Throughout my life I rarely tend to dream, or at least I don’t tend to remember them. I do tend to remember a few recurring dreams through the years though.
One that I do recall is that I’d be in my parent’s back yard running around, playing on my swing-set, that sort of thing. All of a sudden there would be a snake in the grass that I’d trip over, and as soon as I realized that it was a snake that tripped me I’d jump up and start running. My coherent self would think that I’d run into the house to my Mother, but instead, in my dreams I’d run half way across the back-yard, and up onto the wings of a wing-back chair that was placed in the middle of the yard next to a pine tree that was there. Then the snake would chase me and slither up the leg of the chair and as soon as it got close enough I’d wake up. But whenever I’d wake from this dream I’d feel paralyzed. Eventually I’d choke (because I think I’d stop breathing) and then I’d be able to move again.
This dream freaked me out time after time.
Recently at a yard sale (tag sale, garage sale, flea market – whatever you want to call it) I picked up a book called Dreams: More than 350 Symbols and Interpretations. According to this book this is what the dream means:
The snake is a difficult dream symbol because it is so widely interpreted among various cultures. Interpretations run the gamut from blood-curdling fear to wisdom and peace. These options are determined by literary history and folklore from different cultures, as well as personal experience.
In waking life, it is not uncommon to be afraid of snakes. For some people, this fear is disruptive and pathological, even to the point that a photo of a snake represents an oppressive threat. For these people, snake dreams are almost universally bad. If the dream includes someone who handles snakes, whoever tames the object of the fear is likely a source of wisdom and control in the dreamer’s world, and may be a representation of some aspect of themselves or someone else they know.
Among Asian and Native American cultures, the snake is a wisdom symbol. The idea of wisdom comes from the snake’s ability to shed its skin and renew itself. If one dreams of snakes from this perspective it is a dream of renewal, problem-solving, and good tidings in general.
I do vaguely recall at least sometimes when I had that dream, sitting on the back of the chair and watching the snake sit in the seat of the chair shedding its skin.
In Judeo-Christian cultures, the snake is a symbol of temptation or spiritual opposition against reaching one’s goals. This concept is derived from Bible when Satan tempts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the form of a snake. Sometimes, a snake dreamt in this context will remind you of a person in your waking life with whom you have a competitive relationship.
I’ve always been fairly competitive when it comes to certain things, so this is a strong possibility.
Finally, Freud and classical psychotherapy have also thrown interpretations into this “pit.” The contention is that the snake is a type of phallus. The snake often embodies fear about intercourse and an aversion to it.
Coming up with an insightful interpretation for your dream snake could be tricky. What emotions are prevalent regarding the snake: fear, respect, or opposition?
What is your attitude about snakes in waking life: neutral, fearful, or friendly?
Out of those 3 words I’d say fearful, but it’s really more cautious….
Did the snake appear when you were alone or were others with you when the snake entered the dream scene? What are your feelings about those others?
I was always alone.
Answering these questions should lead towards a productive interpretation of the snake dream.
One of the most troubling dream events, and startling physical side-effects of REM, is paralysis. Large muscle groups often become paralyzed during a dream, presumably to prevent injury to the dreamer in case the dreamer’s instincts would cause a physical reaction to dreaming visuals. It can be troubling if the dreamer becomes aware of his body in a paralyzed state without being aware of the fact that the mind is still in a dream state. Suddenly stripped of every physical capacity for defense, the dreamer can experience great panic or victimization in the dream. This scenario is a troubling version of the lucid dream. Instead of mind awareness and body control, the dreamer has body awareness and no mind control.
Hundreds of years ago, this phenomenon was observed and named “having a witch on your back.” The idea was that an unfriendly spirit within the dream had pinned you to your bed. Indeed, it is not uncommon to have a sense of spiritual oppression in a dream that includes paralysis.
I don’t know if I’m panicked in the dream, but I’m sure I’m panicked when I wake up (or think I’m awake) and don’t feel like I can move….
What strange dreams have you had?
Have you ever tried to figure out what they mean?
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