Dream dictionaries are a tool to help you interpret the images, scenarios, and actions you encounter in your dreams. Dictionaries on dreams usually include a specific image or action as a heading: all the different variations of the dream in are listed underneath, along with a raft of possible interpretations you could draw from different combinations of dream elements. You can find dream dictionaries in book form or – more commonly in our wired age—as online databases with contributions from hundreds of professional and amateur dream interpreters. Books and websites on dream interpretation tend to be informal, and many psychologists don’t consider the dream interpretations offered by these sites to be psychologically accurate. However, informal dream dictionaries can still be a great place to start if you want to interpret your dreams but are confused and unsure about what they might mean.
Dream dictionaries will often include traditional interpretations of some common dreams; these interpretations tend to be prophetic, religious or spiritual in nature. Sites that mostly discuss psychic phenomena and spirituality usually emphasize the spiritual, prophetic, or mystical sides of dreams, and sometimes help visitors detect spiritual messages in their dreams. The meanings of dreams can vary widely depending on the cultural lens you use to interpret them: a Christian dream interpretation site would interpret a snake dream much differently than a Buddhist or Hindu site, for example. When looking at a traditional interpretation of your dream, it might help to ask yourself if the interpretation fits with the tone of your dream.
More and more, online dream dictionaries are focusing on the psychological underpinnings of dreams, and offering people psychological explanations for their content. In my opinion, the best dream interpretation sites leave dream meanings open-ended: instead of dictating a specific interpretation for your dream, these sites try to give you as much information about what your dream might mean as possible, and leave the definitive interpretation up to you. Alongside their general dreams database, well-organized sites will include quick-reference categories like common dreams, nightmares, recurring dreams, and lucid dreams. Dream interpretation databases tend to be huge, and the best sites are those that organize their dream themes both alphabetically by first letter and using categories such as Animals, People, Places, Colors, Feelings, etc. This cross-referencing makes it easier to find your dream theme, and perhaps do a little browsing of related themes along the way to give you ideas for interpretation.
Online dream dictionaries can stand alone, or be part of a more comprehensive site devoted to the exploration and discussion of dreams. Many dream interpretation sites will include a sidebar or page of helpful articles related to dream interpretation, such as current psychological theories of dreams, traditional understandings of dreams, and the history of dream interpretation. Websites that offer tips and instructions on how to lucid dream also often include a database of dream themes and interpretations on the site; it has been proven that paying attention to the content of your dreams can be a booster to achieving lucid dreams. You can also find dream forums where visitors can post a description of their dreams and receive feedback from other visitors about what they might mean. The more comprehensive sites will give you a wide range of nuanced dream interpretations to choose from, and if you use a forum for inspiration, you can check people’s offered interpretations against a range of possible meanings in the database.
Dream dictionaries can be helpful if you’ve decided to interpret your dreams but aren’t sure where to start. They can suggest possible meanings that have been associated with your dream, and forums can give you feedback from other people who are interested in dream work. If you consult an external resource like a dictionary, database or forum for dream interpretation, it usually works best when you stop to consider if a given interpretation resonates with you and your life. Dream interpretation is ultimately an individual task, but a framework such as a dictionary can provide you with the map to chart your dream’s meaning.