Snake Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Seeing Snakes

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Maybe you love snakes or are terrified of them, but these serpent creatures are symbolic.

And knowing their spiritual meaning can be helpful for dream interpretation, reading scripture, or if you constantly see snakes out in the world.

Snake Symbolism & Spiritual Meanings Of Snakes

Snakes symbolize a variety of things: wisdom, protection, rebirth, fertility, healing, renewal, and primal energy. Just like snakes shed their skin, seeing a snake or dreaming of them is a sign of rebirth and renewal; they also symbolize the nurturing earth.

However, in many cultures, snakes have a dark meaning, often symbolizing evil, destruction, and temptation.

Snake Encounters and Omens

Certain types of snakes are incredibly deadly — like the black mamba, king cobra, and saw-scaled viper — but in some cultures, these venomous snakes are praised. In Hindu culture, the black cobra is worshiped, and king cobras are said to be an indicator of treasure nearby.

In Thailand, if a snake is in your home, it's a sign that a family member will die; other cultures believe that a snake is a symbol of impending death or renewal.

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What does it mean if you see a snake?

Seeing a snake can feel scary, but is also a sign that you're going to experience a somewhat dangerous time and your mind is trying to alert you. This does not necessarily mean that something bad is going to happen, but rather an immense change is coming.

There is a bad stigma against snakes that bring an unwanted feeling when encountering or discussing them. To be quite honest, they are one of the most misunderstood creatures!

And depending on the color of the snake you see, it can mean something different.

Black Snake Meaning

If you dream about a black snake, this is an alarming sign of dark and malicious energies trying to make its way into your life. It can also be a trigger to your subconscious trying to let you know that you need to recover from any depression or sadness you have experienced.

Red Snake Meaning

If there is a red snake in your dream, this can be a sign of any sensual desire wanting to present themselves to you. It can also be another warning sign of something bad about to happen.

Yellow Snake Meaning

A yellow snake reflects your inner spirit and intuition. If you have any unanswered questions that are burning for an answer, now is the time where you may need to evaluate your life.

Green Snake Meaning

Green snakes are signs of upcoming wealth, happiness, and good luck. But this can also mean that your energy is a bit distorted, and you need to focus better.

White Snake Meaning

A white snake appearing is a good sign that you have plenty of trust in yourself, and that trust will manifest as good karma. However, white snakes also mean you're feeling disconnected from the spirit world.

Blue Snake Meaning

Blue snakes are a sign of transformation, just as snakes symbolize rebirth and renewal. They also serve as a reminder to make sure you don't hold back on speaking your truth or letting someone repress your creativity.

Orange Snake Meaning

An orange snake can mean you are either balanced emotionally, or that you are in emotional distress. Use this as a motivation to keep yourself stable, while expressing yourself in a healthy way.

Brown Snake Meaning

When you see a brown snake, it means you are in good health and are healing, physically or emotionally. On the flipside, it's also a sign that you may be plagued with addiction, illness, or a dangerous lifestyle.

Black and White Snake Meaning

Like black and white symbolize balance in yin-yang, a black and white snake means just that. Unfortunately, a black and white snake comes with negative connotations, and can mean a loss of control in life.

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Snake Meaning in Dreams

Having a dream that involves a snake isn't a bad omen; in fact, it's a sign that you are involved in toxic behavior and are receiving a warning to change. And it's not a message to ignore.

A dream about a snake in a negative way, where you appear scared, is a signal that you have stress; however, a more calm dream involving a snake symbolizes an issue you have with healing from something, or a warning of toxicity in your life.

Snakes can appear in dreams in a variety of ways, and each has its own meaning.

Dreaming of a certain type of snake

Snakes aren't all the same; with over 3,000 species of this reptile, you may find yourself having dreams of different kinds of snakes. Common dreams include rattlesnakes and boa constrictors.

If you dream of a rattlesnake, it's a warning to pay attention to the toxic people in your life that are dragging you down; similarly, a boa constrictor represents someone "squeezing" you, whether it's financially, emotionally, or spiritually.

Dreaming of a harmless snake, however, means you can relax, as someone in your life you may have thought was harmful is actually the opposite.

Dreaming of a snake biting you

A snake biting you in your dream is an indication of a potential health issue, whether you're aware of it or not. It could also signify an emotional wound, symbolized by the bite itself.

If you dream of a snake biting someone you love, it indicates that they are the ones suffering from a physical or emotional health issue.

Finally, a dream about a snake biting someone you dislike or consider an enemy means you have desire in your heart to cause them damage with your own biting words.

Dreaming of a snake in your home

When you dream of a snake present in your home, it can indicate that the toxic person you're being warned of is living with you, whether it's a parent, sibling, partner or friend.

It's a warning that this toxic behavior is starting to affect your home life.

Dreaming of multiple snakes

Seeing multiple snakes in a dream means you don't have just one person with toxic behavior — you have multiple "snakes" in your life. The multiplicity also represents multiple mental or physical health problems.

Snake Meaning as a Spirit or Totem Animal

Spirit animals are our life guides, teaching us lessons as they guide is in the right direction; totem animals are also spiritual guides, but are also protectors who appear when we are failing to acknowledge our higher purpose.

You'll know if a snake is your spirit animal if you resonate with the creature somehow.

