How to Spot a Dream That’s From Spirit

I recently had the following question from a student of my Intuitive Awakening Course. I wanted to answer it publicly in case it is helpful for someone else, too:

“In your course, you teach that Spirit can send us messages & guidance through dreams. Last night I dreamt that my neighbours caught 3 foxes, tied them to a tree and knocked on my door to show me. When the neighbours went inside, I went into their garden and cut the foxes loose.”

How do I interpret this dream?” 

Firstly, remember that not all dreams are spiritual in nature or worthy of interpretation. In my experience, dreams fall broadly into two categories — spiritual dreams and non-spiritual ones, and you need to work out which type your dream is before you bother interpreting it. In this article I’m going to explain each type & how you can recognise which one it is.

So, let’s have a look at the first type:

1. Non-Spiritual Dreams

I recently read an interesting book ‘Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams’ by neuroscientist Matthew Walker, which explains that humans need sleep partly so we can hash out and process the emotional experiences of our day (and he backs this up with scientific evidence, although I have only remembered the conclusion he drew and not how he arrived at that conclusion). In particular, Walker makes the case that we dream in order to process the negative emotions and experiences, like anger, disappointment or rejection to give a few examples.

Sometimes dreams are simply ’emotional processing’ dreams. These are the dreams often make no sense — they usually appear to lack meaning or feel a bit chaotic. Sometimes emotional processing dreams are rich in symbolism but the symbolism can feel too contrived/cryptic for any interpretation. Sometimes this is simply a ‘stress dream’ where something distressing or challenging is happening in your dream.

An example of this sort of dream would be one where you get chased by stray dogs and you have to outrun them to survive. If you ponder this dream, you may find that the the stress and panic you felt in your dream felt similar to the stress and pressure you’ve been feeling at work lately. So the dream could simply be a way of reliving and processing how you have been feeling.

Another type of non-spiritual dream is the dream which contains a message from the subconscious mind…

Messages From The Subconscious Mind

The dream my student described above about tied up foxes would probably fall into this category.

The subconscious, when we’re asleep, often attempts to find solutions to our problems, or it may just hash out and consider difficulties and dilemmas that we’re going through (but in a more meaningful way than the emotional processing dream). These difficulties or dilemmas are often outside of our conscious awareness. The subconscious contains many messages for us about our lives, our unmet needs, our unfulfilled or forgotten desires, our unacknowledged feelings, and the hidden dynamics of our relationships. A dream from the subconscious differs from the emotional processing dream in that it contains clear and often very clever symbolism which appears to make much more sense than in a processing dream.

In the example of the dream given above about the foxes, this dream could be telling my student that there is an element of her primal/wild/animal nature (sex life?) which she feels someone else is trying to control, and she wants to set it free.

Another interpretation could be that there is some other aspect of the dreamer in question which someone else is trying to keep in a cage — for example, perhaps the dreamer is working a job that she hates and feels trapped in, but her partner has been encouraging her to stay in it, because it is so well paid.

Of course either of these interpretations could be completely wrong, and it depends on what resonates with the dreamer in question. In order to make meaning of the dream, the student would probably also need to work out what the neighbours in the dream symbolise for her, as they were the people who tied the foxes up in the first place.

2. Spiritual Dreams

The second type of dream is the spiritual dream. Spiritual dreams can fall into a few different sub-categories. Let’s look at the first one:

Visitation Dreams

This is a common type of spiritual dream, and it is when you are visited by a deceased loved one, a guide or an angel while you are asleep and in the astrals. How can you recognise a visitation dream? You will usually know it when a deceased loved one comes to visit you in a dream because you will feel deeply impacted by the experience — often a deceased loved one will send you some loving energy in the dream and this sense of love may stay with you for hours or days after you wake up.

Angels can also pass on positive energies to us in dreams or affect us energetically in our dream state, and I believe that if you meet an angel in your dream, again, you will know it upon waking.

I describe an encounter with an angel in this article: Angels Defined & How They Can Help You:

“I met an angel in my dream spontaneously. I dreamed that I was waiting in line to buy a ticket at the local coach station. There was a woman right in front of me, with her back to me. In the dream, she turned around and looked me in the eye and said ‘you go in front of me’ and smiled. Looking into her eyes, it was clear that she was an Angel. A wave of emotion swept me and I felt very nurtured and loved. The eyes of the Angel were kind and gentle but also the kind of gaze that burns when you look at it. I woke up deeply moved from my dream and that feeling lasted for hours.”

Sometimes visitation dreams can also be healing dreams, where you meet a celestial being and wake up feeling healed or reinvigorated in some significant way.

