I have been having some strange dreams. I dream pretty often, and usually remember them shortly after I wake, then I forget as I get up. Sometimes it is easy to see the reason for a dream, it correlates so closely with what is going on in my life. Other times, I have to think about it more, and sometimes I don't have a clue.
Dreams have been described as a window to the soul. Freud, of course, wrote the classic "Interpretation of Dreams" and famously described dreams as the "royal road" to the unconscious. A lot of dreams can be interpreted by looking at emotional themes and what's going on in your real life. A common anxiety dream would be finding out there's an exam and you haven't studied, or being naked in public. My anxious dreams are usually a play or musical performance and I don't know my lines or music. Don't know why I get that instead of tests, maybe Dr. Freud would have an answer?
A lot of other cultures believe dreams have special meaning, and look for symbols that give clues as to what the dream is about. There are even dream dictionaries to guide your interpretation. I don't think this necessarily goes against Freud's theories, because they also base the interpretations on life context, emotions, etc. Same basic theory, different background.
I have had to look at both of these methods to try to explain my dreams lately. In the first one, I was pregnant (no, I'm not really!), and searching and searching for the right place and right time to give birth. So pregnancy or birth mean something new, a change, in the future. A dream dictionary also says it can mean a transformation. The next one was much stranger... I dreamt of a brown snake. A big one. First I saw it swimming in the water, and was worried it would come near me. Then it was on land, and my cats were attacking it. I was afraid they would be hurt, but the snake was not fighting, not aggressive, not harmful. So the dream dictionary says snakes can again mean a transformation (shedding skin and all). I also think this particular dream could mean that something I perceive as negative or a threat is actually no big deal.
So what any of this means for my real life, I have no clue. I do think dreams can give you clues about your life, I even believe some people have premonitions in dreams. I have had the experience of dreaming about someone I haven't thought of in years, then the next day that person sent me a friend request on Facebook ... spooky. I'm interested to find out what big transformation or opportunity is coming. Maybe I'll win the lottery?