The Meaning of a Dream With Snakes
Many people see animals or snakes in dreams, but fewer know that animals can symbolize feelings we are trying to repress. All animals are known for their specific characteristics. The elephant is known to be methodical and possesses an impressive memory. Snakes, on the other hand, mean many different things in different cultures.
These facts about snakes influence all of the various cultural interpretation they have:
- Snakes can move quickly and in surprising ways.
- Many species shed their skin, revealing the new layer of skin beneath.
- Some snake bites are poisonous.
These traits can be seen symbolically to represent:
- stealth, a nimble nature, sneakiness, the ability to surprise and hide
- transformation, rebirth, change
- death, a poisonous nature, evil
So, what are possible meanings of a snake in a dream?
Different Interpretations of Snake Symbols
We will discuss these belief systems:
• Freudian and Jungian Psychoanalysis
• Ancient Greek Myth
The snake, as depicted in the Old Testament, is the agent of Satan. Perched in a tree, the serpent represents the devil, tempting Eve with the apple of knowledge. This story could be said to have put a curse upon the animal itself. Satan is the actual tempter, but he used the serpent as his instrument. The lesson: Even the most nimble and subtle beasts in the world cannot resist evil. As a result, the snake has been blamed throughout history for the fall of Adam and Eve.
From then on, in the bible, the snake is a poisonous character. Even the word "serpent" is used in the Book of Luke to describe a deadly, subtle, and malicious enemy. The snake's intelligence is used for evil in the bible. In dreams, it symbolizes deception, possibly by another person or even by the dreamer.
Have you ever dreamt about a snake?
A number of people have an extreme fear of snakes, so dreams might represent that fear. Fear and anxiety are widely associated with snakes. It may be a childhood fear, perhaps based upon a real remembered or forgotten experience. As in real life, snakes can represent a threat, worry, or persistent problem. When snakes appear in dreams repeatedly, they carry an important message about an unresolved life issue.
A Psychologist's Analysis
Parapsychology is the study of paranormal and psychic activity. According to dream parapsychologists, snakes, lizards, and other small, venomous animals represent uncertainly and deceit. These creatures appear in dreams when the dreamer suspects that someone in their life is not trustworthy, that they are being secretly persecuted, unfairly judged, misunderstood, or excluded. The dreamer may feel they are not adequately voicing their opinion. Reptiles might represent conflict with an overbearing person or with someone whose actions are unacceptable to the dreamer. Perhaps the dreamer is unable or unwilling to behave as another person wants them to.
According to the Hindu tradition and mythology, to see a long snake and feel threatened by it in a dream symbolizes a bad enemy. It is also a warning against bodily harm. However, to dream of many snakes in a pit is considered to be a premonition of great bad luck. If a dreamer kills a threatening snake, this represents overcoming an adversary and winning.
There are many Hindu interpretations:
- According to Swami Shivand, a snake dream means you have sly and dangerous enemies who will injure your character and life.
- Seeing a snake (or a naga) in a dream is very common for many people. According to the ancient Hindu text known as Swapna Shastra, a snake in a dream is considered good.
- Two dreams that are specifically mentioned in the Swapna Shastra are of a snake biting the dreamer and of a person biting or eating a snake. The former is interpreted as a positive curing of an ailment or disease; the latter means the dreamer will be blessed with material wealth or children.
- In Hindu mythology, catching a snake in a dream is a victory over enemies. Being bitten by a snake is lucky, but killing a snake is unlucky. Seeing a snake fall over you is a forewarning of sickness and worries, just as seeing a snake come out of any part of your body (such as an ear or nose) predicts trouble in that part of your body. Seeing a snake climb a tree or cross your path is lucky.
- However, if the dream with snakes is the result of seeing, talking about, or watching scenes involving snakes, such dreams are to be ignored and are considered as mere play of the mind.
Sigmund Freud established the branch of psychology known as psychoanalysis, which relies in large part on interpreting dreams. Freud believed that snakes, when they appear in dreams, are associated with sexuality, male figures, how a man experiences his own manhood, or a woman's relationship with men or male energy. A dream that includes a snake, according to Freudian theory, is an opportunity for the dreamer to consider any repressed sexual desire or inner conflict about sexuality.
Freud's student, Carl Jung, believed that while a person is dreaming, their unconscious mind has access to ancient, universal symbols. He described snakes as symbolic of natural wisdom and that their movements—nimble and agile—represent taking most direct possible path when facing a choice or problem. Snake dreams indicate some conflict between the dreamer's conscious mind and their instinct, or natural wisdom.
A Jungian Analysis
According to Ibn Seerin, a Muslim dream interpreter, snakes represent enemies. Killing them symbolize overcoming the enemy. It is also said that becoming a snake in a dream means that the dreamer is not behaving like a good Muslim in their waking life.
There are a number of Muslim interpretations of snakes in dreams:
- Small snakes represent small children.
- Being swallowed by a snake means the dreamer will become powerful and important.
- Killing a snake and staining one's hands with its blood means overcoming one's enemy.
- If a snake speaks friendly words, this represents benefiting from one's enemy's actions. If the words are harsh, then this symbolizes suffering from tyranny or oppression.
- If one's garden is covered with snakes, this means that crops will do well and exceed their usual yield.
According to Greek mythology, snakes represent as a warning or that someone is trying to control you. Dreaming about a snake was thought to be a signal to be careful. Such dreams were also interpreted as an aspect of the dream's inner self, or of someone close, possessing great wisdom and strength. In other words, the dreamer may face danger, but they have the strength to adapt and overcome.
According to one story, Tiresias, a prophet of Apollo, came upon two mating snakes on a road. Feeling threatened, he killed the female snake and was then transformed into a woman. Seven years later, Tiresias saw two snakes again and this time slew the male. He was changed into a man. In this way, Tiresias is seen as an adaptable figure that moves between masculinity and femininity.