Now let’s look at another type of spiritual dream:

Spiritual Insight Dreams

In this type of dream, you receive a message from Spirit and it is clarifying something for you or advising you in some way — sometimes the dream can contain a word, a symbol or a song lyric that is highly relevant to a problem you are working out in your life.

Spiritual insight dreams can sometimes look like messages from the subconscious, in that both types of dream are often rich in symbolism, but the difference with a ‘spiritual insight’ dream is that these almost require no interpretation — these come complete with an interpretation to the dream, within the dream. So, the key difference between the two is that the symbolism in spiritual insight dreams will be crystal clear, whereas subconscious dreams can sometimes require more pondering.

To give an example of a ‘spiritual insight’ dream, a client (who was being slowed down and hindered by a situation in her life that she was too afraid to address for fear of hurting someone,) dreamt of having water filled blisters on the soles of her feet that stopped her from walking easily. When she looked at the little blisters, she could see they contained a man’s face (it was the face of a friend of hers) and she didn’t want to hurt him by walking on the blisters, but in the dream she could not move forwards  or walk properly as a result.

She woke up knowing that this man she saw in the blisters was taking advantage of her good nature, and she wanted to cut him loose. She did not need to interpret that dream or ponder it — she woke up knowing exactly what it meant, and had a strong sense of what she needed to do next.

So, in conclusion, if you’re wracking your brains trying to work out what your dream and its symbolism means, it most likely does not come from Spirit.

When Spirit gives us messages in dreams, the symbolism is fairly easy to decode and you will wake up knowing what it means. It may even come with a song lyric, a sentence or a word that encapsulates the guidance of the dream, just to hammer it home for you.

Another way in which a spiritual insight dream is different from a subconscious dream, is that dreams from the subconscious will often be very concerned with your needs or your ego, whereas spiritual dreams constitute advice from your guides or angels, and as such they come from a higher and wiser place than the subconscious dreams. These dreams will see further and contain more wisdom than your average subconscious dream.

Let’s have a look at another type of spiritual dream:

Future Dreams

I talk about this type of dream in this article: Dreaming of the Future

Here’s an example of a future dream I detailed in the article:

“I recently heard about a precognitive dream in a true story about a Welsh artist – a single woman in her fifties – who owned a house in the city. But at night she kept dreaming of a beautiful house in the countryside. After having dreamt of this house several times, she painted it, with all the details that stood out in her dream.

Then a few months later, she met a man and fell in love.  He took her to spend the weekend in his home, which was in the North of England. She could not believe it when she saw his house – it was the house from her dream (and her painting) – right in front of her eyes, right down to the last detail.  She showed him the picture she had painted.  She later moved into that house with him.”

In future dreams, you’re shown what is likely to happen if you continue down a certain path, or you see an event from your future that you ‘just know’ will come to pass. Again, you may recognise a future dream because you wake up from it feeling emotionally impacted by what happened in the dream, or if you’re claircognizant, you “just know” that what happened in the dream will come to pass.

This type of dream is also usually from Spirit, and it can serve as a warning (i.e. if you keep eating doughnuts for breakfast, you’re going to develop diabetes). Or it can be a reassurance that you will reach a treasured goal or desire that you hold for yourself. These dreams — in my experience — are rather rare, and are not to be confused with stress dreams (i.e. you dream that your children were involved in a terrible accident, which may be a manifestation of an anxiety that you have about your children, rather than a future prediction.)

I hope that this isn’t too confusing with all the different types of dream that I have described here, and that this article might be helpful for any ‘spiritually switched on’ dreamers out there!

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. Ed Lawrence

    Can our Guides & Angels, Teach us, while we are sleeping? The past 4 Months, I’ve been receiving information, and it doesn’t surface, until I’m talking with a Person, and the Answer is Right there! I often don’t even know, how I knew to answer that question!


  2. Anna Sayce

    Hi Ed,

    Yes, they can!

  3. S.

    I like to call these my “Heaven” dreams and my “Human” dreams. I’m finding it easier to distinguish between them. Usually, anything that has fear or anxiety associated with it is a Human dream and I have to figure out the symbolism. I look at it as a fun puzzle to solve and they help me look at and release some of the worries and stress in my life.

    The Heaven dreams are usually more mystical, and sometimes appear as cartoon-like. I usually have a feeling of awe or reverence when I wake up. Like the one time I found Archangel Gabriel speaking to me through my shower, and then there was a Bird of Paradise in the bath. When my father was dying, he reported cartoon-like dreams too. I suspected he was being visited but didn’t know it. But he didn’t “believe” in the afterlife.

