Dreams about rats are a common theme at bedtime. If you or a loved one has been covering this ground at night, you may have questions about what it all might mean. As part of a Huffington Post series on dreams and their meanings, we spoke to Cathleen O'Connor, Ph.D., author of "The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary," to get expert advice about the meanings of your or your loved one’s dreams about rats. Note: While dream analysis is highly subjective, this post might provide some insight into why this dream occurred or is recurring.
What do dreams about this subject mean? Before determing what your rat dream means, you must first ask yourself what you associate with rats, says O'Connor. Are you afraid of them or do you think they're cute? "Rats are seen by many people as pests that carry disease or cause other problems so they have many negative connotations," she notes. "Yet rats are also survivors, able to withstand harsh environments and highly intelligent. The meaning will evolve from both your association with the qualities of rats as well as what is going on in your current life."
What can I learn about myself from dreaming about rats? "The first thing to think about is whether you or someone you know is behaving unethically in a situation in your life," suggests O'Connor. "You often hear the expression that someone is a 'rat,' meaning he is untrustworthy or has betrayed someone." Alternatively, a rat in your dream could represent feeling like you're caught in a maze somewhere in your daily life.
Are there any tricks to avoiding or inducing dreams about this subject? If you fear rats, set the intention of waking up in a dream if a rat appears. "This is a technique known as lucid dreaming," she says. "In a lucid dream, you can notice you are dreaming and take control of the dream events and overcome your fears." If you want to dream about rats, then visualize rats before falling asleep.
Beyond analysis, what cultural symbolism can be found in dreams about rats? "In Chinese culture, the first symbol of the zodiac is a rat and people born in a rat year are said to possess the positive qualities, including creativity and intelligence, of a rat," explains O'Connor. "In Hindu tradition, rats are associated with the god Ganesh, who is worshiped as the remover of obstacles. In some Native American traditions, rats are symbols of survival and lack of fear." Dreamers from these various cultural traditions may find a different meaning from those in a traditional western culture.
Who tends to have dreams about this subject most frequently? According to O'Connor, rat dreams do not affect one swath of the population more than another.
Does it mean anything if the rat is dead in my dream? Dreaming about a dead rat may mean you're overwhelmed or frightful about a situation in your real life. It could also represent letting go of a relationship, especially if that relationship involves betrayal. "In that case, the dream is letting you know that the situation has come to an end," notes O'Connor.
Cathleen O'Connor holds a doctorate in metaphysics and is author of "The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary." In addition to her work as a dream analyst and author, O'Connor is a keynote speaker and entrepreneurial coach. She enjoys inspiring others to act on their most cherished dreams and create lives of joy, fulfillment and success.