What Do Ghost Dreams Mean?

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Last Modified 15 May 2024   First Added 13 December 2021

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

What does it mean to see ghosts in your dreams?

Seeing a ghost in your dreams can evoke a sense of worry and concern when you wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, but don’t worry: you’re not alone or going crazy. There are many reasons you may be seeing a ghost in your dreams. Use this article to find the answer and go to sleep feeling at ease.

Many people believe a ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. Ghosts have been described as everything from wispy shapes to realistic forms and seeing or being chased by a ghost are among the most common dreams. As part of our series of articles about dream interpretation we explore ghost dreams and how this type of dream symbolises unfinished business.

The dream:

You’re at home with a group of friends and you all decide to head out. The five of you get into a friend’s car, then you realise you’ve forgotten your wallet and head back indoors to get it. As you head upstairs you see a shadowy figure out of the corner of your eye and a feeling of uneasiness washes over you. You turn to look, and it’s gone, so you grab your wallet and rush to get out of the front door. As you flick the last light switch, the house is plunged into darkness and you can feel something on your back. Feeling scared now, you keep looking ahead and jog down the long front path towards your friends waiting in the car. Relieved, you climb into the passenger’s seat and you’re smiling to yourself for getting spooked out for no reason, when one of your friends asks: “What about your brother, isn’t he coming with us?”

You answer: “What do you mean? He went to work early tonight, he’s already gone.”

The next question they ask is: “So who was walking behind you when you were leaving the house?”

Variations of the dream:

Dreams about ghosts vary widely. You may dream of a ghost attacking you, or perhaps you’re being chased by a ghost or evil spirits. A ghost might talk to you and it could be a friend or relative – or someone you don’t know. It could appear around your home as unidentifiable light or a white ghost, like those depicted in cartoons.

In some dreams the ghost could even be you!

Meaning(s) of the dream:

Reports of seeing ghosts, hearing voices and being possessed by demonic spirits are common in cultures across the world. The ancient texts of the great religions describe voices that speak from the air, visions that others can’t see and dead people who walk among the living. They’re extraordinary stories, but the events they describe are deeply human so it’s not surprising that ghosts, demons and evil spirits have made their way into popular culture and are common themes in many people’s dreams.

The meanings of these dreams can be as varied as the dreams themselves, but the overriding theme tends to be some unfinished business is haunting you. Some psychics believe you can be visited by an actual ghost or spirit, particularly if you find the dream experience more vivid and real than usual.

Common meanings behind ghost dreams

When you’re dreaming, you’ve left your conscious and rational mind behind, so you may be more open to spiritual symbolism. So, while dreaming about a ghost can be spooky, it might simply be your subconscious trying to tell you something — and a little self-reflection might help you interpret the dream and figure out exactly what that message is.


Common takes on dreams about ghosts:

From a ghost attacking you to becoming a ghost yourself, we look at some of the more precise meanings of specific ghost dreams below:

1. A ghost attacking you

Is a ghost attacking you in your dream? This can mean you feel overwhelmed by situations or people in your life – and out of control.

Dreaming about being attacked by a ghost can also symbolise your fear of the unknown. If you’re someone who often worries about what is yet to happen, this can be a common dream. You tend to feel anxious and have a sense of impending doom, as though something bad is about to happen soon.

Ghost attack dreams represent your vulnerable emotional state. It might be time to deal with negative emotions head-on, so you can feel more in control of your life.

2. Becoming a ghost

Dreams about becoming a ghost suggest you’re feeling guilty or fearful of something in your past. You’re being challenged to listen to your inner voice and confront your emotions so you can deal with the issue that’s causing this dream.

3. Being possessed by an evil spirit

Dreaming about an evil spirit that’s possessing or paralysing you? Chances are you’re experiencing sleep paralysis. This is scary as you’ll feel unable to move or speak when you’re falling asleep or waking up.

Sleep paralysis, also known as atonia, is a condition that affects your ability to move your body during the time you’re falling asleep or when you’re trying to wake up, whether that be during the night or when you’re getting up for work.

Unfortunately, healthcare professionals aren’t sure about the direct causes of sleep paralysis or why it affects our bodies the way it does. If you are stuck in a state of paralysis, it can be scary, but it’s important to try and remain calm as it should be over a short period.

It’s a product of your partially awake brain and If this condition affects you often there are certain ways you can try and combat this. You can help avoid this kind of dream by sticking to a regular bedtime routine and getting into healthy bedtime habits. Take a look at our article on sleep paralysis.

Answering the dream:

So what can you do if you’re experiencing ghost dreams? Dream expert Theresa Cheung says: “Dreaming about a ghost tends to refer to unfinished business you need to deal with because it is ‘haunting‘ you. If there’s ghost imagery in your dreams, try to dig deep and figure out if there are any loose ends that need tying up in your life that might be weighing on your subconscious.”

Notable appearances in popular culture:

Featuring in everything from horror films like Poltergeist and Sixth Sense to the cartoon Casper the Friendly Ghost and Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Christmas Carol, ghosts are a mainstay of popular culture and it’s no wonder they make it into our dreams.

Find out more about dreams that evoke strong emotions by reading our articles on being chased in your dream, why your teeth fall out in your dream and what it means to be late in your dream.

For more, check out the meanings of another common dream about teeth falling out. Or, another embarrassing moment is dreaming of being naked. And you can find many more dream meanings within our Dream Encyclopaedia.

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