Saturday, 11 August 2012

Interpreting popular dream themes (2) - Snakes & Serpents

Snakes are highly charged, evocative creatures and when they slither into dreams they are an indication that the dream is not only of high importance, but also one that the dream is offering a great growth opportunity. Snakes are a popular dream theme and there are many interpretations. For Freud, the snake represented the male phallus - the penis - and sexual desires and urges. The dream represents male sexuality and relationships with male figures in your life; your own male masculinity (if you are a male); and masculaine aspects of self (if you are female). For Freud, dreaming of a snake symbolises repressed sexual desires or inner conflict over your expression of sexuality.

Alternatively Jung believed that the dream symbol of the snake represented a 'universal archetytpe' imbedded in the unconscious mind. He said: "What Nature wants us to do is to move with a snake-like motion...The snake is the symbol of the great wisdom of Nature, for the too direct way is not the best way; the crooked way, the detour, is the shorter way...Snake dreams always indicate a discrepancy between the attitude of the conscious mind and instinct, the snake being a personification of the threatening aspect of that conflict”.

A famous alchemical symbol is that of the snake swallowing or eating its own tail which is known as the ‘ouroborous’. The ouroborous symbol has a special significance, within both science and the study of dreaming, as the organic chemist, Friedrich Kekule, credited a dream involving a snake eating its own tail to his discovery of the structure of the benzene molecule, a problem which he had been unable to solve in his waking life. Jung saw the ouroboros as a mandala (or an archetypal template) for the law of endless return. In Jung's view, the ouroborous revealed that rather than a linear, finite game played between rushing from birth's kickoff to death's goalpost, life is instead, a dynamic state of change, regeneration and endless transformation. An ourborous dream, therefore, may indicate a time of change and transformation for the dreamer – it may also be symbolic of fertility, birth and reproduction. The ouroborous need not be as explicit as that which appeared to Kekule in his dream - dreams of snakes shedding their skins are akin to the ourobouros symbol and can mean that the dreamer is sloughing off the trappings of an old life in favour of a new skin more appropriate to the dreamer's growth.
Kekule's Ouroboros dream symbol
In ancient folklore, snakes were believed to be androgynous, and so represent self-creating deities and the generative power of the earth. Snakes were symbolic of fertility, and it was traditionally believed that snakes could have intercourse with women and make them pregnant. In some cultures it was believed that a snake's bite caused girls' first menstruation, and that women were more likely to have intercourse with serpents when menstruating. However, there are literally countless other interpretations of the symbol of the snake in dreams, mythology and cultural folklore throughout the world. It is the snake's hidden qualities are precisely what give it its status as a wisdom symbol for many diverse cultures and traditions.

For example, Chinese astrologers consider those born under the sign of the snake as embodiments of wisdom, sensuality, and diplomacy. In China, the serpent is a rain-bringer and a creator, and represents the fertilising power of the waters. It can also symbolise deceit, cunning, and sycophancy. It is the sixth animal of the Twelve Terrestrial Branches (the Chinese Zodiac). The brother and sister Fo-hi and Niu-kua are sometimes depicted as snakes with human heads, representing yin and yang. In Buddhism, the serpent is sometimes associated with the Buddha because he changed into a ‘naga’ to heal the people.  It is also one of the animals at the centre of the Round of Existence, where it represents anger. 

Cobras, in particular, seem to carry the connotation of wisdom. In Alchemy, the serpent was regarded as the embodiment of Fire, whilst the serpent on a staff is the fixation of quicksilver, the sublimation of the vital force; and a serpent passing through a circle is symbolic of the alchemical fusion. In Japan, the snake is the personification of Susanoo, the god of thunder and storms. The rainbow is associated with the serpent in many cultures.  In French, African, Indian, and indigenous American legends, the rainbow is a serpent which quenches its thirst in the sea. In Yoruban mythology it is the serpent Oshunmare who creates the rainbow. In Maori mythology, the snake represents earthly wisdom, whilst in Oceanic mythology, the snake was a creator of the world, and is also associated with pregnancy and fertility. In Algonquin and other forest peoples' mythology, snakes and aquatic creatures are believed to communicate with the powers of the underworld and snakes play a central role in Iroquois and Huron myth. Among the Hopi, snakes are regarded as vital messengers.

