The meaning of the dream symbol: Sand

The complex symbolism of Sand refers to the transient impermanence of being. Moreover, sand may be indicative of the dualism of the microcosm and the macrocosm, representing simultaneously, a single grain of sand and a mighty desert. Additionally, the diverse illustration of comfort offered by a beach and the sudden violence of a sandstorm, both pertain to this enigmatic dream imagery. Accordingly, we need to interpret our interaction with, and manipulation of, the dream sand, in order to understand how its multifarious and elusive nature may figure into our current waking circumstance and/or predicament.


The symbolism of sand derives from its innumerable grains. The Buddha taught that past ages ‘were more in number than the grains of sand from the source to the mouth of the Ganges (Samyutta-nikaya 2: 178). A similar idea occurs in Joshua 11: 4. The ritual heaping of ‘sand-mountains’ in Cambodia - clear surrogates for the ‘central mountain’ - is also linked to the symbol of the multitude, the grains of sand being the numbers of sins for which forgiveness is sought or years of life asked to be enjoyed.

The handfuls of sand ritually scattered in some Shinto ceremonies stand for rain, which is yet another form of a symbol of plenty. In special circumstances, Islam uses sand instead of water for ritual ablution. It is a cleansing agent since it flows like water and burns like fire.

Shifting and penetrable, sand adopts the shapes of the bodies resting in it and in this respect is a womb symbol. The enjoyment received from walking or lying upon sand or from burying oneself in it - so clearly marked on resort beaches - is unconsciously akin to what the analysts term regressus ad uterum. It is effectively a quest for rest, safety and regeneration.

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