Are Dream Symbols Real Or Fake?

I get annoyed when people say lucid dreaming is just some freaky paranormal gobbledygook.

Is being consciously aware you’re dreaming really the same as bending a spoon with your mind? I’ve never bent any spoons with my mind. I’ve also never won the lottery because I could see into the future. I’ve never seen any real ghosts or aliens. Has anyone?

Could it be because none of these other things are real? Possibly, but I would never say that. I have a pretty open mind, so I’d rather just say they’re unproven. Lucid dreaming is scientifically proven, so there is a big difference – it’s not paranormal.

I don’t blame people for thinking it’s bordering on unreal because of the things it gets lumped in with. Dream symbolism is definitely one of them and it’s something I just don’t buy into.

Dream symbolism is like astrology. It’s cute and fluffy, but some of it is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

I’m a dream interpreter

I do think we can interpret our dreams if we can remember them. If something happens to you inside the dream world you can work out what might have caused it.

But there is no way we can label something a symbol and say it’s the same for every single person in the world.  I think some dream symbols are true(ish), but somewhere down the line a random person must have started to make stuff up and people went along with it.

I’ll give you a few examples and you will see what I mean.

Common dream symbols

I’ve had a look around and I’m going to talk about some of the ‘common’ dream symbols a lot of people mention. These are ones I think someone made up when they were bored one day, but this is just a tiny selection of them.


Bugs are the manifestation of problems we’re not facing in real life

No, they’re not. They are just little bugs and I see them every day. Maybe I dream about them because I see them every day and not because they’re a manifestation of a problem I’m facing.

Arriving late

You’ve missed an important opportunity in life

Or you’re just 5 minutes late for something because you’re late a lot in real life. Or your life really could be over because of a missed opportunity, so you should just crawl under a rock and give up.

Failing a test

You’re feeling tested in some way in the real world

I don’t even want to say anything about this one, but it does make me want to cry.

LA dream symbols

Anyone can make up their own dream symbols. I’ve made up a few of my own and you can tell me if they’re any more or less believable than the others. Don’t just discount them because I’m trying to make a joke out of it. In theory, they could be true.

lion shark pyramid and carpet

You’re arguing with a lion

If you ever discover yourself arguing with a lion inside a dream it means you are angry because you lied to someone. If the lion looks like you, you’re angry because you are lying to yourself.

You go fishing and catch a shark

If you ever catch a shark when you’re fishing it means you want to eat shark fin soup. On a deeper level it means you want to kill endangered species because you don’t care about the planet.

You visit the Great Pyramids

If you ever visit the Great Pyramids when you’re dreaming it means you want to be a mommy. If you’re a guy it means you want to have a sex change operation then adopt a child.

You fly on a magic carpet

If you ever fly on a magic carpet in a dream it means you want to call your child Aladdin, or if you already have a child you want to change their name no matter what age they are.

If anyone reading this wants to chew my head off, I’d ask you to do one thing first. Think about it really carefully. Do most dream symbols even make sense?

I’ve already said some symbols could mean something in certain circumstances, but wouldn’t you say others are simply said for the sake of saying something?

Don’t look for symbols

Once you start to remember your dreams more often you will notice something strange happening. After you begin to become lucid it will become even more apparent. Your dreams are trying to tell you something, but it’s definitely not in the form of symbolism.

If you can remember an entire dream it’s easy to see how it corresponds to your real life. Your dream is sometimes trying to tell you something and when they are clear you’ll be able to tell.

It could be through:

  • A storyline
  • A certain action you perform
  • A strong feeling you get
  • A voice telling you something

It’s much easier to work out what your dreams mean through one of those channels, but some people walk along a plain old road and they’re suddenly on some magical journey because they read it in a book. How about it being a road you just happened to be walking along? No freaking way!

