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30 Common Dream Symbols: Keeping It Simple

The list of dream symbols can literally seem infinite, constantly evolving and even contradictory. But here are a few that show up often in dreams. This is a short and simple list and the symbol meanings are somewhat simplified but it may support your dream interpretation efforts and your understanding. Always remember that your personal interpretation of the dream symbol should be considered first. For example, when you think of a symbol, ask yourself what the symbol means to you before looking at a dream dictionary or website of dream symbols. Your personal feel for what the symbol means will take precedent over the universal meanings.

Animals - Can represent the traits that particular animal is commonly known for.

Babies - A new beginning or a new project... or a longing for a child.

Being Chased - Are you feeling threatened? Is there a problem in your life causing you distress? You may be worrying about a problem at work, a troubling or unhealthy behavior. Ask yourself, "What problem needs to change and be solved?" When you face the problem, the nightmare will often go away. If it is indeed a nightmare, turn and face what's chasing you and ask it firmly, "What do you want?" The beast or person that is chasing you may change and become less intimidating and disappear or run away... and it can be extremely empowering.

Being Naked - You may be feeling vulnerable or unprepared about something happening or coming up in your life.

In the dream, are you comfortable being naked? If you are comfortable you may feel quite at ease about a situation in your waking life that would make someone else feel vulnerable. The dream may be signaling that it doesn't bother you to feel a bit vulnerable. You are probably confident in general.

Embarrassed to be naked? The dream may be telling you that you feel "exposed" or uncomfortable about something in your life.

Being naked in a dream may also signal that you are afraid of being exposed. For a misbehavior or for an untruth or indiscretion. The dream may be a warning to clear things up if possible.

Clothing - Represents how you want to be perceived or how you feel you are being perceived. Classy? Average? Sophisticated? Shabby? Clown costume?

Flying - Trying to rise above something difficult or a play on words "Flying High," and could mean all is well. Look at your life. How does flying in the dream feel to you? If you feel afraid, you may feel overwhelmed by something.

Falling - Feeling a loss of control... or just testing yourself if you land softly.

Elements in General Point to the Dreamer's State of Mind:

Fire - Can symbolize destruction, passion, spiritual awakening, transformation, illumination, enlightenment, anger.

Air - Thoughts

Water - Emotions, the subconscious mind, choppy ocean can mean unease, calm pool of water may represent inner peace or mirror.

Earth - Home, Mother, Nurturing. Are you feeling grounded? To notice the earth separating may suggest something is "falling through the cracks."

Hair - Can be symbolic of sexuality. Also, a sudden bald spot in your dream may mean you fear going bald.

Fences - Can be symbolic of barriers or boundaries.

House - A house can represent you, the dreamer. Each room generally symbolizes what happens in that room but can also point to something you are involved with, need, or are looking for.

Living Room: a place of sharing time and entertainment... Kitchen: Can represent nurturing, food for thought. Bedroom: need rest? Need intimacy? Bathroom: Need privacy to release your feelings? Can't find a bathroom? ""No Place to Go." Need a place to let go of your wasteful emotions or anger? Attic: Your consciousness. Or a place to store things away. Basement can point to things hidden or the subconscious.

If it is your home, the building as a whole may represent you as a whole.

Going back in time to be in your old house can be a sign that you are evaluating how you felt about living there. Where they good times? Did you feel safe, supported and loved? Or are you more content now that you are older and away from your past? Houses can represent how you feel about where you live and measuring progress.

Mountains - Can mean obstacle but if you are easily climbing or have reached the top it can also mean a recognition and feeling of achievement.

People/Characters in your dream - Other than family members and close friends people in your dreams are generally symbolic of a reflection of you. Each character may represent a trait of that person and the dream may be saying you are behaving that way. For example, if you dream of a "nosey" neighbor, ask yourself, "have I been nosey lately?" If you dream of the neighbor everyone loves because she is always kind and helpful, you may be seeing that trait within yourself and recognizing that it makes you feel loved and/or valued to be a caregiver.

(In superconscious dreams you may actually have a visit from a loved one who is now in Spirit in the afterlife. Those are actually "visits" from your loved one and are astral travel experiences rather than dreams. You can always tell when your are "traveling" because the dreams are so filled with brilliant light and you can actually feel, smell, and physically "see" your loved one. These experiences are life altering and healing and can help heal the grief of losing your loved one. The truth is you haven't lost them. They are as much alive and there as they always were. And dreams are a wonderful way to visit with them. (If you want a loved one to visit you in spirit you can ask them to come and see you in your dreams as you are falling asleep.)

Being in a Vehicle - Driving? Great. Being driven? Hmmm. Could be you aren't in control of the direction of your life or are "letting yourself be taken for a ride." Dreams speak in puns all the time. :-) In the back seat? You are allowing yourself to be led.

Roads - Your direction in life. Ask yourself, "Am I on the right path?"

Teeth Falling Out - A sign of something happening that is causing a loss of confidence. Or could be a feeling of not being heard.

Trapped - Afraid of an inability to escape from a life situation. A common nightmare.

Being in an airplane - Are you longing for a spiritual quest or wanting to be part of a spiritual community? You may want to "fly" spiritually. You may also just be wishing you could go on a vacation because dreams really are sometimes focused on wish fulfillment.

Food - Can symbolize knowledge. It can also mean you are in need of some type of emotional nourishment.

Partner Cheating - In your opinion is your mate spending too much time on something else? You may just need more attention from your loved one.

Sex - A desire for intimacy or an aspect of unification. Male and female aspects of the self.

Teachers - Can represent authority figures with the power to enlighten you.

Being physically trapped - A common nightmare. What is making you feel disempowered to make the right choice? This is a powerful call to action to look at your life and turn toward a healthy and empowering choice even if it is extremely difficult. Be brave.

Late for appointment - Are you overwhelmed and overworked... unable to keep up? Wish you didn't have to go to this appointment? Being late may be your only way of feeling in control. It may not be healthy to be late, and perhaps passive aggressive, but it can also feel good to imagine that you have a bit of power.

Water Relating to Emotions - Choppy ocean can mean unease, calm pool of water may represent inner peace.

Weather - Storms: Feeling stormy? Angry? Overwhelmed by your surroundings?

Hurricane: Emotional upheaval.

Tornado coming at you: Someone is raging? Feeling threatened? Saw them coming?

Flood: Your emotions are overwhelming you? You feel out of control?

Being in school (and unprepared) - Trying to learn something new? Or feeling like you need support on something before you will be ready to be tested?

Being tested(and feeling unprepared) - Stress about being unprepared for an important situation.

Dying - Something may be coming to an end: a relationship, a project, a career path or job. Death in a dream may also mean a new beginning.

Famous person - Typically represent whatever the famous person is known for is probably a clue to the symbol meaning.

A President - Leader, powerful, decision maker.

Einstein - Brilliance, spiritually evolved.

Elvis - Musical artist, talented, sex symbol, addiction, tragic death.

Abraham Lincoln - Leader, hero, cultural change, freedom, assassination.

Meryl Streep - Award winning, talented, famous, feminine actor.

This is an evolving symbol list and I will be adding symbol meanings over time. Please feel free to let me know if you have thoughts or opinions. I enjoy hearing from you!

Wishing you wise, informative and empowering dreams!

Patti Rippe