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5 Ways of Contemplating Snake Dreams and Symbols to Reveal their Hidden Meaning

Many people have dreamed of snakes at one point in their lives.

They may have been scary dreams or simply intriguing.

However, many people don’t realize that their snake dreams can also be important messages about the health of your mind, body, and soul.

So in this article I’m going to share with you the many messages of snake dreams, and then if you still need more help finding the meaning of your particular dream, I’ll show you where you can get more help.

The Key to Understanding the Complexities of Snake Dreams

Master dreamers know that dreams are linked to ancient archetypes or universal themes that predate modern man by thousands of years. As a result, the imagery in your dreams may parallel ancient dramas you are not consciously aware of.

Yet snake dreams are also personal. Any attempt to explore their meaning must take into consideration the dreamer’s personal relationship with snakes.

If you love snakes, the meaning of your dream may be entirely different than the snake dreams of someone who is afraid of snakes.

Of course, all dreams have multiple layers of meaning, and the most obvious reaction, like fear or curiosity, is only a clue about what your snake dreams might mean.

Therefore, when you look beyond the obvious meaning and explore the mythic quality of your dream images, you connect with the unseen, deeper implications of your dreams. You can more easily access the many layers, plumbing the depths beyond the obvious layer or two you immediately grasp upon waking.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

The Healing Snake

Snakes appear throughout recorded history as a symbol of healing.

You are likely familiar with the caduceus, the medical symbol with two snakes wound around a staff.

Perhaps you also know of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing who was often depicted holding a rod with a snake wound around it. Healing temples erected in honor of Asclepius, called Asclepions, had floors covered in non-venomous snakes. These sacred centers drew crowds of people who sought to incubate dreams in order to heal.

Maybe you are even familiar with Nehushtan, the bronze snake staff Moses carried to heal Israelites of snake bites.

But did you know that the image of a snake wound around a rod first appeared circa 4000-3000 bc on a Sumerian vase dedicated to Ningishzida, the Lord of the Good Tree? Not only was Ningishzida the son of Ninazu, the Lord of Healing, Ningishzida was also depicted as a snake with a human head. He was one of two gatekeepers who protected Anu, God of Heaven, as well as a traveler through the netherworld (underworld.)1

How the healing snake relates to you

On some level, you know that snakes are related to healing. Whether you are the direct descendent of Ascelepius himself or have simply seen the modern emblem of medicine, your subconscious is aware that snakes and healing go hand-in-hand.

Considering this, ask yourself how your dream snake may be trying to help you heal.

Whether it bites you, swallows you, antagonizes you or hugs you, this snake is one part healer and it wants to help you find your way toward wholeness.

Life Calling and Initiation Dreams 

Dreams of being bitten and swallowed may have the added layer of being initiation dreams. In some indigenous cultures, surviving a waking-life rattlesnake bite, for instance, is evidence that the person is called the path of healer. Similarly, dismemberment is often viewed as an initiatory aspect of becoming a shaman. Being swallowed by a snake in a dream is a form of dismemberment.

The Fertile Snake

Snakes were worshipped in every corner of the ancient world as creatures who symbolized fertility, birth, death and resurrection.

One common image is of a snake wrapped around the earth. From the Nordic Jörmungandr to the Hindu Ananta, this image portrays the snake as responsible for holding the world together.

Similarly, The Cosmic Serpent winds itself around an egg, clearly a symbol of fertility and rebirth, as well as creation of the universe.

The Snake Goddess sculpture from Knossos, the famous gowned female figure holding two snakes, may be representative of the Mother Goddess.

Of course, we must include in this section the Freudian view that snakes are sexual, phallic objects.

How the fertile snake relates to you

When you dream of snake(s), reflect on how it may be a divine messenger coming to tell you about fertile possibilities. Where might you have unrecognized potential? What creation is waiting to be born?

The other side of creation, though, is destruction. In this regard, how might your dream snake be a premonition about the need to shed an outmoded way of being or an outgrown relationship or object?

