Earlier this year I wrote about the Common Loon, an occasional visitor to Santa Cruz and the Central Coast. A much more abundant seabird in the area is the Brown Pelican. Visitors and locals alike marvel at the beauty of the colorful pelican as it glides along the coastal waters and bluffs.
The descriptors “white” and “brown” underestimate the color and beauty of pelicans. White pelicans are brilliantly white, with dark black wing tips, orange-yellow bills, and with yellow around the eyes. In their brightest breeding plumage, Brown pelicans, the smallest in the pelican family, have a golden-yellow head with bright eyes, a gray-brown and silver body, with an orange-reddish bill and pouch.
I have been observing pelicans almost my entire life. As a teenager and young adult I watched White pelicans on Glacial lakes and marshes common to the Northern Plains where I was born. Later, as an adult after moving to the West coast, I was equally drawn to observing and learning the habits of Brown pelicans. The ethology of pelicans is quite interesting. Both Brown and White pelicans are absolutely dependent on water for survival. Both feed primarily on fish, but have very different methods of catching their prey. White pelicans scoop the fish near the surface of the water. At times, they congregate and “herd” their prey together driving the fish to the surface making them easier to catch by eliminating a route of escape. On the other hand, Brown pelicans dive for fish from as high as sixty feet in the air in an acrobatic display that is a thrill to watch. They hover above the water for a brief moment and then plunge straight down into a “perfect” dive. Brown pelicans are almost never found far from the coast. Contrary to this, White pelicans travel for vast stretches over land on their migration from summer to winter feeding grounds.
During the winter, White pelicans can also be found occasionally in the Central coast area frequenting coastal marshland. Sometimes flocks of White pelicans fly so high in the sky that they appear only as “specks.” Watching this display with binoculars is mesmerizing. It seems as if they are simply enjoying the ability to glide in circular motions gracefully high up in the sky. Brown pelicans have their own unique flight patterns. They often fly in groups in line formation sometimes coming in wave after wave where the land meets the sea. Additionally, they can be found flying alone or in groups gliding very close to the surface of the water. At other times, Brown pelicans appear to be actually “surfing” a wave while riding the undulating rhythm of a breaking wave in a manner very similar to a human surfer on a surfboard. They can fly so close to the water that it looks like they may actually catch a wing tip and catapult straight into the water. Some of the physics and aerodynamics associated with this flight pattern is to reduce drag since a cushion of air is trapped beneath the wing.
In addition to being extremely interesting and beautiful birds to study from an aesthetic and biological outlook, pelicans also serve as a very important symbolic image from a Jungian psychological perspective. In that regard, I chose an image of the Brown pelican for the central image on my website homepage. This choice came about synchronistically. I had been thinking about building a website for several weeks and was not sure of the direction to take, or the imagery to use. One day during this time and while walking alone down the beach, I was again thinking about ideas for a website. I spontaneously looked up, and a lone Brown pelican seemed as if it was diving straight toward me as it flew closely by and just above me. I think I may have even ducked. Just then it was clear to me. I knew that I had my image for my website. It would be a pelican. On my homepage, the pelican is “surfing” down a wave. Surfing a wave, by a person, or bird, is a powerful symbol for a way to live life, and can also represent the evolution inherent in an individual’s psychotherapy process.
When pelicans appear in dreams they can be powerful and meaningful images. Just by their behavior alone, they represent an animal that absolutely needs the water to survive. The unconscious is often symbolized in dreams by water or the ocean. Individuals, like the pelican, also need an intimate relationship to water (the unconscious) in order to live a balanced and whole life.
It is important to regard the animals, including birds, in your life and dreams as living images. They are “alive” with a psychic energy that may be necessary for your own psychological development. James Hillman (1997) said in his book, Dream Animals:
Animals wake up the imagination. You see a deer by the side of the road, or geese flying in formation, and you become hyperalert. I’ve found that animal dreams can do this too. They really wake people up. Animal dreams provoke their feelings, get them thinking, interested and curious. As we get more into imagining, we become more animal-like. Not bestial, but more instinctually alive, and with more savvy, a keener nose and a sharper ear… (p. 2).
Whether you live by the Central coast in California or if you are fortunate to live in another part of the country where pelicans frequent, take some time to watch and study this great bird. Pelicans have captivated us for thousands of years and hopefully will continue to do so for thousands more. Be open to allowing the animals in your life, as Hillman says, to “wake up the imagination.”
Caspari, E. (2003). Animal Life in Nature, Myth and Dreams. Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron Publications.
Hillman, J. & McLean, M. (1997). Dream Animals. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
In my dream last night, a pelican flew down and sat at the foot of my bed and tried to cover my feet with the blanket. In reality, my feet were already covered. The pelican tried to be careful so as not to wake my dog, who sleeps in my bed, at my feet, on top of my covers.
