This is the dream of a sixty-eight year old Harvard trained physician. He comments:

Two weeks after this dream I develop urethral colic and was diagnosed as having a kidney stone. For three weeks this painfully blocked my ureter and was spontaneously passed.


The representation here of the bodily situation by the dream is straightforward, and needs no further comment. It is interesting that that beginning of the dream specifically points to "body-surfing" -- a good clue that what follows does, indeed, pertain to the body. --- sparker


een the rocks and I actually

Swarms of insects

For some time before the onset of [a serious skin rash], I had an experience of seeing these very strange creatures appearing in my dreams... They seemed like visitors from somewhere else... They weren't human looking, except that they did seem to have heads and bodies, but it's more that they had something rather grotesque and alien about them.

On the night before the rash appearing, I had a vivid dream of these creatures flying in a swarm -- a huge swarm -- out of the kitchen. They were all white, and similar to locusts. Over the next few months I kept seeing them in my dreams.

Remarkably, one night I had a dream that all these creatures were dead -- their bodies shrivelled and their wings all dried up. The one one just lay there completely dead. I woke up feeling quite relieved that these creatures wouldn't trouble me anymore.

Jane was right. This was the last she saw of her illness. The creatures who invaded her dreams evidently represent the fungal infection, with their numbers possibly paralleling the number of spores....

Naturally, Jane did not know when the rash was about to start, or when it would finally vanish, but the dreams anticipated both, tracking its onset and returning to lurk as a reminder until the infection's departure.

The Hidden Power of Dreams, Dr. Robin Royston, Page 96


This is another dream continuing the anecdotal evidence that elements in dreams can represent diseases of the body. These images can be, in fact, the primary representation of the dream; i.e., futher symbolic interpretation is unnecessary and unwarranted. The coming and going of these dreams of alien insects parallels a fungal infection.

Interstingly, there is a also a well know parallel between feeling that the skin is crawling with insects and certain disease or drug withdrawal states:

Formication is the medical term for an abnormal sensation named after the feeling of insects crawling on or under the skin. It refers to a specific form of a set of sensations known as paresthesia, along with the more common sensation of "pins and needles" like prickling and tingling. The experience of formication may cause feelings of pain or trigger the scratch reflex. Those suffering from the sensation are at risk of causing skin damage through excessive scratching. Fixating on the sensation may lead to the development of delusional parasitosis in prone individuals, rendering them convinced that it is being caused by actual insects. In reality, formication is a well-documented symptom that has numerous potential causes.


Causes of formication include medical conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, skin cancer, syphillis, or herpes zoster as well as normal states such as menopause (i.e. hormone withdrawal). Formication can also sometimes be experienced during high fevers. Itching, tingling and formication ("the creeps") often occur when surfacing from a dive or during ascent to altitude (decompression sickness).

It can be a rare side effect of many prescription drugs such as Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (dextro/levo-amphetamine) and Lunesta (eszopiclone).

In addition, formication can be caused by the withdrawal component of substance abuse. It is a common side-effect of the extensive use of cocaine or methamphetamine, or the abusive use of amphetamines. Extreme alcohol withdrawal may also cause symptoms of formication, along with delirium tremens, and can often be accompanied by visual hallucinations of insects.

History of the term

Formication is etymologically derived from the Latin word formica, meaning "ant", precisely because of this similarity in sensation to that of crawling insects. The term has been in use for several hundred years. In the 1797 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, a description of the condition raphania includes the symptom:

...a formication, or sensation as of ants or other small insects creeping on the parts.

Described again in an instructional text from 1890:

A variety of itching, often encountered in the eczema of elderly people, is formication; this is described as exactly like the crawling of myriads of animals over the skin. It is probably due to the successive irritation of nerve fibrils in the skin. At times patients who suffer from it will scarcely be persuaded that it is not due to insects. Yielding to the temptation to scratch invariably makes the disease worse.

Wikipedia: Formication


Dream Interpretations from the web: "INSECTS":

To see ants in your dream, signify your general dissatisfaction in your daily life. You are feeling neglected and insignificant. Petty things will annoy you throughout the following day. You need to be more cooperative as this will be the only way to achieve your desires. The dream may also be a metaphor on feeling antsy or restless or it can be a pun on your "aunt".

Ants also symbolize hard work, diligence and industry. Increase business activities are expected. On a less positive note, ants symbolize social conformity and mass action. In this regard, you may feel that your life is too structured and orderly.

