In simplest terms, anima represents the feminine aspects of a male’s psyche. Everything in his psyche that’s traditionally feminine and unconscious summed up in one image, such as hunches, intuitions, moods, receptivity, and capacity to love himself.
Anima is a man’s guide to assimilating feminine traits and the feminine principle, yin. She’s also the gateway to accessing the deepest layers of his psyche. Ideally, a man is fully masculine while also embodying traditionally feminine traits.
Anima can be the single most important dream character in a male’s life. Ultimately, it’s tied to a primary function of dreaming: to help harmonize and unite the conscious mind with the unconscious mind.
Anima’s main enticement is the promise of the best, most meaningful relationship of a man’s life if he goes the distance. He gets to marry his dream girl. She can be mom, lover, wife, muse, goddess, and best friend all in one—but usually not all at the same time.
Instead, as a male matures through his lifetime relationship with anima, she evolves. She first appears as a mother figure. When he reaches his teen years she morphs into an ideal lover. When he matures into manhood, anima matures along with him, becoming a mature and independent female. Finally, she evolves into a goddess figure such as the Virgin Mary or the Hindu’s Devi, the Divine Mother. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get fixated at an early stage of development and never evolve beyond it.
These roles played by anima are the best way of identifying them in dreams. Additionally, they can be identified by a feeling of close familiarity. They’re recurring dream figures, appearing time and again as the same figure or as a type of figure, so keeping a journal of your dreams will help you identify them. They can appear as females you know or know of, such as celebrities who embody the role, or as completely imaginary characters.
The form and image of anima depends on what an individual male responds to: princess, professor, mother, queen, sister, biker chick, corporate gal, librarian, runway model, temptress, Playboy Bunny, African queen, Asian beauty. She’s alluring and can be powerfully attractive, but her appearance depends largely on a man’s relationship with this part of himself. If his relationship with anima is bad, she can appear as a witch, bitch, Siren, Mermaid, nag or hag.
Anima can be thought of as short for “animated,” because that’s what she does for a man who lives up to her expectations—which are really his own expectations. He pleases anima when he does everything he can to mature and live fully, and in return she animates him with purpose and love.
When the relationship between a man and his anima is bad, it leads to self-destructive behaviors and even violence. He’s an “addictive personality.” He tends to be listless and bored—or he goes to the other extreme and lives a life of constant adventure and challenge. He never stops to ponder what’s missing from his life. What’s missing is the deep and meaningful relationship he can have with himself. He’s moody, unbalanced, depressed, sometimes sexually uninterested—or at the opposite extreme, he’s a playboy or sex addict. His tortured relationship with his inner self can bring out the worst in him. In many cultures, a man in such a predicament is said to have lost his soul.
Anima is often described in terms of soul. And indeed, a man with a good relationship with his anima is usually quite soulful.
It’s a recipe for disaster when a male projects his anima onto women in his life and expects them to live up to that image. It’s a tendency that begins in early childhood and can continue throughout his life. That man will never be happy for long with the women he tries to make into mates, lovers, or mother figures. No mortal woman can possibly live up to the anima ideal, nor should she try.
Anima dreams can be a source of confusion and relationship troubles when misunderstood as desiring someone other than your mate. Married men dream about falling in love with anima, their ideal woman, and think it means they must subconsciously want someone else. Actually, they are called to have a special relationship within themselves. Anima isn’t just a dream character, it’s a relationship. Guys, respect it the same as you’d respect a soul mate or love of your life.
Characters like anima arise from the deepest reaches of the psyche and are independent of the ego. They’re archetypes. Archetypes are shaped through a lifetime of experience, beginning from birth as a sort of blueprint that’s the same in everyone. A male’s mother or primary female caregiver is the first image given to his anima. She becomes the blueprint. Then the image is filled in throughout his lifetime by experiences with females of all types, but especially the ones closest to him.
His Shadow side won’t let him just have his anima all for himself. He has to fight for her like a knight fighting for his beloved, and the stakes are all or nothing. Shadow is a guardian at the gate to deeper access to a man’s unconscious mind, the ultimate test that must be faced.
