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Animal Dreaming

The night before I was scheduled for an ultrasound on an ovarian cyst, I had the following dream:

I am walking on a path which winds through forest and streams.  From the hillside on my right a beautiful white horse comes toward me.  I hold its head against my face and say “I love you.”  The feeling between us is warm and loving.

When the ultrasound technician revealed that my cyst had shrunk—thus lessoning the possibility of malignancy and possible surgery–I remembered my dream.  My animal—the beautiful white horse—was seemingly healthy and loving.  Our relationship was positive and the connection between us—face to face and heart to heart—was strong.  I felt deeply blessed by this nighttime encounter as well as by the resulting indication that all seemed well on a physical level.

An encounter with an animal—whether within or without—can bring a kind of hushed reverence.  Here is nature paying us a visit—allowing us to feel a connection with the ancient web of life within which we all live.  The appearance of animals in dreams is deeply significant.  They carry our link to the instinctual life.  As Jung says, “…in the last analysis most of our difficulties come from losing contact with our instincts, the age-old forgotten wisdom stored up in us.”

Like the helpers found in fairy tales, animals in dreams can assist us in balancing our relationship with our own nature.  They can let us know when we are out of alignment with ourselves—as when we find an animal hurt or injured or attacking in some way.  They can also point to new growth and possibility—as when we discover baby animals or form a soulful relationship with an animal in a dream.  Tracking animals in our dreams can bring us into greater awareness of the “age old forgotten awareness stored up in us” and refund our sense of relationship with instinctual life, body, and the earth.

A woman brought a dream recently in which she encountered an injured white cat.  The dreamer sensed the importance of her dream and made a special effort to bring it to session.  A cat lover with two cats of her own, she found the image of the hurt cat particularly disturbing.  She did not need me to tell her that something was amiss.  She felt a great deal of sadness and concern for the wounded cat living in her psyche.  Working with this image offered an entry way into her own neglected feeling life—something she was aware of intellectually, but made more immediate through the experience of the suffering animal.

The image of a cat is perfect medicine for women who live too far removed from their natural selves.  Those of us who have a tendency to spend time in our heads, for example, can benefit from the cat’s example of simply being.  Her soft, furry sensuality reminds us of the importance of play, rest, and enjoyment.  Unlike human women, cats cannot override their needs or feelings to do what they feel they “should” do.  In fact, cats are often perceived as aloof and selfish precisely because they do not cater to anyone else but themselves.  Woman who tend to neglect their own needs can benefit from a renewed relationship with their cat nature.

For this dreamer, the image of the injured cat operated in much the same way as an actual encounter with a wounded animal might: she felt an instant sense of concern and distress.  Animal dreams bring a sort of immediacy and focus to the psyche. They communicate something from the ancient vestiges of our functioning on earth–all the head knowledge in the world can’t match the sheer vibrancy and power of our own animal.  Or as Jung put it: when nature appears to you in the form of an animal…when you meet your own animals….you should courteously take off your hat, bow, and ask ‘what then do you want of me?’ and you will see that the animal has something to say…

2 Responses to “Animal Dreaming”

  1. sandra gardner says:


  2. Terrific news about the sonogram, Barbara. And you get to keep that big beautiful white horse forever.
    I’m always grateful when Nature visits my inner life in this way. Thanks for helping me understand more.

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