Christian Dream Interpretation Dictionary A-Z: Symbols In Christian Dreams And Their Meanings
Dreams, one of the most fascinating aspects of our human existence. Terrifying, exhilarating, creative, prophetic and often forgotten, they can provide an insight to the very essence of our souls. The subject of our dreams has intrigued us from the time records began. Examples of dream interpretation can be traced back through the annals of history. Often given a divine aspect, they were sometimes represented as a dialogue with a deity or more often as a portent or warning of the future. The development of Psychology and psycho-analysis over the past century and a half, has developed our understanding of the dreaming process further. The work of Sigmund Freud in particular has provided a platform for intellectual debate and theory on the subject. For those that accept the essence of Freud’s work, a dream is an expression of the unconscious mind. Our thoughts and desires are translated into visual form. Symbols replace actions, people and ideas. The shared symbolism that exists between societies, cultures and religions, means that dreams can be understood and interpreted as they often have a common meaning. Here we examine the meaning of dreams in Christianity.
Whether asleep or in a trance like state The Bible is full of incidences where people believe they have communicated directly with God, often receiving life altering messages or instructions. Indeed, God states that he will communicate with his people through dreams. The very beginning of The Bible, Genesis, provides us with the first recorded instances of dreams in the Christian faith when God speaks to Abraham and to Jacob. Throughout The Bible God continues to use dreams as a way of imparting His will as well as warning, inspiring and comforting. Heralding the birth of Jesus, in Joseph’s dream, God sends an angel messenger to convince him that Mary is pregnant and that her pregnancy is the result of an immaculate conception. After Jesus’ birth God speaks again in dreams to Joseph, the first time warning him to flee to Egypt, the second time to reassure him that it was safe to return home. Another significant dream is that of Pilate’s wife who dreamt that God told her Jesus was innocent and begged her husband to free him, sadly without success. Other dreamers and visionaries who communicate with God include John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, who all receive messages and instruction from God in their dreams.
Joseph The Dreamer
One of the most fascinating Biblical characters, Joseph, the son of Jacob is both a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. What is particularly interesting is that Joseph, like Freud and modern day psychologists, is concerned with the symbolism of dreams, investing them with a hidden meaning that others can’t always see. Joseph, the youngest and favoured son of Jacob inspired jealousy amongst his eleven brothers. His story begins when he dreams that he and his brothers are in a field harvesting corn. Each of the brothers sheaves of corn bow down to his. Joseph follows this dream with another where eleven stars the sun and the moon bow down to him as if he is a god. Unwisely, sharing his dreams with his brothers, they abandon trim in a pit. Joseph is eventually discovered by slavers and sold in Egypt. After many years Joseph becomes a valued slave in the home of Potiphar, but is thrown into prison and despair when Potiphar’s wife lies about him. Whilst in prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of two prisoners. Hearing of his gift for dream analysis, Joseph is summoned by the Pharaoh to interpret one of his dreams. Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams as a prophecy of plague and famine and advises him to store crops in times of plenty. The Pharaoh’s dream and Joseph’s interpretation is ultimately proven to be accurate. As for Joseph’s dreams as a young man, he eventually sees his brothers bowing down to him as be predicted.
The history of Christianity since Bible times has continued to be peppered with dreamers who believe that God has communicated with them. Constantine the first Christian Emperor of Rome is said to have dreamt of his success in battle. Calling upon God to help him, he is said to have seen a vision of a golden cross in the sky with the words conquer by this written above. Puzzled by its meaning, that night Constantin dreamt that God spoke to him and told him to recreate the cross that he had seen and to carry it before him in battle for protection. St. Ambrose also believed that he communicated with God during his dreams. In one of these dreams God revealed to him, the resting place of two martyred saints who were retrieved and buried in consecrated ground. St. Jerome was a man torn between following an academic career or religious study. One night he dreamt that he was dragged before a judge to talk about his beliefs. Those that stood around him were so bright he could not look upon them. Derided for not being a committed Christian, Jerome was tortured until those around him begged the judge for mercy. On awakening Jerome was blackened with bruises. From this time he abandoned thoughts of an academic career and dedicated his life to God. Influenced by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas did not believe it was possible to have a direct experience of God during life. Nearing the end of his life Thomas did experience God directly, through a series of three dreams. The experience contradicted the beliefs and writings that were his life work which he described as straw and left Thomas Aquinas anticipating death.
Christian Dream Symbols And Biblical Dream Interpretation
What makes a dream symbol uniquely Christian? The answer must be that the symbols are infused with a spiritual meaning that relates to directly to the creeds, rituals and sacraments of that faith. The symbolism of Christianity often contains a moral or religious story that relates directly to The Bible. For many Christians deams are a direct communication from God giving guidance and direction to the believer. For those that follow the Christian faith it is therefore vital to understand the symbolism of dreams if you are to understand not only yourself but the will of God. There are many sites and publications that offer a dreamer a Christian dream interpretation. Here we examine some of the most significant symbols in the Christianity to
discover their meaning.
- Anchor: An anchor is a symbol of hope in a troubled world. Representing steadfastness and safety it can often represent God or the church in dreams. Another interpretation is that an anchor represents your faith. To dream of a secure anchor could mean that you are secure in your faith.
