Caves and dark places in dreams: what do they mean?

Caves and dark places in dreams: what do they mean?

Caves and dark places in dreams are often symbolic of the subconscious mind.

Caves and dark places in dreams can alert you to internal influences that may be at play in your life that you are unaware of. You may experience this dream as a cave or series of caves, a well, dark underground tunnels, or even a basement that seems to go further underground than it should. Whatever form the dark takes or unknown place appears as, when it does, you can be pretty sure you are entering the realm of the unknown, moving beneath the surface and exploring your subconscious. Caves can appear in dreams to encourage you to explore issues from your childhood and family or even previous generations of family that may still be relevant in your life. Dark, underground places can symbolise where you bury your suppressed fears and desires. This dream symbol can come up when things you have ignored or denied for some time need to be addressed.
Going into a cave can be a journey of self-exploration that could be profoundly transformative. It is not unusual to dream of caves or underground when going through a significant learning or growth phase. The dark unknown can be a symbol for exploring something new, but it can also be a far more profound symbol of facing your deeper self. If you are distracted by the busyness of living and external and material things in your day-to-day life, it can be difficult to find the time to pause, to think about why you are doing all this and what it’s all for. Dreams of caves and deep underground  spaces can be a signal to turn your focus  away from the outside and start to think about what is really going on inside. This is an essential process in coming to know yourself properly.

Entering a cave in your dream may occur when you need to consider some of the big questions in life and are seeking to understand why you behave as you do, why you react the way you do and what is behind your feelings. You may awaken from cave dreams with a deep sense of inner knowing or with a desire to take more time to contemplate an idea.

Dreaming of caves can bring up a range of emotions. You may be surprised by what you thought was simply a door, well or normal basement, only to discover unexpected depths. This may be a sign that you are beginning to discover unexpected depths in yourself. You might feel afraid, nervous or anxious about the dark unknown. Such feelings usually reflect the same fear, nervousness or anxiety that arises when considering the prospect of exploring deep inside your own mind. We often fear caves and dark places in dreams as they represent the unknown. If you rarely stop to properly consider life’s deep questions — Who am I? What is my purpose? — it can seem a bit intimidating to begin with.

You may experience a dream of caves as exciting, even exhilarating. It can come as a great relief or a revelation to realise there is so much deep inside you waiting to be explored and understood. As well as holding mysteries, caves can contain treasure. The jewels and riches we hear about in stories waiting to be found in deep, dark caves are symbolic of the wealth of wisdom and insight that can be gained from inner knowledge. Caves are often considered to have a feminine aspect, a representation of feelings, intuition and receptivity. Caves have also been compared with a womb, a place of creation and growth. When caves appear in dreams, they can symbolise your own potential, the parts of yourself that have not yet been born or come out of the dark (your subconscious) and into the light (your conscious, waking self). To dream of caves means there is a good chance you are exploring your own potential and may be ready to start a new phase of personal evolution.
If the dark place in your dream is under the house or extends from the basement, you may be exploring issues from your own past. If you find items within the basement, this can help to reveal the personal meaning of the dream to you. If you start to explore a basement and then discover that it goes far further underground than you expected, this may symbolise that you are exploring deeper parts of your own psyche and discovering there is more to who you are than you realised. This dream especially seems to relate to recognising how much of your inherited history has laid the basis for who you are. Becoming conscious of intergenerational trauma, family secrets and cultural conditioning can all give rise to this kind of dream. On an even deeper level, exploring a basement that leads to caverns deep underground can also encourage an awareness of the most basic parts of what makes you human, and that you share with all other humans. This can be a deeply impactful dream that connects you with a great shared consciousness of humanity.
Caves and dark underground places can also be symbols of retreat. You may dream of a cave if there is conflict in your life and you are seeking to avoid it. The cave in your dream may symbolise a safe place where you can regroup and recharge before continuing into a challenging environment, or to wait it out long enough for the conflict to end. A cave in a dream can be a place of healing and recovery. You may also dream of going into a cave if you need time to think deeply about solving a problem or to connect with your deeper self to find a creative solution. You may dream of descending into a cave if you are working creatively and seeking to express your most authentic self.

