A Snake Dream
(Posted on July 10, 2013 by David McMillin)
[NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of "A Search For God" study group and working on the Day and Night lesson, a class member shared a dream about snakes being burned, cut up and then one of the snakes eating another snake. She had been studying A Course In Miracles (ACIM) rather intensely and came to believe that "ego’s attacks are relentless and vicious." She wondered if her snake dream could refer to her waking studies of ACIM and her ego concept. Here is my reply which may provide some ideas on how to approach dream interpretation and application. – David McMillin]
Dreams with snakes really do seem to get out attention, don’t they. And for most of us, they do often seem to symbolize some potential danger or threat. Snakes can also represents hidden or forbidden knowledge (like in the Genesis account of the serpent in the Garden of Eden) or change/transformation (like a snake shedding its skin). Your dream (and emotional reaction upon awakening) seems more consistent with threat and fear.
One of the functions of dreams is to process our conscious, waking experiences – seeking to understand and make correlations with our ideals and soul experiences. The fact that you have been intensely studying the ACIM materials is a very reasonable association for this dream. It has been many years since I studied the ACIM, and certainly do not consider myself an expert, but my recollection is that it takes a rather dim view of the personal ego, just as you have surmised. So the dreaming attempts to render harmless the snakes, etc is consistent with your interpretation of the snakes as symbolic of ego.
Generally speaking, interpreting each of the symbols of a dream as part of oneself is a reasonable and powerful method and is usually the first approach I use when interpreting my own dreams. You have used this approach for your snake dream, interpreting the snakes as symbolic of a part of yourself (ego).
However, there are other ways of thinking about such dreams – expanding the context out a bit – still including oneself as part of the meaning – but also relationships with others and their role in the scenario. For example, consider this dream interpretation by Edgar Cayce given for an Ohio businessman (Tim Brown). It is snake dream that involves multiple snakes, attempts at rending them harmless, and one snake eating another:
(Q) Tuesday morning, August 10, 1926. "Dreamed of standing with Dr.  – in front of us was a huge dark snake – apparently friendly. This snake was attacked by another huge red snake, and when the red snake was apparently getting the best of the battle, I seized them by the tails and beat the red snake against side of building. They fell apart, and I noticed that the red snake seemed to have lost most of its flesh – merely flabby skin left. However, red snake, or what was left of it, crawled over to another snake and started to devour it. I said to Doc, 'What shall we do?' He said, 'If the snake can't take care of itself after – ' We did let the other one eat it."
(A) In this there are presented those subtle conditions as related to the individual seen, and with whom conversation is had regarding conditions that exist in the lives of the individuals. And the snake represents the action of the individual towards others. And, as viewed by the entity, attempting to present those conditions as would make peace, yet, as is seen, the experience to one is that it devours the other, in that element of the subtle conditions that have been changed through individuals. The lesson, then, as the entity acts in the capacity of the peacemaker, do not allow self to become entangled in conditions that would bring consternation or worry or troubles to self. (195-33)
In this dream interpretation, the readings acknowledge that the dream relates to “conditions that exist in the lives of the individuals. And the snake represents the action of the individual toward others.” In this case, Mr. Brown had been attempting to be a peacemaker between the individuals (symbolized as snakes), but was allowing himself to “become entangled” which would be troublesome and bring worry. The readings seem to counsel care in becoming involved (much as we have considered in a previous lesson and exercise on “loving indifference). That is not to say that this is the meaning of your dream. I just wanted to point out that the meaning of this particular dream apparently does expand beyond one’s own personal psyche to encompass a social situation involving others. So that may be worth considering when reflecting on the meaning and application of your dream.
I encourage you to take this dream into meditation and seek further guidance on it. I find it helpful to say a prayer asking God that I will become conscious of the meaning of a dream in the midst of life – mindfulness. So, in the case of your dream, I might ask to become aware of what the snake dream means as I go about my daily activities. Are there certain activities or interactions with others where there are “snakes” such as habits or patterns of thought within self? Or perhaps interpersonal interactions that might remind one of snakes, as with Tim Browns dream? Don’t be surprised if you hear the inner voice point these out to you as you go about your daily waking activities.
As unpleasant as the dream may have been, it is a gift and blessing of the Night consciousness. The key is to unlock its secret and apply it in your Day consciousness. The fact that you have taken the dream seriously and are attempting to work with it and apply your understanding is fantastic! Just find a way to make it practical in your waking experience and expect feedback from the inner self, either directly in the moment of application, during meditation, or through future dreams. Thanks so much for sharing your application of this exercise. It is important for all of us. Blessings, Dave