Why symbolism doesn’t make sense

Imagine you dream about a haunted house at the top of a hill and we can look at what different people might tell you it means.

ghost and haunted house

You’re going to buy a new house

Someone who believes in dream premonitions might say you’re going to buy a new house in the future. Once you start living there you might think it’s haunted.

You’re exploring your inner-psyche

The rooms inside a home are meant to unlock different parts of your psyche. Maybe that’s what you’re doing, or you might just be moving throughout the house because the dream would be pretty boring if you stood in the same room facing the wall until you woke up.

You are scared of something

You are dreaming about ghosts because you’re scared of something.

You might like Scooby Doo

When you were growing up you might have watched a lot of Scooby Doo cartoons. You’re dreaming about ghosts because you like them and you want to see what they’re like, or you want to lift off their mask to see who is underneath it before they get taken away by the police.

There are dozens of other examples of houses, haunted houses, and ghosts:

  • Unfinished emotional business
  • Leaving behind your past
  • Updating your way of thinking
  • Bla bla bla bla bla…

Those are just stupid examples, but you can see how it would be impossible for anyone to come to a sensible conclusion because you dreamed of a random house.

Some symbols are real

I’ve been pretty hard on some symbols I consider silly (and there are a lot more where they came from), but I’ve no doubt some of them do mean something (very rarely). They’re just few and far between, which unfortunately means every single object in the world might not have a weird and wonderful meaning behind it.

Here are some I do think mean something:

Teeth problems

If you’re anxious you might be physically grinding your teeth while you sleep and it will manifest inside your dream. Things from the outside world can definitely influence your dreams, so I think this is the case with teeth problems rather than symbolism.

Problems moving

You’re not fully inside the dream and it’s causing you to be stiff because you’re still in some way connected to your real body. If you’re lucid you can pull yourself fully into the dream, but without lucidity you just think you can’t move properly because something is wrong.

Falling down

You are falling into consciousness, either by becoming lucid or waking up. I’ve heard some people say they sink into the ground and bounce back up. This has never happened to me, so from experience I have to say you will wake up when you fall.

This is why I could be wrong

I could be wrong because I’ve not conducted any scientific experiments. Here are some of the things I’ve not touched on:

  • Someone has the same dream over and over again
  • People have conducted scientific experiments about bugs
  • We are living inside the matrix

matrix and bugs

Over and over again

If someone has the same nightmare about snakes over and over again there could be something symbolic about it. I’ve heard the majority of the female population have these dreams often. But seriously, if something is repeated multiple times it could point towards symbolism.

Experiments about bugs

If someone just decided to pull the bug meaning out of thin air it’s obviously fake, but maybe they conducted an excellent scientific experiment. They could have had a group of 1000 people who all dreamed about bugs and each one could have been facing the exact same problem in real life.

Living inside the matrix

Maybe it’s true and we are living inside the matrix. Instead of the matrix being little green numbers and letters like in the movie, the real matrix could run on symbolism and every single object on the planet means something different. When you pair them with other things their meaning changes again. Could a dream interpreter be our own version of The Oracle?

How to interpret your dreams

You first need to realize it’s crazy to extract any meaning from a dream when you can’t remember all of it. Anything could have happened at the start that completely throws the meaning of your dream out the window.

The same thing applies when you wake up before the dream has finished. Maybe your alarm went off just as you were bitten by a giant spider, which frightened the life out of you so you think it’s a bad thing. If the dream continued you might have turned into Spiderman. Not likely, but you just don’t know.

So wait until you have a strong dream memory and don’t try to interpret incomplete dreams.

Use common sense

Only you will know if you’re dealing with any situations in the real world that manifest in your dreams. It could be something sad, scary, amazing, exciting, humiliating… every other emotion in the world.

Just try to work out what your dream is trying to tell you by looking at the whole storyline, plus everything else we’ve talked about today.