The Psychic and Spiritual Snake

19th Century Kundalini Illustration

19th Century Kundalini Illustration

One bite from a venomous snake, one entanglement with a boa constrictor, and most people die. Perhaps this is why snake is also viewed as evil in many parts of the world.

Medusa, for instance, was a Greek Gorgon, part snake, part women, whose gaze turned people to stone.2

Nidhogg, a Nordic snake, was an evil creature whose body wrapped around Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, and tried to destroy it.3

How the destroyer snake relates to you 

Death in dreams is always a sign of transformation. If you feel your dream snake is attempting to destroy you, either by biting, constricting or swallowing you or any other means, consider how it might be an invitation to let go of a cherished aspect of life (e.g. belief, relationship, object) that is preventing you from living a healthier life. In other words, your dream snake may want you to relinquish something so you can receive something better.

Snakes can also foreshadow illness. If your dream snake is injured or looks unusual, it may be a sign that something is not working for you. Similarly, if the snake tries to bite you, it may be sending you a message of possible illness.

Note: only you will know what your snake dreams mean. Exploring these possible layers may reveal important information, or nothing at all. Not all dreams of being bitten foreshadow illness.

The Elemental Aspect of Snakes

The Rainbow Snake

Water

The Aboriginal Rainbow Serpent lives in a waterhold and is related to fertility and life-giving powers.4

Earth

The Snake Goddess is an earth goddess associated with earthly, household goods.5

Air

Quetzalcoatl is a Mesoamerican deity whose name means “feathered serpent.” This deity may represent fertility since wind or air was associated with fertility in this culture.6

Fire

Xiuhcoatl was a serpent associated with the Aztec fire deity, Xiuhtecuhtli.7

How the elemental snake relates to you 

There are aspects of each element that are experienced universally (although some cultures experience the elements differently – trust your intuition to lead you toward a meaning that fits you).

Water, for instance, is fluid therefore often equated with emotion and intuition. Earth is solid and grows our food so it is equated with nourishment and with being grounded and present. Air is associated with the breath or “pneuma” which links it to Spirit or Soul because we cannot live without air. Fire consumes nearly everything it touches and is therefore a destroying element as well as a creative element, encapsulating passion as well as destruction.

Notice the environment of your dream snake. How might the elements surrounding it be a reference to one of these universal or archetypal themes?

Share Your Snake Dreams Below

In order to create a community inspired resource for  dreams and symbols, we’d love it if you’d use the comments section below to share a brief description of your snake dreams and the meaning you’ve gleaned from the imagery.

Include any waking life life connections, like illness, recovery, initiation, transformation, anything you feel relates to your dream.

Sources:

1 http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/gods/lords/lordninazu.html
2 http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/medusa.html
3 http://www.pantheon.org/articles/n/nidhogg.html
4 http://www.aboriginalartonline.com/culture/rainbow.php
5 http://www.pantheon.org/articles/m/minoan_snake_goddess.html
6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatl#cite_note-0
7 Fernández 1992, 1996, pp.107, 160.

About the Author:

Amy Brucker helps people heal their ancestral wounds so they can free their purpose, passion, and inner power. She offers a one-on-one, private healing/mentoring program Healing the Ancestral Wound. See link "Work with Me" on main menu for details.

6 Easy Steps to Intuitive Dream Guidance

You don’t have to be a psychic reader or master shaman to access deep wisdom that can guide you through even the most difficult situations.

That’s because every night, intuitive information flows directly to you.

Information that is specifically tailored to your needs.

To access it, all you have to do is sleep.

Fantastic, right?

Dreams are one of the best ways to access your intuition.

After all, dreams flow from the same magic as our other intuitive skills

And what’s great about dreaming is that everyone can do it. Dreaming is free, without risk, and innate.

The bottom line is — we all dream, and therefore we all have access to our wise intuitive knowing every single time we wake up.

