A shark bit me once. And despite the fact that it was in a dream, when I woke, I could actually feel where he bit into my skin. My heart was beating so fast I thought it would leap from my chest.
Dreaming of animals can be frightening, mystical, ordinary, and extraordinary. If you’ve ever dreamed of animals you might not have given them much thought unless they were doing something unusual. For instance, last night a dream cat talked to me—that’s unusual.
What do dream animals mean? The answer isn’t simple because there is more than one approach to contemplating their relevance to our lives.
For instance, some people view a dream snake as a literal snake. Others see it as symbolic of the goddess or Satan. These are three dramatically different perspectives. Essentially, how you view your dream snake is largely dependent on how you view snakes—your cultural or religious understanding of snakes, etc.
When working with dream animals start by researching the “real-life” characteristics of the animals instead of, or in addition to, contemplating their symbolism. For instance, instead of looking at a snake as a symbol of the goddess, a symbol that predates Christianity, you might consider the kind of snake you dreamed about and how it behaves in its natural environment.
Ask yourself what the animal looks like in the dream: Is it healthy, disheveled, friendly, and menacing? How might the animal’s appearance be a message to you? How are you like the healthy or disheveled snake?
If you look at the dream animal as a teacher instead of a symbol you are likely to learn about your instinctive nature. If the animal is a rabbit you are being told something quite different than if the animal is a cougar. Rabbits are gentle, passive creatures (who are known for prolific procreation). Cougars are carnivores and silently stalk their prey.
The key to the dream message  lies in the natural behavior of the living animal in comparison to what it is doing in the dream. For example, remember my dream of being bitten by the shark? He touched his sharp teeth to my leg and when I woke I could still feel the teeth marks on my skin. In other words, he made a lasting impression on me.
In waking life, a shark could eat me for dinner, so why did this predator only give me a small nibble?
When exploring the dream with a colleague, a professional dreamworker, he suggested the shark was coming to tell me that my words (as represented by the bite/teeth) can be used to convey difficult messages, to leave an impression on someone, but that I need to be careful and not “bite too hard” or be too “biting” or I might do some serious emotional damage.
The message of the shark in my dream is to learn how to use my authentic voice and channel it into “small bites” instead of huge, tearing, and permanently damaging “shark attacks.”
This is invaluable feedback, especially since I am a spiritual counselor. I now keep shark teeth on my desk to remind me of this message.
When you dream of animals you’re receiving guidance that can help illuminate problems or challenges you may be having. Here are some suggestions you might consider the next time an animal makes its way into your night visions:
Describe the animal and its actions: What do they look like? How is their health? What are they doing? Who are they with and how are they interacting with them? What are you doing in relationship to that animal?
Imagine what it’s like to be that animal and contemplate how you are like it.
Honor your animal dreams by putting a picture of them on your desk or wall. Buy a little animal figurine. Eat the food they eat—if you can! Walk in their environment. Or, create dream inspired art and bring your dream to life!
Originally published on GrowYourLifeWork