Snakes in a Dream! Meaning of Dreams About Snakes
The Meaning of Snakes in Dreams
Snakes as Dream Symbols
Snakes are highly charged, evocative creatures. When they slither into dreams, they are an indication that the dream is of high importance, likely offering a great opportunity for potential growth. Since snakes have so many possible interpretations—wisdom, sex, transformation, and fear—they are perfect examples of how symbols found within a dream can have a large diversity of meanings and interpretations.
All interpretations of symbolism in dreams ultimately rest upon the dreamer's own personal associations and mythologies; dream interpretation articles and encyclopedias provide only general information about the symbol's general meaning. However, generalities don't apply to snakes—they are revered and reviled by various cultures and individuals, contributing to their complexity as symbolic creatures within dreams.
Provided here are some ideas to help the dreamer find a starting point, positive or negative, about the possible meaning of a snake they recently encountered in their sleep.
The dream is a spontaneous self-portrayal, in symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious."— Carl Jung in "The Collected Works." (Vol. 8, para 505)
Kekule's Ouroborous Dream
The Ouroboros and Snakes Shedding Skins
What does it mean when I dream about a snake eating its own tail?
The ouroboros is a famous alchemical symbol in which a snake is portrayed swallowing or eating its own tail. C.G. Jung saw the ouroboros as a mandala, or an archetypal template for the law of endless return. In Jung's mind, the ouroboros revealed that life is to be encountered as a dynamic state of change, regeneration, and endless transformation rather than as a linear and finite game in which we rush from birth's kickoff to death's goalpost.
It can therefore be interpreted that when an ouroboros arises in a dream, it may indicate a time of change and transformation for the dreamer.
The ouroboros makes an appearance in the annals of science as Friedrich Kekule, an organic chemist, credited his discovery of the structure of the benzene molecule to an ouroboros he encountered in a dream.
What does it mean when a snake sheds its skin in my dream?
A snake need not show up as an ouroboros in a dream for it to represent a time of great change for the dreamer. Dreams of snakes shedding their skin are akin to the ouroboros symbol and can mean that the dreamer is sloughing off the trappings of an old life in favor of a new skin more appropriate to the dreamer's growth.
Dreams of Snake Bites
Dreams of being bitten by a snake can symbolize that "snake in the grass," meaning those dangerous situations lying in wait, or those things dreamers never see coming—a bite when least expected.
In waking life, these surprises can be anything from friends who betray, to lovers who leave, or to work or familial difficulties that appear unexpectedly.
Snake Dreams Can Be Warnings
Emotions in Snake Dreams and What They Can Mean
If a snake dream evokes fear, it is best practice to honestly evaluate that fear. A dreamer should take time to ask themselves a few questions:
- Is the fear real?
- Is there a significant threat to the dreamer?
- Is the fear serving as an intuitive warning that there is something threatening them in either their personal or professional life?
It's possible that the snake can be indicative of a real threat in your waking life. At other times, a snake may trigger anxiety or discomfort, though not necessarily fear. When this is the case, here are some questions to consider:
- Is the fear simply irrational anxiety?
- Is the fear serving as an excuse to stay stuck in a life that the dreamer has outgrown?
- Is the dreamer sacrificing personal growth for the sake of safety, as represented by the lack of willingness to shed their old skin and slither into the unknown?
Since there is no denying that snakes can pose a danger to a person's life, it is completely reasonable to take them as warning symbols when they appear in dreams. This warning could refer to many things, but it is up to the dreamer to heed the signals coming from their professional or personal life.
Snakes, like spiders, are oftentimes universally maligned—even those that pose no threat to humans.
If a dreamer finds themselves feeling curious about a snake in their dream, it's possible that the snake represents knowledge or intuition. In these cases, it may make sense to listen to what the snake may be trying to tell you.
When a snake attacks you in a dream, it could represent repressed anger that a person is feeling toward some situation in their waking life. It is important for the dreamer to then ask themselves whether there is something going on that is causing them to feel stuck or stifled, possibly resulting in frustration or exasperation.
Snakes as Deities and Wisdom Symbols
Snakes as Symbols of Sexuality
The snake is often considered a sexual symbol because of some of its physical traits, namely its long, narrow body shape and the flicking of its tongue.
When analyzing a dream with a snake, it is important to look beyond the serpentine physicality. It's essential that the dreamer take a look at the snake's actions within the dream to see what kind of sexual information it may be conveying. For example, if a snake attempts to enter or overtake the dreamer's body in a dream, it can represent a relationship that is solely rooted in sex. Additionally, dreams of being suffocated by snakes can portend a smothering, obsessive, and potentially dangerous stalker situation.
A snake dream can take on a different twist if the dreamer is not sexually active. If they find the snake dream tantalizing, it may be serving as a form of wish fulfillment, representing a desire for intimate contact with another person.
The daimon of sexuality approaches our soul as a serpent.”— Carl Jung in "The Red Book"
Dream Snakes as Symbols of Wisdom
Snakes are elusive and mysterious, usually seen only in zoos, on television, or in chance encounters in the wild (often involving fearful circumstances). It is unsurprising that this characteristic elusiveness is what gives rise to much of the fear that revolves around snakes.
However, the snake's hidden qualities are precisely what gives it its status as a wisdom symbol for some cultures and individuals.
For example, Chinese astrologers consider those born under the sign of the snake as embodiments of wisdom, sensuality, and diplomacy.
The Mezoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent, travelled between heaven and earth realms.
In Yoruban mythology, it is the serpent Oshunmare who creates the rainbow.
And cobras, in particular, seem to carry the connotation of wisdom.
As creatures of intuitive knowledge, a snake emerging in a dream may be asking the dreamer to tune into his or her intuitive side.
Snakes in dreams, even if unpleasant, may be valuable warnings that the dreamer is ignoring intuitive information that surrounds them. That snake in the grass (whatever it may be in waking life) might not have been so unexpected had the dreamer heeded the warning signs coming from their intuition earlier.
One may also gain wisdom from a snake dream by paying attention to any striking or specific words. A dreamer should also pay close attention to any prominent symbols the serpent is attached to within the dream.
"I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes"
The Portable Jung by C. G. Jung.
Flight of the Wild Gander: Explorations in the Mythological Dimension: Select Essays, 1944-1968 by Joseph Campbell.
The Mythic Dimension: Selected Essays 1959-1987 by Joseph Campbell.
Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy by C. G. Jung
Psychology and Alchemy (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.12) by C. G. Jung