It is usually depicting the fight or flight instinct. It is also an image connected with the force, purpose or energy behind that power of growth and unfolding. It is the force of life, the latent energy or potential within us. It leads us both to growth and death, along with the passionate emotions and urges that drive us so powerfully. The ancient civilisation of the South Americas, saw the snake as a messenger of the gods. And it can be if we relate to it well, because it represents the force of Life in us – surely worth listening to!
The snake depicts this force, purpose or energy behind that power of growth and unfolding. It is the force of life, the latent energy or potential within us. It leads us both to growth and death, along with the passionate emotions and urges that drive us so powerfully. That energy, like electricity in a house, can be heat, power, sound or vision, and lies behind all our functions. So in some dreams the snake represents our sexuality; in others the rising of that energy up our body to express as digestion – the intestinal snake – or as the creative or poisonous energy of our emotions and thoughts, even disease. In the throat it becomes the destructive or constructive speech and language – expressed or repressed feelings and speech. In the head it becomes thinking, perception and higher cognition.
The ancient civilisation of the South Americas, saw the snake as a messenger of the gods. And it can be if we relate to it well, because it represents the force of Life in us – surely worth listening to!
The snake can represent many different things, but usually the energy that expresses as our life processes. If we think of a person’s life from conception to death, we see a flowing moving event, similar in many ways to the speeded-up films of a seed growing into a plant, flowering and dying. The snake depicts the force, purpose or energy behind that movement. It is the force of life, the latent energy or potential within us – that leads us both to growth and death, along with the passionate emotions and urges that drive us so powerfully
In the destructive aspect the snake represents the poisonous thoughts and emotions that can destroy you. We tend to depict this facet of the snake as biting or attacking us, even though we have ourselves given rise to such poisonous emotions as hate and guilt. Because our thinking and emotions are an expression of our life energy, you are capable of directing the creative force of life toward self destruction. As an example of this, a dreamer exploring her snake dream saw that it represented her flight or fight instincts. This linked with her aggressive and protective feelings in connection with the way men had acted with her. The problem was that the snake was in a poisonous, strangling and killing mode. This, she realised, showed how she had withheld, strangled, her anger about what had happened, and that anger was turned inward, poisoning or strangling her flow of full life.
The opposite is also true. The power of life and death can be directed creatively. Then the snake is seen in its healing role in dreams, and in ancient times was shown in the form of the staff with two snakes coiling up it – caduceus – still used today as a symbol of the medical profession. See: energysex dreams.
Example: Dreamt I was on the side of a very steep hill. So steep I could only just hold on. It was very rounded and grassy. I was near the top clinging to the grass. There seemed to be many snakes, lizards and needs, about. Occasionally one would leap at me and bounce of my coat. I took care to keep my hands covered. There was a woman, who seemed to be something like a secretary, who was advising me. I was then in a wood. There seemed to be a lot of apprehension and fear. Some robbers had stolen my pony. The fear went when I realised that there was no need to walk through a swampy area of the wood. Only the robbers, or rough types knew the way through. I turned to the right out of the wood.
In exploring his dream this is what he received – The dream shows you bringing your love to the crown. The dream was the way of sorting out your problems over sinking or rising. You can reach the highest either way. Sinking is the way of letting go. This was represented by the swamp. The way of bringing love to the crown is the way of rising. The hill represents your present situation. The clinging means you try too hard. There is no need to bring so much effort. The snakes represents your lower powers trying to break into consciousness. These must be directed to the crown. These are the forces which help you break through. They stimulate you to rise. The woman is love giving you advice. Love will direct your efforts. The part where you walk through the wood means you look for life through delving within. The swamp is swamping my consciousness. Your consciousness must live, not drown, in the deep waters of life. This can be achieved only by bringing unification to those urges seen as the brigands. These and the snakes are much the same. Your soul must live without division. When the soul brings union within itself, so it achieved union in the whole. This way is a way of love.
It doesn’t matter that your dream snake bites you – after all it is an aspect of you, and the only poison you will meet is the poisonous emotions you have been injecting into yourself – and they need to be felt to clear them out. See Our Reptilian Brain
The snake can shed its skin, and so symbolises self transcendence, rebirth.
The alchemists put a gold crown on its head, symbolising expanded or spiritual consciousness arising from the same energy as sexuality. Often a diadem, gem, or light is at its brow symbolising the possibility of expanded consciousness, or awareness of the eternal nature, and life in eternity. Christ is sometimes depicted as a crucified serpent, suggesting the mystery of Life nailed to physical awareness of the senses. See: Reptile.
