What do snakes mean in dreams?

by mlennox on September 2, 2010

Yesterday, I blogged about what spiders mean in dreams.  I was inspired by my appearance on a radio show where the theme of the conversation was focused on scary dream images and their meaning.  As is often the case, I found myself explaining that when we project our fears about an image onto the meaning we make of it, we are missing the value of what our unconscious is trying to tell us.  By “removing the yuck,” as it was so charmingly put on the air, and examining the essence of the symbol in question, a more satisfying interpretation emerges.

I use the image of snakes in dreams frequently to illustrate this point very clearly.  So once again, borrowing from the pages of Dream Sight (coming from Llewellyn Press in February 2011) I include the following selections.  The first is from the first half of the book from a section where I explain this very concept using snakes as an example, followed by the actual dictionary term of Snake as it appears within the pages of my book.  I hope it is of value.

To illustrate this principle more clearly, let us use another example utilizing two people having essentially the same dream.  The primary image is that of a snake.  Dreamer number one is terrified of snakes, while Dreamer number two finds them interesting and even a bit erotic.  While hiking down a path alone somewhere in nature, each dreamer comes upon a large snake in the middle of the path.  Encountering the snake stops their respective hikes and each dreamer regards the snake from a safe distance before waking up.

The fact that snakes shed their skins–which is symbolic for discarding the old to make room for the new in one fell swoop–makes change and transformation the Universal Landscape for snake.  In addition, many varieties of snakes are capable of killing and death is always symbolically linked with rebirth, which is the ultimate of transformations.  Even the fact that their long, straight shape can be formed into a circle is symbolically suggestive of the cycles of change that are so much a part of life.

The Dreaming Lens in this dream is the same for both dreamers–the presence of the snake in the middle of their path has halted their progress.  Now the meaning of the dream is expanded:  this is a dream about some path in life that each dreamer is on.  Since they are alone, we can assume the dream is reflecting their own private journey as opposed to their public life.  Some element of change or transformation is occurring in their lives as represented by the snake appearing on their respective paths.  This apparent obstacle is causing them to stop and consider what direction to take and what to do next.

Now we come to the Personal Focus, which is going to be very different for our dreamers, therefore resulting in a different final interpretation for each.  Dreamer number one is afraid of snakes and therefore whatever change in life this dream is expressing is bringing up some level of fear.  Dreamer number two is also facing a shift in life, but one that is intriguing and inviting by virtue of having a Personal Focus of snakes as an object of fascination.  Without using the process of Dream Sight, both dreamers would be stuck and confused with having the dream mean something about how they feel about snakes rather than coming to a full understanding of the dream representing a change or transformation that their unconscious minds are asking them to explore.
Snake

Universal Landscape:  Change or transition; healing; death and rebirth.

Dreaming Lens:  What kind of snake is appearing in your dream?  Is it poisonous, dangerous or innocuous?  What was your fear level or lack thereof?  Did the snake have human qualities or abilities?  Does it have a message?
 
Personal Focus:  Snakes can inspire great and varied personal emotions, and therefore can ultimately connect to very different shades of meaning based on your Personal Focus.  Because of this continuum of response from fear and loathing to fascination and sensual stirrings, they need to be considered carefully when they appear in a dream.

First and foremost, snakes represent change and transformation.  This connects to the fact that they shed their skins in their growth process and that many of them are capable of causing fatality to their predators, implying the symbolic rebirth that follows any death experience.  There is a healing element of this, as many snake venoms can also be used as curatives.  This may connect to the two snakes that appear on the physician’s caduceus, representing the challenge to life and the response of the healer to match it.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the snake bears the responsibility for tempting Adam and Eve.  As such, a snake can represent a confrontation with a change in your value system.  It is important to remember that their yielding introduced the human race to the knowledge of mortality and the birth of consciousness.  A serpent in your dream may actually represent a major shift in your awareness that may bring about the death of an old paradigm that brings you into a whole new world.

In Eastern cultures, the awakening of spiritual power is often referred to as a snake.  Known as the Kundalini, it is experienced as an incredible energy which undulates up the spine.  Stimulating this can induce a tremendous healing force which contains the ability to purify the nervous and glandular systems.  The practice of yoga is designed to awaken the snake that lives dormant at the base of the spine.  As a dream symbol, a snake could represent the potential for power and energy if properly channeled.

If a snake appears on a particular part of your body (such as choking you) you might want to make an association between that body part/energy and what in your life needs to be transformed.  How you feel about the presence of actions of the snake reveal your deeper emotional responses to the change that is occurring.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Brett September 2, 2010 at 7:31 pm

What a terrific blog.

