What Does it Mean to Have Snake Dreams?

9 Min Read | By Liam Porter

Last Modified 15 May 2024   First Added 25 October 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

For those with a fear of snakes – also known as ‘Ophidiophobia’- dreaming about snakes could be more alarming than those of us just having an odd dream, so getting to the bottom of why snakes are appearing in your dreams can help you get back to sleeping easy at night. Join Dreamfist,  Arouba Kabir Pathan in debunking this peculiar dream.

For millennia, snakes have fascinated and terrified humans. Both beautiful and deadly, when a snake slithers into your dreams, it can be an unwanted intrusion – but should you be scared?

Whether your reptilian visitor is baring its fangs or showing you guidance, there are many interpretations around dreaming of snakes. Often, they indicate deeper spiritual reflection, representing hidden dangers or rejuvenation with the shedding of their skin. Here we look closer at what the snakes in your dreams could tell you…

What does it mean to dream of snakes?

Generally, dreams of snakes are indicative of changing circumstances or opinions. This is typically signified by the shedding of skin. Additionally, given their historical link to sin and evil, these dreams can also indicate anxiety or a negative mindset. In some cultures, however, snake dreams are considered a positive sign, acting as guides towards a spiritual truth.

As with all dream meanings, it’s important to reflect on your current circumstances and apply your own logic and reasoning as to what your subconscious may be trying to tell you. To help, let’s explore some situation-specific meanings of snake dreams:

8 common snake dreams and their meanings

While snakes have a complex cultural significance, there are some common themes when interpreting dreams about snakes. We consulted with therapist and founder of Dreamfist, Arouba Kabir Pathan, who said:

According to my experience, snakes can hold diverse interpretations in dreams, representing transformation, healing, fear, or hidden emotions.

So, let’s explore these in more detail…

Snake hidden in sand

1. Dreams of snakes shedding skin

Dreams of snakes shedding skin carry an interpretation of change in your waking life. A snake appearing in your dreams, especially one that is shedding, could be a sign that you are ready for a new adventure, change and renewal. Perhaps it’s time for a new job or relationship, or the dream could be trying to tell you that it is time to stop hiding your true self.

Spiritual medium and dream analysis expert Lianne expanded to us:

Dreaming of a snake can indicate that you’re going through a period of transformation. This meaning is enhanced further if you find snake skin in your dream or witness a snake shedding. This is a positive symbol that you are shedding what no longer serves you, and you are moving on to the next part of your life journey. Change is never easy, but know that this change is important for your growth.

Dreams of shedding skin and constriction can also carry overtones of oppression. Arouba gives us the example of a client she worked with who had these dreams:

Like the snake, she had to shed her old beliefs and perceptions of herself that were holding her back and causing her suffering.

In her case, it suggested that she must let go of the negative influence her mother’s emotional unavailability had on her self-worth. It was time for her to release the old patterns and embrace a new, empowered version of herself.

Man in forest deciding between two paths

2. Dreams of snakes with multiple heads

Similarly, dreams featuring snakes with multiple heads can indicate that you’re struggling with multiple options and need to decide on your course of action.

3. Dreams of being surrounded or being chased by snakes

Are you dreaming that the snakes are everywhere? In dreams that deal with being surrounded or chased by snakes, interpretations often infer anxiety about the people in the dreamer’s life, especially if you can’t see the snakes but know they’re there. This suggests that the mind is encouraging a close appraisal of relationships for fear of a hidden enemy.

4. Dreams of snakes in the bedroom

In various cultures, the snake can be seen as either an embodiment of sexual energy and desire. Interpretations of snake dreams involving bedrooms, and those where the dreamer is consuming or being consumed by a snake, can indicate either intimidation by intimacy or a need for it.
Close-up of couple holding hands sat on bed

5. Dreams about seeing snakes

Many cultures see snakes as spiritual guides, full of wisdom about both the natural and supernatural worlds. They often represent the balance between energies, both the conscious and the unconscious. So, if you see a snake in your dream, it can be a sign that you must follow your intuition and spiritual path rather than be led by others.

6. Dreaming of snakes attacking you

Dreaming of a snake attacking or harming you is a sign that you feel threatened by a toxic person in your life or that you may have an unresolved issue with them. This could be a friend, family member, loved one, or colleague. These dreams filled with anxiety might also represent a sensation of being trapped or incapable of solving a challenge.

