What do dreams of snakes mean?
Author: Jonathan Warren
Venomous, slippery and spineless are just some of the adjectives used to describe snakes, a reptile which certainly has divided opinion over the years. But whether you’re a snake lover or an ophidiophobe (those with a specific phobia of serpents), what does it mean when snakes slither into your dreams?
In this blog, we’ve taken a deep dive into snake symbology, spiritual views of serpents and what it could mean when these slippery reptiles pay us a visit during the night – metaphorically of course!
The symbolism of snakes
Our serpentine friends have held many different symbolic meanings over the ages. If you ask Adam and Eve what adjectives they might ascribe to snakes for instance, you may well be met with a response of deceitful, treacherous or even evil. Indeed many modern day Christians would still associate snakes with temptation or the devil for the serpent's role in tricking Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
On a more positive note, ancient Roman times hailed the symbol of the snake as representative of prosperity and in religions such as Hinduism, snakes are symbolic of rebirth and regeneration. When it hits 2025, it will be the year of the snake in the Chinese Zodiac which ascribes characteristics like intelligence and adaptability to these reptilian rascals!
Interestingly, in Ancient Greek mythology, Medusa, infamous for being able to turn people who looked at her into stone, was renowned for having a head of live snakes for hair. Terrifying and evil for some, Medusa has also been held out as a symbol of feminism, protection and being able to overcome one’s enemies.
Common types of snake dreams
Like everything to do with dreams, subjectivity is the name of the game. So while there might be common types of snake dreams out there, each dream is specific to the individual sleeper. Therefore it's important to reflect on your nighttime experiences to unlock what snakes might mean to you.
Scary snake dreams
Snakes are scary at the best of times. If your reptile-addled dreams are nightmares which are hampering your sleep quality, these might point to a potential toxic relationship or situation in your life. Maybe it’s time to consider whether your workplace is a toxic environment or perhaps someone’s behaviour towards you is tipping more into the threatening territory. Whichever it is, your dreams could be trying to tell you that it’s time to re-evaluate.
Snake bite dreams
A snake bite is probably not on anyone’s list of top things which will make for a restorative night’s sleep! However, whilst a snake bite in a dream could also be indicative of something toxic in your life, it could also be representative of healing. The fearsome fangs could be your subconscious telling you to take an aspect of your health more seriously or to take early action so that you can start to heal.
Specific snake dreams
Your dreams may also vary depending on the precise type of snake making an appearance during the night. Rattlesnakes, cobras and pythons are known for their fangs and venomousness so perhaps these snakes are there to highlight danger or toxicity in your waking life. Boa constrictors however, known for suffocating their prey, might be more symbolic of feeling trapped or anxious. On the other hand, the manifestation of a garter snake could be less threatening and more about exploring feelings of curiosity.
Sensual snake dreams
As a bit of a curveball, some dreamers might experience snakes in dreams that are a bit more on the saucy side! Snakes can be a reference to male sexual energy and might encourage you to think about whether you are interested in someone in your life. Snakes have also been linked symbolically to fertility throughout history.
Personal and psychological interpretations
Various psychologists view dreams as a connection between the conscious self and the subconscious mind. Dreams are inherently subjective and while there are lots of common dreams experienced by sleepers, what they mean to an individual can vary massively.
When it comes to snakes, their appearance in our dreams can differ based on whether we like that particular animal or not for starters. If watching Snakes on a Plane is your idea of hell, then your personal experience of snakes in your dreams might be geared towards more negative emotions. Perhaps you are experiencing toxicity in the workplace or discomfort in a relationship. Conversely, if you’re a fan of these slippery reptiles, your dreams could relate to curiosity, healing or even rebirth.
Keeping a dream journal can be a great way of helping yourself to interpret your dreams, whether they are snake-riddled or not! Journaling can enable you to draw comparisons to your dreaming experiences and your waking life and also help to improve your mental health overall.
Cultural and spiritual perspectives
Various cultures relate snakes to different qualities and characteristics.
Culturally, snakes have been given a pretty rough ride. Snakes have been at the centre of various horror films like Anaconda and Snakes on a Plane, where they wreak havoc on humans. The magical world of Harry Potter doesn’t shy away from the link between snakes and deviousness, making it the symbol of House Slytherin where the majority of the franchise’s most deceitful and evil wizards and witches hail from. Voldemort’s fearful pet snake, Nagini, will also be a feature in many nightmares!
There’s also Sir Hiss in Disney’s Robin Hood who helps the villainous Prince John by hypnotising adversaries and Kaa from The Jungle Book who is portrayed as cunning and deceitful.
On a more spiritual note however, a snake can embody wisdom, transformation, healing and medicine. The World Health Organisation uses a snake entwined staff as its symbol, taking inspiration for the Greek god of medicine Asclepius.
Overcoming fear and embracing transformation
Snakes can prompt fear in all of us whether you are an ophidiophobe or not, but dreaming of snakes can be turned into something actually quite positive.
If you’re afraid of snakes, your dreams could be telling you to face your fears and confront whatever is causing you distress in your life. Journaling, talking to a therapist or discussing your dreams with friends could help you unlock whatever is making you worried and give you the courage to overcome your fears.
Snakes can also be representative of transformation. In shedding their skins, serpents can highlight our need to grow as individuals and let go of factors that hinder us in our daily lives. Maybe your snake dreams are trying to subconsciously hint at your need to embrace the new!
Searching for more information on dreams?
If your slithery dreams are cause for concern, why not head to our Time4Sleep blog to find out more on vivid dreams and what dreams actually mean? We’ve also written plenty of blogs on improving your sleep quality that will boost your chances of getting a truly restorative night’s rest.