This is perhaps only tangentially related, but two nights ago, I had a dream involving leaches. I dreamt that they were lodged in the tear ducts of my eyes, and that I was removing them with a simple metal instrument. I would press the metal tip gently below the corner of my eye, and the leach would slide out of my eye.

I find the idea of leaches disturbing. We were at a lake a couple weeks ago, and a teenage kid with us found one on his Achilles tendon. Perhaps that’s why it was in my consciousness. So, on that level, the fact that they were in my eyes in the dream was very disturbing, both in the dream and afterward.

I was interested in what you wrote about snakes being symbols of transformation. Not sure if leaches qualify as snakes, but the dream seemed to me to be about transformation, or the need for it. It was very interesting to me that my eyes were what needed cleansing.

The good news was that the “infecting agent” was very easily removed and not painful at all. That seemed like good news to me. Weird and gross, but not, in the end, that big a problem.

mlennox September 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Brett,

What a marvelous response to this post – on several levels. First of all, I just love that you felt moved to contribute to the conversation, so I thank you for that. Secondly, and far more importantly, you have helped illustrate the value of the dream at the collective level with such profound clarity. The way in which you connect waking-life experiences with a dream image that you had and then weave in what was evoked in you by reading the blog and taking the time to post it – this is the tapestry of unconscious/conscious awareness that I am helping to facilitate in the world – thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, onto your dream. Leeches and snakes are not so far off as you might think. It is not so long ago that the medical community felt that blood letting was an important part of healing. If you were not well, a physician would drain small amounts of blood and using leeches for that was common practice. Snakes are featured on the physician’s Caduceus as a sign of healing and transformation. It’s all connected.

You say that it was interesting that your eyes needed cleansing. What interests me most is that you say that where the leeches were attached to you were your tear ducts, suggesting to me that what was being cleansed is how you see your life (eyes) by virtue of how emotionally expressive you are allowing yourself to be (tear ducts). Now add to that the notion that leeches as an old method of healing are being removed; this suggests that old ideas of how to deal with wounds around emotional expressiveness are being easily let go of. Overall, a very powerful dream.

One last point – the waking-life incident that indeed may have put leeches into your consciousness where the boy had leeches on his Achilles’ tendon may be pointing out that this current block that is being addressed by this dream may appear to be innocuous, but has been potentially very debilitating in your past, as the Achilles’ tendon represents hidden weakness.

Thanks again for sharing your dream with me!

Michael

Rita September 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Michael, remember my snake dream of a few months ago? It was about the large golden orange snake that was making its way through a big open closet. I wasn’t afraid of him, etc.

Well, I had another snake dream a few weeks ago. This one had a little girl in it. She was holding the snake. I was concerned for her, but she wasn’t afraid. I kept thinking that snake is going to strangle her or something, but it never did. That’s about all I remember. I believe that little girl might have been me. Since snake dreams have to do with transformation and change, perhaps my inner child is the key? Why would I be afraid for her? She wasn’t afraid.

Love you,
Rita

Srileka December 13, 2011 at 6:52 am

Hi Dr. Mlennox.
I was searching for the what sankes say in our dreams… i found this blog its very nice… i had a good info about it. But my search is snaks dancing, Few days ago i had a dream of two snakes dancing parlally zig zaging them both and it was beatiful iam watching it.. the snakes are black in colour and long as ancondas so i camt guess wat kind of snake it is. I need to know what that snakes are try to say me. what is meaning my subconcious for me… pls help me i this….

mlennox December 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Srileka,

This is a very beautiful dream and I am delighted that you desire to know what your unconscious is trying to say to you. Dancing is a seduction and ultimately connects to arrousing some passionate and primal instinct. When we dance with people in our lives, it is a kind of foreplay to passion and intimacy. You can think of these snakes as an instinctual part of your unconscious (animals always connect to our instincts) that are trying to get your attention in a way that is beautiful and engaging. This is a very intense time where there is a lot of shifts occuring both in the world at large as well as for all of us as individuals. Snakes symbolically relate to great change and transformation. This dream may be representing an opportunity for you to move toward change, even if it is a bit frightening or may take you into unknown realms. It is natural for us as human beings to initially be afraid of change. Snakes are a somewhat mysterious creature capable of inspiring both fear and awe. I don’t know anyone who is not facing a need to surrender to the things in thier lives that require change, flexibility and faith in things unseen.

