Tagged: lion

“A Menagerie of Wild Animals in the Backyard.” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

MonitorLizard-portland-psychotherapy-dreamsQ: I am in a house that is overrun by wild animals. I walk into a room, the nook just off the kitchen, and I see a Monitor Lizard buried head first in a big vase full of flowers and scummy water. He scurries up and out of the vase as I enter. Outside in the back, courtyard area, a couple of large cats are sitting, maybe a Lion and Cheetah. They were in and out of the house as well. My mom was there, along with other female family members. The animals did pose some danger to us, but there were wary of us as well. It occurred to me that they wanted water, that they were here looking for water. Is that why they had come in from the wild? I assumed that wild animals have ways of getting what they need in the wild, but not anymore, I guess. Not these days. As we stood looking over the yard from above, I wondered to my mom about filling up a kiddie pool with water for the animals. She suggested we do it tomorrow as trying to navigate around them at that moment would be dangerous. I felt for them, though. Tomorrow is a long ways off if they’re really thirsty.

A: Thank you, dreamer, for sending in this dream. You shared with me in writing that you woke up from this dream with the word “Menagerie” in your head, and that you hadn’t been entirely conscious of the meaning of that word: “a collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.” This word, and the tone of its definition, may provide an interesting insight for us as we explore the rest of your dream. You also shared with me that you weren’t feeling physically well at the time of the dream and you wondered if there might be clues to that in the dream.

Indeed, the animal nature of your dream suggests reference to your own animal nature: your physical, instinctual self. The animals have come in from the wild and are invading your home. They’re thirsty. I immediately began wondering in exploring this dream why they’re thirsty, and what they (you) are thirsty for exactly. I wonder too what it means that they’re displaced. The realities of environmental degradation and global warming are bound to show up in the dreams of anyone living in the modern era (we’re consciously and unconsciously experiencing it), but the image should still also be looked at symbolically. The ever expanding cities and shrinking natural world has a psychological correlate for us all. In the modern era, psyche becomes heavily weighted towards the conscious, literal, rational mind and further distanced from the interconnected, mysterious realm of the universe in which we live. The modern psyche is raised to be narcissistic and sociopathic, with ever expanding egos and ever decreasing reverence for whatever it is that we can’t understand. But, whether we like it or not, the wild comes back to us. The grass grows up between the cracks of the concrete, the ants return just when you thought they were gone, and the winds and rain may bring a city to its knees with little warning. Is that what’s happening in your life? Your wild nature is demanding attention. It’s reclaiming territory and making its presence known.

I’ve written a few times about water in dreams, the absence of which makes a showing in your dream. Before exploring the deeper symbolic layers of Water, the first “interpretation” of this image might simply be that you’re thirsty. Really. This fact may be buried in your consciousness, something which you’re not terribly aware of and therefore shows up with your animal nature stating what it’s feeling: “I’m dehydrated.” Whether or not this could be a symptom of your sickness or of a tendency for you in general, I don’t know, but it’s a simple reading of the dream that might be valuable for you to explore. The unconscious inhabits all of us, our cells and our muscles, not just the dark reaches of our mind.

On a more symbolic level, I’m going to start by offering you what might seem like another simple statement (or a stoner’s attempt at profundity): Water is central to life. Without water, there would be no existence as we know it. Adult humans are nearly 60% water. Social centers have typically been built around major water resources, rivers or lakes or oceans. Fountains have been placed in the center of city landscapes and kingdoms. Water is central, literally and symbolically. So we know, instinctively, to bow to the water within us and outside of us. What might this mean for your dream? It may be that you’re feeling somewhat disconnected from life itself, that you’re needing to reconnect to the life force in some way, to your emotions (another aspect of water in dreams), and to the spiritual, soulful realm that gives life meaning. This could also be seen as the Yin aspect of life, the feminine, anima, source of life that animates material existence. This nod to the feminine seems to arise in particular with the mention of your mother and the female members of your family, a theme also echoed with the particular species of cats you mentioned.

The Monitor Lizard in the vase of water is curious to me, especially in that he is situated in “the nook just off the kitchen.” I’m curious here again about the way this dream may be orienting you towards very specific parts of your body. The kitchen tends to be correlated with the stomach in dream symbolism. The kitchen is the place where food is chopped and cooked and broken down, where the alchemy of food digestion begins. So the language around this lizard’s hiding place just make me wonder if there might be an illness or imbalance (not necessarily serious) associated with your liver perhaps, or spleen. I also wonder this because this particular animal is named from the Latin root word Monit, to warn. What, perhaps emotionally, might be stuck in one of the smaller organs near the stomach? You might explore Chinese medicine for some answers here, or visit a good practitioner. The image of the lizard in dreams can also be related to lineage; that from which we evolved. This might tie in again with the appearance of your mother and family in the dream and what you might be working through in your physical and psychic inheritance. Perhaps there is a lineage of disconnection from some emotional depths that you are working to heal. And, of course, perhaps you have personal associations to Monitor Lizards that are valuable for further insights into why this animal is there, off the nook of your kitchen.