How Intuitive Dream Guidance Can Help You

Accessing the intuitive messages in your dreams can

  • Ease anxiety and stress
  • Show you things you’re overlooking or ignoring
  • Help you make difficult decisions
  • Allow you to break through creative blocks
  • Guide you through difficult relationships
  • Help you heal your body
  • Help you feel more connected to the Divine

But What If You Don’t Remember Your Dreams?

Now, you might be saying, “What if I don’t remember my dreams? Does that mean I’m not dreaming? And does that mean it’s hopeless for me to access my intuition through dreams?”

My answer is a definitive no. You’re always dreaming, but you may be someone who does not readily remember dreams. That’s easily remedied: read our handy guide to remembering your dreams.

The quickest, easiest way to start remembering your dreams is to set an intention to remember them and then say a mantra before going to bed. You might say, “Tonight I will dream and when I wake up I will remember my dreams.”

Once you start remembering something, (even a word, image, or feeling) you can begin working with the intuitive guidance within your dreams.

Six Easy Steps to Access Intuitive Dream Guidance

1. Think of a question you’d like intuitive guidance on. For instance, you may want to know where you should get your master’s degree, or when to plant the tomatoes in your garden, or if taking a job offer is a good idea. Choose a question that has a relatively definitive answer, like a choice between two things. Don’t ask, “When will the love of my life show up.” That’s too vague.

2. Write down your question, either in your dream journal, or on a piece of paper that you can put under your pillow or next to your bed when you sleep. Writing down your question helps solidify the intention to dream the answer.

3. Before falling asleep, repeat your intention a few times. Say something like, “Tonight I will dream guidance on when to plant the tomatoes and when I wake up I’ll remember my dreams.”

4. When you wake up, whether it’s at 1 a.m. or 9 a.m., if you remember any dreams write them down immediately, or as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more the dream will slip away.

5. Now work the dream(s). The best time to do this is after you’ve written it down, but if you don’t have time in the morning, make it a priority to work with the dream at some point that day. Look for clues that connect to your question.

6. Once you have some idea of what the dream is saying, act on it. Honoring the dream by following its guidance will strengthen your relationship with your dreams and your intuition. Trusting that the information you’re receiving is right is quite powerful and will set you up for even better information in the future.

How I Used Intuitive Dream Guidance to Make a Difficult Decision

While traveling in Europe last year, I was deciding whether to go to exotic places like Thailand and New Zealand, or return home to Colorado to see my family.

In waking life, I wasn’t thrilled about seeing my family because we have a difficult. Going to Thailand seemed like a much more attractive option.

So one evening I asked my dreams to tell me which path to take: keep traveling, or return to the U.S.

That night I dreamed about being in Boulder, CO. In the dream I was so happy to be there. I saw snow falling gently on the Flatirons, the gorgeous foothills West of Boulder, and I said, “God I love this place.”

I woke up and knew I needed to return home. Don’t get me wrong; it was painful and difficult to see my family. But being in Boulder was absolutely the right choice and I’m glad I listened to my intuition’s advice.

Being an Intuitive Dreamer Can Change Your Life

Once you begin to see dreams as messages directly from your intuitive knowing, you’ll see that your dreams guide you in several ways.

They may be telling you to quit your job or ask for a raise. They might be prodding you to take a risk or end a relationship. Often, they show you what fears are blocking you and what aspects of yourself you’re keeping hidden that could actually be your greatest gifts.

Even working with one of these aspects can be life-changing. Perhaps that raise will allow you to get the medical treatment you need or help you to send your child to the college of their dreams.

Your dreams may also begin showing you your greatest gifts. When you act on your dreams’ advice to share your gifts, opportunities may open up in areas you could not have imagined. The possibilities are truly endless.

About the Author:

Katrina's work involves illuminating the soul and reconnecting with nature through her artistry with a camera, talent with words, expertise in dreamwork, compassionate teaching style, and ability as a clairvoyant. Visit her here: KatrinaDreamer.com

Ecodreaming and Finding Home: the Case of the Bedrock Mortar

We don’t live our lives in a vacuum, but embedded in the natural world.

