Dream Interpretation – The Meaning of Dreams


NightmareBy DJ McAdam

 “Could we but mould our dreams at will,
And keep them free from harm or ill,
How pleasant it would be,
To deem our waking hours but dreams,
And that, our life which now but seems
A baseless fantasy.”
                                      — Lady M. W. Montague


General Rules for Dream Interpretation

  • The first, and most important rule of dream interpretation is to always remember that symbols may have different personal meanings for different individuals. As an example, one might dream of a horse. If, as a youngster, one had a horse and it was one of one’s fondest childhood experiences, then dreaming of a horse could symbolize something far different than for someone who rode a horse only once in his life, was thrown badly and broke his collarbone.
  • The importance of a dream is usually in direct proportion to the impression it makes on the dreamer. 
  • Dreams that generally have little or no prophetic value are those that:
    • Occur during the first few hours of sleep;
    • Concern a person or event recently spoken of;
    • Result from external stimuli, such as a book just read or a film or television show just watched;
    • Result from illness, especially if medication is taken.
  • According to Ibn Sirin, one of the first writers on dreams, if one wishes to have a prophetic dream then , “The sleeper, lying on the right side, will have abstained from all excess of food or of drink.  He will have gone to sleep with a light heart, an easy conscience.”  
  • Rule of opposites: there is a well-recognized rule of opposites in dreams; thus, dreaming of death often means a rebirth of some sort, such as marriage or the start of a new career.  This same rule is operative in interpretation of the Tarot, and in many other symbol-systems as well.  One explanation of this phenomenon is that the subconscious does not deal with opposites in the same manner as the conscious mind.  Thus, “heads” is not the opposite of “tails;” either is related to the other, and so can be used to call to mind the other.  As a side note, there is mention of this need to “twist round” what happens in a dream to get at its meaning in an obscure song called My Dream Blues, which was recorded by “Black Bottom” McPhail in the 1930’s.  

