“Sexuality and the Baby Elephant Upstairs.” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: I go upstairs into a room that I’m surprised I’ve never been to before. Then I realize I used to be up here all the time, but not for a while. There is a sweet baby elephant jumping and playing in the room, small and gray. I’m with another woman about my age and with my coloring. She’s there to spend time with the elephant. I ask her if she comes up here every day to visit, but she tells me that she’s only able to come up every other day for a few minutes. I think that the elephant needs more time than that. It’s otherwise alone up here. I worry for its loneliness and lack of companionship. Then there is a bear. The baby elephant gets distracted. The big brown bear is in a wooden trailer, heading towards the wall opposite us. The trailer is making noise like the low rumbles of an adult elephant, and the baby bounds after the trailer. Then, I’m shocked to see the bear go head first into what I know is a shredder, or meat grinder. I gasp. I watch the baby elephant jump in too. Both are immediately dead and bloody. I see their bodies deflate, as if all that is left of them is their skin. I am so sad, and I turn away.

A: Oh dear, what an image. This makes me sad too. What’s been happening in your life for these images to arise?

You noted that the elephant is getting only very sparse attention and you reflect, “I worry for its loneliness and lack of companionship.” As a dream’s elements are all elements of one’s own psyche, I wonder if you have been feeling only intermittently cared for yourself, lonely and without the relationships you’d like. What playful aspect of you has been relegated to a corner of your life, like a rarely visited room you once knew well?

I’ve noticed that dreams of elephants often arise with the beginnings or endings of intimate relationships, so I’m drawn in particular to this mention of companionship in the dream. I inquired with you about this aspect of your life. You told me that you had just spent the night with someone new when you had this dream, and that you were feeling uncertain about your emotions in the days following. I can only imagine, given the way the dream ends, that you were indeed experiencing some mixed feelings and perhaps hurt. The image of the bear and the elephant being deflated makes me wonder about your own sense of emotional deflation, like having the wind and momentum of life taken out of your sails.

The archetypal layers of this dream are very interesting. I was intrigued by the association of intimacy and elephants in dreams, so I did some research into the symbol and was further struck by the correlation. In Hindu philosophy and metaphysics, the elephant is associated with the root chakra Muladhara, located at the base of the spine. This chakra, one of seven points in the body thought of as centers of vital energy, is said to govern sexuality, mental stability, and sensuality. It is the base of Kundalini energy, the place from which that fire of life initially rises; it is for this reason that sexuality plays a major role in tantric traditions. Sexuality can create physical life in the form of new conception, but it also can kickstart new energetic life and awakening in each individual. In Buddhist mythology, it is said that an elephant calf is responsible for Buddha’s conception when it caressed Queen Maya’s body with its trunk while she slept. Conception and awakening in one.

The Muladhara chakra is also associated to the color red, a color that Jung described in his exploration of Kundalini philosophy as “the color of blood, of dark passion” (Kundalini Seminar, p. 17). This association provides a twist (a less upsetting one) on the appearance of the blood within the dream. The red is an inherent aspect of this chakra energy associated with the elephant, suggesting here more an emergence of passion and life energy than the destruction felt within the dream. (For more exploration into the image of blood in dreams, read this dream interpretation from March.)

Is it possible that while you were feeling a bit mixed-up after your recent evening, you might also be feeling a new energy for life these days? I found the information on the Muladhara chakra fascinating and hope you’ll continue to learn more about it on your own. There is a strong correlation here between the activity of your physical body and the reflections of your psyche, one which might be a gateway to greater insight. 

Exploring the symbolism and diving into the literature around the various images in your dream will almost certainly provide you with greater connections and kickstart some wonderful creativity too. Dreams can provide tremendous comfort when you discover an image that, by its very emergence, provides insight into your life. If you haven’t experienced that feeling yet, dive in and start exploring. Perhaps that too is the attention your baby elephant desires.

Have you had a dream like this? Leave a comment and share!

Satya is a Jungian psychotherapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and work with individuals in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. www.QuarterLifeCounselor.com

7 comments

  1. John

    The secret room scenario that is noticed a familiar from a previous time sounds like the dreamer has discovered a new possibility in their life that they have forgotten.

