DREAM DICTIONARY: What Your 12 Most Common Dreams Mean


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12 Most Common Dreams

“Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves.” – Dr. Erich Fromm

I’ve always had a fascination with the meaning of dreams, especially after a long yarn with science fiction and fantasy author/editor Lin Carter at Detroit TriCon ’72. [1]

Lin Carter was a compelling little fellow who came across as a kind of old-time Southern gentleman, a cross between Doc Holliday and Colonel Saunders, complete with fancy walking stick.  A bit full of himself, but I liked him (he had read and liked my first published story “Ornithanthropus,” which had a lot of buzz then).  His love and knowledge of imaginative literature was immense and enthralling.

I knew of Lin already as the author of THE WIZARD OF LEMURIA, which introduced his Thongor the Barbarian character, and as editor of Ballantine Books Fantasy Series, giving us writers such as William Morris, Lord Dunsany, Evangeline Walton, Hope Mirrlees and H P Lovecraft.  Lovecraft’s earlier work, THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH, remains one of my fave fantasies.  Lin’s introduction to each book in the series was a wondrous journey in itself.

Lin believed that dreams were the source of the primal motifs of mythology, folk tales and the best fantasy fiction.  He spurred me to continue along that road — Carl Jung being our mutual guide.

Somewhere along that trail, I devised this little Dream Dictionary of our 12 Most Common Dreams.  In various incarnations, it’s appeared on different websites and blogs, often without credit.  It’s free to copy, folks, but a credit would be nice.

In dreams, we are free.  Free to unfold our spiritual wings and meet our brightest and darkest selves.  Though for some reason we tend to remember our bad dreams the most, eh?

Dreams and Nightmares – Dream Interpretation: Bet you’ve experienced most or all of these…

ANIMALS**  Wild animals denote troubles or fears, even misfortune. Domestic animals, especially pets, usually mean good fortune. Their demeaner is significant. A fierce animal is a warning. A calm one indicates happy times. Animals often represent the primal side of our makeup and the dreamer’s relationship with the animal tells how much control they have over that part of themselves. The most common animals in our dreams are:

….BEARS* Northern cultures, including European, once believed that the Bear was Humankind’s closest blood relative.  To them, Bear symbolized great power, both spiritual and physical.  Modern city-centered cultures see the Bear as Danger, unless they are dancing, caged — or dead.  Dreaming of Civilized Bears reveals your power of imagination, spirituality and sense of humour.

….BIRDS*  depending on the kind of bird, this is usually a sign of prosperity and unexpected happiness for you. Large birds are the symbol of Freedom. Singing birds, of happiness.  Crows and ravens bring spiritual messages.

….CATS*  an age-old symbol of the Feminine; the elegant and mysterious elements of our lives. To dream of a friendly cat, means you are developing your intuitive powers. If you are attacked by a cat, beware of an enemy pretending to be a friend. If you hear a cat screeching, beware of gossip. A purring cat promises happiness.

….DOGS*  #1 dreamed animal! Traditional symbol of the Masculine; courage and loyalty. A friendly dog denotes coming domestic happiness. A vicious dog warns you of financial or health concerns. A howling dog warns of separation from loved ones.

….HORSES*  a symbol of animal power, strength and energy. To be riding a beautiful horse denotes you will achieve much power in life. A wild horse, out of control, is a warning to curb your own passions. A sick horse cautions you of ill health.

….INSECTS*  usually represent small, nagging worries. Things that “bug” you. Traditionally, they can represent relatives. How you handle the insects in your dream, tells you how to handle these worries.

….RATS*  beware of deception! Especially from someone close to you. The dream-meaning of killing a rat is one of success.

….SNAKES*  lead us not into temptation. A symbol of betrayals and enemies. If a snake bites you, beware of a quarrel with a friend. Your dream will show you who your enemy is.

….SPIDERS*  traditionally a sign of good fortune. Money, and much of it!

….WOLVES*  a balance of the Dog’s loyalty and courage with Nature’s ferocity. Be prepared to face a disastrous turn of events. You can overcome if you have powerful allies.

AUTOMOBILE**  The great modern symbol of power, status, vitality, sexuality. Life itself. Automobile dreams are very common and have many meanings in dream analysis. It depends on factors like — who is driving? Is it a pleasant journey or a treacherous one? An old clunker or a luxurious new car? Beginning a drive in an automobile generally means that you are in the beginning stages of a new life-plan. Where the car takes you metaphorically shows you where your life should be going. If your car breaks down, you could be placing your trust in someone not worth it.

CELEBRITIES**  Meeting a famous person can indicate a profitable new offer will be made. There will be a change for good in your life. A goal can finally be obtained. Celebrities are our cultural heroes, and to dream of them can mean that it is time for you to join their ranks.

CHASE**  To dream of being chased by some frightening being can mean that it is time for you to set out on your destined path. But you are refusing to let go of elements in your life that are hindering your quest. If you are caught by that being, you have much work ahead of you. If you escape, you are almost free — your life-quest is taking a new road.

DEATH**  This dream’s analysis depends on the emotional content — if you awoke with a dreadful sense of real death, it could be a true death-dream and you have sensed someone’s passing. This happens to sensitive people. The elderly may have dreams that prepare them for their passing. If, however, you dream of death without having dark emotions, it has the meaning of release from current worries and actually signifies its opposite: a recovery, a rebirth is about to occur in your life.