In my dream, I moved my feet, not knowing what the pelican was doing and as so that I don’t scare it, but it flew away.
This is the first time in a very long time that I’ve had such a vivid and weird dream.
I am a piscean and live in the Rocky Mountains, nowhere near the ocean or water as such.
Thanks for stopping by my blog post on Pelicans and Animal Dreams. And thanks for relating your very interesting dream. In general, it is difficult to interpret a dream without knowing details about what is going on in an individual’s life.
What I can say, however, is that it could be beneficial and interesting for you to work with the pelican image by writing about it, drawing/painting it, etc. These types of artistic expressions sometimes bring up feelings or other ideas about why the pelican may be visiting you in your dream, and what message that this dream animal/image may have for you. It does seem like an important dream for you since as you said, it is the first time in a long while that you have had such a vivid dream.
Thanks again for the comment Dan, and enjoy the fall season in the Rockies!
Last night I had a dream I was leading a pelican through some dark hallways and I opened some doors for it when it tapped in the handles with its beak, and then we parted at the last door. In earlier segments of my dream I saw my dad for the first time in a long time. We walked through our old house together (he passed away 8 years ago) and I got to hug him. I also saw me, briefly, in the same appartional state as my dad. I didn’t speak to me but I made contact with me- falling into my apparition to give my dad a hug. Is there anything more a pelican symbolizes? I don’t usually read into dreams but this has drew my attention enough to try to find out more from those who are usually more in touch with theirs. My dad was the biggest heart of anyone anyone who has ever walked on earth and he would have done absolutely anything for my twin sister and me. We lost him to his last heart surgery ( he had them relatively often since the age 13). I was born 26 March 1993. I’m a firefighter and military, currently in Japan. I don’t know how much background people usually give you but any insight is appreciated. I’m just trying to find a way to make sense of things while I can’t sleep.
Thanks for your blog,
I apologize for the typos ^
I admire the pelican. And I’ve even thought of it as a possible tattoo idea though I’ve never gotten one before. I know there are many more things I could get ink of and choose not to, but something about that bird feels right I suppose… Ha
Thank you for sharing this beautiful dream. Since as you said that you don’t usually read into dreams, but this one has drawn your attention, I’d say that it is worth attending to. As I’ve mentioned before to other readers, it can be difficult to interpret dreams more fully without knowing details about the dreamer’s life, personality, etc., but having said that, I’d like to offer a more general idea about your dream.
The pelican in your dream seems to be serving as a symbol of the Self, providing direction. There is a sense of urgency here also, since the pelican is tapping in the door handles with its beak. Here is the real important message. The dream appears to be suggesting that you need “heart,” a quality that your father had, to find the proper doorway that can bring you into the next phase of your life.
You might want to consider trying a visualization exercise with these dream images. Visualize walking down the hallway and through the door to the other side. What do you see? What does the door look like, etc.
I think this is an important dream for you Trevor, and I’m glad that you chose to share it here. I hope you find these suggestions helpful, and I wish you the best with your work on this dream. Thanks again for visiting my blog Trevor.
Wow- such a timely conversation. This summer I was surfing in Santa Cruz with my friend Mike (I, too, too live in the Rockies). It was pre-dawn as we were waiting for the next set to arrive when a pelican flew over & landed nearby. It was very dark, and we could only make out a rough shape on the water at first but after a while the bird appeared closer. As it was a particularly flat morning, we continued to sit on our boards & look out to sea, hoping for waves to arrive. The next time I looked, the pelican was easy to distinguish, and it felt a bit unnerving that the bird seemed to be actually approaching. I laughed nervously & commented that the pelican was stalking us, then returned my gaze once again to the darkness of the ocean. In a while, my friend said “Jody, turn around!” And right behind me was the pelican- less than 5 feet away & gaining. I panicked, & paddled away as fast as I could at which time the pelican gave full chase. Mike yelled at me to turn around & face it, & then to pop up my board at the pelican-now flapping it’s wings & also “Standing” up in the water. The bird didn’t leave until Mike charged toward it on his board.
So my question since July- was this some strange territorial display? Did I really look like breakfast? (I am a quite petit woman), or is there something there for me to learn about my own pelican nature?
Thanks for your time & this interesting blog thread 🙂
I enjoyed reading your story about the Pelican very much. I’m also a surfer, and over the years and many hours on the water, I’ve never had a pelican behave that way toward me, or anyone that I’ve surfed with. Though I’m not an expert on pelican behavior, from a symbolic, psychological perspective, I’d certainly recommend examining this interaction more fully.
Looking at this memorable encounter with nature as if it were a dream, a “waking dream,” might be helpful. Since the pelican was literally chasing you, it would seem even more important to try to understand what this may be about. I’d recommend reflecting on the image of the pelican, dialoguing with the image in your mind, and seeing if anything comes up related to any message that the pelican may have for you. Workin with images in such a way is termed “active imagination” in the language of Jungian psychology.
Take care Jody, and enjoy the mountains and waves.
I had a dream about a red pelican first taking my cat Schimmo and then next my cat Peepers in its bill. I had left my 2 cats with my ex husband back in 1992 and found out in 1998 he had to give them up and did not tell me about it. I had called him about 2 weeks after this all went down and that is how I found out. I was very upset asking why he didn’t call me cause I would have taken them. He told me he talked to my Mother and my Mother told him I already had 3 cats. Well instead of calling me (on good terms) he takes my Mothers word for it that I would not take them. I have been so distraught about this for many years. And then I had this dream that a red pelican scooped up my first cat and then my second cat. What do you think is telling me? Thanks for your help!
It is often difficult to discuss a dream if I don’t know details and specifics about the dreamer and his or her current life situation. In your case, however, you’ve provided details about your associations to this dream related to a very emotional experience for you. So, I feel that I can make a comment about your dream. Looking at this dream from a Jungian perspective, the pelican could be seen as a figure of your deeper Self, and red is a color often symbolizing passion and deep feelings. I think that your dream is suggesting that something precious to you (your cats) now have the potential to be kept safe, when they are “in the hands of the Self” so to speak. This idea is symbolized by the cats being scooped up by the pelican.
In other words, your dream seems to be suggesting that your most precious and deep feelings were not always so safe with your ex-husband and this is specifically illustrated by your experience of your ex-husband giving your cats away without speaking to you about it. This beautiful dream could be seen as a comforting dream showing that you have a deeper part of yourself (the pelican as a Self symbol) that is a safe “anchor” for you and your passions as you move forward in your life.
It appears that the pelican is a very significant bird and symbol for you, and it may be an image that you want to reflect upon more. I wish you the best Denise.
Hi Dr. Howlin,
Thank you for such a quick response and I knew I should have given you a bit more details but I was at work when I wrote it. So I am going to give you a bit more details and not sure if it will change your response but here goes. Back in 1992 I left my ex with my 2 cats because I felt he needed them for comfort. I was right later on because he thanked me for it. He loved them just as I did. I lost contact with my cats cause I was too wrapped up in myself and left him for someone else trying to be with the right person. When he gave them up (in 1998) because of health reasons (pets for the elderly) they were 10 and 11 years old then (the ex has recently passed away). Today they would be 25 and 26. I know animals can live till this age but I am sure they can’t be alive, although possible. I have been wondering all these years if they were safe and if they were passed away by now. I lived in Florida for 37 years (where it occurred ) and met my partner in 2005 and recently moved to Colorado with my partner in 2007. Being here 5 years I have had a lot to deal with. Not being near my family and not having the best relationship. About 2 years ago I had the dream. I was looking from behind the scenes so to say in the dream. I saw a red pelican fly down and scoop up my eldest cat and fly away. Then it came back a few seconds later and scooped up my second cat. That was it and I woke up immediately after. My thoughts on the dream were that they passed away in succession. I was curious about why the pelican was red. It made me think they died in a fire and some horrible death. Was this dream trying to help me come to terms with my guilt feelings of not being there for them when they needed me? Was it telling me that the rest of their lives were safe and happy? Was this dream about something else in my life ? I loved your response and thank you, but maybe with these more details there is something different you would tell me about this dream? Thank you so much!
Even with this additional information, the dream of the pelican as a Self symbol and the discussion remains essentially the same. Thank you again for sharing and stopping by my blog.
The dream I had was about my bestfriend from middle school and early highschool. I don’t talk to her often at all anymore. We have made our peace over 2 years ago and acknowledged to one another how our, once, deep connection would never cease. We have greatly grown apart and she will be marrying her mate of 5 years next November. What’s interesting is I joined these two together and aided their joining of lives over 5 years ago. In this dream she had taken photography as a serious art form. She showed me a collection of wroks she had done and one stood out to me the greatest. The photo was of her and her mate standing naked encircled by pelicans. The picture was taken in a monochrome setting. It was so astonishingly beautiful to me, that I began to cry with happiness over its winsomeness. I was deeply touched by its very essence. Please, decipher this dream.
Desa Hello Jeff,
The dream I had was about my bestfriend from middle school and early highschool. I don’t talk to her often at all anymore. We have made our peace over 2 years ago and acknowledged to one another how our, once, deep connection would never cease. We have greatly grown apart and she will be marrying her mate of 5 years next November. What’s interesting is I joined these two together and aided their joining of lives over 5 years ago. In this dream she had taken photography as a serious art form. She showed me a collection of wroks she had done and one stood out to me the greatest. The photo was of her and her mate standing naked encircled by pelicans. The picture was taken in a monochrome setting. It was so astonishingly beautiful to me, that I began to cry with happiness over its winsomeness. I was deeply touched by this artistic entity that was created by my once best friend. Please, interpreate this for me.
I’m using a mobile device, haha. I’m sorry that it screwed up like above. I hope you’ll be able to understand it.
This dream appears to have several themes/layers of meaning, but there are a couple of themes that stand out, and which I feel that I can make some general comments about. First of all, there is the image of the couple that you know well who are getting married standing naked together. This brings up the idea of the “inner” marriage with the inner masculine part of your personality, the Jungian animus.
Perhaps the most striking image in the dream is the nude couple being encircled by the pelicans. This would seem to symbolize the idea that the ego has been shed and is in service to the higher Self, as represented by the encircled pelicans.
Desa, I believe that this is an important dream for you since it seemed to touch you quite deeply. I suggest working with the images further through writing, painting, or even reading. There are many Jungian psychology books that talk about the Self, and the anima/animus, but a good starting point might be Jungian Robert A. Johnson’s series of books, “We….”, “She…”, and “He…” Thank you for sharing this beautiful dream.
Hello Dr. Howlin,
I had a dream a couple nights ago with a pelican. It was very vivid, before he came, I was left alone by my boyfriend on a street. I was crying and then the pelican flew down next to me. He asked what was wrong and I told him I’m lonely. The pelican was dark colored and extremely big in size. The pelican soothed me in a way and he became my best friend instantly like time didnt matter. He gave me relief too. So then I wanted to take a picture of us together so I remember him but he didn’t show up on the camera, instead a dog did. I took a picture and the pelican still was a dog. I looked up and the pelican was still there. I felt confused. The pelican said he had to go, so he flew up and I watched him leave. I have been trying to understand the meaning of it. I am 20 years old and started dating this guy for a month. He is very good to me and is helping me with self problems. I’ve been struggling with accepting myself and changing. I made a lot of mistakes i regret and was depressed for a long time. I hope my background info helps. I wonder what your advice is. Thank you!
Thank you for writing about your pelican dream. It is a beautiful dream, which I find is usually the case when pelicans appear in dreams. I can’t really give specific advice in this format, but I can say that I believe the pelican in the dream is representing an inner part of you that can be there for you (like the dream said, “as a best friend”) , to comfort you, and help to be a guide for you (one of the reasons I think, that the pelican became a dog when you tried to take a picture of it).
I always appreciate comments, and I’m glad that you shared. I wish you the best Roxi.
Thank you for your response! It did help.
Thank you for this detailed information about pelicans in dreams. I am a vivid dreamer in general, and nature symbols often come to me in ways that are clearly intentional, symbolic–though not always clear to me what they actually mean. Last night I dreamt that I was in a sort of restaurant with many rooms, and it was situated on the water–if I just opened the back door, there was a small deck which was practically submerged. Soon after I was near a cluster of picnic tables on a beach, and I saw what must have been hundreds of entirely white pelicans (except for long yellow beaks). They were all flying down out of the sky towards me, and they all landed facing me, and I thought to myself, “Oh, my gosh, I have to get a camara! This is amazing!” As I was trying to make my way between the picnic tables and the birds, I almost stepped on one, and/or its beak kind of poked my foot–and I was both not wanting to be hurt by it and not wanting to hurt it. There was the mildest bit of anxiety about whether I might get poked by all those beaks. But anyway, it was quite impressive to see sooooo many of these dazzling birds at once, flying down out of the sky, right to where I was. A few nights before this, I dreamt that I walked close to a tree and a small black bat flew out and bit me on the right shoulder. A few nights before that, I was yearning for a hummingbird to visit me, because I consider this bird–both in its real and symbolic form–to bring visiting spirits; anyway, my father in law passed away not long ago, and I was hoping for a “visit” from hummingbird to know he was well and indeed, a yellow hummingbird covered in black speckles showed up, sought me out, and landed on my right shoulder (in a dream). Any thoughts on all of this?
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. You have presented much imagery that I couldn’t do justice to with a written response and without speaking to you about the specific events of your life, etc. If you are interested in a more in-depth exploration of these dreams and imagery, I suggest a consultation with a dream specialist and/or therapist with a Jungian orientation. If you happen to be a resident of California, feel free to give me a call to discuss options. Thanks again Belle.
Had a dream that I was in a field and was confronted by a baboon and a pelican, I killed the pelican and used its beak to kill the baboon with a blow to the head. I am aware that this is weird but would just like to know what it means.
Last night I had a dream that I tattooed an image of a pelican on my arm.
I’m not sure what it represents?
Thanks for stopping by my blog. It’s not really possible for me to do justice to working with a dream in this online format and without knowing the person behind the email and his or her current life circumstances.
It is a lovely pelican dream image however and usually when pelicans show up in our dreams it is as a “positive” dream image. I recommend the book “Animal Dreams” by James Hillman as a good book to read concerning animals and dreams. I’ve mentioned this book before in this email chain as a good starting point.
Thanks again Lina.
I had a dream two pelicans flew into my motel room. One was quite aggressive, making loud noises, flapping and attacking, pooping all over an interior glass screen inside the room. The other remained fairly grounded and quiet, like an observer or guardian. Thats about all I remember except I went to tell the motel owners they would need to clean the room.
Thanks for any insight
My grandfather passed away about the years ago…And on the day that we released his ashes into the water at the beach I seen a pelican. He didn’t move he didn’t fly away when kids tried to scare it…he just watched as my grandmother and all his sons took turns going down into the water…it amazed me and couldn’t believe how big it was I watched it for about an hour and until we had packed up our stuff to head home did it not fly away till my grandmother was in the car…I believe with all my heart it was my grandfather and when I looked up meanings of pelicans it completely symbolized my grandfather…his bday is tom. And I can’t still thinking of him…miss him alot he was a strong part of our family
My uncle has liver cancer and is going through a new treatment that basically shoots localized radiation into the tumored liver. It’s a procedure that is promising, though the tumors keep appearing. There’s always hope but…my uncle feels that it doesn’t look good.
He mentioned he’s been having very strange dreams. One dream, he was standing in an tilled field all alone, when a pod of pelicans descended, landing next to him where he stood.
I’m wondering what your take or takes of this dream could be. I have my own theory about it, but I found the dream fascinating and would like to hear someone else’s take on it. Anyway, thanks!
I am glad that you stopped by my website. Thank you also for sharing the beautiful dream. It is not at all uncommon for people to have particularly vivid and “strange” dreams, like you said, when they are going through something like your uncle. I think that it is wonderful that you have an interest in his dreams and it sounds like you have maybe even talked about this with him. Just this practice alone is honoring the dream, and perhaps even healing for your uncle at a certain level. As I have mentioned before in this comment thread, I am not able to say much about a dream’s possible meaning without knowing the person and the detailed circumstances of their life and attitude. In the case of this dream, I can make a general comment. It is a beautiful dream and the tilled field may imply that something is ready to be “planted.” I would recommend that you speak with your uncle about the pelicans and his associations to them and maybe even encourage him to sketch/paint them or work with the images in a similar fashion. I am glad that your uncle is sharing his dreams with you…and that you are listening. That is a good thing.
Saw a big cloud in the sky with pelicans roosting in and on it with beautiful rays of sun light going through. Then they began diving into the water and back up several started to attack the boats even 4 or 5 pick up a rather large boat and flipped it upside down the captain few off which had me laughing feeling myself looking for my phone. Saw a close up of the man getting out the water looked mad but I didnt recognize him. They were attacking different boats then the cloud drew a intense black and pelicans all flew into swarming like bees in a cartoon as I wanted to start controlling my dream my stomach got upset so I woke up.
Thank you for sharing this interesting dream. Most of the time, I am not able to comment on a dream without knowing more details about the dreamer’s unique life circumstances. And this holds true in this case. The one thing that I can comment on from the dream is to note that your stomach gets upset when you want to control your dream. In my experience from working with many people on their dreams is that trying to control dreams (and life) is not so helpful and not usually of service to the deeper self. It you are more interested in working with this or any other dreams, I suggest reaching out to a Jungian therapist or other therapist that specializes in working with dreams. Thank again for stopping by my blog.
I found your website looking for pelican symbolism. Last night I dreamed that after a girl cleaned my apartment, I saw that there were 3 baby animals there: a kitten, a baby pelican and I can’t remember what the third one was. The pelican stood out as being an unusual animal to see in my apartment.
Thank you for stopping by my website. I would encourage you to read about, write about, or draw/paint, etc., the pelican to see what else emerges. Although I can’t go into details about the dream, I would say that it is a positive one.
Hi Dr. Howlin,
I appreciate your suggestions, and following them, reading about the pelican in a number of sources, including one of the books you mentioned Caspari, Animal Life in Nature, Myth and Dreams. Also drawing and painting the image, one is an 11″X14″ drawing in ink with color markers of the pelican in my dream. I think, and hope it is a positive dream too.
I had a very vivid dream last night. I was in a storefront in an urban area, there were many people around me although none were clearly articulated. I walked to the door of the shop, which was a full length glass door a peered out to the sidewalk. There I was met by a large pelican facing me with its wings horizontally spread out not flapping but almost hovering. The pelican transformed from the real image to one of almost of a plush toy. I opened the door a bit to where I could look through the glass door from the outside. Through the glass I saw two large fish as if waiting to be prepared for someone’s supper. In an instant the pelican was transformed into a smaller version and was picking at something on the sidewalk. When I looked again it had died. I felt heartsick and saddened. Why didn’t I give it those fish…even though I didn’t believe they were mine. I then looked on the sidewalk and found a document like an official government/scientific source that had a name and phone number…as if the pelican had been tagged. I called the number and received an answering machine voice from a woman that I thought may be a scientist who had tagged this bird. The voice on the answering machine was disjointed and sounded crazy. I then thought I must perserve the pelican’s body for the scientist to examine later and as I exited the store a group of people surrounded the pelican body. One tall fairly formal looking man said, “I want that dead pelican.” I said no it must be preserved for the scientist to examine! At that point the man grabbed me and we started wrestling each other. I thought to myself, I can take this guy but the physical exertion woke me up. I believe I might have had a plastic zip bag to put the body in…I felt guilty that I didn’t draw the correlation between the pelican and the fish…I was very sad. This was so vivid and a pelican coming to me in Chicago it seemed remarkable. I’ve been through a divorce and both my parents dying the past three years and feel a bit burnt out with my job although I enjoy it. A pelican animal guide no less. Well thank you for reading my story. Peace, Kent
Thanks so much for sharing your dream on my blog. Yes, I agree that the pelican in the dream can serve as a guide. It is a beautiful dream and it shows the archetypal nature of the pelican…coming to you even in Chicago, as you put it. I’m sorry to hear about your loss this past year. I believe that it especially important now for you to be sure to “feed” the pelican.
Hi i would like to understand the meaning of this dream
pelicans were flapping their wings over me and my husband and others were eating on a child that in the dream was mine but not in real life and that child desapeared
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your dream. It is difficult to interpret most dreams without knowing details of the dreamer’s life. I would suggest consulting with a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist if you are interested in deeper work with this dream or other dreams.
Hi Dr. Howlin,
I dream almost every night and record them when I can. I believe my dreams to have incredible meaning and have even had dreams that have come true before. The other night part of my dream was me swimming in a pool and a pelican came from the sky and dove directly at me and closed its beak around my neck. I held my hand in between my throat and the beak but it stayed pressing on my throat and trying to choke me for a long time. I don’t remember how it ended, I think the dream sort of just moved on. I told my brother about this and he reminded me that the pelican is a Catholic self sacrificing symbol. I am Catholic but hadn’t remembered that. I am the type of person who often goes out of my way to help others and not myself. I have also recently reconnected with an ex that was a really toxic relationship (he was suicidal, depressed and an alcoholic). I have also been struggling in life a lot lately with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and my ex is now sober, so I feel a bit like our positions have switched. I recently started grad school and a new job and have a new roommate and am feeling overwhelmed. I wondered if you could offer any insight into what this dream might mean?
I am glad that you contacted me. I am only checking my comments on my blog today, so I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Attending to your dreams every night is certainly a good practice. I am generally not able to interpret specific dreams on this blog from someone that I do not know. However, as you discuss your dream and the symptoms that you are currently experiencing, I would like to strongly encourage you to reach out to a licensed mental health professional so that you can discuss your dreams and these symptoms further. Since you have an interest in dreams, I recommend that you check the website of the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago (http://www.jungchicago.org/). They have a “Find an Analyst” feature that can help you find a qualified Jungian analyst in the Chicago area. As another good source for finding a qualified psychotherapist, you could go to the Illinois Psychological Association website (https://www.illinoispsychology.org/) where they have a “Referral Search” to help find a licensed psychologist in your area.
I wish you all of the best Katheryn and I do hope that you reach out to a mental health professional to perhaps look further into your dreams and with someone that can help you with the symptoms that you are experiencing now.
Also, I live in Chicago, so I don’t see Pelicans often. I can’t recall any time that I have seen one in person.
I’m not expecting an interpretation but as a child I had a recurrent dream . The sky would go dark and I pelican swooped down and picked me up in its bill and took me back to it lair. It cut me into little pieces and made me stay alive so I would feel all the pain. Nasty.
I think it represented my psychological state in some sense, but find it very curious that it involved the pelican asI would have known nothing of its symbolism then
Thanks for sharing your dream. Recurrent dreams can be particularly meaningful and perhaps even more so in this case when the pelican image came to you as a child.
i had a dream last night about Pelicans,and would like to understand the meaning of this dream!!
i was with my friend in a forest and i saw 4-5 Pelicans flying, and it was so near i could see the details so clearly,my friend had a gun and he fired two bullets on a pelican, and the pelican dropped,we ran towards it and it was standing next to a little boy and his mother!
