How to Get Messages from the Animals that Appear in your Dreams


(from What the Walrus Knows published in 2011)

Beastie:  Any creature from Ant to Walrus…including

mythical creatures like Unicorn and Griffin.

By analyzing our dreams, even in a basic way, we can deepen our connection with a core beastie or power animal. A Beastie in a dream is thought to be equivalent to that Beastie showing up in waking life. A Beastie that shows up in a dream once can be a guest beastie, bringing you a message. If you have recurring dreams or a big, important dream about a Beastie one that feels very vivid and powerful, that Beastie is likely to be a core beastie for you. If you know your core beastie, you can ask them to show up in your dreams, to heal you or give you guidance.

The process is simple. You might find it works better if you’re well-rested. Set an intention, either in your mind or written out on a slip of paper. You can say something like, “Tonight I’ll get an important message from my core beastie,” or “A core beastie will reveal itself tonight in my dreams.” You might want to add to your intention that you remember the dream in detail and can write it down easily when you wake up. You could tuck your written intention under your pillow. Intention can make all the difference, so give it some thought.

Before you go to sleep, put a notebook and pen beside the bed so you can scribble some details as soon as you wake up without having to get up, as that would likely take you away from the sense of the dream. If you get into feeling anxious (Uh-oh, I’m not remembering anything!), this process can be more challenging, so after you wake up, as you’re recalling the dream, try to stay in that mellow, relaxed, barely awake state. By analyzing the dream using your notes to help you remember it, you can access very powerful information.

The ancient indigenous cultures knew about the power of dreams. Some of those cultures have created and used what they call dream-catchers. A dream-catcher is a hoop with webbing inside, but with a hole at the center. It was thought that all the good dreams would pass through the hole and the unhelpful bad dreams would be caught in the webbing. The good dreams that passed through were thought to offer insights about one’s destiny and path. Some cultures had a practice of dreaming together as a group to bring about and amplify something the entire community desired. Paying attention to dreams was thought to be important work, as dreams provide vital information, teachings, and clues about how we can be successful, avoid danger, and make our way along the road ahead. I know from my own experience of serving on a foundation board that when we join our energies to visualize and dream something wonderful as a community, power is amplified.

It’s sometimes surprising, but even scary dreams can have wonderful messages for us. It’s been my experience that most nightmares are dreams we didn’t complete because wed exited too soon to get to the positive message. I discovered this by re-entering a few of my own so-called bad dreams, using the techniques of shamanic dreaming. You can learn to do this, too. If you do, I recommend that you develop a secure, solid relationship with a core beastie first, so they can accompany you on such a courageous adventure. Perhaps nightmares – waking up before we finish with a dream – are a way of protecting us. When we’re ready to take in the message of the whole dream, we’ll find it.

A classic and simple way of analyzing dreams is to write down all the symbols that occur in a dream to see if you find a message or an insight there. This method, introduced by Sigmund Freud, presumes that the symbols in a dream represent known or hidden parts of ourselves. Freud postulated that all dreams and their messages are created by the dreamer alone. In shamanism, there’s an additional caveat or belief that other energies or spirits (not our own) can intrude on our dreams. Though addressing intrusive spirits in our dreams is beyond the scope of this book, if someone is having debilitating, recurrent nightmares that are causing them to feel dis-spirited, it might indicate that seeking out a shamanic practitioner for assistance may be warranted.

Old dreams, if they feel significant, can still yield helpful information in the present. Whether it’s a long ago old dream or a more recent one, if the dream is long and complicated, it might be easiest to start with decoding only the fragment of the dream with the Beastie in it. It’s helpful to use the fragment that felt most significant during the dream, but any fragment will do, really.


Below are examples of a simple method for discovering the messages contained within a dream. You can try it out with a Beastie dream you’ve had in the past or ask for a new dream about your core beastie and decode that one.

Doing this process requires that you become quiet and still so you can hear the replies. Act as if you’re going to receive replies to the questions you ask.


Several years ago, I dreamed that some scary, extremely large, powerful bears were throwing things around in our backyard and acting in ways that were threatening.


Interview the Dream Beastie. Ask what’s going on. Ask why they’re doing what they’re doing and what they’re trying to communicate to you.

My question to the Beasties: Why are you acting so scary and enraged and threatening? Why are you throwing giant barrels around and growling?

Their Answer: We’re hungry and starving and ticked off! We want you to feed us!

Ask the Beastie what part of your life it represents in this dream.

My question to the Beasties: What part of my life do you represent?

Their Answer: We represent your creativity.

Ask the Beastie for its recommendations, advice, or insight regarding the part of your life it represents.

My question to the Beasties: So, what needs to happen or not happen next in my waking life? What are your recommendations? What do you advise?

Their Answer: You need to FEED your creativity. It’s hungry. You’ll calm down and become peaceful once your creativity is fed regularly.

What I took from decoding that dream is that if I feed my creativity (those bears), I won’t be angry and frustrated. I could also say that to honor my bear as a core beastie, I must feed my creativity. That dream came as I was about to embark on a sabbatical and as I was beginning, in earnest, to deepen my commitment to learning to be a coach and exploring what I’m supposed to do with my life. Dreams often come during times of big transitions and upheaval, as a way of throwing us a bone. When we decode the messages of dreams, we can get help about how proceed.

Here’s another example of using this method for dream decoding …


I was in a boat, holding my fingers out over the edge near the engine. Several humpback whales were gently nudging my fingers. There were a few other passengers on the boat, but the whales weren’t coming to any of them, only to me. The boat felt safe to be riding in, but it was moving too fast and was extremely low in the water.

Interview the Dream Beastie.

My question to the Beasties: Whales, why are you nuzzling me and nibbling at my fingers? Why do you come only to me and not to the others on this boat?

Their Answer: We like you! We want to connect with you.

Ask the Beastie what part of your life it represents in this dream.

My question to the Beastie: What part of my life do you represent?

Their Answer: We represent your connection to nature and to the Beasties and, in a larger way, to your professional work as a change agent and coach.

Ask the Beastie for its recommendations, advice, or insight regarding the part of your life it represents.

My question to the Beasties: So, Beasties, what needs to happen or not happen next in my waking life? What do you advise? What are your recommendations?

Their Answer: We advise you to slow down or we won’t be able to have this special interaction. Also, you need to get more buoyant.

That all made perfect sense to me. If I tried to hurry the process of connecting to nature and to my true calling, I might lose the magical connection I’d been experiencing. I intuitively knew I needed to be more light and playful (buoyant) in my work and shed some ballast in my life to literally get the lead out so I could float at a higher level. My ballast included having too many different projects going on, too many commitments, and too few boundaries regarding my work.

I invite you to give analyzing your dreams a try, in whatever way appeals to you. You might like it as an additional option for connecting on a deeper level with your core beastie.

If you want to learn more about working with spirit animals check out Sourced or Stoked!


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