In Egyptian art, sovereigns are depicted with the uraeus (a cobra), the symbol of sovereignty, royalty, power, light, life and death; the eye of Ra; and the destruction of enemies. In Egyptian mythology, Apep was the snake god, the lord of the powers of darkness. In Gnosticism, the snake is the manifestation of Sophia, goddess of wisdom, and the giver of gnosis. In the Orphic Tradition, Phanes, the winged serpent, was the first the first being to be born from the Cosmic Egg - his name means ‘he who appears’ and is connected with the word ‘phenomenon’. The snake was also a symbol of Christ in Manichaeism. In Zoroastrianism, the serpent Azidahaka was the demon who cut the first mortal in two. In Iranian mythology, the serpent is an aspect of Ahriman or Angra Mainyu, the Serpent of Darkness, the Liar.  The snake Azi-dahak is the throttler, the enemy of the sun god. In Islam, the serpent is closely associated with life.  It is called el-hayyah, and the word for life is el-hyat, whilst one of the names of God is El-Hay, which signifies the life-giving principle. 

In ancient times, harmless snakes would often be kept in temples, where sick people could visit in search of a cure, thought to be achieved by lying amongst the snakes to dream and receive healing. Another popular Greek myth is about Aesclepius, Greek god of healing and medicine, who inspired rituals where snakes were used. In our dreams, it represents the opportunity for healing. Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC) had a snake as his symbol, and the symbol used by modern medicine (for example on ambulances) is still that of two snakes entwined (representing the rod of Aesclepius, which is known as a ‘caduceus’. According to Greek myth, Hermes made the caduceus by using his staff to separate two serpents that were fighting, so it symbolises peace.). These associations may mean that the symbol of the snake represents physical or emotional healing. The caduceus also corresponds to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (‘Ets Chaim’), since the winged sun at the top can represent the Ain Soph; the left-hand snake is the Pillar of Severity; the staff is the Pillar of Clemency; and the right-hand snake is the Pillar of Mercy.  Each of their coils about the staff delineates one of the Four Worlds (Aziluth, the World of Emanation; Beriah, the World of Creation; Yezirah, the World of Formation; and Asiyyah, the World of Action).
A Caduceus
The Greeks and Romans regarded the serpent as a guardian spirit, and it was often depicted as such on their altars. At Athens, in the temple of Athena, they kept a serpent believed to be the reincarnation of Erichthonius in a cage, and it was considered to be the guardian spirit of the temple. The temple at Eleusis also had a snake, known as Kychreus. Snakes and serpents are referenced numerous times in Greek and Roman mythology – they were sacred to many of the gods, including Zeus, Demeter (goddess of the harvest) and Apollo and feature in many of the core myths, often in the context of transformation, creation and reformation. The Gorgons were the three daughters of Phorcys and his sister Ceto; they were winged monsters with serpents for hair.  Euryale and Stheno were immortal, but Medusa was mortal, and was killed by Perseus.  Medusa was described as being so repellent she turned whoever gazed at her into stone. According to the psycho-analytic (or Freudian) perspective, Medusa is a symbol for castration or repressed sexual energy. The winged horse, Pegasus, was born from her death-throes, though in some legends he was the result of her union with Poseidon. Medusa's head was then fixed to Athena's shield (which she had lent to Perseus), and he went on to kill the sea-serpent to which Andromeda was to be sacrificed. Due to the emphasis on the healing and fertility powers of snakes in ancient Greece and Rome, many people kept domestic snakes. It was believed that if a snake licked your ear, you would be gifted with prophetic abilities, which is how Cassandra and Helenus obtained their mystical powers, whilst asleep in the Temple of Apollo.

The feathered serpent deity Quetzalcoatl, from the mythology of the Aztec civilisations of South America, was the creator of life who was able to travel between the realms of earth and heaven; whilst Xiuhcoatl was a serpent associated with the Aztec fire deity, Xiuhtecuhtli. Snakes were indeed worshipped in every corner of the ancient world as creatures which symbolised fertility, birth, death and resurrection. One common image is of a snake wrapped around the earth. From the Nordic ‘Jörmungandr’ to the Hindu ‘Ananta’, this image portrays the snake as responsible for holding the world together. Similarly, The Cosmic Serpent winds itself around an egg, clearly a symbol of fertility and rebirth, as well as creation of the universe. The Snake Goddess sculpture from Knossos, the famous gowned female figure holding two snakes, may be representative of the Mother Goddess.  This positive, transformatory interpretation of the snake is not universal however - Nidhogg, a snake character from Nordic mythology, was an evil creature whose body wrapped around ‘Yggdrasil’ the Tree of Life, and tried to destroy it.

The thirteenth sign of the Zodiac is Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer. The constellation lies slightly outside the ecliptic, and it is therefore uncertain whether or not it is part of the Zodiac. If the Western tradition used a lunar calendar, it might have been included.

