How To Interpret Dreams

Friday, March 23, 2012 | By:

I awoke in a cold sweat. I had just dreamed my house had burned down. I was upset and confused. Why would I dream of something so terrible?

The next day I mentioned the dream to a Chinese friend. Before I could even finish, a big smile spread across his face.

“Don’t you know that means you have riches in store for you?” he said excitedly.

“According to whom?” I asked.

“The god of dreams, Zhou Gong!”

As I asked around, I found that while some Chinese people know of Freud, and almost none know of Jung, everyone knows about Zhou Gong. I was curious. How did Zhou Gong get to be such a reliable source on the meaning of dreams?

It turns out that this ancient philosopher is given common credit for folk interpretations of dreams that have been popular in China for over 3,000 years. He’s better known as the Duke of Zhou, and he was no ordinary man.

Apart from holding together the newly founded Zhou Dynasty by creating the idea of the Mandate of Heaven to vanquish its enemies and penning the Chinese classic “I-Ching,” he also created the first Chinese dream dictionary and became known as the god of dreams. Much like later similar tomes, Zhou Gong’s “Book of Auspicious and Inauspicious Dreams” (《周公解梦》Zhōugōng Jiě Mèng) divides dreams into a series of categories based on subject matter (planets and weather; surroundings; gods and spirits; the body; music and disharmony; living creatures; clothing, jewelry, and miscellaneous).

His ideas are vital to understanding the Chinese concept of dreams; so much so that even though his thoughts are anything but modern, many Chinese still believe what Zhou wrote.

“Almost every Chinese person believes that if you dream of a snake biting you, it is a sign that you will get a lot of money. I can’t explain it but to us it has validity,” my friend Ma said.

When I asked my girlfriend, she immediately replied, “Of course I know him! You know that I hate horror movies, but if I dream of my dead relatives it never bothers me. According to Zhou Gong it is a sign of blessings and longevity.”

Dreaming of a dog barking is an omen of bad luck. Gray hair means long life. Dreaming that you have no clothes on means bad luck, followed by poverty or humiliation. When you have trouble driving a vehicle in a dream, it means you can’t get what you want. Dreams where you make people drink spirits mean you will get into arguments, but being invited to drink means longevity.

While every Chinese person I talked to acknowledged Zhou’s influence, they also—at the same time—downplayed it.

“No one believes everything Zhou said. We just pick and choose the things that make sense to us,” Ma told me.

Given the fact that Zhou Gong says some pretty strange things, it seems like a reasonable expectation. For instance, I would hate to see the consequence if most people believed in one of Zhou’s stranger interpretations: if you dream your wife is pregnant, it means she is having an affair.

While some might argue about Zhou Gong’s influence on modern Chinese dream interpretation, and debate if he actually wrote the book, there is no doubt about the mark his name has left on Chinese vernacular. Even today, after Chinese people awake from a nice rest they are still sometimes asked: “Did you meet with Zhou Gong?” (你是去见周公了吗?Nǐ shì qù jiàn zhōugōngliǎo ma?)

Know any other Chinese dream interpretations? Let us and others know by leaving a comment below….

And if not, then  sleep more! It’s good for you, as our article explains….


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19 Responses to How To Interpret Dreams

  1. pdtan says:

    “Don’t you know that means you have riches in store for you?” Belatedly I am curious to know whether you were blessed with a wind-fall or a financial well-being,,,,,your personal experience should lead you to a contradictary conclusion to your and your friend, Mr Ma’s opinion “…….While every Chinese person I talked to acknowledged Zhou’s influence, they also—at the same time—downplayed it.
    “No one believes everything Zhou said. We just pick and choose the things that make sense to us,” Ma told me.

  2. Lim Mee Khing says:

    What does it mean , when I dreamed of a death cat ?
    What is the interpretation? Any one knowing the answer pls forward to my email address.

