Imprisoned by Snakes

Talia in Washington writes:

About twice a year, I dream two different versions of what I consider the same dream. In the first, I am trapped in a cold cement room where there is one small window up high that has bars over it. A bed is in the center of the room, almost making it feel like a jail setup. There are hundreds of snakes everywhere enclosed in the room with me. The whole floor is crawling with snakes, and they are capable of crawling up the walls and dropping down off the ceiling.

In the second version of this dream, I am not enclosed in a room with snakes, but am running from them as they chase me. The snakes are very colorful and highly venomous. I find myself outdoors, running fast across the grass to get away from them. At times I’m indoors, jumping from tabletops to countertops, attempting to avoid snakes as they spring up into the air and try to bite me. My adrenaline runs quite high in this particular version of my dream.

The funny thing is, in real life I am not too terrified of snakes. It wasn’t more than a couple months ago I was in the pet store holding pythons for fun. When I was a kid, I used to chase garter snakes around the farm and catch them! I cannot seem to correlate the fear I have in these dreams with anything relevant going on in my life.

Hello Talia,

Let’s see if we can discover why snakes are slithering around in your unconscious. A snake can symbolize your sexuality (or another basic urge) or something hidden that’s about to pounce (as in “a snake in the grass”). In the first version of your dream, you describe a feeling of being trapped and threatened in a cold, cramped environment. Aside from the snakes, the central symbol is the bed, which can symbolize your sex life, an issue about privacy or a need for rest.

So, what part of your life is making you feel trapped? If it’s your sex life, it could be a limiting attitude about intimacy that keeps you from feeling fulfilled. If it concerns rest, perhaps you’re so driven toward accomplishment that you don’t take any down time to relax. If it’s about privacy, maybe you need some regular time alone to recharge and do some soul-searching.

In the second version, it’s interesting that the snakes are both colorful and poisonous. Is there something you’re striving for, professionally or personally, that evokes both excitement and fear? Perhaps the snakes represent your drive to succeed and your fear of failure.

One other thought: Since you chased snakes as a kid, perhaps the snakes represent a childhood aspiration you’ve locked away, which is trying to get your attention now. Maybe it’s time to pursue that dream.

In any case, I hope I’ve offered some clues to think about.

Sweet dreams,


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