How to interpret dream symbols
By making manifest the soul stories of your dreams, you can create a unique relationship with your deeper self that guides you closer to your purpose and mission in life. Using astrological correspondences to decode your dream messages can help you gain a clearer picture of what you might need to learn from the wellspring of the collective unconscious.
In the realm of the dreamtime, almost anything can happen. Strange worlds emerge that you might never be able to imagine in your waking life. Your dreams are a surreal landscape that has the potential to offer insight and inspired guidance, if you only make the time to listen. Almost everyone has had dreams of flying, being chased or showing up naked for an important meeting. These common dreams provide insight into the rites of passages we all share, such as birth, sex and death.
Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, referred to the terrain of shared dreams and symbols as the “collective unconscious”. He believed everyone tapped into this realm at one point or another during their dreaming time. The collective unconscious is the shared soul of humanity, uniting everyone in a sort of great cosmic soup. In this invisible but potent space, a common language — which goes beyond external differences that sometimes create separation in the waking world — is spoken.
The collective unconscious is the shared soul of humanity, uniting everyone in a sort of great cosmic soup.
In astrology, the world of dreams is associated with the 12th house, which is the home of mystery, spirit and the release of the ego. In the 12th house there are no divisions or separations between things. Instead, boundaries and external differences dissolve and everything comes together to form a united whole. As the house ruled by the sign of Pisces, there is a watery veil that flows through this realm, distinguishing it from the external world. The language spoken here is the language of symbols and spirit. Non-linear and diffuse, the 12th house communicates best through images and impressions rather than words. Navigating the 12th house is easiest when you are able to let go of attempts to control and open up to the wisdom spirit has to offer, regardless of the form in which it arrives.
Mining the 12th house terrain for its treasures is most successful when accomplished through the realm of symbols. As you navigate the surreal landscape of this Piscean house, the symbolic language of astrology can serve as a particularly potent tool for gathering insight and understanding into the realm of dreams. Astrology helps you decode and access information and guidance from your dreams that you might otherwise miss.
By knowing which dream symbols are associated with which astrological archetypes, it’s possible to understand your dreams in a way that directly taps into the vocabulary of the 12th house. As you become savvier at identifying how signs and planets show up in your dreams, you can reach beyond the veil of the 12th house and “hear” stories that are being communicated to you through this mystical realm.
Read the dream symbols and associated astrological archetypes below to see if you recognise any of them from your dreams, then explore how these stories are playing out in the different areas of your waking life. Note that some signs are ruled by the same planet. For example, Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo. Read both signs for greater insight into these symbols.
Astrological symbol associations
Aries/Mars: warriors, the military, the head, rams, horns, fire, heat, rashes, babies and young people.
Taurus/Venus: gardens, farmers and farming, the throat, fruit, massage, bulls, earth/dirt, luxury items such as jewels.
Gemini/Mercury: twins, talking, thieves, teachers, students, neighbours, teenagers, siblings, butterflies (and other flying insects), the lungs.
Cancer/Moon: mothers, breasts, the stomach, cooks/chefs, babies and children, the moon, food, the ocean, crabs.
Leo/Sun: lions, the sun, movie stars, the heart, luxury items, gold.
Virgo/Mercury: wheat or grains, the digestive/elimination organs, teachers/mentors, servants, writing, doctors/health practitioners.
Libra/Venus: love, marriage, scales (of justice or to weigh food or other items), sweet foods, art and artists, fashion, kidneys.
Scorpio/Pluto: plumbing, anything hidden underground (oil, gold, coal, caves), death, birth, the phoenix, scorpion and eagle, detectives, sex and sexual organs.
Sagittarius/Jupiter: foreign countries and people, the centaur/archer, gurus/spiritual teachers, judges, adventurers, thighs.
Capricorn/Saturn: the hermit or sage, bones/the skeleton/teeth, mountains, death, goats, elderly people.
Aquarius/Uranus: lightning, rebels, teenagers, revolution, storms, ankles, astrologers, technology, computers.
Pisces/Neptune: rain/water, plants, animals, spiritual teachers/mystics, fish, feet, musicians, poets, artists, photography, film, alcohol and drugs.
Your astrology chart, dreams and homoeopathy
As you work more closely with the symbolic languages of both dreams and astrology, you may discover that your dreams showcase a longstanding issue that is related to your innate temperament or personality. This issue could be associated with the qualities of your natal sun sign or of a sign that is particularly strong in your natal chart. For instance, if you have your Moon, Mercury, Rising and Venus in Virgo (though perhaps your Sun is in Leo) and have long wrestled with issues of perfectionism, service/work or self-esteem, you may find you go through a period of dreaming about Virgo symbols such as digestive organs or the teachers and mentors in your life.
Your Leo sun sign may show up in your dreams almost as a side act, with lions or hearts making an entrance in the midst of the Virgo symbols. This Virgo/Leo dream encounter is offering you the opportunity to heal using the homoeopathic adage of “like curing like”. Thus, the issue you confront in yourself is presented to you in your dreams in a symbolic story.
