What Does it Mean if you Dream About Snakes?

I had a crazy dream about snakes the other night. I didn’t mean to. It just happened. But I wanted to know what my brain was trying to tell me, so I did some research. Here’s what I found. 

What does it mean if you dream about snakes? Snakes commonly symbolize fear or transformation. Dreaming of a snake is a sign that you are afraid of something in your waking life or a forewarning about changes to come. 

It’s true that oftentimes, our dreams are random. Dreams are the brain’s way of processing information. However, sometimes your brain tries to tell you something important and does so in a dream. I did more research on this and found out common symbolic meanings of snakes in dreams, throughout history, and more. 

Common Symbolic Meanings of Snakes in Dreams 

There are lots of things your brain could be telling you by sending you a snake. Here is a list of a few. 

Fear 

There’s no shame in being afraid of something. I myself like a stable, constant routine. So things, like moving or starting a new job, scare me.  A snake in your dream could be telling you that you’re afraid of work, of school, of moving somewhere new, of commitment, your boss, or a tough situation.

If you have a dream about a snake biting you, that could be a hint from your brain that you need to face your fears and get on with it.

Growth and Renewal 

Growing hurts. Let’s face the facts. Growing hurts when you grow taller or when you build muscle, and when you’re growing as a person. Sometimes, a snake in your dream is your brain’s way of helping you through whatever nature of growth spurt you’re going through at that time.

Unconscious Anxieties 

Sometime we worry a lot. It’s what I’ve been known for my whole life. And that’s okay. Anxiety is something all people have and work through, whether they know they’re worrying or not. Dreaming about snakes could mean that you’re worried about something that’s coming up, or something that you’re feeling. They can represent sadness, anger, or stress.

Knowledge and Wisdom 

In lots of Asian or Native American cultures, snakes serve as a symbol of wisdom. So if you are looking for an answer to a question, or searching for information about something, your brain may send you a snake that symbolizes your searching.

Repressed Desires 

Lots of us wish we could do things we never got the ability to do. Whether it be to go back to school, or be in a different job, or complete an act of athletics that we have never been able to, many people hold unearned triumphs in their hearts.

A snake in your dream might symbolize such a thing. Much like with fear, if a snake bites you in your dream, it may be a wake-up call from your brain to fulfill those desires.

Healing 

In many different cultures, the snake is viewed as a healing creature. It carries the antidote to their own venom. If you are going through an illness, a big emotional blow, or an injury, a snake may symbolize your healing.

Unkind People 

A snake in your dream may signify a person in your life who is calloused, abusive, or even evil. The snake may go so far as to change into a human. This may be your brain telling you not to trust that person, and to get them out of your life.

Creativity 

Our brains love to play. They love to run freely around the fields of potential that sprawl infinitely inside our heads. A snake in your dream may represent your creativity, a particular draw to that creativity, or your potential.

The Devil is in the Details….and so is the Snake

The above list gives a very broad and basic generalization of what your brain may be telling you, but oftentimes with more specific details about the color of the snake or what the snake was doing, you can decipher even further into what your brain is trying to explain. The following list gives a few examples.

Dreaming About a Snake Bite

Dreaming about a snake bite could mean a variety of different things. It could represent a toxic person in your life. Perhaps it represents something in your past that’s bothering you. Maybe it’s a call to action from your brain.

It may also mean you feel paralyzed or trapped in the situation you’re currently in. However, a snake bite may also represent a good change that is coming.

Dreaming about a Black Snake

Dreaming about a black snake might represent something dark that is lurking in the shadows of your life. It could be about a deep sadness that you feel in your heart, or a dangerous situation you may have put yourself in. It may also be a warning about your financial situation.

Dreaming about a Snake in your Bed or House

Dreaming about a snake in your personal space may symbolize family or family relationships. It may represent contention within your family. It may also represent discontent with your current living situation. Or it may represent financial struggles.

Dreaming about Being Chased by a Snake

These dreams may be extremely unsettling. I personally hate being chased by anything, including and especially snakes. However, dreaming about a snake chasing you might mean you’re trapped in or trying to avoid an unpleasant situation. It also may mean you want to speak your mind, but don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Dreaming about Dead Snakes

In real life, sometimes a dead snake may be a good snake. In dreams, a dead snake may represent the beginning of a new chapter in your life. It may symbolize the end of a dark place, and the opening of a new, hopefully, brighter one. 

