What does my dream about war mean?

Once in a while, I like to blog with a term from my dream dictionary, Dream Sight (Llewellyn Press, February 2011).  Usually, a dream I have had or heard from another person inspires me to pick a specific term and post it.  Recently, several people have shared with me their dreams that are either about war or taking place in war.  And, of course, we are all in a battle with our selves every day of our lives.  It is my hope that though dream work, each of us can be on the winning side of our own personal wars and emerge from the fray with our dignity in tact, more self-aware and conscious of who we really are.

With that, here’s “War/Battle.”


Universal Landscape:  Shifting boundaries.

Dreaming Lens:  Were you in a battle?  How much danger were you in?  Were you connected with others on your side, or were you close to the enemy?  Were you advancing the front line, or attempting to damage the resources of your enemy?  Did you know the cause for which you were fighting?

Personal Focus:  The object of war is for one entity to obtain the land and/or resources of another.  Therefore, war in a dream indicates change on such a large scale that it can only be accomplished by the use of major force.  Our world is a set of organized boundaries we know as countries.  Our psyches are divided in a similar way.  These boundaries are, ultimately, fluid.  Things change—sometimes dramatically—which leaves us feeling vulnerable.  When the change is sudden and violent, the unconscious may use a dream of war to express the enormity of the internal shift that’s occurring.

There is a distinction between war and battle.  War implies an ongoing state of flux whereas battle is the actual shift taking place in a small increment of upheaval and change.  If you dream of being in wartime, then your life may reflect a grand cycle of transformation that is currently taking place.

Most people living in America have never experienced wartime, but to live under the threat of war is to be in constant, hyper-awareness of danger lurking just about everywhere.  If this is the case in your dream, look to where in life your defenses might be running on high.  If you dream of an actual battle, then the immediacy of the symbolism implies something much more current in your waking life.  Look to where changes in boundaries are eminent, both in your outside world as well as within, as many battles are with ourselves.

Generally speaking, there are two points of focus for modern war: one is to advance the front line in either direction, essentially shifting the land borders between countries.  This connects symbolically to the establishment of boundaries that we must carve out each and every day of our lives.  The greater intensity of the war in your dreams, the more intense the daytime conflict being expressed is likely to be.

The other focus of war is to destroy the resources of the enemy.  This has a more complex symbolism as it involves invasion and aggression; qualities which imply assumption and risk.  When this is the focus of your dream, know that you are in some dark and dangerous territory.   If you knew the cause you were fighting for, you must add this information to your interpretation.