FALLING**  The most common dream of all. It can mean the dreamer is in fear of losing respect or status; or of financial difficulties; or fading physical vitality; or losing someone’s love. If you land and awaken suddenly, it is literally a “wake-up call” to attend to matters in the physical world. If you land but the dream continues, then the answer to your dilemma is being given to you in that dream

FLYING**  The great Mythical symbol of Freedom. The meaning of flying dreams is one of good omens. You instinctively know the goals in life and how to seek them. Whether it’s love you seek, or a place in life, or fame and fortune, you will fly over earthly obstacles and find your happiness. Recurrent flying dreams indicate great fortune. All Traditions explain flying dreams in the same way. If you are in your own human form, you will find happiness in an ordinary but successful life. If you are a bird in your dream, you will be most fortunate in life and attract good luck. If you are a Winged Human (Greek term: Ornithanthropus — “Winged man”), you are bound for a highly creative and fulfilled life.

HOUSE**  A symbol of many meanings! If Falling is the most common dream, then a House or Apartment is the second most common. In a dream, a house usually represents You. ROOMS represent different aspects of yourself. DOORS are opportunities. If it is your own home, you are on a solid spiritual foundation. If you dream that you are in a strange new house, it indicates your future, what you must do. The BEDROOM has many obvious meanings…the BED is the most common dream object of all. The BATHROOM…from bathing to using the toilet, are common situations.

LOST**  The meaning of this dream is literal. You are lost in your life, adrift. Something is gone from your life — Love, Career, Spirituality. The SETTING of your dream, where you are lost, holds the answers to your salvation….LOSING SOMETHING PRECIOUS is a variation of the LOST dream; the object lost being the key to the dream.  A common lost object is TEETH – symbolizing your anxiety about a change in your life you are going through, or about to experience.

NAKED**  Most often, this is not a sexual dream. Usually this common dream is a dream of inadequacy: you don’t feel prepared for some event, or for life itself. This dream may have an element of comedy — lighten up! Don’t worry. Traditionally, this has been a dream of money luck. Buy a lottery ticket.

SEXUAL DREAMS**  The meaning of sexuality in dreams depends on the emotional element. If you wake up sexually aroused, that is common. Sexuality is a fundamental part of living and sexual dreams express part of your being. Only if the content is disturbing or if your arrousal is more intense from dreams than from waking experience, do you need to explore your dream’s meaning. If you dream of sexual experience but are not sexually aroused, the traditional meaning is one of general happiness. Your love relationship is deepening or about to be renewed. The most common sexual dreams are:







Curiously, a more recent sexual dream is….SEX CHANGE.

WATER**  Traditionally, calm water means good times ahead, clear sailing. Rough waters: caution, reconsider your actions. To drown can be a warning — but also indicate your need for more spiritual examination.

….BATHING*  warm water fortells of increased love in your life or of spiritual rebirth.

….DRINKING WATER*  if the water is clear, the dream augurs financial security, prosperity. If it is cloudy; financial problems.

….SWIMMING*  a complex dream, where meaning depends on all the details: conditions of water, weather… Generally, to be swimming is a sign of current good health. If you are swimming naked, you feel energized and ready for the successes of life that are arriving.


+++A Dream Dictionary: Other Common Dreams+++

FOOD** preparing or eating food in a dream, means coming happiness in your life, domestic contentment. Being hungry or thirsty indicates a dissatisfaction in your life, often spiritual.

PREGNANCY** Dreams during pregnancy are common, usually reflecting your worries over the health and welfare of your unborn baby, not a prediction of things to come.

In this materialistic, irreligious age, GOD and the DEVIL appear less in our dreams, than in our grandparent’s time. When they do appear, however, the meaning is much more imperative than in by-gone times.

Dreaming about SCHOOL, TEACHERS or an important exam are usual for adolescents (definitely falling into their “most common dreams” category) — but have a more critical meaning for adults long out of school.  (Thinking about it, I haven’t had a school dream in decades, thank God.)

PEOPLE in our dreams can be extensions of ourselves or represent external forces — they represent the most complex element of your dreams, requiring an in-depth analysis. The most common people are: PARENTS, PARTNER, FRIENDS, EX-LOVER, STRANGERS, a BABY…

THE FUTURE.  I’ve been asked, “Brian, can my dreams predict my future?”  Sometimes.  Even Jung said he thought they did “sometimes.”  Basically, he thought that dreams might show us the possible paths we might follow.  Seems to be the best take on it.

While we enjoy reading our Horoscopes, the only predictions that have ever proven to be personally true (and were they ever!) have been from some of the top Numerologists.  We like to get a free reading now and then… CLICK HERE NOW TO GET YOUR FREE NUMEROLOGY READING!


– Brian Alan Burhoe

Brian Alan Burhoe is the author of numerous articles and stories reflecting his interest in our spiritual connections to our Sacred Land – from his first short story ORNITHANTHROPUS – to his latest yarns of Civilized Bears.

==>> To see more, go to The Life & Works of Brian Alan Burhoe


[1] The Detroit Tri-Con 1972 was a Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comics Convention held at the Detroit Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel.

Round the clock movies — enjoyed the Vincent Price marathon.  Huckster room was a treasure trove of old SF and new underground comix.

PZO8005-Cover.inddAlong with Lin Carter, guests included cartoonist Russell Myers of Broom-Hilda fame.  Artists Gray Morrow, Al Williamson and Rick Yager (Buck Rogers strips).  Writers John Jakes, T Casey Brennan, among others…

Leigh Brackett, who wrote of ancient Mars with poetry and dreamlike imagination, as well as screenplays of fave movies of mine like John Wayne’s Rio Bravo (she would later work on the film script for The Empire Strikes Back), was also at TriCon ’72, sitting with her husband Edmond Hamilton.

Leigh was one of the essential writers in my formative years and I just wanted to go over and thank her.  I didn’t.  One of my few regrets.


DREAM DICTIONARY: What Your 12 Most Common Dreams Mean

Keywords: civilized bears, common dream teeth, dream dictionary, dreams and meaning, dreams and nightmares




About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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