Of course it can be hard to get past our cultural and personal blinders, that ever-present cognitive domestication of 21st century life.

Enter ecodreaming.

With attention and patience, we can learn to recognize invitations and warnings from our nightly dreams so we can live more in tune with the natural forces that subtly form the container of our waking lives.

As a result, we are more intuitive, emotionally grounded and likely to survive a zombie apocalypse.

When we attend to our dreams, we are building bridges between the waking world and the dreaming world. It’s slow work at first, but then it gets easier, and the results more obvious. Psychic dreams, health warning dreams, and creative insights begin to spill out from one realm to the next.

It’s a feedback loop that gets stronger with each passing night.

Spending time in nature, and reflecting on dreams about nature, brings us closer to the evolutionary conditions from which we originated. In these conditions, intuition and dream-thinking comes in handy in ways that make sense from an ancient but perennial standpoint: to find safety, innovation, and balance in our lives.

And as in the case I’m going to describe here, to find belonging and acceptance.

Uncertain Homecoming

A few years ago, my fiancé and I left Florida after a series of unfortunate circumstances involving her schooling and my work. We came back to the San Francisco Bay Area to lick our wounds. It was 2008, and finances were tight, especially after I lost most of my clients when the recession hit. I was not certain we had made a good choice coming back to California, and was often demoralized.

One night, two months after moving back, I had the following dream:

I walk out into a wooded yard and onto a pile of rocks. I look up and can see beyond the horizon of trees to hills beyond. I see Panola Mountain in the distance, as from the vantage of Mt Arabia. [granite outcroppings in Georgia, where I grew up]. Delighted, I say hello to them and then the horizon spins and new mountain is there – it is Mt Diablo [mountain near where I currently lived in California]. “Diablo!” I say. It is huge, majestic, and lit golden. It [the horizon] spins again and it looks like a wooded hill, green, East coast. Then again: Diablo. Then again: another California hill, and then another. (8/13/2008)

The next day upon awakening I knew immediately what to do: visit Mt Diablo, which was only a 20 minute drive away, and greet it with a personal offering. I had not been there since coming back to CA.

I drove halfway up the mountain, and then got on a hiking trail that my fiancé and I once hiked when we were first dating.

At one point, the trail passes a steep seasonal drainage that cuts down from the embankment above. I felt a sudden—and unmistakable—tugging in my chest to leave the trail and follow up the drainage.

Bedrock Mortars, 2010 CC by Kurt Hunt

So I parted the veil of the thick foliage of scrub oak and climbed up over the rocks, long out of view of the trail below. I felt like I was in last night’s dream. I emerged onto a large flat rock with an expansive view to the West.

Instantly I knew this was the place to make my offering to Mt Diablo. As soon as I had that thought, I noticed the prehistoric bedrock mortar on the stone. A bedrock mortar is a depression in stone that is made by native people to grind plant materials—such as acorns—into meal. I flood of joy washed over me. I intuitively felt that the mountain had called me with last night’s dream, and now trusted me enough to reveal this artifact of the ancient past on Diablo.

The mortar was the first artifact I had ever seen on Mt Diablo, and believe me, I had been looking for years, having logged in hundreds of hours on and off trail.

I wrote in my journal the next day:

“I think it not a coincidence that as I begin to steep myself in men’s psychology, with all its emphasis on yang, drive, and seeking, that Diablo presented me with the receptacle, the woman’s seat, an acorn processing spot from ages ago. Perhaps there is a truth here, that what men are so actively seeking is our own receptacle of surrender. Thank you Diablo for welcoming me here.” [8/14/2008]

Present Day Reverberations

I have been planning to explore this dream for some weeks now. But coincidentally—or synchronistically as Katrina would remind us—I actually found my first bedrock mortars on a hike in Pennsylvania today.

Yeah, today.

