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Tornadoes as a Dream Symbol

Throughout history and around the world, people have seen tornadoes as manifestations of God’s will. In the Book of Job in the Old Testament, God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind. In Hosea, the whirlwind is the punishment of the wicked. The fearsome power of tornadoes, and wind in general, is associated with the omnipotence of deities. Because of their shape, tornadoes are also associated with spirals and so carry the weight of the created universe, from galaxies to the human ear. Yet a tornado has a wildness to it that suggests vengefulness and fury.

When a tornado shows up in a dream, it often carries with it the metaphorical meaning of a message from the Divine, or our spiritual selves. Jeremy Taylor has a thorough article on tornadoes on his website, and states that in his extensive experience, “The dream ‘tornado’, over and over again, turns out to be symbol of the dreamer’s own personal relationship to the deepest unasked and unanswered psycho-spiritual questions is his/her life, and these issues always have transpersonal implications as well.” When I dream of a tornado, then, it’s worth asking what questions I’ve been grappling with, or should be grappling with, in my psyche or spirit.

We have many images of tornadoes in our collective awareness, from the one in The Wizard of Oz to the ones that are caught on video by bystanders and tornado chasers and news cameras. It’s easy to see how such an image could influence a dreamer’s night time dreams, especially if those images were first seen at an impressionable young age. But it’s simplistic to “blame” a movie version of a tornado for repeated tornado dreams. Millions of people have seen The Wizard of Oz, yet not every person who saw it for the first time as young child has recurring tornado dreams. A more interesting approach, to me, is to ask why the image captures some people’s imaginations so strongly, while not affecting others. My projection is that the tornado shows up in dreams because, as the dreamer, I have a spiritual calling or a deep issue within my psyche that needs my attention. The tornado gets my attention in a big way, especially if the dream feels nightmarish, and by its intensity suggests that the spiritual question is of the utmost importance in my life.

The tornado in the Wizard of Oz acts as a transformative agent, taking Dorothy out of her familiar life and depositing her in a strange world where she discovers that she has more power than she’d ever imagined. This symbolism holds true in many tornado dreams, where the new, strange world is a metaphorical one, but the dreamer’s ability to discover unexpected abilities and powers is literal.

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84 thoughts on “Tornadoes as a Dream Symbol”

  1. I just woke up from my first tornado dream. It started going into the house I grew up in but having to avoid a bat in my driveway before entering. The first part of the dream was telling my sister in the house that it was going to get very cold that night, (unusual as it was spring or summer in the dream). It was already snowing outside and I told her it was going to get worse, after midnight it was going to start to be freezing cold.

    Then the house I was in was no longer my house, It was much bigger. At some point I was looking at my phone which had a broken screen but was still working and i was thinking of I needed to get fixed before something (before what I’m not sure).

    Then I was downstairs, and I came across someone I work with who I was talking to about his dog. I look out the window And I see a large tornado with a few other smaller ones around it. I point it out to my colleague, I feel like we should try to get cover and I try to get into a closet next to me as it’s approaching but before I can get in, I feel a big gust of wind and it breaks the large window I was looking out of. Water enters the house, but just at shallow level. There is glass everywhere, but no one is hurt. At one point there is a child in the room, I am trying to get them out of the room but they are watching a huge (like a giant) dancing woman’ at the window (all I can see is a fuzzy dark silhouette of her though) she was dancing in a stomping way with her legs, it seemed to represent a dance of chaos. I took the child away and explained to them they shouldn’t watch, be drawn into the dancing woman.

    I returned to the room (dancing woman gone) to get my phone and my colleagues. Earlier in my dream I thought they were lost in the ‘flood’ of water that came in. There wasn’t that much water left, and I felt no fear over walking over the broken glass On the floor in my bare feet, which didn’t cut me at all. I found both our phones which were both plugged in and I told my colleague we were lucky they were attached to the charging cables or they would’ve been lost in the flood.

    We went upstairs and there were other people in the house, I don’t know who they are but all the windows are broken upstairs also and we are talking about it.