    The Visitation dreams are also very clear and definitive, but rare. My mother visited me twice after she died – one to explain her headspace when she was sick, and the other to let me know that she was back to her old happy self again. My father’s soul visited me for the first time 5 months before he died to warn me that it was coming (we already knew he was sick). But I thought it was amazing that we can have visitations with souls who are still incarnated! Usually the visitation dreams bring lots of emotions — sometimes sorrow, sometimes joy.

    I love it whenever I have “juicy” dreams — makes me feel more connected to the other dimensions. Thanks for this article, Anna. Good to know others have similar experiences.

  4. Sb

    Hi Anna, I constantly dream or astral travel with a guy I have a crush on is it a dream or are we hanging out together in the ether? I feel he could be my twin flame spiritually but not in reality. These dreams are powerful and have a lasting impression for days. Could he be having similar dreams? Thanks SB

  5. DELA

    Hi Anna,
    I lost a friend who was mentoring me to a sickness. Just about few months after his death, i had been dreaming of him. Often times in the dreams, he would try hugging me but then i’d always run from him.
    On one occasion, i allowed him and it felt so fulfilling. I asked him why he had to die and with smiles on his face, he tells me he still lives.
    I woke up feeling happy, scared and confused at the same time.
    what does this dream mean and why did i feel that way?

  6. Nanette

    Since my husband died 10 months ago I have been very distressed that he does not visit me in his dreams. Only once I dreamed he drove me to safety after a storm and then we were in an auditorium overlooking a sandy river bottom far below. Then he was gone and sitting in another section. I had the same dream previously before he died and woke fearful he was leaving me. Awake I sense his presence, hearing chords on my keyboard. And my cat will run to me even from another room and comfort me when I cry. Very unusual. I’m confused.

  7. Jennifer

    Last night, during the night when I was dreaming, or perhaps slightly awake, I heard my name being called. I wondered if it was my imagination so I asked if someone in spirit had said my name and was trying to reach me, I basically asked for a sign, a noise or to hear the voice again. Then there was a small crash as my mobile phone fell from my bedside onto the floor (I hadn’t been touching anything apart from the bed I was lying in). Then I slept again but as I was waking in the morning I heard my name again and also the name ‘Steve’. I feel as though someone is trying to tell me something and I would like to know how to get better at listening.

  8. Ingrid Lamprecht

    Hi Anna
    I have always found that my dreams seem very realistic, the reason being while I am “within” my dream, I still recall and think about things that happen/ed on a day-to-day basis and I always dream in colour. For instance during a dream I had, curtains were blowing into a room with a vase of flowers standing on a shelf and thinking to myself that I had better close the door or otherwise the curtains will knock over the vase, while thinking of a vase of flowers that I had put on my TV and promptly knocked over many years before. This is just one example, but I have many of these dreams where I am aware that this is a dream while I am still “engaging” with my life. I have had things in these dreams come to pass and only later on will I relate the meaning to an incident. I have had lots of dreams of my father (passed on) and being aware of my thought patterns and conclusions of what was taking place while still dreaming. I am a Reiki Practitioner and during the course my dreams were vivid and plenty, and during one recall in class I had a dream where, I believe, a higher being (God/Angel – not sure) spoke to me and told me “If the Light fits, wear it” – I was extremely greatful to have passed this on to the rest of my class, as this message was not only for me, but I felt it was meant for everyone that I was on this journey with. It had a huge impact on the class at the time.
    So – long-winded that I am, my question is this: Can you “train” yourself to dream of the future and receive answers to questions, or is it purely a “potluck” thing? I dream every night and always have recall in the morning, so this I consider a gift that I would like to expand on. I am clairsentient and slightly clairvoyant and cognizant.
    Thank you for your time and your very insightful articles!
    Regards Ingrid – South Africa

  9. Niki

    Hello. I continuously get information about a man since I’m 16 that one day I will meet with him, and we will get married. I was guided the whole time and moved to America from Europe, where I met with the man who I was dreaming for years. But when he met with me, he ignored the connection, and I learned that our paths will cross each other again, because right now he has some healing to do.
    Mostly I’m able to make difference between sub conscious and spiritual dreams, but right now I had a dream what I don’t know where to put.

    In my dream my future daughter came and got me and she took me to a lake with a dock. On the dock there was my son with him. And they explained to him that he and me are the parents and they want us to be together. He looked me surprised then he kissed me. Everyone wore formal clothes
    And I woke up. I wonder if it’s coming from spirit sent this and we both dreamt it or it’s just me.

    • Anna Sayce

      Hi Niki, sometimes these soul connections with a specific someone can be from past lives (e.g. something we’ve been involved with in the past, but not meant to be in this lifetime for whatever reason). That is not uncommon…I’ve seen it a lot. But only you can know if that applies or not.


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