According to the biblical interpretations, ants symbolize diligence concerning the things of God. Despite its small size, the ant lays up substance during times of plenty. (Prov 30:25) TOP

Psychological Meaning: Insects symbolise the irritating minor nagging of the unconscious or daily life. You may have many irritating small problems that need to be dealt with. In Kafka’s book Metamorphosis (1912), the terrified sleeper wakes up to discover he has transformed into a bug. Kafka worked most of his life in office jobs that he hated. Symbolically this can represent how working life requires us to form a brittle shell which can eventually takes over the personality completely. Here are a few of the symbolic meanings of common insects: Ants: your life may be too orderly. Ants can represent social conformity. Bees: industry and work. Butterflies: the soul, spiritual transcendence. Flies: breakdown, putrefaction and perhaps guilt. Ladybugs: happiness at work. Locusts: lack of psychological nourishment, your creativity is being destroyed. Wasps: Angry thoughts and feelings.

Mystical Meaning: The ancient Egyptians worshiped the scarab beetle as a symbol of creation. In dreams, it can represent the soul. In some fairytales, insects are called in when things have become impossibly muddled. For example, they may be asked to separate grain mixed with sand or to remove gold dust from the grain. In dreams, they can represent precision and meticulous thinking


There's an insect in your ear, if you scratch it won't disappear. It's gonna itch and burn and sting, you wanna see what the scratching brings." ~ U2, "Staring at the Sun," Pop.

For creatures who are usually tiny, insects have gigantic effects on humans. Sometimes they affect our vision: "bugs" become "giant" to us when they exceed a length of more than an inch or two. Insects inspire both terror and devotion; for some they are sources of phobias, for others, a source of collection and study. For others, insects are a simply a source of irritation and annoyance. Below are some different ways in which insects may manifest in dreams and some links to more information on specific bugs that may have crawled, crept, or flown into your dream.

Insects in the Home

Rarely do we want insects in our homes as they are seen as disease-carrying invaders. Insects can be symbols of vulnerability not only due to their fragile nature, but also because of their ability to make us vulnerable via their bites, stings, and venom.

Houses in dreams are often symbolic of ourselves. Dream houses infested with dream bugs symbolize pretty much what they symbolize in waking life with the only different being that it is the self that is afflicted. They can be symbolic of an illness in the body or mind.

Word Play

The Philip Haas film, "Angels and Insects," made use of word play, secretly revealing the nature of two of the film's characters. Dreams also enjoy employing puns and word play to get their messages across. Is there something "bugging you?" Does it feel like you are being "stung to death" by an emotional wound? Insects are often described as "pests" - is there a person or situation in your like who fits that description?

Anger and Insects

Oftentimes, an angered insect is a stinging insect. Insects in dreams may symbolize your own angry emotions, your desire to hurt someone who you feel is harming you. Insects can may also symbolize frustration, a desire to strike out at someone or something over which you feel you have no control.


While insects normally carry a negative connotation, there is an amazing quality to these creatures - their ability to radical transform. Insects such as the butterfly become completely different creatures going from a lowly worm into an awe-inspiring life form. Other insects undergo similar transformations, but theirs are usually not so pretty. For example, tiny wriggling larvae found in stagnant waters morph into bloodsucking mosquitoes.

While we normally consider transformation a good thing, carefully consider what you are transforming into and ask if that being is really what you want to become.


Flies buzzing, wasps stinging, ants crawling, and gnats in need of swatting can detract from the enjoyment of the outdoors. In dream life insects may be symbolic of minor interferences you are allowing to get in the way of enjoying your life.

The burned out chest of drawers

About a day after this dream, it suddenly struck me that this was about my heart -- a chamber with four drawers, in the chest. I certainly felt burned and charred inside, and tests would show that my heart had been badly compromised and scarred. It was a depressing and discouraging dream. I can still vividly see that chest of drawers in my mind.

This was three years ago. Much to my surprise, and contrary to the image in the dream, I have made a strong recovery and am leading a normal life, in spite of an ejection fraction (the capacity of the heart to pump blood) reduced by 50%.

One of the people who heard this dream suggested that it could be about many different things; four, for instance, is a symbol associated with wholeness. Yes, but there is also a kind of an "aha" feeling when one hits the right meaning of the dream, a kind of emotional resonance that says, "Yes, that's it."

The dream is not prognostic however, nor is it the "truth". In this sense, while the dream may have represented the damage to the heart, it over-emphasized the darkness and damage; it was a dream also reflective of the anxiety. While it may have shown the subjective feeling about the heart attack, it did not necessarily indicate the objective reality.