Snakes shed their skin - in many cultures they are symbolic of both wisdom and personal transformation. It may represent old attitudes and behaviours which we have outgrown and new stages of life which we are about to enter. This transformative power is especially strong if in your dream you look the snake in the eye, connect with it in some way, or it bites you and you recover or don’t die. When combined with the healing elements that snakes can indicate, this may imply a significant transformation through healing, almost like an initiation. Thus, seeing the skin of a snake in a dream may be symbolic of healing processes. These snake dreams, though they may be scary, and anxiety-provoking, could potentially provide us with an important opportunity to leave behind something that hurt and restricted us, moving forward into a new walk of life if we are able to interpret what are dreams are trying to communicate to us.
Sometimes snakes dreams can be profoundly unsettling, and leave us with a sense of being deceived. This is especially true if we dream of being in a pit of vipers or if we are surrounded by many snakes. This kind of symbolic meaning may arise from recalling the snake that spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden (i.e. a Biblical association and Judeo-Christian interpretation which suggests the snake is symbolic of evil, sin and temptation. The Hebrew word for the serpent/snake was ‘Nahash’ although some scholars claim the original Hebrew texts did not intend ‘Nahash’ to represent a ‘snake’ – the actual translation of the word has been lost and ‘snake’ is simply a mistranslation). This conception of the snake is particular powerful in modern dream interpretation for several reasons. Firstly, in Freudian interpretation, the phallic symbolism and emphasis on desires and urges assimilates with Biblical notions of temptation and sins of the flesh. The Biblical narrative involves a loss of innocence, after the original woman, Eve, is tempted by the snake and her will is corrupted. Additionally, under Jungian analysis, the symbol of the snake, taken back to its archetypal ‘parent’ leads again to the Biblical notion of temptation and sinful desires. In some stories, the snake is held to represent Paganism, as in the story that St Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland. It also represents the devil as the tempter.

The Bible did not just contain negative snake symbols – ‘Nehustan’ was the bronze snake-shaped staff carried by Moses to cure the Israelites of snake bites and the chalice of St John the Baptist is depicted as having a serpent emerging from it. Depicted beneath the cross of Christ, it represents Christ's triumph over the power of evil - crushed beneath the foot of the Virgin Mary, it is contrasted with the tempting, sinful serpent of Eve. The image of the snake wound around a rod or staff also appeared c. 4000 – 3000 BC on a Sumerian vase dedicated to Ningishzida, the ‘Lord of the Good Tree’, and son of Ninazu, Lord of Healing. Ningishzida (one of two gatekeepers, protecting Anu, god of the heavens; and a traveller into the underworld), was himself depicted as a snake with a human’s head.

Some negative connotations of the snake symbol may arise from knowledge that snakes have forked tongues, which some feel indicates that they can speak multiple stories, which must be lies for there is only one truth. Forked tongues are a powerful symbol of threat and predatory nature – almost certainly biologically pre-programmed into humans as an evolutionary survival adaption. Forked tongues are associated with not only snakes, but dragons, demons and some depictions of the Devil. Snakes are also hard to see, and can be stumbled upon by surprise, which can associate them with secrets. The phrase 'snake in the grass' refers to this sense of someone who cannot be trusted, who may lie or deceive. If we dream of snakes and have this sense, there may be a truth that we know but are deceiving ourselves, denying what we know to be true. And given the multi-layered aspect of dreams, it may be that when this truth is finally revealed to ourselves (whatever that truth may be) that this will lead to healing and transformation, the gifts of the snake.

Dreaming a snake that is coiling around us like a python and squeezing tight may be an indication that we feel restricted somewhere in life. If you have a snake wrapped tightly around your body, this can show some type of entrapment and ongoing problems in a relationship and may signify marital difficulties and divorce. Even though this may be a negative situation and cause problems the feeling of happiness will return eventually. This may be by our own self-limiting beliefs, our refusal to admit what we know we must do; or it can be an indicator of external factors inhibiting us, such as a job, lack of experience or education for something we wish to achieve, or a dominating and controlling relationship. If the snakes dream is constricting us so we can’t get enough air, this may mean it is time to make some changes, to stand up and act, to create some air, some breathing space in our lives. Essentially snakes in dreams can be potent symbols that we often fear because of the change they bring and the energy they contain. A snake rising up, coming awake after hibernation, or uncoiling and springing to life can indicate our own energy flowing freely again, our passion,  motivation, or love for life.  Some eastern cultures, such as Hinduism refer to this as the awakening 'Kundalini' - an energy that coils up from the base of the spine to the crown of our head (and representing the Muladhara Chakra) and then beyond, a process of spiritual growth. Kundalin refers to circularity or a coiled form. The Kundalini is the primordial shakti, the sleeping serpent power of the psyche. Uncoiling the Kundalini serpent is to ascend to a mythical level of awareness, where enlightenment may be achieved. This process is analogous to the serpent shedding its skin, just as the moon waxes and wanes and sheds her shadow.  Both the Moon and the snake are associated with immortality, and the legendary soma drink (which bestows immortality) is brewed from the Moon tree. The moon represents the light of immortal consciousness, manifesting in the realm of space and time, and the Kundalini reaching the sahasrara-padma (the crown chakra) is like the full moon, when its light is almost as powerful as the sun's. The flickering tongue of the serpent shows the light within. The Kundalini is generally regarded as feminine, and a manifestation of the universal life force.  Hinduism is not the only culture to associate the symbols of the moon and the snake – in ancient Greece and Roman mythology, the temples of the luna goddesses were inhabited by their sacred snakes. In Hinduism, Lord Siva wears a snake around his neck, as a representation of the control of dark forces and temptation. The dream snake’s poison is far more likely to transform us than it is to destroy us. It is up to us how we choose to either fight, run from, or embrace the transition. The serpent is also a manifestation of the fire god Agni, who is the fierce serpent; the dark serpent is the potentiality of fire. The ruler of all snakes is the thousand-headed serpent Ananta, who represents infinity (his name means 'endless') and is coiled about the axis of the world, or floats on the Ocean of Milk, the mother of all life. Vishnu is sometimes depicted couched upon Ananta, and the serpent's energy gives him the impulse to dream the world into being. The sleep of Brahma is symbolised by two snakes, one with downward movement which represents the Divine Sleep, and one moving upward which represents the Divine Awakening. The lingam of Shiva is sometimes carved with a snake twining around it. The snake is one of the animals that support the weight of the world in Hindu cosmology, along with the elephant, the tortoise, the bull, and the crocodile.