Read my post about animus. Animus is the female’s version of anima. Anima and animus are quite similar but have essential differences. Anima can be thought of as a man’s guide to his feelings and moods, and animus as a woman’s guide to her thoughts and rationality. Both serve as guides to the unconscious.
The “second test of courage” referred to below is taken from Carl Jung’s writings about anima. He said that a man’s first test of courage is to be aware of his shadow. The second test is to know his anima. Remember, she has a dark face that devours men, and most people can’t even begin to fathom the fact that they are made of both genders. The conscious gender – your gender – becomes the conscious personality. The other gender remains unconscious.
What is a penis? A vagina on the outside. What are testicles? Ovaries on the outside. Seriously. All fetuses begin life as female. All of us are made of both genders, and we are not complete until integrating everything about ourselves that is unconscious. [To further understand the relationship between homosexuality and “soul,” or anima, read my post: homosexuality as a soul experience.]
One of the primary ways zombies are used in dreams is to symbolize mindlessness. Being surrounded by zombies in a dream can symbolize the feeling of being surrounded by stupidity. Your world is full of the walking dead. People are driven by the most primitive of instincts. Your opinion of people and society are very low. It’s an easy connection to make, bearing in mind that the comparison with zombies is an exaggeration.
Extend the idea to situations where a person can’t think of what to say or freezes with panic. A blank expression on someone’s face is comparable in an exaggerated way to a zombie’s blank expression.
Extend the idea further to situations where you are bored out of your mind. Conversations are tedious. Silence is deafening.
A zombie can symbolize something that won’t die, such as a bad habit or negative attachment. It can symbolize a change that isn’t completed.
Zombies are awesome symbols for feeling sluggish and lifeless. Energy level is low. You have no inspiration. “The walking dead.”
Zombie often goes hand in hand with “apocalypse.” That’s a conversation for another time.
A zombie is dead but still alive, and that association can be used to describe a situation such as hoping to get back together with an ex. The relationship is dead but your hope for it is alive.
A wheelchair in a dream can symbolize restriction. Movement is restricted for someone in a wheelchair, and movement in a dream can symbolize movement in your life.
For example, a teenager might dream about being in a wheelchair when pushed into a certain course of study or occupation by an authority figure. Coercion restricts one’s choices. Or think of movement in the literal sense. Mom and dad take the car keys, restricting the mobility of their child, or your car breaks down. Being pushed in a wheelchair can symbolize feeling pushed around.
A physical disability that requires the use of a wheelchair can be a physical representation of a personal situation. You feel disabled in some way, perhaps emotionally, personally, or financially, or you have a personal weakness. Disability and weakness can limit you. Then again, the dream might be about overcoming adversity, limits, or weakness.
Along this line, think of the symbolism as possibly related to obstacles, feeling hampered or helpless, or at a disadvantage. For example, you dream about racing in a wheelchair against someone on a motorcycle, symbolizing being at a disadvantage.
A wheelchair might symbolize being treated as if you have a disability or personal weakness, not necessarily that you have one. This idea of how you are treated may be the case when you dream about being forced into a wheelchair. For example, people with autism can feel that they’re treated differently and dream about it as being strapped into a wheelchair, when they actually function just fine.
A wheelchair can symbolize special consideration. For example, a young man dreams about being in a wheelchair at a martial-arts tournament. He really is taking martial arts and expects special consideration, such as a person in a wheelchair might receive. The dream is showing him that he is overdoing it. He doesn’t actually need special consideration, he’s just trying to avoid having to do everything the other students do.
This entry is taken from the dream dictionary portion of my (forthcoming) book, Big Book of Dream Interpretation. Published by Visible Ink Press. June 2017.
Update: Check out this post at Reddit Dreams: Wheelchair dream. Key detail: Dreamer knows he doesn’t really need a wheelchair. Read my discussion with him (I’m RadOwl).
In simplest terms, animus represents the male aspects of a female’s psyche. It’s everything traditionally masculine and unconscious about a female summed up in one image. Animus is a woman’s guide to assimilating masculine traits and the masculine principle, yang, and gaining access to deep layers of the psyche. She can be fully feminine while also incorporating traditionally masculine traits.