Caves are also associated with wisdom and spiritual development. The prophet Muhammad is said to have received a revelation from an angel, which was put into the writings of the Qur’an, when he was in a cave. The Diamond Sutra, a book of wisdom containing conversations between Buddha and a monk, is considered the oldest printed book in the world and was found in a cave in the Gobi Desert. Countless monasteries and spiritual retreats have been established in caves. In dreams, caves may symbolise a period of deep spiritual reflection in your life. You may have a sense of turning away from material things, of simplifying your life, or of connecting with the sacred in whatever form that takes for you.
In ancient times, caves were places where humans gathered for safety and protection. They would also use them to perform important ceremonies and initiations. Ancient cave paintings from some of the earliest humans reinforce the association of caves as sacred and foundational. You may dream of caves as a portal to the foundations of who you are. If you are considering where you have come from and how that influences your core identity, you may dream of going into a cave. This seems to be especially apparent when significant personal growth is occurring. As places of initiation, caves can symbolise a sacred transformation or integration of multiple parts of the psyche.
At times, dream caves can appear to reveal aspects of yourself that you have denied or supressed. If you have buried a desire to have a certain career, follow a passion or have a particular relationship, you may dream of going into a cave and finding a symbolic representation of that denied aspect. This could be a call from your subconscious mind to acknowledge feelings you have been denying. Similarly, you may have repressed memories of events or feelings that you judge as unacceptable, especially related to shame, jealousy or anger. You may come across symbols of these emotions represented in a dark cave or deep underground.

One of the reasons that caves and dark places in dreams often seem fearful is because they are the places where we often hide all that is most unpleasant about ourselves. All the parts of us that we don’t want to see, or that are too painful to admit, often go deep into the subconscious to be ignored. Denial of their existence does not make them any less real, however, and only through the courage and commitment to face your true self can you integrate those disparate parts of who you are and reach true self-love and -acceptance.
Being unable to see in a cave can symbolise a lack of self-awareness or a resistance to facing the deeper issues that are driving you. It can also symbolise a feeling of being uniformed or “kept in the dark” by others. This may be especially true if you are exploring family secrets or history that has been obscured from you due to war, immigration, adoption or other similar issues. To dream of lighting a torch in a cave can symbolise a sudden clarity of vision, the gaining of wisdom or inspiration. If the light in your dream reveals treasures or paintings on the wall of the cave, you may be accessing your inner wisdom or the inherited wealth of family legacies.

Dreaming of a cave with a river or lake in it is often related to accessing wisdom that is beyond your own personal experience, and may be part of your wider culture or spirituality. This symbol may come up if you are working with your intuition and looking for answers to an issue beyond your own personal experience. Drinking water from underground caves has been thought by many cultures to have unique healing qualities, and may offer long, even eternal, life. If you dream of drinking water like this in a cave, you could have found inner resources to assist you in life, perhaps through meditation, creativity or prayer. Water underground can also reference your deepest emotions. A wide, never-ending underground sea may symbolise the Eternal All and can appear as you attempt to access universal consciousness. You will know this dream to be an extraordinary one and the experience will likely stay with you forever.
Coming to know your subconscious better and connecting with a deeper sense of self can be fulfilling and enriching on a personal level. It can also be the start of something even more amazing as you become aware of how all humanity shares this deeper self and how, through this place, we are all connected — that is one of the most amazing realisations of all.

Want to learn more about what your dreams mean? Visit our Dreams archive page.

alex Dalland

alex Dalland

You May Also Like

Loving And You A Recipe For Valentines Day

Loving and You – A recipe for Valentines Day

Wellbeing & Eatwell Cover Image 1001x667 (69)

The meaning behind “The Flower of Life”

Reiki And What It Can Do For Me

Reiki and what it can do for me

Astrology Spirituality

The spiritual meaning behind our love of astrology