In the destructive aspect the snake represents the poisonous thoughts and emotions that can destroy us. We tend to depict this snake biting or attacking us, even though we have ourselves given rise to such poisonous emotions as hate and guilt. Because our life energy flows into thinking and emotions, we are in this way directing the creative force of life. Directing it negatively has the power to bring illness and death, for we are dealing with the power of life and death itself.
Example: A dream told me by a woman I met in Mexico. She said that she dreamt a large snake was crawling up the bed and then bit her on her left breast. She said she then tried to suck out the poison.
I asked her to explore the dream by imaging herself as the snake, feeling it biting her. The result was that a story unfolded. She had felt, rightly or wrongly, that her husband had been unfaithful, and she had felt bitter and revengeful. But instead of expressing those feelings they had turned inwards and poisoned her, leaving her depressed. So the snake was an image of her poison biting her and poisoning her life. So do not be afraid of a snake biting you. It is not dangerous. The dangerous part is avoiding the bite, because the poison stays in you unmet.
The opposite is also true. The power of life and death can be directed creatively. Then the snake is seen in its healing role in dreams, and in ancient times was shown in the form of the staff with two snakes coiling up it – caduceus – still used today as a symbol of the medical profession.
Example: ‘A small snake about a foot long had dropped down my shirt neck. I could feel it on the left side of my neck. Fearing it was poisonous and might bite me I moved very slowly. At one point I put my head on the ground, hoping the snake would wish to crawl away. It did not. Then I was near an elephant I loved, and hoped it would remove the snake. It did not. Even as I slept I felt the snake was an expression of the attitude of not sharing myself with anybody except family.’ David T.
For months prior to the above dream David had experienced a great deal of neck pain. After discussing the dream with his wife, and realising much of his thinking and feeling was in-turned, the pain disappeared. So the snake was both ‘poisoner’ and ‘healer’ representing the power of David’s negative and introverted emotions and thoughts on his body. This may be why snakes are used as a symbol of the medical profession.
Example: ‘I was in a huge cathedral, the mother church. I wanted to go to the toilet/gents. As I held my penis to urinate it became a snake and reached down to the urinal to drink. It was thirsty. I struggled with it, pulling it away from the unclean liquid. Still holding it I walked to a basin and gave it pure water to drink.’ Bill A.
Here the connection between snake and sexuality is obvious. But the snake is not just Bill’s penis. It is the direction his sexual urges take him that he is struggling with. Out of his sense of love and connection with Life – the cathedral – he wants to lift his drive toward something that will not leave him with a sense of uncleanness. In this sense a snake might be something one wrestled with, depicting the wrestle one has with inner drives and hungers, especially sexuality or anger. The Mother Church was a form of initiation into a much wider view of spiritual beliefs. It came about because his sexual drive was directed more upwards rather than out of his genitals.
The Africans believed the dream of a snake round the leg signified slavery, while the dream of a dragon round the body is a symbol of bondage in Artemidorus.
A crowned or light encircled snake: When our blind impulses our instinctive or unconscious urges and functions are in some measure integrated with our conscious will and insight, this is seen as the crowned snake or even winged snake. It shows real self awareness and maturity.
In coils of snake: Feeling bound in the blind impulses or habitual drives and feeling responses. Instincts and habits can be redirected, as illustrated by Hercules labours.
Sitting on snake: Mastery of the instinctive nature and transformation and the making conscious of the wisdom and power resident in the unconscious.
Snake biting you: Unconscious worries about our health, frustrated sexual impulse, our emotions turned against ourselves as when internalised aggression poisons us causing very real illness, so may be shown as the biting snake. It may also suggest an influence in ones life – the venom – that takes away ones identity and perhaps opens one to a life beyond self, the spirit.
Snake biting others: Biting remarks; a poisonous tongue; emotional energy turned against oneself or someone else.
Snake coiling up tree, pole, cross: The blind instinctive forces of life emerging into conscious experience – in other words the essence of human experience with its involvement in pain, pleasure, time and eternity; the process of personal growth or evolution; healing because personal growth often moves us beyond old attitudes or situations that led to inner tension or even sickness.
Snake coiled around you crushing you: The way you are caught up and constricted in your own or other peoples emotions. Being crushed by emotions, fears; struggling with powerful emotions and urges.
Snake Colours – Green: Our internal life process directed – perhaps through satisfied feelings, love and creativity – into a healing process or one that leads to our personal growth and positive change. White: Eternal aspect of our life process, or becoming conscious of it. Blue: Religious feelings or coldness in relations.
Snake in connection with any hole: Sexual relatedness.
Snake in the grass: Sense or intuition of talk behind your back; danger; sneakiness.
Snake with tail in its mouth: Sense of the circle of life – birth, growth, reproduction, ageing, death, rebirth; the eternal.