Dream Meanings - Interpreting Dreams

Written by Apple Updated May. 4, 2023

Dreams have been interpreted in various ways across cultures and throughout history. While some people believe that dreams hold a deeper meaning and significance, others think that they are just random thoughts and images generated by the brain during sleep. 

How should we interpret dreams? Discover the Chinese way of interpreting dream meanings below.

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are a series of thoughts, images, and sensations that occur in a person's mind during sleep. The content of dreams can vary widely and may include people, places, events, and objects from a person's waking life, as well as imaginary or fantastical elements.

Dreams can be influenced by a person's subconscious thoughts and emotions and may reveal hidden fears, desires, or conflicts. Some people believe that dreams are a reflection of a person's unconscious mind and can reveal repressed feelings or conflicts. Others believe that dreams are a way for the brain to process and consolidate memories and experiences.

We still do not know why people dream. There are probably two psychological and physiological aspects to the reasons for dreaming. Scientists believe that dreams' content is generated by the perception, memory, and storage functions of the human nervous system, and contains the desires and emotions of the human subconscious. 

Chinese Dream Interpretation Theory

Dream interpretation has been an important part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese culture, dreams are believed to be a reflection of one's inner thoughts and emotions and can provide insight into one's future.

Zhou Duke Interprets Dreams (周公解梦) is a classic Chinese book that is the basis of most traditional Chinese ideas of dream interpretation. It is believed that by interpreting one's dreams, one can gain insight into one's future and make better decisions.

Zhou Gong's dream interpretation system is still widely used in China today and is often consulted before making important decisions. It is believed that by interpreting one's dreams, one can gain insight into one's future and make better decisions.

Chinese Interpretations of Common Dreams

Many people believe that dreams have hidden meanings and can provide insights into a person's subconscious thoughts, emotions, and desires. Here are Chinese interpretations of common dreams.

Plant Dream Meanings

Dreams about plants can have various meanings depending on the context and the type of plant involved. Here are some common interpretations of plant-related dreams.

Dreaming of flowers: Flowers have a real impact and reflection, as well as the subjective imagination of the dreamer. Dreaming of gorgeous flowers, whether they are growing outdoors or arranged indoors, indicates that you will have good luck and become wealthy, leading a happy life. 

Dreaming of trees: Trees represent health, and a tree that is tall and straight symbolizes a person's health. In dreams, the trunk of a tree signifies health, while a tree with lush branches and leaves symbolizes youthful vitality. Conversely, a withered tree symbolizes aging, weakness, and exhaustion. Overall, dreaming of trees is mostly considered a good omen.

Dreaming of peonies: In China, peonies symbolize wealth, auspiciousness, and happiness. Dreaming of peonies indicates that you will live a wealthy and happy life, with everything going smoothly. It also indicates that the dreamer's career will go smoothly and their income will increase.

Dreaming of the bamboo forest: One of the characteristics of bamboo is its flexibility, which represents compliance and accommodation, as well as the power of endurance. Bamboo also symbolizes good education, health, longevity, and a fulfilling life. If you dream of a bamboo forest, it means you will have good luck and everything will go smoothly.

Dreaming of wheat fields: Wheat represents harvest and wealth. Dreaming of a wheat field indicates that the dreamer's greatest wish will be fulfilled and that every effort will bear fruit.

Animal Dream Meanings

Dreams about animals can have a range of meanings, from instincts and emotions to spirituality and environmental concerns. The specific interpretation will depend on the context of the dream and the personal associations that the dreamer has with the animal.

Dreaming of snakes: In Chinese culture, snakes are often associated with desires and inner strength. In Zhou Gong's interpretation of dreams, dreaming of a snake is mostly a good omen, but there are also some cases where it is bad. The specific meaning of a snake dream can vary depending on the details of the dream. For example, if you dream of a snake shedding its skin, it is believed to be a sign of transformation and renewal. It may indicate that you are going through a period of change or growth in your life.