Dreaming of a black snake may mean you are dealing with ‘dark emotions’ such as depression or mourning. Black can also represent the unconscious and the unknown. The presence of a black snake is thought to represent changes and transformations in your personal life, which have both positive and negative connotations. The black snake may also represent hidden or deeply-rooted instincts and drives. Black denotes the quality of your waking mood. A black snake, not only represents changes and transformations in waking life, but also grieving processes, as you leave the past and old ideas behind. This grieving may be conscious or unconscious and changes may be accompanied by sadness or feelings of loss. The black snake may also represent rejected aspects of the dreamer’s personality – a dimension of yourself which has been neglected or avoided and needs exposure. The black snake suggests that you are dealing with unconscious drives and hidden desires that are disguised as temptations. Dreaming of a black snake is then a call to discover what is driving you and get in touch with deep longings that you may have ignored until now. It may be perceived as a ‘call’ to grow and transform, as you move from the unconscious and unknown to more awareness about yourself and what matters in your life. Additionally, if a black snake shows up in your dream, you may be facing a situation in your daily life that is perceived as a threat. It may be very challenging and you’re avoiding it. The presence of the black snake points to the fact that you may be unaware of a threatening situation.

Dreaming of a yellow snake may represent intellect and wisdom and how you are using it in a tricky waking situation. Another meaning associated with yellow snakes in dreams is about your intuition, your inner light or guidance, opening to new insight and awareness. Yellow is symbolic of the ‘light of the spirit’ and of the consciousness shining through. Dreaming of a yellow snake may be a call to step forward and use your intellect to resolve a situation or issues in your waking life. If the snake has yellow and dark colours intertwined, it may symbolise both the conscious and unconscious parts of yourself and their dynamic interactions as you are going through life. If the snake has more golden colour, the dream points to your relationship with spiritual matters. Bright yellow symbolises positive feelings, joy and the expression of optimism. Yellow- green points to feelings of anger, betrayal, and jealousy. Dark, muddy yellow associated with a snake has strong connotation with deceit and betrayal; your intuition is constrained.

When a green snake shows up in a dream, it typically symbolises the resurgence of the dreamer’s connection with oneself.  The meanings associated with green, especially when featured in a snake dream, are about nature, the earth, going back to what is true to you. In addition, the symbolism of the colour green points to emotions and feelings, including hope and heartfelt connections. The dream interpretation should take into account any other personal associations you make with this colour. Because the colour of the snake is green, the dream suggests that a transformation is occurring in your life quite organically, naturally, just like when plants grow on their own. Perhaps you are discovering new aspects of yourself or nurturing a relationship or project. To dream of a green snake indicates that you’re undergoing personal growth and inner transformation. Depending on the shade of the coloured snake, you can find additional meanings regarding the quality and characteristics of your personal development. Green snakes are strongly associated with nature and the earth. What aspect of yourself is moved by the presence of this snake in your dream? How does the creature or the dream relate to an earthy, natural part of you that is in the process of emerging? As green symbolises what’s natural, earthy, a dream about a green snake may mean that you are reconnecting with more grounded qualities in yourself. At least, it’s a call to pay more attention to what helps you ground and find enough energy to support you in living and expressing what’s true to you and in you. The colour green may point to some aspects of yourself or a project in your life that is not ‘ripe’ yet - in other words, you are dealing with just the beginnings. Green on a snake is about the comeback of the energy of positive change in your life. Depending on how the snake behaves in your dream, it could reflect how you are embracing or coping with the change: Are you experiencing it as aggression, threat, death of old patterns? Or are you at peace with this evolution? The green snake in your dream is then likely a call to take care of an opportunity for growth that you may otherwise be missing. It could indicate the need to nurture a bit more something that is just starting to emerge in your life, whether it’s new habits, a relationship or personal project. The shade of the coloured snake will tell more about the meanings conveyed in the dream. Darker greens generally have negative connotations associated with jealousy, perhaps deceit. Lighter shades of green express opening up to healing, opportunity for growth. A balanced, healthy green suggests strength in your personal growth, steadiness and determination. It could also be a symbol for serenity, peace and calm. Even though green is archetypally associated with nature, healing, and growth, your interpretation will benefit from looking within yourself to find out what green means to you personally. In addition, consider the behaviour of the snake in the dream. It may give clues about how you are experiencing some changes that are occurring in your daily life.