The positive side to this nightmare is that it could just be the wake-up call you need to remove toxicity from your life, resolve an issue, or face a challenge head-on.

7. Dreaming about rattlesnakes

Having rattlesnakes feature in your dream acts as another warning for toxicity in your life.  Rattlesnakes can shake their tails to alert predators and humans of their presence. Therefore, your subconscious mind again warns you of a toxic person. Clinical psychologist, Lisa Lawless explains:

“A rattlesnake’s rattle is a warning to potential predators and may represent a warning to you in your waking life.”

8. Dreams about snake bites

If you are dreaming of snakes biting you, it can suggest an upcoming change in your spiritual consciousness. It may be trying to tell you that you should distance yourself from negative thoughts and behaviours that no longer promote your greater well-being. Dreams about snake bites could also mean you have concealed or untapped internal energies or that it’s time to face a particular situation you have been avoiding.
Spiritual setup with candles and Buddha

Different cultural interpretations of snake dreams

The meaning of dreams about snakes is always situation-specific and relies as much upon the dreamer’s interpretation as any other interpretation. But it helps to know how such things have been interpreted throughout history. The snake, for example, plays many roles in dreams, and not all of them are negative.

One of the first studies of dreams, the Oneirocritica by Artemidoros, lists several potential interpretations – from the women who dreamed of snakes before giving birth and birthed sons who were orators (because of the snake’s forked tongue), thieves (because a snake never moves in straight lines), priests (because snakes are sacred to the gods) and more.

The same is true of many texts on dream interpretation. Carl Jung, for example, believed that snakes were ‘chthonic devils’ (spirits of the underworld), but also that ‘[the] serpent is an adversary and a symbol of enmity, but also a wise bridge that connects right and left through longing, much needed by our life.’

In dreams, snakes can be primal, sexual creatures but also oppressors. They can, in venomous snakes, represent death by stealth. They can also mean rebirth through shedding one’s skin or relate to health and spiritual problems. And according to Freud, they may even represent the phallus. However, it is interesting how such meanings share significance in some areas and diverge in others across religions.

According to Islamic dream interpreter Ibn Sirin, seeing your land filled with snakes can indicate a plentiful harvest on the way. In contrast, a similar dream for a member of the Jewish faith could be a sign that enemies surround a person. If a Hindu dreams of killing a snake, he can expect misfortune, while the reverse could be valid for a member of the Abrahamic faith.

All this is to say that dream interpretation is a culturally led practice, driven at least in part by the memes (in the anthropological sense) that pervade the individual’s upbringing.

Hindu god with snake around neck

Answering the snake dream

Recurring or particularly vivid dreams may not predict the future, but they can indicate a feeling of imbalance in the dreamer – an unexplored or purposefully ignored anxiety. As such, the best way to deal with dreams of snakes is to meditate on the questions these dreams ask. Are you facing difficult decisions? Or perhaps you’re feeling trapped or lonely? Introspection is an important part of understanding what the snakes are trying to tell you.

As with Arouba Kabir Pathan’s client, embracing interpretations and applying the wisdom can have a significant impact on your life:

The dream acted as a powerful catalyst for change, motivating her to take concrete steps toward healing and self-empowerment. She embarked on self-discovery and self-compassion, gradually shedding the layers of self-doubt and fear that had bound her for so long.

Arouba also offered some advice on how you can engage with your snake dreams more and better understand your own psyche:

  • Dream journaling
  • Meditation and self-reflection to connect with emotions
  • Embrace open-mindedness to universal symbolism
  • Reflect on personal associations
  • Lucid dreaming
  • Embrace your fears
  • Seek professional help to further unpack life experiences

Notable appearances in popular culture

As with most archetypal dreams (dreams of things such as fire, drowning, the dark, snakes, etc.), the map will become the territory. So while the dream may not appear in many works of popular culture, the dream becomes the work leading to films that incorporate fears of snakes and snake imagery. The most famous examples include Anaconda, scenes like the snake pit in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, a certain film starring Samuel L. Jackson, and the proliferation of snakes and snake imagery in films dealing with the demonic.

For more dream meanings, take a look at what being chased in your dream means or what dreaming about the end of the world means. 

About the author

More from the Sleep Matters Club