Dreaming about Killing Snakes

This dream is very positive. It may symbolize you overcoming your fears and challenges. If you feel good about killing the snake, it may be your brain saying you have something to get done. If you feel bad about killing the snake, it might be your brain telling you that you still have to get something done, but it won’t be pleasant.

Dreaming about a Yellow Snake

Yellow snakes may represent your intuition, your gut instinct, your wisdom, or your intellectual abilities. Dreaming about a yellow snake may represent your gut telling you to do something, like telling you to make a decision. It may be an answer to a question you have in your waking life.

Dreaming about Snakes while Pregnant

In some cultures, dreaming about snakes while pregnant is good luck. It symbolizes a healthy pregnancy and baby.  If you dream about a black snake, your baby is a boy, and if you dream about a white snake, your baby is a girl. A green snake represents health and fertility.

Dreaming of Multiple Snakes

Multiple snakes may represent an abundance of something in your life, whether it be energy or wisdom. However, if you’re afraid in the dream, multiple snakes may mean that you are overwhelmed by something in your waking life.

Dreaming of Venomous Snakes

Snakes, in many cultures, symbolize mankind. Seeing a venomous snake may represent a toxic or abusive person or behavior. It may be your brain telling you to steer clear of it, or it may be your brain acknowledging it in yourself.

Dreaming of a Snake with Multiple Heads

A snake with multiple heads may represent a struggle that you’re going through that may be pulling you in different directions. It also may represent complications or fears. 

Snake Symbolism Across Cultures and History 

Lots of times, in order to understand the interpretation of dreams, it is very important to understand the considerable symbolic weight that snakes have on history and culture. The following symbolism will explain why certain things mean the things that they do. 

Fertility and Rebirth – In lots of cultures, snakes represent fertility and rebirth. This is because of their unique ability to shed skin. In some cultures, the snake is a symbolism of sexuality. 

Guardianship – Snakes are traditionally used to guard sacred places and temples. This draws from the fact that often, when threatened, snakes will attempt to defend their territory rather than retreat. Some Buddhist sculptures depict Buddha meditating, supported by a multiple-headed snake that flares his hood to protect Buddha from above.

The Gadsden flag of the American Revolution depicts a coiled rattlesnake with the phrase, “Don’t Tread on Me”, which is a reference to its instinct to fight and protect its home.

Poison and Medicine – Snakes are extremely commonly attached to poison and medicine. Along with those attachments, the snake is also considered to be wise, being close to the divine. Along with its divinity and wisdom, the snake was thought to to the afterlife and immortality.

African Mythology – In Africa the chief center of serpent worship was Dahomey but the cult of the python seems to have been of exotic origin, dating back to the first quarter of the 17th century. By the conquest of Whydah the Dahomeyans were brought in contact with a people of serpent worshipers, and ended by adopting from them the beliefs which they at first despised.

At Whydah, the chief centre, there is a serpent temple, tenanted by some fifty snakes. Every python of the danhgbikind must be treated with respect, and death is the penalty for killing one, even by accident. The rainbow-god of the Ashanti was also conceived to have the form of a snake. His messenger was said to be a small variety of boa, but only certain individuals, not the whole species, were sacred.

In many parts of Africa the serpent is looked upon as the incarnation of deceased relatives. Among the Amazulu, as among the Betsilio of Madagascar, certain species are assigned as the abode of certain classes. The Massai, on the other hand, regard each species as the habitat of a particular family of the tribe.

Ancient Iran – In Iranian culture, the snake is sacred and powerful. They are depicted as patrons of fertility, water, wealth, and desire. The Iranian view of snakes was shifted by other cultures over time. The Abrahamic tradition depicted snakes as evil, having lured Eve to seek forbidden knowledge. Aryan religions also depict serpents as evil. 

Judaism and Christianity – The tie that snakes have formed with Christianity and Judaism are long-lasting and definite. However, it is also represented as a curious duality. For example, it was a snake that convinced Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.

However, the Gospel of John states a clear symbolic connection between serpents and Jesus Christ. It was also a bronze snake that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. Moses’ snake was also turned into a snake by the power of God to dispel the disbelief of the leaders.