  2. suresh

    hi satya,
    i had 2 dreams in last 2months where there are lot of miniature elephants playing..i like the feel of the elephants as i am person who worships ganesha the elephant head god in hinduism..normally when we see normal elephants or when it chases us in our dreams it is a good omen …but i dont know why they are so small..could not understand the meaning

  3. Jess

    Hi I dreamt I was at my old house, there is a school opposite, I looked out of the window and a baby elephant was in the veranda of the school on the second floor, some how I could read its thoughts and all it said is I want to jump, I got a feeling it wanted to commit suicide. I thought of calling for help to get it out of the building but I was busy, so I told my self the school keeper will sort it out! After some time I looked out the window and the elephant jumped! It slipped and fell head down! I was so shocked! I thought it broke its neck I could not see were it landed and I prayed that he was alive and looked for an animal rescue number. I told my mum to look out the window I wanted to explain what I saw and why I was so upset but she looked out at her own things and was disinterested. After sometime a helicopter came it landed and air lifted the baby elephant into my house it was alive, he gave it first aid the other guy carried it but it was to heavy he wanted to give me the baby I told him I can’t carry it. He should put it on the floor but the guy dropped the baby and screamed about his sore arms. I started crying and ran to the first aid guy to tell him that muscle man dropped the animal. He ignored me and had a broom and mop. Muscle man and another man suddenly appeared with bleeding mouths, also the first aid man had a red bag with hindu words written. In the dream no one cared about the elephant there was no sense of urgency, they ignored me. I felt bad because it kinda told me it was stuck and the only way out was to jump and I did nothing for it, I ignored it. I woke up very upset to the sound of a helicopter outside. I’m a masters student and am not coping too well. I am also reading the 5 love languages book. I am learning from this book new things! I dnt know if its related

    • satyabyock

      Thank you for sharing this very tender dream. Are you familiar with Hinduism and the chakra system? Have you explored the correlation? I’m curious to see that Hindu words were on the red bag, along with the baby elephant… what do you know about how this might be related to what you’re experiencing?

    • satyabyock

      Another thought for you to explore here: reflect on the line

      “I thought of calling for help to get it out of the building but I was busy, so I told my self the school keeper will sort it out!”

      What does this remind you of in your life? What are you too busy to attend to that really needs your attention? You say in reflecting on the dream that no one was caring for the elephant, but the dream states at the beginning that you ignore it for other more pressing concerns. There is a playful, sensual, sexual, intimate side of you that needs your soulful attention. It’s worth considering how your intellectual life is damaging your more intuitive, physical ones and how things could be brought back into balance.

  4. sonsingh

    I’m so thankful to have found this blog. I’ve been troubled by a dream for the last 2 nights of a baby elephant. I am in my mother’s backyard and at first, he is lying in a puddle. When he hops, he is playful but his trunk has been severed and barely hanging on. I am distressed and want to find him help but don’t know what to do. I think the whole time should I finish cutting off his trunk. But the elephant is very playful and jumping around and going back and forth into the puddle. I have been feeling more energized lately b/c of a new promotion on my job and starting my own business in what I love to do but after reading this, I do know my intimate life could use a jump start or some type of plan. There has been a lull in intimacy with my partner and I feel like I’m sexually frustrated and underwhelmed. Over 10 years of marriage and I feel like I’m transitioning into a new direction while I look back and wonder if he’s following my lead…or should I even be leading…?

    • satyabyock

      Thanks for sharing this dream and your reflections on it. There’s probably a lot left for you to explore in this dream, including the setting of your mother’s backyard. This aspect could suggest that what you’re dealing with right now is also connected to your mother, either what blocks or old traumas you share in relation to intimacy and vitality, or some way she’s influencing you now? I encourage you to journal about this at least once. Just let your mind wander and see where it takes you. The hanging trunk is also worth exploring. Is this some relation to how you and tour husband interact? The trunk is a particularly phallic image and the injury to it, including your consideration of cutting all off, makes me wonder if you’re “leading” your partner to such an extent that he’s feeling emasculated. Again, consider how this might relate back to your mother.

      One more thing: if astrology speaks to you at all, we are currently in a cycle of Venus retrograde. This happens every 8 years and is a major time of cleanings of intimacy and relationship in general. Give particular attention to your relationships right now and what they need to clean-up the old and bring in the new. Look back too to what was happening in your relationship 8 years ago to see parallels to what might be trying to come into form now. Do you and your husband need to reengage your vows?

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