Dreaming of fish: Because "fish" and "surplus" sound similar in Chinese, in the traditional Chinese interpretation of dreams, dreaming of fish has always been closely related to wealth. Dreaming of fish swimming in clear water symbolizes that you will gain wealth and power, or indicates that your current mood and situation are good. It may also suggest that you will have unexpected income or an increase in status.

Dreaming of dogs: The characteristic of a dog is its loyalty to its owner and ferocity towards its enemies. On the one hand, it often symbolizes morality, self-restraint, self-demand, and discipline. On the other hand, it symbolizes friendship, indicating faithful love, loyal friendship, or the power of friends.

Dreaming of birds: Birds in dreams symbolize fantasies, thoughts, and ideas. A bird flying freely represents yearning and wishes, and may also represent a soul rising to a divine level. Dreaming of a bird flying in the sky indicates that academic performance will improve.

Dreaming of tigers: In dreams, tigers represent difficulties. Dreaming of a tiger symbolizes that you will face difficulties.

Nature Dream Meanings

Dreaming of the sea: Generally speaking, dreaming of the sea indicates that there will be exciting good news in your career soon, or that as your family and business prosper, the responsibilities and obligations you bear will become increasingly heavy. If a businessperson dreams of the ocean, it suggests that their business will thrive and their operations will expand globally.

Dreaming of the snow: Snow is a symbol of cleanliness, pride, purity, and isolation. Dreaming of snow indicates an improvement in luck, but if the sky turns black, it represents sadness, illness, and bad interpersonal relationships.

Dreaming of fire: In traditional Chinese beliefs, fire is closely related to fortune and prosperity. Therefore, there are multiple interpretations when dreaming of fire. In a positive sense, it symbolizes passion, desire, and wealth. However, in a negative sense, it implies disappointment, anger, frustration, or destruction.

Dreaming of a stream:  A stream in a dream, on the one hand, has the meaning of fertility and nourishment, symbolizing the continuous cycle of life, and representing creativity. On the other hand, it symbolizes the significant obstacles that one must overcome to achieve personal growth or self-improvement.

Dreaming of lightning: Lightning usually symbolizes inspiration or indicates that things will be resolved smoothly without obstacles.

The Cultural Significance of Dream Interpretation

Dream interpretation has been culturally significant in China throughout history, and it continues to play a role in contemporary society.

In ancient China, dreams were seen as a gateway to the world of spirits and deities, and their interpretation was believed to offer insight into the future and guidance for present-day decision-making. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AC), dreams became an important part of divination practices, and there were official positions within the imperial court dedicated to the interpretation of dreams. 

Today, dream interpretation remains an important aspect of Chinese culture and is commonly practiced by people seeking guidance and insight into their lives. Many Chinese people believe that dreams are symbolic and full of hidden meanings, and they use various methods to interpret them, such as consulting dream dictionaries or seeking the advice of professional dream interpreters.

Techniques for Interpreting Dreams

Dream meanings can provide insight into a person's inner thoughts and emotions, but it is important to approach dream interpretation with an open mind and a willingness to explore different perspectives and meanings.

There are various techniques for interpreting dreams, and different methods may work better for different individuals. Below are some commonly used techniques:

1. Keeping a dream journal: This involves recording details of dreams immediately after waking up, including any emotions, colors, symbols, and themes. This can help identify recurring patterns and symbols, which can be used for interpretation.

2. Understanding symbolism: Dreams are often symbolic, and the symbols in the dream can represent something else entirely. Therefore, understanding symbolic meanings can help with interpreting dreams.

3. Analyzing emotions: Dreams tend to trigger emotions in individuals, and understanding what emotions a dream evokes can be helpful. Emotions can reveal information about an individual's innermost thoughts and feelings.

4. Seeking guidance from a professional: Professional dream interpreters use various tools and methods to interpret dreams. They can provide insights that may not be apparent to an individual interpreting their dreams alone.

However, not all dreams hold deep symbolic meaning, and some may simply be random and meaningless. However, consistent themes or symbols in dreams may indicate something that the individual needs to address before, interpreting dreams can be a useful tool for personal growth and self-discovery.

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