Dear Claire,

A woman I work with asked for a dream interpretation. She dreamed that she was hunting a lion, and then she killed the lion. She said that, in real life, her husband hunts all of the time and planned on going hunting in the morning; but she, herself, doesn’t hunt at all. Also, there are no lions in this area. I asked her how she felt in the dream, and she said that she was very scared at first, but then relieved and happy when she killed the lion. She has had this dream before and would like to know what this dream means. Thank you.

In psychology and literature, feline animals (which include lions) are most often symbols of power, dominance, freedom, territorialism, danger, courage, pride, protection, and predatory aggression. Lions, especially, serve as symbols for predatory behavior – yet, they also symbolize courage (think The Wizard of Oz!), self-confidence, and protection. As one of nature’s most dangerous and powerful predators – yet, also one of its greatest protectors – it is small wonder that the lion has earned the title “King of the Jungle.”

However, before trying to interpret this dream, the dreamer must first decide what meaning she personally associates with the lion in this hunting scenario. For example, was the lion in the dream associated with a feeling of protection – or was it threatening and extremely territorial? Was it associated with beauty and power – or with danger and fear?

What is interesting is that, in the above dream, the roles of predator and prey are reversed. The dreamer, while afraid, is the aggressor; and what would traditionally be the predator – the lion – is now the prey. The fact that the dreamer is frightened until she kills the lion would indicate that the lion is not a symbol of protection, self-confidence, or courage – but rather a symbol of predatory behavior, threat, or dominance. Again, when asked how she felt, the dreamer stated that she was “scared at first, but then relieved and happy when she killed the lion.” Unless she had recently visited a zoo, or fell asleep watching some wildlife documentary, this is most likely symbolic of her desire to fight or conquer some aggressor or predator in her waking life, or it could be symbolic of a victory or fight with an aggressor which has already taken place.

In order to fully and correctly interpret this dream’s message, the dreamer must first identify and/or acknowledge who the predator/aggressor in her waking life would be. It is very probable that this predator/aggressor plays a central role in the dreamer’s life; for example, a significant other or a supervisor, because this person is depicted in her dream as “The King of the Jungle.”

Furthermore, since the dream lion was male, the predator/aggressor in her life would, most likely, be a male, as well. As for the dreamer becoming the huntress in this dream, this would probably be her subconscious mind’s way of expressing her desire to end oppressive and/or predatory treatment in her life or would be reflective of her desire to shift from feeling powerless to feeling powerful. Added to that, the fact that she mentioned that her husband hunts appears to be significant, as well, especially considering that she has had this dream more than once. It could be that some of her husband’s behavior may have prompted the dream, or it could simply be that her husband’s planned hunting trip prompted the dream. It is up to the dreamer to decide what the appropriate meaning of this connection may be. It may mean very little – or it could be the key to everything.

When contacted, the writer who requested the interpretation stated that the lion was most likely the co-worker’s husband because the husband was rather abusive and domineering, and the co-worker had been planning to leave the relationship. While the writer admitted that she did not feel comfortable discussing this with her co-worker, she stated that she felt that she had enough information to enable the co-worker to understand the dream and draw her own conclusions.

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