Rev. Nancy's Blog

Visits from Animals in Dreams and Waking Life

Animals enter our dreams and waking life in many forms and for many reasons. How we see and receive them is a reflection of our individual process, our own hopes and fears.

In dreams, animals may appear as they do in waking life, but they may also appear as

  • nightmarish demon creatures
  • lovable fluffies
  • creatures with exaggerated qualities
  • a new hybrid of animal, like half bird and half fish
  • power animal guides, teachers, or messengers

In short, animals can appear to us in any of the ways our imagination can receive them.

Animals poke at our awareness in waking life

Seeing a usually furtive animal next to a walking path in broad daylight lets us know the animal has gone out of its way to bring a message.

Being drawn to a picture of an animal, or seeing pictures of that animal every time we open a magazine or turn a corner, tells us to pay attention.

Visiting a zoo or animal sanctuary and experiencing a soul connection when looking into an animal’s eyes tells us to listen.

Power Animals

Power animals and guides come to help us when we need their guidance, sometimes staying for a long time and other times helping us over a hump and then stepping aside until they are needed again.

Cougar (also called Mountain Lion and Puma), for example, came to me many years ago when I was going through a significant awakening. I saw Cougar as representing the fierce feminine and courage, as well as appreciating that cougars are comfortable with who they are and generally live in solitude.

After coming through that period in my life, Cougar stepped back, though remained part of my “animal chorus.” During a much later visit to Peru, though, Cougar re-emerged as Puma, the Inca guardian of the middle world where we live day to day. Puma stayed at my waking and dreaming side throughout the trip and for nearly a year afterward.

Turtle, on the other hand, entered my life at the same time as Cougar, and has remained a steadfast guide in waking as well as dream life. Others have shared their deep, continuing relationship with animal guides, including Camel, Peregrine Falcon, Wolf, Bear, Deer, Mouse, Raven, and others.

How to work with Animal Dreams

When an animal appears in your dreams or brings itself to your attention in waking life, contemplate the characteristics of that animal. Is it known for patience, courage, being industrious, taking time to play?

What is the message it is showing through its presence?

What is the archetypal significance? Snakes, for example, have been associated both with Kundalini energy and with the life/death/rebirth cycle.

An animal bringing itself into your consciousness is an invitation to learn from a teacher who has offered to share a lesson.

Scary Animals

Animals that appear in dreams can show frightening aspects of themselves. The fluffy bunny that grows fangs and turns out to be a vampire sends a different message than a simple fluffy bunny.

The ravening werewolf, the fire-breathing dragon, the slimy monster, the insects that eat us alive – these can be archetypal animal appearances. They can also be like drawing a Tarot or other divinatory system card in reverse or contrary position.

The question to ask, again, is what are the characteristics of this animal?

How does this animal relate to what is going on in my waking life? Am I being eaten alive or sucked dry by something or someone in waking life?

What is my relationship to the animal in the dream – am I the quivering mouse a hair’s breadth away from the weasel’s snout?

Or am I the weasel?

Is there a struggle?

If the dream animal is struggling, notice if it is in its natural environment or not, and whether or not it is able to overcome the obstacle. When my dream animals struggle I realize I need to pay attention to and learn from this animal – both its positive and reversed or contrary aspects.

Animals are not of themselves “good” or “evil.” They all have specific energies common to their species and an essential role in the balance of the natural cycle. They also have roles in partnership with humans, as well as being very good at mirroring our behaviors.

Our perceptions of good and evil, docile or threatening, loyal or aloof are reflections of our own prejudices, fears, perceptions, religious beliefs and training, and our own needs.

Animals as Messengers

Some animal species have chosen to work more closely with humans, to help us grow and regain the sense of our place and role in the greater whole. Others drop in from time to time to support and teach.

Animals bring messages through their energy and characteristics. When we are gifted with an animal presence it is good to be open to and look for the teaching that comes with that animal.

Sometimes the message is a simple tweak to something we are doing or a voice of encouragement; sometimes it is a warning or show of support to help guide us through a time of transition. There is always something to learn. We just need to pay attention.

Question: Has an animal visited your dreams?


Article published by The Dream Tribe (August 2010):

Nancy is an animal intuitive and interfaith minister who specializes in helping people understand and communicate with their animal companions.