Dream Gates

Dream Gates

In the room of golden serpents

Samoan snake charmer (1880s chromolithograph)

She shows me the story of her life, in a room richly decorated with golden serpents. I am fascinated by the fine definition of their scales. Some project from the walls like water spouts, others are coiled, some interwined, each in a different posture. Some are as big as boas, others small and sharp as stilletos.

As she speaks, I realize that all the snakes are alive. I shiver with excitement, not fear. I realize that her story is not only of one life, but of many. A golden serpent with two heads darts at me, level with my eyes. Deftly, without haste, she catches the twinned serpent with both hands, gripping its two necks. She instructs me that it is important not to let the two heads of this snake look at each other. This would be some kind of game-changer. When she is sure that I understand what she wants me to do, she transfers the role of snake-holder to me, and I grip the two-headed snake with both hands. Its skin is dry and warm.


Now she tells me that long ago she was banished from this room. The key was stolen from her and after long exclusion she forgot that she was once the mistress of this place, and the powers it contains.

I woke from this dream just now still charged with the excitement I felt in the room of the golden serpents.  My mind went to the ancient rites of the mysterious god Sabazios, of the Phrygians and the Thracians, which (according to Clement of Alexandria) involved letting a golden serpent move over the body. I thought of all the snakes in Egyptian myth, that can be allies or adversaries,  the uraeus of psychic power, an energy body for a traveling soul on either side of death, a form of the goddess or of the primal self-creating god Atum, rising from watery chaos. Words from the Pyramid Text of Unas (c. 2400 BCE) reverberated in my mind:


A serpent is entwined by a serpent, the male serpent is bitten by the female serpent, the female serpent is bitten by the male  serpent.

Heaven is enchanted, earth is enchanted, the male behind mankind is enchanted

And I recalled my intention prior to traveling into the dream lands last night. I had asked for guidance for the workshop I am leading this weekend on Shamanic Lucid Dreaming at a dream address, the Dragon’s Egg, Mystic CT. I believe I received exactly what I requested. A vision of woman’s ancient and primal power, both chthonic and shining, once lost but now in process of being remembered and recovered. The woman in the dream is a friend who is in this weekend’s workshop, but I believe she represents all women, including the feminine in the dreamer, and in all men.


The province of the shaman is soul, and helping souls – of both the living and the dead – to get to where they belong. A primary theme of my shamanic workshops is re-connection with aspects of our vital soul energy that we may have lost or left behind, including the connecion with our animal spirits and ancestral soul.

There are mysteries here. Freud would have loved trying to unlock this dream with his sexual key (and also because he adored Egyptian stuff and surrounded himself with hnndreds of hem in miniature). No doubt there is a Freudian aspect. But there is vastly more. Magic rides on sexual energy, but is about far more than sex.

I don’t yet understand the two-headed snake whose heads must be kept looking ahead, or at least away from each other. In a myth of the Pacific Northwest, the way to deal with the monstrous sea-sepernt Sisiutl is just the opposite: you must get the heads to look at each other, and so freeze the beast. Maybe there is something here about keeping the game in play. As with many dreams that go deeper than our everyday world, this one does not allow itself to be turned into a set of wan abstractions; it demands to be embodied, and dreamed on.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Diane Bonds

    Thank you so much for this post. Like most of your posts, it is timely for me.

    I have recently started compiling my snake/serpent dreams. In the last year I have had several involving two snakes–huge ones that I initially took for alligators because of their girth (and in one case because they were in water). But they turned out to be snakes when I saw their full extent. They are never in contact, but separate. I always find this imagery exciting, not frightening, because of the richness of the ancient mythical/archetypal of snakes. This not to say I understand the dreams very well.

    I recently–and quite without looking deliberately–came upon a record of a snake dream I had in 1993 (when my daughter, Hannah, was 9)–just about the time I was getting ready to move from Atlanta to NYC. I broke the record in lines like a poem, but it is not a poem. I want to share it.

    The brown hook separates itself
    from the stubble and the new growth,
    finally becoming visible, itself,
    and I think, “A snake!” without fear,
    for it seems a harmless kind.
    And I draw the attention of the children
    in the yard to the pretty thing,
    for it is mottled brown and gold.
    Then another one slides from a hole–
    it, too, seems harmless. I am
    surprised at their proliferation,
    but unafraid. Then a large black head
    emerges from the hole, a thick body–
    and I think it is a king snake–harmless.
    But it has two broad stripes of crimson
    around its belly, and starts moving
    on short, bent legs like a large
    lizard or a small dinosaur–and still
    I am unafraid, for myself or the children
    (Hannah, and her friend Brooks, playing
    in the yard). I am sitting on the deck.
    All of a sudden the black and red thing
    leaps into the air, comes directly at me,
    whizzing past me near my face. Its head,
    at this point, looks more like a dog’s
    head than the head of a reptile. I think
    “That would have hurt me if it hit me
    in the face,” but it did not. When I stroll
    to the rail of the deck and look over in
    the yard, there is deep water and I see
    a frog frogging along underneath the surface,
    then fish, there is a huge body of water
    with living creatures off my deck.
    This was my dream May 8, 1993.
    In another part of the dream I go into
    Hannah’s room and it is much larger
    than I remembered and I think I would
    like to have it for myself. Also both her old
    bed and her new bed are in it, and her
    little friend Brooks is staying over
    in the extra bed.


    I haven’t even begun to “think” about this dream. I just treasure it and the younger self who wrote it down.

