Dreaming is possibly one of the most mysterious and mystical aspects of the natural human experience — but it feels even more strange when you have dreams about ghosts or other supernatural phenomena. The inherent mystery of our dream lives (and scientists' inability to explain virtually anything about why we have them) naturally lends itself to the paranormal, so it’s valid to wonder whether spirits can actually contact you through your dreams or if dreaming about ghosts has any significant meaning.
Even if you don't believe in spirits supernaturally contacting you in your slumber from beyond the grave, it's still interesting to know what it means to dream about ghosts as far as our subconscious goes. During a dream state, we've left our conscious and rational mind behind, so we may be more open to metaphors and spiritual symbolism. So while dreaming about a ghost can definitely be spooky, it might simply be your subconscious trying to tell you something — and a little self-reflection and dream interpretation work can help you figure out exactly what that message is.
“Dreaming about a ghost tends to refer to unfinished business you need to deal with because it is ‘haunting‘ you," dream expert Theresa Cheung, author of Night Vision: A Field Guide to Your Dreams, tells Bustle. If there's ghost imagery in your dreams, try to dig deep and figure out if there are any loose ends that need tying up in your life that might be weighing on your subconscious.
However, some spectral dreams might feel more realistic than your average nightly visions. If a ghost makes an appearance in your dream and it feels extra vivid, take note — because many psychics and dream experts believe that ghosts can actually visit us in the astral plane of our dreams to send us messages. Dreaming of ghosts could be more meaningful (and real) than you'd think.
Can Ghosts Actually Visit Your Dreams?
While dreaming about a ghost may simply be your subconscious reminding you that you need to wrap up some unfinished business, some psychics believe it's possible to experience a visit from an actual spirit during a dream — especially if the dream experience feels more vivid and hyper-real than it usually would. It’s believed that ghosts can visit people in dreams to deliver messages, warnings, or just to make contact. This makes sense, as one might be more receptive to a message from a spirit in a dream state than they would be in a waking state. (I mean, if I saw a ghost in my waking life, there's definitely a chance I'd freak out rather than peacefully listen to what they had to say.)
So what happens if you think you’re dreaming about ghosts, but don’t know whose spirit is there? "Dreaming about a ghost that you’ve never met in real life could be an indication that there is a spirit in your home," says Renée Watt, professional psychic and host of the The Glitter Cast. If you encounter a spirit in a dream and you feel uncomfortable or scared by their presence, try to summon love, not fear — then send them off by letting them know they're not invited to enter your space. "Simply ask the entity to leave and never visit again once you’ve woken up," Watt says. This should be enough to cut off any attachments and discourage them from visiting you again.
Dreams About Passed Loved Ones
While dreaming of an unknown spirit is one thing, dreaming of a loved one who has passed away can be much more emotional. Having dreams about the ghosts of people you actually knew is actually quite common, and these also known as visitation dreams. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer E. Shorter defines visitation dreams as "striking emotionally intense dreams in which a recently deceased loved one returns to provide guidance, reassurance, and/or warning." These dreams aren't necessarily paranormal in nature, and may be created by our subconscious to help us heal from the pain of loss or make peace with lingering heartaches.
"If you dream of the ghost of a departed loved one and it feels realistic and vivid, this is highly therapeutic," Cheung says. "A lot of people are not able to say a final goodbye to loved ones who've died, [so] the dreaming mind is helping to establish a healing spiritual connection.” Visitation dreams can serve as a heart-soothing opportunity to find some closure around a loved one's death.
But it’s also possible that some visitation dreams are more than just one of our brains’ subconscious healing tools. Some psychics believe that dreaming about ghosts of our loved ones may actually be a way for our spirits to connect with each other in a dream space, between worlds — which can be just as healing. "When we dream about loved ones who have crossed over, it’s almost always them visiting us," Watt says. "However, I don’t like to wait around for a visitation — if I am missing one of my grandparents, I will usually invite them to enter my dream world before I fall asleep."
If you're seeking a spectral encounter within your dreams, you may be able to manifest it, according to Watt. "Setting dream intentions to meet with someone who is no longer on this physical plane is a great way to keep that connection alive," Watt says. Practicing astral projection techniques and deep meditations before going to sleep can be a great way to start building trans-dimensional connections.
So... What Does It All Mean?
Because scientists still don't know why we have dreams, it's easy to project our most mystical fantasies on to them and read deeply into the meaning of our subconscious’ symbolic visions. Whether you believe you're making real contact with the spirit world or simply exercising an over-active imagination, dreams about ghosts can be healing and helpful tools. Are they slightly spooky tools? Sure. But if you experience one, then it’s worth opening your mind to the possible meanings.
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