Animus can be the single most important dream character in a female’s life because it’s tied to a primary function of dreaming: to help harmonize and unite the conscious mind with the unconscious mind.
Animus is an archetype, a blueprint for thinking processes and behaviors, and archetypes arise from the deepest layer of the psyche, way outside conscious awareness for most people. The blueprint is an outline, and personal experience with men—beginning with a woman’s father or her first important male parental figure—fills in the details.
Animus can be a friend, guide, husband, or lover, depending on what a woman needs and the nature of their relationship. And it’s a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Some dream characters come and go, but animus is there from childhood to the end. The form he takes tends to be one that a female responds to at whatever stage of life she’s in, and he can keep the same face for years at a time. A woman knows her inner man on sight and feels him even when he’s not visibly present. He can be at her side whenever she wants or needs him.
Animus tends to pop into a woman’s dream life, help her with some things, go on adventures together, give her the boost she needs, then go away for a while. And in typical animus fashion, he’ll be off doing some manly, important thing, then show back up in her dreams at just the right time. The implication is that her animus has a life of his own even when he’s not in her dreams.
Animus dream characters tend to change form and develop over time, often reflecting a female’s conception of an ideal man at that time of her life. During her childhood, he is a father-figure. During her teenage years, animus is portrayed as a man of action, of muscle. He’s the quarterback of the football team, the Tarzan to her Jane. He continues to evolve through stages—the house-husband type, the professor type, the man of words and ideas—and if all goes well he becomes a sort of spiritual guide, her own personal Buddha or wise man—except a lot hotter! Animus is keenly attractive but won’t necessarily be the most physically attractive male. It tends to show more as a personal magnetism, especially as a woman matures.
These roles played by animus figures are the best way of identifying them in dreams. Additionally, they are identified by a feeling of close familiarity. Keeping a dream journal helps with identifying them because they recur, either as the same character or as a type of character. Anima figures tend to appear in men’s dreams with a rotating array of faces and forms, whereas animus figures tend to keep the same appearance for long stretches. They can appear as males a female knows, as celebrities, athletes, and other famous males who embody the role, and as completely imaginary characters.
Animus animates a woman, no matter what stage of life she’s in. When the relationship is good, she can be both fully feminine and comfortable acting masculine, and her life will be filled with purpose and gusto. When the relationship is bad, it’s really bad and shows, especially in her sarcasm and criticism. She’ll know exactly where to hit a man where it hurts, and she can make a sport of it. The fireworks get intense when she confuses her inner man with the man or men in her life. Then it’s a fight to the death—usually emotional and psychological death, but sometimes physical, too.
Fireworks can be caused, too, when a woman dreams about animus, her ideal inner man, loving him, and thinking it means she subconsciously wants to leave her mate. Her relationship with animus is internal. She can have both a mate and animus in her life, and she can love both equally and differently. But she errs when she expects the men in her life to live up to the ideal shown to her in her dreams. It’s called animus projection, and it’s bad news.
A woman’s Shadow stands in the way of accessing her animus in a good way. Shadow is a guardian at the gate to deeper access to her unconscious mind. Once Shadow is dealt with, animus becomes a consistent ally and friend.
Today I pull into my bag of tricks and share an ingredient to my secret sauce for dream interpretation. Along with association, a primary interpretation technique is: keep it simple.
Explain your dreams in simplest terms. Summarize it in a sentence, phrase or word. Identify the central theme. The powerful drama and imagery of a dream can prevent you from seeing the simple, obvious meaning.
So, you dream that a dragon hunts you with the intent of eating you, and you run for your life. In simplest terms, you are running from something symbolized as the dragon, perhaps something that scares you or that you can’t face.
Look at the story from the perspective of the dragon. Perhaps it simply represents a problem you’ve been ignoring and it’s only getting worse the longer you wait. From the point of view of a dragon, a person is a small problem, right? In fact, when you use your imagination to ask what’s its beef with you, Mr. Dragon replies that it eats anyone that ignores it. Now you know that whatever the dragon represents is probably something you ignore. Plus, it pegs the top of your anxiety meter, and that tells you it must represent something pretty serious. It’s strong symbolism. A dragon isn’t a fly buzzing around your head, a minor annoyance or problem that can be ignored. It’s a dragon!
