Help! I Keep Having Dreams about Snakes! What Does That Even Mean?

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Snakes are among the most unsettling characters in our dreams, next to spiders and ex-boyfriends. Reports of snakes in dreams even date back to the first patient treated in clinical dream analysis; in 1895, Josef Breuer and Sigmund Friend wrote about Anna O., who dreamed her ailing father was being attacked by a black snake. Dreams and their meanings are still being debated today, so we asked an expert to help us interpret eight of the most common snake dreams; she walks us through not only specific dream scenarios but also gives us a common model of understanding dreams of all kinds.

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Meet the Expert

Linda Shields has been acting as a medium for more than five decades. Known professionally as “the Jersey Shore Medium,” Shields has a long career of personal and public psychic readings, and has written books including the best-selling book 12,000 Dream Interpreted: A New Edition for the 12st Century

What Do Dreams about Snakes Mean?


Generally, according to Shields, the snake represents some mistrustful person in your midst. “When you dream about a snake, it’s because someone is being a snake, they are backbiting and they are talking about you behind your back,” she says. “And specifically, if you dream of it shedding its skin, that’s the sign of an imposter somewhere around you.” Not for nothing, the medium says, we use the phrase “snake in the grass” to indicate a mistrustful person who is hiding. Here are some common variations on this theme:

1. You Hold a Snake

If you’re holding a snake in your dream, it means you have control over a shifting situation, perhaps behind the scenes but still, you’re in control.

2. You Try to Kill a Snake

“If you are trying to kill a snake you are trying subconsciously trying to get rid of something around you that wants to do you harm,” Shields says.

3. A Snake Is Biting You

This means you have a fear that someone close to you is going to hurt you.

4. You’re Turning Into a Snake

In this dream, your subconscious is trying to hide something you don’t want people to know—but eventually, like a snake shedding its skin, the truth will out.

5. Snakes Are Crawling on You in Bed


Here, your attitude towards snakes matters, Shields says. “Most people are afraid of snakes, but I’m not. So if I dream about snakes, it can mean I am attracted to something, whereas if you don’t like snakes, it can mean you’re stressed about or afraid of something.” In the case of bed, the interpretation is that something scary (or pleasurable) is next to you in your vulnerable or unguarded state.

6. You See Multiple Snakes in a Dream

Snakes all over the place in your dream? Simple, says Shields—there are many people in your life that you are mistrustful of, at least subconsciously.

7. Snakes Appear in a Group of People

Here, you may be airing your own dirty laundry in an overly public way that might not be a good idea. “A wise man knows when to be quiet,” Shield says, and here, the snake might indicate your own indiscreet admissions that might be used against you.

8. You Run From a Snake

If you dream about running away or otherwise fleeing from a snake, you’re trying to get away from someone that you fear wants to hurt you.

What to Do if You Keep Dreaming About Snakes

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“Remember, snakes are all about people around us and what they are trying to do to us,” Shields explains. The medium says she devotes a period of reflection at the end of the day to assessing her emotional wellbeing; if she’s stressed, she asks herself what happened during the day that agitated her, and spends time reflecting on any feelings she has and actions she should take. This self-care ritual allows her to enjoy a restful sleep, free of ruminating on unresolved issues. Additionally, it’s recommended that you keep track of any dreams you have, so that you can assess any recurring motifs or characters, as well as use your dreams for self-knowledge or predictions.

Keep track of any dreams you have, so that you can assess any recurring motifs or characters

Linda Shields

For instance, Shields remembers a vivid dream in which a large wave of dirty water washed over her husband and herself and their car. In the dream, her attitude was unbothered, so when she woke up, she knew there was turbulence in their lives ahead, since she usually has predictive dreams. Shortly thereafter, when her husband had a heart attack, Shields was reassured by the dream—because in it, she wasn’t devastated, so she didn’t need to panic after her IRL metaphoric tidal wave. Long story short, both Shields and her husband are fine today—and you can be too, as long as you spend some quiet time in dream analysis, says the expert.

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