The Meaning of Water in a Dream

Droplet of water rippling out for the meaning of water in a dream

The meaning of water in a dream can be as varied as the nature of water itself, but very often refers to our subconscious or emotional state.  When dreaming of water, consider what form it takes – each will have its own unique angle of insight.  The ocean may represent feelings of unity, wholeness, connection, as well as be a symbol for the collective unconscious, the shared memories of our ancestors, or the ultimate destination for the soul.  To dream of bathing at home may have quite a different meaning, perhaps about cleansing emotionally from a recent personal or domestic issue, of letting go of old emotions that no longer serve you and “washing away” your stresses and concerns.  Interestingly, we can notice that a unifying theme of water between the ocean and a bathtub can still be seen, that water cleanses and restores, water expresses how we feel and helps us reconnect with our deeper selves.

The state of water in dreams can reveal a lot about our inner state of being.  Is the water clear or murky?  Calm and bright, or dark and stormy? This can reflect whether we are feeling equally calm and bright, or troubled and upset. Polluted water can be an indication of toxic relationships, or troublesome self-limiting beliefs.  If the water in your dream is polluted, look to where a source of negativity is undermining your own self belief.  Such dreams are a warning to address your self care.

To further understand the meaning of water in a dream, we can look also at whether the water is flowing naturally, or whether it is “stuck” or dammed.  Water in dreams that feels unnaturally blocked can reflect a sense of being emotionally stagnant, that perhaps a new approach is needed to let go of outdated ideas, or that “bottling up” emotions is starting to take a toll.  Is there a way you can express your true feelings in a healthy and supportive environment?  Blocked or stagnant water can be a sign your subconscious needs help to work through an issue that you are trying to avoid, but you know is harming you.  Can you find a creative outlet to safely work through your feelings?

Water that is flowing well can reflect peaceful growth, moving in the right direction and “going with the flow.”  Such dreams often come with a profound sense of peace, a deep knowing that all is well, all is as it should be, you are o the right path.  Flowing dreams such as this may feature a river or stream, often a symbol of your life “path.”  The meaning of water in a dream that is flowing may also indicate aimlessness, a sense of drifting on the tide.  This may be exactly what you need right now, perhaps if your life has felt too controlled until this point. Do you know where you are going? Is it important that you should? If drifting feels empty or dissatisfying, you may wish to consider taking a more conscious direction in your life – you can be the captain of your own ship! Which way do you wish to steer? Flowing water can also be a positive sign after a period of grief of trauma. If your feelings have been “frozen” or otherwise blocked, a dream of flowing water can be a great sign that you are coming alive again inside, that your feelings are beginning to flow naturally again. The meaning of water in a dream such as this may be an essential stage of your healing, symbolised by “healing waters.”

The other extreme of how water can appear in dreams is as a flood – where too much water is overwhelming you.  In flood dreams, you may feel completely helpless, or struggling to cope. Can you notice areas of your life where such feelings resonate?  What is overwhelming you right now?  What precious things to do you feel are being washed away by strong feelings or events you cannot control? What important aspect of your life do you think are worth saving at this point?  Flood can also come when a great change is needed, to wash away what is no longer positive in your life.  This can feel too much at times.  How can you find support to stay afloat until the water subsides?  Sometimes simply know the current state of affairs is temporary, and that a new and different world awaits after the storm can be encouragement enough.  Other times, we need to find a way of getting to “higher ground.”  Can you take a position now that elevates you out of an argument or situation of conflict? Are there ways you can focus on your own happiness and inner peace while you weather the flood?

While considering the extreme ways that water can appear in dreams, it is also worth considering when water is conspicuously absent from a dream.  Dreams of deserts, droughts and parched environments can indicate an extreme lack of emotional or spiritual sustenance.  If you feel thirsty in a dream, ask yourself what you are missing in life that feeds you emotions and soul.  (You may also want to look at whether you are actually drinking enough water in the day.  Prodromic dreams can be the bodies way to inform us when something is physically not right!)  Interestingly, desert dreams can have a purifying and cleansing quality that water dreams also sometimes do.  Desert dreams may come after a period of intense emotions, when the inner self needs a break from all that feeling to assess the new state of the land (the emotional landscape) with clarity.  But desert dreams can also come when you feel extremely out of touch with your emotions, when you inner life is “drying up.”  If you feel your dreams are indicating this, can you find an emotional connection with another person, with an animal or nature?  Or can you revive your inner landscape through a creative pursuit?  Even listening to music consciously, dancing alone or writing poetry no-one will ever see can be helpful.

Water is also a useful metaphor for the “surface”, indicating whether we are taking a superficial approach and skating along the surface of our lives, or diving in deep and really immersing ourselves in our feelings and experiences. It is not uncommon to have dreams of diving deep into crystal clear water when falling in love!  However, we may also have fearful dreams of being under water.  This can indicate there is a deeper fear we wish to avoid, or it may reflect the terrifying act of being completely honest with oneself.  Feeling “over your head” financially or emotionally can also be expressed through dreams with a sense of struggling in water.

The meaning of water in a dream can often refer to the Soul, our creativity and emotions.  We may have water in our dreams if we feel the need to be replenished, if we have been working too hard, or giving a lot of emotional support to another.  Water in dreams often turns up at times of great distress, when we can feel we are “drowning” in sorrow, in work, or in a relationship that is going wrong.  But these dreams also come back when we are growing stronger, showing us that we have learned how to swim, or breathe under water, or surf.  This means we are recovering, and even if the outside world hasn’t quite caught up yet, our subconscious is soothing and reassuring us that it soon will, for we have found the strength and the wisdom we need inside ourselves.

“Water is the softest and most yielding substance. Yet nothing is better than water, for overcoming the hard and rigid, because nothing can compete with it.”

-Lao Tzu

Water dreams can inform us about our emotional state, they can give us insight about the journey of our subconscious, and our connection with the greater collective and deeper Self.  Water in dreams can speak to us of cleansing, refreshing and finding a new sense of purity.  Dreams of water can express how we are flowing along our life journey, and teach us that water is persistent, strong, yielding and essential to all life.

You may also be interested in the following posts:

The meaning of tidal waves or tsunamis in dreams

The meaning of fish in dreams

The meaning of ice in a dream

The meaning of snow in a dream

The meaning of a salamander in a dream

Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash

16 thoughts on “The Meaning of Water in a Dream

  1. Dreamt of my deceased father driving a truck with myself, sister and mother. I told my dad to stop at a company I used to work at because they had one last check for me. Then we crashed into a lake and the truck flipped upside down, I got out but everyone else was dead. I yelled call 911! There was an old lady sitting across the street knitting shaking her head as I was yelling that my family was all dead. What does this mean?

  2. i was living a normal day while i was in taxi i saw through the window i just saw the water getting raised and raised and clearly it was a tsnami it was in full speed
    and wild.omg that feeling

  3. I dreamt of a huge tidal wave close to the road we were travelling on with my mum driving and my cousin at the back seat. We could see people on foot running to get to higher ground and water slowly over flowing from the sea onto the road. I told my mum to go a bit faster. We got to an area where we stopped and walked to safety onto higher ground. As we stood there looking towards the sea we were praying and thanking God for His protection. There was a second part of the wave but it didn’t look the same as the first one, it was clear and on the right hand side was a frozen piece that outlined the shape of Africa (similar to). We could feel showers of water coming from above. I just remember myself and my mum praying not out of fear but thanking Him for His deliverance.
    Myself and my mum are Christian, but my cousin isn’t. We believe she is seeking though.

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