The Meaning of Snakes in a Dream

Feb 14, 2010Updated 8 months ago

Snake Dream Meaning
When emotionally evocative creatures like snakes slither into dreams they are statements that the dream is one of high importance with great potential for spiritual growth.

Finding a meaning that's appropriate to the dreamer's life situation can be a bit difficult given their varied status within the collective unconscious – some people and cultures revile them while the y are venerated in others. Snakes as dream symbols have both negative and positive interpretations with the meaning ultimately dependent upon the one's own waking life associations with snakes.

Snake Bites in Dreams

Biting snakes can the "snake in the grass" – those dangerous situations or people lying in wait, ready to strike at the dreamer. The dreamer has probably already received Intuitive warnings about such situations or people and has chosen to ignore those alerts.

Intuition is often ignored when it is doubted or when the individual finds his intuitive information too painful, unbelievable, or unbearable. Since snake bite dreams can symbolize abrupt betrayal, it is imperative that the dreamer starts seeing waking life clearly – even the parts that hurt to examine. Snake bite dreams challenge the reader to make an honest, no-holds-barred analysis of romantic relationships, friendships, work or family situations.

The Ouroboros, or Snakes as Symbols of Spiritual Growth and Transformation

The ouroboros, the snake forever swallowing its own tail, is a famous alchemical symbol of transformation. Jung saw the ouroboros much like he saw the mandala, as an archetypal template of the psyche symbolizing eternity and the law of endless return. Instead of looking at life as a finite game played between the bookends of birth and death, the ouroboros symbolizes a dynamic state of change and purification.

A literal ouroboros isn't necessary for a dream to have its symbolic meaning. Since waking life snakes routinely shed their skins, they are ready made symbols for change and transformation. Dreams where snakes shed skin or seeing snake skins in a dream also symbolize change and transformation. Old, outgrown behavioral patterns, relationships, or even careers may be sloughed off in favor of a new skin more appropriate to the dreamer's growth.

This process of adjustment may not be comfortable. In waking life, s nakes get cranky and irritable during the shedding process and the same may be true for the dreamer. All change involves the surrender of the comfortable and even when changes promise progress, trading the known for the unknown involves a disquieting abandonment of the familiar.

Dream Snakes as Fear Symbols

A lack of firsthand experience with snakes makes the serpent a creature representing a fear of the unknown. As such, snake dreams symbolize that unknown fear. The fear can be an intuitive warning or an unfounded anxiety about some undefinable, hidden something awaiting the dreamer in waking life.

Honest analysis of the waking life provides the key to deciphering snake dreams. Pursuing a life dream, especially an untried one, involves fear. It is tantamount that the dreamer considers whether that fear is founded, or if irrational anxiety is threatening the realization of a waking life dream.

Snakes as Sexual Symbols

When dream snakes attempt to en ter or overtake the dreamer's body they are usually symbolizing sex and sexuality. The feelings the snake dream evokes is key to its interpretation. Feelings of revulsion indicate sexual dissatisfaction.

Suffocation indicates a smothering, obsessive, and potentially dangerous relationship. If tantalizing, and the dreamer is currently sexually inactive, the snakes in a dream are likely wish fulfillment symbols indicating a desire for sexual contact.

Dream Snakes as Symbols of Wisdom

The very same mystery and elusiveness causing fear in some gives rise to a fascination or intrigue in others. For those, the snake is a revered creature of wisdom, intuition, and spiritual development. Chinese astrologers consider those born under the sign of the snake as embodiments of wisdom, sensuality, and diplomacy.

Spiritual information leading to spiritual growth can be found by paying attention to any words accompanying a snake dream and by giving close attention to the p rominent symbols the serpent is attached to within the dream.

Often, dreamers seek the one answer to what a dream means. However, the dream interpretation is as individual as the dreamer. The point of departure for an insightful interpretation of a dream is waking life. Since snakes have so many possible interpretations — such as wisdom, sex, transformation, and fear — the dreamer needs to contemplate conscious attitudes and emotions toward this animal and look to the interpretation that's most in alignment with those associations.


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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