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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
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Concise Dream Symbol Dictionary

This article was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke on November 30, -0001
posted under Dream Symbol Dictionary

This concise dictionary was developed by Dr. Joe H. Slate and is excerpted from Chapter Seven of The Llewellyn Complete Book of Psychic Empowerment.

The interpretative significance of a dream symbol depends on a number of factors; among them, the nature of the dream itself, and the dreamer's personal characteristics, past experiences, and prevailing life circumstances. Despite these influencing variables, the meanings of many dream symbols appear to be reasonably stable. The purpose of this short dictionary is not to constrict the potential meanings of dreams, but to expand the interpretative possibilities of dream symbols, and to illustrate the potential value of dreams in promoting our personal insight and growth.

abyss. Emptiness or the unknown. "Falling into an abyss" suggests despair and feelings of hopelessness.

accident. The unexpected; loss of innocence or opportunity. Accidents suggest the importance of planning, foresight, caution, and critical assessment of current circumstances.

acrobat. Free, uninhibited, playful, and happy

animal. The characteristics typically attributed to certain animals are often symbolized by the animal. The dove will often symbolize peace; the cat, independence; the dog, friendliness; and the bear, aggression. A dream of a struggle with an animal can symbolize a threatening impulse, whereas a dream of stroking a pet can represent our need to nurture.

auditorium. The social self. An empty auditorium can represent constricted social interests, whereas a crowded auditorium suggests a need for social interaction.

avalanche. Urgency, future adversity, a need for immediate action.

badge. Courage, honor, or striving for integrity.

banner. Future achievement, success, or unexpected recognition.

barn. Practicality, basic needs, or a simple lifestyle.

bird. Aspiration, drive for self-fulfillment, or the human spirit. A specific bird can represent a particular characteristic or preferred course of action. The eagle symbolizes power and suggests dominance; the sparrow, a carefree spirit; the hawk, aggression; the blue bird, happiness and enduring relation-ships; and the red bird, passion and impulsiveness.

bridge. Transition, change, new opportunity, or desire for continuity.

butterfly. Change, spiritual growth, and vulnerability

candle. Truth, wisdom, and intelligence.

cavern. Mystery, desire to explore the unknown, or creativity.

chase. Escape, competitiveness, or vulnerability

classroom. Opportunity, growth, or the desire to control or to be controlled.

color. Typically creativity; however the particular color can have special significance. Red represents emotional intensity, anger, and urgency; pink, tenderness, femininity, and sensitivity; yellow, warmth and friendliness; green, virility, health, and wealth; light blue, peace and serenity; deep blue, the unknown and possible danger; orange, unpredictable circumstances; purple, mystery and spirituality; white, purity; gray, conservatism; black, unyielding or danger; and brown, practicality.

construction. A new beginning, new interests, changing relation-ships, or new projects.

conversation. Desire for social closeness, the need for acceptance.

crying. Guilt, insecurity, or the need to undo.

fire. Passion, a desire for vengeance, aggression, or a destroyed relationship.

firearm. Self-destruction, hostility, aggression, desperation, reck-lessness, or danger.

fish. Evasiveness, resistance, or the need to escape.

flood. Being overwhelmed, caught of guard, unprepared, vulnerable.

flower. Serenity and pleasure. Specific flowers can convey a particular message or denote a specific characteristic or need. Roses are associated with affection and the expression of love; pansies, temporary but intense relationship; sweet pea, children or the desire to have children; carnation, a pensive, reflective state of mind; chrysanthemum, a gala affair; orchid, permanence and commitment; petunia, rugged endurance; daffodil, warmth or the restoration of a relationship; tulip, productivity; hyacinth, reflection and a time to nurture relationships; gardenia, sensuality, persuasive powers; golden rod, abundance and security; violets, maturity and logic; and mixed flowers, balance and harmony within the self.

flying. Freedom or possibly an out-of-body experience.

fog. Uncertainty, unpreparedness, and procrastination. To be enveloped in fog suggests shortsightedness or danger.

fortress. The self's defense system; hence a crumbling fortress symbolizes vulnerability

fruit. Productivity, the desire for children, or an intimate relationship.

holiday. Change, freedom, escape, or travel.

horse. Power or control.

house. Family and social relationships.

ice. A cold relationship, inflexibility, shallow emotions, unwise investments, or a stalemate.

