What does it mean if you dream about a snake or multiple snakes? There could be many interpretations! The meaning of your snake dream can vary depending on what’s going on in your life at a given moment as well as your personal experiences and beliefs about snakes. After all, every dream is unique to the dreamer.
At the same time, there are cultural and even psychological symbols and themes that are characteristic of snakes, which could play a role in what your dream is telling you. Being familiar with these concepts could give you insights into what your dream is telling you. In addition, the emotions you experienced while you were dreaming can be quite telling.
In this post, we’ll explore what dreaming about a snake or snakes can mean depending on the scenario, symbolic snake meanings, and more.
Table of Contents
- The Symbolism of Snakes in Dreams
- Cultural Significance of Snakes
- Snake Dream Scenarios and What They Could Mean
- Dreaming of a Snake Squeezing You
- Rattlesnake Dream Meaning
- Cobra Dream Meaning
- Snake Color Dream Meanings
- Snake Dream Interpretations in Traditional Psychology
- Snake Dreams and Reincarnation
- Snake Dream Spiritual Meanings
- Summary and Additional Tips for Deciphering Your Snake Dreams
The Symbolism of Snakes in Dreams
Before we go into detail about different kinds of snake dreams and ways to interpret them, let’s first take a look at some common themes, or qualities, that are often applied to snakes.
Depending on the context of your dream, one or more of these qualities might resonate with you and provide you with insights into what your dream is telling you. (And if you’re curious about snake symbolism in general, be sure to check out my post on snake meaning and the snake spirit animal.)
Here are qualities and symbolism that can be applied to snakes in dreams:
- Hidden emotions
- Primal energy
Cultural Significance of Snakes
Views of snakes and serpents (larger, and sometimes even mythical snakes) vary from culture to culture. For example, in the west, possibly stemming back to Judeo-Christian beliefs and The Bible, snakes have a number of negative associations. So, for many people, a snake dream is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
However, because views of snakes vary from culture to culture and, of course, from person to person, snake dreams can have a range of meanings. Like all dreams, they are personal.
Furthermore, even if you were brought up with a certain set of cultural, familial, or religious customs and beliefs about snakes, in the modern world, we are exposed to media and other stimuli that can play a role in what we dream about and how our dreams might be interpreted.
That being said, here are some different cultural and religious view about snakes, which can play a role in snake dream interpretation:
Views on Snakes in Africa
While Africa has a wide range of diverse cultures, each of which has different beliefs and customs, snakes are often viewed positively across the continent.
For example, for the Serer People of Senegal, snakes, or serpents, are associated with ancestral spirits. According to Serer tradition, when a person dies, they must first reincarnate into a black snake and hide for a time in a tree.1
Snakes in Native American Beliefs
In various Native American cultures, snakes are viewed as creatures who possess ancient wisdom, great power, and the gift of foresight because of their proximity to the ground. Some Native Americans believe the snake’s closeness to the Earth affords them a sense of what is going to happen here before other creatures do, including us.
In Egypt, snakes, especially cobras, are closely associated with royalty, protection, and authority. In ancient Egypt, they symbolized the pharaohs.
Snakes in Greece
In Greece, snakes are associated with healing and renewal. In fact, in Greek mythology, the snake represents Asclepius, the god of medicine, whose symbol was a staff with a serpent coiled around it. Even today, this symbol is associated with the medical profession.
In Hinduism, the snake is a symbol of primal energy, also called Kundalini energy. This energy is described as being like a coiled serpent that rests as the base of the spine. When a person starts to become spiritually awakened, the energy is unleashed (like a snake uncoiling), which leads to greater self-realization and ultimately spiritual enlightenment.
In Buddhism, snakes represent protection and spiritual enlightenment. In one Buddhist story, a giant cobra shields the Buddha from a heavy storm as he is in deep meditation under the Bodhi Tree.2
Snakes in China
In Chinese culture, the snake is associated with the dragon, a symbol of great power, wisdom, and wealth. In addition, snakes are connected to the Chinese creator deity Nüwa, who was part human and part serpent.
Furthermore, in Chinese astrology, the snake is one of the 12 twelve zodiac signs. The sign of the snake is associated with wisdom, intuition, instincts, and following through on one’s goals.
Snakes in Judeo-Christian Beliefs
In The Bible, the snake is portrayed as an emissary of the devil and the trickster who tempts Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.
