked power, to find a mate and to have sex in order to procreate; the desire to have standing and recognition in ones social group; the drive for dominance – or the resulting depression or sickness if no recognition or place in the group is found. See: animals in our brain.

Because dreams exhibit a powerfully precise way of using symbols, there is a difference in meaning between the wild animals and the domesticated animals we dream of. In general the domesticated animal such as a cat or horse represent urges we have more conscious control over and are therefore less threatening to our conscious desire to be in charge. The wild animals in our dreams often pose a much greater threat to our ego, but nevertheless offer rich rewards if we can develop a working relationship with them. After all they are aspects of ourselves, so the relationship can release more of our usable potential.

Example: I am sitting in the hotel staff room eating lunch at a large dining table. One by one I am joined by perhaps a dozen women. The atmosphere is pleasant, easy and light hearted. I enjoy the feeling of being the only male among a dozen attractive women. Then I notice a strange thing. One by one all the girls around me turn into cats, but carry on laughing and talking as if nothing is happening. I find this interesting and not alarming. I am aware each girl turns into the sort of cat that is right for her – a vivacious redhead becomes a purring orange tabby; an aloof, slightly superior lady becomes a Siamese; the only ex-girlfriend of mine present becomes a black witches familiar.

I remember turning to my left and asking: ‘Tell me Rebecca, how did you do this?’ The Rebecca cat giggles with a human voice and says: ‘He doesn’t have a clue, does he?’ As I look at the Rebecca cat I realise she still has her human eyes. This I realise is true of all the cats, they have human eyes in feline faces. As I realise this one says: ‘I think he’s beginning to understand now’ and laughs. Paul C. Teletext.

This graphic dream so well illustrates how our human personality exists within our animal drives and urges.

The animal in our dreams has commonly been seen only as the sex drive. A careful examination of animal dreams shows this to be untrue. The animal represents all aspects of sexuality and relationship. If this wider sexuality in an individual is damaged or traumatised, the person might become a parent who has lost the natural bonding and care for their child; an individual who has no sense of social status or responsibility; criminally violent; someone with disturbed and misplaced sexuality, a person unable to love or care for someone else. See: what does the animal in my dream mean.

Dominating or attempting to kill the animal in us can cause tension, depression and illness. The escape into dry intellectualism that might occur if the ‘animal’ aspect of oneself is denied, can be a cause of internal conflict. Complete permissiveness is no answer either. Our higher brain functions need expression also. So one of the challenges of maturing is how to meet and relate to our ‘animals’, and perhaps bring them into expression in a satisfying way. Such drives are fundamentally a push toward LIFE. Our dreams are selective in what animal is used to portray our situation. For instance a dog or horse are creatures that have been socialised for thousands of years, whereas a dinosaur has no history of socialisation. These different animals – domesticated or wild – can therefore be used to represent the socialised or untrained elements of ourselves.

In considering what our dream animal communicates to us, consider how you feel about that animal, what view you have of it, whether it excites, disgusts or frightens you. Is it funny because it exhibits some aspect of human nature so openly, like monkeys making love in public? Is it to be envied because it is so honest, like the dog growling at someone it doesn’t like or is frightened of, and giving obvious affection to someone it has a link with? With such straightforward questions we can arrive at what our dream animals represents to us personally.

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-Anonymours 2010-08-15 1:55:48

Interesting…i dreamt of a snake :P

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-Yvonne 2011-07-22 14:28:58

Hi, I wonder if you could shed light on this, I’ve been ready the text but find this dream fairly disturbing from last night – it was in my mum’s house and I found a poor sick crocodile in the front room, it was not well and needed something or it would die and I was thinking I would try to put it in water. Then there was a rat at the front gate, which attacked my throat and just kept hanging onto it and I had to hang onto it’s quite fat belly to keep it from doing worse. Also, I was terribly worried about my cat, who was dodging around heavy traffic. So, all quite disturbing. I am quite anxious at the moment but I don’t usually dream of animals and these all seem quite specific. Any help would be great. thanks Yvonne

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    -Tony Crisp 2011-08-14 11:35:15

    Yvonne – It seems as if the animals are different forms of anxiety. Animals are usually your instinctive or semi unconscious forms of emotions or feelings.

    Strange how some dreamers are frightened of alligators and here you are helping it. The alligator or crocodile are creatures than can grab you and drag you into the depths to swallow you. Although that is a gory thing in waking life, in dreams it has a different meaning. It can be that you are carried into the unconscious, into a wider life. So there is a problem for you in your alligator. As you have suggested, maybe you need to keep it in its natural element. The water is the flow of life in you and it might be blocked.

    The rat is another matter, this can be due to fears or anxieties that are attacking your throat – perhaps because you have not let yourself express them, spoke about them in depth, or even cried. Or a rat can also point to love that was betrayed.

    And your cat seems to be another obvious representation of anxiety, in which you feel there is too much going on for you to easily deal with.

