The meaning of the dream symbol: Axe

If you are being chased by someone with an axe then they are trying to break the connection that you have had.

  • Breaking problems down into a manageable size.
  • Something is getting the chop or needs to be disconnected.
  • Cut off the negative around you.

Quick as lightning, the axe falls and shears. It crashes down and sometimes strikes sparks. Doubtless these make all cultures associate the axe with thunder - and hence with rain - and make it a fertility symbol. There are many examples of the development of this basic symbol along these lines.

The Maya and contemporary American Indians, the Celts and T'ang Dynasty Chinese all called stone axes ‘thunder stone’ and all said that they fell from Heaven. Similarly, the Dogon and Bambara from Mali say that thunderbolts are axes which the water- and fertility-god hurls down to Earth from the sky. This is why stone axes are kept in shrines dedicated to this god and used in seasonal rites and rain-making ceremonies. They are also buried at seedtime so that the fertilizing powers with which these stones are endowed may set germination in train.

Since they have the power to bring rain, stone axes have the power to make it stop if it rains too much, or at least that is what another African people, the Azende, claims. In a number of legends current among Cambodians and the Montagnards of southern Vietnam, the axe, as the weapon of thunder, is the emblem of power. By opening up and piercing the Earth it symbolizes the latter’s fertilization by its marriage with Heaven. An axe cutting into the bark of a tree is a symbol of spiritual penetration, of going to the heart of the mystery, as well as being an implement of release.

Although, in the iconography of Shiva for example, the axe may become a symbol of wrath and destruction, this may remain a positive role, with its destructive powers applied to maleficent influences.

Through a sort of antonym which often occurs in the evolution of a symbol, what divides can also unite. This apparently is the case in an age-old and important Chinese custom which connects the axe with wedding ceremonies. The young man and woman were only allowed to marry, on the principle of exogamy, if they belonged to different families; for more important even than its reproductive function, marriage served to unite such families. In the distant past this alliance came about through diplomatic channels which necessitated the employment of a herald as a sort of go-between. His emblem was the axe with which he stripped the twigs from two logs of wood and tied them into faggots. The motif of the bundle of faggots constantly recurs in wedding hymns.

This ambivalence of function is concretized in the twin-bladed axe which is at one and the same time destroyer and protector. Its symbolism is linked with death-life duality and the duality of opposing and complementary forces and associates the double-headed axe with the caduceus, the vajra of the Hindus, Thor’s hammer and the two natures within the one person of Christ.

What divides is also what separates.

Separation and discernment are also the powers of differentiation, specifically expressed in Greek mythology when an axe-blow split Zeus’ skull and out sprang Athene. To the psychologist, this is ‘the intervention of the social environment upon the individuative, introspective consciousness, an external intervention essential to the creation of the individual.’

Mankind’s earliest combined weapon and tool, ‘the axe is a focus of integration, the manifestation of something permanent, of a stored lightning charge. The word itself seems to have its links with “axis”, so that the prehistoric axe might be the focus of the world of experience - the axis’.

Lastly the axe embedded in the tip of a pyramid or of a pointed stone cube, of which seventeenth-century Masonic documents furnish so many examples, has been interpreted in many different ways. In the light of the foregoing, however, it may be understood quite clearly as the opening of the kernel, of the casket, of the secret or of the skies. That is to say, as the final rite of initiation which brings awareness and partakes of enlightenment. The blade of the stone axe has struck a spark.

Photo Gallery: