What Does It Mean to Fly in Your Dreams?
5 min read
Last Modified 19 October 2021 First Added 5 October 2021
Step after step, you begin to feel lighter.
Before you realise it, your feet are no longer touching the floor and as you look down you realise you’ve taken flight and are leaving the terrestrial world you know.
The sound that is so loud in everyday life is muted as you soar through the air, looking down at the world below, a world you’re no longer a part of.
You feel separate, thrilled, freed from shackles that have bound you to the ground, and you loop and glide, feeling the wind in your hair in a moment of absolute liberty.
Still, it’s only a dream – right?
The meaning of a dream of flying can vary hugely –and so can the experience of the dreamer. Some people will experience dreams of flying as joyful, some will experience them as an anxiety dream accompanied by falling in your dream or failing to fly. Both of these, according to Carl Jung, can be answered by the same interpretation:
The dream compensates for the deficiencies of their personalities, and at the same time it warns them of the dangers in their present course.
Jung believed that the psyche uses dreams in an effort to achieve balance. So, dreamers that experienced dreams of rising above were, in their waking lives, bogged down in the mundane (in its original sense of ‘earthly’) problems of their day-to-day life.
As ever, Freud links these dreams to sexual arousal. He did however link dreams of flying to a more literal overcoming of gravity too. He also suggested that they could be links to childhood experiences of being playfully thrown into the air or rocked by an adult.
Modern analysis of dreams tends to link positive dreams of flying with a dreamer’s yearning for freedom, with the brain attempting to find novel ways of overcoming our problems. These positive dreams can also indicate a need to find a broader perspective – to literally zoom out on your problems and not be bogged down by the minutiae of life, or that there is a transition or substantial change coming.
Negative flying dreams share much with dreams of falling – they can indicate loss, or losing touch with friends and family, or anxiety that we have taken on too big a task and, like Icarus, are flying too close to the sun.
From flying in a futuristic vehicle to flying over water or just simply through the sky, Superman-esque, there are meanings behind each. Let’s explore some of these in more detail:
Dreams that stay with us may not always hold a secret meaning. But as our brains use sleep to process our day-to-day existence, it pays to offer especially vivid or troubling dreams closer attention than we do. For that reason, looking at dreams of flying with historic analysis in mind can help dreamers to focus their self-reflection and find solutions that might not otherwise present themselves.
For those that dream of flying, that means identifying issues that we may be putting off but have the tools to deal with or to look for new approaches to issues that have been with us for a while.
The way to fly, according to Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is to ‘throw yourself at the ground and miss’ – simple really. Surrounded by birds and other flying creatures, it’s no wonder that flying has played a part in the human dreamscape since pre-history – it became such an obsession for Leonardo Da Vinci, that he designed the first helicopter and glider and features flying machines in many of his paintings.
Flying dreams, as such, occur from time to time in popular culture, but are more likely to present themselves as the fantasy itself – whether that’s Superman or Icarus or in paintings such as William Blake’s O, How I Dreamt of Things Impossible.