Dreams and their meanings

Keira Kittredge, Staff Writer

Have you ever had crazy things appear in your dreams but had no idea what they meant?

According to Psychology Today, “Although people often think that the brain is shut down during sleep, researchers now know that sleep is a period of intense neurological activity.”  For many people, this activity means vivid dreams. And often the content can be surprising, frightening, or even just plain bizarre.

David B. Feldman, Ph. D., explains that dreams have fascinated people since the beginning of recorded history. “In ancient Egypt, people with vivid dreams were considered to be blessed with special insight, and many of their dreams have been found recorded on papyrus.”  But these supernatural ideas of dreams being messages from divine powers were abandoned in the 19th century.  Well-known scholars like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung thought that dreams “provided insights into the inner workings of the mind.”

People have taken Freud’s idea that dreams are telling us about the emotions–fears and insecurities–that are hiding in our subconscious, and now there are many websites and books devoted to helping people interpret their dreams.

Here are a few of the most commonly reported objects and ideas that appear in people’s dreams.


If you were to have a snake in your dream then it could mean one of two things: either you’re in an unsettling situation or  there is healing and transformation taking place.


If you’re falling in a dream or even a nightmare, the meanings will vary. Either you are feeling powerless or, similarly, you feel genuinely out of control. Often you may be unclear on what you feel out of control with but not all questions have answers.


If you experience drowning in your dreams, the answer can be explicit; it means that your emotions are overwhelming. Drowning or suffocation become a metaphor, sort of like you’re drowning in your stress. 


If fire appears in a dream in any way, shape, or form then there is a number of meanings.  Many interpret fire positively, as a symbol of creativity, passion, or illumination. However, negative interpretations would be destruction or anger.  It could also mean that you are engaged in a situation that your subconscious interprets as dangerous. This could be a relationship, a physical situation, a career choice, a financial decision–anything that could cause harm or destruction.


Now at first, seeing a cat in your dream, you may think that it means something pleasant, right? Most dream interpreters agree that it is a sign of bad luck or misfortune.  Yet, one possible positive meaning is that you have been feeling more independent lately.

Being Chased

Whether it’s a car chase, a chase on foot, or an animal chase, chasing dreams a simple explanation: it’s your mind telling you about something or someone you’re avoiding.  You might have a dream of being chase if you are dreading having to face a certain person or situation the next day or if you have been putting off something unpleasant.


Water, like many other dream objects, represents the dreamer’s emotions.  But the emotions depend on the type of water in the dream. According to Everyday Health, “A large body of water could symbolize deep emotions, while walking in the rain could suggest cleansing.”  The dreamer should consider what the water looked like or how it was behaving in the dream.  “Turbulent water can suggest turbulent emotions,” she site says, while “Water that is muddy or murky could symbolize confused or unclear feelings.”


In the real world, lightning can be a pretty damaging force, but in dreams, it represents either raw energy or a sudden and unexpected change in your life. 


Dreaming about school, especially for an adult who has long been out of school, can represent insecurities, anxiety, or concern about something that’s going on. Often school dreams present a stressor–a locker that won’t open, a test that you forgot you had, a homework assignment you’ve lost. And that represents whatever is actually stressing you out in the real world. 


Having gold in your dreams (or diamonds, or jewels) means that something or someone in life is very special to you. Maybe those feelings are hidden, and you haven’t even admitted to yourself yet. But your subconscious is trying to tell you to recognize it.


If a needle appears in a dream, it may seem really weird, especially out of context. It can represent emotional pain or can be a sign that you are finally ready to mend a situation.  Some dream analysts say needles can actually represent love.


Jellyfish can mean that painful memories are coming back–especially those that have been buried or ignored for a while.  Some also interpret them to mean low self-esteem. In either case, just like a jellyfish lingers unseen beneath the water, these feelings lie hidden, ready to cause pain. 


Spiders and spiderwebs are a sign of manipulation.  Either you are being manipulated by someone, or you are the one doing the manipulating.

Teeth Falling Out

Dreams about teeth can be pretty vivid and may involve teeth crumbling, cracking, or falling out.  This is often interpreted as fear or anxiety over a major life change that is coming.  It is also frequently interpreted as a sign that you regret something you said recently.  


The next time you wake up from a dream that seems random and maybe even silly, consider that there might actually be a meaning behind it.  Search one of the many websites devoted to dream interpretation and see if your subconscious and emotions were trying to tell you something.