All visits from the animal kingdom do not mean the same thing. They are as varied as we are as humans and they bring with them their own identity and we have our individual experiences of them. Somewhat common is the appearance of snakes in our dreams. They can invoke an existential fear that we cannot rationalize. But many people have snakes in their dreams; even handle snakes in their dreams, without any reactivity. However, occasionally snakes come along that are so much bigger than our ability to take them in them or understand them in our minds that they awaken a real time heart thumping terror that goes beyond memory or remembered experience. Here is where a dream image taps into the primal and unconditioned – the unseen forces of our true nature – and that frightens us.
A few years ago I had such a dream.
In the dream I am inside my house in a suburban neighborhood and I look out the window into my fenced backyard. Suddenly, I see this HUGE snake, like an anaconda come into the yard followed by two others. They are larger in diameter than a man and very, very long. Along with the 3 snakes, come 3 men. The men crowd close to one another, the men are bare-chested. The snakes move in close to the men and the men look very uncomfortable as they sit down together on the ground. The last snake to arrive has the rear end of a human being. This too is very discomforting. In the dream I have a sense of intense hypertension – to put it mildly, it does not look “friendly” and it seems way too late for the men to make another choice. I run out my front door in a panic to my neighbors and some of my neighbors come in to have a look out the window. No one can do anything. I wake up in terror at the scene-I feel stupefied by the enormity of the snakes and the scene that is still going on in my back yard.
When I worked with this dream it was really a matter of coming to terms with what I had seen and the experience of it. I was being given an ultimate and inconsolable experience of something so I could embrace the truth of it. The setting was a suburban neighborhood so the sense of the “normal” was the background. How I had defined or I assumed my life to be. Into my view come 3 snakes, larger than anything I have ever seen before—sliding into the backyard of my house, and 3 men who seemed to be their captives.
(**The number 3 is a highly symbolic number. It is discussed in the note below.)
The men look uncomfortable but they do not cry out or complain. They are bare-chested which in a dream has the significance of the unencumbered, open heart. The final snake as it slides into view has an unusual tail – it is the rear end of a human being. That really shocks me in the dream. A surprise in a dream means that a long held belief has been contradicted. For me, it is the recognition that as human being I have this enormous and unknown and powerful primal nature as these snakes do. That however "normal" I have been holding myself— it is being knocked over now as I look on. And this blows my mind so to speak. Because I can no longer look at myself in the way that I have before—some version of conventional. I see by seeing the human rear end of the snake that I come from this realm – that I have an aspect to myself entirely unknown and unconditioned and precivilized and it scares the life out of me. And then I see that the men can no longer make another choice. In a sense they have already made the choice that has led them to this company of Beings and they cannot go back. This too has the uncomfortable inevitability that I have entered a part of my life that is leading me into the complete unknown and there is no way to go back.
We cannot tame The Unseen. We cannot pretend that the forces of nature are apart from us and are there to do our bidding. We in fact are in the keeping of forces so large they silence us. They humble us. AND because we are a part of them, they lift us as well.
Here is a small painting of the scene I did after the dream. The painting has a childlike feel to it. I had difficulty even painting the intensity of the scene. I made many attempts. It was difficult to admit that I had ‘seen’ this and had come to know it to be true.
**Notes on the number 3: The third dimension - we do things in threes so they will manifest in our physical realm. Its roots stem from the meaning of multiplicity. Creative power; growth. Three is a moving forward of energy, overcoming duality, expression, manifestation and synthesis. Three is the first number to which the meaning "all" was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, middle and an end. The power of three is universal and is the tripartite nature of the world as heaven, earth, and waters. It is human as body, soul and spirit. Three is birth, life, and death. Three is a complete cycle unto itself. It is past, present, and future.The symbol of three is the triangle... can represent the indissoluble unity of the three persons of the trinity. There are 3 phases to the moon. Pythagorean three means completion.[In myths] there are three wishes; genies have three wishes, three leprechauns, three prince or princesses, three witches, three weird sisters among others. www.crystalink.com
A second dream of the primal came a couple of years earlier:
I dreamed I had been at the house of my friends who were two gay men. It was a modern house, marbleized shiny paint on the inside, so that it glowed when seen from outside. I was walking in and out of the house. I came out of the house just as two snakes were mating. Then one snake of the snakes killed the other and then pitched the dead snake toward the door I was coming out of. Then it rushed over to get the snake again and saw me and started chasing me. It jumped up and attached itself to my sacrum and started biting me with its fang and I could feel its mouth sucking me, as if to draw me into it. I felt strongly the sensation of its sucking. A friend was there and trying to help pull it off. The sweater I had on was thick but the snake was succeeding to get through the fabric. I woke up screaming, “ NO!”
In this dream the house shows itself to be a special kind of house, one that glowed from within. Our houses in dreams often portray our inner temple so to speak. I am walking in and out of the one I am visiting, restless in a way and unsettled. When I come out I see two snakes mating. Two is a number symbolic of duality. It is the alchemical: Sun/Moon, Yin/Yang, Male/ Female, Up/Down, In /Out, the conditions of opposites, life on the earth plane. In many cultures the snake has become synonymous with rebirth and transformation because it is able to shed its skin and regrow it. From ancient cultures there are petroglyphs of the snake eating its own tail-it is called the “ouroboros”.
To the Greeks the symbol represents the cycle of life and death that the Universe maintains. The snake eating its own tail simply represents the recreation of life through death by the Universe. In this dream one snake is consuming the other after mating with it – Sacred Union. Going from two to one. The dead snake is thrown at the door I am coming out of. When the snake sees me it begins to chase me around the yard. I am terrified. It attaches itself to my sacrum or root chakra-that is the energy center of our body that holds the energy of how we come in to existence, our family of origin, our tribe and its laws-it is considered our relationship to earth, life, family conditioning, and connection to the planet. The snake cannot be pulled off. It is determined to draw me back into itself. Again, it is the felt experience of being met and united with something that has no ties to the civilized world. It is primal, it came before. And it is meeting me where I came into the world to take me back to it. And I am not wanting any part of it. Because I have no understanding of it. My mind cannot wrap itself around it in any way.
The primal bypasses our modern brains.
The mind gets blown apart so something else can happen.
This is the greater Reality’s business card.