If you’re dreaming of a wild snake, it may denote negative aspects associated with the animal, such as worries, fears or concerns about something that is spiralling out of control. On the other hand, a pet snake may symbolise healing or positive changes in your life. When you are fighting with a snake, it means that you are resisting a change or struggling with a decision or feelings in your waking life. It may represent a power struggle in your intimate relationship or at work. Being chased by a snake means that you are facing an intimidating situation in your life that is haunting you. Emotions that you have not dealt with are coming back at you. The attack is an expression of the hesitancy, inner resistance towards making a move in a sensitive situation where you fell that every move on your part could be perceived as an attack by someone else or, in turn, trigger an attack towards you.

If you dream of being attacked by a snake, it could be calling you to explore a challenging situation in your life and how to deal with it. The situation may feel threatening or unsafe.  The dream may be an expression of strong discomfort, worry or stress. However, you are not fully acknowledging the situation and need to pay more attention.  It may also indicate that you are uncertain about taking risks in an unfamiliar environment. The snake represents the fear of risking too much and getting hurt. You need to examine if there’s a situation in your waking life where you need to take action and move carefully in order to bring a resolution. The dream may point to a relationship where you are ‘walking on egg shells’. It may also indicate that you need to take some risks and perhaps get ‘bitten’ in the process in order to move forward. Snakes are generally untamed animals and as a dream symbol, they could represent a ‘wild’, untamed part of yourself that you or others may judge as socially or morally unacceptable. Typically associated with sexual or sensual expression, the presence of the serpent in your sleep is associated with deep instinctual drives. It can be related to aggression, expressing your primal energy and creativity. A snake attack in a dream indicates that you are in the process of becoming more aware of that aspect of you, whether you want it or not. The attack reflects the inner tension between what has been hidden or repressed and is challenging your world now. The dream points to your resistance to change or to a fuller expression of a part of you that is being avoided or neglected.

A dream of being bitten by snake may represent a need to pay attention to something that you’ve been avoiding in your waking life, because it was too intimating or uncomfortable. The dream interpretation will vary depending on what part of the body is being bitten. Consider the meaning you give to the part and how it related to what is challenged or needs to change in your waking life. For instance, a snake bite to the right hand means that you are conflicted about taking action or making the right choice in your life; it could suggest that you are preoccupied with acting in fairness or maintaining a healthy transparency in a relationship whether it is intimate or related to work. Being bitten by a snake in the back could indicate that you need to pay attention to ill words or deceitful actions of people around you; it could also mean that you need to resolve issues from the past or concerns that you have been carrying with you for a long time. Dreaming of a snake biting you may represent the archetypal presence of temptation in your life. Just like the serpent in the Garden of Eden in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the animal in your dream could connect to a ‘temptation’, desire or situation you feel conflicted about because of it does not fit in your usual beliefs or ethical values. The snake bite is a wake-up call to face whatever is causing tension, perhaps even challenge some of your core beliefs or values and get a fresh perspective. The serpent is delivering the antidote to numbing yourself and avoiding what needs to be done to get to the next step in your life. The snake bite may point to a shift occurring in your awareness, a transformation: You are on the verge of becoming more aware about a matter that was previously hidden or avoided. This radical shift may be experienced in a painful manner at first, but will be beneficial in the long run. This wake-up call is part of your growth process. If a female dreams that she is bitten by a dead snake, this is thought to symbolise perceptions of malice directed at her from a supposed friend in waking life. To dream of a snake coiling itself around the body and then darting its tongue out at you, is thought to represent defeat by opponents and ill-health of some form. You perceive your enemies to be in a more powerful position that you, leaving you constricted and ill at ease. To dream that someone else is getting bitten by a snake represents criticisms you are aiming at other persons whose actions, in waking life, have led to them getting hurt in some way. You are being judgmental, and if you are passively watching, it may be that you simply stood by and allowed the person to get hurt when you could see the potential for this happening and did not warn them of the consequences.