    Thanks again,

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    I have no idea why the heads of the snake musn´t look at each other but the notion of forbidden look it´s frequent in the myths. We have a fairy-tale called Mahuliena, Golden Maid. The prince, who wants to marry her, can´t look into her eyes instantly. The first day he stands before her, he must keep his gaze on the ground and just very slowly lift his eyes until her knees. The second day he can move from the ground to the level of her waist and only the third day he is allowed to continue step by step to her face. The third day is critical but with his discipline and self-mastery he wins her. The previous suitors all failed because they looked at her without any preparation and consequently failed and became ill. The language of your great dream and this brief fairy-tale extract is distant but both of them are probably about regaining some temporary lost vital part of soul. Maybe the instruction keeping the heads apart and without any look at each other just suggest the need to be more cautious and patient than usual or maybe it´s a kind of play as you say.
    Thank you very much again for all marvellous posts.

  • Justin Patrick Moore

    The snakes reminded me of Auryn, the two snakes that form the seal on the book the Neverending Story, and which the Childlike Empress gives to her ambassador…

  • Patti

    A powerful dream indeed.
    It’s possible that the ancient goddess does not want to risk giving up any of her power, now that she is being recalled to the surface from the depth. Perhaps the instruction is not for the dreamer’s benefit, but for her own. I can imagine that if the snakes looked at each other, it might create a circle or ring of energy and might somehow “transfer” or create a power shift such that the dreamer – and/or the collective ego (this feels very collective to me) — especially the male ego – would integrate some of that power and become ever more whole, awake, aware, balanced, and so forth. And that would be a game-changer, and one we need as we go forth in conscious evolution. We have been, for years, calling up and awakening the Divine Feminine from the depths. Now we have her, archetypally speaking, in a variety of forms, and by no means are all of them “good” or even “moral.” As I often remind people in my own work, “Divine” does not necessarily equate to “sweet, nice, good, or even much interested in us puny humans.” (I’m thinking of certain female political figures right now, who exhibit many of the Devouring or Dark Feminine characteristics.)

    Just a thought. Just what I ‘felt’ when I heard this. Some ‘holy doubt’ and ‘holy skepticism.’ For some reason, this reminded me of the opening of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Edward’s first interactions with The White Witch.

    • Robert Moss

      Patti – I had a flight of 20+ dreamers travel into the Room of Golden Serpents with me in a conscious group journey, powered by shamanic drumming, over the weekend, and was delighted to hear 20+ explanations – based on experience as well as intuition and personal perspectives – of what might be going on with the two-headed serpent. I can tell you that none of them involved withholding :-) There is still a profound mystery here, but I progressed to a vision of the double serpent in the grip of an antlered god-man reminiscent of Cernunnos. Boys get to play here too!

  • Valley

    I dreamt last night of a very similar image. I saw myself in a jungle setting and where a green snake slithered off from beside me into the jungle as I sat on the ground. I then saw myself wearing some kind of ceremonial dress complete with a head dress of many large feathers pointing straight up. I also held a large snake draped around my neck. I looked closely at myself in the dream to be sure it was indeed me, and found I was quite comfortable draped in the power of the serpant. It felt very familiar and natural. I am leading a workshop in Grand Junction, Colorado on the Power of Healing Dreams next weekend, and will be sure to bring the healing power of the serpant with me when I go.

    • Robert Moss

      Valley – Very Asklepian, to take the serpent power with you to a workshop on healing dreams. I trust all went beautifully.

  • Patti

    Robert: Indeed, there is profound mystery here. Let us hope there always will be. Serpents have been profoundly important in my own life and dreams. I’m not surprised you had reports of such variety. Whenever I’ve been in a sharing & exploration of such intense, big visions / dreams, whether in workshops I’ve facilitated or ones I’ve attended, it’s been the same. For this, I am always grateful. Like you, I work & live principally from a place of awe, honor, mystery and wonder, and have a special appreciation for all who do. As the poet R.S. Thomas says: “You can come in, you can come a long way in, but you won’t be inside.” I do like the unifying imagery of Cernunnos & the serpent (goddess), though. There is something comforting, even in its power. Especially for my Celtic blood. :) Thanks again for sharing this. I am particularly interested in such mystery-filled, collective, ‘ecological’ dreams just now, and am, therefore, being privileged to hear them from all quarters.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Irene

    When you descrribe the two-headed serpent & I read “A serpent is entwined by a serpent, the male serpent is bitten by the female serpent, the female serpent is bitten by the male serpent,” I immediately see Marie Elia’s painted version of Tsaddé, the Hebrew letter Spirit the embodies the reunion of perefctly balanced masculine and feminine energies. This Letter figures on the cover of her book “Rencontres avec la Splendeur: Le Pouvoir Guérisseur des Lettres Hebraiques” (The Healing Powers of the Hebrew Alphabet… Don’t think it’s translated into English).

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mark

    Another interesting coincidence for my journal. I read this interesting post at work. When I left, a few minutes later, I saw something in the median of the road. It was a fairly large snake crossing the road. It was in the middle of the road, going from one patch of desert to the other. I have been traveling this road twice a day for a year but this was the first time I saw a snake crossing. Thanks again.

    • Robert Moss

      Mark – I often describe coincidence as “a secret handshake from the universe”. In this case, it’s a very direct slither. Thanks for this fine example of how symbols come alive and seem to bring together inner thoughts and external events.

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