infant. A new beginning, regression tendencies, or innocence.

injury. Vulnerability, traumatic experience, weakness, depleted power resources, threatened personal security, inferiority feelings, or arrested growth.

island. Refuge, safety, or security.

jewel/jewelry. Enrichment, good fortune, and certain characteristics of the self depending on the nature of the item: The diamond signifies commitment and resolution; the ruby, quality and depth; the topaz, sincerity and warmth; the pearl, moral and spiritual values; the amethyst, devotion; gold, integrity; and silver, maturity

kissing. Desire for closeness, self love, or erotic desire.

ladder. Desire to excel, ambition, or growth.

lantern. Self orientation, skepticism, limited insight, or constricted interests.

laughter. Self-acceptance or self-satisfaction.

letter. Conscious or subconscious interaction, inner-attunement, forthcoming insight, or responsiveness to new knowledge.

light. A bright light signifies enlightenment and understanding. A flash of light symbolizes sudden insight.

metal. Metal objects can signify some unyielding aspect of the personality Gold represents striving for either purity or wealth; silver represents excellence; and steel indicates fixed beliefs or inflexibility Metal that becomes pliable in the dream suggests a willingness to modify one's position.

money. Material interests or financial concerns. A profitable financial venture is symbolized by finding money, whereas financial reversal is revealed by losing money. Large sums of money and counting money symbolize success.

monster. inner fears, insecurities, struggle, or vulnerability.

moon. Romance, fantasy, mystery, strength, or sincerity.

mountain. Personal growth, obstacle, challenge, or struggle to achieve goals.

music. Harmony, balance, and inner peace.

nudity. Vulnerability, inferiority feelings, and inadequacy

ocean. Typically, the ocean symbolizes the subconscious. A turbulent ocean suggests personal upheaval, inner struggle, discontent, and restlessness; whereas calm seas represent balance and harmony within the self.

painting. As a dream activity, painting represents an attempt to reverse some past action or to correct an adverse situation. Viewing a painting suggests passivity and possible voyeuristic impulses.

paralysis. Frustration, fear of failure, or hopelessness.

passageway. Transition, advancement, or escape.

people. Social interests or need for social acceptance. Strangers represent a new situation or the need to be cautious.

physical body. Sexual interests, narcissism, when dreaming of one's own body, or concern for bodily functions and health.

race. Urgency, escape, or the need for patience.

railroad crossing. Caution or impending danger.

rainstorm. Unrequited love, unfilled desires, striving for excitement.

road. Journey, new discoveries, or an important transition.

rocket. Male sexuality, ambition, aggression, or virility concerns.

sanctuary. Safety, spiritual growth, or escape.

ship. Destiny Steering a ship signifies being in control of destiny, whereas being a passenger suggests others are in control.

shoes. Material, earthly interests.

shopping. Efforts to nurture. Buying clothing represents strivings for acceptance and affiliation; buying shoes represents progress and advancement; buying food represents efforts to satisfy the needs of the inner self; and buying toiletries symbolizes erotic strivings.

singing. Happiness and fulfillment, spontaneity, genuineness, friendliness, or future gain.

skeleton. Impoverishment of personal resources; loss of power, reputation, or status.

skidding. Tendencies toward excessive risk-taking, altercation in a social relationship, or an impulsive confrontation.

snowstorm. Indecisiveness, unpreparedness, or vulnerability.

stairway. Transition, challenge, or struggle.

stone. A stone building symbolizes stability, whereas a stone landscape or boulder represents obstacles, adversity, and resistance.

struggle. Inner conflict, need for achievement, barriers to growth.

sunburn. Vulnerability to external influences, social pressures in particular.

sunrise. The beginning of a new and productive growth stage. A brilliant sunrise denotes unusual growth opportunities. Recurring dreams of a sunrise suggests self-confidence and a readiness to accommodate change and achieve new goals.

theater. Fantasy or escape needs.

tombstone. Gateway, death, or other life transition.

tower. Ambition, independence, self-reliance, male sexuality, strength, and purpose.

train. Spiritual growth, travel, or change.

tree. As a phallic symbol, virility, but when barren, sexual deficiency. A fallen tree can represent defeat, whereas a towering tree can signify aspiration.

uniform. Conformity, authority, or power.

walking. Patience, steady progress, or consistency.


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