Being chased by a snake in your dream typically symbolises a situation or a feeling in your waking life that is hard to deal with and you wish to avoid. When you are chased by a wild animal like a wild reptile, the overall feeling in the dream is often fear, worry, feeling caught, perhaps pushed around with not many options about where to go. A pertinent interpretation connects to a situation where you feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, that you are caught up in. The dream is likely a call to become more aware of what is going on in your life that is causing so much tension. It can also be a warning about a situation that feels unsafe or is threatening. Interpret the dream as an indication that you need to confront this issue or the feelings it activates in you more directly. A dream of being chased by a snake reveals the fear to confront one’s own feeling or personal drive that may be seen as unacceptable or undesired. The snake could represent your own anger or aggression towards another person, which you are in fact turning against yourself, instead of expressing more directly. The chase with the serpent could convey a feeling of vulnerability that you are experiencing in your life and that is hard to fully acknowledge. Instead of owning these feelings and dealing with them directly, the dream allows you to externalise or ‘project’ them on a substitute element or image - in this case it’s the snake. The snake that is chasing you is coming back at you to bring to your attention these matters that have been ignored or conveniently pushed out of your consciousness.

If the snake spits its venom at you, it suggests that there’s a negative influence in your life that is proving difficult to handle. It may represent a ‘poisonous’ relationship or negative words or rumours around you. Talking to a snake suggests that you are engaged in a process of understanding higher knowledge about yourself and your world. It indicates that you are open to receiving information of a more mystical nature. If you have a dialogue or if the snake talks in your dream, it signifies that your potentials are being realised and your opening up to new possibilities in life. A viper is thought to be symbolic of opponents who you perceive to be targeting your weak points or vulnerabilities.

To dream that you are eating a live snake indicates that you are looking for intimacy or sexual fulfilment. Your life is lacking sensuality and passion. If you vomit or throw up the snake, then it may mean that you are overcompensating for something that is lacking in your life. You may be rushing into something. A dream about being eaten or swallowed by a snake is a message that you need to consider why you are thinking and reacting negatively about certain aspects of your life; you need to return to the ‘real world’ and face up to such issues. It may also symbolise your awareness that you have upset many people in your waking life and need to seek some personal space.

A dream about playing with snakes indicates that you do not fear your adversaries in waking life, but instead, enjoy playing mind games with them. If the dream shows you playfully, and carelessly handling snakes, it may be symbolic that you are being led astray by unprincipled friends or associates. To dream of children playing with snakes represents your ambivalent, nonplussed attitude towards distinguishing true friends from enemies (frenemies). For a woman to dream of a snake being placed on her head, and she is able to hear it’s hissing sounds, is apparently symbolic of the fact she is being persuaded to yield to someone’s influence or give something up for her own benefit. To see snakes raising up their heads in a path, just behind your friend, could denote that you will discover a conspiracy which has been formed to injure your friend and also yourself. To find that your friend has the attacking snakes under control, could denote that some powerful agency will be employed in your favour to ward off evil or detrimental influences. If the snake is on the floor performing, or alternatively, situated on a carpet, is a sign that bitterness and emptiness that you are currently feeling will soon pass. Dreaming of a spotted snake is thought to be a message from the subconscious mind – you have been deceitful in some aspect of waking life and you are being warned that this could have negative consequences.  If you hit the snake then you are likely to be able to overcome enemies that intend to do harm. To see a snake which is rising up in the air in a dream is a direct indication of conspiracy. Alternatively, it may represent the fact that somebody, in waking life, is trying to be extremely brave in their life and it is important that you recognise this action - so that you can congratulate this person to overcome their anxieties. If you are hypnotised by a snake then this indicates that you or rights are going to be maintained. If you find the snake cut in half in your dream then this is an indication that you need to adapt better in social situations. The key message is that you can never be too nice. Consideration and respect for others is recommended. The colour of the snake may also provide additional interpretation to your dream. A baby snake is symbolic of financial crisis and a need to be more careful with money. To see snakes fighting in a dream is symbolic that external influences (perhaps positive) are going to take over affairs in your waking life. If you step aside a snake in order to let the snake pass then this dream indicates that based in your efforts you are going to overcome any obstacle is may stand in your way.