It’s too weird not to mention, as the idea to go hiking—on Indigenous People’s Day no less—was a spontaneous decision. Just a few hours later, I was running my fingers along the smooth inner walls of the mortar, imagining the clanging of a river cobble pestle reverberating through the forest.

I’ve been in Pennsylvania for 2 years now, on many hikes and explorations for bedrock mortars and other signs of prehistoric living, so this is indeed an uncanny experience. More importantly, I felt the same kind of belonging from that day on Mt Diablo warm me from the inside out.

Welcome home. You belong here.

When I look back at the dream, I am further struck at the progression of spinning horizons: starting with Panola Mountain  (my boyhood home), then Mt. Diablo (my home in 2008), and then an unknown wooded hill that I described as “a wooded hill, green, East coast.”

Could this be the Pennsylvania woods I visited today?

Or am I just making this stuff up? There are surely moments that I shake my head out how coincidences pile up when doing dreamwork.

This is ecodreaming—there are no sure answers, but if you follow the intuitive pulls from the landscape, you will be rewarded with resounding blessings that ripple backwards and forward in time.

To practice ecodreaming yourself, check out the article I wrote a while back about rock art and dreams. And I invite you to share your own waking/dreaming experiences of nature below. What did you learn? How did it affect your life?

About the Author:

Ryan's recent dream research focuses on lucid dreaming, sacred sites, the anthropology of dreaming, and sleep paralysis. DreamStudies.org

Make a Dream Medicine Pillow to Activate Healing Dreams

As we have learned from the posts here at the DreamTribe, there are many dimensions of dream medicine.

One aspect entails dreams that bring us healing.

In today’s post, I’m going to share a fun and creative method I use to activate healing dreams.

But first, what are healing dreams?

Various Forms of Healing Dreams

Healing may come in the form of a prescription for wellness.  For example, we may dream of a food that we need to eat to improve our diet.  Or we may dream of an herb that is the remedy for the ailment we are hoping to cure.

Dreams can also be directly healing.  In the dream state, one may receive direct healing from our Ancestors, Spirit Guides or other unknown forces.

In lucid dream state, the dreamer may use their lucidity to send healing energy to themselves or to another person.  I wrote about my experience with lucid dream healing in my post “Lucid Dreaming:  How Visiting Hogwarts Can Help You Heal.

We can also incorporate certain allies into our sleeping state to help enhance and activate our dream lives.

I have written a lot about dreaming with plants.  Oneirogen plants are a category of plants that are used to activate dream states.  Some of the best known oneirogens are artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) and silene capensis (Xhosa Dream Plant).

Plants can also be used to help activate healing dreams.   Some plants are good for relieving nightmares, working through grief, releasing trauma, or helping to bring healing, restorative sleep.

How to Make a Dream Pillow

A simple way to build your dream medicine toolkit is to make a dream pillow.

Dream pillows are normally filled with dry herbs and placed under the pillow.  Herbs have different qualities that you can blend together to make a customized dream pillow for your purposes (herb references below).

To sew your own dream pillow, use a clean piece of fabric or cloth.   Cotton or natural fibers are best.  Square or rectangular shapes are most common for dream pillows, but you can design them in any shape you want.

To make your own dream pillow, cut two squares or rectangles of the same size.  Place the cloth together with the right (front) side facing in.  Sew three sides of the fabric together.  When you’re finished, turn the fabric inside out, so that the right side is now facing out.

Stuff your herbal mix into the remaining open side of the fabric.  When you have finished filling up the pillow, sew the remaining edge of the fabric shut.

To make a dream pillow  that doesn’t involve sewing, you can place the herbs in a fabric pouch or muslin bag.  Or, use a piece of fabric that is tied together with yarn or string to make a dream bundle.

When your dream pillow is ready, place it next to your head or in your pillowcase as you sleep.  Many of these herbs are have pleasant aromas that are good to smell throughout the night.

