Why Dreams About WATER Are So Significant

How many times has WATER appeared in your dreams? Probably a lot! Water represents your emotions. Dreams of water reflect how you feel about your life each day, particularly when you are experiencing some form of change.  

Water is a symbol of the elixir of life. We use water to cleanse our bodies. We drink water to quench our thirst. Our adult bodies are comprised of 60% water. We must have water to survive.

And water changes form. It can be soft, like the gentle waves lapping against the bank of a small pond. Water can be strong, as when ocean waves crash against the seashore and change the formation of rocks. Water can be impenetrable such as when it freezes and turns to ice.

And each of these forms of water depict your current emotional state.  If ice appears in your night time dreams, notice if you are feeling indifferent, flat or shut down. There may be ‘frozen emotions’ lurking beneath the surface.  

When water shows up in your dreams pay attention! Psyche is bringing information into your awareness about how you’re feeling in ways that you are not conscious of in waking life. For example, you may be going through a relationship break-up and think you are feeling “fine.” But then, you dream about you and your ex walking on a beach along the ocean and next thing you know, a tsunami appears and begins to crash itself over you and your ex, dragging you out into the ocean. You thought you were “fine” but your dreams are painting a vastly different picture.

What happens when you are unaware of your feelings? They tend to come out sideways, which means someone around may get hit with your pain, anger, anxiety, or fear. Or you may push your feelings down and ignore them which can lead to an illness, addiction, depression and so forth. 

WATER dreams differ from other dreams in that the FEELINGS are prominent. Dr. ErnestHartmann, known for his dream and sleep disorder research, refers to these as “tidal wave dreams.” Hartmann found a correlation between our waking life upset and the intensity of emotions during dreamtime.

In my own experience, I have had many dreams where the emotions were KEY to understanding the deeper message. Frankly, I believe that the emotional energy in dreams is often downplayed. Many experts focus on dream images and themes. And too often, a dream is analyzed an intellectual process leaving the feelings in the dust. 

How Water Appears in Your Dreams is Significant.  

What is the SIZE of the body of water?

What does the water LOOK like? Is it cloudy, clear, muddy, frozen?

How DEEP is the water? The deeper the water the more you’re penetrating the unconscious realm.

The sea is a classic symbol of the depths of the unconscious and the unknown, untapped or fearful aspects you hold within the psyche.

What is HAPPENING with the water? 

To dream of stormy seas may reflect an emotional crisis in your life. As you process this dream and your feelings about what is happening, you may notice that a little while later, you dream about sailing on an ocean that has become calm. This is representative of the emotional growth that you have achieved.

The Alchemy of Water

Water depicts the power to ignite an alchemical transformation. We know that our emotions produce chemical reactions in our bodies. Transformation means change, change means letting go, and letting go often requires some degree of grief. Water often depicts grief. I believe that we are greatly deprived of grief-work. Psychologist James Hillman, who studied with Carl Jung in the 1950s, delved deeply into dreams and believed so strongly in the need to keep our emotions balanced that he allowed himself to grieve thirty minutes every day. Water represents tears that need to be released. Emotional tears shed hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Grieving during dreamtime is one way that psyche expresses itself so healing can occur. When water appears in your dreams, ask: “What emotional weight or burden am I carrying that needs to be released?”

In all ancient folklore, water often reveals an initiation into a process of self-discovery. Keep in mind: WATER in dream time is always a gift to help you become more aware of what you are FEELING, which is why dreams about water are so significant.


sleeping beauty imageSleeping Beautiful was my mother’s favorite fairy tale. She bought me the book when I was seven years old and inscribed it to me. It was a hard cover book and the front was laced with dreamlike hues of blues, greens and shimmering gold. Inside the book were beautiful illustrations of Sleeping Beauty, the prince and Sleeping Beauty’s court. It was the only book I remember my mother inscribing to me and she wrote: “I hope you enjoy this fairytale as much as I always have. Love, Mother.” Well, I did love that story. It was romantic, passionate and taught that all women need to awaken is a sweet and simple kiss from a man who possesses the power to save us.

What was there not to love?

Unfortunately, many women have taken Sleeping Beauty literally. I know my mother did, and, so did my older sister. My mother desperately hoped that my father would be her shining prince, awaken her and fulfill her every need. And as much as I loved my father, he was the family patriarch; religious, fundamental, and ill-tempered. Over the years, I watched as my mother’s own “sleeping beauty” fell into a deeper and deeper sleep as she medicated herself with prescription medications and alcohol. She died at age 57 and my sister died at age 54, both suffering deeply from abusive men, broken hearts and shattered dreams.

