What Does It Mean When You Dream About Snakes?

Close up portrait of woman with snake on head
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We've all had weird and unusual dreams before, and it's believed that elements of our dreams are keys to our subconscious. Most dream experts agree that the meanings of animals in dreams vary based on what the animal is doing and how you feel about it. Let's take a look what dreams about snakes can mean in your life.

Did You Know?

  • Some dream experts think that creative and spiritually aware individuals tend to experience snake dreams more often.
  • In many cultures, serpent mythology is strongly tied to the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
  • Some snakes are associated with cunning and treachery, while others are representative of fertility, masculine power, or protection.

What Do Snakes Represent?

How you view a snake is typically defined through a cultural lens. In eastern societies, snakes are often associated with positive things, like wisdom and transformation, and are revered. In the western world, though, they are seen as dangerous and to be feared.

Some people believe that a snake symbolizes the creativity and wisdom of the unconsciousness self. Dream expert Barbara Condron says, "Individuals who are highly creative or very in tune with themselves and their conscience are most likely to have snake dreams."

Did you dream that a snake bit you in your dream? That can be frightening; often this indicates a fear that someone in your life is going to cause you harm. Evaluate your relationships and consider which ones are toxic. If there's someone who might hurt or betray you, it's time to come to terms with it. On the other hand, a snake bite could also mean something in your life is about to change dramatically, but for the better.

female had holding apple with snake
Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

A snake which is shedding its skin in your dream is indicating transformation and change. Ask yourself how you felt when you dreamed this: were you afraid, excited, or accepting? Is there some sort of upcoming change that you fear? Is your life in a transitory phase? Perhaps the snake is chasing you. That can be pretty terrifying; it may mean you're avoiding dealing with an unpleasant situation.

What about snakes performing unusual activities in your dreams? In some cases, you might actually find yourself having a conversation with a snake. What did it have to say to you? Is it providing a warning, imparting wisdom, encouraging you to stay on your current path? Perhaps it's a snake that is offering suggestions as to your spiritual growth or creative endeavors. Did you feel anxious when the snake spoke to you, or did you feel calm?

Snakes of different colors can mean different things as well. A black or dark colored snake may indicate that there is something ominous going on—or about to happen—in your life, as well as hint at potential problems with past relationships. On the other hand, a yellow or orange snake can indicate happiness and joy, while a bright red one is a sign of intense passion and energy.

Where did you see the snake in your dream? Is it outside where snakes belong... or did it come into your house? Which room is it in? A snake in the bathroom might mean something different than one in the bedroom. Since your house represents the security and stability of family life, what are you concerned about when it comes to your relationships and domestic world?

Many dream interpretation experts—and more than a few psychologists—believe the snake is representative of man, because of the phallic symbolism of the serpent. If you dream of a venomous snake, it may well be because there's a toxic or dangerous male person in your world. If you're male-identifying, that person might be you.

What Does a Snake Tell You About Yourself?

Dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves and what we feel, even if we don't know we feel it. Sander van der Linden of Scientific American says,

Dreams seem to help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. What we see and experience in our dreams might not necessarily be real, but the emotions attached to these experiences certainly are. Our dream stories essentially try to strip the emotion out of a certain experience by creating a memory of it. 

Snake symbolism is complex, multi-layered, and culturally varied. All of this means that dreaming of a snake or serpent will mean different things to different people; the common thread is that the appearance of a snake in a dream indicates something you may not realize you have to deal with.

In general, snakes indicate things in our subconscious that we're afraid of or, at the very least, worried about. Often, because it's our subconscious, we don't know it's a thing we're worried about. When you dream about a snake, consider it a message from the corners of your mind. It's telling you that either something's going on that you should worry about and are unaware of, or it's validating your existing fears.

If you dream about a snake, or any other animal, you should be sure to write down your dream as soon as you wake up, so that you don't forget it. Include key factors like what the snake was doing, where it was located, the color and species, and how you felt when you saw or interacted with the snake. Once you've done that, you'll be able to determine the message the snake was trying to send you from your subconscious.

Sources

  • Bulkeley, Kelly. “The Science of Dreaming: 9 Key Points.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dreaming-in-the-digital-age/201712/the-science-dreaming-9-key-points.
  • Cheung, Theresa. The Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams: The Ultimate A-Z to Interpret the Secrets of Your Dreams. Harper Element, 2006.
  • Linden, Sander van der. “The Science Behind Dreaming.” Scientific American, 26 July 2011, www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-behind-dreaming/.
  • Robinson, Stearn, and Tom Corbett. The Dreamer's Dictionary. Grand Central Publishing, 1986.