Finally, to return to the word with which you awoke: Menagerie… Menagerie. The notion of captivity that defines that word is resonant to me in working this dream. It makes me wonder: are you feeling trapped? Are things feeling too controlled and confining in your life? Are you needing to be more wild? Ask yourself these questions. Spend some time really sitting with the notions. Is your life feeling as though you are in captivity and that your deepest self is not getting a chance to roam and be free? If there is an inkling that this might be true, see what you can do to rectify the situation. In your psychic landscape, you can transform the wilderness, bring the flow of water back to where it belongs, and encourage the animals to return to their natural environments where they want to be. In the future, hopefully in the near future, if you can bring more flow back into your life, your dreams will reflect these changes and it will be you who is visiting the animals, out in the wilds where they are most alive and free.

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

“Attacked by an Evil Fish, Saved by a Yellow Dolphin.” A Dream Interpretation.

Dear Satya:

Q: It is summer, I am looking for my child, slightly panicked by the fact that I can’t find her. Then I find my child in the water, she had been attacked by an evil fish. A yellow dolphin kills the big fish and saves the child. Then, my child is lost again. When I find her, she walks out of the water towards me on the shore, accompanied by a huge lion. My instinct is that I want to protect her from the lion, but my little girl says that I don’t have to protect her cause the lion is peaceful. She says “you just don’t understand it!” 

A: Wow, this is a powerful dream, and one that holds some clear directions for your life. I’ve mentioned lions before in exploring the dreams of readers, one of which mirrors your dream rather closely: a lion walks out of the ocean towards the dreamer standing on the shore. I’d encourage you to read that interpretation about major life transitions, as well as the recent interpretation I wrote on a dream in which a bear chases the dreamer. I also mention lions there, a common correlate of bears in dreams. The gist there, important for you, is that what we cannot consciously accept as parts of ourselves appear as animal forces in dreams, trying to approach us in sometimes unexpected ways.

Your dream begins with your having lost your child. There are a couple of ways that we could approach an understanding of this image: we could understand it as representing your daughter literally or as representing your inner child and your childhood self. As we cannot explore this dream together, I am going to go ahead and assume the latter and explore your dream from that angle. Part of your childhood is lost in the unconscious, and it is a part of yourself that you are struggling to claim. Being in relationship with your daughter is probably eliciting memories of your own childhood, stimulating emotions and experiences long ago buried by aging and forgetting. You are diving into those waters now, beginning to swim around to resurrect feelings that have been lost for years.

In the first stage of the dream, your daughter has been attacked by what you call an evil fish. Again, my instinct here says that this is exclusively about your childhood (whereas the second stage is more about current times). In simple dream parlance, fish are emotions. When we dream of going fishing, for instance, it is an indication that we are beginning to pull emotions out of the unconscious and into our conscious awareness. With your dream of an evil fish, my guess is that you endured some very difficult things in childhood, perhaps actual attacks yourself, and are still attempting to reconcile those experiences. Perhaps it was big, difficult emotions that you didn’t know what to do with. Or perhaps it was a physical trauma of some kind. Either way, someone protected you, a savior of sorts. Thank goodness. This is the yellow dolphin, what might also be seen as a golden mammal, a more evolved, loving counter to the danger of the emotions and experiences that threatened to envelope you. Now, you are re-exploring some of this material again.

What I know of you is that you are a man, and that your daughter is six years old. I would ask you to explore what happened to you when you were six. How are you resisting the integration of those experiences into your life now? This is not something that can be intellectually understood, it is primal, emotional material that can only be faced, felt, wrestled with physically and emotionally, and reintegrated into your life and identity.

Your daughter is not scared of this lion, and my guess is that in waking life she is teaching you to accept the more primal layers of yourself. Somehow, being around a child, with her less intellectualized, jaded approach to life, is opening up your acceptance of your own deep existence. Listen to your daughter: Don’t be afraid of it!

I am going to take a huge leap here, based on some understanding of lions in dreams, and suggest that you are now wrestling with questions of sexuality and your sexual desires. Sexual feelings in childhood are extremely confusing and hard to understand. There is typically little support for children to sort through what is happening in their bodies and emotional lives around big feelings and desires. But as an adult, you have an opportunity to really engage those innate aspects of yourself and not be afraid of them. They do not have the same potential of devouring you as they did when you were younger. Even though it remains quite taboo to acknowledge it, sexual feelings start very early in human beings. Most people are not given proper tools for exploring, accepting, and safely expressing their own desires and sexuality.

Again, this is just a hunch. The lion could also represent long buried anger that is coming out of the unconscious and seeking to regain contact with you. Explore for yourself what it means. And remember to listen to your dream-daughter. She knows what’s good for you. Do not run and do not attack it. If anything, let yourself be attacked and devoured. These parts of yourself need not remain buried and drowned any longer. Once you accept them, as your daughter suggests, the lion energy and power latent within you will again be yours to use.

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