That said, the meaning is largely based on the person who’s doing the dreaming. To figure out what certain dreams about snakes mean for you, specifically, Gailing advises dreamers to take a two-pronged approach. First, look within: Ask yourself what your interpretation of the snake in the dream is, and how do you feel about it?
Next, consider what the snake is doing in your dream. “Is the snake attacking you? Are they just on your bookshelf? It’s all about the context for any dream,” she says.
How to figure out what dreams about snakes mean for you
Not all people come from identical backgrounds, and this factors into figuring out what dreams about snakes mean. For instance, someone who grew up outdoors might have a less fearful relationship with a snake. Perhaps they can even welcome the snake in their dream, seeing it as a positive omen.
If an individual has a positive relationship with snakes, or is at least not frightened by them, it’s possible that they’ll wake feeling like they have direction in life.
“For them, snakes are power,” Gailing says. “There’s mystery and there’s conviviality—there’s no fear.” If an individual has a positive relationship with snakes, or is at least not frightened by them, it’s possible that they’ll wake feeling like they have direction in life. On the other hand, someone who grew up in the city—with minimal snake interactions—may be more afraid of snakes, even in their dreams.
4 common snake dreams and their meanings
There are tons of dreams about snakes a person may have. Some of the most common snake dreams that Gailing has heard can have a handful of meanings—depending on the person, of course.
Before ascribing meanings to dreams, though, Gailing encourages dreamers to take a moment and reflect on not only how they feel about snakes in real life, but also how they made you feel in the dream. Once you understand how you feel about the creature, you can pair that with common snake archetypes to figure out what the dream means to you.
1. The snake is shedding its skin: death and rebirth
According to Gailing, this dream is reflective of transformation. “That release of a sense of self is necessary to then regenerate to the next level of self,” she says. “The snake is such a powerful symbol of that.”
If someone who is scared of snakes has this dream, it may mean they are scared of change or transformation.
2. You’re out for a walk and see a snake: there’s something in your life worth reconsidering
A snake crossing your path on a walk while while you slumber isn’t as scary as it would be in real life. According to Gailing, this could be a sign that something in your life needs more attention.
“You’re going about your life, and you need to look at something. Maybe you’re looking at your fears—if you’re scared of [the snake],” Gailing says. “Maybe you’re realizing that in your pursuit, you might need to release something or go through some sort of transformation.” You might embrace this as an opportunity to assess which areas of your life bring you happiness and which… well, not so much. It could also be a sign that some effective self-care practices are order.
3. There’s a snake in your bedroom: creativity and sexuality
It’s safe to say that, even if you grew up in the desert of Arizona and are very comfortable with the idea of being around snakes, you’d likely be uncomfortable with one in your bed. But what if you didn’t detest it? What if it kind of…intrigued you?
In this case, dreams about snakes in your bed may be reflective of “your creative life force or your sexuality,” Gailing says. Some questions to ask yourself to introspect about creativity include: Is there an area of my life where I’m lacking creativity? Is there an area of my life where I’m dedicating too much creative energy?
In terms of sexuality, the snake may be prompting you to pose these questions: Am I being honest with myself about my sexuality? Is my current situation satisfying my sexuality?
4. The recurring snake dream
“In general, the power of the recurring dream—whether it’s about a snake or some other thing—seems always important because there’s something really trying to get your attention,” Gailing says. “It’s something that needs to be revisited.”
If you’ve had a long line of recurring dreams, consider, again, how you feel about that snake. “Have you befriended your fear? Have you completed your transformation? Have you become an ally to the healing process?”
4 other possible meanings of snake dreams
If your specific dreams about snakes don’t fit into any of the specific archetypes mentioned above, that doesn’t mean your dream signifies nothing. Rather, Gailing outlines four general concepts represented by snake dreams, below.
“Snakes are an incredible symbol of healing—we only need to look at the Caduceus staff, with the snakes intertwining,” says Gailing. (According to research, the Caduceus staff dates back to 1400 BC, and has been the symbol of the medical community in the U.S. since the late 19th century.) In fact, Gailing says, “back in the ancient Roman-Greco times, dreams were at the centerpiece of healing.” Additionally, the Celts often connected dreams about snakes with healing pools and water.
2. Temptation (biblically speaking)
“Of course we can’t not think of the snake in the Bible, tempting Eve to eat the apple,” says Gailing of the Old Testament. “The snake is thought of as temptation or as a creator of chaos.”
3. Fertility and creative life force
“In many cultures, snakes are [also] a symbol of…creative life force,” Gailing says, adding that the notion of “life force” also extends to fertility. Cultures like ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Native Americans, view snakes as a symbol of fertility, rebirth, renewal, and even immortality.
4. Something out of our control
“Typically, when people think of snakes, it is something out of our control,” Gailing says. “It’s slithering, it’s secretive. It sort of comes out of the bushes and it can kill or poison us.” So, consider what in your life may be leading you to feel a lack of control.
Ultimately to interpret what dreams about snakes mean for you, it’s crucial to first figure out how you feel about the snake—in actuality and in the dream—and then to look at it through a historical context.
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