However, in early Hebrew beliefs, snakes were symbols of fertility, healing, and divination.3
Also, from a biblical perspective, snakes are associated with the giant sea serpent, or sea monster, known as the leviathan, which has a range of symbolic meanings. You can read more about that in my dedicated post on the leviathan.
In some Islamic beliefs, if you find a snake in your home, you should try to persuade them to leave vs. killing them because they could be a jinn, or genie, who has shapeshifted into a snake.
However, Islamic views of snakes are varied. Sometimes they are symbols of healing and protection. At other times, they are viewed as deceptive tricksters.
Thus, depending on your personal cultural experiences, some of these views about snakes could play a role in what your snake dream means.
Snake Dream Scenarios and What They Could Mean
The biggest indicator of what your snake dream means is probably what happened in the dream itself and the emotions you experienced in your dream. One thing we all have in common is that our subconscious emotions don’t lie to us.
Another thing to keep in mind when interpreting snake dream meaning is that sometimes when you dream about an animal, the animal doesn’t represent some outside entity but rather an aspect of your own psyche, or personality.
With that being said, here are some possible snake dream meanings based on specific scenarios.
Dreaming of a Snake Attacking You or Chasing You
If you dream of a snake attacking you or even chasing you, here are some possible meanings:
1. You feel cornered in some way. Generally, snakes only attack when they feel threatened (unless they are hunting for prey.) So, in this scenario, if you dream of a snake attacking you, it could mean that you feel threatened emotionally, physically, financially, or in some other way.
2. You feel like you are being attacked by someone or a group of people in your wakeful state. For example, even in a workplace situation, you might feel like you are at a disadvantage or being treated unfairly.
3. You feel like you are being sexually harassed. Snakes are often viewed as symbols of sexuality or sexual energy. Depending on the context of your dream, you might be feeling like you are being threatened in a sexual way. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that sexual harassment is as much about power and domination as it is about sex.
4. You are being too self-critical. In other words, you are attacking yourself. Often when we dream about animals, the animal represents some kind of external condition. However, as mentioned earlier, the animal can also represent an aspect of your own personality. So, the snake attacking you in your dream could represent the very thoughts in your head and how they make you feel insecure and threatened. Watch that self-talk!
Remember that dreams are gifts from your intuitive mind. So, even scary or unpleasant dreams can be empowering as they give you an opportunity to be aware of and to process challenges in a safe place (as you sleep) so that you can then address them in your wakeful state.
Dream About a Snakes Sneaking Up on You
When a snake feels threatened, they will likely send a signal of warning before attacking to defend themselves, just as a rattlesnake does. However, snakes are ambush predators when they hunt. So, a snake sneaking up on you is generally interpreted as you sense some kind of imminent attack or threat.
Based on this, here are some interpretations for what a snake sneaking up on you might mean:
5. You feel like you don’t have a handle on one or more areas of your life and that these problems are “sneaking up” on you. These could be financial problems or something else. Perhaps you’re hesitant to confront the problems head-on. Your snake dream could be telling you that it’s time to stop, turn around, and face your fears.
6. You feel like you’re being betrayed by someone, or someone is going behind your back. This could be another person or even an institution.
7. You might feel like you’re betraying yourself in some way, and your subconscious mind is pushing you to stop sweeping things under the rug, so to speak. Your dream could be telling you that it’s time to stop deceiving yourself or even to start living up to your potential.
Dream of a Snake Biting You
Dreaming about a snake biting you can be a shocking dream with double consequences, as it’s not just the bite itself but also the fact that some snakes are venomous and can poison you. Here are some possible interpretations of what dreaming about a snake biting you can mean:
8. This is a wake-up call. Your snake dream could be telling you that you need to be more vigilant about something in your life, whether it’s safety-related or some other type of danger, even a psychological threat. A snake bite dream can serve as a warning about a potentially harmful person or situation or even toxic behaviors.
9. You might want to pay more attention to the potential consequences, or downsides, of a decision you’re about to make.
10. You could be harboring some resentment or anger towards someone or a situation and you’re repressing your anger. Try to address it, or nip it in the bud, so you don’t lose your temper and “bite someone’s head off” as the saying goes.
Dream About Battling a Snake or Snakes
Dreaming about battling a snake or multiple snakes can be both an anxious dream and an empowering one. On the one hand, you feel vulnerable and defensive. But on the other hand, you are facing the challenge head-on. This type of dream could have a few different interpretations, such as:
11. You’re feeling threatened or anxious about a situation, or multiple situations, and you feel the need to defend yourself against whatever it is.
