Dream symbols: Snakes and what they mean

It is common to dream about snakes, and I am often asked what they mean.

In this article we will explore the biblical symbolism of these creatures and what they commonly represent in night dreams – plus some real dream examples.

We will also unpack what that means in practice.

I approach dream interpretation from a biblical perspective. My belief is that our dreams can come from God, and understanding them is best understood within the context of an ongoing relationship with Him.

Contents

The symbolic nature of dreams

Firstly, if you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Understand your dreams: A bible-based introduction to dream language to give you a foundation.

Secondly, remember that dreams are personal, so the meanings that I suggest may not apply to your specific dream. But please feel free to use my ideas as a springboard to thinking and praying about dreams yourself. Don’t take my ideas as gospel, but rather let them help you start to think metaphorically.

Introducing snakes as a dream symbol

There are many different types of snakes. Some snakes are harmless to humans, and others are deadly! Some kill their prey by striking them with venomous fangs, and others squeeze the life out of them or swallow them alive. They come in many different patterns and colours.

Snakes are fearsome creatures, so it’s no wonder they can be frightening in dreams; and it’s no surprise that people want to know what they mean when they appear in their dream. There is often a worry attached that it might mean something bad – but often they are actually providing us with useful insight.

Dreaming of a snake can cause worry in case it means something bad, but often they are actually providing us with useful insight.

In this article I will explain the most common meaning of a snakes in dreams, and then suggest some more ideas based around specific types and colours of snakes.

Snakes as lies or deception

Many good articles have been written about snakes in the bible, and many meanings have been suggested in dream dictionaries based on the findings. Here is one that I found while researching this article:

The Biblical Meaning of Snakes in Dreams by Melissa Tumino at thinkaboutsuchthings.com

Having interpreted my own dreams for many years, I have found that by far the most common meaning of snakes in dreams is to indicate some sort of lie, deception or delusion. In practical terms, this means that we are believing something that is not true.

A snake usually indicates that we are believing a lie or are deceived in some way.

I have heard it explained this way: Snakes have a long tail, and this is a wordplay for the word tale, which means an untruth or lie.

Snakes and serpents in the bible

There are also some biblical reasons why a snake can mean this. I carried out a search for snakes in the bible:

The first mention of a snake is in the form of the serpent in Genesis 3, where the creature is described as cunning; it represents Satan, and deceives Eve – with disastrous consequences:

  • Genesis 3:1, NASB Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
  • Genesis 3:14, NASB Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you… On your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life;

Speech is also described as being deceitful – rather like a snake’s forked tongue:

  • Psalm 140:3, NASB They sharpen their tongues like a snake; The venom of a viper is under their lips.
  • Romans 3:13, NASB “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The venom of asps is under their lips”.

Jesus used similar language to describe the religious leaders of his day:

  • Matthew 12:34, NASB You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.

All of these confirm the symbolism of snakes as deceit and lies.

What snakes mean in practice

When we think about lies and deception, we probably assume that it would be other people who are deceiving us. But I have found that the biggest problem in this area is ourselves! The biggest deceiver is our own mind.

  • Jeremiah 17:9-10 NASBS “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind…”
  • Proverbs 4:23, NIV Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

The word for heart used here is  is lêb, a form of Strong’s H3824, lēḇāḇ. This word is used to mean the centre of anything; it can refer figuratively to our feelings or will, but also to our mind and understanding. (blueletterbible.org). Our subconscious is very good at deceiving us!

God promises to search our hearts and test our minds. That is usually why snakes appear in our dreams! God is revealing things that we can’t see ourselves.

God is revealing things that we can’t see ourselves.

Living under a lie

There could be many reasons why we are living under a lie or delusion:

  • We might have a biased worldview that we have inherited from our environment.
  • We might have jumped to a wrong conclusion or made a false assumption.
  • We might not have all the facts of a situation available to us.
  • We may have been given false information.
  • We may be avoiding the truth in our subconscious.
  • We might have a stronghold (in the biblical definition of the word).

