Beast Bestial

An animal of extraordinary power or a creature causing great terror is a feature of many dreams or nightmares. The figure may be partly human, or an animal which has strange characteristics, or perhaps it is a figure which never quite declares itself, remaining unseen but causing or projecting great fear. In some dreams the beast takes the form of a prehistoric creature.

When explored in any depth such dream images are realised to be an expression of powerful internal emotions, responses and drives which have in most cases previously remained unconscious. The reason for this lack of expression in conscious life is varied. It may be that painful childhood experiences created a block, or fear surrounding some basic drives such as anger, sexuality or self expression. Or maybe  you were raised to be afraid of certain ideas, creatures or even fictional characters. Therefore major areas of ones potential are withheld and become symbolised by the beast. That such a beast appears threatening and aggressive, or even bent on ones destruction, is a simple statement of the way we relate to the forces of our psyche that are bound up with it. For instance if we have been made terrified that our parents will desert us, the expression of our need for love may create this terror. So the beast, in itself, is usually not a thing of terror. The awful feelings are what we experience in connection with what it signifies. If you drop the dream image and look at the feelings underlying it you will get a better insight into your dream. See Animal

As this terror originally occurred in early childhood at a time when our developing identity was very fragile, or during later traumatic events, the force of such feelings are often life threatening as far as our growing identity was concerned. But similar repression may surround the strength of our own sexuality or basic driving forces. See What You Carry into Your Dreams.

As many of us are not at ease with our emotions and irrational urges, to meet this ‘beast’ may not be easy even as an adult. This would mean feeling the intensity of our childhood emotions and fears, reappraising them, and integrating the information gathered from such an experience. The information might well include insights into why we avoided certain life situations, or why strong feelings were evoked by seemingly simple events. The example below gives some small insight into this. The information is told by a woman who helped Margaret work on her dream.

Example: Margaret dreamt there was a whole lot of downy little feathers falling from the sky and covering her, like snow. The sky was full of them. She had been watching a baby eagle very high up in tree tops flying from tree to tree. She felt it was looking for it’s mother/ parents. Then a man had caught the baby eagle by a string around it’s leg and Margaret was appalled and said to him, ‘You can’t do that. You must let it go.’ Then the feathers started to fall and Margaret felt that any moment now the irate parent eagles would arrive. They didn’t but she was with her back to a wall sheltering as best she could.

While we explored Margaret’s feelings and memories connected with the dream symbols, she told me that her man friend prodded an old childhood pain which he didn’t know about. Margaret and her son had been with him and his mother for a good weekend camping. She told her son he could go play in the park while they packed the car and they would pick him up on the way out. They were all in the car and drove to where the son was and called him, he saw them and started to run towards them and then the man friend drove the car forward as if to make out they were leaving him behind. Margaret burst with pain and anger.

The underlying cause of this was that her own parents had split up and neither of them wanted Margaret to live with them. She had therefore been looked after by her grandparents. The event that crystallised her feelings occurred one day when her Grandfather had, on the Grandmother’s instructions, driven Margaret, who was 7 years old, to the edge of the town, told her to get out and started to drive away. This was because she wouldn’t eat her breakfast. She still carries the pain of that day. She told her father many years later and he was very angry with his own father for doing that to Margaret. She says – Anyway, it came out again when we were looking at the dream. The male friend grew up with an alcoholic father who has just died, but he says he hasn’t any trauma to deal with??

The theme of the beast is very important in women’s dreams, but may hold a slightly different theme than in men’s. This difference is illustrated by the story of Beauty and the Beast, in which a young girl meets and lives with a powerful beast. The story emphasises the girl’s relationship with her father as a counterpoint to that with the beast. It suggests that a young woman meets a different kind of love when she leaves the affection from and for her father. To become fully a woman and mother, she must discover the deeply animal urges which underlie the personality and social traits she has developed so far. These urges are not at all uncouth, but are certainly primitive. They open her to experience deep sexual longing, and the power to give herself with passion to her children and to her man. Thus she allows in herself something forbidden in her relationship with her father – an erotic and procreational love.

Overall the beast represents the forces in our personality out of which we emerge into social and intellectual life. Unless we make friends with our beast there may always be conflict in us between the rational and non-rational. We existed as a beast for millions of years before the sort of consciousness which led to personal awareness emerging. Self-awareness is still very new and vulnerable. It needs the greater depth and inner wisdom of the beast to survive. See: The Rock Beast

The beast in us has a healthy fear of much that goes on in today’s world. Fear is a guardian that protected ancient beast from uncountable dangers for millions of years. Although it appears like a great and ancient beast, it is full of mystery and magic. It has brought about living beings in incredible variety. It has possibilities we cannot even guess at. Within itself it holds the secrets of creation and destruction, of sleep and waking, of the intricacies of mind and spirit. It has unimaginable power and tenacity. It is beyond us and yet intimately of very core of self. We relate to it, we enliven it, we call it out or imprisonment by every act we do.

Here is an extract from the dream-work of a man exploring a dream about snakes which he feared would attack him.

Example: As I imagine myself to be the snakes I have a distinct feeling that for millions of years I have existed as an animal. As human beings we often reject the animal in us. I see the meaning of the snakes. The snakes are so powerful. They are urges in all of us, to be felt if we are not afraid of them. The urges they depict can become a part of our everyday life. A man is somebody who has all that power there but it is under control. I have been brought up to feel one is supposed to be meek and mild or something. It was not socially acceptable to growl a bit.

I am a mixture of a beast and this awareness of self. WHY? WHY? (I feel like a wordless animal which has just got awareness). Intellect is developing and can ask these questions but there is still the powerful beast here. Why has this happened to me? Why have I woken up from being an unconscious animal and become conscious? What is this all about? It feels like it ought to be a swamp outside the window now – or a jungle.

I am a man! What is a man? What is it to be a man? I really feel this isn’t a way to be. It is too strange to be a man. I am really something odd. It is odd being a man. It is frightening. I am not like the other beasts. The other beasts haven’t got this difficulty of self awareness. They don’t carry this difficult thing – self awareness. They don’t carry the difficulty all the time. Why should I be different? I don’t like it. DON’T like it.

There is something I am looking at which is to do with how human beings got to be in the situation they are in today. Part of it is this feeling of wanting to turn back – wanting to go back to being unconscious – to being asleep. A lot of them did it. They turned back. Hundreds and hundreds turned back. That was the story of Noah. Hundreds turned back because they didn’t want to bear consciousness. Huge numbers of people attempt it today with drugs or suicide because being aware is so difficult.

But of course many of us still do it today because they avoid meeting anything that personally faces them with their own childhood emotions or the animal that they are.


Useful Questions and Hints:

How am I relating to this beast, and can I change it by meeting or being it?

Is the beast trying to communicate with me in any way?

In what ways am I trying to escape from or defend myself from the beast – in other words what do I use to repress this in myself?

For help relating to the beast, see Stand in Role also see Acting on your dream.


-cathy bruce 2016-01-06 12:54:03

Dreamed the bear paseed eveyone in the building the bear was chasing me i held the doorbut he could have come through the door but didnt the builing was like a factory he was a big brown bear

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