Snakes on a Chthonic Plane

We regularly ask you to reply to us — We get every email! We respond to every one! We miss you! — and you send us everything from one-liners to play-by-plays of your in-depth snake dreams THANK YOU READER DARYL and we get excited about every single one. But what you may not know is that Pipe Wrench readers are also here for each other: If you, like me, have been sitting at home wondering what’s going on in Daryl’s psyche, fellow Pipe Wrench reader Kelly has your back.

Serpents are powerful symbols for communities all around the world, as I learned from the chapter of the book on Jungian dream analysis and the archetypal serpent that Kelly photographed and emailed me. Some (i.e., the author of the text), might say that they are the “chthonic, most primitive form of energy both inside and outside ourselves,” explaining further that “the capacity of the serpent to inspire awe, dread, and wariness is common to all human communities, and its ability to shed its old skin and replace it has led to its universal association with the ideas of resurrection, immortality, and the continuation of life.”

A+ use of the delightfully spelled and criminally underused word “chthonic,” but I needed the Snake Dreams for Dummies version that you’ll be happy to know lives online at because why wouldn’t it, where they helpfully break things down depending on the shenanigans your dream-snakes are up to. Here’s an incomplete list:

  • When you are fighting with a snake, it means that you are resisting a change or struggling with a decision or feelings in your waking life. It may represent a power struggle in your intimate relationship or at work.
  • Being chased by a snake means that you are facing an intimidating situation in your life that is haunting you. Emotions that you have not dealt with are coming back at you.
  • If the snake spits its venom at you, it suggests that there’s a negative influence in your life that’s difficult to handle. It may represent a “poisonous” relationship or negative words or rumors around you.
  • If you have a dialog or if the snake talks in your dream, it signifies that your potentials are being realized and your opening up to new possibilities in life.

In Daryl’s dream, I introduced the snakes into his home environment, but then they were either catatonic or roaming his house willy-nilly, neither of which was an option on the snake dream interpretation chart. So I’m forced to go off-label, relying on my newfound understanding of the chthonic, and conclude that I function as a reminder for Daryl of a suppressed source of tension, probably related to his simultaneous fear of writing and desire to write; or that Daryl’s house is haunted by ghost snakes and his subconscious is trying to tell him to do some smudging; or that Daryl had some bad fish that night and nothing means anything.

(On a related note, if any of you have recently had a dream in which you engaged in dialogue with a snake, we do need to know about that ASAP. )

But the real moral of the story is that one person took the time to type out and send us a description of his snake dream, and another person — a stranger to the first — took the time to photograph an entire chapter of a book on dream interpretation and send it to us, and if that’s not the best possible sign of a flourishing community of readers, then I don’t know what is.

The week in Pipe Wrench.

  • Our issue three lineup is completely filled out, and all the conversation piece partners are sitting with and reflecting on the feature story.
  • Over 100 pigeon stickers are winging their way around the world, to adorn your personal items and/or public property. (They’re still available! As is a Pipe Wrench logo sticker. )
  • Catherine and Michelle are actively plotting ways to nurture our nascent community of readers. There are spreadsheets with color coding and weighted ranking boxes, and good things will happen in the latter half of the year.

P.S. from the Editor in Chief

I’ve been staring at this tweet a lot lately. Perhaps you would like to stare at it as well.

A tweet from Tressie McMillan Cottom that says "After age 20 or so, you everyday praxis of living should have more 'ands' and only the occasional 'but." Rately is something a case of NYZ is true BUT...  Just say and to see how your perspective changes.

Years of therapy, and she just tweets it right out.