    You could try being firm and saying to yourself, “I refuse any longer to be a victim to fears that are usually tearing me apart without adding to my life? I can find instead a caring feeling for the rat and the cat, as I did with the alligator.”

    That will move things around for you.

    Tony

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-Mande 2011-08-19 17:21:20

I had a very disturbing dream last night that I was being literally invaded by lizards. I fell into a pit and they began entering my body through every oraffice. Throughout the experience, I was horrified but determined to survive and get them out of my body. I suddenly found myself out of the pit and was pulling them out of my body every way possible. The dream ended with me screaming hoarsely for my mother to help me get the last one out of my head. I woke my partner screaming and needed soothing in order to return to sleep. This is very unusalu dreaming behavior for me. Can you help me decipher what this dream is trying so hard to tell me? By the way- I have no inate fear of lizards or other reptiles and I rarely have such vivid dreams.
Thank you,
Mande

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    -Tony Crisp 2011-09-11 13:45:19

    Mande – This is a strange one, and I had to leave it for a while to see if I could find any insight into it. And sometimes it is difficult to decide without being able to talk with you.

    However, my best intuition about it is that it shows you being invaded by quite basic urges – instinctive urges. If I am right you will recognise it when I say that it will probably feel like strange urges sexually, in hunger, in every way that doesn’t feel quite normal.

    My understanding is that the reptiles in dreams show the influence of a part of your brain called the reptile brain. It is a very basic level of brain that we inherited from evolution during that stage of life on earth. It deals with reproduction, anger, fight and flight and territory. So may be your notices some of those feelings.

    It is a strange dream because it shows a massive influence, and the only time I have heard of that is from chemicals used, sometimes in gardening. The chemical represses the other parts of the brain.

    Anyway it seems you got rid of them – and the last one from the head probably links with the reptile part of your brain.

    Tony

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-azaad 2011-09-17 2:18:29

I had a dream in which i was fighting a lion to protect myself and three other animals. I can only remember a buffalo(wild) out of those three. I defeated the lion but the buffalo was injured (not dead). Same night I also fought a lioness and easily defeated her. As lionesses attack in groups, there were others too but when i defeated the first one others didn’t dare attack.

In none of the fights i killed the animal but merely made sure that it won’t bother me anymore. Consciously or when awake I never harm other living creatures.

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    -Tony Crisp 2011-10-20 12:13:30

    Azaad – The lions can often depict your anxieties or fears. And in your dream I feel you have managed to conquer your fears; unusual for a dreamer.

    Do not think of the lions as symbols. They are more like computer desktop icons that if you connect with them lead you to awareness of, and ability to work with, what are usually unconscious processes in you. To gain even the beginnings of insight into your dream animals, you first need to remember that you as a person are a tiny spark of consciousness. You are 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. So in dealing with the lions you are changing processes in your body.

    That is good, but a next step could be that you are no longer in a conflict situation with the animals that are actually your inner strength and power. So see if you can find a connection with them and make them yours.

    Tony

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-Keisha 2011-09-29 19:58:43

Greetings,

I need some continued help with my dream. I got half the answer from other peoples dreams and your responses but of course my dream was a little different. I dreamt of an alligator that I brought from the store wrapped up like meat you can “cook” from a grocery store. Took it home where I put on a big pot of water and broiled it…than I placed the alligator in it…(baby alligator) and as I left the kitchen and came back I saw the alligator come to life and walk right out the pot??? I became afraid but didn’t alarm the animal and I left my house, ran into my mother out at a store and told her what happen but she didn’t help me or advise me. I went back to my house and daughter was there and she was holding a baby skunk by the tail??? I told her not to let go until I could get the skunk out the of her face. There was a total of 3 wild baby animals my house by the time I got back there but I can’t remember the third one. What is the meaning of this? I’m a person who dreams often and my dreams have always been very different then most people because they usual are warning to things going on around me or things that are about to happen to people in my life. My dreams usually become reality. SO…I need some expert advise on this one. Thanks-

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-Tara E 2011-10-17 12:52:34

what does it mean that I dreamt of a coyote jumping through a bedroom window -he bit me 6 times, but I was able to protect my baby that was in my arms?

Thanks
Tara

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    -Tony Crisp 2011-11-15 9:57:08

    Tara – Your dream seems to be about fear of being attacked, but not physically. It is probably things that are said to you that feel sometimes as if you have been bitten by a wild coyote, and it hurts.

    But your are learning a strength that is arising out of being a mother. It enables you to protect yourself because inside you is an ancient mother instinct. If you can learn to feel this and allow it to grow you will become stronger and learn a great deal.

    Tony

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-Jane 2011-10-27 3:17:14

Hi there, my memory is a little vague but last night I dreamt that I was in the inside of the house, looking out into the garden and there were dogs (familiar to me, I am not sure if they were mine) in the garden all sniffing out something, I am not sure what, in the long grass, but then one of the dogs sniffed out and began a fight with a large black snake, the dog overcame the snake and won the fight, it was not clear if the snake was dead.