In all of these situations, the point is that we are blindly unaware that our thinking is off! We are deceived by a lie. BUT we don’t need to stay that way!

The point of a snake in our dream is that we don’t need to stay under the lie!

Snakes revealing strongholds

Snakes are very useful in dreams because they can reveal the presence of strongholds.

A biblically defined stronghold is something we are convinced is true, but actually isn’t. A stronghold is something deeply ingrained in our thinking. It has a ‘strong hold’ over us. But God loves to set us free from strongholds, and dreams can help with that.

Snakes are very useful in dreams because they can reveal the presence of strongholds.

The apostle Paul exhorts us to allow God to continually renew our thinking and take down strongholds. This is a lifelong process, and I have found that many of our dreams are to help with this.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4, NLT We use God’s mighty weapons… to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments [i.e. strongholds].
  • Romans 12:2, NASB …be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

What do do when a lie is revealed

Dreams always carry with them a hope for change. God would not allow us to see something if there was no way to overcome it; He always brings hope. He comes to rescue us from our situation, not bring condemnation.

Snakes in a dream nearly always alert us that our understanding is off in some way – and, therefore, that God wants to help us see the truth. This is an awesome thing!

So, if I dream of a snake I usually respond in the following way:

  • I repent of believing a lie, and ask God to forgive me.
  • I ask Him to reveal to me what the lie is.
  • I consider the characteritics of the snake and the context of the dream, to look for clues as to what area of my life this relates to.
  • I remain open to God during the coming days and weeks (or as long as it takes!), staying alert to the fact that God may want to reveal something.
  • Once the lie is uncovered, I repent of believing that specific lie; I break off its influence in my life, and I choose to believe the truth.

Sometimes the revelation comes the very same day. With bigger things, it can take weeks or even years. But the dream will have alerted us and caused us to pray. That is a good thing! And, if we keep listening to God, it will help the revelation and renewal process.

Depending on the situation, it might be necessary to seek further help, or ask a mature Christian to pray with you.

Other meanings of snakes

There are many different types of snakes. If you dream of a specific type of snake, its characteristics could affect the meaning. In dreams, colour is also very important. I have written in-depth articles about many of the colours, and you can find a summary article with links to them here.

Here are some examples of specific snakes:

Python or constrictor: A constrictor snake slowly squeezes the life out of its pray. So, in symbolic terms, it can represent something in your life which is slowly draining your energy/ life, or restricting you from your full potential.

Cobra/snake head: In dreams a head usually represents your mind or understanding. If the snake head seems big, or prominent like a cobra, or particularly features in the dream – it is a confirmation that it is your thinking that is faulty.

Being bitten by a snake: If you are bitten by a snake in a dream, it means that the deception has already influenced you in some way; it has affected you. If the snake is around but hasn’t bitten you yet, it means that it has the potential to affect you, but it is still avoidable if you become aware of it.

Being bitten by a snake could also mean that someone has spoken against you in an attacking or deceitful way.

Green snake: Green can represent life and health, so a green snake could be a wrong idea that is affecting your health, or your fulness of life. Green can also represent the conscience, so a green snake could be false guilt.

White snake: White can represent religion or a religious spirit; so, a white snake could be an erroneous religious idea or lie.

Yellow snake: Yellow is usually about the mind, so this would similar to a snake head; there is faulty understanding or wrong thinking to be revealed.

Pink snake: Pink is often about emotions. So this could be alerting you that your emotions are deceiving you.

Hopefully you can see how, with snakes, there is usually a deception/lie to be revealed; the colour or characteristics of the snake can help identify what type of deception it is, and what area of life it relates to.

Positive meanings of snakes

In my experience, snakes are nearly always negative in dreams. But remember that dreams are personal.

So, if you love snakes (maybe you keep them as pets?), they could have a positive meaning in your dream. This would be particularly true of you dreamed about your own pet snake. So always keep an open mind. It should be fairly easy to tell from the atmosphere and context of the dream whether the snake is positive or negative.

