Dreaming of Worms: Discover the Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation

Written by Erica Scassellati
Updated: November 15, 2023
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Any number of animals, including worms can show up in your dreams. While dreaming of worms isn’t the most common, it certainly happens from time to time.

Worms are long slender invertebrates. In dreams, they may appear in a number of ways, such as wriggling through the dirt, infesting food, or even as a parasite in your body.

While some cultures and religions use the symbol of the worm to mean sinfulness or dishonesty, others see the worm as healing. Exploring the type of worm and how it appears in your dream may help you make sense of your subconscious mind.

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Definition

The word worm probably conjures up images of long slender creatures seen burrowing through the dirt or inching along on the sidewalk, but there is more than one way to use this word. Dictionary.com provides three main uses for the word:

  • “Any of numerous long, slender, soft-bodied, legless, bilaterally symmetrical invertebrates, including the flatworms, roundworms, acanthocephalans, nemerteans, gordiaceans, and annelids.”
  • “To move or act like a worm; creep, crawl, or advance slowly or stealthily.”
  • “To achieve something by insidious procedure.”

Worm Symbolism and Spiritual Meanings

Worms have a number of symbolic meanings and are present in religious texts and spiritual beliefs. In general, worms represent the cycle of life and death. Worms are small helpless creatures, often fed on by birds and fish and even used as bait.

However, earthworms also play an important role in our ecosystem. They are decomposers and will eat just about anything, including fruits and vegetables, decaying plant matter, and dead animals.

The earthworm breaks down organic matter inside plants and animals into smaller pieces. According to The Earthworm Society of Britain, this allows bacteria and fungi to feed on the organic matter and release its nutrients, which can then be used by living plants.

Unfortunately, worms seem to have a bad reputation within language. As we’ve seen by the use of the word “worm” as a verb, it sometimes describes achieving something in an insidious or sleazy way. It can also be used to describe moving in a particular way, such as “worming your way under a fence.”

earthworms digging in soil

Earthworms dig in the soil and break down organic matter.

©iStock.com/Steve Jones

Biblical

Worms are mentioned both directly and indirectly in the Christian Bible. One of the best examples occurs in Acts 12:23, which reads, “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”

Another allusion to worms occurs in Mark 9:44, 46, and 48. Bible Tools explains that it is a reference to Gehenna or the valley of Hinnom, which is located outside Jerusalem. 

Here trash, dead animals, and corpses of criminals were thrown to be burned in fire. Those that evaded the fire were devoured by maggots. Based on these instances, worms in the Bible seem to symbolize death, decay, and punishment for sinners.

Spiritual

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that dreams are a way for the unconscious mind to communicate with the conscious mind, according to Dr. Nathan Brandon. For Jung, dreams are symbolic and a reflection of things that are happening and emotions you are feeling in your conscious life.

Jung encouraged tapping into personal, cultural, and archetypal meanings behind dreams. According to Dream Dictionary, Jung associated the spiritual meaning of worms to reflect dreamers’ fears and anxieties that stop them from feeling complete. Like other interpretations, he also associated the worm with death and rebirth.

Native American Mythology

Different types of worms contain significance in Native American culture and mythology. According to Native Languages, woodworms were considered powerful medicine animals in traditional religions of the Northwest Coast. Some tribes even ascribe magic abilities to woodworms.

The inchworm, while not as prominent in Native American Mythology, also appears in legends, often symbolizing meekness. In some tribes, it is also said to have the power to disappear and reappear from sight. Additionally, inchworms are not actually true worms. Rather they are larvae that eventually become moths.

what do inchworms eat

Inchworms have symbolic meaning in some Native American mythology.

©iStock.com/wasantistock

A general dream about earthworms could signify a loss of self-confidence, as worms are relatively helpless creatures.

Types of Worms

There are multiple different types of worms that may appear in your dreams. Observing the worm’s appearance and mannerisms may help you determine its type and more specifically what it means in your subconscious.

Dreaming of Earthworms

Earthworms may be the first thing your brain jumps to when you think of a worm. These are the typical invertebrae that wriggle through the dirt, breaking down organic matter. Worms can have negative connotations, and in fact, it’s not especially common for them to appear in dreams.

Dreams and Mythology suggest that a general dream about earthworms could signify a loss of self-confidence, as worms are relatively helpless creatures. It could also mean that someone is taking advantage of you, (e.g. having a worm-like person in your life.) On the flip side, Dreams and Mythology propose that worms could mean that success is on the way.

Dreaming of Maggots or Parasites

Maggots are actually fly larvae, so they aren’t technically worms, but they have a lot in common. You may dream of maggots or worms invading food. According to Dreams and Mythology, worms in fruit may be a reflection of trouble in relationships. Dreaming of worms in food may also symbolize feeling unhealthy or unwell.

Similarly, you may have dreams about parasitic worms invading your body, such as tapeworms. Dreams Research Council posits that this can be interpreted positively or negatively. Tapeworms in dreams may represent a desire to rid oneself of something toxic. On the flip side, they can also symbolize feeling drained or depleted, as someone would in real life if they were infected with a parasitic worm.

Dreaming of Silk Worms

Silkworms are the larvae from silk moths and seeing these creatures in dreams has a more positive connotation than most other worms. Silkworms are associated with success, wealth, and prosperity. This makes sense, considering the high value of silk.

Silkworm

Domestic silk moth caterpillars — or silkworms — produce exquisite silk fabric.

©Esin Deniz/Shutterstock.com

Common Types of Worm Dreams

Worms can appear in dreams in a variety of ways. They may be wriggling in the dirt or invading food or your body. You may also dream of using a worm as bait when fishing or even eating a worm. Here’s what these dreams might mean.

Multiple Worms

You may have dreams of a singular worm or see a number of these creatures wriggling in the earth. Dreams and Mythology interpret seeing a colony of worms as perhaps meaning that you are surrounded by selfish people. Someone around you may be trying to worm their way into your life for their own gain, such as monetary or professional advancements.

Consuming Worms

Surprisingly, dreaming of eating a worm is often interpreted to be a very good sign. It’s unclear why, but several outlets attribute this dream to mean success in your current pursuits and endeavors. Perhaps it has something to do with a worm being a prize in certain expressions, such as “the early bird gets the worm.”

Killing Worms

Since worms often have negative connotations, dreaming of killing a worm can be seen as a positive sign. Dream Dictionary explains that this dream could mean that you have identified and eliminated a problem in your life or that you are in the process of doing so.

Pulling Worms Out of Your Body

A disturbing but somewhat common type of worm dream may involve a worm emerging from your body. This could have a positive interpretation similar to killing a worm. For example, if you dream of pulling a worm out of your skin, this might symbolize the process of overcoming negative feelings toward yourself or expelling a toxic person from your life.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Nick N A/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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