A snake strikes a deep fear in many, while at the same time, we can’t help but remain fascinated by the frightening beauty of nature.
A serpent, a dualistic creature, carries within it symbolism that is both interpreted as positive and negative. If you feel a connection with this animal or you are fascinated by its symbolism this is definitely the article you need to read! So let’s learn about the meaning of a snake as a spirit animal, dream interpretation, and more.
This article was recently updated. I added additional explanation and included new subsections.
Meaning of a Snake in Esotericism
From the snake to the dragon, serpents have impacted cultures since ancient times. Intimately connected to the Earth, dwelling at the seat of her divinity, snakes depict both life and death. The mythological figure of the python, son of Gea — embodies Delfina / Drakaina, a female serpent deity, from where the Oracle of the same name is derived.
|Symbolism/Trait||Meaning and Interpretation|
|Transformation||Shedding old patterns, embracing change|
|Rebirth||Renewal, personal growth, starting anew|
|Wisdom||Intuition, awareness, accessing hidden knowledge|
|Healing||Ability to heal, release toxins, restore balance|
|Sensuality||Sexual energy, creative power, embracing desires|
|Protection||Guardian spirit, warding off negative influences|
|Adaptability||Flexibility, adjusting to new environments|
The Mother Goddess, Cretan, is depicted with bare breast and two snakes in her hands, which evoke strength and wisdom. In shamanic traditions, Cretan becomes a snake to use her powers that grant her access to the world’s mysteries. The snake also represents the umbilical cord, a metaphor connected to every human walking this Mother Earth (literally). Originally, the umbilical was seen as being connected to the primordial forces of life: water and fertility.
According to Babylonian mythology, the entire world was birthed from the body of the serpent goddess, Tiamat, the lady of the oceans and salt waters. Seen in India, Nagas are spirits of nature who live hidden beneath the earth – laying at the entrance of wells, lakes, and rivers. Nagas represent immortality, renewal, and wisdom.
In the Venetian mountains of Lombardy, Anguane are female spirits that bear water to one of the aridest areas of the region, where the snakes can be found in rock carvings. The Hindu tradition holds the snake as a powerful symbol of its Kundalini Yoga.
Is it negative?
In all traditional civilizations, the snake has always been a symbol of great importance. Only in the Bible does this symbolic being has a negative perspective.
In ancient Egypt, the serpent was depicted in the Pharaoh’s headdress, synonymous with Wisdom and Knowledge.
In the philosophy of Indian Yoga, the coiled and sleeping serpent symbolizes Kundalini, the sleeping knowledge that resides at the spine’s base. With Yoga techniques, it is gradually awakened and goes up along the Shusumna crossing the Chakras until it reaches the last knot at the top of the head. It awakens the individual Chakras, and when it reaches the seventh, it completes its awakening, bringing the individual into the state that is commonly referred to as self-realization or enlightenment.
|Culture||Symbolism and Meanings|
|Ancient Egypt||Symbol of rebirth, protection, divine wisdom|
|Native American||Healing, transformation, fertility, primal energy|
|Chinese||Good luck, wisdom, hidden knowledge|
|Hinduism||Kundalini energy, cycles of life and death|
|Greek Mythology||Rebirth, transformation, healing, guardianship|
|African||Power, fertility, rain, protection|
|Mayan||Earthly and cosmic energies, wisdom, healing|
In almost all civilizations of pre-Columbian America, the Feathered Serpent was worshiped. This deity was worshiped under different names by Olmecs, Mixtecs, Toltecs, Aztecs, Maya, and Quichè. It was the deity who had brought knowledge to men. Among the Aztecs, his name was Quetzalcoatl, and he was the Lord of Knowledge. The Maya called him Kukulkan, the Quichè Gukumatz. Quetzalcoatl taught men to measure time, understand the stars, and establish the year and the seasons; he also taught how to grow corn. According to legend, Quetzalcoatl disappeared into the sky, but one day he will return.
In the Tarot, we find the snake in the Major Arcanum of the Hermit. A snake, a symbol of knowledge, precedes the Hermit on his way to enlightenment.
We can affirm that the traditional meaning of the snake’s symbol is that of the Supreme Knowledge, the final goal of all the esoteric sciences.
Snake Symbolism in Literature
Throughout literature, we can see the snake representing our unconscious — the dark and venomous energies, which hold the key to our complete spiritual awakening when properly awakened and conquered. In the Tantric tradition, the highest expression of balance is found in the divine couple of Shakti (feminine) and Shiva (masculine). Balancing these two aspects takes discipline, practice, and right of ritual.
Famed psychologist, Carl Jung, saw the snake as representing libido. His predecessor, Freud, maintained that the snake represents the phallus and the male sexual force.
Snakes in literature are painted as protectors of great treasures, or pieces of knowledge that are hidden at the depths. The secret order of Asclepius was seen organizing underground, with large yellow snakes guarding the group’s entranceway. Inside, rituals for healing and awakening man took place.