Dream Dictionary – Key to Dreams

  • Angel – protection.
  • Apple, Apples – Plans are coming to fruition; a good omen. 
  • Barrel – if full, prosperity.  If empty, tightness of money.
  • Bear – a friend who is awkward will help you, if you are kind to him (her). 
  • Bees – successful work.
  • Birds – if flying high, good luck.  If flying low, bad luck.   If singing, success. 
  • Boat – a fortunate journey.
  • Book – sought-after wisdom is within reach.
  • Bread – material well-being. 
  • Bridge – if crossed, a happy solution to a problem. 
  • Butterfly – Dreaming of a butterfly indicates that one is embarking upon a time of personal transformation, whether one wishes to do so or not. In that sense, the butterfly in a dream indicates a sort of inevitable change. A flying butterfly can also indicate news from afar, whereas a butterfly perched on greenery with wings open indicates coming prosperity through creative endeavors.
  • Cabin – Comfortable retirement.
  • Calendar – loss due to untimeliness.
  • Cat – a loved one requires your attention, or soon will. 
  • Chair – a change in employment.
  • Cheese – gain, profit.
  • Cigar – comfort, reflection, prosperity.
  • Crab – separation.
  • Desk – if one is working at a desk, it means one should spend more time outdoors.  If the desk is empty, it means a change in jobs.
  • Dog – calm times ahead.
  • Door – A new phase of life begins.
  • Duck – someone acting anonymously.
  • Eggs – abundance.
  • Fishes – on the surface of the water, abundance and wealth.  At the bottom, danger.  Fishes can also indicate fertility or pregnancy.
  • Flag – change, success.
  • Fruit – abundance.
  • Gambling – good, if one loses.  Bad, if one wins.  (see Rule of Opposites, above). 
  • Garlic – freedom from worry, soon. 
  • Glass – if broken, success.  If empty, distress.
  • Goat – inconstancy in a relationship or job. 
  • Graduation – a new stage of life begins. 
  • Grasshopper – loss.
  • Guitar – declaration of love.
  • Gun – deceptive gain. Rethink your plans. 
  • Hermit – need to bring quietness into one’s life.
  • Horse – if tethered or confined, an overly restricted spirit.  If standing in a field, wisdom and common sense mingle.
  • House – home life, often future home life.  If one dreams of a home with a light inside or smoke rising from a chimney, it means one is unlikely to live alone.  An empty house denotes living in solitude.
  • Key – opportunity for gaining wisdom. 
  • Kiss – betrayal or self-betrayal.
  • Knife – put all anger aside. 
  • Lamp – be prudent. 
  • Lizard – A coworker or partner can be trusted.
  • Luggage – an unanticipated move to a new, but smaller, home. 
  • Mirror – betrayal.
  • Monkey – someone near is not to be trusted.
  • Mushrooms – long life, protection.
  • Mustard – problems anew. 
  • Owl – don’t start anything new on next day. 
  • Palace – sorrow caused by pride. 
  • Pen – a new offer or proposal.
  • Playing Card – good luck through associates.
  • Postage Stamp – you are soon to find a new, and worthwhile, friend. 
  • Prison – if entering, oppression.  If leaving or escaping, recovery from depression. 
  • Rabbit – if white or grey, friendship, partnership, success.  If black, lies and reverses. 
  • Reptile – slander, betrayal.
  • Ring – reconciliation.
  • Scissors – quarrels.
  • Skunk – do not misjudge a friend, or yourself. 
  • Snake – someone has a grudge against you. 
  • Snow – be true to your inner values, even if that leaves you alone. 
  • Spider – you will be undergoing a positive period of spiritual development in the near future.
  • Stapler – becoming attached to someone of questionable integrity.
  • Swan – great success. 
  • Tarot Card – mysterious occurrence awaits.
  • Tea – a happy older life, good fortune from afar. 
  • Teeth – to dream of teeth falling out indicates that one is having difficulty making oneself heard, in the figurative sense.  Be patient, and speak only when you have something of significance to say; your words will gain weight. 
  • Telephone – bad news awaits.  Bad luck, especially financial bad luck due to speculation.
  • Tower – A sweeping change must be endured.
  • Trees – if a path through a forest, one will soon find one’s purpose in life.  If downed trees, success.  If trees bare of leaves, a new beginning.  If full trees, danger from complacency.
  • Umbrella – lasting friendship, security.
  • Vinegar – jealousy.
  • Volcano – adventure, passion.
  • Wall – if a stone wall, you are near to achieving self-improvement.  If a blank wall, reconsider your current plans.
  • Water – if flowing water, such as a river or stream, increased romance.  If water is murky, one is unsure of one’s own feelings.  If fish in the water, abundance and creativity. If sea or ocean, a happy and tranquil life ahead.
  • Weapons – be on guard.
  • Whiskey – a happy and active life.
  • Wine – a happy old age.
  • Worms – put small worries aside.


The Dreamer

“If a maid wishes to know whom she is to marry, if a man of wealth, tradesman, or traveler, let her, on All-Hallow-e’en, take a walnut, hazelnut, and nutmeg; grate and mix them with butter and sugar into pills, and take when she goes to bed; and then, if her fortune be to marry a rich man, her sleep will be filled with gold dreams; if a tradesman, she will dream of odd noises and tumults; if a traveler, there will be thunder and lightning to disturb her.”

(This is taken from Games for Halloween, first published in 1912)


Keeping a Dream Diary

Having a diary handy to record one’s dreams is an excellent idea, and regular entries will improve one’s ability to recall dreams. Additionally, one may look back at past entries with the benefit of hindsight to see whether something significant that has occurred in one’s life may have been foretold in a dream. Here’s an entry example:

August 6th, 2016: I dreamed that I was in a green and sunlit area. There was a large black butterfly perched upon a bush, with wings open. Continuing down the path, I next came upon a second butterfly, also perched upon a bush with wings open; this second butterfly was primarily bright yellow in color, with bits of black in an attractive design on its wings.