You dream about losing control while driving and the car skids all over the road then straight over a cliff, and you wake up just before impact, your heart pounding. In simplest terms, what does that say about you? How are you out of control? What sort of danger are you in?
Dream Interpretation | Notice the Obvious
Because you are in the thick of the action, it’s hard to see the obvious, even hours or days later when you reflect on the dream, but the meaning is right there if you explain your dream in simplest terms. The theme in the last example is about control. One word says it all. The car represents the movement of your life, and skidding off a cliff shows lack of control. Or you dream about flying like an eagle, and the word that comes to mind is soar. It sums up how your life is going and how you feel.
Keep it simple, or at least start simple and add to it.
Here’s a dream with meaning that’s obvious to everyone except the dreamer. He’s 16 years old and has been in a relationship with his girlfriend for six weeks. Things are fantastic, couldn’t be better, except for one thing, and it shows in a dream he has about his girlfriend locking him out of his bedroom. When he asks her to let him in, she refuses, saying from the other side of the door, “It’s not safe.”
Put together the clues: girlfriend, bedroom, locked door, something isn’t safe.
The only piece of information you lack is the fact that she won’t have sex with him. Now it’s obvious. Locked out of a bedroom, a room associated with sex, by a girlfriend who is putting off sex, and her reason is it’s not safe, as in, it’s not safe because she fears getting pregnant, or catching a disease, or her parents might find out or whatever. It’s obvious, but first the dream must be simplified as a one-sentence question the dreamer can ask himself:
What am I being denied by my girlfriend?
To him, though, the meaning of the dream isn’t obvious, and it’s not a defect or anything, it’s just a blind spot. Plus, he’s young. As we experience life and accumulate associations, the dreaming mind has more to work with, and dream themes progress from general to highly personal. At 16 years old, his dreams tell the story as being locked out of his bedroom. At 60 years old, his dreams might tell a similar story as his girlfriend hiding his Viagra!
The young man could use amplification to see from the eyes of the girlfriend-character in the dream and understand it from her perspective, then perhaps the meaning would be obvious.
Dream Interpretation | There’s Obvious, Then There’s Really Obvious
Noticing the obvious extends to dreams with an obvious message. Interpreting symbolism and analyzing the dream-story are great fun, but sometimes unnecessary. The meaning and message are right there before your eyes. For example:
You dream that the brakes of your car don’t work. Could mean you can’t slow down your life, or it could mean you felt some softness in your brakes and subconsciously can sense they’re about to fail.
You dream your tooth is infected. Could mean that you have allowed a situation to fester, or that you have an infection developing in a tooth.
Always consider the obvious. You can often tell the difference because of how a dream with an obvious message mirrors reality. The car with bad brakes in your dream is your car, and the road you drive on when they fail is one you drive on regularly. It’s not an imaginary car on an imaginary road. Dreams that closely mirror reality are more likely to have direct messages.
In simplest terms, what is a baby? It’s new life. What’s new in your life or yourself?
What does it mean to endlessly pack luggage? You get ready but never get anywhere. The question to ask is, do you prepare to advance in your life but never “depart?”
What is a pack of hyenas? Trouble.
What is a bridge? A route over an obstacle. What sort of obstacle do you face in your life?
When you simplify a dream, the meaning and message can be obvious. Using the technique can also help you understand at least one part of a dream, then use what you know to interpret the rest. You know that the bridge in your dream represents a route over an obstacle, for example, and it explains why the river beneath it is filled with credit card bills and you are shirtless: because the obstacle is too much debt, the route over it is your plan to pay it off, and your fear is if you don’t get a handle on the situation, you will end up financially ruined (shirtless).
This post is excerpted from my forthcoming book: The Big Book of Dream Interpretation. Subscribe to this blog for updates. On sidebar, near top. –>
Graveyard and Cemetery Dreams | Interpret the Meaning
Graveyards are associated with things that come to an end. For example, a relationship ends, or you sense it coming, and dream about a graveyard. Or a phase of life comes to an end. You are maturing, growing, moving on. Perhaps something about yourself is changing and some part of yourself is passing on, a normal part of the maturation process. Death in this sense is figurative, an exaggeration that fits.