Although the dream was not directly about "fire", this is the closest element that could be researched on the web. Here are some of the possibilities and associations to fire:

Fire and lightning mean intensity. If it were consciousness it would be light, but fire and lightning are chiefly energetic phenomena; that is, there is a great deal of libido in those figures, they are full of meaning, in other words.

Visions: notes of the seminar given in 1930 - 1934, C.G.Jung; p. 886


Pent up emotions, such as anger or rage could be the reason for dreaming of fire. In the dream if fire is strong and high, it could mean that the emotions are strong. If the fire is weak and not roaring, it could mean there is pent up emotion, but no to an overwhelming state.

Not being able to let it go and letting it build within is usually the dream of fire. Holding a grudge against something or someone could be the result. It could also mean that there is pain or fear in one’s life. Either could stem from relationship issues. Dreaming of fire could also mean that there is a lot of passion in a person’s life: usually sexual passion, not a passion for something. If the fire is large and roaring in the dream it could mean that the passion is very high.


Burning is a tremendous fear many people from many different cultures hold in common. However, it is often simultaneously associated with purification. To pass through fire intact is to see oneself as becoming purified. However, being burned may indicate that one perceives life as extraordinarily threatening and painful. If a particular object is on fire (house, car, etc.), this may symbolise over-commitment to it or fear of a world without it.

Freud found fire to be a symbol of male power. In this case, fire may indicate control over a circumstance or a struggle to feel that way, depending on whether the fire is controlled or not.

Do you question your own morality at times? Are you seeking cleansing from a bad experience? Do you perceive your own life is about to go through a significant transition that requires spiritual preparation.


Ancient mythology tells us that fire came to humanity not as a gift from the gods but as a spoil of an act of thievery. It was stolen from the god Zeus by the cunning Prometheus. Prometheus was rewarded for outsmarting Zeus by being chained to a rock and having his liver eaten daily by an eagle.

In mythology, fire was a complex symbol meaning far more than warmth and comfort. It was in fact, the very "means of life." Fire as a dream symbol is as complex as its mythology

Fire in dreams, especially fire that appears in the form of erupting volcanoes or irrepressible wildfires may symbolize emotions that are out of control. These symbols are especially representative of suppressed anger--anger that has reached its boiling point and can no longer be contained. Take care to examine your life and address these issues so as to prevent the damage that can occur to interpersonal relationships during and emotional meltdown.

Boulders and Huge, Spider-like Crabs

About three years ago I dreamt that I was wading through a subterranean waterway. The bed of the stream in this tunnel comprised pebbles and smooth boulders. Then -- suddenly and horrifically -- one of the boulders turned out to be the shell of a huge, spider-like crab...
I used to kick my wife and lash out, trying to fight them off. It was as fierce and terrible as that.

The dream kept on for some time, on average about once a fortnight -- and his wife would regularly find herself on the floor.

After five months, it was discovered that Geoffrey had cancer of the colon. The interpretation seems very simple and clear. As in a virtual reality experience, Geoffrey was walking along his own colon and witnessed the events that had been occurring within him.

The large boulders seem to be an image of the lining cells of the large bowel and it is usually one of those cells that fight them off.... The seriousness of the illness is translated into the terror Geoffrey feels...

The Hidden Power of Dreams (page 72)
by Dr. Robin Roynston


How is it that a dream can represent an internal process so vividly and strongly? One can argue that there are alternate meanings and interpretations; it seems to me that representation is so precise, and so emotionally and physiologically relevant, that it is hard to argue for other interpretations. The repetitiveness of the dream also speaks to the urgency the unconscious body/mind expresses about the situation.

From an evolutionary point of view, this kind of representation makes sense. In the same way we are evolved to deal with external, we also have evolved to deal with internal threats. It would make sense that within the system is a kind of hologram of the whole system, a way to represent which parts of the organism are under threat. Words are a fairly recent development; it is not as if the evolved system can say in words, "Hey, you have cancer of the bowels." However, that information can be expressed in pictures, metaphors, symbols.


Dreams and Pregnancy

Dreams during pregnancy provide a window on the dreaming process: they sometimes symboize the pregnancy, the anxieties, the relationship to the husband, the relationship to the new child...

These dreams provide a sense that the dreaming process represents both the physiological and psychological processes within the person...

Patricia Garfield provides an excellent review of the symbols and processes of pregnancy and childbirth:

(from Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams).

Other sources of information about pregnancy and dreaming include:

The Mother-to-Be's Dream Book, Raina M. Paris

Dream Wisdom, Alan Siegel, Ph.D.