Symbol of transformation, rebirth, healing, immortality, passion, fertility, rain, storms guardians, evil, metamorphosis, charm.

The serpent is one of the oldest mythological figures. It has origins in Eastern and Western cultures. Serpents themselves were considered to be immortal as they regained new life after shedding their skin. People born under the snake symbol in China are expected to lead charmed lives. Snakes can symbolize the umbilical cord tying Mother Earth to humans. Serpents appear as symbols in many different cultures and have just as many different meanings to each culture.

Serpents appeared in Neo Sumerian and Sumerian artwork. Istaran is the snake god of a city in Sumeria. He was the god who oversaw border disputes during that time. The snake represents Nirah, Istararn’s minister. His symbol appeared on boundary stones. The Egyptian God Atum was said to have the appearance of a snake and was reborn every morning by shedding his skin. Wadjet who took the form of an Egyptian cobra protected lower Egypt and women in childbirth. The goddess Wadjet was pictured as the crown of Egypt.

Serpent

Certain types of snakes themselves are symbolic in different cultures. The horned viper snake was considered a protective and magical entity in Assyrian texts. Akkadian was a dragon-like creature with the neck and body of a snake. This symbol was considered a protective symbol. Akkadian was the attendant of the underworld and then became an attendant to the storm god. Akkadian was also an attendant to Marduk, Ningishzida, Nabu, and Ashur. In Africa snakes symbolized reincarnation. They believed that snakes were their relatives. Nenaunir was an African rainbow snake god. Nenaunir symbolized evil storms. In prehistoric Iran, snakes were worshiped and symbolized water, wealth, and fertility. The symbolism shifted later. Snakes later symbolized sexual desire and evil. There was also a Rainbow Snake God associated with Australia and the Aborigines. Their Rainbow Snake God can be destructive or a giver of life. In Native American culture, the kingsnake was associated with healing. Celts view snakes as gatekeepers to the other world. In the Mayan culture, snakes are symbols of metamorphosis. In India the cobra is sacred. It is a symbol of power.

Serpents have also traditionally been associated with trees of life in different religions and cultures. Christianity portrays the serpent who tempted Eve as evil. There was a serpent in the Garden of Eden who tested Eve and gave her the apple from the tree of life which led to the downfall of the garden and the casting out of Adam and Eve. The serpent had promised Eve great things would happen if she gave the apple to Adam. The serpent lied to Eve and Adam blamed Eve for the downfall. In Greek tradition, Ladon twirled around a tree to guard the golden apples in the Garden of Hesperides. Ladon was a serpent-like dragon. He was slain by Heracles. Mayans worshiped a Vision Serpent who was associated with the World Tree. The Vision Serpent served as a gateway to the spiritual world. Their main god Qutzailcoatl was depicted as a serpent. Mayans also believed that serpents carried the sun and moon across the sky and were reborn when they shed their skin. In the Buddhist tradition, the Buddha was meditating under the Bodhi tree and got into a deep meditative trance. Mucalinda the snake king arose from the ground and shielded the Buddha for seven days allowing the Buddha to stay in his deep meditative state.

When a serpent is depicted biting its tail it is usually a representation of the renewal of life and eternity. The ouroboros serpent is an ancient Egyptian symbol meaning “All in all.” It is a serpent depicted in circular form eating its tail. This symbol has appeared in Egyptian texts relating to the underworld where ouroboros symbolizes the cycle of life and death. Ouroboros has also appeared surrounding the world symbolizing the world’s renewal. Ouroboros also appeared on magical talisman in Roman times symbolizing a cyclical nature. The symbol also appears in Norse Mythology. There the serpent is known as Jormungandr or the World Serpent. The World Serpent surrounds the globe biting its tail. When it releases its tail Ragnarok will begin. The World Serpent represents the earth’s destruction. Some South Americans believe that an anaconda surrounds the earth biting its tail. Quetzalcoatl is the feathered serpent deity who is associated with the cosmos, particularly the Milky Way. Dahn was one of the African rainbow snake gods. Dahn was depicted with his tail inside his mouth symbolizing unity and wholeness.

Serpents have also been associated with feminine and masculine symbols. The snake represents the phallus and assertive power while it can also represent fertility and a creative life force. Serpents were familiars to the Great Goddess, the goddess of all. A serpent is the symbol for kundalini, the divine creative feminine power. It is also known as Shakti energy. The serpent is coiled up and sleeping at the base of the spine waiting to be called to join the masculine and feminine entities. In Greek culture, the snake is associated with the Goddess of the moon and fertility.

Sometimes two snakes appear intertwined. The intertwined snakes are symbols of fertility and healing. There was an intertwined snake symbol during the Sumerian period that was later found carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The Sumerian god Ningishzida was represented by intertwined snakes, which was called a caduceus. He was a god of vegetation. The Roman god Mercury also carried a caduceus. This intertwined symbol is used by the United States as a symbol of medicine in modern times.

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