Sometimes we dream about creatures which are not like any animal we know – perhaps ancient, or mixtures of plants and animals. These can represent our fear of things like bacteria, or illness due to micro-organisms. Occasionally they may even represent what such an illness is doing in the body. But frequently the point to the wonderful cellular activity and processes in your body, or the unconscious activities of mind.

Example: As I looked around I found a small creature on a rock. It looked like cellophane as I could see right through it. It was about three inches across, shaped slightly like a starfish, and was mobile. I found other creatures also, bigger and looking more solid, maybe nine inches across, also mobile, with a texture like thick seaweed, and with many ‘legs’ from a central body or nucleus. I hadn’t seen creatures like this before.

Suddenly I felt one of the larger creatures moving up my leg, inside my trousers. It climbed to my left shoulder, and I was aware of others also on my body, about three or four. I was not frightened, but a little tense, wondering what to do. I realised I should have tucked my trousers in my socks so they would not have been able to crawl up my legs. I thought of taking my clothes off to remove the creatures, but thought others would then be able to jump on me easily. At this point the dream ended or I woke. T.

Some creatures appearing in dreams are big and perhaps scary, but not always. Dreams create these because the creatures you know already do not have the right associations to exactly portray what is being presented. The creature may be a lovable cartoon type, prehistoric, or even a creature of darkness. What you feel about it is a clue to what it depicts, but you need to see this as something you are feeling or facing in your life. For help doing this see Standing in Roles.

Example: A small animal was clinging to my chest. It gave me the strong feeling of its animal nature, and was like a small bulging eyed monkey or lemur. As it clung it had one of my hands held firmly in its mouth using it as a teat. Its teeth were slightly painful. I knew it did this account of being frightened, and I, with others, was taking its back to the zoo from where it had escaped.

The above dream shows very clearly what this creature depicts – the animal anxiety we all face when out of our usual surroundings and environment, or when our instinctive flight or fight pattern gets stimulated. As humans we are naturally gregarious creatures needing to be recognised and part of a community. This is so often not what we face in life that stress results from. Our dreams not only portray this, but the process behind dreams seeks a solution in its reservoir of resources. See: collective unconscious.

Martin dreamt of seeing ancient creatures arise from the muddy water that had gathered where foundations had been dug for new buildings. A prehistoric creature emerges from the swampy ground and followed him. He is frightened and runs away, but the creature talks to him. In entering his dream and allowing his feelings to respond he experienced the following.

I understood in a flash the meaning of the creatures in the swamp dream. I am life – ancient, prehistoric life, meeting the demands of today’s world, today’s social scene, today’s conscious decisions. It is the ancient self my inner exploring has uncovered in its dealings, yet I have been running away. That is because my feeling self has been so hurt and in pain. Yes, I understood, the beast in me 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. Yes, there were so many real dangers that fear gave as the strength to run from. The healthy beast still feels fear as it looks out of its eyes as modern man. It must not be crushed or repressed. Gradually it will grow and fear less. Give it time, let it grow slowly beyond its fear.

The creature in our dream often depicts some aspect of these primal and fundamental processes or instinctive urges and drives in us. As in Martin’s dream, the way you relate to it is usually shown in the dream action, and with some openness you can usually get in touch with the forces or feelings within you and around you that it portrays.

Useful Questions and Hints:

What is the creature doing in my dream and how am I responding to it?

If I am frightened what am I feeling anxious about in waking life?

If I imagine touching the creature what do I feel?

See Techniques for Exploring your DreamsMammal BrainInner World

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