    Overall the house was still standing, just the windows broke and we were all safe, and there was sense of ‘freshness’ after the storm and that somehow the floodwater was cleansing in some way.

    I wonder if the dream is about the pandemic – avoiding the bat before entering the house, aren’t bats known for carrying disease? There was much more to the dream before also but somtimes my dreams tend to be epically long so I just wrote about the tornado part.

    1. Katie, my teacher always said that the dreamer’s intuition about the meaning of their dream is one of the truths of it, and I certainly thought of the pandemic all the way through this dream. I’ve been thinking about how the virus is like tornadoes in that either can wipe out one house and leave the next one standing. Some of us will survive the virus with no problems, and others won’t. The broken glass that doesn’t cut my feet made me think of the illness causing “ground glass opacities” in the lungs. Broken glass often also represents the breakthrough of understanding something not just at an intellectual level, but at an emotional, deep level. The huge dancing woman makes me think of Mother Earth–that which gives us life and also takes it away again. The sense of “freshness” makes it feel like an encouraging dream, like I will weather this storm/pandemic and see what changes it brings.

      1. Thank you Laura for your reply! It’s given me a deeper perspective on the dream. I actually am just recovering from a mild case of covid myself, but didn’t think of it directly relating to me. I didn’t have the cough or fever, but I developed the ‘covid rash’ and extreme fatigue and dizziness. I just kept thinking though I was grateful it didn’t go to my lungs. It was a surreal few weeks for me as I live on my own in London. I think I must be just processing the last few weeks as finally recovering after almost a month.

        1. Katie, I’m so glad you’re recovering! And that my comments gave you deeper understanding of the dream. I hope your recovery continues well, and that you’re back to full health soon. Since you’re an artist, I wonder if you would get more understanding of the dancing figure if you paint her.

  2. Also it occurred to me the giant dancing woman was very archetypal, like possibly a ‘Crone’ – she was terrifying and chaotic, stomping side to side. I am an artist and paint hyper real pictures of the rainforest – that are beautiful yet sometimes chilling – I have a deep respect and awe for nature, both it’s beauty and it’s power.

  3. Please can somebody give me an explanation on my real live experience in my quite time with God, here is my story. I was in prayer one morning and the next minute I found myself in the horrific twister I was in the eye of the twister looking up as it bends just like in the movies way way high I see this clear blue sky and for a few moments these pair of eyes looking down on me. The next minute this soft white slik sheet came floating down towards me slowly coming down until it enters my body at that very instant I started rubbing my body vigorously from head to toe but hard real hard and vigorously and as I’m rubbing I am pulling out black string like black satin long pieces an I hear this voice saying it is demons cast them onto the Hadada Bird (A big Bird found in Africa) sitting outside, as soon as I did this the bird took off making the sound it always does when taking off. This all happening while my eyes are closed, I then opened the Bible on Ps. 4:1. I didn’t know there was n bird outside my window, all the time I was in the twister I felt save and the Holly Ghosts was with me in the twister I could feel His presents with me. Please can somebody explain what this experience means and what God could be asking of me??

    1. Waking visions like this are very dreamlike! When I imagine this experience I think of being in the “eye” of a storm, where things are calm. I can endure the wind around me because I am safe in God’s presence. Psalm 4:1 is about calling on God in our distress. I hadn’t heard of the Hadada Bird, but when I looked it up I found a story about a couple who refused food so that there would be enough for their children, and they turned into Hadada birds. So I wonder if the bird is to carry my demons away the way the parent birds carried hunger so their children would be able to eat. The white silk and black satin feel like spirit and shadow–shadow being the parts of myself that are unconscious. They look like demons if I have never faced them before. The vision allows me to cast these “demons” onto the bird, and birds are seen in many cultures as messengers to God. So when I imagine this for myself, I am being instructed to let the things that trouble me go, to be carried to God. I need only trust that I will be taken care of.

