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Animals in Your Dreams

The animals we dream of express the wealth of our own feelings and depth of our unconscious understanding of life.

Few of the things we do as an individual in today’s world are uniquely human. Like other animals we build dwellings, we eat, sleep and reproduce. We care for our young with the same passion and self sacrifice seen in other mammals. We follow leaders and develop hierarchy as do wolves and primates. Above all else, we share with our fellow creatures our existence in a physical body we have inherited from a long line of forebears and pre-human animals. From this long past we carry traits and urges, fears and dispositions that underpin our self aware human personality. In dreams, these largely unconscious responses to what we face in life are shown as animals.

For instance some of these traits we know as the flight, fight or freeze response; as the new born baby’s instinct to suckle and bond with its parent; as our urge to find a partner and mate; and particularly we see it in the drive to survive and thrive. But there are many more subtle aspects of the animal inheritance we carry with us. Some of these we see in our social behaviour, as when we shrewdly asses a person’s character, or discover what we call the ‘chemistry’ that exists between us and another person. Such things arise largely from our unconscious intuitions and senses. Such senses and responses were developed over millions of years by our animal forbears. In fact we are like a small face on top of a long line of beautiful animals.

This 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 most ancient brain, one we share with reptiles and birds is called the R complex – R for reptilian. This part of your brain deals with deeply instinctive behaviour such as flight or fight, swallowing, automatic reflexes, inbuilt mating behaviour, territorial defence and aggression. This R complex developed about 200 million years ago and is still an underpinning part of what influences your behaviour today. Dreams often portray these urges in you as snakes or lizards.

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.

Many people are frightened or terrified of their dream animals. That is rather like being terrified of a picture on a cinema screen, for dreams are nothing more than moving images on the screen four sleeping mind. Like a computer game you can be attacked or even killed many times but you are still whole and unhurt. Face up to the animals in your dreams and make friends of them, because they are really helpful assets to have. See Inner World

Useful questions:

Is there any concern about the animal’s health?

Is there an indication the animal has been injured?
Does love, caring or affection enter into the dream?

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.” See Animals.

Meeting your dream animals

What has been said about your three brains and what sort of dream arises from them is of course a generalisation. When you are looking at your own animal dreams you want to know specifically how they refer to you. So we will move from the general to the specific in looking at the dream meanings of animals such as a dog, cat, snake, horse, tiger and elephant. Those are mentioned because they are, in the order given, the most frequently dreamed of animals.

As explained in an earlier chapter, these are not to be thought of 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. To actually make a living connection with your dream animals see Acting in your Dream


To gain an understanding of your dream animals, it is helpful to imagine that you are the keeper of a prehistoric type of human being. As such you would need to be aware what the correct diet is for this big creature; what type of dwelling it needs; what are its sexual and emotional needs; what frightens it or causes it stress; what amount of exercise keeps it healthy, what its stages of growth are and how it can best develop through those stages; and what satisfies it in relationships with others of its kind? Your animal dreams are showing you exactly those issues. They are giving you insight into how to care for the instinctive, the spontaneous and natural in you.

Therefore ask yourself the following questions about your animal dreams, and write down any responses. If the answer is no to a question, move on the next one:

Is your dream animal struggling to survive?

Survival is the most powerful and fundamental drive in your body and personality. Survival skills today are often linked with managing to remain alive in difficult terrain or harsh countryside, but we all live in the midst of challenges even in civilised surroundings. Your everyday social, work and political environments confront you with enormous difficulties. Also, every cell in your being is trying to survive. Your body and its systems are constantly involved in maintaining balance amidst powerful counter influences, or even against your own bad habits. Understanding what difficulties you face in surviving, and what resources you have to handle them is a huge step toward a better life. If you had the reptilian brain and the mammalian brains removed you would not function.

Therefore define if you can what your dream animal is struggling with or against in its efforts to survive. Look for connections with your everyday life. In doing so remember that the dream is putting into graphic form, perhaps like a mime, something that needs to be lifted into everyday words and perceptions.

We all have so many aspects to what we need in life to survive as a whole person. We might be doing very well in work or social recognition, but our need for warmth and love might be struggling. So it is helpful to list the facets of your own life, such as physical health, mental health and vitality, emotional needs, finance, acclaim, and so on, and asses their survival rating.

Is the animal domesticated or wild?

This illustrates the difference between urges within yourself that you have completely socialised or learned to cooperate with, and those that are in conflict with your conscious actions or what other people expect of you. An example of this can be seen in youthful rebellion, and in the difference between what is instinctive and spontaneous in a young person, such as aggression or fear, and what is expected of them by others. The rebellious youth might allow their unsocialised urges to express as criminal acts, or disruptive social behaviour. On the other hand they might express it in the form of music or art that, while it is still anti establishment, is rewarded, as with the Rolling Stones.

So the need here is to recognise what of your feelings or urges are involved, and ask yourself if the wild is healthy as it is, or does it need a better relationship with your social or work activities? On the other hand, sometimes social restraints or needs deaden the spontaneous and natural in oneself, and so need to be reduced for greater personal harmony.