12. You feel overwhelmed with challenges and you’re not exactly sure how to overcome them. Nevertheless, you are trying to.
13. You’re repressing some unmet desires. In some interpretations, dreaming of snakes can imply sexual energy or desire.
14. You feel responsible for yourself and/or others. From a mythological standpoint, snakes and serpents have been compared to dragons and the biblical sea monster, the leviathan. So, you could feel like you need to be the hero slays the proverbial dragon in some aspect of your life.
Dreaming of a Friendly or Non-Threatening Snake
Dreaming about a friendly or non-threatening snake can generally be interpreted positively. For example, it could mean:
15. You feel confident that you can charm, or win over, difficult people.
16. You’re in-tuned with, or comfortable with, your own desires or sexuality.
17. You or someone close to you can be healed from an illness.
18. One of your spirit guides or the angel of a loved one who passed is reaching out to you with a message of greeting.
Dead Snake Dream Meaning
What does it mean if you dream about a dead snake? On a symbolic and spiritual level, death represents change and transformation. So, dreaming about seeing a dead snake doesn’t necessarily mean a literal death. For example, here are some dead snake dream interpretations:
19. You are letting go of the past and facing your future.
20. You could be overcoming fears or insecurities.
21. You are letting go of negative aspects or influences.
Snake Swimming Dream
Some snakes are good swimmers. So, dreaming about a snake swimming is not necessarily a far flung concept. Yet, on a symbolic level, not only do snakes have a number of different meanings, water symbolism does too. In psychology and art, water is often a metaphor for going into an altered state of mind, or diving into one’s subconscious. It can also be a symbol for personal transformation.
So, here are some examples for what dreaming about a snakes swimming could mean:
22. You are going through a process of emotional healing or detoxification.
23. You feel the need to trust your intuition but you are not 100% confident that you can.
24. You’re unsure about navigating through the emotional challenges that you feel you need to face.
25. You have a sense that something is out of place or not quite right in your life and you’re trying to determine what it is.
Snake in the Grass Dream Meaning
The term a “snake in the grass” is usually used to describe a sneaky or deceptive person with bad intentions. However, if you have such a dream, it’s important to consider the emotions you felt in your dream vs. making assumptions based on this saying. For example, dreaming about a snake in the grass could mean:
26. You feel comfortable in your own skin and with your sensuality.
27. You are searching for something, such as a great understanding about an issue.
28. You should be more aware of your surroundings.
Dreaming of a Snake in Your Bed
Most of us feel comfortable and safe in our own beds. So, dreaming about a snake in your bed could have some negative associations. However, depending on how you felt in your dream, a snake in the bed isn’t always a nightmare. Here are some possibly meanings:
29. You feel vulnerable or like your personal boundaries are being breached. You might even have a fear of intimacy, such as emotional or sexual intimacy.
30. You are comfortable with your sexuality.
31. Your home life might not feel as secure or peaceful as it should, so it’s time to pay better attention to making it feel safe, secure, and serene.
Dreaming of Multiple Snakes
A dream about one snake can be impactful enough. But dreaming about multiple snakes can be very intense. Here are some possibly interpretations:
32. You are dealing with complex, confusing, or overwhelming challenges and you’re not sure where to start in addressing them or even where the problems will end.
You might even feel like you have conflicting desires or aspects of your personality that are struggling against each other. Dreaming of multiple snakes could mean it’s time to pause, take a break, and/or meditate and bring yourself into peace and alignment.
33. You are empowered and have a uniquely special gift to handle complex challenges or competing priorities.
Dreaming of Snakes Crawling of Slithering on You
Most people would agree that dreaming about snakes slithering on them is a creepy feeling. Here are some possible interpretations of what that kind of dream could mean:
34. You feel there are intrusive or toxic people in your life. It could be time to break ties with those relationships that are not healthy for you.
35. You fear changes that could happen or even your own mortality.
36. You’re uncomfortable with a situation that makes you feel out of control or unsafe. This dream could be challenging you to address those fears and protect yourself.
Dreaming of a Snake Squeezing You
Dreaming of a snake squeezing you can evoke a sense of constriction and vulnerability. Here are some possible interpretations of what this kind of dream could signify:
37. You’re experiencing financial stress or like you’re being “squeezed” financially. This could be a wake-up call to evaluate your financial situation and your nest egg.
