Humans are fascinated with whales. That fascination has played out in books, movies, and even in biblical lore. Sadly, fascination has not led to respect as whales have been exploited and needlessly hunted down - some species to the point of extinction.
In waking life, whales are associated with intelligence, love and grace. But what do whales symbolize in dreams+ Below are some ideas.
Unconscious and Intuition
As creatures who thrive in the deep waters of the ocean, whales may represent deep emotions. They may also symbolize one's own intuition. The emotional energies that most people associate with whales are typically those of kindness, love, and protection. In dreams whales may be standing in for these emotions; they may symbolize that you are entering into a peaceful time in your life, or that you are getting more in touch with your intuition. Congratulations!
Whales seem to be associated with maternal energy and in waking life they are, in fact, caring, attentive mothers. Whales can be symbolic of pregnancy - literal pregnancy or symbolic pregnancy such as being pregnant with ideas or bursting with creativity. Again, these are powerful symbols of the unconscious and the intuition so it would be wise to pay careful attention to the ideas that are coming up at this time.
One of the most heart-wrenching sights is that of a beached whale. It is to the credit of the human race that we respond to these beautiful animals and work hard to save them when they wash on shore. Is there a beached whale in your dream? If so, it may symbolize something precious, something rare and special that you feel is in danger and which you feel unable to save. It may also symbolize general feelings of powerless or helpless. Or the beached whale may be representing feelings of alienation - of being out of one's element.
Swallowed by a Whale
When viewed symbolically, the Biblical account of Jonah being swallowed by a whale is a remarkable tale of the rebirth and integration one can achieved by going deep into one's psyche. In the story, Jonah is initially reluctant to do what God/dess wants him to do and tries to escape by ship. The sea, however, storms until the sailors, who ascertain that Jonah is the cause of the bad weather, throw him overboard whereupon Jonah is swallowed by a whale and spends three days in its belly before being regurgitated on the seashore.
This story shows that our unconscious and intuition are often sending messages, often giving us information that we often ignore. Often we know the path we should take or the decisions we need to make but fail to do so because we fear the path will be too difficult to follow. The Jonah story shows that we cannot escape ourselves - the unconscious (represented by the stormy sea) will continue to pursue us, sometimes wreaking havoc, until we face ourselves. By doing the deep work of integrating all the parts of ourselves, even those parts we may consider less than pleasant, we can be reborn into people who are more powerful, more individuated, capable of more than we ever dreamed possible.
If there are whales being hunted in your dream, the dream may symbolize feelings of victimization or exploitation - feelings that someone is preying upon your best qualities to further their own purposes while giving you nothing in return. The dream may also represent an unhealthy work situation where you feel you are giving your all but receiving no recognition or are not being adequately compensated for your efforts.
Human beings sometimes pervert the beauty of the whale into an insult, calling people they believe are overweight "whales". Dreaming of a whale can therefore symbolize uncomfortable feelings about one's own body. Women are often fed images through the media about what beauty is - images that are completely unrealistic and actually abnormal. Remember that dreams are report cards about what one feels about one's self - they are not necessarily indications of what is actually true in waking life. It may be time to re-evaluate the image that you have of yourself and begin to love yourself for the rare, special being that you are!
Until next time, sleep well and dream out loud!
*~Aisling Ireland~* is an ordained Spiritual Counselor providing dream interpretation and Tarot readings. To make an appointment check out her website at: web.mac.com/aisling.ireland
For more extensive information on animals in dreams, you might be interested in the links below. Animal Life in Nature, Myth and Dreams show the relationship between animals in nature and in our consciousness and in the unconscious. Medicine Cards is an oracle to help you work with and develop a relationship to animals that appear in dreams, or with which you have a special affinity.