by Nancy Huslage
When the snake shows up in dreams, it almost always evokes a strong response. I have lead dream circles for 30 years and it is a common symbol presented early in each dream group. Since encounters with snakes in waking life are often frightening, they are usually the subject of nightmares in the dream world. While nightmares are frightening, I have found that, once the dream is “unpacked”, the message of a nightmare is usually positive and helpful to the dreamer. Let’s explore what the snake may be trying to tell us.
In Man and His Symbols, Carl Jung writes, "perhaps the commonest dream symbol of transcendence is the snake, as represented by the therapeutic symbol of the Roman god of medicine Aesculapius, 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." Think about the caduceus as the symbol of the medical profession.
The coiled snake may be indicative of the Kundalini Shakti energy. Kundalini is the Sanskrit word for “coiled up” and is symbolic of the cosmic feminine energy that fuels spiritual awakening. In Kundalini Yoga, the snake is curled at the base of the spine and it moves up through all the chakras as one awakens spiritually. Play with the idea of the coiled snake being an indicator of moving into higher consciousness.
As you can see, the snake can be a sign of great healing, especially in the spiritual realm. In my own dreams, snakes come to let me know that I am opening to a new level of spiritual healing and awareness.
I remember one dream in which I was driving to a retreat center in the NC mountains. I had my son’s pet Burmese Python in her aquarium on the front seat next to me. As we made the journey, she began to grow and by the time we reached our destination, she filled the car.
As I processed this dream, there were several insights that the snake gave to me. First, was my connection to the Divine Feminine. I was being encouraged by the dream to embrace the Divine Feminine more completely in my spiritual life. This opened a many new avenues for healing the wounds I had felt from patriarchal religion.
The retreat center was the place where I attended dream leader training. I remember sharing this dream with one of my teachers. He saw the growing snake as my growth as a teacher of dreams and encouraged me to accept my role as a dream work professional. Up until this point, I had considered myself a facilitator of dream groups, but certainly not a teacher. This dream helped me to move forward in my career.
In this article, we have just scratched the surface of the image of snakes in dreams. The snake is ancient and archetypal. I encourage you to not fear the snake when she comes into your dreams. Explore the possibility that the snake may showing you that you are healing in some area of your life. She can be the symbol of your transformation!
Nancy is an interfaith minister with 30 years of experience helping people understand their dreams. She is a faculty member at the Haden Institute, mentoring students in the Dream Work Training.
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