Note : ” i didn’t see any blood.”
suddenly went through another dream,was still in a forest but this time with a lion cub and i woke up after that.
” That’s it”
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for sharing your interesting dream. In an effort to as you say, “understand the meaning of this dream” it would be best to be working with a Jungian-oriented therapist. In that way, the therapist would be able to get to know more about you and your life circumstances before moving into an interpretation of this dream or other dreams. That is usually the best way to work with dreams. In other words, as a general rule, it is vital to understand a person’s life before dream interpretation.
I had A Dream That I Flew out a Room Window and Turned into a Pelican but oddly With black and white stripes like a zebra…and i seen a girl walking yelling to me “Hey where are you going?” So i flew down and landed on her arm and she just kept walking, with me as a pelican on her arm. And thats when i awoke. Im having a hard time understanding this dream. Could You Please help me interpret this dream?
I appreciate you stopping by my blog and sharing a dream. Pelicans are special animals, especially when showing up in our dreams. I suggest that you consult with a therapist that specializes in dream work (Jungian therapists typically work with dreams) if you are interested in exploring this dream, or other dreams in more depth.
Hi Dr. Howlin,
I had a dream that I was in a treehouse with 2 guys. I don’t know who they were, but I has to have known them, because I didn’t fear them. We started in the treehouse and in the blink of an eye were sitting on a dock. All of a sudden I see a white pelican approaching. I alert them both and ask if they see the pelican, but neither acknowledges the bird. The pelican walks right past them both and straight to me. I shoo her away, but she doesn’t budge. In fact, her beak makes contact with my hand. I get up and start running….all the while she’s chasing me. I say she because she’s sporting a white bra. Lol. In another flash, I’m now in my childhood home living room and I see my Dad passed out in a chair. I figure, he’ll awaken and protect me, but he doesn’t wake and the pelican walks right past him. I run into my parents bedroom where I find my Mom asleep in the bed. I lock the door and peek out the peephole. I don’t see the pelican and wake up frightened beyond belief. I don’t remember watching anything on tv or listening to anythin regarding pelicans, so I’m curious as to what this could all mean.
Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Thanks so much for reading my article and sharing your dream. I am sorry but I am generally not able to interpret dreams in this blog comment format. I do recommend seeking a therapist who specializes in dream work if you ever feel that you would like to work with your dreams in more depth. A Jungian therapist or analyst is always a good starting point.
I was in my dreaming that I was in deceased grandmothers apartment, when I was young, I spent many weekends, sometimes summers off from school with her. In this dream a pelican came out of the living room closet, something in the dream was telling me he lived there and he need to be put back in. I attempted to put the pelican back in his home, but he aggressively attacked me and me and the fluffy bird got into a brawl. Had to apply, some force to get the little guy back in the closet, but he kept getting back out eventually it seemed like he might of stayed in there but I am not sure because I woke up.
Before This i befriended a nice Dog in the same dream.
Hello, I had a dream of 3 pelicans flying over me. I think they were white. I noticed one had a fish in its mouth and another fish behind this same pelican. The fish was hooked on fishing line attached and trailing behind the pelican about 10 feet. I was wishing at the time I had taken a photo of this because I knew no one would believe what I saw. I can’t get this dream out of my mind. Any idea what it might mean?
Thanks for writing. Though I can’t interpret your dream in this format, often a dream that one “can’t get out of my mind” is one that has more significance. Working with a therapist that specializes in dream work is one idea for exploring this dream in more depth. Good luck Lynn and thanks again for stopping by my site.
I had a vivid dream of being out in the open there was no water around. with big electrical Towers that have the lines on it that carry electricity. I do not have a 4-door Silverado pickup, but in this dream I had one.
There were other birds in the sky and as I was looking up I see a white pelican no more than 5 feet above my head flying. It may have gotten 20 ft pass me, without flapping his wings it was like he caught an upward draft and went straight up. It rose to the heights of the electrical towers, and hit head first on the top line. He came straight back down and hit the ground. He was hurt but he wasn’t dead, as I walked over to check on him I woke up.
Never before have I ever had a dream like this. My only thoughts were what was this about.
But now my curiosity is really wondering. I consider myself a Christian and I don’t believe in palm reading or fortune telling. but as in some of the writings in the Bible I do believe that dreams can have meetings.
I found the beginning of this very interesting though I only read one of the comments.
It seems as though I’m slacking and reading my Bible.
Sure would like to have that 4-door Silverado though, not sure if that’s in the picture for me though. Could very well be my downfall. I might want to rethink that buying a new vehicle this year.
Thanks for reading my post on pelicans Rodney. I’m glad that you found the topic interesting and thanks for sharing your vivid, beautiful dream.