While this sort of dream can be distressing, it is essentially positive if you are handling the changes well or are willing to make the effort. If you aren’t handling them well, take a dream like this as a suggestion to let go and move on.
Graveyards are associated with death, and in dreams death can be referred to in the literal sense. Perhaps something happened recently that brought the thought of death to mind, such as the passing of someone you know or a news report about death that affected you.
A more literal interpretation of a graveyard involves fear of death or recognizing it as inevitable. Cemetery dreams are prevalent in older or very ill people for whom death is a very real possibility.
Graveyards can connect with concerns about your health, and with taking risks that put you in danger. There is nothing like the image of going to the grave or seeing your name on a headstone to snap you out of it!
Graveyards are where things are buried, and dreams can use that association to create symbolism for other things that are buried, such as feelings and memories. It can mean you want to forget something. Or, alternately, that you don’t want to forget it! For example, a woman dreams about finding her mother’s grave and frantically digging up her body. The body is preserved and the eyes are open, but she’s lifeless. The dream connects with the woman’s sudden realization that her relationship with her mother is becoming lifeless. She’s been busy and out of touch and it’s taking a toll. Her action of digging up her mother means that she wants to revive the relationship.
Another association with cemeteries is peace. When you are dead you have nothing to worry about. There is hardly a quieter or more peaceful place than a cemetery. It is easy to confuse the longing one feels in a dream featuring a cemetery to be a death wish when really it is a “rest wish.”
A graveyard can symbolize remembrance of a loved one, in which case the dream is likely to include some references to that person.
Dreaming about a graveyard can symbolize things from the past that are gone now, such as hopes you had, relationships that are over, or aspects of yourself which have receded. Think of situations for which the terms “dead and buried” or “lay to rest” are used. The idea can be used expansively.
For example, your favorite television shows come to an end and you feel a real sense of loss.
Parts of yourself can recede back into the unconscious mind but are never fully gone. They are, in a sense, buried by time. A cemetery can symbolize remembering or honoring what got you to this point in your life. For example, the teenager in you gives way for the adult to emerge, or self-doubt gives way to confidence, or a previous job leads to advancement to a new one.
A dream about living in a cemetery or near one, or sleeping on top of a grave, can symbolize dwelling on the past. It implies the need to let go and live in the present.
A Grim Reaper character can appear in dreams to give a stern warning or symbolize something related to death, such as fear of it or flirting with it.
As with all dream symbolism, the meaning depends on the context and how you react. If the sight of the Grim Reaper strikes fear into you, the symbolism is more likely to be related to a fear related to death, mortality, or making a big mistake. But also consider the implications if you aren’t afraid of Grimmy.
For example, a man dreams he’s in a store and takes out the trash. On his way back he sees the Grim Reaper and, unafraid, strikes up a conversation. Grimmy loses the hood and scythe and now appears as a normal man. The dreamer starts making smart-ass remarks, and Grimmy says, “Why do you mock me?” The question makes the dreamer uncomfortable so he tries to go back into the store, but Grimmy grabs his arm and asks more forcefully, “Why do you mock me?” The dreamer doesn’t have an answer. Grimmy laughs sardonically and says, “Go grab some beer so I can cook with it!”
The clues that reveal the meaning of this dream are in plain sight. A store is connected with making choices. Taking out the trash is connected with throwing something away—in this case, the dreamer’s life. The night before the dream, he went to a bar, had a few drinks and drove home. He didn’t feel too buzzed, but in the back of his mind he knew he was taking a risk. Basically, he mocked death, and that explains his action of mocking the Grim Reaper. The Reaper’s comment about getting more beer to cook with symbolizes the dreamer’s perception about his flippant attitude toward the dangers of drinking and driving. It’s a very dramatic way of making the point, so next time he’s in the same situation he’ll take a cab or something.
Death can mean the end of a relationship or time of life, or loss of something important, and the Grim Reaper can embody it in one image. To be symbolized as Grimmy, the end or loss is probably pretty dramatic.
