Friday, 8 November 2013

Interpreting popular dream themes (4) - Crocodiles & Alligators

Since I have had two dreams with the recurrent theme of a crocodile, I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore the meaning of this dream theme/symbol. The theme of the alligator also has very similar meanings, and so can be treated as largely analogous to the crocodile in terms of dream interpretation, although there are some important distinctions to be made.

It seems that crocodiles/alligators appear surprisingly frequently in dreams, although the meaning is dependent on the contextual dream clues, although it is safe to say that because these creatures are perceived as predatory, danger/threat is the key to meaning. Typically, because there are distinct similarities between crocodiles/alligators, they are considered to be interchangeable in dreams. However, alligators are generally less aggressive than crocodiles and are more likely to avoid contact with humans. Therefore, in dream symbolist terms, an alligator represents a less immediate threat than a crocodile and this threat can be avoided more easily once it is detected. An alligator may represent an enemy who appears more of a threat than they are in reality. Alligators may also symbolise the potential to transform a threat or danger into a benefit of advantage.

To see a crocodile in your dream is supposed to represent freedom, hidden strength, the wealth of wisdom and power. However, it can also forewarn of hidden dangers – someone near you may be giving bad advice. Because crocodiles are amphibious and live in water and on land, they also symbolise both the conscious and subconscious; the rational and the emotional. It symbolises the ability of the dreamer to move between the physical/material world of waking life and the emotional, repressed world of the unconscious. It may be that the dreamer is on the verge of accessing some new awareness and something lurking below the depths is surfacing. They may refer to the unforeseeable or unknown. The crocodile may also symbolise an aspect of the self – i.e. an aggressive or ‘snappy’ attitude. It may represent the fact that you are insincere or displaying false emotions (also known as ‘shedding crocodile tears’). Alternatively, a friend or associate may be ‘shedding crocodile tears’ to gain the sympathy or confidence or the dreamer, while secretly plotting their demise. Therefore, this may be representative of a Machiavellian colleague or acquaintance.

Crocodiles may also represent the soul and deep desires – it may be that the dreamer is in fear because he has no control over them and anticipates becoming consumed by them. The crocodile may signify a fear of death – or being eaten up by a fear of the same.

Other similar interpretations of the crocodile symbol point to deceit, treachery and hidden instincts. It may represent the need to adopt a new perspective on a given situation. In some theories, the symbol of the crocodile may refer to healing powers and qualities. It can represent the fact that the dreamer is thick-skinned or insensitive – or needs to become moreso.

Crocodiles/alligators may be a symbol of generalised anxiety, or the fear that something is about to overwhelm or swallow you. In some dream interpretation theories, the idea that crocodiles emerge from the water to lay their eggs on land is symbolic of the dreamer’s confrontation with eternity and the idea of the individual self merging with the collective consciousness. A crocodile dream may represent new changes and beginnings in waking life or intuition – awareness of spiritual insights or steps which must be taken in the future.

Crocodiles have acute senses of hearing and seeing – this means that the crocodile may symbolise the need to observe but not be seen. Because of the water association, crocodiles may be interpreted as referring to clear sight into emotional worlds – representing a dive into emotions to seek fluidity, cleansing and healing. Because the crocodile relates equally to both water and to earth, it may signify a sharp focus on reality and a firm grounding/balance. This reflects duality – as does the physiology of the actual crocodile itself, which is armoured on top, yet soft and vulnerable underneath. Crocodiles and alligators are also thought to symbolise timing – to let nature take its course.

To dream that you are running away from a crocodile indicates unwillingness to confront a painful or disturbing aspect of your subconscious – there may be some potentially destructive emotion that you are running away from and refusing to acknowledge or own up to. To dream that you are chased or bitten by a crocodile denotes disappointments in love or business. To dream that you are raped by a crocodile indicates feelings of violation or being taken advantage of in some way – the crocodile is symbolic of a person who is ruthless, insensitive and treacherous. They have a strong hold on you despite your efforts to break free from the unhealthy relationship. To dream of walking a crocodile or alligator represents being in control of those who are a threat. Feeding one symbolises an action which has been done to appease those in your life who are threatening. Wrestling a crocodile/alligator refers to sparring with, or defending yourself, from minor enemies or frustrations/annoyances in waking life. If you dream that you are the crocodile or alligator then this may symbolise predatory behaviours or indifferent attitudes in waking life. If you dream that you are killing or maiming the crocodile/alligator then this symbolises intellect – shooting a crocodile represents the need to test intelligence in some way. Swimming with crocodiles reflects the dreamer’s connection with physical, emotional and material needs, although to dream of swimming with several crocodiles represents betrayal by ones hopes and faith. To dream of stepping on a crocodile’s back symbolises an expectation that trouble is looming and a warning that no-one is to be trusted. If the crocodile or alligator is deformed, some interpretations suggest that this is a sign that the dreamer needs to develop more ‘masculine’ traits in order to perform well or succeed in some aspect of their waking life. Dreaming of a crocodile or alligator in captivity represents access to some unique part of the dreamer’s character – a tame crocodile reflects the attainment of power and influence in the dreamer’s waking life. A blue crocodile or alligator is strangely said to represent a strong fear of a positive situation. Crocodiles/alligators in dreams are often associated with feeling judged; attempts at being more discerning; a need to evaluate someone or something; taking a stand against someone or something; or a representation of your own character flaws or strengths. The crocodile/alligator is also an ancient symbol of the deep unconscious mind, aggressiveness, or assertiveness. If the dream involved a crocodile or alligator ‘laying around’ inert, this is said to be a symbol that someone is trying to negatively affect your life, wellbeing or overall happiness. A dead crocodile/alligator refers to major success beyond the dreamer’s expectations.

