It is safe to say that when it comes to mythological symbols, snakes are at the highest point. Mankind’s fascination with snakes has allowed them to be important in our society. So much so that people refer to some kinds of snakes as good luck while some kinds are portrayed as bad luck.
A snake can symbolize many things, it just depends on the religion or culture or ethnicity you talk about. They also mean different things to various people.
In North America, the Hopi people view snakes as fertility symbols. According to them, the reptile can grant them good crop yields and they dedicate a special ritual and dance just for this reason. A snake can mean many things.
It can become confusing when some people refer to snakes as symbols of fertility, and protectors of our planet while others view them as evil, negative, and a bad omen altogether.
What Does Snake Symbolism Mean?
To be fair, snakes are fascinating creatures. Not only is their skin attractive, but the way they move is enticing as well. This attracts a lot of attention from people and other animals as well. Other than that, snakes also have the ability to shed their skin.
When they leave their old skin behind, people view it as rebirth. Perhaps that is why snakes are identified with immortality and regeneration symbols.
Snake symbolism, to put it simply, is using various symbols of snakes to represent ideas or qualities. Snakes are seen and treated very differently in our world. There are highs, where people worship them as Gods and lows, where they are killed on sight.
Primarily, snakes are viewed as a sign of evil. Most snakes come in dark, dull colors such as black, dark green, and dark orange, and this is seen as violent. Snakes also come in light colors, yes, but they are also seen as evil.
People of different countries and regions view snakes as a bad omen. Seeing a snake can be a sign that something bad will unfold soon. Perhaps that is why they kill it instantly to mitigate the chances of the bad omen affecting them. Also, the killers are then rewarded for ending the snake.
Furthermore, snakes are viewed as evil because they spit venom. This is one substance that has led to countless loss of lives. Be it walking in a park, a forest, or randomly stumbling upon one snake in your house. Snakes are found almost everywhere, especially in tropical regions.
Death and Misery
But snake symbolism goes further than this. Since snakes spew venom, they cause death. This is another reason why snakes symbolize death and misfortune in some cultures. On top of that, snakes can also bite people, which leads to extreme pain.
One big reason why people choose to call snakes evil is because they believe that Adam and Eve were tempted by a snake. The devil took the form of a snake and tempted Adam and Eve to try the forbidden apple. This led them to be banished from heaven on to planet Earth.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims all agree with the point above. To them, snakes are a sign of evil and also fear.
Another way people symbolize snakes is by calling them symbols for sexual energy. The idea behind this is that snakes have a phallic shape, and this makes it easier for it to be seen as a symbol for sexual energy.
Plus, during mating seasons most snakes mate in huge balls and their babies come from eggs. All of these factors combine to symbolize snakes with sexual desires.
Cobra and Rattlesnake
Perhaps, the place where snake symbolism is still practiced the most is none other than India. In fact, most of their Gods and their depictions have snakes in them. Indians even hold celebrations and events where snakes are fed milk and this shows their love for them. For Indians, snakes are godly and holy.
But even among snakes, Indians view the cobra as the most sacred. The cobra is said to be extremely venomous, and in India it is held as a totem for their common people. Among Indians, cobra is a symbol of power. Despite the fact that cobras are extremely dangerous and their venom is potent enough to kill people easily, people still worship them as God.
Plus, there is also the fact that in most Indian villages, advanced medical services are not available. This means that if someone gets bitten there by a cobra, they will likely have very less time. So they need to be rushed to the hospital soon otherwise they’re gone.
Meanwhile, Native Americans also refer to the rattlesnake as a sign of potency. According to them, the agility of a rattlesnake’s hit represents lightning. Lightning is associated with rain and this, then, links with life. So they link the rattlesnake with life.
As mentioned earlier, snakes have the ability to shed their own skin. When they leave their old skin behind, it is seen as a symbol of life and death. Another way people view snakes as a symbol of life is how a snake’s venom can be used to cure multiple problems and to make medicine as well.
Snake venom is also used as a medicine by some tribes, and that is why snakes are also seen as a symbol of life.
The discussion of snake symbolism is incomplete without the introduction of Egyptians. The Egyptian goddess Wadjet was one of the oldest deities. She was represented by a serpent goddess, and her symbol was Uraeus.
Although, the story does not have a lot of power because for Egyptians, snakes were a huge bother. In the sandy desert, snakes slithered across in fashion. This was dangerous for people since the snakes bit them and this resulted in loss of life as well.
But still, Egyptians worshipped and feared snakes. They chose a middle road, unlike most people and cultures out there.
Before Gautama Buddha reached his salvation, people tried to break his concentration. One time, during his meditation, a storm was set to divide his focus. It is said that when he was meditating, a snake shielded him from being attacked. The snake was a seven-headed Naga.
To be honest, since snakes are one of the most fascinating creatures, there are multiple symbols for them. Each symbol has a meaning and a reason why certain people choose to view it as such, and these meanings also conflict with each other. It can be a little confusing, but there is no denying the fact that snakes are nature’s way of showing her creativity.