Like homoeopathic remedies, which condense substances into a more concentrated form, your dreams can present your issues to you in a greatly exaggerated manner. You may find your night-time visions inflate and heighten the drama around a particular pattern or issue, making it stand out almost in relief. Using astrological correspondences to decode your dream messages can help you gain a clearer picture of what you might need to learn from the wellspring of the collective unconscious.
These archetypes may also emerge in your dreams when you are facing a challenge or transition in a particular area of life. For example, if you are about to get married, the symbols associated with Libra/Taurus or Venus may arise in your dreamtime space. If you are dealing with a death in the family, you may notice Scorpio or Pluto symbols are an ongoing theme in your dreams.
Transition dreams for transits
How do you tell the difference between a temporary versus a longstanding dream theme? You can either assess the recurring images in your dreams and ask yourself if these pertain to an ongoing pattern in your life or you can figure out whether these dreams are more relevant to a current transitory situation.
In astrology, the distinction between these two types of experiences is represented by your natal chart, representing the unchanging facets of your personality, and your transit chart, showcasing the transition phases of your life. By staying abreast of the transits (changes) to your natal (stationary) chart, you can gain more information about your dream life.
If you don’t already know how to determine what planetary transits you are currently experiencing, you can consult a professional astrologer, who can detail the planets and the corresponding signs currently influencing you. Once you know which planets are making their presence felt in your life, it’s possible to track their movement in your dream life, paying attention to the way these symbols unfold there.
Sometimes, you’ll dream of symbols that foreshadow your upcoming transits. For example, you may find yourself dreaming repeatedly of water or floods in varying forms. This may signal an upcoming transit to your Moon or any planets you have in Cancer, or you could be having a transit from Neptune. By paying careful attention to the way your dreamtime story plays out, you can track your progress with current transits.
Take particular note of when dream themes begin to shift. For instance, note when you begin dreaming about mountains and dry, desolate landscapes after a long period of dreaming about lightning storms. This may mirror your corresponding astrological changes and allows you to better understand the new soul landscape you will soon be exploring.
Bringing your dreams to life
Take your dream explorations a step further and bring the symbols that arise in your unconscious mind to birth in the light of day. By making manifest the soul stories of your dreams, you can create a unique relationship with your deeper self that guides you closer to your purpose and mission in life. The more you work to develop a deeper relationship with your dreams, the more you will have an opportunity to directly experience the magical realm of spirit.
You may even find that dream symbols appear in your waking life soon after you have encountered them in the dream world. Objects, people and items may appear to you that you have already experienced in your dreams. For example, maybe you’ve just had a wonderful dream of soaking in a hot spring and then you wake up the next day and encounter an advertisement of nearby hot springs in your local paper. Or your dreams have been filled with very Aquarian symbols and you find yourself talking to an Aquarius the day after a particularly notable Aquarian-influenced dream.
Continue the magic of the dreamtime by taking advantage of these encounters and acting on them. Book that trip to the hot springs or get to know the Aquarius better. Though you may not know where these experiences will lead, by doing so you demonstrate your willingness to pay attention to the dreamer within. As you follow the inner prompts of your spirit self, you send an important message, signalling that, for you, the dream world is just as important as the “real” world.
To kick-start the conversation with your dream self, try approaching your dreams from several different mediums to see which ones give you the most fruitful response. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Build an altar that represents the symbols and images that have recently appeared to you in significant or recurring dreams. Keep in mind which astrological signs or planets relate to those symbols and showcase objects that relate to those signs. Example: If you have been dreaming of the ocean, you may want to gather shells, pictures of the ocean or a container of sea water. You could also put up the astrological symbol for the sign of Cancer.
Light a candle on your altar before going to sleep and ask to receive further insight about your dreams. You may want to time your altar building with the cycles of the moon for extra oomph. Start on the new Moon to plant the seeds of understanding about your dream world.
Cut out images and pictures that mirror symbols from your dreams and make a collage. You can also draw, paint, sculpt or sing your dream. You may even try photographing different images you notice in the waking world that correspond with a recent dream. Journal your response to your dream art when you feel complete with your work.
Pick a potent symbol from a recent dream and engage in an imaginary written dialogue with this symbol. Write first as yourself and then write back from the perspective of the symbol. When you read over what you have written, you may be surprised at what your unconscious mind has to tell you.
Enlist a trusted friend or group and act out scenes from each other’s dreams. After describing the trajectory of the dream, let everyone choose a dream symbol or character and then watch your dream come to life. This is a powerful way to gain a window into the workings of your unconscious mind.
No matter how you choose to work with your dreams and astrology, the time you devote to forming a relationship with your “symbolic self” will bear fruit in the future. As you develop a closer relationship with this magical part of your unconscious, it will respond with messages of wisdom and insight that can help guide you on your true path.