Inspired living

The meaning of elephants in a dream

elephant in dream

Credit: istock

What does it mean to dream of elephants?  These amazing creatures have lived with humans for centuries, and have a complex relationship with us.  On the one hand, they are revered as deities such as Ganesh, on the other they have been used to carry humans into war, they are used as work animals to move logs and plow fields, and they are hunted ruthlessly for their ivory tusks.

Elephants can have equally complex symbolic meaning in dreams.

The first and most noticable aspect of elephants is their physical size.  Elephants in a dream can symbolise something important and vast, or even obvious.  The phrase “the elephant in the room” can lead us to consider if there something really significant and obvious going on your life that you haven’t addressed.  Is there something everyone else is aware of but you are trying to ignore?

Traditionally in Western language, a “white elephant” was a burden, one that is expensive to keep but even harder to get rid of.  Yet in other cultures, white elephants are symbols of good luck, and in some cases even considered holy.

More than simply being large, elephants are of course strong: they are capable of moving trees, logs and many other types of large objects.  In Hindu belief, the god Ganesh, depicted with the head of an elephant, is known as (amongst other things) “the remover of obstacles,” while four elephants are believed to hold up the world.  Elephants then can appear in dreams when you are drawing on great inner reserves of strength.  It may be that you feel there are significant challenges to overcome, or a heavy burden to bear.  Ganesh, however, with his strange elephant head, forces us to look beyond the mere physical, and realise the spiritual nature of things.  This is a more profound approach to the removal of obstacles that your dreams may be indicating you should consider.

Elephants in a dream can symbolise something important and vast, or even obvious.

Elephants, though strong, are also inherently social creatures, and usually not given to violent outbursts unless provoked or protecting their family.  They are often attributed with great wisdom due to their combination of strength with gentle natures, their long lives and complex social structures.  Dreaming of elephants may be a reflection of strong family bonds, a need to protect and nurture those close to you.  Elephants may arise in dreams when you are challenged, but they may also make an appearance when you are going through family changes, when children are born, or when you feel a growth in responsibility, and even in wisdom.   These can be stabilising, reassuring and inherently positive dreams.  Elephants in a dream can symbolise commitment, personal growth and the attainment of a certain wisdom that comes with maturity.  They can also reflect learning to lead by inclusion, of balancing strength with gentleness, of understanding the importance of communication and patience.

The memory of elephants is also legendary.  They live a long time and are able to remember other elephants and even humans from their earliest years.  In dreams, this could be a sign that there are some significant memories worth revisiting, a reminder that there are valuable things you should not forget.

Ultimately, your perception of elephant dreams will reflect your other perceptions of life.  Like the Buddhist parable of the three blind monks who felt a different part of the elephant’s body – one felt the leg and assumed he was touching a tree, another his trunk and thought he held a snake and the third felt the elephants side and believed it be a wall – to really understand the dream we need to look at it in it’s entirety, and not judge it simply by one part.

To learn more about the meaning of your dreams, visit The Dream Well.



Amy Campion is a writer, speaker, workshop facilitator and dream coach who works globally with people using their dreams, intuition, imagination and consciousness. She is the founder of The Dream Well, a website dedicated to helping people understand and become experts of their own dreams. She also runs an online course on sacred dreaming, which includes lucid dreaming, shamanism, Tibetan dream yoga, dream incubation and a variety of other approaches. Amy holds the following qualifications: BA (Hons) Comm Arts, Post Grad Cert (Strategic Foresight), Member IASD (International Association of the Study of Dreams).