However, I would always be wary with snakes in dreams, and assume there could be a lie around to be uncovered!!

Real dream examples

Here are some examples of how God used snakes in dreams to alert me and people I know when we were believing something false.

DREAMINTERPRETATIONEXPLANATION
A friend dreamed he had a green constrictor snake that was nearly the same length as him. He was thinking he should take it back to where it came from.This dream was about his job which he had held for most of his life. It was negatively affecting his health; the dream was confirming it was time to move on.The green snake represented something that was squeezing the life out of him, i.e., the stress of the job. He did leave – a few months later.
I dreamed that the man who taught me dream interpretation contacted me. He told me he had seen snakes coming out of my dream journal.This dream put me on alert straight away! I knew I had misunderstood the meaning of some of my dreams.The snakes indicated false ideas about what my dreams meant. I was able to go back and reconsider my understanding.
My friend dreamed an orange snake came out of the grass. She knew its mummy must be nearby, so she left.This dream was confirming her decision to leave her current job. She felt it was the right time to leave but had been tempted to stay on longer.Orange can indicate stubbornness (or waiting too long). The deception being revealed was the temptation to stay longer.
I dreamed I saw a red snake on a rock nearby. I saw a man grab the snake near its head and take it off to deal with it.This was telling me I had got a wrong idea about what I was supposed to be doing – so I needed to come to God for a rethink!Red can represent what you have power (or anointing) to do. The snake head confirmed that it was my thinking that was erroneous.
I dreamed an evil looking black snake with a big head was coming down the wall behind me; I was calmly told to move away.This was alerting me that there was something off with my thinking because of my past, and God would set me free from it. (At the time of writing I haven’t yet discovered what it is!)The large head indicated this snake was about my thinking. Black represented something currently unknown. The wall behind me represented the past.

Conclusion and prayer

Snakes are very useful in dreams: They give us a heads-up that we have misunderstood something or got a wrong idea. They can reveal strongholds and deceptions that we are unaware of.

This gives us an opportunity to go back and prayerfully reconsider our thinking; we can ask God to show us what we have got wrong – and keep on the alert until we uncover the truth.

Why not pray this prayer with me today from Psalm 139? Ask God to search your heart/mind and reveal a lie that you are un aware of – so you can be set free from it and see the truth. Then see whether God puts a snake in your dream – and what it reveals!

God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
    Examine me through and through;
    find out everything that may be hidden within me.
    Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
 See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
    and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting way—
    the path that brings me back to you.

Psalm 139:23-24, The Passion Translation

In additional to the meanings that I have shared, remember that a snake could mean something personal or culturally significant to you, that isn’t mentioned here.

This article covers the appearance of snakes in dreams as part of the everyday Christian life and the transformation process involved. Depending on the situation, it might be necessary to seek professional help, or ask a mature Christian to pray with you. I encourage you to seek further help if appropriate.

If you want to know more, do get in touch, or subscribe to my emails below to receive regular helpful dream interpretation tips.

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Picture of snake with text: Dream symbols: snakes and what they mean - read the blog
The biblical symbolism of snakes in dreams – and what that means in practice, plus real dream examples. Dream dictionary.

5 thoughts on “Dream symbols: Snakes and what they mean

  1. Very helpful, Jenny. My “snake dreams” have usually been of constrictor snakes rather than venomous ones.

    The deceptive nature of snakes was wonderfully depicted when Kaa and Mowgli conversed in the film “The Jungle Book”.
    Judy

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  2. Interesting and informative post, Jenny. Your blog displayed in the reader. Cool! I just wrote a poem about snakes, paired with amazing snake art. The topic of snakes came up in the comments.

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    1. Thanks Michele! I read your poem and enjoyed it. You make a good point about snakes shedding skin relating to renewal. I nearly wrote about that aspect of snakes in my post too, but didn’t in the end. I might add it. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome, Jenny. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post – I could not resist sharing when I saw your post. I would love to read your addition, should you choose to add that. Please let me know.

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