- Apple: Used by Eve to tempt Adam in The Garden of Eden, an apple symbolizes sin and temptation. To dream of plucking or eating an apple symbolizes temptation into sin.
- Bread: Offered by Jesus to the apostles during the last supper, bread has a deep significance for Christians. Bread symbolizes both the body of Christ and life itself.
- Chalice: The chalice has deep significance as it symbolizes communion with God himself and the forgiveness of sin. To dream that you are drinking from a chalice could indicate that God has forgiven your sins or those of others.
- Coins: Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot for thirty pieces of silver. To dream of coins or money in your dream is an indication of greed and covetousness. They are also a sign of betrayal.
- Cross: The cross is of course the symbol of the crucifixion of Christ. To dream of a cross is to dream of suffering and punishment. As it is a poignant symbol of Jesus death it can also be a symbol of hope and resurrection.
- Dove: The dove is a symbol of gentleness, peace and innocence. Sent by Noah from the ark to discover dry land. The dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak, the symbol of peace.
- Fish: The fish or Ichthys is one of the most immediately recognised of Christian symbols. Used as a secret symbol to help Christian identify Christian it is invested with meaning. A fish is interpreted as representing other Christians or on a deeper level the soul.
- Flies: Beelzebub one of the Princes of Hell is known as the Lord of the Flies. To dream of flies is to dream of wickedness, depravity and all that is foul in the world.
- Lamb: The Lamb of God is of course Jesus Christ in the Christian faith. A lamb was also given to Jesus as a gift at his birth. Symbolic of the son of God, to dream of a lamb can also be interpreted as innocence, purity and good.
- Lion: The lion in Christianity is a symbol of God himself. Brave and confident, the lion watches over his children and keeps them safe from predators. To dream of a lion is to dream of courage, protection and ultimately God.
- Palm leaf: Laid beneath the feet of Jesus as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem, the palm leaf is a symbol of celebration and joy.
- Pelican: The pelican is rumoured to injure herself in order to nourish her young when food is scarce. She will then feed them with her own blood. The pelican has come to represent the sacrifice of Christ as well as charity to others.
- Rainbow: The rainbow symbolizes God’s promise to Noah that the world would never be washed clean again by a great flood. To dream of a rainbow is to dream of God’s promises and faithfulness. It is also a symbol of forgiveness.
- Serpent: The serpent is the embodiment of Satan. Sly and manipulative it was the serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. To dream of a serpent or snake is to dream of the enemy. The serpent symbolizes, wickedness, guile and corruption.
- Shepherd: God’s children are symbolized by sheep. The shepherd symbolizes God himself as well as those who guide and care for us.
- Sparrow: a sparrow symbolizes God’s love for all things, no matter what their size or significance. It has come to represent the poor, the abandoned or the overlooked in society.
- Stars: Stars have a rich symbolism in Christianity. A star heralded the birth of Jesus and guided those
who wished to worship him. A four pointed star symbolises the star of Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus. A five pointed star represents advent or getting ready for the celebration of Christ’s birth. A six pointed star represents the attributes of God. To dream of a star is a sign of an arrival or the expectation of something to come. The six pointed star, or the Star of David is symbolic of Israel.
- Wine: To dream of wine is to dream of the blood of Christ. To drink wine is to commune with the Holy Spirit, confirming belief, faith and the certainty of eternal life. Wine represents faith in God and life itself.
The Christian faith is a religion that is rich in imagery and symbolism. From the beginning of recorded time and certainly from the very beginning of The Bible, dreams have been interpreted to discover their meaning. Throughout the old and new testaments we find examples of God communicating with people through their dreams. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in the early days of Christianity explains how this is possible. He suggests that when we sleep our soul transcends our bodies, it becomes other worldly and is able to commune with God and the angels. Certainly this view was one that was prevalent in the Christian church for many years. Many characters from The Bible and subsequent Christian history claim to have undergone an epiphany in the form of a dream. In early Christian history dreams were certainly seen to be a way of directly communicating with God, communications that often gave direction and prophesy.
One of the most interesting characters in The Bible is Joseph, son of Jacob, a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. Joseph’s dreams were not a direct conversation with God but the analysis of symbolism within those dreams. This method of understanding our dreams is probably closer to current practise. Influenced by the works of Freud, Jung and others, dream analysis focuses on the symbolism of our dreams as a way of understanding our subconscious minds. Symbols replace actions, people and ideas. In our dreams we often reveal truths about ourselves that we never knew. Freud believed that there is a commonality in the symbolism that we use in our dreams, people who share the same culture, language ideas or beliefs often share the same symbolic imagery in their dreams. For this reason we are able to interpret our dreams and delve into the unconscious.
It is important to understand that when interpreting the meaning of dreams in Christianity, that for those of faith, its symbolism and imagery are embedded in the psyche. Whether you are a Christian who accepts that God speaks through dreams and are seeking his direction or a Christian keen to explore faith through dream analysis, it is important to look beyond the obvious symbolism and search for the spiritual message and guidance within.
Also here you can read Islamic Dream Interpretation