My suggestion to you is not to get too mental with this process. The more creative you are in approaching the dream work, the deeper and more satisfying the results will be. My assignment to you is to take some time with a paper and some sort of drawing materials and draw the snakes in your dream. It does not matter if you are good at this or now – even a stick figure of two snakes dancing will signal to your unconscious mind that you are ready for more information to come through. I assure you that if you do this, you will have more dreams in the near future that will offer you deeper insight and new information. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

All best,

Michael

Jackie January 25, 2012 at 4:51 am

Hello,

I had a dream last night that consisted of both leeches and snakes. I never actually had encountered a situation which would have led these two species into my dreams during the waking day. The dream itself consisted of me picking up some branches and finding two black snakes with red parallel lines as their ‘body colors’. I was a bit afraid, but the snakes did not attack so I remained calm. After a few second there appeared to be leeches on the snakes, and then the snakes died. I have been going through a considerable amount of stress in my life but I am constantly trying to devoid the situation by not allowing myself to get down. Are there any suggestions as to what you may perceive this dream to be?

mlennox January 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

This is indeed a very curious juxtaposition of symbols. Snakes usually represent change and transformation. Red is a color that signals darker qualities, like stress, anger, security issues. The snakes in your dream may very well connect to the stress.

Leeches, however, are a very different animal. They suck the life force out of whomever they attach to. They kill the snakes in your dreams. Snakes = change. Dead snakes = no change.

Perhaps the leeches are representing the ways in which you are trying not to get too down. This is not such a bad idea on the face of it, but often change requires us to face the darker, scarier elements of our humanity. Leeches are also an rediculous and VERY outdated healing modality. When someone became ill (read stressed) they were “bled” by applying leeches in the belief that this was helpful and currative, depsite our ability today to recognize it as pointless.

Do not try too hard to devoid the stress out of your life situations and perhaps allow yourself the dignity of being down once in a while. I’m not suggesting you live in that place, but if you try too hard to slow down the pace of, or eradicate the effects of great change and transformation, you may just be killing off your natural ability to change (snakes) by adding an outdated cure that kills its host and isn’t really effective in the first place.

Jackie January 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Thank you. Interestingly enough I had a dream about flying in an airplane (with no delays) to Korea (my mothers side of the family lives there) to visit family. I went there and made chocolate cookie dough to make and had some already made ones to eat. From reading up on those interpertations, I suppose I am finally going to over come my stresses in my daily life. Again thanks for your input. If you have more you could enlighten me on this most current dreams I would be grateful.

Thanks again! Jackie.

mlennox January 31, 2012 at 1:43 am

Flying in a plane = big transition that is successful (you get there with no delays). The stress you refer to may be related to inter-generational issues and the behavior modeled by your mother. Mothers make cookies (well, my mother never made cookies, but I understand it is a very motherly, nurturing thing to do. You now have the dough – which is the raw materials that can be alchemized into something very sweet and satisfying. The dream does suggest that you are in a new phase of accepting abundance and joy that is not only immediately available to you (the cookies you eat) you now have a back-log of that which is neccesary to make life feel sweet. I hope this is at least a little helpful.

dale brooks February 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I had a dream about a snake in my ears. I dreamt I was pulling a red and black snake out of my right ear. the snake popped in half and I was able to grab a hold of the end snake and contiue to pull the rest of it out of my ear. I pulled it which went through my thoat almost gaging me to the right ear. the snake had no tongue just blood or mud in his mouth. i then woke up what does it mean?

mlennox February 21, 2012 at 12:52 am

If you think about snakes representing some sort of change or transformation, what the snake is doing in your dream will give you a sense of where that change is occuring in your life. You pull it out of your ear, so part of what is undergoing great change is how you are listening to the world around you. Additionally, the fact that it goes through your throat indicates that the shift comes full circle and is not only about how you listen, but about finding your authentic voice as well. The shift is so profound, it gags you. The right ear is more about masculine principle – so there may be a general softening going on for you in the real of communication. Blood and/or mud in the mouth of the snake may connect to things that you used to be passionate about may be changing.

Mae June 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Great Blog!

I’be just read Dale Brooks comment and I was a bit surprised because it was similar to my dream. The snake was black and red and seemed to be non venomous since the head wasn’t triangular shaped, and it also entered my right ear. Except the snake was a pet (not mine though). The dream was in a house. It was a nice house filled with children i know; there was a Guy but I can’t remember his face.I’m sure the snake belonged to him. A girl, who I know in real life, held the snake in her arm and chased the others to scare them. I was scared as well so I layed down in a couch and covered myself with pillows. There was an opening on the side near my head for me to breath. The girl used that opening to let the snake through, where it entered my ear. I tried desperately to pull it out but it was like taking a ribbon out of a clowns mouth; it felt as if there was no end. And it felt so real I could almost feel a rubbery sensation passing through my ear. Then, I woke up.

mlennox June 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I LOVE that, Mae. The beauty of connecting in community around dreams is the recognition that we are all connected. The right ear is about listening (obviously) in an active way (Masculine Principle, right side). Houses are our sense of self and this one is thriving. The uncomfortable feelings and the endless ribbons out of the clown’s mouth point to the fear and resistance around this current level of change and transformation that you are going through.

