Spirit and Dream Animals, by Richard Webster
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
Many years ago, while doing some research in Hong Kong, I accidentally overheard two women talking about dream animals. I went into a café and sat down at a table next to an attractive Asian lady and her American friend. I wasn't paying any attention to their conversation, until I suddenly heard the Asian lady explaining the concept of animal dreaming to her friend. According to her, if a woman dreamt of an animal about the time she became pregnant, her baby would possess the qualities of the animal she had dreamt about. I was fascinated, and after apologizing for overhearing the conversation, asked if I could join in.
The two ladies were very kind and gracious, and allowed me to join them. I learned that, in Asia, dreams are believed to be created by a lack of energy. However, dreaming of an animal does the opposite. These dreams create energy, in addition to providing valuable clues about the personality of the unborn child. I also learned that not all pregnant women dream of animals. These dreams occur only if the unborn child has significant potential.
The Asian woman leaned towards me. "Did you know that Buddha's mother dreamed of a gorgeous white elephant with six tusks that ran around her bed three times?" she asked. "That's a classic example of a prophetic animal dream."
I chatted with the two ladies for about an hour. Just before leaving them, I learned that it was important that the mother-to-be told no one about her animal dreams. "My mother had several dreams involving me before I was born," the Asian lady told me. "She told me they were good, but that's all she's told me about them."
When I returned to my hotel, I wrote down everything I could remember about the conversation. As I'm interested in both dreams and animal symbolism, I tried to learn more about the dreams pregnant women have about animals. Unfortunately, the people I spoke to weren't able to tell me anything that the two women hadn't already covered.
About ten years later, while in Singapore, I was fortunate enough to meet a lady who made her living interpreting t'aimeng, which are predictive dreams about unborn children. Once I got to know her, she was happy to answer my questions, and encouraged me to write Spirit & Dream Animals.
A month or two after that, I had a predictive dream. In the dream I was driving into the city on the freeway. The car in front of me had a personalized plate that read "animal." One week later, I was driving along the same stretch of road that had been in my dream, and saw a car with the personalized plate "anamal." The spelling was slightly different, but it was obviously an omen. Over the years, I've learned to act on these, and a week or two later I began working on the book.
Although I first heard about predictive dreams involving animals while traveling in the Far East, they can be found all around the world. Here's an example. Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, dreamt that she was sleeping with Ammon, the horned god. In the dream, Ammon told her that she had conceived a male child who would be her avenger.
Men can also experience predictive dreams about their unborn children. In the Bible, Joseph experienced a predictive dream after discovering that Mary, his wife, was pregnant. An angel appeared to him in the dream and told him the unborn child, Jesus, was the Son of God (Matthew 1:20-21).
Animals are often overlooked in our dreams. However, they fulfill an important purpose. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, noticed that people frequently dream of helpful animals, or animal-headed people, when they are ill. In some way, these animals symbolize the healing process. One of the central beliefs of shamanism is the intrinsic connection between animals and humans. Shamans perform their tasks by using their power animals, or guardian spirits, to connect with the animal world. This connection frequently occurs in dreams.
Animals sometimes appear in dreams as human beings. The Jívaro people of South America find that a guardian spirit usually appears first as an animal, before appearing as a human being in a dream. The Jívaro believe that if an animal speaks to you, it is undoubtedly your power animal. It's not surprising that animals can appear in human form in our dreams, as we are both living on this planet together, and are related in many different ways.
Australian Aborigines frequently refer to "Dreamtime," when the world was fresh and new, and ancestor spirits created form and shape to the land. Some of these mythic beings were people, while others were totem animals. The ancestor spirits had the ability to change from person to animal to help them decide what they wanted to be. According to Aborigine belief, animals still remember making their choice. The great fertility mothers and male genitors created the first people; these mythic figures are eternal, and even though some are killed, disappear, or change shape in the Aboriginal mythic stories, their integral qualities remain. They are spiritually just as alive today as they ever were, and the places where they metamorphosed became, and remain, sacred grounds. In the Dreamtime, man is just one part of nature, and is not considered especially different to the mythic people and animals that live there. The land still retains its memories of the Dreamtime, as do the Aboriginal people. Everyone is given an animal spirit at birth, and this provides the person with guidance, wisdom, and protection.
Dreaming of animals can be highly beneficial. They provide comfort, advice, and protection; they even provide advance warning of upcoming danger, when necessary. Their task is to help you progress through life. Because of this, you should pay attention to your animal dreams.
You should also be aware of your guardian animals while you are awake. If you are not aware of your guardian animals, ask them to make themselves known to you in your dreams. Once you have discovered who they are, communicate with them regularly, and call on them whenever you need advice, help, or comfort.
By paying attention to your guardian animals, and the animals that appear in your dreams, you'll gain confidence and a sense of direction and purpose. Every aspect of your life will improve as a result.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011. All rights reserved.