Have you ever had those end of the world dreams?
We have all woken up in the middle of the night or the morning’s wee hours with tiny beads of sweat trickling down our foreheads. The cold sweat, shivers, and (at times) mini shrieks are tangible effects nightmares can have on us. In the aftermath of the dreams, the toll it takes on our mind becomes visible as well— a sense of foreboding, grimness, and even jump-scares.
Well, nobody needs reminding of the nightmares that they have had. End of the world dreams is a category in itself among these nightmares. End of the world dreams come in many forms and are all are scary, to say the least. Some end of the world dreams include vivid stills of— the world collapsing, buildings crashing, pandemics spreading like wildfire, or simply people dropping dead like flies— as if the nightmares of waking life weren’t enough!
It is strange that even though we are aware of its inevitability, yet it terrifies us the most. Maybe because we have no idea of how or when it could actually happen, even with our advanced technologies and centuries of scientific research, we cannot tell anything for sure.
We become nothing, but a number of days. An hourglass with sand trickling down faster than anticipated.
What Role Does Religion Play at the End of the World Dreams?
We have all dreamed of an apocalypse. Religions preach the nature, causes, and aftermath of the apocalypse. It is a major part of monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam. The Book of Revelations of the New Testament speaks at length of the apocalyptic warning and hope.
Several chapters in The Quran talks about the day of judgment, Gog and Magog, and the blowing of the harp that would signal the end of the world. Therefore, for theists, the end of the world, and consequently, the end of the world-dreams, take more symbolic and highly personal meanings.
The Greek word apokálypsis has become significantly associated with the last book of the New Testament entitled “Revelation,” and also known as “the Apocalypse” or as “the Apocalypse of John.” The term is also included in the title of some non-biblical canon books involving revelations. Today, English-speakers commonly refer to any larger-scale catastrophic event or chain of detrimental events to humanity or nature as “an apocalypse” or “apocalyptic.”
Even the atheists who trace the origin of the universe in the big bang, have grandiose ideas about the cosmos and how the Earth, a miniature part of it, will get destroyed eventually. Every other day one reads news of a huge asteroid about to hit our planet and end all life. Although such news has grown less disturbing over time, they definitely trigger the end of the consistently horrific world dreams.
Dreams are a shadowy realm— where our beliefs, fantasies, emotions, and ideas get mixed and manifest.
The Interpretation of Dreams is an 1899 book by Sigmund Freud widely read to this day.
It talks about the theory of the ‘unconscious’ concerning interpretations of dreams and gives the ground for psychoanalysis.
Certainly, interpretations of dreams are a thing. But what is the use of interpretation, one may ask, as the end of the world dreams could only foreshadow doom, anxiety, or nihilism?
Positive Interpretations of End of the World Dreams
On the contrary, it is believed that such dreams are not necessarily negative. The end of something also signals the beginning of something new. The end of the world dreams symbolizes major changes in life. Research shows that people leaving old jobs, getting married, or moving away from home see a certain type of dream.
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Changes are a way of moving forward in life. It represents breaking off old habits. It could also reflect the acceptance of change in our life. Acceptance of unavoidable changes is not necessarily negative; rather, shows depict growth and maturity.
As is famously said— “learn to accept the things you can’t change.” Nevertheless, changes shake foundations and take time adjusting to, so dreams make us aware and come to our rescue.
It is also interesting to note with how much dedication we are researching, on how the world will end, while we definitely will not see its end. Being concerned with the end of the world is not an alarming thing. It is but natural, and a theory believed by one and all, although, the explanations surrounding the end may be varied. Owing to its inevitability, it is something to be partially concerned about.
If not anything, these dreams teach us to stop for a moment, think about our lives, and appreciate the smaller things we tend to ignore and be generally more grateful for this one life. We learn to value life when faced with facts that the world is about to be over soon. Perhaps your time is running out, and you need to decide on some issues.
Negative Interpretations of End of the World Dreams
More cold sweat follows the dreams if the interpretation of the end of the world dreams is negative. End of the world dreams or death dreams is rarely good. It’s almost always considered bad to die until you get into higher levels of thinking where you realize that death is merely the next stage of life. In a way, we are all dying small deaths every day.
It would represent failure, the end of something valuable precious, or something “that unnoticed and that necessary.” It is common in people dealing with the loss of a loved one, a breakup, or divorce. In such cases, the end of the world dreams reflects our deeply negative emotions.
An existential crisis also leads to such morbid dreams. The feeling of non-belongingness in a world of rat-race. A midlife crisis could also trigger it. Such dreams have as their premise, a collapsing world.
Now, a huge role to play in the interpretation is our response to the same in the dream. We could be someone in the dream attempting to escape— successfully or unsuccessfully.