And while you don't choose your spirit animal and are instead selected by them, you may see snakes in visions, or have an experience in life that alters you in some way.

Those with a snake spirit animal experience constant change — emotionally or spiritually — and approach these situations with ease, allowing them to grow in the process. Because the snake is a symbol of transformation, it's associated with the journey to recognizing your abilities that we may not be aware of.

A snake spirit animal is guiding you towards something new, helping you navigate unknown territory, while having faith in yourself that you will overcome your obstacles.

As a totem animal, snakes represent healing; however, having a snake totem animal is rare. A snake totem means you're highly evolved as a person, and have a strong understanding on all levels, both physical and metaphysical.

Snake Spiritual Meaning in Christianity

The story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis includes a very important character to the plot: the serpent.

In this story, the serpent persuades Eve to eat the forbidden fruit after God warned her not to do so. According to this chapter, the serpent symbolizes deceit and deception.

However, not all snakes in the Bible are referencing evil and the Devil.

In Exodus 4:1-5, when the Hebrews live in Egypt, Moses questions God as to how the people would believe God asked Moses to save them. God then asks Moses to leave his staff on the ground, and it suddenly turns into a snake.

When Moses runs away from the snake, God shows him that the snake has turned back into a staff, where anyone who has been bitten looks at the snake and does not die.

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Snake Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

Snake symbolism has been found all over the globe, including North America, Africa, India, China, Japan, Ukraine, and more. It also dates back to Ancient Greece, and may have even existed long before, as snakes have existed for hundreds of millions of years.

Snakes are seen as symbols of both death and strength; evil and immortality; fertility and disease.

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Native American Snake Symbolism

Snakes differ in symbolism depending on the Native American tribe, where each tribe has its own set of beliefs.

The Cherokee fear snakes but associate them with power, believing snakes should never be killed while steering clear of them. Similarly, Lakota Sioux and Blackfoot cultures tell of a serpent named Unhcegila, whose slime caused flesh to rot.

In Anishinaabe tribes, snakes are dangerous yet powerful creatures who must not be mistreated in any way. And individuals who are bitten by snakes are believed to have done something taboo.

But in Hopi culture, snakes symbolize the earth, where all living beings are connected to each other, as well as the planet. Snakes are also symbols of fertility and health in Pueblo and Ojibwa cultures, who also view snakes as healers.

Snakes are also in reference to clan systems in families, serving as a form of community.

Eastern Snake Symbolism

In Eastern cultures, snakes are highly regarded creatures.

In India, snakes are sometimes worshipped as deities or gods, especially the cobra, who is often depicted around the necks of Vishnu and Shiva, gods in Hinduism. Snakes also represent a spiritual awakening of kundalini, a form of divine energy, and are symbols of rebirth and fertility.

In Japan, snakes represent youth, rivers and seas, and are also protectors; snakes are a symbol of eternal life, represented by a snake molting their skin. In fact, snakes are on par with dragons, who represent wealth.

In Chinese culture, snakes are not only part of the Chinese calendar, but are a symbol of the goddess Nuwa, who created humanity, and has the head of a human with the body of a snake. Snakes are associated with wisdom, and to harm one brings bad luck.

Snake Medicine Symbolism

Though snakes represent many things in different cultures and locations, there's no denying their presence in medicine. In fact, you may notice the symbol of a staff with two snakes wrapped around it, known as the Caduceus, in references to medicine.

However, this symbol is linked to ancient times and was associated with thievery, alchemy, and liars, as well as symbols of economics and wealth.

In modern times, the Staff of Hermes, as it's called, began as a symbol for medicine in the 20th century, though the correct symbol for medicine in the United States is called Rod of Asclepius, featuring only one snake without wings.

Celtic Snake Symbolism

In Celtic culture, snakes are viewed positively, and are considered representations of knowledge, wisdom, and rebirth, symbolized by the shedding of their skin. In addition, snakes symbolize fertility.

Snake Symbolism in Greek Mythology

Snakes were symbols of both fertility and luck, as well as terror. The most famous myth about snakes is one many people know: Medusa. Her beauty was envied by Athena, who turned her into a hideous creature; her hair was made of snakes, and if you looked into her eyes, you'd be turned to stone.

However, Greeks also considered snakes to be lucky and as a way to ward off evil spirits.

Snake Symbolism in Norse Mythology

In Nordic mythology exists the tale of Jörmungandr, also referred to as the Midgard Serpent, and is the son of Loki. In the tale, Odin takes Jörmungandr, along with Loki's other children, and throws them into the ocean, all because he feared them.

According to legend, Jörmungandr grew so large in the sea that he was able to surround the earth entirely, and is represented by the ouroboros symbol, which depicts a snake with its tail in its mouth, eating itself and being reborn.

Snake Tattoo Meaning

Tattoos of snakes appear in all different forms, whether it's a specific snake inked on skin, a symbol of a snake, or any artful depiction of these creatures.

Because snakes are symbols of fertility, wisdom, healing, renewal, and protection, one might get a snake tattoo if they are entering a new phase of life, or have overcome obstacles in the past. As snakes shed their skin, so are you shedding the past and moving forward.

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Destiny Duprey is a writer who covers astrology, spirituality, and love, and relationship topics.