May 03, 2005


After reading people's thoughtful responses (comments and e-mails) to my snake dream, I thought it only fair to attempt to analyze the dream myself.

In my home office, I have several snakeskins on the edges of my bookshelves. If you have been imagining me working in a neat, uncluttered office, you are completely wrong. Well, some parts of my small office are neat, but the edges of the bookshelves and the windowsill and desk top are also filled with rocks, shells, feathers, and snakeskins. One time one of my kids left my window open on a windy afternoon and I walked in to a room that was just dancing with feathers, all blowing about amongst the stacks of books and piles of papers.

The snakeskin represents the part of the snake that resonates with me the most: the ability to change, to transform, to shed old skin, to grow.

Change can be frightening. When I was a child, I never wanted to grow up. I wanted to hold onto the safety and security of childhood. I've lived in the same place my whole life: I don't think I am by nature an adventurous soul. I cling to people and places. I am still friends with my best friend from kindergarten. I am married to the man I first dated when I was sixteen years old. I still camp every summer at the marsh I fell in love with as a child. When I was in first grade, the teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grew up: I said a writer and a teacher. I have stuck stubbornly with those career goals.

The presence of a friend in my dream does not surprise me either. Always I have had friends to nudge me towards changes in my life, forcing me to allow curves and tangents and unexpected happenings. The older I get the more I realize how important friendships are in my life: without them, I would probably just cling to a straight path, looking ahead and missing a whole lot.

So learning to allow snakes into my dreams has been about embracing change. And trusting friends to help me change and grow in all kinds of ways.

I am not exactly sure what particular change the dream was talking about. Does it have to do with my plan to take my writing more seriously this summer? Is it part of my spiritual journey and my realization that I am no longer part of the Catholic Church? Is it about a failed friendship that I clung to for years before finally letting go? Or is it about the fact that my children are growing up rapidly, becoming adults, changing my role and identity as mother?

When I look at the snakeskin, I remember PoetShaman's advice, and I try to welcome change into my life, accepting the snakes in my dreams, even if I am not entirely sure what that change might be. And I am thankful for the friends, including of course those in my blog community, who are helping me to discover all the curves and paths and snakes that would stay hidden without their help.


Pilgrim/Heretic said...

I LOVE this post - these are wonderful ideas and they resonate perfectly with how you described the dream and the kind of person I imagine you to be.

Remember, too, that it's only the skin that changes. The essence of the snake is still the same; it just needs room to grow.

Friday Mom said...

Fascinating interpretation. Thanks for sharing it.

Change is difficult for me too, although I have experienced a lot. It's inspiring to read of your efforts to welcome it. Seems like an invitation to welcome some of the changes that have been waiting for me.

PPB said...

reminds me of "shed your skin", the song.

Rana said...

mmm. Beautiful post.


I think I need a snake dream.

Sergei C. said...

That is fascinating. It hadn't occurred to me when I read the dream post, but you didn't suggest that you were afraid of being bitten - you were afraid of their very presence. Interesting stuff.

Scrivener said...

Beautiful post, jo(e)--from the image of the room dancing with feathers to this discussion of acceptance of change. I was going to echo Pilgrim's comment that a snake sheds its skin in order to create space for growth.

The funny thing for me reading this, is that as much as this post resonates with me, I'm coming at it from the exact opposite direction: my life has been perpetually in flux and chaos and I find myself trying to find ways to accept, establish, and enjoy stability and security.

Thought-provoking stuff, here. Thanks.

Scrivener said...

But hey, wait a second: Where's the sex? Aren't dreams always about sex? Ah-hah, you almost fooled me with all that thoughtfulness and those pretty words. But I found you out--this is all a ploy to distract the bloggy community from the sex-talk, isn't it?

Musey_Me said...

That is really interesting jo(e). I keep a picture of a labyrinth like the one at the top of this page: on the wall in my office for sort of the same reasons - it's a constant reminder to me that this is all about the journey. We all get to the end, it's what happens along the way that matters.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

But hey, wait a second: Where's the sex?

I dunno, "learning to accept snakes into your dreams" seems pretty sexy to me.

jo(e) said...

Scrivener: I think you and I are opposites in some ways, but travelling on intersecting paths, so it seems like we are alike. If that makes any sense.

Why do men always want dreams to be about sex? Sheesh. In pre-Christian mythology, snakes were often symbols of fertility and nurturing, signs of feminine strength and power. But of course patriarchy is afraid of both women and snakes so later snakes and women became evil. I think it's funny how a pop culture interpretation of Freud leads to just about anything remotely resembling a penis to be phallic. Does a snake look like a penis? Honestly, no. It's getting so that you can't even put a vegetable in a poem any more. Really, start a poem off with a line about cutting up a cucumber and just see what kind of response you get from the audience.

Sergei C. said...

I want it pointed out, for the record, that (for once) it was NOT ME who brought sex into the conversation. I am a model of restraint; forebearance is the hallmark of my creed.

jo(e) said...

Well, Sergei, there is a first time for everything ....