A snake positioned on top of a dead body in a dream, is symbolic of sexual intercourse. It may also symbolise control over the desires of the libido. A winged serpent represents an overcoming of personal obstacles and troubles and is generally perceived as being a positive dream sign. Dreams where snakes are able to transform into other strange shapes are supposedly symbolic of current problems or difficulties in waking life which may be overcome by ignoring it, expressing indifference or using calm and willpower. To see hair turn into snakes (imagine Medusa the Gorgon) symbolises once seemingly insignificant matters or events which have come to cause you great concern and distress.  If you see snakes turning into different animals or different objects then this dream symbolises that any difficulties are likely to be destroyed by you in the future – you have the potential to overcome issues in your waking life. If the snake in your dream changes itself into another person, then this can indicate that it is time to give up a bad habit. If the snake bites you and the bite is not fatal then the dream relates to patterns that you have formed in your life. If the bite was fatal then you have an enemy around you at the moment. To have sex with a snake indicates that you crave for sexual gratification. To feed a snake means you have been undertaking hard work and it's time to refresh your mind and think about what will fulfil your creative desires and inspire you. If you have transformed or changed into a snake in your dream then this is an indication that you need to change a situation at work or in your personal life in order to progress. Consider whether the transformation in your dream was perceived as positive or negative – does your transformation into a snake embody you with positive or negative connotations; and helpful or detrimental qualities associated with this symbol?

To dream of walking on snakes symbolises that you are living a life in fear of sickness and ill health. To dream that you kill a snake is symbolic of a personal victory against people you perceive as opponents or enemies. Dreaming of many, small, snakes is a representative symbolic of your fear that friends or those close to you are seeking to belittle you or usurp your position of prominence or status in some respect.

Seeing snakes everywhere in your dream can represent an abundance of energy that you have not yet fully expressed or taped into. Snakes symbolise deep instinctual drives such as instinct of survival or sexual energy. If they are present in large numbers in your dream, consider what you have in abundance in your life that you have not fully acknowledged or expressed. On the contrary, the dream may reveal what is lacking in your life and would be beneficial to have more of. Look at this possible meaning and see if it relates to feelings you had in the dream. Seeing snakes everywhere is a vivid image that calls your attention to a matter that you have ignored too long, probably because it was too difficult to handle. To see an abundance of snakes in your dream could also mean that your peace of mind is being disrupted by overwhelming concerns. The dream could also point to a situation where your personal space is being invaded and your boundaries not respected. Look into environments in your daily life like home or work where you may experience that feeling. Pay attention to the elements that you find particularly intriguing in your dream. They will give additional clues about how your dream connects to elements in your waking life. If you see snakes everywhere in your bedroom, consider issues or situation associated with intimacy, sexuality, or finding a moment to relax. If you see snakes everywhere in your house, this may point to the feeling of having your personal space invaded. The dream means that you need to find a quiet space for yourself or define your personal boundaries more strongly. Falling into a pit of snakes, supposedly refers to a mass of problems which are unsettling you. It may also symbolise bad luck in affairs of the heart, or business or misfortune in an ongoing project. Lots of writhing snakes, wriggling over one another in a pile, is representative of troubles with fortune and feelings of remorse.

As referred to many times above, snakes are powerful symbols of sexual urges and impulses. Dreaming about snakes on a bed may refer to deep urges, especially connected to your sensual desire or sexuality, as the snake is typically considered to be a phallic symbol. This meaning is emphasised in a dream where snakes are in a bed. The snake dream could mean that you need to look within yourself to see how you relate with your own sexuality and its expression. Depending on what the snake look like, you may interpret the dream as an indication of how you perceive your own sexual energy and desire. Is the snake colourful or dull? Does it move vigorously or is it slow? Is it big or small; aggressive or friendly? Your response will give additional clues to interpret your dream. Firstly, the classic meaning for dreams that take place in a bedroom, especially if your bed or bedroom is portrayed, is associated with intimacy. It could be intimacy with a partner or simply how you experience your own connection with yourself. Seeing a snake or several snakes in your bed bring this meaning forth even more strongly. Secondly, the bed or bedroom could symbolise your private sphere, a sense of your personal space or boundaries.  To see snakes crawling in your bed in a dream denote insidious feelings that are creeping. Perhaps you have been avoiding looking at a sticky situation in your waking life and the dreams is bring it to your attention. Snakes in a bed can refer to a situation in your life where your private space is being invaded and your boundaries not respected. In the dream, you may be surprised by the presence of the snake in your bed, just like you may not be fully aware that you are being bothered by a situation or someone close to you in your waking life. This type of snake dream relates to the need to look at guilt or an anxiety that is associated to the topics of private space or intimacy in general or in the context of your current relationship. I f dreaming about snakes on your bed comes with a feeling of curiosity or fascination in the dream, this may mean that you are in the process of exploring new ways to express your own sexual or sensual life. This snake dream is a reminder of your own creativity and need to express deep, instinctual desires. If you dream of seeing snakes in someone else’s bed, this could point to your desire or curiosity about someone who is close to you. It could mean that you would like to strengthen your current relationship or wish to renew it. The snake could also represent your ambivalence regarding the development of the relationship and the deepening of emotional and/or sexual intimacy. Snakes in a bed could indicate that you’re feeling guilty about sexual or romantic feelings you’ve been having. Depending on the overall feeling in your dream, this may indicate that you are in the process of dealing with ambivalent emotions regarding your own sexuality or sexual desires towards a partner or potential partner. If a snake appears on your bed in a dream and you are not very afraid or not afraid at all, this may mean that you are involved in a healing process connected to your sexuality or a relationship with an intimate partner. The snake could be interpreted as a symbol of deeply rooted sexual energy or desire that is trying to be expressed more fully.  The dream may indicate that you need to pay attention to sexual or romantic matters of importance to you and your intimate partner. Dreaming about snakes in a bed may point to a need to acknowledge these feelings more fully and explore ways to express them more respectfully and harmoniously in your waking life.