  4. So I had a dream about a storm and there were tornadoes everywhere, first I was busy driving and then the next thing I noticed is that I was inside a house, safe and sound from the storm. Then I thought about the dream and linked it to the disciples on the boat in the stormy waters, and Psalm 91. No harm will come near me and I will be safe in the storm (given the situation we are all in world wide)?

    1. I certainly hope that you will be safe in the storm. The dream suggests to me that relationships (driving) might be vulnerable to the storms, but I am safe.

  5. I have had dreams about tornadoes throughout my entire life. Most of the time, they are off in the distance. I have always been able to get myself and my family to safety. I live in an area where there are few, if any, tornadoes. So real life tornado threats are not influencing my dreams. Last night I had a dream of many small fire-filled twisters that appeared from thin air. They were very erratic, and I had a sense that they were alive, possessing some form of being. My sense was they were lost and confused, not vengeful or threatening. Somehow I received the knowledge that they were returning to Earth after over 2000 years of dormancy. One of the fire twisters came directly at me, it was around 8 ft tall. I could hear the crackling and roar of fire and feel the intense heat. I couldn’t get away fast enough and it singed my right cheek. Afterwards, I was able to gather my family and pets and we went into our home where we knew we would be safe. Once inside the house, I counted the bedrooms; there were 7 (which seems odd, yet significant – my actual house does not have 7 bedrooms).

    1. What a powerful dream! Fire-filled and returning after 2000 years makes me think about the Biblical description of God speaking to Moses through the burning bush. If this were my dream, I would think that I am being offered a chance at some intense transformation and change. Fires often represent transformation, and 7 is a spiritual number in many religions around the world. Bedrooms are where I sleep and dream, so perhaps this change will be coming to me through my dreams. Thank you for posting!

  6. I had a dream last night. I will go into detail as this tornado definitely has my attention. I stated to have fun on the beach with my buddies and everyone went off their own way. I ended up sitting at a table with my mom and a few people I had no clue who they were but they definetly had faces of people and bodies that looked very real. Some people had tattoos and all had their own style and ethnicity. Some people were there with there wives and husbands sitting at tables around us at a open restaurant on the coast of a beach. It was beautiful and sunny and peaceful. There was music and everything well suddenly every voice in the entire restaurant went quiet and I looked at a man behind me with his wife as everyone else was all looking out at the shore of the sea. It was a sudden stop too everyone having a good time just talking. I look at what they are looking at and it was about 15 tornados heading towards the shore and one of them was just landing to the shore on the right side of my eyes. My mom frantically looks at me and said “Christian run”. At this point I knew it was too late too escape that many tornados so I stood still and closed my eyes. These tornados didn’t make me feel scared but I often think about the end of the world and my life in general. I pray that someone could give me a revelation to this dream I often hear about one tornado that is huge but not a family of tornados. When I looked at all of the tornados I remember feeling as if I wasn’t in the right place in life and didn’t want to see the tornados. I wasn’t as scared since I know death is inevitable in this world. I read the Bible and have been taught about the prophecies and what I need to do I n life to live the best for Jesus Christ. I know demons walk the earth but for everyone not to express fear and just hear my mom tell me to run made me think this was more of a personal life experience. Anyone have experience with a family of tornados in a dream?