Herbs for Dream Medicine Pillows

Mugwort: Used to activate dreams.  Good for people who have a hard time remembering their dreams.  Can bring colorful, wild, Alice-in-Wonderland types of dreams.

Be careful, because for some people, mugwort can be too stimulating. Mugwort can bring overwhelming dream activity and I’ve heard many reports from people who say they felt like their night with mugwort was too busy and they didn’t get enough rest.

Chamomile:  Brings calm, peaceful sleep.  Chamomile can also help relieve nightmares in both children and adults.

Chamomile has a sweet, apple-like aroma and is good for releasing fear, anxiety, and agitation in both waking and dream states.  Can also be used for insomnia.

Lemon Balm:  Is both calming and uplifting.  Lemon Balm can be useful for dreamers who suffer from stress, depression and/or anxiety.

Lemon balm brings healing to trauma in both waking and sleeping states.  It has a particular affinity for healing sexual trauma.  In this way, I have used it for women who have suffered from sexual assault, miscarriage or abortion.

My own personal experience with lemon balm was that it brought me dreams that made me aware of some of my unresolved grief.  Unresolved emotions are often at the root of depression and anxiety.

Lavender:  Depending on the amount, lavender can be either calming or stimulating.   A pinch of lavender in your dream pillow can relieve stress, tension and headaches.

In larger amounts, lavender helps to open our third eye and crown chakras and activates our powers of intuition.  Lavender can also be used for divinatory dreams.

Rosemary:  An old saying is “Rosemary for remembrance.”  Rosemary helps us to remember our dreams.  It also connects us to memories that may have been lost or forgotten.  When dreaming with rosemary, these memories may surface in the dream state.

Rosemary can also be used to connect us to our loved ones who have died, and may bring dreams of our beloved dead.

Rose:  Brings a feeling of love to our dreams.  Rose has been traditionally used to bring prophetic dreams of one’s beloved.

Rose can also be used to help heal the heart from grief and heartbreak.  It can be added to dream pillows to bring a feeling of love and warmth to the dreamer and the dreams.

Essential Oils

Many essential oils can be added to dream pillows to add fragrance and potency.  To do this, simply add a few drops of the essential oil into the dream pillow herb mix.

Many of the herbs I described above are also available as essential oils.  My favorite essential oil for both sleep and dreams is called Jatamansi.

Jatamansi Essential Oil

Jatamansi is an Ayurvedic herb that is related to Valerian.  It’s musky, earthy scent is extremely calming and relaxing and is an excellent remedy for insomnia.

Jatamansi is indicated for the type of insomnia that comes from extreme states of stress and/or trauma.  Jatamansi helps to calm the mind and relax the nervous system and bring about deep, restorative, sleep.

Jatamansi is an excellent dream healer as well.  For people who have suffered from PTSD or other types of trauma, Jatamansi helps the dreamer to work out the trauma in their dream state.

I view Jatamansi as the quintessential dream therapist.  It helps us to heal our waking life trauma in our dream state.  Better yet, it does so in a gentle, compassionate way so that we wake up feeling peaceful and refreshed.

To work with Jatamansi Essential oil, you may add a few drops to your dream pillow.  Traditionally, a few drops are rubbed into the soles of the feet and the crown of the head before going to bed.  I have also place a few drops of Jatamansi on a kleenex and placed this under my pillow to help with sleep.

Resources

To find these herbs, I first recommend that you visit your local, neighborhood herb store.  A great resource online is Mountain Rose Botanicals.*

For Jatamansi and other high-quality essential oils, I recommend Floracopeia.*

Have fun creating your own special dream medicine pillows!  Let me know what you create and how it works for you.

*These are affiliate links.

About the Author:

Inspired and guided by her ancestors, Atava has been studying and practicing healing arts for over 20 years. Atava teaches across the country and sees clients in her healing practice Ancestral Apothecary in Oakland, CA. She also has a unique line of herbal products infused with prayer and magic. Her website is www.ancestralapothecary.com

How to connect with the deceased through dreams

When I was a hospice grief counselor, I often met clients who dreamed of their deceased loved ones.