Rae September 23, 2012 at 2:39 am

This morning, I woke up after having had a dream about two large, golden snakes coming out of the crease in the sofa where I was sitting. They looked exactly alike and in sync in their movements although one was slightly ahead of the other. The rested their on the sofa with their heads and upper bodies “standing.” I had moved when I first saw them and was staring at them from nearby. They were perfectly still and in such sequence that I wanted to take a photo of them. I reached for my smartphone but as I did, the nearer snake made a move toward me and I found that I was in my parent’s house in their tv room in the basement. I ran to the stairs and that’s when I woke up. I am recently in graduate school (for the second time) and am wondering if it has to do with knowledge and learning and transformation (am I frightened by all that?) or if it has more to do with sexual frustration and lack of a mate! :)

mlennox September 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm

And why does it have to be one or the other? Dreams reflect all of our experience. However, in my work, I tend to lean toward the universal meaning behind the symbols in dreams and snakes are reflective of change and transformation FAR more profoundly than any sexual frustration (Freudian) projection we might put on them. But the most important element of any dream interepretation is you, the dreamer, and your associations! Good luck with grad school and may your dreams guide you powerfully to your full expression!

GISELLE November 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Hello, Im hoping I can get some help as my dream from last night has me thinking as what it could mean…i dreamt that I was over at a house that I have never seen, and a snake appeared on the floor out of nowhere and it was coming towards me, than right after I was on a stair case and a lizard was on the floor as well. Im not sure what these two reptiles are doing in my dream but I have never had any dreams like this one. Any insight is greatly appreaciated. Thanks!

mlennox November 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Consider this: Houses represent our sense of self, so this is a new consciousness of identity that you have never seen before. Snakes represent change and transformation and lizards represent our reptilian instincts (basic life functions like trusting our lungs to breath and our hearts to beat). A stair case is also a symbol of change or evolution, taking us to higher thoughts or lower depths. I suspect that there are elements of your life confronting you with great change and this dream is reflecting that. Feel free to call into my radio show on Mondays from 12:00-1:00pm PST. http://www.unity.fm and the number to call is 888/558-6489. (no show today, the Monday after Thanksgiving).

Sharon fernandes December 31, 2012 at 4:26 am

Hi m really very scared right nw ford first tym in my life I hv dreamt of a snake … In my dream one my friend(boy) from work was holding it n I was eating off his tiffin after eating I jus saw him holding a snake which was later being a human than snake n dey both wer lookin at menu that tym I covered myself with a bedsheet and a another snake was crawling through my back

nidhi February 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

hi,
i had dreamt of snakes dancing in cirles and i was standing in the middle of the circle watching them.they seemed to hold hands and dancing to glory.
How do i interpret the dream.
Please help.
nidhi

Casey March 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

My dream lastnight consisted of a Python (I was not scared of, seemed to be mine but not sure) the Python was eating a white mouse, had it half way down & out of nowhere the snake was in my throat still eating the mouse. I grabbed ahold of the snakes tail & kept pulling one hand after the other trying to pull him out but I couldn’t & I was choking on him. But even though I was choking, I wasn’t exactly scared. Same dream, I was in a house with my girl friends, we were fixing to leave to go somewhere, I rounded up like 5 baby black snakes into my purse/bag, we got into a truck & was on a dirtroad, the snakes mustve got out of the bag & they were crawling around the truck floor, so we had to pick them up “cautiously” & throw them out the windows. One of the baby black snakes, upon throwing it out the window, turned white & had a cobra shaped head with gold spots on top of head as I was letting it go. It turned & looked at me. The last black baby snake I threw out the window, I couldn’t seem to “let go” of it, like it was stuck to my fingers. I was vigorously shaking my hand to get it off (like you would do a piece of chewed gum stuck to your fingers) when it finally came off, I felt its scales sharp against my finger shaking it, when I looked out my finger, the scales had left a rash like burn on it. Would you please give me some type of insight into this dream?

maria smith May 31, 2013 at 3:25 am

Hello all, I have been trying to work out what my dream was. I dreamt that I was sitting in a living room with family members and a snake had gone into my mouth and down my throat. I grabbed the snake and was pulling it out with both hands. I could really feel my throat gag and it was a terrible pain. I got the snake out and threw it on the floor and then I had another snake in my mouth. So I repeated pulling it out and throwing it on the floor. I had four snakes in total. Can anyone tell me what this means please?

