Gorilla Symbolism in Dreams & as Spirit Animal

In developing self consciousness and rationality, with its labyrinth of ideas and decisions, humans lost a sense of oneness and connection with the Nature that surrounds them.

Thus, gorillas in dreams are often associated with a feeling of sorrow at the loss of a world of experience humans are no longer able to have.

We also sometimes associate apes (especially chimpanzees) with humor, and with the “chained up” animal self inside (e.g., King Kong). Gorillas, like other apes, can also be a symbol of mimicry.

As our closest animal relatives, apes such as gorillas can represent the natural, instinctual wisdom that most of us have lost, particularly if the dream animal is a gray-haired ape.

In dreams, gorillas, especially if they are white haired, are associated with enormous accumulated wisdom derived from complex instincts and social codes.

As humans, we can also access this wisdom by listening to our unconscious mind and rediscover this vast wealth of information we have about things like social behavior and body language.

Alternatively, the gorilla might not be a symbol of wisdom at all, but a warning of letting instincts dominate us and our rationality.

Finally, gorillas and apes in general are a common symbolic spirit animal because of their mobility and intelligence, but also because of their cunning, strong sexual drive, ability to imitate, and quarrelsome greediness.

Gorilla as a symbol of inner instincts

In dreams, apes, such as gorillas, traditionally symbolize uncleanliness and dirt, and also the automatic, or subjective mind.

Thus, a gorilla in a dream often represents our instincts, especially our sexual impulses.

In dreams, taming the gorilla is a sign of psychological health, since you are able to channel your instincts and urges.

Fighting the gorilla however, indicates repression of those same impulses..

These dreams are a message that you need to control your impulses, channeling them appropriately but without repressing them.

To dream of apes, monkeys, gorillas, or baboons suggests a link with the impulsive, imprudent, inquisitive side of ourselves, such as the self-centered grabbing of food, or sexual gratification without concern for the needs of the other person.

If the gorilla holds a mirror in its hand, the dream symbolizes (through the physical similarity of a gorilla to people) how humankind has descended into animal form because of its vices, especially greed, lust, and vanity.

A chained gorilla usually represents completely conquering and overpowering our instincts, giving them no freedom whatsoever.

Gorillas are gentle

A gorilla usually has a gentle nature, so this dream could represent a part of you that longs for a simpler and more natural way of living.

An gorilla that causes you fear may represent a part of yourself that wants to be at peace, but cannot because of internal, mental reasons, or outside forces that disturb the peace.

Undeveloped aspects of our personality,

As an animal so similar to the human being, gorillas are often associated with mankind’s less developed qualities.

This is because a gorilla is considered our animalistic shadow, a distorted image of ourselves. We are afraid of the “ape” within us, because it is only looking for physical gratification.

Apes, such as chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, frequently appear in dreams as stupid or clumsy versions of humans. But, as people in Borneo say, “if orangutans do not talk, it is because they are too wise.”

In psychoanalytic dream interpretation, the gorilla is often viewed as a symbol of shamelessness, inner turmoil, or as a caricature of human personality (because of the gorilla’s humanlike appearance).

A sense of family

Apes in general, but gorillas in particular, form social bonds that are both strong and complex.

Unlike chimpanzees however, gorillas tend to be much more caring and nurturing with one another, and much less prone to conflict.

Because of this, gorillas in dreams often represent the desire to have a strong, caring family that is tight knit.

This interpretation of a gorilla in dreams gains even more strength if it interacts with other gorillas in its social group.

A Gorilla’s Wisdom

Dreaming about gorillas, especially white-haired ones, involves dreaming about the dreamer’s own unconscious wisdom: the wonderful experience of being alive with all the powers of a living creature, such as strength, passion, awe, and wonder as they meet life and the stars.

The question now is, do you believe your dream gorilla reveals a wiser side of you?

Finally, gorillas, since they are primates, are also associated with the three mystic monkeys that cover their eyes, ears, and mouth showing that they “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”.

There are multiple ways to interpret “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”.