I was rushing around trying to find my camera to try and photograph the spectacle but didn’t manage to find it in time. When the fight had finished, I was then still in the house but with a wonderful dog that we had when I was a child and he and I were waiting for his sister to come home, she was missing and he was ageing rapidly before my eyes, becoming old and frail.

Then I woke up.

The house and garden were that of my parents, my childhood home and where they still reside.

What might this dream mean?

Many thanks

PJK

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-jennifer 2011-12-12 6:58:15

i had a dream a yr ago that is still remeber very vividly and have not been able to figure out its meaning. i was walking in the woods with someone i did not know. it was a man but, i couldnt see his face.the whole time i could feel something watching me but, i was not afraid. we came to a circle clearing where around it was cougars. one stepped towards me still i wasnt afraid i felt safe. the cougar spoke and said there is alot to tell you and than i awoke. i have never had a dream like that before or since and would like to know if you could tell me the meaning.

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-June 2011-12-29 16:02:59

I had a very strange dream last night. My husband and I were on a vacation and we were walking, giggling,dancing and playing on the porch and front lawn of a large house. A baby mountain lion came up next to me and started pawing at me. I was a little afraid, but my husband convinced me that it was gentle. Our dog came up and the cub start playing with our dog. I backed away from the animals and they were between my husband and I. Suddenly the mother mountain lion approached. I was paralyzed with fear. She walked up to the dog and bit its neck. The cub just stood beside. I was afraid it would attack me, but wanted to help the dog. My husband very calmly said we should walk a way. We walked very slowly to a house on the corner and knocked at the door. I was watching the dog who did not fight and the mountain lion who was not very aggressive, but was killing the dog. I was shocked that my husband did not help the dog. An old woman answered the door gave us the key to a small house across the street and we arrived safely inside,but I felt horrible for not saving the dog. That is when I woke up.

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-cheryl 2012-12-14 3:56:27

I have been trying to figur out this dream, and cant seam to make sence of it.

I have this shark in a plastic bag.It’s as if I have just gotten it from the pet store, yet there is no water in the bag.And for some reason this seems normal. I think i can save it but whn I realize I can’t I take it to a wodden cutting board, and gently and precisley cut it into lenghts holding the knife with my right hand and the shark with my left. Then put the peices it into a larg fish tank filled with water. I then recall that there is another shark and retreve it from an unknowen place when i put it down i can see it breathing from the gill’s and am releived that this one has survived. all of a sudden for some reason it’s no longer a shark. it has become red fox, the most beatiful creature i have ever seen it looks at me and i know for some reason that this particular fox i have raised from a small pup. then some unknowen element takes it from me and i feel crushed and wake

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-Michelle 2013-11-15 21:28:34

I had a dream that I was having sex with a bear in at a parade and I enjoyed it.

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-Frye 2014-05-31 13:19:57

Wow! I could not wait to get on website to look this one up. It seemed silly but interested. It started with two things my son and daughter-law has a set of twin girls and also I do fostering. Well, in the dream she had a cat who had 12 kittens and they had the weirdiest fur colors that she wanted me to see: like cake fostering colors: white specks like sprinkles was the first one I saw and I went after it: ( I don’t like big cats that I do not know about but I like any kitten, they are so elegant, soft, and cuddle) but by the time I caught up. There were more and they was in this build big square wood build box about the size of a 8 by 10 room: I mean I guess it was build for them not to get out, because I had to step down in it. So I saw more kittens and they was colored like purple, green, orange, I mean light colors; then I chased the speckled kitten into the center and the other kittens turned dark and start taking the form of teenage girls. Well I do foster care and I always wanted a lot of girls about 6 so, I was excited and called my husband on cell phone ( saying can I get six of the girls that is all I kept saying they are so beautiful and I was chosing which ones I wanted they looked like beautiful twins: and I was calling out to my daughter-in law that I wanted 6 of them and that she had some wonderful girls and I want to keep them for her) She said get them over and over again numerous of time. And that is how the dream ended me getting those 6 girls because they had moved to the side away from the other girls and somehow I looked down and that specked kitten was still moving around among the girls and ended up sitting by the girls that I didn’t have. And I woked up, but I still have that dream playing back and forth in my mind.

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    -Tony Crisp 2014-06-03 9:29:45

    Dear Frye – You are a real mother, even in your dreams. But dreams are so different from real life. See http://dreamhawk.com/approaches-to-being/questions-2/#Summing

    You see love has no boundaries in the inner world of dreams, so you could have had all the kittens/girls. Love in dreams is like a prayer that reaches out and touches or encourages and supports those in need of the love you are obviously sending out.

    We are like islands and the shoreline is the end or our awareness of ourselves. But of course every island is simply the sea bed rising up, and beyond the shoreline we continue and are connected to all others unconsciously. See http://dreamhawk.com/approaches-to-being/questions-2/#TalkDead This also includes reaching out to the living.

    Tony

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