The snake — changing its skin, hatched from an egg, and sleeping in coils – is the perfect symbol for renewal, and a celebrated figure for the cyclical nature of rebirth.
But in Catholicism, the snake takes on an entirely different meaning. Seen throughout scripture as an evil creature, representing sin and temptation – having condemned Adam and Eve, who were exiled from the Garden of Eden. The Garden, is possibly a physical place, but also a much deeper place that represents peace and harmony that can’t be found anywhere else on earth.
Cursed by God, stripped of its legs, forced to crawl, and eat dirt: the snake has been painted as petty and lowly. The snake embodies evil, the serpent solely responsible for detaching humans from happiness for eternity. The notion of sin is strongly connected to the sexual call of the snake, a phallic symbol which the woman must escape to maintain her being.
It is associated with seduction and a sensuality considered immoral by ancient scriptures. The snake brought with it a pleasure that was so intense that it was thought of as lethal. This further associates the snake with death, holding a poison that can kill.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, the snake is defined as a symbol of healing and medical knowledge. The cure for poison, the stick of Aesculapius – winged with a snake, the symbol for “medicine” itself. Therefore, the snake also has meaning of life, living, and being reborn.
Because of this much lighter aspect of the snakes’ symbolism, ophomania (divination through snakes) was a technique practiced by ancient Egyptians. The snake, depicted in multiple oracles, such as Delphi in Greek mythology, where it assumed a sacred role in the interpretation of ancient events and as a powerful symbol for fertility. While in Inca culture, the snake was symbolic for wealth and prosperity.
Spiritual Meaning of Python Snake
The spiritual meaning of a python is symbolic for control. You may be scared to let go, that you’d much prefer everything kept under control and going to great lengths to assure this. If you see another person gripped by a snake in a dream, it points to the fact that you are fearful of them.
Snake Eating its Tail Meaning
Ouroboros, or the snake that eats its own tail, is a symbol for the cycle of life – of the eternal life-death-life cycle that we find ourselves caught in. It is no mistake then that the snake is the same animal that sheds and grows new skin.
In the human psyche, to shed skin is meaningful of a deep, powerful, and irreversible transformation. Changing skin is representative of freeing oneself from all of life’s heavy burdens, all of which we are holding onto, and must let go of to grow and move forward.
2 Headed Snake Meaning
The symbol of a 2 headed snake is found within many cultures, representing:
- Connection between the primordial forces.
- The integration of opposites.
- Advanced communication.
- A Divine plan.
What if a Snake Appears in Your Dreams?
To dream about a snake (or snakes) is commonly associated with the phallic symbol, as taught by Freud and others. A snake in a dream can be interpreted with sexual references and fertility.
It can represent our fears, temptations, and sexual repression. In men, dreaming of a snake could indicate his need to affirm his virility. For women, a snake can reflect the fear that is associated with sex. In order to confirm this, we must reflect further, as snakes lay within the deepest parts of our psyche, where the most obscure and uncontrolled sexual energy dwells.
|Snake biting or attacking||Feelings of threat or danger in waking life|
|Snake shedding its skin||Personal transformation, growth, renewal|
|Snake in a peaceful or calm state||Inner peace, harmony, balance|
|Snake crawling on the ground||Grounding, connection with nature|
|Snake in water or swimming||Emotional healing, intuition, purification|
|Snake in a sacred or spiritual setting||Divine guidance, spiritual awakening|
It’s important to really reflect on snake dreams because of the multiple meanings. In society, “snake’ carries with it a negative connotation: backstabber, deceiver, hypocrite. If you dream of a snake, then it would be important for you to take stock on who is close to you in your life: family, friends, lovers, associates, and coworkers.
Yellow and White Snake Dream Meaning
A positive snake dream is one with a yellow and white snake in it. This dream means that you are on the right path, that a successful outcome is in your near future. The yellow and white snake in a dream is related to intuition, and chances of new opportunities to come your way.
Meaning of Colorful Snake Dreams
If your dream has a colorful snake in it, it is another good sign. A colorful snake indicates that you are undergoing a powerful inner-transformation that will lead you to discover new parts of yourself, greater wisdom, and spiritual awakening.
Overall, the snake is a rich symbol, vast in meaning. The snake is a dualistic symbol, invoking a sense of fear, danger, sin, evilness, and temptation. The snake is an extremely powerful animal. Fearfulness of, and devotion for this animal is seen around the world.
Therefore, at the end of the day, it is our responsibility to be able to explore both aspects and to balance its two sides. We must do this to become whole and complete. In unlocking the hidden knowledge of the snake, we find within the inner workings of life itself.
How to connect with it?
This spirit animal loves to guide and help those in need of a change, of a transformation. If you are dealing with a massive change and want to truly adapt and embrace this change, the snake spirit animal would love to help.
Connect with it with figures reminding you of a snake and choose to go with the flow. Accept the change and do all you can to embrace the change that is coming your way. It will appreciate it and be glad to help you and guide you with wisdom and experience.