A man dreamed:
I’m in a basement room playing some type of ball game with my son. There is an object by his feet that looks like a short plastic snake, black in color. But then I see it start to move. It comes towards me and has become a living snake now. It releases some baby snakes. Then it starts to grow legs and is now a black salamander. It walks beneath the chair I am sitting in and I see finger-like appendages form on its feet. It walks to a nearby dog door, rolls over on its back to reach the flap, then stands up against it to push it open. It seems oddly purposive and intelligent.
A snake is a fairly common dream image. Generally it symbolizes the psyche (or total personality) for like the psyche it is a living entity with its own nature and goals. The snake is also a creature that constantly outgrows its skin. Thus, it is a symbol of transformation, of growing beyond oneself by letting go of old roles and outworn beliefs to make room for new and more expansive ones. Like a snake, your psyche wants to grow, to more fully express its innate potential and destiny.
Destiny is drawn from the same root as the word destination. Every living being holds the code for a certain destination—a theoretical endpoint or goal that is the fullest expression of its unique potential. An acorn’s destination is to become an oak tree; a caterpillar a butterfly; and you, a specific individual with a unique contribution(s) to the world.
But for many people, probably most, the psyche does not exist. That is to say, it is not a living reality for them. It is like the plastic snake in the dream, an inanimate object, a concept or abstract idea that has not been consciously experienced or named. They have not come to see its living and active presence in their life. They see it as a lifeless object if they see it at all. No dialogue has been established between the ego (conscious mind) and the larger, autonomous personality.
But the dream symbolizes dialogue between the father and son. A ball, a symbol of feeling communication, is being tossed back and forth. Through this dialogue the snake comes alive and more real to both father and son. The snake now has baby snakes. Life is multiplying. Then the snake seems to be a salamander. It is growing legs and fingers. It looks and moves more and more like a human being, rolling over to reach the dog door, standing up to push open the flap. In both form, behavior, and inferred intelligence it is becoming more human-like. These images reflect the fact that the snake is coming alive for the dreamer. It is approaching human form which indicates that its reality is coming closer to being consciously assimilated by the dreamer.
The snake comes alive with the meaningful dialogue between the dreamer and his son. But what is the equivalence of this dialogue in the average life? What helps you experience the living reality of your own psyche? Observing, working with, and learning from your dreams is one important avenue of such development. Likewise, observing patterns in your relationships and paying attention to the synchronicities, physical and psychological symptoms you experience helps you better understand the language of the psyche. Observing the way in which these things teach and guide, respond to and reflect your behaviors and attitudes is to enter into dialogue with your psyche. This allows you to experience the psyche’s activity and presence—its reality—not in an abstract, intellectual way, but in an experiential, dynamic, living way.