  • Is there any concern about the animal’s health?
  • Is there an indication the animal has been injured?
  • Does love, caring or affection enter into the dream?

We have inherited and enlarged the great tenderness and care seen in other mammals.

  • Are sexual feelings involved?
  • Does the animal show unusual intelligence or ability to speak?
  • Is the animal giving advice or showing you something?
  • Are baby animals involved?
  • Is the animal attacking or being attacked?
  • Is there a herd or group of these animals?
  • Has the animal been neglected or mutilated?
  • Are you trapped by or running away from an animal?
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Comments

-Lena 2013-11-07 23:27:22

Can you please interpret this dream for me:
There was a pristine white cat lying serenely somewhere. Then another cat comes (I can’t remember its colour) and chases the white cat. The white cat tries to flee and is climbing up something, but the other cat pulls it down by clawing at the white cat’s tail. Then the other cat goes underneath the white cat and of course they are mating. Apart from my request to you to interpret this dream for me, I just want to say that I felt outraged that the other cat literally forced itself on the white cat, but I find it confusing that it should go underneath it instead of above it, because the latter indicates some kind of power over the other. And here obviously the other cat had power over the white cat. Then why did I see it go underneath the white cat?

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    -Tony Crisp 2013-11-08 8:23:20

    Lena – I believe you are not understanding the relationship between the light and the darkness. Without the darkness there could be no awareness of light. If you lived in a world of just light you would have no shape, no colour, no dimension, for all those thing come from the ‘mating’ of light with darkness. Colour, awareness of shape is all aspects of darkness.

    Having recently had a cat give birth to kittens, I observed that she sought that mating with a vengeance. She was certainly not an unwilling and powerless partner. She was in mutual control, but her shape needed her to take the position. So I see your dream as a reminder that you have been flying into the ‘light’ but it needs to be balanced and mated with the dark. Your outrage is a feeling that needs to be explored until you trace it back to its roots. It is probably caused by an event or a trauma from an early age. See http://dreamhawk.com/approaches-to-being/lifes-little-secrets/

    Tony

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-Whynot 2013-11-20 7:44:21

Can you please interpret my dream ??
I was traveling with the car and suddenly saw through the window,wow it was a huge beautiful mountain withh a lot of differenc beautiful animals…it was just amazing ,i have never seen such an amazing view in my life,the animals were all colorared,there was also a big beautiful green lake ..what does this mean ??

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-Kent Gryphon 2013-11-24 9:44:41

Hi Tony,
Can you please interpret my dreams?
I have stumbled on this page quite by accident after having two very vivid dreams in a row, both involving animals, and they are staying in my head.
I am from Australia, and my first dream involves finding two Blue tongue lizards with a friend. Both were in a place they should not have ben, and we wanted to return them to the wild. The first I picked up carefully and took to the bush and let it go. The second was damaged, like it had been run over by something, yet it was still alive. Its insides were only just being held together by its skin, and as I picked it up it was trying to move. Against my friend’s wishes, I insisted we take it to a vet, to see if there was anything we could possibly do for this beautiful lizard rather than leave it alone to die. I felt such a strong connection to the lizard, which I do love in real life and have saved a few, and I felt it did not want to die, yet I could see no way it could actually survive.
The next night, I had a dream I was riding a bike with a friend and my partner. We were going down the most beautiful country side and I had to keep stopping to take photos on my phone. We rode over a bridge that ran alongside a river, with the most crystal clear water, and in it I saw some dolphins. Other people had gathered around and I wanted to take photos. My partner and friend continued and when I got off my bike to get closer I realised they were dead. The crowd then gathered to a speaker who was explain these creatures and others in the ocean were dying from a small piece of technology found in mobile phones that people discard, never knowing the danger.
I don’t know if these are related or not. The thing is, I never usually remember a dream at all, lucky to remember on or two a year, so these are baffling me.
Regards
kent

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-Anna 2014-02-18 2:30:40

Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me please, I’ve had terrible graphic nightmares and I am very distraught. I worry about going to sleep incase I have these nightmares again. My last one was last night…
I’m in some kind of warehouse/slaughter house
There are tigers, thousands of them, all lying on the floor. They are not dead but passively lying there.
From above there are dogs, easily 10 times the size of the tigers and they have mechanical arms with human hands attached to them.
They pick up the tiger like a rag doll and push their thumbs into the neck of the tiger and peel back the flesh like a banana skin. The dogs eat this yellow runny jelly that comes from the tiger until blood starts coming out. The mechanical arms place the tiger back on the floor and blood starts coming out of them. The blood is thick and I always see how thick the blood is and it comes out of the tiger like ketchup coming out of a bottle. The tigers look deflated next to the red piles of blood. I never see myself in the nightmare, it’s always first person.

I am very saddened and worried about what and why I am dreaming this, if you have any ideas I would be very grateful.

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-Elgis 2014-05-24 15:02:54

Hi. I had a dream last night that I was in a river, suddenly I see a giraffe’s head and face. It was huge, but as I went to it saw that it was a young giraffe. I went up to her and started to pet her. She was laying on her side and was injured. Had bite marks on right front and hind legs. She was not struggling or stressed, but I felt tremendous anguish. Then realize it was a lion that attacked. I continued petting her. Eventually she was healed…up and walking, but the marks were still visible. The whole time she was very calm gazing at me with gentle eyes. What does this me?