Mags August 16, 2013 at 12:50 am

Hi I had a really strange dream last night about a small yellow boa constrictor which was coiling itself around my arm so tightly it was strangling my arm and I had to use my right hand to loosen it’s grip. As I did so the snake pooed on my arm in fear. I felt I was quite protective off it because it was a baby snake and I knew I needed to look after it. I dreamt that I tried to lay the snake down in a carry box and eventually it slithered off before I could find it and capture it. I also dreamt that I was eating a sandwich and to my horror I found half a dead baby snake with it’s head in the sandwich.
Help! I’d be fascinated to have any insights into this dream as I’m baffled!

sue November 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I had a dream that I was standing in front of my closet and saw a bit of light between some of the clothes stacked on the shelf. As I looked closer it looked like a small frog but then I realized it was a snake, I could only see the head. It turned and looked at me and its head started getting bigger like it was coming closer to me. I was surprised/shocked/scared in my dream at that point and I woke up. Does this mean anything?

Gem November 19, 2013 at 12:51 am

I had a disturbing dream that a crab approaches me as I go to remove it from my foot, this crab breaks open and a white snake with blue veins through it comes out and it has a huge jaw it bites me and begins to bury itself it to my foot .I panic and pull this thing back out as my flesh is being eaten it was disturbing on so many levels . My heart was racing as it wasn’t a straight extraction this thing was digging itself into my foot and as I attempt to pull it out its body breaks and stuff I got the whole thing out in the end I woke up suddenly heart rate must of been hundred miles an hour but I felt a flood of emotions. Please help me decipher its meaning I haven’t done a request like this before but I feel it would help ..
Thanks heaps .

mlennox November 19, 2013 at 1:07 am

This site is a blog promoting my work, not a free service. You can see more about my work on the home page.

Anita December 16, 2013 at 7:12 am

Hi there,

I had a dream yesterday where i was swimming in water (doesn’t look like river or sea/it looks more like a recantgular pond which has an attached circular pond. One i finished swimming, i came out of the water and was walking on the land near the circular pond. My attention was captured by a noise in the circular pond, where i saw two snakes were wrestling with each other and in a second both the snakes (looks like a couple – right side black snake and left side white snake) came out the water dancing happily. And when i saw them i was smiling myself seeing the two snakes dancing happily in water.

What can the dream means?

Regards
Anita

Brian March 5, 2014 at 11:30 am

Hi
I dreamed of seeing a black long snake in my yard being killed and sliced off piece by piece by another man. What could this dream mean?

Tiff March 15, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I have an extensive fear of snakes. So a couple weeks ago, I had a dream that there was this craft where you did something with neon liquid to a snake and then they glow in the dark. I was planning this craft for my boys. So I bought a takeout box full of baby pythons. In real life this would never happen. I would rather die then look at one let alone apply a liquid to them. These pythons were really wriggly and I couldn’t control them so I only applied the liquid to one aNd in the mean time all of the baby pythons wriggled away lost in the house. In the dream I didn’t even seem scared. Well last night I had the dream again except that this time in my dream I started worrying about where they might be and how big they’d grow and was even surprised at myself for having bought them to do the craft in the first place. I recently read an article where a python killed 2 kids in an apartment. I also recently read an article where a NY taxi driver surprised customers with his full grown python. I swear if I ended up in a cab with a python Id probably have a heart attack. What does my dream mean?

shawn June 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Hi!
I had a life like dream today early morning, I open my wardrobe and see two. Huge viper-garter kinds of snakes. Both have brilliant colours bright red and bright blue. They look so powerful that in my dreams I am unsure of how I feel or how to react. I open the adjoining wardrobe and there are two more snakes there too… And the red snake from this pair jumps/flies across the room onto the opposite wall.. And hides. And the first two pairs are staring at me… I rush out to call my brother for help.. And in the meantime my 2 year old son runs into the room, and before I could catch him… The first red snake… Entwines itself over my son.. And pulls him into the wardrobe… In the mean time my brother comes and he’s able to easily remove my son from the snakes hold.. And we close the door and stuff newspaper into any gaps/openings. The red snake doesn’t not harm my son all thru the time he was entwined!! I am so confused about what it means… The dream was so powerful that its haunted me all day long!

Anyone who can make some sense of this dream please do shed some light.. Ty and I’d deeply appreciate it.

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