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Dream Decoder: Common Dream Symbols and Their Meaning

Updated on May 31, 2013

Your waking reality is pretty straight forward. You don't require a key or interpreter to decipher the typical events of your day. Unfortunately, your dreams are not always as clear.

Many believe that dreams are messages from the subconscious mind. They are subtle thought patterns, expressing emotions and other information we are unaware of when awake. Though the idea of a true dream decoder is compelling, the subjective nature of our dreams can make this a difficult prospect. Dream analysis research has revealed, however, several symbols common to dreamers and the general meaning behind each.

Common Dream Symbols

What It May Symbolize
Represents survival and/or the part of the psyche that feels connected to nature. Animals may also represent the dreamer's habits.
Can signify the desire for offspring or the need to be loved. May also symbolize of a new start.
Bugs are symbolic of problems that are not being faced. Dreaming of bugs on your skin may mean that there is an unsettling change about to take place in your life. The more bugs in your dream, the greater the problems and unconscious anxieties.
A lit candle signifies the hope for future good luck. A candle that is not lit may mean the dreamer is not taking iniative or living up to their promise/potential. A candle that is blown out may mean something is being left behind. This could be good or bad.
The Chase
Being chased often means you are feeling threatened
In dreams clothing is often symbolic of how we want to be preceived by others or how we feel people perceive us.
The symbol of the cross in dreams can be highly subjective depedning on the dreamers religious beliefs. Some common symbolic themes are death, balance, or the end of some phase of life.
Often represents and ending and new begining. If there has been a recent death in your life dreaming of death may be an attempt to come to terms with the loss.
Signifies repressed emotions
Often signify a need for self-evaluation or the desire to discern the truth
Often symbolizes a fear of failing and/or anxiety over letting go and losing control of a situation. May also represent the process of returning to an awake state.
Faulty Machinery
Can represent performance anxiety
Is believed to represent knowledge
Represents the dreamer's perspective of life. Solitary games suggest that the dreamer has a tendency for self directions, while interactive games indicate the dreamer's tendency toward challenge and competition.
Is believed to be tied to sexuality. Large amounts of hair may represent virility. The cutting of the hair in a dream is believed to represent a loss of libido. Dreaming of hair loss may also represent a fear of balding or becoming unattractive
Hands that are tied up may mean you are feeling some recent efforts have been futile. Hand washing in a dream may be an expression of guilt
Represents the inner psyche with each floor or room of the house symbolizing different emotions or memories
This represents the desire to "kill" a part of your own personality. Killing in your dreams can also be an expression of hostility towards a particular person and a desire to watch them suffer

Common Dream Symbols

Dream Symbol
What It May Symbolize
May signify a true desire to wed. May also represent the merging of the masculine and feminie parts of the psyche
In dreams mirrors reflect the dreamer's inner qualities. This includes how the dreamer sees themself as well as how other's perceive the dreamer. Shattering a mirror in your dream symbolizes breaking away from the inner self.
Missed Flight
This may signify frustration over missing an important event or opportunity in your life
Often symbolizes self worth.
Successfully climbing a mountain in your dream may symbolize feelings of achievement while standing atop a mountain viewing the land below often symbolizes a life under review
Symbolic of revealing the true self to others. This may mean that you feel exposed or otherwise vulnerable to others.
The characters of your dreams are reflections of your own psyche.
Often symbolizes communication between the conscious and subconscious minds
May signify your direction in life
Often signifies a need to know and understand the self
This may be symbolic of a literal desire for intimacy or sex. It may also represent personal growth and a new awareness of unconscious emotions by the consious mind
Represent authority figures
Crying in a dream often indicates that the dreamer has not released some pent up emotion in real life
Losing teeth in a dream may represent a feer of getting old and becoming unattractive to the opposite sex
Being trapped
This nightmare often represents a true inability to escape something in real life or an inablity to make the right choice
Often symbolic of the amount of control the dreamer feels they have over their life
Can symbolize the subconcious mind with calm waters reflecting inner peace and choppy waters repressenting unease
Dreaming of your job suggests that there are work habits that need to be fixed

Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

There is no scientific evident to suggest that lucid dreaming is dangerous, In fact, lucid dreaming can be a great way to cope with nighmares and encourage resilience.

Controlling Your Dreams Through Lucid Dreaming

As impossible as it may sound, there are ways to exert some manner of control over your dreams. One way is through the act of lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is a person who is aware that they are dreaming and have developed the ability to maniuplate the plot and outcome of their dream. This "conscious dreaming" provies the dreamer with the opportunity to learn more about the meaning andr reasons for certain symbols within their dream. While lucid dreaming may sound like some sort of science fiction, scientific studies have proven it to be a very real phenomenon.

There are several techniques you can use to learn the skill of lucid dreaming. But, while it is fairly easy to start, it can take months or even years before you truly master the skill. In the beginning many lucid dreams discover that their dreams become more vivid, they have improved dream recollection, and a increased awareness and peace in the waking life. Though lucid dream is often sporadic at first, continuing to practice the art often results in significant benefit. Some basic strategies for lucid dreaming include:

1. Remind yourself before going to sleep that you want to be aware that you are dreaming as it happens.

2. Keep a dream journal. Dreams can fade quickly as you awake. Keeping a journal by the bed to jot down dreams befor they disappear can be a great way to analyze your thouht processes, begin to remember you dreams, and help you to identify dream signs.

3. Perform reality checks. During the day ask youself "Am I dreaming?" Do this 5-10 times per day and look for details of your day that emphasize the fact that you are indeed awake. Make this a habit throughout your waking hours and you will soon find that you begin to do reality checks while you are sleeping as well. This activity will help build your dream lucidity quickly.

Being relaxed, consitent, and patient is critical to mastering lucid dreaming. Learning to lucid dream requires practice and time. Don't become too frustrated early on. Instead try a few relaxation techniques prior to bedtime. A relaxed state of mind is the best way to increase your chances of lucid dreaming.


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    • LQWILLIams profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Some say that a casket or coffin in a dream symbolizes the womb. More than likely, and depending on what may be going on in your husband's waking life, a casket symbolizes fear of some change or loss. It can also mean that their is a need to consider the morality of an issue in life. These type of dreams do not foretell actually death.

    • profile image

      April Bolan 

      4 years ago

      My husband every time he closes his eyes he sees a closed casket. What does this mean?


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