The Serpent is one of the oldest mythological figures in the world. From their connotations with healing, medicine, and power, to their darker associations with death and evil, the symbolic interpretations of the serpent are vast.
Serpent symbolism has its origins in both Eastern and Western cultures and is present as far back as Ancient Egypt and in religious texts such as the Bible.
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Serpent Spirit Animal
The serpent is a powerful indicator of transformation, growth, and change as a spirit animal. Snakes must shed their skin to grow – few animals go through such a complex, transformative process in their lifetime. This makes the snake a compelling symbol for periods of spiritual transformation.
If the snake appears as your spirit animal, prepare to expand your mind and consciousness to examine and embrace the many meanings the serpent may represent to you.
Although the snake is a powerful indicator of spiritual transformation, it can also have several other connotations as a spirit animal. These include:
- Spirit may be asking you to pay close attention to where you’re using your energy. Energy is sacred – if you’re pouring this into unfruitful areas of your life, the snake may symbolize the need to be more attentive to your outpourings of energy.
- Awaken your healing abilities. Snakes link to healing, and they are symbol of healing for centuries. You may have the power to influence positive physical or emotional change within yourself or other people, and the snake as your spirit animal may be asking you to connect closer with this ability.
- You should connect with yourself and develop your self-awareness. As a spirit animal, the snake always appears at times of growth and transformation. You may need to open up your mind and expand your awareness to understand who you really are. Embrace your individuality and pursue your own happiness, rather than living for other people.
Serpent Totem Animal
Many cultures believe that a totem animal is an animal spirit guide that stays with you physically and spiritually to support you through life.
Once you’ve identified your totem animal, you can call upon it in times of trouble or transformation to help you through the process.
Many people practice meditation to discover and call upon their totem animal. Often, asking the universe to reveal your totem animal to you when you’re in a deep meditative state can be successful.
Others choose to examine any animal connections in their lineage, look at their dreams for any recurring animals, or make a note of any animals they feel drawn to.
It’s a rarity to discover the serpent as your totem animal. However, if you are the kind of individual who connects with the serpent this could suggest a number of things, including:
- You’re sensitive to most energies
- You’ve had a near-death experience (as a totem, the serpent often appears to people who have been close to death)
- You’re entering a new cycle in your life
- If you need help, are struggling mentally or physically, or going through a spiritual transformation, the serpent may appear to ask you to shed off your troubles, whether they be habits, ideas, or people.
Serpent Power Animal
A power animal is like a mirror. It’s a reflection of the most prominent characteristics that a person embodies. Therefore, an individual’s power animal will embody a set of features most closely associated with a person.
In mythology and spirituality, the serpent has many powerful connotations. The Greeks believed that the universe first began as a snake wrapped around an egg. The God of healing, Asclepius, used the blood from the snakes on Medusa’s head to cure many illnesses.
In Rome, thousands celebrated and worshipped Glykon, the snake God. Many women used to wear snake jewelry to offer protection and promote fertility. These qualities, which range from feminine power, healing, and rebirth, translate into the meanings of the snake as a power animal.
If the snake is your power animal, you are probably going through a transformation and will share many parallels with the snake, including:
- You are captivating or charming like the snake. You are also mysterious or intense
- Intuitive and able to pick up what other people are thinking or feeling
- You may be a smooth talker or able to ‘slither’ in and out of a conversation with ease
- Also, you could be physically flexible or emotionally flexible and open-minded
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Serpent Native American Symbolism
In Native America, many tribes, such as the Pueblo tribe, interpreted the snake as a symbol of fertility. Many tribes performed rituals involving snakes with the belief that the snake would offer tribe members protection when out hunting and hiking.
Some Native Americans would even carry the tails of rattlesnakes in their amulet bags to protect them. This is because they believe rattles have incredible medicinal healing powers!
Serpent Celtic Symbolism
To the Celts, serpents held a compelling, symbolic meaning. The Ancient Celts believed that serpents were the bearers of the world’s secrets and wisdom. This gave serpents the name of the ‘Earth’s Healer’. This was part of the practice that taught the celts the cycles of the earth.
The Celtic people taught that animals and creatures came to earth as teachers to explain how the human race can live in harmony with the elements, plants, and animals around us.
Snakes also appeared as the symbol for many Celtic tribes. The snake meant different things for different tribes, but it usually had one of the most common meanings, including protection, renewal, or transformation.
The Celtic snake, when in a coiled position, used on the ancient coat of arms, indicates that people were ready to battle.
Serpent Christianity Symbolism
For Christians, serpents usually had a more sinister meaning. In the Bible, snakes frequently appeared to symbolize an enemy, Satan, or describe unfavorable qualities or characteristics.
One of the most famous examples is in Genesis 3, where a serpent tempted Adam and Eve into the garden of Eden. They eventually give into sin with the influence of the serpent.
Jesus and John, the “brood of vipers” and “snakes,” also condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees
Many says that dreams offer a unique insight into our subconscious mind, including our fears and desires. The symbology of dreams is diverse and complex. However, if the serpent appears in your dreams, it could mean one of the following things:
- The serpent could represent the presence of someone in your life who is toxic
- The serpent could represent a health issue
- It could also be alerting you to the presence of something dangerous in your life that you may not have realized yet
Serpent dreams aren’t always so easy to interpret. The symbolism can depend on the scenario in which the serpent appears. Let’s take a closer look at a few examples below.
