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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dream Symbols 20: Animals in General

At first glance, animals in dreams could be interpreted as the instinctual part of our nature; the part that is not yet refined, sophisticated, and conscious.

So for instance, this dream can help illustrate the principle:

A 31-year-old housewife and mother of two girls has just remembered (become conscious of) a few days before the dream that she was abused as a little girl. She has taken the decision to contact her abuser and confront him with her memories, and now dreams the following:

She is driving along a solitary and winding cliff road at night, when she passes by an enormous mansion, lit up for a party, and in the distance she can see many tables set up in the spacious gardens for all the guests, and music is playing. She sees a coyote or hyena-like animal stretched out and held in place by four stakes, one attached to each paw, on the ground between the property and the road.

The animal is emaciated, its ribs are sticking out, its tongue is lolling, and it emits pitiful little sounds, as though begging for help or water, or as though it is in pain.

Her heart goes out to the poor thing, and suddenly she knows she has seen it before in other dreams, but that she has always been too terrified to help it, and to let it go free, because of the Mafia-like man who lives in the house, who will punish her or do something very bad to her if she frees the animal.

On the verge of driving by, she decides that the noise coming from the mansion is loud enough for her to risk freeing the creature, and so she pulls over, and goes to it. She has a knife with which she cuts the leather thongs that hold its paws, and she sees that the fur and flesh where the thongs were tied, have been chafed bloody, and she feels tears running down her cheeks, although she is not sure why she feels so sad for this little animal.

Just as she is cutting the last thong, a loud voice yells at her, and her already strongly pumping heart goes into overdrive, but she continues cutting the thong, soothing the coyote, and telling it that she won’t leave until it’s free. When she finally has cut it loose, it can barely stand, and wobbles back and forth on its legs for a moment, but she encourages it, and tells it to run away as far as it can from the bad man who had tied it up and left it to die such a horrible and painful and withering death.

Then she runs to her car, and as she desperately tries to turn the key in order to make it start, the violent owner of the mansion appears and stands on the running board of the car trying to get her to stop it.

However, she manages to get the car going and drives on, and since the man is unable to get inside with her or to get her to stop the car, he puts his hand over her eyes. She continues driving blindly, swerving the car frantically, until he drops off, and then she races away, and as she does so, she sees the coyote scampering at the side of the road, looking at her for a moment before it disappears into the brush.

Clearly, what she has freed in this dream is her own instinctual, less sophisticated (in this instance, more infantile) self. The hyena or coyote-like creature that was so pitifully emaciated, because it had not been given food and water, because she had never allowed that part of her to grow, and progress, was on the verge of dying. A part of her had been on the verge of dying until she had the memory of the abuse, and was now about to confront the abuser. This symbolizes the freeing up of psychic energy on a primordial, instinctual level in order that she may grow and become whole.

For previous posts in this dream symbolism series, click here.

You may also be interested in viewing some of the recommended dream books and books on symbolism on my website, as well as some of the dream links on my links page.There are also some videos posted about Carl Jung and his take on dreams. Click here to view them.

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