Dream symbols - hauntings and ghosts in dream interpretation

The method that we use on this site is to try to understand dreams in reverse. First we try to guess what a dream could be about. In most cases this is easy enough as most dreams are symbolic versions of our most prominent thoughts. Quite often we have only been thinking intuitively about one or two subjects. Most of the dreams on this site are thought to be good examples of this kind of analysis. There are several connections with reality which mean that these dreams are almost certainly connected with the issues we mention. So therefore we can concentrate on the symbolic meanings. WE can refine the meaning of ghosts in dreams. One famous dream came from Carl Jung himself. He linked the following dream with Sigmund Freud (I summarized the dream).

THE DREAM I was at some kind of border post. Here there was a customs official. However, only I could see him as he was a ghost. In a later part of the dream a knight on horseback appeared in full armour and a sword.

As we said Carl Jung linked this dream to his battles with Freud. This dream does seem to fit this analysis very well. Freud was like this border official. He saw himself as the master of psychoanalysis. He felt that he should vet all ideas. Jung was at this time starting to develop his own thoughts and was striking out on his own. He was disagreeing with Freud. The customs official represents Freud - someone that Jung had to by pass and gain approval if you wanted to continue in psychoanalysis.

But why was the border official seen as a ghost? Why could only Jung see him? The border official was a ghost because Freud by this time was losing his authority over Jung. Jung was like the knight in the dream forging his own ideas. Freud was an unseen presence and influence though - just like the ghost. He still felt the pressure to gain Freud’s approval for any new books or articles.

So from this we can suggest that the ghost in this dream was a symbol of Freud’s influence on psychoanalysis. He was an unseen presence - you had to gain his approval for any new ideas or you would not progress.

Other ghost dreams will use ghosts in different ways. Take this dream.

THE DREAM - A Co-workers mother(she is dead in real life) was haunting me. She walked right through me. It was a very eerie feeling.

This dream occurred the night after the dreamer had seen someone being taken into an ambulance. He was just randomly walking past this incident. This had shaken him up because the man looked like one of his co-workers. The woman in the dream had died already. She was the mother of a different co-worker.

This dream had a very simple meaning. It simply captured the dreamers shock at seeing someone he thought he knew randomly being carried into an ambulance. It is a shock to see any accident. Yet if you know one of the people involved then it can really freak you out. The ghost was a symbol for the dreamers friend and co-worker seriously ill and possibly about to die. Could he be seeing this friend at the moment he was dying? So in this case the ghost is a symbol for the following exact feeling - "It was a very eerie feeling. I was worried he was dying" [note that ghosts are people who have died]

So we have two different dreams here and they both featured ghosts. Yet the symbolic meaning of the ghost was different in each dream. In Jung's dream the ghost was a symbol of Freud's unseen presence - his need to gain his approval for any new ideas. In the second dream the ghost was a symbol for a friend and co-worker who the dreamer feared was seriously ill (and might die). You will find that dreams use symbols in many different ways. The language of dream symbols is a sophisticated as that of the written word. Many people falsely present dream symbols as having simple one sentence meanings such as snakes are symbols of creativity. This is nonsense - dreams will use the same symbol in many different ways and contexts. Here is another usage of ghosts in dreams.

THE DREAM I was in a large mansion in the Weaponess Park (its the part of town with the biggest houses). I was outside in the garden. There were these ghosts in Elizabethan style dresses. Everything was elegant but clearly ghosts. Later I am in an elementary school for rich children. I was whizzing along some huge structure in the air. It was like a roadway in the air which went through all the buildings on that side of the road. I was going at immense speed. I seemed to be linked to some vast scheme of communication and learning.

If you are thinking of something in particular then you will almost certainly dream of it. In this case the dreamer was a teacher thinking about her ideas. She was starting to realise that she was not getting her message across to her students. She wanted to reduce the subject to basics.

The dream seems quite consistent with the issue that she mentioned. The elementary school is a clear symbol for her reducing her teaching to basics. The elegant house and setting were symbols of the elaborate and constructed ideas she was trying to teach. So what of the ghosts? If this dream did link to this issue then what could the ghosts have symbolised. The ghosts were not scary but they were clearly transparent. They were there but not there. Perhaps they were symbolic of the ineffectiveness of her teaching. The ghosts being symbols of something that was not really happening - teaching skills which were simply not working.

