Dreams about snakes
Dreams about snakes are probably one of the most ancestral recurring dreams.
I draw inspiration from a dream of a ten-year-old girl commented by Carl Gustav Jung and described in the book “Children’s dreams” to talk about the symbol of the snake in the Tarot.
Here is the description of the dream:
“I dream of a snake with eyes that shine like diamonds that chases me through the woods or into my room. This dream scares me so much that I no longer dare to move in bed, because even when I am awake I continue to see everywhere the burning eyes of the snake that wants to bite me. “
The snake symbolism in jungian psychology
Jung dedicates great attention to the snake symbol in his writings and identifies its main values:
- Snake as “Soter”, or as Savior, as a numinous and frightening being but with therapeutic power (in Greek, pharmakon coincides with poison);
- the snale is a cold-blooded animal, comparable to the world of primordial instincts; physiologically it can be seen as the most archaic layer of our nervous and cerebral system;
- Snake as a symbol linked to sexuality, as a tempting demon;
- the snake as the vital psychic energy that flows, like libido or Kundalini;
- the serpent as “Ouroboros”, as a cosmic symbol that expresses time and the eternal universal motion.
Snake symbolism in Tarot
In the Tarot we can find the snake symbolism in several Arcana, which can be summarized as follows:
- Devil: aspect related to sexual libido / energy and ancestral instincts;
- Temperance: therapeutic aspect of the snake (poison as a pharmacon) and as a vital fluid that flows between the two jars. (Read here for a Jungian reading of Temperance);
- Wheel of Fortune: Ouroboros, universal cosmic cycle and flow of time;
- World: divine features of the snake, as vital energy that envelops the Cosmos and that refers to the totality of the Self.
With these elements we can now analyze the dream of the child combining it with the imagery of the Tarot.
OniroTarology and dreams about snakes
The vision of the snake is frightening for the child: we choose the Devil to represent the dreamer’s sense of fear and dismay that can paralyze you like the characters chained to the pedestal of the Demon.
In the Devil Tarot card, however, we see a torch that pierces the darkness, like the diamonds that shine in the snake’s eyes. The snake hides within itself a treasure, a possibility of enrichment and illumination, by integrating the world of instincts into the light of consciousness. If the snake is feared at the point of refusing it, it will bite us or pursue us throughout our lives as a tempting devil.
The snake as a source of illumination can be translated with the image of the World Tarot card, which we can relate to the jungian Self, the psychic totality representing the integration of the istinctual, earthly elements (the lion and the ox) with the spiritual sphere (the eagle and the angel ).
We also find the almond symbolism (“vesica piscis“) which recalls the Ouroboros and also recalls the shape of an eye. Inside the eye we can find the treasure of the Self, the androgyne reunification of opposites.
There is actually another possible Arcanum candidate to represent dreams about snakes: the Strenght. This Tarot can express the idea of a comparison with a beast entity and depicts the action of the bite. However the lion is a solar symbol and therefore devoid of the “chthonic” dimension of the snake.