The meaning of the dream symbol: Rope

The symbolism of a Rope represents help and the possibility of climbing to new summits in waking life. However, the dreamer may be referring to the tangibility of physical or emotional capture in the embodiment of a rope or lasso.
Broadly speaking, like trees, ladders and spider's webs, ropes are one of the ascension symbols, since they provide the means, as well as standing for the desire, to ascend. When knotted they symbolize chains or bonds of all sorts and possess hidden or magical properties.

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Varuna is generally depicted holding a rope, a symbol of his power to bind and loose.

In Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics a knotted rope denotes a person's name or a separate and individual being. It is the symbol of a stream of life reflected upon itself and. as such, constituting a person.

The Greeks had a legend of a cordwainer. Ocnos, a symbolic character depicted as plaiting a rope in the Underworld which a she-ass ate as fast as he plaited it. This was generally interpreted as being a symbol of a hard-working man (Ocnos) who had married an extravagant wife'. As in other instances, the rope symbolizes the punishment of Nemesis and it is possible to suggest that Ocnos' eternal plaiting of the rope eternally eaten by his wife, the she-ass. symbolizes the eternal punishment inflicted upon evil marriage-partners. Fortune is also often shown holding a rope, since she can bring life to an end by cutting the thread of existence at whim.

African witch-doctors use ropes as instruments for their magic and they are believed to become serpents, staves, fountains of milk and so on.

Central American civilizations regarded the rope as a divine symbol and, in Mayan and Mexican art, ropes hanging from the sky symbolize divine semen falling from Heaven to fecundate the Earth. This symbolism is echoed in the name of the month which ushers in the rainy season. In the Ancient Mexican calendar it was called Toxcatl, meaning ‘rope’ or ‘lasso’. Local fabrics continue the tradition of Mayan manuscripts by symbolizing rain as ropes. In Mayan architecture these ropes became slender columns.

The Chorti bury their dead with a rope to be used to fight off the wild animals to be encountered on the way to the Underworld.

In Shinto, the sacred rope is called the shimenawa, meaning ‘rice-straw rope’, from shime, ‘tightly-plaited’, and nawa, ‘rope’. This is, however, an abbreviation of the original name shirikumenawa, which meant ‘a straw rope plaited in such a way that the roots of the straw may be seen at either end’. It is set in holy places to keep out evil spirits and evil influences and to stop accident, injury or misfortune affecting the place as well. It is a protective symbol which the Japanese set on torri, in Shinto temples, on new buildings, on the rings where traditional Japanese sumo-wrestling matches take place and, during the week of New Year, at the doors of all houses. Since they are holy, the old shimenawa are burnt.

Northern wizards used to tie the winds which they controlled into a rope. A woodcut in Olaus Magnus' Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Rome, 1555) shows two sailors bargaining with a wizard standing upon a lonely rock in the sea, over his price for 'the rope with three knots which he holds in his hand and which contains the winds which he has tied up. By unpicking the first knot they would release a gentle west-southwesterly; by unpicking the second, a stiff northerly; but if they were to unpick the third then a most dreadful storm would follow'.

In the Koran, too, ropes are symbols of ascent, reminiscent of the rope the shaman or the oriental juggler throws into the air and uses to climb skywards.

'Yet how paltry it is to try to throw ropes into the air!' The Prophet's remarks about ropes contain a heavily ironic challenge. Heavenly ropes can only come from Heaven and, try as man may, he can never make them rise up from Earth. In other words, grace alone makes ascent into Heaven possible.