This is a particularly difficult post for me to write because I have a snake phobia. The terror and anxiety that fills my body when I see a picture or video is very real and very intense. I have been guided to work on this phobia by allowing myself to actually look at an image or to allow myself to watch one when I am in the woods.
What does it mean when a snake crosses your path?
As always it is important to remember the context of the interaction. Where were you? Who were you with? What were you thinking about? What were the first connections you made to the sighting? What is the animal doing, anything unusual? What does this animal mean to you or to someone you love?
The best answer to the question: What does it mean? is always within you.
Once you have established context and connected with your relationship to the animal then you can begin to expand your understanding looking for the universal messages.
Snakes represent metamorphosis and the death/life cycle of rebirth. Your subconscious mind sees the snake in this way, as a reminder of mortality and death and of the subsequent re-birth and beginning again. Your relationship with death will likely inform your relationship with snakes as they are messengers of death.
We are not meaning to suggest a physical death necessarily but rather a massive shift or change. Perhaps you are moving, ending a relationship, changing jobs, starting a new hobby, etc… Whatever it is, if the snake is the messenger for this change it will be significant.
The old self dies to make way for the new self.
“Dying is only the shedding of a skin that has become too tight.” Regula Meyer from Animal Messengers: An A-Z Guide to Signs and Omens in the Natural World
What is the spiritual significance of the snake?
The snake is the animal of the healer, often associated with shamans.
The early Christians referred to the Druids as snakes and it was the druids that St. Patrick so famously chased out of Ireland, not the ground dwelling reptiles.
The serpent is a significant figure in many ancient traditions all over the world however, often it is unclear whether the serpent is actually a snake or a dragon-like creature. Some early depiction of the snake in Eden, for example, are of a snake with legs.
Snakes are often a feature of initiation rites and visions. The two archetypal images experienced in deep trance and during intense experiences on psychoactive drugs such as peyote and ayahuasca.
Ouroboros is the snake eating its own tail and represents eternity or infinity. There is no ending and no beginning only the place where the two meet.
What lessons can we learn from the snake?
Snakes are very sensitive and part of what they have to teach us is to trust our instincts. Trust the feelings in your body, they are your guide.
Like the snake sheds skin and can be helpful guide if there is something major you need to move on from. Deeply held beliefs or attachments that might be harming you, self-destructive patterns, addictions, etc. It might be that you have long associated yourself with something that you have allowed to become part of your identity but it no longer fits.
The snake asks you to be honest with yourself about whether these things have outgrown their usefulness. If the answer is yes, it’s time to let the old things die away to make room for new life.