What is your favourite animal? Do you tend to dream or encounter in your waking life particular animals more than others? As with any resonating person or situation, animals can be looked upon as a source of personal insight with the thought, “Why this certain animal now?”
James Hillman suggested, “Animals wake up the imagination. Animal dreams provoke their feelings, get them thinking, interested and curious.”
According to Jung, the animal is sublime and represents the “divine” side of the human psyche. He believed that animals live much more in contact with a “secret” order in nature itself and live in close contact with the “absolute knowledge” of the unconscious. In contrast to humans, animals follow their own inner laws beyond good and evil and are superior in this way.
Dream animals carry a great deal of psychic energy and benefit from further exploration. As in fairytales, they often appear in dreams as guides or to assist in a particular situation. Dorothy (along with her trusted dog, Toto) befriends a lion, Snow White talks to the birds and Cinderella is supported by mice.
Jung said that all wild animals indicate hidden feelings (such as fear, jealousy, lust, pride, ambition or anger) that one does not readily deal with. Animals also represent qualities or specific aspects of our personalities, often symbolizing our more intuitive and instinctive parts.
The interpretation of the animal in your dream or waking life depends on your relationship with it. Make personal associations with the animal. What are its habitat, food, reproduction, life span, sleeping patterns, and relationships with other animals, the environment and with humans? What qualities stand out for you, either positive or negative? How are you similar or dissimilar to these qualities? How do wish to be more like the animal?
It is important to observe what the animal is doing in the dream. Being chased by an animal is quite common and should prompt the question, “Is there anything or any emotion I’m afraid of or avoiding right now?” What might the acceptance of this particular emotion or trait in your life change?
Often, fear-provoking, charging animals become friendly when we accept their message about how we have been perceiving a situation. Face your fears by turning towards the dream animal, either in the dream or upon awakening, and ask, “What do you need me to know?”
Drawing or any other artistic expression of the animal helps to better present its unique qualities. When you draw the animal try to capture its essence. Even sketching a small part of the animal may evoke feelings and other associations. Again, it is not about making an exact representation of the animal, it is about honouring the animal’s presence.
Sometimes it helps to see images of the animal (books, art and internet), as you may find one that really resonates with the feeling of the dream image. Place these images around your space for daily viewing. Notice how you feel as you look at them throughout the day.
After getting the essence of the animal, you may find times in which you want to summons up its qualities (i.e. courage, hibernation) in order to integrate this energy into your present situation. Does this situation require more or less animal energy? What would your animal do in this situation? You may be amazed at what wisdom comes when you connect with animal images.