Symbolism is not the devil

If you enjoy using symbolism to work out your dreams you should definitely keep doing it. Everyone should be doing what makes them happy. It might not be true, but millions of people around the world choose faith and belief over scientific fact:

  • Astrology
  • Fortune telling
  • Devil worship
  • Weight loss pills

So keep doing it, but don’t make any rash decisions after interpreting a dream in case it’s not true.

We don’t know why we dream, so what makes us think we know what our dreams mean?

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  1. says

    Hi Jamie,

    What a great blog on such an interesting subject!
    I’ve had a few lucid dreams in my time and found that i could wake myself up in these moments, if the dreams became too much, by rolling my eyes back into my head in my dream, which would in turn force my eyes open to wake.

    As for dream symbolism, I never really believed in it until i broke up with my ex after 5 years. Every dream i had, no matter what, was set in a world of zombie apocalypse. I watch a lot of zombie stuff, i love it, but these dreams began then, during a time of terrible turmoil in my life. Then i read that apocalyptic dreams were symbolic of feeling as though you’d lost control of your life, which is exactly where i was at the time. I’m happy to say that two years later, zombies have stopped invading my dreams, but it certainly made me more aware of how powerful the subconscious mind can be.

    • says

      Hey Haley,

      Wow, that definitely sounds intense. I’m glad you don’t have zombie nightmares anymore. Lots of people joke about preparing for the zombie apocalypse, but maybe they wouldn’t be so casual about it after going through what you did.

      It definitely sounds like something symbolic because it happened so regularly. It would be interesting to know if your mind would have came up with the zombie dreams had you not watched any zombie related stuff before, but I still think you’re right to believe in symbolism more than me.

      Thanks very much for dropping by and also for the kind words.


  2. says

    I think you bring up some seriously valid points here!

    Potentially some dreams that our re-occuring might be hard tough to place in one category because the world around us changes and potentially the analysis couldn’t be the same for each re-occuring dream. It could be representing so other underlying issue not dealt with!

    • says

      Thanks, Kael.

      You’re definitely right there: it’s possible they could change in each dream, so it would be hard to pick things out even if they were about the same issue.

  3. says

    Hahahaha, I love your made up dream symbols. The images just adds so much to this. Also loved the matrix theory. Great stuff.

    In reference to another post, I actually never stopped seeing shapes in clouds. While I might not lie down and stare at them, because I’m pretty sensitive to light so it hurts my eyes, I often see and point out shapes to others, even now as a ‘young adult’. The way I understood it, that’s a good thing?

  4. says

    lol I do enjoy drawing those silly pictures, so I’m glad someone thinks they add something to the articles.

    I think it’s a good thing because you’re obviously aware of the clouds, especially when you don’t specifically stare at them. A good plan is to try to see things in the back of your eyelids and manipulate them. You obviously can’t do that with real clouds unless you are the one.

    So as well as getting your awareness stronger you’re also practicing to manipulate things with your mind.

  5. Louise Howe says

    I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this article too, very interesting. I came across it because of the dream I had last night. Now I’ve always remembered most of my dreams, seems like much more than people I talk to, not saying every bit of every one every night, but quite a bit most nights. So I’ve always wondered about dream interpretation and read bits and pieces on it, but today it just seems kind of obvious. Last night I dreamed that a favourite wine glass of mine had a crack in it after unloading it from the dishwasher, and that a character from a popular soap opera was having coffee with me, and that my husbands father was in hospital, and that his wife was there with him. Well in real life yesterday morning I had been unloading the dishwasher and I have been having problems with it, the soap character has a big storyline at the moment and I ve been watching it, and my husband and I had been talking about his father who really had been in hospital and his wife, before we went to bed. Its so obvious you just dream about the things that are really happening, how can this not be true after what Ive just said! Don’t think I’ll be bothering to look up meanings any more that’s for sure. Louise

    • says

      Hey Louise,

      I definitely think dreams have meanings. Just not random symbols, but if something sticks out to you it’s probably coming from your psyche rather than a different dimension.

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