  7. I had a dream about a tornado and would like some second opinions on it. I don’t usually think too much about dreams when I have one, but this one was especially vivid and frightening. Here is the dream: I was standing looking out at a lake ankle deep in the water, I was watching a tornado of birds, thousands of birds flying together forming a tornado.
    I was not afraid of it just more aware.
    Then it was me and two of my brothers watching the tornado of birds together.
    We stood there in aw and watched this strange phenomenon.
    There was a small sense of Anger and chaos in the air.
    Then a man on a jet-skie came riding in toward us I felt his anger toward me and my brothers.
    I noticed the man was African American.
    He started circling us with his jet-skie, we all just stood there afraid of what he was doing, then all the sudden he turned and raced at me and my brothers.
    I dodged the jet-skie and raced out of the water.
    I looked back and saw my brother dodging the jet-skie also.
    Then all of the sudden I was aware that for some reason the African Americans were angry with the whites and had decided to massacre them, kill, rid of.
    I raced into a nearby large shack. I for some reason knew that white men in the shack where killed.
    When I got into the shark I raced passed a crying black woman with children gathered around, I knew I had to escape or I would be killed so I raced out into some wood threw an opening in the back of the shack.
    As I passed the woman and children I noticed a small child suffering, someone had harmed him, he was bleeding out, in between death and life.
    I didn’t see if the child was sark skin or not I kept my eyes from the seen as to not see the suffering.
    Sorrow struck my heart as I raced out of the back of the shack.
    I shook a child of one of my legs, he had grabbed on to me when I was in the shack.
    I ran into the woods and started praying for god to save me, I prayed for forgiveness for men killing men.
    I felt the almighty power of god as I started to float into the air.
    I was somewhat unaware that I was now 20 feet of the ground I was praying in tongues begging god for forgiveness and to save me. I was just above the tree tops when I woke up.
    Confused, scared.
    Then I remembered where I was.

    1. Wow, Jack, that is quite a dream. It evokes for me the anxiety of race relations that the USA is going through now, though in my experience, everything in the dream is a part of me, and also a metaphor not to be taken literally. The tornado of birds feels very much like the storm of voices crying out for social justice, and the force of change as we work toward that. From the dream, it appears the dreamer has strong faith in God, and knows that killing is wrong. In my imagined version, I have anxiety about being part of institutional racism, even though I personally have compassion for the suffering of individuals, no matter what their skin color. And in my experience, death in dreams is always about profound transformation and change, so I’m wondering if the dreamer is experiencing changing attitudes toward social justice and racism as so many voices are raised. Thank you for sharing your dream.

  8. I had a dream yesterday. I was walking in the streets with my four year old son and all of the sudden a tornado started. So, I felt trapped and decide to ask for shelter in any house in front of us. But I notice that every house I chose, immediately the tornado changed course towards me. So, this happened quite few time, till I stopped in the middle of the street and I heard a voice telling me: YOU HAVE TO FACE THIS! So, I stay in place and thought: I’LL PRETEND I GAVE UP, AND WHEN IT COMES FOR ME I’LL PUSH MY SON AWAY AND HE WILL BE SAFE, I DON’T CARE ABOUT ME! The tornado began to approach us and then It stopped, and kept swirling and swirling like it was alive and provoking me. But I stood firm. So as it began, he started to dissipate and died. Later I went home and behind my house there was a river with clear and quiet waters… My son and I went to dive in it, It was so calm and fun, and relaxing… I woke up at 2 am with my Bible playing on my phone as when I was to sleep! If anyone wants to dive in and say a woed about this dream, please feel free! Thank you

  9. Ive had a few tornado dreams..1st my son and i where at my mother’s and we seen a few tornados out side…so i tell my mom and aunt…then i grab my son and head for the basement. My mom and aunt dont listen to me..theh walk out and go where ever…my son wait in the basement on the floor in the protection position. 2nd one…my son and i are at a house ive never seen…some people i know are there…but not close with. I look out the window…there are multiple tornados…so i tell everyone and carry my son down to the basement for safety.

  10. What does it mean?
    So I’ve been having issues with my sleep for the last few day and at times extremely tired during the day and mind wide away at night. So, I just had a dream that I was riding with my mom and saw a bluish tornado forming in a field. As we drove closer the tornado touched ground was was spinning and skinny. But there was another tornado behind it that was reddish-orange (Fire) and it was not destroying but burning what looks like a top portion for a church building. We were kept driving while saying “oh my God, this fire tornado is destroying that church). Then I started dreaming but other random stuff.

    I would to know if this means something or just another random dream due to a sleepless night.

