Forests and trees play an important role in the human psyche. In many cultures and religions, trees have been considered sacred. The Celts assigned special significance to many types of trees and Druids often used trees in their religious ceremonies. The Christmas tree is thought to have originated from ancient Germanic rites. Buddha is believed to have found enlightenment while seated beneath a tree. A tree was the source of human knowledge, according to the Bible. Because trees absorb water from the ground through their roots and grow toward the sky, some cultures believe they represent the union of the Earth, the sea and the heavens.
It is no wonder that we ascribe such importance to trees. They are an important source of life, containing entire ecosystems around their roots, within their trunks and on their branches, and provide us with both animal and vegetable matter to eat. Leaves shade us from the heat of the oppressive noonday sun. The singing of birds provides us with great pleasure. Now, we know that trees even help provide the oxygen we breathe.
In dreams, trees can also have positive connotations, signifying life and growth. A tree in a dream can represent your potential or the potential of a project or undertaking. “Great oaks grow from little acorns.” Climbing a tree in a dream can be a sign that you must develop your talents in order to overcome obstacles and defeat a goal.
As human society has progressed, forests and trees have come to represent the wild and untamed. People chop down trees to make room for fields and plantations. Living in well-lit houses, walking and driving on paved roads, we see woods as dark and dangerous. We can control our crops and our domesticated animals, and we can pull the weeds in our gardens, but we cannot control what lives in the woods. Thus, a forest in a dream can represent your wild, instinctive side – the part of you that frightens you and that you repress when you are awake. It is what Freud called the “id”.
What are you doing in your dream forest? If you are casually walking past the trees, enjoying the sounds of the birds and watching squirrels and chipmunks scurry up the branches, your dream may be a sign that you are content with your life or an illustration of how you wish your life to be.
Being lost in a forest in your dream can mean that you are faced with a difficult choice in life. You cannot decide which path to take. The trees blocking your view may represent distractions that prevent you from seeing the reality of your situation.
Is something chasing you through the forest? Your pursuer probably represents something in your life that you wish to avoid.
Do low-lying branches make you stumble? Do thorns prick you? These can symbolize obstacles you face.
If you are in a rainforest or jungle, surrounded by tangling vines and a cacophony of animal sounds, you could be overwhelmed by a confusing, complicated situation. Perhaps you have too many responsibilities, too many decisions to make and too many people to satisfy at once.
A forest fire can signify raging emotions that you are repressing.
What animals do you come across in the forest? Animals often represent your instincts. Are they friendly, timid or ferocious? Do they run or hide from you, approach you or try to hurt you? The way they respond to you can be a sign of how well you integrate your conscious and unconscious thoughts.
The seasons of the year play crucial roles in our lives and therefore, in our dreams. Before there were refrigeration, international shipments, central heating and electric lighting, the seasons determined what we ate, whether we could remain warm or cool and what time we went to sleep at night.
It’s no surprise then, that the seasons have a profound place in the human psyche. The symbolism of the seasons in dreams can also be found in myth, literature and religion. Since ancient times, religious festivals have occurred during the solstices and equinoxes. The winter solstice has a strong association with death, a reflection of the fact that the Sun has been providing less heat and less light every day, culminating in this, the shortest day of the year. As the days decrease in size, there is less energy for light and life. Without food or warmth, winter literally can bring death.
The symbolism of winter is pervasive in literature, from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and The Little Match Girl to Jack London’s the Call of the Wild.
In our dreams, winter is associated with endings. Winter in a dream can symbolize the end of a life. More often, though, it represents the end of something of value to the dreamer – a life stage, a relationship or even a way of perceiving the world.
In nature, winter leads to spring, with its promise of new life and an end to despair. In dreams and myths, spring symbolizes love, fertility, rebirth and reawakening. A dream of spring is a reassurance that things are never hopeless. Once again, flowers will bloom.
Spring is a symbol of newness and childhood, and a dream that takes place in the springtime can be a way of reminding you of an event from your youth.
Summer is a stage of growth and development. A dream of summer can be a sign that you are learning and growing; it can provide reassurance that you are gaining the knowledge required to succeed in a task.
We often associate summer with relaxation. Children stay home from school and adults take breaks from work. A dream about summer can be a reminder that sometimes the best way to solve a problem can be to step away from it for a while.
Autumn, or fall, is the time of the harvest, when we enjoy the fruits that we planted earlier in the year. Therefore, autumn represents the accrual of benefits over time. The autumn of our lives is the time when the experiences we have gained earlier are transformed into wisdom, so that we benefit even from our misfortunes.
In a dream, autumn can be a reminder to recognize your successes and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Because autumn is followed by winter, an autumn landscape in a dream can be a warning that you must prepare for difficulties that you will face in the future. Just as our ancestors stored food in preparation for a harsh winter, so should we prepare for the obstacles that await us in our own lives.