For most of them, the experience had a healing effect on their lives and gave them comfort.

For others, though, the dreams were nightmarish. These people had witnessed the decline of their loved one and consequently had unfinished business that left them feeling hopeless and depressed.

Dreams like this are called Visitation Dreams.

They are a universal phenomenon and when you know how to work with them, they have the potential to completely heal grief and restore hope.

So in this post I’m going to show you how to invite your deceased loved ones to visit you in dreams.

And then how to work with those dreams so you can move through the darkness and into peace.

Dreams are a road map for healing

Witnessing the death of a loved one is one of the most profound, and sometimes tragic, human experiences.

For those of you who have lost a loved one, you probably know what this means. It is an experience you had not asked for and it is certainly life changing.

Sometimes there is a lot of guilt, shame and even rage tied to a person’s death, often in the form of “unfinished business.”

When I work with hospice clients they often share stories about the trauma of bearing witness to their loved one’s physical, emotional and mental decline. Perhaps the illness, like cancer, spread to the brain, or because of medications, change the moods and personality.

As a result, loved ones might get hostile, scream and curse at the family. Other times it’s a dramatic physical decline when the patient can no longer walk, talk or engage with the family and the family feels helpless.

Sometimes there are suicides or ‘deathbed confessions,’ leaving the loved one confused, upset and betrayed with many more questions that are left unanswered.

Even just bearing witness to a “peaceful” or “ideal” transitioning can be difficult because we don’t want to let the person go.

Because the bereaved are often trying to cope with the reality of the death, their dreams often reflect this. Dreams of this nature might not always be comforting. They might even come in the form of a night terror in which the bereaved wakes up in a cold sweat and panic, with no memory of the dream. Or dreams may come in the form of nightmares, recollecting the time of the illness and death or just the emotional intensity of the loss.

But here’s something most people don’t know:

All dreams, even scary dreams, are part of the healing process. tweet this

Knowing how to work with them can be the difference between suffering through nightmares or travelling through the darkness and finding light at the end of the tunnel.

In other words, dreams are a map that can lead a grieving person through their journey toward healing, helping them explore all of their complex feelings and experiences in a safe and empowering way.

Dreams give people something to hold onto in the face of the Unknown.

And that’s good dream medicine.

What are visitation dreams?

A visitation dream is the experience of the dead visiting us in our dreams. This could be in the form of an in person visitation, a verbal message (simply hearing someone say “Hello”), a sensation or even through an animal or another form.

This experience also includes dreaming of those who are in the ‘transitory state’ between life and death and the dreams and/or visions of the dying themselves. Reverend Patricia Bulkeley and Kelly Bulkeley collaborated on an extraordinary book in Dreaming Beyond Death: A Guide to Pre-Death Dreams and Visions citing cases during Patricia’s time working in hospice. In many reports, the dying patient not only dreamed of dead relatives but actually saw them in the room in a form of lucid visions, welcoming them to another realm.

Overall, many people have reported healing effects after having a visitation dream, especially if the dreamer needs comfort and/or is questioning faith.

Dreams of making sense of the reality of the loss

Most often dreams are a reflection of how the bereaved felt about their loss and are trying to make sense of it. Here are some examples:

I see my husband but he is talking and smiling and laughing with friends. I call to him but he doesn’t hear or pay attention to me. I wake up angry at him.

I see my mother suffering as she was in the hospital. She has a plastic bag over her face and she is struggling to breathe. I try to remove the bag but then I wake up.

I am being chased by zombies. One of the zombies is my brother. I am terrified , confused and sad that he has turned into one of them.

Dreams can bring messages

Many of my clients have shared that they had wished they had spent more time with their loved ones or had said goodbye, which is why ‘Message dreams’ can be especially potent and healing.

