What Causes Nightmares From A Shamanic Dreamwork Perspective

Nightmares can be truly terrifying! And when you have a bad dream, I bet you want to forget about it right away.  Everything changes when you understand nightmares from a shamanic dreamwork perspective though. Once the cause is identified you can learn how to help with nightmares since they can actually heal you. You’ll then appreciate their significance as a huge opportunity for you to change and grow.

Why Is Shamanic Dreamwork Important?

This is part 2 of 2 in a shamanic dreamwork series.  I’m offering you this article with the hope that you’ll start to think of your nightmares differently. Instead of feeling helpless and scared, you’ll start to investigate them with more curiosity and understanding. This perspective is way more empowering! 

There’s one thing I want to repeat from Part 1 before we start talking about the spiritual meaning of nightmares:

Your brain can’t tell the difference between waking and dream life.  

The emotional distress you feel in a dream affects the body the same way an event in “real life” would.

So we need to be addressing any stress you’re experiencing in your dreams too.  If you’re having a lot of nightmares, especially if they are recurring, it is a serious symptom and not something you should brush off.

What Do Nightmares Mean?

There are a few possibilities to investigate.

Remember that all dreams are created by spirits in the shamanic dreamworld. The quality and messages of the dreams relate to the types of spirits sending them and their intentions.

Nightmares From Our Spirit Guides

Even good spirits can give us nightmares. Bad dreams can be from our own spirit – what we may also call our subconsciousness. They could be our higher self. Or they may be messages from our beneficial spirit guides. 

Why would our helping spirits want to do this?  Why would they want to scare us this way?

The messages need to be shocking enough for us to pay attention to so we don’t ignore them. 

Spirits may be reaching out to us in our dreams to:

  • Warn us about and imbalance with our physical, mental, or emotional health 
  • Alert us to pay attention to something or someone threatening our peace 
  • Bring consciousness to something we’ve been in denial about
  • Prepare us for certain events to come (premonitions)

Example of Nightmare: My Frightening Roller Coaster Premonition

Here’s a nightmare example of mine that I believe was caused by my helping spirits. 

I’ve always had very vivid dreams, and I used to have a lot of nightmares.  One of the nightmares I had was actually a recurring dream about roller coasters. 

The scenario was always a little different. Sometimes the roller coaster took off without me being buckled in and I had to hang on with my hands.  Sometimes I was strapped in, but we got stuck upside down.  I always assumed it was just my dreams trying to process stress in my waking life…until I have a real life issue on a roller coaster.

When I was about 30 years old I took my much younger brother to Disney California Adventure.  We went on every ride we could over and over again.  The last day, we went on the roller coaster California Screamin’.

The ride completely stopped on the peak of the tallest hill.

Immediately, workers climbed up to help us out.  I was freaking out inside since I have a fear of heights, but I had to play it cool for my brother.  The whole time as we were walking down a very narrow staircase to the ground, I was thinking: “I can’t believe this is actually happening”.

I do believe the spirits were preparing me for that one event. It would have been way more traumatic for me had I not have been prepared in my dreams. What’s especially interesting is that the roller coaster dreams stopped after this incident.


So if you have a nightmare that is scary or just upsetting (not in an evil way, but in a way that you just don’t like what you see), definitely pay attention to this and consider that the spirits are trying to tell you something.  

The messages, symbols, and the feelings they convey are meant to be understood by you! So if you think it means something, you’re probably right. I suggest you assume so and start to make changes to address it.

Nightmares From Suffering Spirits

We don’t define people or spirits as good or bad in shamanism. We refer to these as “suffering spirits” who may seek connection to us through nightmares.  

(The name “suffering spirits” brings in more compassion when dealing with them, instead of calling them ghosts, demons, or whatever. Those other terms usually has a very negative connotation and when we obsess on defining them, we’re also giving the negative energy and these beings more power. With the shamanic perspective, we are careful to lead with love and that’s what our power to heal is derived from.)

The feeling with nightmares caused by suffering spirits is different.  Dreams may feel intrusive, shameful, gross, or even evil in addition to causing fear. 

When we are connecting with suffering spirits this way it’s because we have a lack of personal power, poor boundaries, or are not grounded (too open). We talked about this in a past article on clearing Negative Energy & Beings, that when we’re connecting with something negative it’s because we are resonating with it.

So ultimately it is good to know this because what’s happening in our dream life is most likely happening in waking life.  Poor boundaries and lack of power can be evident in our relationships, at work, with our health, and how we engage in the world.

Example of Nightmare: How We Stopped My Client’s Terrifying Recurring Dream

One of my clients is in her 60s and has been having a recurring dream for over 30 year. A man enters her home, screams that he wants to kill her, and rushes at her.  Each time, she wakes up screaming. This obviously adds stress to her household!

When she first told me about it, it was nonchalantly as I asked about her sleep in a TCM session.  I had to redirect our treatment since we were focused her diet at the time. Resolving this nightmare and the stress it was causing her was obviously more important!

We talked about personal boundaries and inner power which is the lesson given with shamanic dreamwork.  I gave her a Taoist meditation for spiritual protection (that I only offer to my clients). I asked her to do this every night before bed. 

The dreams dramatically stopped, after having them regularly for years.  I just checked in with her as I’m writing this and she says that as long as she’s focusing on the meditation and intention before sleep and of course establishing boundaries in her life, the nightmare doesn’t come. And even when it occasionally does, it’s not as threatening. She’s aware now of what causes the nightmare, and is quite happy to reestablish her inner power.

How To Help With Nightmares…

So with this understanding of shamanic healing for nightmares, you can continue to work with your dreams in the manner we discussed in the first video. You can help reduce nightmares by journaling, asking for protection from your spirit guides, working with lucid dreaming.

It requires a lot more bravery to confront these nightmares and the spirits causing them, but that means that you will grow stronger from the experience.

I would love to help you with this deeper work.  My Pathway To Empowerment 6 week coaching program which is based on shamanic healing would be perfect for you if you have a lot of bad dreams and want to learn how to help with nightmares. We can also clear negative energy, intrusive thoughts, or other symptoms of spiritual disconnection or disempowerment.

Check it out at the button below and schedule a call with me if you’d like to talk more about it before committing.

Pathway to Empowerment 6 week coaching and spiritual healing program

Thank you for reading friend!  I hope you learned how to help with nightmares if they’re an issue for you.

If you enjoyed this post & video please tell me about it in the comments below! And consider sharing it with a friend who could use this support.

Many blessings to you…

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BrandyFalconLAc
Brandy Falcon, L.Ac., E-RYT

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