Animals in Dreams: Shamans, Spirit Guides and Shapeshifters

"Path of the Buffalo" by Susan Cafarelli Burke,
“Path of the Buffalo” by Susan Cafarelli Burke,

When we have sacred dreams about animals, it is worth looking beyond the symbolic to consider how these creatures may have a special spiritual or some other special personal message for us.

For example, when we dream of wolves, it easy to fall into the trap of thinking these creatures are “bad” or scary as traditional fairy tales and modern stereotypes might have us imagine. But in order to understand the sacred aspect of all animals within our dreams, we must remember that no animal is “bad” and all creatures have an important role to play, as illustrated wonderfully in this video:

Shamans understood this connection deeply.  In dreams, animals could appear as Spirit Guides, who’s symbolic representation also had a profound spiritual aspect.  The Spirit of the animal could impart skills and knowledge normally outside the realm of human awareness.  At the most advanced level, a Shaman dreaming of an animal could take on its form, and “shape shift” to truly become one with the animal.

If this kind of behaviour seems bizarre and excluded to a few select native individuals, consider most young children, who will readily “become” an animal in play – a lion, a frog, or a beloved dog. Children really utilise all aspects of their imagination to understand life from another creature’s perspective.  This imaginative gateway is open to us all, especially within our dreams.

When we connect with our kindred animals, we remember our place in the connective web of nature.  We can develop greater compassion for all living things, we can improve our own skills by learning to harness the strength of a bear, the transformative power of a caterpillar, the far seeing perspective of an eagle and many other traits.  Animals in dreams can confer a certain power or energy onto us, they can initiate us as healers, leaders or creators.

Dreams of animals can have layers of symbolic and uniquely personal meanings, but they can also appear as archetypes of their own, powerful spirits who can guide us on the sacred journey of Self Discovery and connection with source.

“It is said that Socrates dreamed the night before he met Plato that a young swan settled in his lap, developed at once into a full-grown bird and took off into the sky with a song that enchanted all hearers.

In the Phaedo, Socrates says that swans sing most beautifully when they sense they are going to die. “They rejoice because they are about to approach the god [Apollo] whose servants they are.” This should be a model for men. Socrates says of himself that “like the swans” he is in the service of Apollo, “the holy property of a god.”

Before his death, Plato is said to have dreamed he shapeshifted into a swan.”

You may also be interested in


The meaning of wild animals in dreams part 1 and part 2

The meaning of Wolf in dreams

The meaning of becoming a wolf in a dream (or are you a dream werewolf?)


"Ancient Wisdom" by Marie Howel
“Ancient Wisdom” by Marie Howel

7 thoughts on “Animals in Dreams: Shamans, Spirit Guides and Shapeshifters

  1. I especially enjoyed learning more about wolves, Amy. The beautiful video begs important questions about the interconnectedness of the human community.

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