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-Paris Flanagin 2014-07-11 14:53:28

Hi I came across this article while trying to figure out what the heck is going on. The more and more dreams I have the more I wonder and even in my last dream I finally asked out loud within my dream, what is going on? Why is this happening? Why are wild animals always around me? I can remember as far back as age 7. I am 26 now, I have always had dreams about wild animals being outside of my house. They are aggressive or trying to hurt me.they are just various beautiful wild animals and it’s always like they are waiting for me and I’m always just extremely confused. The last dream I had a few nights ago, I was sitting on my porch and this medium sized cat approaches me, very loving so I start to pet it. I soon get a look at it’s face and realize it’s a baby tiger. Then I look around and all of these animals start coming closer out of nowhere. Birds baboons zebras, larger tigers, lions, Oxen. I started looking around and it was like my dream state was aware of how often in my life this has happens and I was just like seriously? Look at this. This isn’t normal. Why does this happen and so often. Their are wild animals all around my house. So yeah, really wish I knew what this was, been dreaming it my whole life.

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-Paris Flanagin 2014-07-11 14:57:59

I meant to say that the animals in my dreams are not aggressive or trying to hurt me. They never have been.

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-Raine 2014-07-20 14:39:53

I’m confused about what lizards and frogs mean in my dream…I’m not afraid of them -I love them! I love dragons too!- but I dreamt of an iguana that kept trying (and succeeding) on getting in my house but he was hissing and kind of gaining at the mouth…I kept picking him up and putting him back outside (he never hurt me) and then he’d be in the house again. Then I found a little anole (still in my dream) caught in the windowsill and I picked him up and released him outside. THEN I found a bunch of TINY frogs in a little puddle of water but when I tried to pick them up to move them, they disappeared.
As added info, I was just recently diagnosed with a seizure disorder (disfunction in the left hemisphere of my brain) and am working with a neurologist to manage that.
Again, I’m not afraid of lizards or frogs -quite the opposite- and am trying to help them one dream. Is it simply that I am trying to sort out (help myself) with this latest challenge?

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-Sadhana 2014-08-13 6:02:17

Sir I saw a very uncommon dream last night.Although these days i am going through very tough stage of my life.What I saw that my father bring two pets baby tiger and baby lion..u knw i love pets.Few years back..i lost my own dog..anyways..then what i saw that we were taking care of them..esp me.Feeding them..they both were so cute.Tiger was kissing me.But one day they both started fighting…and i was sreaming,weeping…then my baby tiger got severely injured….i was begging before my own family members to please see a doctor..i was contacting doctors…again crying..but nobody was ready to accompanied me to the hospital with baby tiger..i can feel him…he was so cute…but not was in conscious…then my father came..and then i told him about baby tiger…but then i woke up..please tell me..i am student of psychology..dreams tell everything about ur inner con…

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-tayler 2014-09-02 21:41:00

Please interpret I had a dream that I was nursing a bunch of baby kittens myself and they were in 3 different boxes, all different sizes but they were all black and when I went to pick up the kitten one of them turned into a snake.

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-Cat 2014-09-18 19:49:00

I’m hoping you can help me. I keep having recurring dreams of trying to save animals, specifically, cats. For example I will see one dash into traffic and I try to save it from getting killed. All of the scenarios involve cats escaping safety and me trying to prevent their imminent death. It’s highly stressful and I usually wake up agitated and upset.

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-jiffy 2014-10-02 2:11:15

Please interpret my dream… I dreamed of black animal ( a panther maybe) and these animal eats babies in different scenario… I just saw just like im a cameraman in the scene.

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-Mark 2014-10-05 10:26:33

I had a dream and I wrote down yellowish bird elephant I’m trying to figure out what it means

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-Anj 2014-10-21 7:00:32

Hi please can you interpret my dream for me? I have never had this dream before.

In my dream, I was in my back garden and I learnt that I was going to be murdered and that I was being hunted. When I learnt the news of this in my dream, I felt panicky. But then hundreds of people came towards me in a curved line, but not in single file, to protect and comfort me. They then made way for what was coming toward all of us.

Animals came from different directions (all kinds – a pack of wolves, a group of some strange kind of yellow seals, bears and I don’t think I can remember what else). But they came to surround me in a circle and I felt very safe. The animals and the people were there with me everywhere I went in my dream.

At one point, much later on, one of the wolves barked menacingly and people were screaming and running away. I turned around to look it in the eyes to see if it was going to attack, and it took me a few seconds to realise that it might. So I turned around and walked away quickly.

I was then in a room in what felt like my house (but it was much bigger in my dream, with lots of rooms) with some of the people mentioned earlier.

Near the end of my dream, I was in my house (this time my actual house) and my brother had broken the back door and I knew that someone might come through and kill me. As I walked away, I heard some ruffling of the curtains and saw someone that had come through that door towards me. And then I can’t remember what happened in the end- possibly woke up, but I think my animals may have intervened.

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