Patricia Garfield writes beautifully of this in her book Dream Messengers:

You can also expect a “Goodbye” dream message to be delivered when you have been deprived of a chance to say goodbye in person. Sometimes people claim this message arrives in a waking state, with the deceased appearing at the foot, head, or side of the survivor’s bed. This dream message is often thought to involve extrasensory perception, as the dream may occur simultaneously with the death. In parapsychological writings, it is the most commonly reported telepathic experience and is referred to as a “crisis apparition.”

Here are some reports of “goodbye” dreams:

He looked just like he was before he got sick. He was smiling and told me he loved me. That smile! I nearly melted. I woke up feeling wonderful but missing him. I was afraid I would only remember him when he was sick. It was a comforting dream.

It was like she was in the room with me. I could literally feel her presence. I told her everything I wanted to tell her when she was alive and it was like a weight had been lifted. I knew she had heard me and that she loved me no matter what. All the hurt and betrayal washed away.

Ways to connect with deceased loved ones

In The Dream Messenger: How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts, Patricia Garfield, PhD. writes, “Regardless of your beliefs about whether there is an afterlife or not, one thing is certain: you will dream about the person who has recently died.”

It’s important to know that you may not always remember these dreams. If you want to remember or encourage such dreams, you can try dream incubation (mentioned below).

How we grieve is as unique as a fingerprint, so finding ways to connect with deceased loved ones can take time. Here are a few suggestions to help with your practice:

First, engage the process. In my experience as a grief counselor, I have noticed that the more engaged a person is in the healing work, the deeper the healing can take place.

This includes getting support from family and friends as well as professionals who specialize in the field of grief. If you or someone you know is grieving, I suggest finding your local hospice/palliative care or community counseling services that offer individual and group counseling or a local dream counselor to work with dreams.

Because we are a society that has difficulty with death and dying, it is important to be educated about it. But also be gentle with the process. It can be a raw , vulnerable and terrifying place often described as a dark forest, a black hole, or a wilderness.

Dreamwork can help the bereaved move beyond this place. Here is what I suggest:

  • Incubate a dream.  This can be done in a few ways. Before bedtime, set an intention like “I wish to see my mother in my dreams tonight” or even pose a specific question that you wish answered by the deceased. You can write it on a piece of paper and place under your pillow or repeat the intention while adding strong emotion to it before falling asleep. Be sure to write the dream down when you awaken by keeping a pen and pad by your bed. NOTE: Be mindful before inviting in energies like asking for guidance and protection.  Robert Moss in his book, The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead: A Soul Traveler’s Guide to Death, Dying, and the Other Side, gives excellent advice on how to incubate dreams safely and effectively.
  • Hold a photograph or a memento that carries lots of energy and memory and allow whatever experience to arise. This practice is especially helpful if you have trouble sleeping and can’t recall dreams.
  • Look for signs. It could be a person that looks like your loved one, a song on the radio or even smells! I once was cooking a meal my grandmother made for me as a child. All of a sudden, I could smell her scent wafting in the room as if she was cooking right next to me.
  • Research ancestral practices. You might be surprised to find that many cultures honor their dead with specific rituals. For example, in the fascinating book, Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination, Professor Amira Mittermaier explores dream incubation as practiced in Egypt today.

Overall, be patient.

Visitation Dreams might not appear right away. It may take days, even weeks. They may also come in ways you might not expect.

I’ve heard many stories of animals visiting clients both in dreams and waking life. One client shared that she kept seeing a bluebird come to her window every morning for weeks. It was her mother’s favorite bird and she felt comforted by these visits as if she was being held and watched over by her mother.

You never know how a loved one might visit you in your dream. Trust your feelings and your experience, and remember to ask for help if you need it.

Now it’s your turn…have you had a visitation dream? How did it impact your life? Please share your experience with us in the comments!

About the Author:

Linda believes dreams can transform individuals & bring communities together. Her research, art & therapeutic work run the gamut from spiritual alchemy to ancestral knowledge to altered states of consciousness. SF Dream Research Examiner SF Examiner and Empact Institute