  3. bob Tran says:

    i have been dreaming of different forms a faces and fish for the last few consecutive nights. searching interpretation on western meaning for these show different analysis to our Chinese interpretation. though been Chinese i tend to lean on Chinese interpretation more. wonder if anyone can shed some lights on this. Thanks Bob from Australia.

  4. Darren says:

    In my dream last night, I dreamt that I was in a Chinese takeaway and a Chinese woman who worked there was
    Insisting that I take my change. She counted it out and gave it to me even though I wasn’t too bothered to take it.
    Very strange dream and I’d be interested in any thoughts regarding what it, if anything, signifies?

  5. Lorraine Milho says:

    I had a dream of two tigers attacking me and I fought them of by given them a bottle of beer can please tell what does it mean thank you Mrs. Milho

  6. Ugyen Dema says:

    My sister recently dreamt that i was beheaded and my head was on the window. Can you please interpret the dream.

  7. lex says:

    Ugyen Dema, i just saw your post & I think I know what that means. Think of a religion where head cutting is rampant & even the founder is chopping off disbeleivers head. This is a warning to you, to ask you to be careful of Islam & its believers. I would urge you to quickly get up to speed with Islam Quran violence teachings, the life of Muhammad and he did while he was alive & keep away from Muslims. They tell you one thing but do another! You can goggle on Ali Sina, Wafa Sultan, Mosad Hasan Yousef and websites such as faithfreedom.org, wikiIslam etc.

  8. boity says:

    I had a dream that my breasts were leaking milk and myshirt was wet around the nipples

  9. Shanjeev Raj says:

    i dream of a black rotweller dog bite my hip , in a housing area,y aunty and my aunty daughter was there, my girlfriend also there , i dream evening around 6pm

  10. sumi says:

    I have some dreams lately.

    1. I dreamed of someone trying to come into my house through the kitchen window and I prevented him of coming in and wanted to kick him out of my window.
    2. I dreamed of some brown looking lions about five of them coming into my double house and my daughter came up to first floor and I asked her and she says the lions were very friendly and did not attack her.
    3. A Caucasian girl came into my house and had sex with me with the knowledge of my wife
    Thank you

  11. henry says:

    I have a dream of clear water in hose and I could not stop them. what does it means?

    • peggy says:

      I have dream one guy give me a pair of new shoe. I told him it so big and he reply me that I ask for size 46. I try to wear it and fold the front part (toe portion). What does this dream mean? TQ

  12. pearl baccay ferrer says:

    I had a dream last night I saw two snakes crawling after I saw one snake in front of me and about to Bite me..then I woke up shouting
    What does it meas..thanks

  13. Hussein nagri says:

    I had a dream of being shot while in was standing in my balcony . Please buy has got me very worried can you please explain why I got such a dream . My birthday is 1 January 1975

  14. Krista says:

    My husband and I both dreamed of tigers on the same night. He dreamed that my tiger ate him and I dreamed I had two tigers but I could only feed one and the other ate my dog because it was hungry.

  15. Nani says:

    I dreamt a pregnant lady was electrocuted at the railway track. She was burned to death. But she gave birth to a baby boy – alive! Then someone ask who gonna take the baby and i said i will.
    I told my boyfriend of a dream and he said he too dreamt of a baby. He was holding a baby but he dont know who the baby was and he was confuse whose baby that was.

  16. Edwaard says:

    Dreamt of lifting a wooden object and beneath is a small statue of Goddess of Mercy sparkling with diamonds

  17. Poh Tiong Ho says:

    Tuesday June 7, 2016. Last night I dreamt that there was one super woman who has much influence on the king of the country. No-one was able to get rid of her. The general of the king found the secret. He invited that woman to have sex one night. After the session, she was sleeping on his bed, facing the ceiling. The general used a knife to stab her on the chest and cut it open. He took out two hearts from her body.

    What does that signify ?

  18. Albert says:

    I dreamt of ants in my living room