What It Really Means When You Dream About Snakes

Many times our dreams may seem completely random, or else they're just some mishmash of events from our waking life mashed up with any movies or TV shows we're recently seen. Like, you know, that one where you're riding on a bus with Piglet from the Masked Singer and he takes off his mask and it's Rudy Giuliani and he offers you a black and white cookie ... If there's any hidden meaning in that little vignette, it's buried too far down for anyone to dig up (which is probably a very good thing).

There are, however, several fairly obvious symbols that tend to crop up in everyone's dreams and are thus easier to interpret. One such symbol is the snake. Psychotherapist Matthew Bowes spoke with Men's Health about snake dreams and said that the most common interpretations are that the snake represents change and transformation (shedding a metaphorical skin) or else is appearing as a Freudian phallic symbol. That being said, the particular snake that appears in your dream may mean something else entirely. "You can't make a clear and specific interpretation of a dream based just on the image of a snake," Bowes explains, saying "you have to know the context ... what's the snake doing ...[and] who else is in the dream."

The snake could represent a person

A snake appearing in your dream may be meant to represent a specific person in your life. Usually when we refer to someone as a "snake," we don't mean it in a positive way, as with Kim Kardashian's notorious "Snake Day" diss of Taylor Swift. Is there someone in your life you've got a similar beef with, someone you may feel is a bit on the shady side? (Note to Swifties: we are not taking KK's side, or anyone's, in this long-ago feud.) As Bowes told Men's Health, "If you dream of a poisonous snake, you might relate it to a toxic friendship or relationship."

Professional dream analyst Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, speaking with The Cut, put forth a different possibility. She sides with Sigmund Freud in seeing the snake as symboling sexuality, specifically male sexuality, and so thinks that snakes appearing in your dreams may mean that there's a man in your life you may want to get to know a little bit better (in bed).

This dream could mean that you need to pay attention to your health

Yet another common meaning for a snake appearing in a dream may indicate that there's a medical issue in need of attention. As Premium Care points out, the snake is a symbol that has long been associated with the healing arts, either as a part of the staff of Aesculapius or the caduceus (two separate, although very similar, symbols). If it isn't a stand-in for a potential bed partner Loewenberg suggests to The Cut that "a snake in a dream that is not terrifying ... [may] mean the snake represents a health or healing issue."

Loewenberg also spoke with Mind Body Green on the same topic, expanding upon this snake-as-healer concept by saying "We see the snake in symbols for physicians, pharmacies, etc. [so] we subconsciously equate the snake with healing," so even if you dream that a snake bites you, she thinks "the bite can symbolically represent a shot of healing serum." She also says that if you dream a snake is climbing on you, "it might be connected to an area of the body where you need physical healing."

Did the snake in your dream harm anyone?

While a snake biting you may be directing your attention to a specific health issue or even representing a shot of medicine or a vaccination, there are different meanings attached to a snake that bites someone else. The Cut reveals that a dream where a snake bites a loved one might be indicative that you're concerned about that person's health, but if you dream of the snake biting an enemy, this may be a bit of wish fulfillment on your part.

What if the snake is attacking in some way other than biting? If you're dreaming of a constrictor-type of snake who is strangling you, Chi-nese suggests that in this case the snake might be doing so for your own good. This symbolic strangling might represent the snake preventing you from saying something you shouldn't — after all, while speaking your mind may feel good in the moment, frequently it leads to second thoughts and regrets so it might be do best to take a tip from this helpful snake and think before you speak. If the snake in your dream is chasing but has yet to catch you, it could be representing any number of worries that are tormenting you, but the dream is trying to tell you that these worries are likely to be unnecessary.

It makes a difference what type of snake you dream of

Did you know that there are over 3,000 species of snakes in the world? Live Science says it's so, but chances are that most of us are only familiar with a small handful of these snakes ...not that we particularly want them in our hands, or anywhere else on our bodies. If you are at all adept at snake species identification, you might want to pay attention to the type of snake you dream about.

Loewenberg, in her interview with The Cut, broke down the meaning behind three different types of snakes. Boa constrictors, she feels, "may be connected to someone in your life who is causing you to feel crowded or constricted, or someone who may be squeezing you financially." Rattlesnakes, while venomous, are known for sounding a warning before they strike, so Lowewenstein feels that rattlesnake dreams could be "warning you about a toxic person in your life or telling you to start paying attention to warning signs a certain person may be displaying." Dreaming about a harmless garter snake, on the other hand, she says "may represent someone you were originally cautious about but are now realizing is not a threat to you."

The color of the snake counts, too

Even if your subconscious isn't herpetologically adept enough to supply a symbolic snake of any identifiable species, as long as you dream in color as most people do you should be able to get some clues from the color of the snake you are seeing. According to Chi-nese, a black snake may represent some type of danger that lies ahead or at least an obstacle that lies in your path. A yellow or other light-colored snake could indicate fear of the unknown as well as the opportunities that you may miss out on due to such trepidation.

If the snake you dream of is white, you're in luck, since this is an indicator of a clear mind, a pure soul, and good health. Should you instead see Whitesnake in a dream, however, it probably just means you're a fan of '80s hair metal and you may have a Ratt problem, to boot.