The Grim Reaper in a dream can symbolize some rejected, repressed or estranged aspect of yourself. They take on strange, distorted, and frightening form in dreams, representing the strained relationship you have with yourself.
Also consider the “grim” part. In the image of the Grim Reaper you could be seeing a pessimistic, gloomy, or morbid side of yourself.
That’s how you interpret the meaning of a Grim Reaper dream.
We continue our “12 Days of Halloween” look at dream symbolism connected with the holiday. Today’s subject: Werewolves!
A werewolf is a heck of a metaphor for the dark side of someone, and for something that lurks beneath the surface. It can mean that a person has an inner Mr. Hyde.
The idea extends to situations, too, such as when you know that people are only being friendly with you because of the circumstances. Something dark and ugly is hiding behind the facade.
The key association is the change from human to monster. Werewolves are ordinary people who transform under certain circumstances, then wake up and don’t remember what happened. That association can be used to create symbolism of being “out of it.” You aren’t your normal self. A period of time is missing from your memory. You blacked out.
Werewolves are also used by dreams in association with sexuality. It can symbolize animal passion and lust or a person’s wild side. It can mean that passions and instincts take over. It can be a way of saying you have something powerful inside of yourself that needs to find expression.
With werewolves, a situation can quickly spiral out of control. Emotions can explode. Dark forces threaten. You could dream about a werewolf in connection with the potential for trouble.
Also consider that werewolves can symbolize general fear or paranoia. Any creature that sparks fear can symbolize it.
Of course, what a werewolf means to you is the most important factor for interpreting what it means in your dream. What are the first words that come to mind related to werewolves in general? Now, think about the werewolf in your dream and just let thoughts come to mind spontaneously. Those associations are used as the basis of your dream symbolism. Look at the werewolf in the context of the dream-story. A werewolf in a cage is an entirely different picture than one running loose in a bar district. Your feelings and the context of the dream are your guides to decoding the symbolism and deciphering the meaning.
Ghost Dreams: How to Interpret the Meaning of Ghosts in a Dream
With Halloween right around the corner, let’s explore related dream symbols. Today, we look at the symbolism of ghosts.
A ghost in a dream can be a reference to the past, because ghosts are perceived as relics from the past. Like memories and feelings, ghosts can linger. They won’t go away until dealt with.
Ghosts haunt, and people can be haunted, for example, by guilt and regret. Someone who is “seeing ghosts” is haunted by the past, usually associated with misdeeds and guilty conscience.
Ghosts can symbolize fear, since they are commonly feared. Usually the symbolism is tied to associations specific to ghosts, such as fear of death or fear of the past catching up with you. But ghosts can symbolize any fear, or paranoia—a strong possibility considering the amorphous nature of ghosts and paranoia. However, a friendly ghost is not likely to symbolize fear. You can tell by how you feel about or react to the ghost.
A ghost in a dream can refer to someone who isn’t around anymore. For example, after the death of a loved one, especially one you lived with, you can dream about a ghost to symbolize the feeling that the person is still around. You feel their presence. The same idea applies to someone who left, such as after a breakup or divorce or just a long time apart.
Ghosts are associated with death, and in dreams they can refer to someone who has passed away, or to a brush with death. See: Death.
A ghost can refer to being overlooked or ignored. If you “feel like a ghost,” it means nobody is giving you attention or recognition.
As with all dream symbolism, the meaning is found in the context. For example, a ghost in a place you used to live can symbolize something from your past. A ghost haunting the bedroom of a sibling who ran away from home and hasn’t been heard from in a long time can symbolize the sibling or the situation. The person is thought about or remembered but is absent physically. A sad ghost can connect with the feeling of being ignored or overlooked, or something from the past that makes you sad.
Going further, a ghost can symbolize the influence of someone who is not physically present. For example, long after leaving home you can still feel the presence of a parent or other influential figure in your life. In which case, the dream is likely to include references to that person and actions such as doors opening and closing on their own.
Ghosts are used in the sense of “ghost of your former self.” It means loss of energy, prestige, status or influence.
Ghosts are known as “lost souls,” and that can symbolize someone who has no direction in life or no close relations.