Dreaming about Lions: Fearless Self-Expression

Has lion made an appearance in your dreams? What comes to mind when you think about a lion? Its powerful jaws and paws? The majestic way it walks, or the fearless leadership it exudes over other animals?   This king and queen of the jungle represents harnessing your passions and expressing them.  In dreams, wild animals often symbolize emotions, self-expression, and the response of your inner ‘wild’ yet natural self. Lion reflects the part of your nature that can be at odds with the inner critic who coaxes you toward conformity.

The lioness suggests avoiding domestication or conformity. Both the male and female possess the power that comes from fearless expression. We tend to perceive animals as acting spontaneously from their instincts without social restrictions. From this lens we see how animals often represent normal urges that are breaking through conscious controls. If lion appears in your dreams and is biting you, some part of your emotions and/or behavior–often sexual or anger—may be cutting through your skin of awareness to express itself. These dreams, which are often frightening, are merely revealing your inner conflict between acting ‘good’ and following the status quo. Keep in mind, all dream characters personify aspects of you and the lion in your dreams is no different.

Lions portrays the need to express your innermost feelings in an uninhibited manner. Here is a lion dream a client shared while working through some intimacy issues with her long-term partner:

I am in an older house with a dark-haired man and my partner and son are in the front living area. I have been sexual with the man in the back bedroom and hiding it from my partner. He is a holistic chef.

He gives me a shopping list so he can make a healthy meal and I am getting the salad ingredients which are for a harvest/bountiful salad and I notice how healthy the ingredients are.

Before my partner, son and I set out to buy the ingredients, I am in the front of the house, looking at a room with an arch doorway and as I notice the paint and mural on its wall, I realize how much potential the house has and say, if we re-did the walls, added some new flooring, a sky light, this house would be gorgeous!

We head out and it’s dark outside. We’re walking to the store and in a residential area and I notice how hilly the streets are, like San Francisco.  My partner and son are ahead of me and I am walking by myself when out of the corner of my left eye I spot a female lion. She is quite large and I am startled to see a lion in a residential section. She looks right at me and I am afraid and am trying to discern if she is going to attack me out of fear or not and I hope she is not hungry.

We look at each other, eye-to-eye and I begin talking to her, telling her not to be afraid. She gives me a long look and begins slowly walking toward me and realize she is hungry. “Oh god, oh no.” I realize if she’s hungry I am in real danger because she will eat me. I see my partner at the bottom of the hilly street and begin calling for him. As I yell for him, I see that he is looking up and is moving toward me and doesn’t yet see the lion.  She is coming closer and gets on top of me, she is incredibly strong and I know I am going to be eaten. My partner now sees her and is walking toward me but she has her mouth on me and I can feel her teeth sinking into two places on me body: upper thigh and around my abdomen. As her teeth sink into my flesh, I realize I am going to die by being eaten alive by this lion and say to God, “Okay, I need to surrender” but I am resisting. I keep yelling out for my partner but he cannot save me. I am moaning from the pain of her teeth mauling me and I awaken from my moans. As the dream ends, the lion’s eyes are remarkably close together and yellow and she is looking at me with fierce intensity, I am mesmerized by her eyes. I wake-up, moaning from the pain in my body as she mauls me in the dream. My thighs and abdomen ache as I awaken from the dream.

Backstory in Waking Life

This dreamer was tempted by another man she found attractive and who was interested in seeing her. She and her partner had been struggling with sexual intimacy issues after having been together for 15 years. She didn’t want to harm the relationship but was feeling emotionally and sexually frustrated.

Unpacking the Dream

  • Son: Inner child, Divine Child Archetype.
  • Man in back bedroom: Masculine Shadow aspect, secret inner lover, Eros, cook, foodie, nutritionist.
  • Dark outside: Unconscious about a current life issue.
  • Hilly Streets: Emotional ups and downs about the issue.
  • Lion = Homonym or Play on words “lying”, animal instincts (leadership, fearless, strength).
  • Lion’s Hunger: What am I HUNGRY for? Eros, passion, new experiences, spontaneity, non-conformity.
  • Surrender: Trying to let go but unable to, experiencing physical pain about an emotional issue.
  • yes: Yellow =  Fun, playful, lightness of being.
  • Partner: Inner male, rescuer/empowering, companion, conservative, predictable. 

This dream is a somatic dream, meaning the dreamer had a physical experience from the lion getting on top of her and biting her abdomen and upper thigh.

Somatic Inquiry: Where in my body do I feel the dream image or character?

Sacral Chakra Image
  • Thighs: Movement, carries our bodies forward, power, strength.
  • Abdomen: Sacral Chakra
  • Sacral Chakra/Abdomen = Emotions, feelings, relationships, relating, expression of sexuality, sensual pleasure, feeling the outer and inner worlds, creativity, fantasies. Imbalance: numbing out, feeling  repressed, stuck in emotions or rigid patterns.

After we worked through this dream, the dreamer and her partner committed to more discussions, to share openly–fearlessly–and doing whatever it took to re-establish their intimacy. A couple of weeks later, her dreams began shifting and the upsetting dreams stopped.  But the work wasn’t over; the couple began talking about what their individuals needs were sexually and began “negotiating” what would work for each of them. Relationship and intimacy expert, Esther Perel, wisely said:  “We are most intensely excited when we are a little off-balance, uncertain.” This dreamer realized her relationship had become too predictable and was lacking the spontaneity and mystery that fuels passion. The dream helped her begin to break out of the box created by her need to conform to old programming and societal norms.

Keep in mind that your dreams are a gift, even the ones that upon first blush appear confusing, disturbing, or nonsensical.   


Laura Grace, PhD

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