38. You might be feeling emotionally suffocated. The snake’s squeeze in the dream may be a sign that you feel like you don’t have room to breathe, to express yourself, or even to be yourself in a relationship.
Along these lines, you might feel that someone or something is exerting control over or manipulating you. Your dream could be telling you that you need to break free from this influence and to come back to your personal power. While snakes have some negative implications, as mentioned earlier, they are also symbols of primal energy and power.
Rattlesnake Dream Meaning
Here are some examples of what dreaming about a rattlesnake could mean:
39. You are being alerted to a potential threat or negative situation that you should consider in your wakeful state. In Native American culture, rattlesnakes are highly respected. One of the reasons is that they give a warning before striking. So, your rattlesnake dream could be viewed as a gift, or wake-up call, to address something that is amiss in your life.
40. You are being alerted or shaken up to shed old habits, like a snake sheds their skin. Your rattlesnake dream could be a sign to leave or change situations or even relationships that no longer serve you. This could make room for personal growth and renewal.
Cobra Dream Meaning
Because they are highly venomous, the cobra (notably, the king cobra) is one of the most deadly snakes in the world. However, they are also viewed as very powerful beings in Hindu and other cultures. In addition, cobras were symbols of royalty and the pharaohs in ancient Egypt.
Here are some examples of what your cobra dream could mean:
41. You have potential that you are not utilizing. Your cobra dream could be telling you to explore, work on yourself, and come into your personal power.
42. You should exert more protection over those and that which you hold dear as well as yourself. It’s good to be an optimist and a trusting person. However, your cobra dream could be a wake-up call to remind you to live in the real world. Don’t pretend that threats don’t exist. They could be in the form of people who do illegal things or those who want what you have and are willing to take it.
43. You are dabbling with something that, or someone who, is very powerful. Make sure you have the knowledge, skills, and sense of self-preservation in order to handle the situation.
Snake Color Dream Meanings
If you dream about a snake and their color leaves a strong impression on you, the color could also play a role in what your dream means. I’ll write in more detail later what dreaming about snakes of certain colors might mean soon. But in the meantime, here’s a quick, high-level view of what dreaming about snakes in certain colors could mean:
White Snake Dream Meaning
44. The color white can have different meanings depending on culture, your own views on the color white, and other factors. For example, some of the symbolic meanings associated with the color white include purity, spiritual enlightenment, and new beginnings. So, a dream about a white snake could signify a wake-up call on a spiritual level and/or a fresh start.
Black Snake Dream Meaning
45. The color black symbolizes mystery, elegance, rebellion, sexuality, and psychic abilities. Thus, dreaming about a black snake could mean that you feel the need to break free from the status quo or push the envelope for something new, more profound, or more sophisticated.
Red Snake Dream Meaning
46. Red signifies love, desire, confidence, security, fire, wealth, and other powerful qualities. Dreaming about a red snake could mean that you are waking up to your personal power and becoming more confident. It could also mean that you feel passionate about what you are pursuing.
Yellow Snake Dream Meaning
47. Yellow symbolizes happiness, good fortune, wealth, and imagination. It can also signify a warning. So, depending on how you felt in your dream, dreaming about a yellow snake could signify using your creativity to build wealth for yourself. It can also signify being more protective of your ideas.
Green Snake Dream Meaning
48. The color green symbolizes nature, growth, family, fertility, and healing. So, depending on how you felt in your dream, the green snake could signify personal regeneration or healing, as well as these qualities in an important relationship.
Snake Dream Interpretations in Traditional Psychology
When it comes to dream analysis, psychologists have varying views. Some say that not all dreams are worth analyzing. While others say that every dream you have can provide insights.
Sigmund Freud and Snake Dreams
Sigmund Freud, the grandfather of psychoanalysis, believed that dreams represented our repressed desires, thoughts, and emotions and a way for us to find fulfillment that we can’t get in our wakeful lives. Thus, he encouraged his patients to describe their experiences and feelings from their dreams with the belief that doing so would bring more clarity into what was ailing or frustrating them.
Freud didn’t have narrow or specific views about what snake dreams mean. However, he did make assumptions that many of our subconscious thoughts were tied to repressed sexual desires and motivations.
Anno O. and the Dream of Black Snakes
One well-known case that Freud worked on was in collaboration with his colleague, the physician Josef Breuer. Dr. Breuer was working with a female patient whom they referred to as Fraulein Anna O. (Her real name was Bertha Pappenheim.)