THE DREAM - I appear to be seeing ghosts. They are both female. I can actually see them - they appear very vividly.

The previous day this dreamer had walked past a house of some friends that he had lost contact with. They had fallen out and now he was missing them both. This was at night time and the curtains were open so he could see in. It upset him to actually see in the house as it brought home how much he was missing them.

So if the dream does capture the dreamers feelings of loss connected with these friends then what do the ghosts mean? A ghost is someone who has died and yet carries on living in some supernatural way. In a way his friends had died (the relationship had died) yet of course they were still alive.

The dreamer reported that seeing his friends through the open curtains was quite strange and eerie. He was peering into his friends world yet could not speak to them.

THE DREAM In one part of the dream I have this puppy breathing on my lap. Its looking adorably at me. In another part of my dream I was in this room sensing a ghost. I am trying to grab and capture this ghost with my hand.

With dreams you ask yourself obvious questions. The dream features someone looking adorably at the dreamer. In real life the dreamer did think about a girl who had been particularly friendly towards him the day before. He wondered at the time if she was attracted to him. She did seem to laugh at his jokes and seemed to go out of her way to talk to him that day. This is just the type of intuition that can trigger dreams. All day the dreamer seemed to sense this girl. Its as if he couldn't get her out of his mind and felt this deep connection with her - as if she was thinking of him.

The adoring puppy is obviously a symbol which could represent this girl. A dog often looks at its owner in an adoring way. So what would the ghost mean? A ghost is something that is there yet not there. In real life the dreamer sensed this girls presence in some psychic way. Its as if she was there yet of course not. So the ghost represented this almost telepathic connection that he sensed. It was a symbol for his feeling that she was thinking about him all the time - possibly in love. Even when she was not with him she was still thinking about him.

Reading body language is difficult. Obviously this girl was very friendly towards the dreamer. But just how friendly was she. He sensed a very high level of connection and some strong flirting. He did not know what to make of this.

THE DREAM I dreamed about a strange ghost ship in an alternate universe where I couldn't tell right from wrong. I dreamt my parents disowned me and gave me their pontiac(It broke down a few days ago on my way home from work, and now it doesn't run very well). In the dream it was half-broke too and going too slow.

In real life the dreamer was very attached to her parents Pontiac which she lent at every available opportunity. Now it was a shadow of its former self. It did not perform in the way that a dream car should. So lets assume that this dream is about her missing this 'dream car' what could the ghost mean? A ghost is a symbol for something which has died. In this case the car was still there but the special feelings that she got when she drove it were not there any more. Her special attachment to this car was now gone.

DREAM INTERPRETATION TIP : Think about dreams carefully. Think about how people say things in dreams. You maybe reminded of how someone acted the previous day. Thats not a coincidence as the dream mind constantly draws parallels.
DREAM INTERPRETATION TIP : Think of dream symbols as words or phrases. For instance, a ghost could represent the phrase "just not the same". Now write down several quotes which sum up your feelings from the previous day such as - "I am not enjoying being with my friends any more", or "I think I need to help my friend out as he seems upset", or "my foot seems to have recovered". Now go through these quotes and think where the phrase "just not the same" could appear to have some relevance. Thats one simple way to establish links between dreams and real life.

GHOSTS : Ghosts of course can scare us and in some cases the ghost may refer to situations where in real life we felt those same emoitons. So think back to the day before the dream and see what moments really scared you and left you with a cold eerie feeling.

Ghosts though can have lots of meanings and maybe linked to people who are about to leave your life in some way. They may also symbolise moments in your life or job when you felt inneffective or ignored. Finally ghosts can link to situations where we are not getting the same feelings as we used to. We are trying to get the same thrills yet things are not happening.

KEY WORDS(Pick a quote which captures your feelings right now. Think especially of the day before the dream) :
- "its not the same as it used to be"
- "Its not happening any more"
- "a really eerie feeling yesterday"
- "I feel inneffective"
- "I feel as if I am totally ignored"


GHOSTS in dreams : A detailed essay on the symbolism of ghosts using real dream interpretations
DEMONS in dreams : What do demons mean in real dream interpretations
WEREWOLFS in dreams : Dream interpretation study on werewolfs
WITCHES in dreams : An interesting study on a quite reliable dream symbol
ZOMBIES in dreams : Zombies in real dream interpretation
DEATHS in dreams : What does death mean in real dream studies