Your Wild Side in Dreams

Does your inner wild-child want to come out and play? If so, then you probably have an assortment of wild creatures cavorting around in your dreams. Wild animals represent your untamed and unconscious urges and desires, which can ignite your creativity, sexuality and personal power – or reveal your undisciplined habits and behavior.

Paying attention to the animal symbols in your dreams can help you eliminate negativity and get in touch with your instinctual side – so you can be more emotionally, sexually and creatively fulfilled.

The jungle
Catherine from Nairobi shares this fascinating dream about a helpful elephant. She relates, “I dreamt of being chased by many wild animals in the desert. I ran as fast as I could, falling on the ground and getting up. Then an elephant came to my rescue with fresh green leaves in its mouth. It stretched out to give me the leaves. I woke up just before reaching for the leaves.”

Most of us have dreamt of fleeing from something, and that “something” is usually within us – a desire, a habit or an emotional issue – that we don’t want to deal with. In Catherine’s dream, running from wild animals means she’s trying to escape her own desires, or perhaps the desires of someone in her life. The desert represents the barren feeling of blocking those instincts. The elephant symbolizes her inner strength, something that she’s just now discovering about herself, as symbolized by the fresh (new) green leaves.

I once had a vivid dream of seeing a red-tailed hawk fly into the middle of a room where I was standing – in pursuit of its prey. I felt in awe and a little frightened of this enormous bird. Then, before my eyes, the hawk transformed into a black panther. The fierce cat disappeared, and I entered the room where it was headed to investigate. To my disgust and fascination, I saw a tray filled with the small body parts of animals, including their eyes. I realized that the predators were after the eyes of their prey.

Shortly after this dream, I attended a seminar given by dream interpreter and author Robert Moss. He specializes in a shamanistic dream interpretation, wherein animals are regarded as sacred symbols. He analyzed my dream, telling me that the wild animals symbolized my spiritual strength, the many body parts represented my spiritual gifts, and the eyes symbolized my spiritual vision and perception. His interpretation resonated with me, because the dream seemed to touch a sacred place deep within my psyche.

Your dreams
So how do you go about interpreting your own wild-animal dreams? First, think about the animal in your dream – and write down the first thing that comes to mind. This is important, because although dream symbols can be archetypal (they have a common meaning to many people) they may instead have a meaning that’s deeply personal to you. For instance, elephants can represent strength, endurance or a long memory (often associated with karma). However, Catherine, who shared her dream above, is from rural Africa, and may have a closer connection to its wildlife than do city dwellers and Westerners (say, if she awakens in the morning and regularly finds wild things in her backyard). The elephant may take on an entirely different meaning for her, perhaps even symbolizing unwelcome visitors (family members?) who intrude in her space.

Next, ask yourself how you feel about the animal. Is it frightening – or intriguing? Weak or powerful? Does it remind you of a part of yourself? Perhaps you just had a ferocious fight with your lover. That night you dreamed of a growling tiger. The tiger is your anger – and your inner strength. Or perhaps the animal reminds you of a quality in someone you’re close to. In that case, the dream is giving you a clue to that person’s behavior.

To understand the symbol at a deeper level, try cutting out a picture of the animal, and meditate on it for a few minutes a day. Also, be aware of your feelings throughout the day and see if the animal suddenly appears in your thoughts, which might reveal how it’s connected to your emotions. Whatever the meaning, the symbol can help clarify what’s going on in your life.

Where the wild things are is – inside of us. They run free in our dreams to help awaken our inner lives. Play with them!

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