Anna had undergone a trauma when her father, whom she had cared for, died of tuberculosis. Anna had a number of symptoms, thus, Dr. Breuer diagnosed her as having “hysteria,” a catch-all term used at the time to describe a number of psychological and physical symptoms.4
One experience that was mentioned in her diagnosis was that Anna dreamed of black snakes attacking her father. In her dream, her own fingers turned into the black snakes, which were harming her father.5
49. At the time, Freud surmised that the black snakes in her dream represented repressed conflicts that she had with her father and possibly even sexual desire.
However, more modern analysis reveals that Anna also experienced severe hallucinations and that the black snakes she saw, perhaps in a semi-awake state, may have been her own hair. (This analysis opens up a whole new can of worms, no pun intended, if we take into consideration the Greek monster, Medusa, who had snakes for hair… But we’ll leave that for another day.)
50. I personally feel that her dream revealed her own fears and frustrations about not being able to heal her father of his tuberculosis, despite her care of and devotion to him. So, she somehow blamed herself for his death. Anna lived during the turn of the century (1859 – 1936), a time when we knew far less about medical science than we do today. Thus, I can imagine her father’s illness and her feelings of powerlessness were terrifying.
Her case, Freud’s assumptions, and even modern-day analysis underscore how personal snake and other dreams are to the dreamer based on what they’re going through at a given time.
Carl Jung on Snakes, Serpents, and Dragons
Another pioneer of modern-day psychology was the psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875 – 1961.) He believed that dreams brought us important messages from our subconscious and possibly even our superconscious, or the metaphysical world. Jung put a great deal of emphasis on the symbolic meaning behind what we dream about.
For example, Jung had strong theories about what snakes and serpents symbolized in dreams. Essentially, he believed that they represented both our base emotions and desires but also transcendence to higher states of being.
51. In one example, Jung described how snakes (or serpents) and dragons (mythical reptiles) embody the conflict between our conscious and intuitive selves: “… the threat to one’s inmost self from dragons and serpents points to the danger of the newly acquired consciousness being swallowed up again by the instinctive psyche, the unconscious.”6
52. Jung also wrote in Man and His Symbols, “Perhaps the commonest dream symbol of transcendence is the snake, as represented by the therapeutic symbol of the Roman god of medicine Aesclepius, which has survived to modern times as a sign of the medical profession. This was originally a nonpoisonous tree snake; as we see it, coiled around the staff of the healing god, it seems to embody a kind of mediation between earth and heaven.”
Snake Dreams and Reincarnation
53. Another possible insight into what a snake dream means is that you are remembering an experience from a past life. The psychiatrists Drs. Brian Weiss and Michael Newton were both classically trained physicians in psychiatric medicine. However, when trying to treat patients, they both experienced similar situations where their patients started talking about experiences that happened in earlier historical periods.
While past life experiences can be tapped when we are in deep meditation, under hypnosis, or going through a past life regression process, these memories can also come to us when we’re dreaming.
Snake Dream Spiritual Meanings
In conjunction with what has been written above, here are some interpretations of what dreaming about a snake or snakes can mean from a spiritual perspective:
54. You are being reminded of the eternal nature of the soul, as snakes can symbolize both eternity and rebirth. (You can read more about this on my post about the ouroboros symbol.)
55. The challenges you are facing are karmic in nature. You might be tempted to engage in avoidant behaviors so you don’t have to deal with or face these things. However, your snake dream is challenging you to face your problems and handle them as best you can now.
56. You are waking up spiritually and finding a deeper connection with yourself and your Higher Power.
57. You are being asked to “shed the skin” – those habits, behaviors, or aspects of your personality that take you out of alignment with God, or your Higher Power, and your purpose for being here in this lifetime.
Summary and Additional Tips for Deciphering Your Snake Dreams
Dreams are obviously personal to the dreamer. But hopefully understanding more about the rich symbolism and cultural interpretations of snakes can bring deeper insights into what your snake dream is telling you.
For some people, keeping a dream journal by their bed so they can record their dreams as soon as they wake up can help to not only remember but process what the dream is telling them.
Furthermore, if your dreams are disturbing you or you feel like you need some personal input into how to decipher them, consider seeking the help of a licensed therapist who might be able to provide you with new insights into how to analyze your dreams.
You might like these other articles on UniGuide:
- Snake Spirit Animal
- Snake Tattoo Meaning
- Cat Dream Meaning
- Dog Dream Meaning
- Spider Dream Meaning
- Horse Dream Meaning