Depending on how you feel about reptiles, dreams about snakes could either be really enjoyable or extremely alarming.
Unlike a teeth falling out dream or dreaming about an ex, snakes have an interesting, and polarizing, backstory. Throughout history, snakes have symbolized both temptation and protection. In the Old Testament, the serpent represents the devil in disguise who ultimately convinced Eve to take a bite out of the fateful apple which gave her knowledge (but also got her and Adam getting kicked out of Paradise). Then there's the Medusa of Greek Mythology, a beautiful woman cursed with a head full of snakes that could turn any person into stone with just one look. In Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism however, the naga, a semi-divine group of people who were half human, half cobra, are viewed as powerful protectors.
All this is to say, cultural context could very likely impact how you feel about seeing a snake in your dream. “Dreams give us a glimpse into our personal way of dealing with our emotions and life in general,” says Justina Lasley author and founder of the Institute for Dream Studies.
But what's the story behind yours?
If you're feeling stressed
"Dreams show us past events and places in our life, reminding us of when we felt safe and secure and when we did not," says Lasley. If you've been feeling on edge lately due to the pandemic and grabbling with the constant waves of "new normals," your recent snake dream could reflect your anxiety and unease.
If you dream of a poisonous snake
Depending on the type of dream you have, you might be able to judge the urgency of the message your dream is trying to send to you, says Lasley. “If you dream of a poisonous snake it might be a more serious wake up call than dreaming of a Garter snake, which are usually harmless and helpful," she says. With more than 3,000 types of snakes on earth, familiarizing yourself with the different species might uncover some answers.
If you get bitten
Now if you get bitten by a snake in your dream, that's where you might want to be on guard. “The snake, and what it symbolizes, has more potential for harm when bitten than just seen," says Lasley. If you're reading into your snake as being a stand-in for your current levels of anxiety, for example, the dream could be signaling that you need to sort out what is contributing to it ASAP and then working to reduce your exposure to those stressors. Cutting back on the nonstop Covid-related news intake and prioritizing some much needed self-care could be a starting place.
If you're being crushed
A dream where you're being crushed or suffocated by a snake holds particular significance this year. Being wrapped up by a snake can represent a lack of breath, says Lasley. "People with Covid dream of being suffocated and having the breath strangled out of them," she says. If you're feeling physically well, it could represent your anxiety over the pandemic. This type of snake dream could also be urging you to do a deep dive internally on what is making you feel suffocated in your waking life.
Ultimately, Lasley says that even if the dream might feel overwhelming, it is coming to you to help, not harm. “The dream comes to bring us information that we are not aware of so, yes, pay attention, but do not be afraid," she says. "The dream is our friend and comes to inform us of what is important personally for us.”
Originally Appeared on Glamour