Dreaming of a snake attempting to enter your body is symbolic of sexual dissatisfaction. If you dream of a dead body, and a snake or worm inside the corpse, then according to Freud this is directly associated with passion that has not been recognised in waking life.

If a snake appears in a dream while you are pregnant, it indicates the possibility of a conflict between your conscious self, preoccupied with conforming to social norms or cultural or family traditions, and your spirit or inner drive that is more instinctual, moved by your own rhythms and passions. The snake could represent habits or patterns of behaviour that are brought to your attention by the pregnancy. Snake dreams during pregnancy are not to be feared. If a snake appears in your dreams while you’re pregnant, the interpretation of this powerful symbol may give you useful information about your own thoughts or feelings about the changes that are occurring. Dreaming of a snake could also mean that you are being warned about potential events that may affect your pregnancy in positive or perhaps negative ways. Depending on whether the presence of the snake in your dream is threatening or associated with positive feelings, the dream can be interpreted in different ways. If the dream has negative connotations, the snake is a representation of patterns, beliefs or value system that are limiting for you. They may be your own beliefs or some that are conveyed by your family or your social or cultural environment. If the dream has positive connotations, the snake represent an opportunity to discover yourself, perhaps new ideas about who you are, about your life and the world. The snake could be interpreted as a representation of your own instincts, perhaps even your own inner guidance system. Pay attention to what the snake is showing you in the dream, if it has a message.

A dream about a snake in water symbolises the connection with your emotions. Typically, the snake comes as a warning sign or a wake- up call about a situation that is potentially threatening and associated with strong feelings. If the snake swims peaceful in calm waters, it means that you’re dealing with your emotions positively and with ease. If you dream about a snake that bites you while you’re swimming, it could be interpreted as a warning to pay attention to your emotions before they strike and go out of control. Consider the type of water you or the snake swims in within your dream, your reactions towards the snake, and the behaviour of the animal to interpret what emotional mood is influencing your life right now. If you are comfortable in the water and the snake’s behaviour is friendly or neutral, it means that you are at peace with your emotions. The presence of the snake could indicate that you are healing emotional wounds or dealing with a situation that’s potentially challenging with ease. The dream may also reflects your desire or hope to clear some worries with regards to a close relationship or a situation that touches you deeply. Even if you’re dreaming of swimming with snakes and are afraid of them in the dream, you may be facing difficult emotions in your life, but are going with the flow and trying to deal with them. If you are struggling in the water or with the snake, it indicates that you are resisting feelings or a change in your waking life. Seeing a snake in grass is symbolic of information or news which has caused you worry, anxiety, frustration or depression – or the anticipation of receiving such news is playing on your mind. Seeing snakes in country-like environments – such as in grass or in a field – this is an indication that you are subconsciously aware that someone is betraying you or being deceitful – it is a warning to fully recognise this situation.

To see a snake with a head on each end in your dream suggests that you are being pulled in two different directions. You are feeling overburdened and do not know whether you are coming or going. Your actions are counterproductive. Perhaps the dream represents some complicated love triangle. Alternatively, the dream signifies your desires to have an nurture children. If you see a two-headed snake in your dream, then it refers to cooperation and teamwork in some relationship. To dream of a snake without a head or without any eyes implies that you are refusing to see the danger in a situation. Alternatively, it means that you are being blindsided. To see a snake charmer at work in your dream is thought to be symbolic of a need to fend off malicious gossip and rumours.
Further, these general observations about the characteristics of the ‘snake’ and what they may symbolise can be helpful in interpreting a dream involving a snake:
  1. Snakes are wild, untamed animals that cannot be trained. They are largely beyond our control
  2. Snakes are unpredictable. They tend to strike by surprise; they appear unexpectedly and disappear as fast as they showed up
  3. They primarily evoke aversion and fear in humans
  4. Snakes move close to the ground and are associated with the earth
  5. Snake shed their skin when they grow, leaving behind the old during their transformation process
  6. Some snakes’ venom is poisonous, even deadly, if they bite
  7. They possess the antidote to their own venom


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