Q: I am on a beach with others. I know it was just nighttime, but now it feels sort of in between times. We are walking on the edge of the water but then I walk up the beach. Then, after a short while, I turn around and see a full-grown lion standing halfway in the water, looking right at me! The lion is not threatening, but it is very real and I am struck by its size, strength, and presence as it stares at me. It was an incredible dream!
A: Fabulous. What you’ve got here is a dream clearly marking a major life transition. Do you see some of the indications? It’s “in between times,” as you put it, and you’re walking on the edge of the water, between water and land. There’s a pattern there. It may sound cryptic initially, but the imagery suggests that you yourself are somewhat in between worlds, bringing something that was not conscious (of the night and the watery ocean) into the daytime and onto land, where we humans are more comfortable. You’re transitioning from one attitude or way of life into another. It’s a liminal time, a transitional time.
The incredible imagery of the lion appearing to you is a visceral experience, right? It’s those moments that stop you in your tracks and make you go “Whoa!” And for good reason. That lion is a presence, almost a messenger, staring straight at you, and acknowledging you. These kinds of dreams tend to give the dreamer a feeling of meaning, versus many other dreams that can be more easily tossed aside as “day residue.” It’s got an archetypal feel; you just know that lion is not in your dream because of any nonsense from the day before.
Lion’s are not just any old animal, they are the kings of the animal world. When a lion appears in a dream, coming up from the depths of who-knows-where to pay you a visit, it’s a good idea to pay attention. Your attitude towards the lion in the dream is important. You do not rush-up excitedly to hug him, nor do you run in the other direction in fear. Your attitude suggests a kind of reverence and gratitude, a good sign, suggesting that you are open to this transition in your life instead of fighting it. If, instead, you had misunderstood the lion’s power to hurt you in the dream (jumping on its back or getting too close), I would not feel as optimistic about your “prognosis” for the transition. You get it. You get that this lion has power, and you get that it’s sort of an honor to have him there, staring right at you. I know this is a big time in your life, because kings don’t pay visits for just any old reason.
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Satya is a 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