Animals Who Wander into Our Dreams [Free]

I was recently asked by a subscriber what it “meant” when a certain animal appeared in a dream. A great question that got me thinking about the bigger question of when animals make their way into our dreams and what that holds for us. 

Jung and Freud and other “names” in the “modern” considerations of dreaming often have defined animals in dreams in very specific ways. Jung believed animals represented connections to our instincts or to our feelings. James Hillman, who wrote a book about dreams and animals, said, “Reconnecting to the animal means getting to a more sensitive, more artful and more humorous place in the psyche.”

I don’t really agree with Jung, Freud [on oh so many things] or Hillman about being able to say exactly what a thing in a dream is for everyone. An animal that is terrifying in a dream, for example, may not mean getting to a “more artful and more humorous place” for a dreamer. The animal may come to be provocative of other kinds of feelings and experiences.

Of course, for me, an animal in a dream holds many possibilities and is very beautifully complex – all related to how the dreamer feels about animals and, in particular, about the exact animal in the dream.

An animal in a dream opens many questions, like: Is the animal wild or domesticated? Is the animal wild but seemingly domesticated? Is the animal a being we have encountered in waking life? Is the animal special to us in some way? Does the kind of animal hold specific meaning for us around mythology, story, religion, spirituality? Has the animal appeared to us recently in some way – like a book or a movie or in our backyard? How do we feel about animals in general.

Then the most important exploration, after all these questions, is about the relationship in the dream between us and the animal. Is there connection, interaction, reaction? Do we run toward, away? Do we even notice the animal? Does the animal even notice us? Does he/she run toward, away? What is the condition of the animal?


But back to the original question of what to make of animals in our dreams without deeply working a specific dream with a specific human. For those of us who work with dreams and/or love working with our own dreams, it can be helpful to consider the question in a broader sense. 

Honestly, it is the kind of question I love to consider! I do believe we can weave our curiosity about dream animals both around stories of the animal and what we know about the animal and how they live – and bring this back to the conversation/exploration of individual dreamers. 

So! A new series – exploring this larger context of animals in dreams, including specific animals. In our next/first article, we will turn to the great bear!

Paradise Landscape with God Telling Adam to Name the Animals
Jan Brueghal the Elder – 1594