The amazing Jungian analyst, Anne Baring, excels in transformational work of the soul which entails the 4,000+ year old practice of “alchemy.” Many of us know the process of turning base metal into gold, but Baring’s teachings encompass the psychology of alchemy and the alchemical transformation we must go through in order to reach our opus and be fully awake, whole beings. In her seminar titled, “What is Soul?” Baring dives deep into the alchemical waters of the ancient fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. She reveals how Sleeping Beauty is the ultimate story for this point in history because it reflects the vital call for balance between our masculine and feminine aspects. Baring writes, “I see this magical story [Sleeping Beauty] as a metaphor for our time and the urgent need for a marriage between our head and our heart, a marriage between our solar thinking and our lunar feeling…From another perspective, I also see it as a metaphor of the reconciliation of spirit and nature or the reunion of the masculine and feminine aspects of spirit which have been progressively sundered during the last four thousand years.”

In Sleeping Beauty, the prince represents the solar principle of consciousness, searching for meaning, wanting to understand the universe but ultimately, seeking reconnection with his feminine aspect—the soul. Sleeping Beauty symbolizes the lunar principle of soul, the Alchemy image to use at beginning of talkfeeling values, Eros. Therefore, this bewitching story has nothing to do with being rescued and everything to do with the alchemical marriage of the masculine (sun) and the feminine (moon). Thus, when the prince (solar/rational mind) connects with Sleeping Beauty (lunar/heart energy), not only does she awaken, but her entire sleeping court awakens. For the past 50 years, we have been witnessing an awakening and deepening of connection to our soul and attaining balance between our head and heart. More and more women I encounter who are on the path of growth have shared the increased amount of animus dreams. Our animus shows up during dream time in male form, sometimes a familiar man and other times a stranger. These dreams present us with an immense opportunity to explore our beliefs and attitudes about our relationship with men and our relationship with ourselves. Dream work is a significant part of alchemy. May we remember the transformational power they possess and take time to attend to them.

The Greater Coniunctio: A Higher Love
When one is journeying through the alchemical process, there are several stages of transformation we must experience. The stages are: calcinatio, solutio, coagulatio, sublimatio, mortificatio and separatio. They lead to coniunctio which resides at the heart of alchemy. Coniunctio is the joining of the alchemical King and Queen, Sol and Luna. The process of transformation begins when these opposites meet, but they are not conjoined until the process is completed. We travel in and out of these stages throughout our life, depending on what is happening in our relationships, career, health and all of the life changes we encounter.
Sol and Luna Image
Viewing the tale of Sleeping Beauty from a higher and alchemical position reveals something antithetical to what we were taught as children. No one is meant to save us, particularly not a special soulmate who kisses our forehead and brings us out of our sleep. The deeper meaning of this story is the recognition and conjoining of our feminine and masculine aspects. Alchemy uses a series of unique images that illustrate this process. The King and Queen start out fully clothed (separate and concealed) then immerse themselves in an alchemical bath where the transformation begins. The lovers, who were once opposites are now connected into inseparable wholeness. Alchemical love has attained its exultant zenith. The opposite energies of the prince/Sleeping Beauty, the King/Queen, and the Solar/Lunar, become transmuted through the alchemical process which is can only be done solo and can be very painful. It’s an “undoing” of all that we have learned and at times, we may feel as though we are being turned inside out. Sometimes we pass through the alchemical stages at varying times, and, sometimes we move through two or more simultaneously.

Yet the pinnacle remains the same, to fully realize genuine love and union. Edward Edinger, who wrote Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy states, “That which goes by the name of love is fundamental to the phenomenology of the coniunctio. Love is both cause and effect…objective love, a love purged of personal desirousness, not one side of a pair of opposites, but rather beyond the opposites”. Sleeping Beauty is a mythical story of a higher love. It encompasses self-less love and the feeling of oneness that we each desire on the deepest level. It cannot be attained by wanting to be rescued, saved, or kissed, but only as we awaken to the strength, courage, and love that resides deep within.

I believe if my mother were still alive and read this very different interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, she would not be disappointed, she would be relieved.