The meaning of the dream symbol: Salt

Salt may symbolize something that will give zest to your life. But it may mean whatever you personally associate with it (e.g. 'rubbing salt into a wound', 'salt of the earth’, purging, cleansing).


In the dream sense, salt may represent added flavor and a new found flare in the experience of life. Moreover, in the biblical sense, salt is symbolic of the greatest stature of life itself. Hence, the salt of the earth, represents the very pinnacle of creation. Accordingly, in a dream, salt may refer to increased zest and vigor in ones life and an elevated sense of individual worthiness. The dream may also refer to our truth, dedication and creativity in every day life.


The different aspects of the symbolism of salt arise from the fact that it is produced by the evaporation of sea-water, being, as de Saint-Martin says, ‘fire, born of water, both its quintessence and its opposite’. It was with the help of the salt which he had drawn from the primeval waters which he ‘churned’ with his spear that Izanagi called into being Onogorojima, the first central island. By a reverse process, a grain of salt dropped into and melted in water is a Tantric symbol of the reintegration of the ego into the Universal Self. Salt is both a preservative of food and a corrosive of materials and, as a symbol, is applicable ‘to the laws of both physical and moral and spiritual transformation’ (Devoucoux). Christ’s apostles are like ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5: 13), being possessed naturally of its strength and flavour, but also of its powers of preservation against corruption. This is undoubtedly the very quality to which may be attributed its use as a cleansing agent in Shinto. When Izanagi returned from the Kingdom of the Dead, he was purified in salt sea-water. The cleansing and protective properties of salt are used in everyday Japanese life as well as in Shinto, and gathering salt is hedged around with important ceremonies. Salt set in small heaps at the entrance to houses, on the rims of wells, at the corners of the wrestling ring or scattered on the ground after funerals has the power to cleanse objects and places which may accidentally have become defiled.

Salt is a basic seasoning and physiologically essential to food.

By combining, and hence neutralizing, two complementary substances, in addition to being their end product, salt is shaped in cubic crystals. This is the root of its Hermetic symbolism. Salt is the product and the balance of the properties of which it is composed. The notion of ‘mediation’ expressed in the crystals is linked to that of ‘crystallization’, solidification and stability.

Salt may, however, have a quite contrary symbolic meaning and be the very opposite of fertility. Mystics sometimes compare the soul to soil sprinkled with salt, or by contrast to soil made fertile by the dew of grace. William of St Thierry, inspired by Psalm 107: 34, speaks of ‘removing the salting brought by the former condemnation’. The soil is barren, William was to add, quoting Jeremiah 17: 6, because it was a salt land. All that has been salted is bitter: salt water is therefore a water of bitterness by contrast with the fresh water which fecundates.

We have already observed that in Japan salt (shio) is regarded as a powerful cleaning agent, especially in the form of sea-water. The oldest Japanese Shinto scripture, the Kojiki, provides a mythological explanation for this. The great kami, Izanaki-no-Mikoto, became defiled when he attempted to see his wife once more in the Kingdom of the Dead. He therefore went and cleansed himself in Tachibana, an inlet in the island of Kyushu. His name and that of his wife mean ‘those who engage in mutual seduction’. Some Japanese scatter salt daily on the thresholds of their homes as well as throughout the house once a hated visitor has left it. Sumo wrestlers sprinkle it over the ring before a bout as a sign of purification and in order that the bout shall be fought according to the rules.

Salt was a symbol of friendship and hospitality to the Ancient Greeks, as it was to the Children of Israel and is to Muslims, because it is shared; and a symbol of a binding promise, because it is indestructible. Homer bears witness to its divine nature and its use in sacrifice.

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