If you’re MIA in your end of the world dreams, your absence is very much a presence. An absence of the self in the dream could also signify a lot. The person has no role to play or no rescue missions to run and is simply helpless in the wake of a world-ending before his eyes.
Anyway, if you are dreaming of the world coming to an end, don’t panic. It might seem scary, but an apocalyptic dream is not as strange or unusual as it might seem. These are not prophetic dreams that predict the future.
In fact, far removed from the future, they are triggered by (stressful) events of the past and present. Sometimes, uncertainty for the future, too, can cause anxiety in the present.
Often, we are in denial of what’s happening to us or around us. That doesn’t change the truth. The unconscious or sub-conscious emotions manifest through our dreams.
Therefore, being aware of our dreams and their meaning/ interpretation only helps us through the difficult moments in life. We have all watched the world collapsing and falling apart as we sleep— sometimes standing in the middle of it, sometimes only as a spectator, helpless, and sometimes the savior.
Blast From the Past: Did Our Forefathers Have End of the World Dreams?
Since times immemorial, human beings have looked to their dreams for deeper and greater meaning. In ancient Greece and Egypt, interpretations of the dreams were for their prophetic properties. Temples even had the inclusion of whole dormitories for people to sleep in while they waited for a dream message!
Catherine de Medici’s son had a dream that he lost the crown jewels, and when it happened, it was interpreted as a sign that his life was in danger. He was advised to avoid any personal risk (though he was still murdered after three days).
Napoleon Bonaparte’s mother supposedly dreamt that an eagle was born to her while she was pregnant with him. No dream dictionary is required to connect the dots on this one.
Numerous mathematicians, inventors, and artists— including Benjamin Franklin — said they found solutions to issues in their dreams!
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So, is there a ‘dream dictionary,’ common symbolism, or metaphors? One can find several online websites and dictionaries that promise to interpret your dreams.
According to Ann Cutler, a licensed psychoanalyst, no dream dictionary can replace the depth of information that a dreamer’s own association with images he dreams about. For example, people who live near the ocean might have frequent dreams related to oceans. For a person who might have experienced a near-drowning situation, the ocean would have varied connotations.
It all makes sense. Our brains aren’t all exactly like one another, so why would the dreams have a similar meaning?
And for dreams about the apocalypse, Cutler said that they ain’t uncommon. “They’re sort of anxiety-based dreams in general…those typically result in dreams that have a fairly dramatic component.”
Are there really so many chances of the world ending? A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event that could put human well-being at risk on a global scale, even endangering modern civilization. An existential risk is an event that could lead to human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail humanity’s potential.
Potential global catastrophic risks consist of anthropogenic risks, caused by humans (technology, governance, climate change), and non-anthropogenic or external risks. Hostile artificial intelligence and destructive technology are some of the likes of technological risks. Insufficient or malignant governance globally create risks in the social and political domain, such as war, including nuclear wars, bioterrorism using genetically modified organisms, cyberterrorism, or failure to contain a natural pandemic.
Problems and risks in our planet’s domain include global warming, environmental degradation, extinction of species, famines as a result of non-equitable resource distribution, overpopulation, crop reduction and failures, and non-sustainable lifestyle.
Examples of non-anthropogenic risks are an asteroid impact, a volcanic eruption, a lethal gamma-ray burst, radioactive explosions, marine oil spills, climate change, or even hostile extra-terrestrial life taking over the Earth.
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Psychoanalyst, Ann Cutler has her own website that offers consultation on what our dreams mean. It reads:
“Are you curious about what your dreams mean? “Do you wake up some mornings with either wonderful or frightening dream images that seem mysterious and indecipherable?”
“Do you think that if only you could interpret what your dreams mean, you would know more about yourself? You can unlock the meanings of your dreams. I can help.”
For instance, the end of the world dreams involving an earthquake is believed to suggest that you are experiencing a major “shake-up” that is threatening your stability and foundation. The dream highlights your insecurity, fear, and sense of helplessness. Is there something in your life that you feel at “fault” for?
If you find cover from the quake, you will overcome these challenges. If you become trapped or injured during the disaster, you will face some or other losses in your life. According to the Bible, earthquakes are symbolic of God’s anger and power.
By the above logic, often, only we can discern what our dreams mean. It doesn’t matter whether it’s valid or not. It’s fun to feel like we are learning more about ourselves.
No wonder, we check our horoscopes almost every day. We love explanations of bizarre things. With practice, we can find the cryptic meaning behind our dreams.
But we should know where to draw the line between taking our imagination at the end of the world dreams, too seriously, in real life. It could just be that you’ve watched several horror films. So, sometimes those bizarre zombies that take over the planet are simply bizarre—nothing more, nothing less.