Crocodiles and alligators appear in many ancient myths and legends. Crocodile mythologies are part of the Australian Aborigines’ culture – the crocodile was the selfish keeper of fire until the Rainbow Bird stole it from him while his back was turned. The crocodile also features in several African myths where typically, it appears as kings or gods or simply symbolising regality and kingship. The reason crocodiles are often held in such high regards stems from the fact that they are able to walk on land and swim in water – thus, they exist in two realms, rather than one. Kings were similarly regarded as belonging to two separate realms, as it was assumed that they came to people via ‘divine right’. The most widely known crocodile god is Sobek – the ancient Egyptian god with the head of a crocodile. Crocodiles were worshipped in ancient Egypt because of their great power and due to the belief that if they were appeased, any encounter on the Nile would result in death.  Sobek was also associated with pharaonic power, fertility and military prowess, but served additionally as a protective deity with apotropaic qualities. Sobek is associated with various Egyptian creation myths – some believe that he climbed out of primordial chaos and laid eggs from which the earth sprang. The overall theme in these ancient mythologies appears to involve power; the ability to simultaneously inhabit two realms; royalty; and creation. If the dreamer relates positively to crocodiles and is unharmed in the dream or able to control the creature, they typically this would suggest personal power symbols. Given that crocodiles are associated with the Shadow archetype, if the dreamer has a positive encounter with a crocodile, this may be interpreted as the dreamer making good progress in integrating his own Shadow. In some cultures, the crocodile – as a symbol of fertility – is perceived as a feminine theme, referring to the Great Mother. Crocodiles are good, nurturing and fiercely protective mothers - they help the eggs to hatch, then gently carry them to the water. The Egyptian goddess, Tawret, had the tail of a crocodile and frightened spirits who may mean to harm a pregnant woman or child. She also helped spirits ‘re-birth’ into the afterlife.

In Islamic dream interpretations, the crocodile represents a policeman. A crocodile seen in the water is a reference to someone in whom nobody can place to their trust, whether friend or foe. Another Islamic interpretation of the crocodile states that it symbolises a thief of dishonest merchant. If a person is pulled into the water and killed by a crocodile, Islamic interpretations suggest that he will be caught by the law or someone in authority who will force the dreamer do something the dreamer despises – and dreaming of an escape suggests successful evasion. Generally Islamic interpretations of the crocodile symbol stress insolence and sins; unlawful enrichment or earnings; fear and depression. Seeing a crocodile on dry land is perceived as a more positive symbol than if one is observed in water. To dream of dragging a crocodile out of the water or to see yourself eating crocodile flesh refers to a triumph against an enemy or opponent and their weakness and humiliation.

In the Hindu chakra system, the crocodile governs the sacral chakra (‘Svadhisthana’). This is a developmental energy, as the sacral chakra is a power-centre of creation. The crocodile in this chakra encourages creativity and balance. This chakra-crocodile goes deep into our emotional core and resurfaces with dynamic creative power. In many Native American tribes, crocodiles and alligators are symbols of status and power. Because they are easily comfortable on land and water, many tribes consider them as creatures responsible for creation. The crocodile or alligator is a mediator in many Native legends, because it emerged from primordial waters in creation myths and brought forth the sun and the earth. Mayan legend tells of four crocodiles supporting the entire world - keeping its delicate balance in check by the strength of their backs and with fierce determination. The crocodile or alligator appears in Mayan astrology too - in their zodiac, those born under this Day-Sign are instinctively superior and sensitive to criticism. Those with the crocodile or alligator animal totem should examine their fears, both conscious and subconsciously. People born under the alligator/crocodile sign of the Mayan zodiac also have access to incredible, primordial power. They are open to new beginnings, and often see opportunities where others see nothing. The name ‘crocodile’ comes from the Greek word ‘kroko deilos’ meaning ‘pebble man’. This refers to the crocodile’s scaly skin and also the ‘water dance’ performed to attract a mate. In some interpretation, this is said to relate to a need for enhanced creativity in making connections with others and the garnering of new partnerships by unorthodox means.
Sobek & Taweret - Ancient Egyptian god & goddess 

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