  11. These pass few weeks I kept feeling bored. I feel somewhat pre occupied by something I dont know. Maybe from my work career which I feel I’m not good enough and we will have an employee layoff that added and at the same time family responsibilities that I need to do since my father is retiring and we have to continuously make an income.adding the covid situation. I was tired both physically,mentally and emotionally. And Im having weird dreams recently. And one is with a tornado.

    In my dream, I was calling my sister to follow the direction of the device I gave her so she could go home. But while she was walking on a grass field(place looks like a province with a school) , there was a big brown tornado coming. In the dream I feel like I was my sister aswell. Then I called her to go to the nearest secure place.The big school was so far but there was a public comfort room made from cement near the area. And she hid there. And covered the door with Plywood. When the tornado has passed, after opening the door I saw dead bodies stabbed on the door with knife and nails. Then a guy shows up and comforted my sister and I also came and he accompanied us in going home.

    1. Thanks for this intense dream! The pandemic has certainly heightened stress for a lot of people, and I hope your work situation stabilizes. The big brown tornado feels to me like a “shit storm.” The fact that I am sometimes observing my sister and sometimes am my sister suggests that this storm involves both of us, and maybe I see it easier in how it’s affecting her than how it’s affecting me. Plywood is strong, and is made from thin sheets of wood laid with the grain at 90 degree angles from the sheet next to it. So it makes me wonder if something is “going against the grain” with how I, as the dreamer, am protecting myself. Death in dreams always suggests profound transformation and change, and sharp things like knives and nails suggest sharp words or intelligence. My intelligence is transforming these parts of myself, releasing the energy I was using to hold them together. The guy at the end feels like an embodiment of the released energy, now available to comfort the distressed part of myself.

  12. I don’t usually follow things of this sort just because I havent really had a dream in years but it kind of baffled me and was wondering if someone could enlighten me about my dream. Weirdly as it seems I was at an old gas station I used to go to a lot in the past after paying the cashier I headed to the door to go out and I watched a tornado start to form towards the middle of the lot. Then following that 3 more formed around it. There was no destruction it was more or less like a gusty day than a super storm. At first I had a slight fear but once the 3 following had formed I had no fear of the storm. The cashier wouldn’t allow me to leave the gas station was standing infront of the door not allowing me to exit of course. I was calm and collective about the situation. But I had awoken before any more to happen.

  13. i had a nightmare real bad like i was outside and wind picked me up and then i had to grab a tree to stop me from being slung then mom came to get me and help me down with alot of people and then we where driving to her house and she flipped and i grabbed her head as we where flipping and said i love you then i woke up and it was raining bad and windy so i had a major panic attack alone.

    1. Nightmares often come to alert us to situations that need our attention. Often they point to places that need attention in order to heal. When I imagine the wind picking me up, I think about being blown away–my authentic self not being grounded and anchored. These are hard times, and as humans we’re having to deal with situations that leave us feeling helpless, grabbing for the nearest support. Trees often represent family, so maybe the difficult situation I’m facing has to do with family. The complexity of action with Mom feels like it illustrates the interdependence of our relationship, and the ways we help each other. For me there’s an underlying fear of losing that relationship, especially as life feels fragile and unpredictable right now. I hope this helps.

  14. I dreamed last night that my fiance and I were driving in the car. Where we live there’s no tornadoes, but I looked out of his driver side window and saw a thin tornado forming, I didn’t want to scare my children so I prayed for it to go away and to my surprise it did. However a few moments later it came back, forming bigger and faster than before and it started chasing us on the road. I let my fiance know not to scare the children but to drive faster to get away, he did, it was swerving around cars seemingly targeted on us. Suddenly we were stuck behind a line of cars and then the dream changed. I was in a house, my children were safe with my fiance in another room, I was looking at pictures of them when I saw a man that I don’t know had “liked” a picture of my baby boy even though the picture was in my gallery and not posted to social media. I left an animation in response to the man of a hummingbird kissing the picture. I know I have a lot of anxiety, who doesn’t these days, but recently my dreams have been intense and vivid, any ideas on what it means?

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