Hey, I don’t know if you’ll be able to help with the symbolism in my dream—based off of the fact that you don’t know me personally or what events are currently going on in my life. However, last night I had a vivid dream that I was laying in a big bed, larger than a king, snuggled in a massive white comforter—and yet it was outside. It wasn’t on the ground, it seemed I was outside on maybe a 22nd floor of a highrise and across from me was a highrise double the size. I could see what looked like a bay behind it, and honestly it didn’t look like a city I have been to before but was definitely a big one. On top of the highrise across from me was a figure, wearing all black and they themselves appeared to be a silhouett with immacculate black angel wings that I was mesmerized by. As I gazed at the wings from a distance in the comfort of my cozy bed, I was fascinated by the detail of the feathers which glistened as if light was reflecting off of them. I continued to stare and suddenly heard a caw from some type of bird. I saw a pelican soar over me, stopping to hover right above me. It was white with black wing tips and an orange beak that was full, I could see the full curvature of the bottom of it. When it hovered over me for a minute I anticipated it would keep flying but it didn’t. For a second, I feared it would poop on me or spill some of whatever was in its beak on me. Then suddenly, it floated away into the distance. I heard dogs barking in the distance and woke up. The dream was intriguing for sure, but I have never thought of pelicans or seen one in a dream prior to this and it seemed to resonate with me most. To give some context, I have been working a lot bartending 2 jobs, and trying to get a job as a writer in manhattan. Otherwise, I have just been reading books researching psychotherapy and spending most of my time at home. I would love to hear what you think this dream (or more specifically, pelican) symbolized in my dream.
Hello and thank you for your insight into pelicans and dreams. I had a dream last night where I was walking home through fields and took a short cut across a property that was very pretty with rolling green hills and white rail horse fences. As I turned to walk around the terrace surrounding the house I could see several pelicans to my left coming in to land on the fences and as I came into view of the other side of the terrace there was literally dozens and dozens of them (as far as the eye could see) sitting on the fencing to my left. On the fence and just before these beautiful birds were sitting, were several miniature white horses also sitting on the fence. The striking effect of the pelicans was overwhelmingly breathtaking. I stood and just stared at them. There were several people around me but i took no notice of them. There was no water near this property only green rolling hills. I still cant get the image out of my mind. It was simply stunning. I would love to hear your thoughts on this please. Thank you
Thank you for sharing your beautiful dream. The imagery is quite stunning, as you put it. Without knowing more about the context of your life, it is hard for me to comment on any details. I do appreciate you stopping by my blog.
Dear Dr. Howlin,
I recently was diagnosed with NAION (Non non arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy) in my left eye, and I have lost some of the vision in that eye. It has been weighing heavily on my mind, and I am still adapting to this altered vision (feel disoriented, slightly dizzy, etcetera). Also my 22-year-old son had surgery for appendicitis two days ago (and is recovering nicely). His older brother had the same surgery at the same age.
Last night I dreamt that I was in the car with my sister (who lives near me, but who I haven’t seen much since March because of social distancing). We might have been younger in the dream. We were driving along, and we spied a huge bird that we realized was a pelican. It flew right in my sister’s open window (she was driving), and we screamed, because it was huge. But then it sat down in front of me–not exactly on my lap, but just before me, and stared at me. At this point we were laughing because its expression was so focused and determined. I was trying to take a picture, and fearful the pelican would fly away, but it just stayed and stayed, like Poe’s raven or Coleridge’s albatross. (I’m an English teacher, haha).
I woke up thinking about the pelican, and wondered what symbolism you might read into this dream. Thank you! A very interesting site that I will re-visit because I have many vivid dreams.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful dream. It does seem like the pelican in the dream wants your attention. I am not able to go into detail about the symbolism in the dream in this medium, but I do recommend that you reach out to a Jungian-oriented therapist if you want to explore this or other dreams more thoroughly. I wish you the best Julie.
I had a dream that I was at my boyfriends apartment and a white pelican followed me in, so I took it and put it on the couch w me and was snuggling it. I got up to go to the kitchen and a blue pelican comes rushing in (a lot bigger than the white pelica) and put the head of the white pelican in its mouth and started moving in circulation to break off its head, I couldn’t bring myself to stop it. There was a kitchen pan at the end of the couch the blue pelican puts the head of the white pelican and starts eating it in there (I couldn’t look at it or see I just closed my eyes and ran down to the leasing office then I woke up in disgust. What does this dream mean? It was awful!
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and sharing a dream related to my article about pelicans. I am afraid that without knowing details of you and your life, I am unable to discuss its meaning. I suggest however that if you are interested in working with this dream or any other dreams, that you consult with a Jungian-oriented therapist or therapist that specializes in dreamwork.