Metaphors and Symbols in Dreams

When we dream, what we see can be described as symbols or metaphors. While we may have a pre-cognetive dream where the meaning is literal, more often than not we will dream in metaphors and symbols. In this article, we will be taking a look at what these mean in dreams. 

Metaphors and Symbolism in Dreams 

So what is a metaphor? In simple terms it is a phrase or word that is applied to something or someone, but it is not literal. Examples of metaphors include ‘the cat has got your tongue’, ‘raining cats and dogs’, ‘life is a rollercoaster’, and ‘falling in love’..If we take a look at ‘raining cats and dogs’, this doesn’t mean that it’s actually raining cats and dogs. Can you imagine if it would and there were animals falling from the sky?! No it is a metaphor for heavy rain (see also rain dream meaning). If we look at ‘falling in love, it doesn’t mean that we are going to fall straight into our partner’s arms. It doesn’t have a literal meaning but mostly it is emotional. Symbols, on the other hand represent ideas and qualities of an event, person, or object. For example, if you dream of a tiger chasing you, it doesn’t mean that this will actually happen. Instead it can symbolize your fear of something or somebody. If you dream of a watch, it could mean that you have a deadline approaching or an important appointment to attend. 

Being able to decipher the meanings of metaphors and symbols will help you to interpret your dreams with ease. 

Questions to Ask to Identify Metaphors and Symbols

It isn’t difficult to recognize symbols and metaphors in your dreams. To decipher their meaning, it is a good idea to ask yourself a few questions.

What Stands Out the Most to You About the Dream? What Can you Describe with Great Detail? 

It makes it easier to interpret your dream if you can think of details surrounding the symbol or metaphor. For example, if you see a big pile of dirty washing that you are trying to wash, but it keeps getting bigger, it could be a symbol for the way you feel. Perhaps things are getting on top of you and you can’t keep up. Alternatively, it could mean that you have an unpleasant secret that you are struggling to keep private. If you dream of a heart of gold, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to come into money although of course this could be the case. Alternatively, it could remind you of King Midas. Whatever he touched turned to gold and while that might seem perfect, of course it wasn’t as people would turn to gold as well as food and drink. Perhaps you are being too greedy and are thinking more of profit than you are about the people close to you.

What Repeating Elements are in the Dream? 

Symbols often show themselves more than once in a dream and you may even have other dreams with the same symbols. This can reinforce the dream and should make you pay attention. For example you could dream of flying in an airplane and also of birds flying (dove and pigeon dream meaning) (dove and pigeon dream meaning). This can mean that you are overdue a vacation or perhaps that you need to get away from a situation. To dream of a crowd of happy people socializing while you are on the sidelines and then to dream of a friend

snubbing you can mean that you are insecure in relationships or perhaps that you are too shy to mix with other people. 

What is the Overall Theme or Concept of the Dream? 

It is a good idea if you can summarize the dream as a whole into one sentence. This will confirm the element of the dream and will help you to understand the meaning of the symbols. If, for example, you produce a meal for a crowd, it could have a literal meaning. You could be nervous of producing a meal for so many people. On the other hand it can be a symbol for your desire to be liked by as many people as possible. If you dream about an empty fridge, it could mean that you are unable to buy enough food and as a result are hungry. Alternatively, it can indicate your desire for knowledge. 

Identifying Symbolism in Your Dream Journal 

It is a good idea to keep a dream journal (see also How To Understand Your Dreams) and to write in it as soon as you wake up so as not to forget the dream. Sit down during the day and read through your dream journal (see also Tips On Dream Journaling), underlining any objects, actions, people, or events that are prominent. You may find that you are dreaming of similar things in different dreams. If so, the meaning is strengthened. For example, if you are an adult and keep dreaming of failing exams at school, it can mean that you are afraid of failing in your current job or even in a relationship. 

If you are able to understand the symbols and metaphors in your dreams, you will be able to use this wisdom in your waking life.


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