The meaning of the dream symbol: Flood

1. Water may symbolize the unconscious. Identify the source of the threat and make some sort of pact with it whereby its demands for expression can be met in a way that will increase the well-being of the total psyche.

2. Water may be a feminine symbol, and the threatening flood may be your mother or your attachment to mother, who/which may be hampering your individual development.

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3. Flood-water is destructive but also fertilizes and makes new growth possible. (Myths of a flood are universal; and they always represent a purging that prepares the way for something better.) The flood in your dream, therefore, may signify both a need for personal reconstruction and that the only way your new and true self can come into existence is through the 'death' of the old self - or, rather, of those things (negative attitudes, lopsidedness or whatever) that have been hindering the unfolding of your true self. Flood-water may be compared with the waters of baptism.

To recognize the symbolic significance which floods have taken in tradition and myth is not to deny their occurrence as historical events. Of all natural disasters, floods stand out by their lack of finality. They are ‘pre-eminently the sign of growth and regeneration. A flood destroys simply because the “forms” are old and worn out, but it is always followed by a new humanity and a new history’. This suggests ‘the idea of humanity returning to the water whence it had come, and the establishment of a new era and a new humanity’. This may be likened to the sinking of whole continents beneath the waves, like the geographical myth, or even, perhaps, to the reality of Atlantis. Floods are often linked to human sinfulness, be it moral or ritual, actual sin or failure to obey rules and regulations. Like baptism, floods purify and regenerate and are like vast collective baptisms determined, not by human conscience but by a higher and almighty one. Floods display what human life may be worth to a ‘mind’ other than a human mind: from the ‘point of view’ of water, human life is something fragile that must periodically be engulfed, because it is the fate of all forms to be dissolved in order to reappear.

The Biblical Flood was adapted within the context of Irish creation mythology to symbolize the boundary between prehistory and history. Only primordial man, Fintan, escaped it. Fie reached Ireland ‘on the back of a wave’ and slept for several centuries upon a sandy beach before imparting to the wise men of Ireland all the traditional lore of which he had been the guardian.