Greek Mythology – Snakes have a long and glorious history with Greek Mythology. They featured prominently in many myths and were commonly represented with Gods, Goddesses, and other respected figures.  The following is a list of examples

  • The Minoan Snake Goddess was often depicted brandishing snakes as well as having a leopard under her arm that established her as both a source of wisdom and having the role as the Mistress of the Animals. 
  • Typhon, the enemy of the gods, was depicted as a monster with a hundred heads, and a hundred serpents coming from his thighs. He was defeated by Zeus and cast below the earth, where he is the cause of volcanic eruptions. His children are also shown with serpent-like qualities, such as Cerberus and Chimaera, with their serpent tales, and the serpentine dragon Ladon. 
  • Python was the earth-dragon of Delphi, she always was represented in the vase-paintings and by sculptors as a serpent. Python was the enemy of Apollo, who slew her and remade her former home his own oracle, the most famous in Classical Greece.
  • Medusa and the other Gorgons were vicious female monsters with sharp fangs and hair of living, venomous snakes whose origins predate the written myths of Greece and who were the protectors of the most ancient ritual secrets. The Gorgons wore a belt of two intertwined serpents. 
  • Asclepius, the son of Apollo and Koronis, learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another (which Asclepius himself had fatally wounded) back to life with healing herbs. To prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal under Asclepius’s care, Zeus killed him with a bolt of lightning. Asclepius’ death at the hands of Zeus illustrates man’s inability to challenge the natural order that separates mortal men from the gods. In honor of Asclepius, snakes were often used in healing rituals. Non-poisonous snakes were left to crawl on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. 
  • When not driven by horses, the chariot of the Greek sun god is described as being pulled by fiery draconic beings. The most notable instance of this is observed in the episode in which Medea is given her grandfather’s chariot, which is pulled by serpents through the sky.

Native American Mythology – In America, some tribes refer to the rattlesnake as the grandfather and king of all snakes, who can bring fair weather or storms. Among the Hopi of Arizona, the serpent figures largely in one of the dances.

The rattlesnake was worshiped in the Natchez temple of the sun and the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent-god. In many Meso-American cultures, the serpent was regarded as a portal between two worlds. The tribes of Peru are said to have adored great snakes in the pre-Inca days and in Chile, the Mapuche made a serpent figure in their deluge beliefs.

A Horned Serpent is a popular image in Northern American natives’ mythology. In one Native North American story, an evil serpent kills one of the gods’ cousins, so the god kills the serpent in revenge, but the dying serpent unleashes a great flood. People first flee to the mountains and then, when the mountains are covered, they float on a raft until the flood subsides.

The evil spirits that the serpent god controlled then hide out of fear. The Mound Builders associated great mystical value to the serpent, as the Serpent Mound demonstrates, though we are unable to unravel the particular associations.

Related Questions

Do the interpretations of dreams really mean anything? That’s an excellent question. It’s very possible that sometimes, it doesn’t mean anything at all. A weird dream could be the result of too much dinner, sleeping medicine, or just because that’s what your brain came up with. But dreams also often are a result of your brain telling you something. Ultimately, it’s best to examine your life and see what’s going on and if it fits with the interpretation. If the nightcap fits, wear it!

Are all dreams about snakes bad? Not all dreams about snakes are bad. Often, you can tell the difference between a good snake dream and a bad one by how you feel when you wake up. If you feel happy or satisfied when you wake up, that might lead to a positive interpretation. A bad feeling may lead to a negative one.

Why is there a snake on the medical staff? Snakes entwine the staffs both of Hermes and of Asclepius where a single snake entwines the rough staff, and it is Hermes’ role as psychopomp, the escort of newly deceased souls to the afterlife, that explains the origin of the snakes. As the study of alchemy developed, Mercury was understood to be the protector of those arts too and of arcane or occult “Hermetic’ information in general. Chemistry and medicines linked the rod of Hermes with the staff of the healer Asclepius, which was wound with a serpent; it was conflated with Mercury’s rod, and the modern medical symbol—which should simply be the rod of Asclepius—often became Mercury’s wand of commerce.

Kate Bronsell

I'm originally from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I'm a classicly trained musician in guitar, piano, and voice. I enjoy writing poetry and creative nonfiction. One of my favorite cartoons is Tom and Jerry.

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