One is to cleanse yourself of all evil thoughts, as well as avoid them later on.

Another is to pretend that no evil exists at all.

The final interpretation is that of keeping a code of silence about evil deeds that you’ve already committed, or witnessed.

Thus, a gorilla in a dream can be both a symbol of wisdom, and avoidance of evil, but also as a symbol for us ignoring the evil in our life.

Learning through mimicry and imitation

One of the qualities of gorillas and apes in general is their ability to mimic, to copy and to learn by experience. To dream of gorillas may alert us to this ability, or for the need for us to learn by example.

Is the gorilla in your dream trying to learn a particular skill or complete a certain task?

If yes, try to remember what skill or task it attempted to do.

This may be a hint that you should attempt to do these in waking life.

The gorilla is a powerful, unpredictable person in waking life

Gorillas may be gentle in real life, but they are also terrifyingly powerful and intimidating animals.

Their behavior is unpredictable, since at any time their temperament can switch from gentle to violent.

In this interpretation, a gorilla in a dream can represent a powerful person in waking life, whom the dreamer has no control over.

Thus, a gorilla dream can highlight anxieties and fears about the uncontrolled power of this authority figure, and what destruction this person can unleash in the life of the dreamer.

The takeaway from such a dream is to figure out who this authority figure is, and how to maneuver around them, or even better, how to neutralize their power.

Another possible interpretation is to be extra cautious in your business dealings, so that you do not sign a contract that makes the other person the “gorilla in the room” that has sufficient power to force you into anything.

Gorilla as a symbol of transformation

The gorilla is a unique creature, since it is at once both an animal but also humanlike in appearance and sometimes even in behavior.

Because of this, the gorilla is a transition symbol. One that acts as a bridge between humanity and nature, from animal to human and even from life to death.

Thus, seeing a gorilla in a dream could symbolize the person is undergoing a transformation of sorts. However, this transformation can go either way.

Thus, whether the gorilla in the dream represents a step forward or one backwards is up to the dreamer to figure out, based on the circumstances taking place in their life.

Finally, a gorilla in a sitting posture represents equilibrium between light and darkness, truth and error.

Gorillas and apes in other cultures

In India, primates are associated with human attitudes that surrender in the face of worries, doubts, and fears.

However, according to Hindu belief, Hanuman, the monkey god, teaches us that each of us possesses infinite power.

In Ancient Egypt primates were a symbol of wisdom and of the god Thoth, patron of the art of writing.

In Christian art gorillas and apes in general represent malice, lust, and cunning. For Christians in the earlier Middle Ages, the ape signified heresy and pagan beliefs, but not necessarily human sinfulness.

In the Gothic era an ape with an apple in its mouth came to signify the Fall of Man to his animalistic tendencies.

The Renaissance used this image as an attribute of Taste, one of the five senses. In the ape, man recognized a distorted and baser image of himself. The ape became associated with vice in general, and was also used as a symbol of lust.

For a time, women dreaming of gorillas or other large animals were thought to be fascinated by a particular man, or manhood as an idea. This interpretation partly explains the tale of the Beauty and the Beast myth.

In China, Japan and South-East Asia primates were generally considered to symbolize wisdom. The three apes from the “Holy Stall” in Nikko are famous in this regard: one covers its eyes, an- other its ears, and the third its mouth (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”).

Curiously, primates in this region were often described as blind, deaf, and dumb as a sory of irony, since they were supposedly messengers who reported to the gods on the behavior of humans.

During the Middle Ages, artists were essentially regarded as imitators , and their skill became firmly associated with the animal that was renowned for its mimicry. A popular saying depicting this idea was “Ars simia Naturae” or “Art is the ape of nature”, which was especially popular among Flemish painters of the 17th century.

Generally, they depicted the artist as an ape painting or carving a portrait of a female, usually human. As part of this parody, apes sat at the dinner table, played cards or musical instruments, drank, danced, skated, etc. Cats and owls, in particular, sometimes replaced apes. The artists of the time were satirizing man’s pretentiousness, follies and vanities.


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