The meaning of the dream symbol: Rain

Is there a general grey tone to the dream? Then the rain probably symbolizes sadness, like tears, or depression.

Possibly the symbolism is of fertility; growth. Perhaps a new fruitful phase is opening in your life.


The archetypal symbolism of Rain pertains to psychological extinction, emotional purification and natural regeneration. As such, our unconscious illustrates the torrential skies as a tearful acceptance of death’s transformation into rebirth and the eternal cycle of renewal. Hence, we are continuously cleansed in the new, yet remembered, realizations of our psyche. Accordingly, rain in the dream sense, may refer to a harsh, yet emotionally beneficial, alteration in our waking life.


The I Ching teaches that from rain came the k’ien principle, the active celestial principle to which all manifestations owe their existence. The ideogram lin, used to denote celestial influences, comprises the ideogram wu, denoting magical incantations, together with three open mouths drinking in the rain of Heaven. This, of course, gives expression to the rites mentioned earlier, but their effects are felt in the realm of the intellect. Islamic esoterics say that ‘with every drop of rain God sends his angel.’ Apart from the special meaning which they give the phrase, its literal symbolism is obvious, as is also the comparison with the Hindu teaching that ‘subtle’ beings come down to Earth from the Moon, dissolved in drops of rain. This lunar rain also possesses the usual fertility symbolism and that of bringing back to life. If rain is grace, it is also wisdom. The Master Hui Neng taught that: ‘The Highest Wisdom, immanent in each individual’s nature, may be likened to the rain.’

If rain symbolism is usually very close to dew symbolism, it will be observed that in China they are sometimes opposed to one another, since the nature of rain is yin and that of dew yang. And yet both originate in the Moon. However, the fact that they work together is a sign of world harmony.

The Greek legend of Danae reveals how Heaven-sent rain makes the Earth fertile. To avoid all danger of her conceiving a child, Danae’s father imprisoned her in an underground room walled in bronze. Here she received a visit from Zeus, who had taken the shape of a shower of gold which seeped through a crack in the ceiling and made her pregnant. Here are closely linked the sexual symbolism of rain, regarded as semen, and the agricultural symbolism of plant growth, which needs rain before it can take place. The myth also contains reminders of the pairings of light and darkness, Heaven and Hell and gold and bronze, conjuring up those marriages of opposites from which spring all manifestation and fecundity.

In the Maya-Quiche languages water, rain and plants are equated and expressed by the same word.

While rain may be regarded as sperm or seed, it was also seen as blood, whence the beginnings of human sacrifice, fertility-rites characteristic of agrarian civilizations.

Itzamna, the Maya god of agriculture, is the self-proclaimed ‘substance of the skies, the dew from the clouds’.

In Maya-Quiche languages the word quic has the simultaneous meaning of ‘blood’, ‘resin’ and ‘sap’, as well as any human or animal liquid excretion which is assimilated to rain.

The Aztec rain-god, Tlaloc, was also the god of the thunderbolt and of lightning, ‘fire-rain’. Lightning, like rain, was recognized as having the same property of celestial semen. Tlalocan - Tlaloc’s Heaven - was the abode of those who had died by drowning or by lightning, the god himself being depicted with rings round mouth and eyes made of the bodies of two serpents. These serpents stand for both lightning and water.

The Peruvian Inca believed that rain was cast down from Heaven by the thunder-god, Шара, who drew the water from the Milky Way, the great celestial river.

The association of Moon and Water and Spring rains and purification is clearly shown in the ceremonies with which the Inca celebrated Coya Raimi, the festival of the Moon (22 September-22 October). This month marked the end of the dry season, and strangers, sick persons and dogs were driven out of the city of Cuzco before the ceremonies to call down the Spring rains began.

In India, a fertile woman is called ‘the rain’, that is the spring, of all prosperity.

Daughter of the clouds and the storm, rain brings together the symbols of Fire (lightning) and Water and also conveys that twofold sense of spiritual and physical fecundation. The part played by the rain is perfectly expressed in the Chandogya Upanishad. As it falls from the sky, rain also expresses the twofold blessing of the gods, in both spiritual and material terms.

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