Dreams of Multiple Snakes
Sometimes, the number of snakes present in your dream can have a deeper meaning. For example, as snakes most commonly symbolize toxicity or health issues in the dream state, multiple snakes could represent multiple toxic people, multiple health issues, or multiple hardships in your life.
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Dreams of Snake Bites
If you dream of a snake bite, your dream is most likely to be about other people in your life rather than you. Snake bites are venomous and toxic. However, the snake bites in a dream are slightly different.
Dreaming of a snake bite could represent healing or transformation. If a snake has bitten you in your dream, ask yourself if you’ve been confronting, or healing from, any physical or emotional stress.
Sexual Dreams Involving Snakes
Serpents are also symbols of sexual and sensual energy. If you’ve had a sexual dream involving snakes, you may have an evolving love interest in your life.
Serpent Tattoo Meaning
The art of tattooing dates back thousands of years. Some theories believe the practice started as early as 3370 BC and 3100 BC. Since the practice first began, serpents have been a popular choice of tattoo.
The serpent has many symbolic meanings, so the meaning behind a serpent tattoo is different for everyone. Here are the most common meanings behind a snake tattoo:
- An emotional or physical transformation
- Temptation or Sin
It’s also important to remember that there are many different types of snakes across the world. Each snake can have different meanings or connotations depending on its country of origin or the most commonly associated cultures.
These meanings can also influence the symbolism behind a snake tattoo, especially if the tattoo is of a specific type of snake, such as a rattlesnake or a boa constrictor. So let’s explore some of the most popular snakes in the world and the symbolism associated with each one below.
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Rattlesnakes are large, venomous snakes that belong to the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus of the Crotalinae (or pit of vipers). There are 24 species, which can be found in the Western Hemisphere – from mountains to plains and deserts.
They’re known for the triangular heads, heavy bodies, and ‘rattle’ located at the end of their tails. This makes a sound when it vibrates to deter predators.
Rattlesnakes often indicates of potency and fertility. They’re also incredibly stealthy predators, as well as protectors. Their venom can kill a human in a matter of minutes, and their power is unparalleled.
This can make the rattlesnake tattoo a popular symbol of confidence, power, authority, or even protection.
The cobra is a name describing several venomous elapid snakes. All cobras are venomous and live in many different places, including China, Indonesia, The USA, the Philippines, and more. Although they prefer hot and tropical areas, they also settles in savannahs.
Snake charmers favors cobras. They can lift their heads high above ground when they feel threatened. Further, some cobras can even spray their venom and cause blindness in their victims. Meanwhile, the bite of a King Cobra is so powerful that it could kill up to 20 people, or an elephant, in minutes.
Therefore, cobras are widely recognized as one of the most dangerous members of the serpent family, and they have been the symbols of leaders and spiritual figureheads for hundreds of years. Cobra tattoos symbolize wisdom, strength, evil, intuition, or even cunning.
Pythons are nonvenomous snakes usually found in Australia, Asia, and Africa. Pythons, like most snakes, don’t chase their prey. People know them as ambush hunters. Thus, they use their sight and smell to pinpoint the location of their victims.
Pythons also have a unique advantage. They have holes along their jaws that are temperature sensitive. These holes or ‘pits’ help the python locate the heat of a nearby animal, so they can find prey even in the toughest of conditions.
The Python may not be venomous, but it is still incredibly slick. Thus, its incredible senses make it a fearful predator.
Some people may get a python tattoo to symbolize their own sense of intuition, especially if they’re sensitive to other people’s energies. They may also incorporate the python into a darker tattoo to represent evil.
Serpent Spiritual Meaning
Whether you love them or hate them, serpents have collected several symbolic meanings throughout different cultures across the world.
Understanding the spiritual meanings of the serpent can help us explore the human consciousness on a deeper level. The most common spiritual meanings of serpents are listed below:
- Our higher consciousness: In Hindu and Buddhism, the seven-headed serpent represents enlightenment
- Evil spirit – The serpent also represents the four elements (earth, air, water, and fire). The fifth element of spirit (or evil spirit) can appear when these elements are combined.
- The Pingala and Ida of the Kundalini Energy (the male and female energies that travel up the human spinal column)
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Serpent in Astrology & Zodiac Signs
In astrology, snakes are a symbol of wisdom. In the Chinese zodiac, the year of the snake is the sixth in the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac sign. The years of the snake include the following:
In the Chinese zodiac, the snake is known for its mystery and wisdom. It’s said that people born in the year of the snake are intuitive and remain private. They’re likely to be deep thinkers with an alluring personality and a physically attractive appearance.
Although they may be quiet, they’re determined to succeed in their life and will remain loyal to their morals and goals.
African & Greek Myth & Symbolic Meanings
In African cultures, serpents have primarily positive connotations. In several parts of West Africa, serpents are used as symbols of the earth. Snakes are always close to the ground, which has also made them symbols of the underworld, wisdom, rebirth, and even immortality.
Serpents frequently appear in Greek mythology. Just look at the Gorgons, like Medusa – these were snake-women whose gazes could turn people to stone. Instead of hair, they had serpents on their heads, sharp teeth, scales, and long claws.
Despite these negative connotations, serpents also had some positive meanings in Greek mythology. Snakes were considered sacred to Asclepius, the god of medicine.
Asclepius is famously recognized for carrying a staff with serpents wrapped around it. This even became a popular symbol for modern physicians and helped serpents earth their status as symbols of healing and transformation.
Australian Serpent Symbolism
The Rainbow Serpent made up an essential part of the philosophies praised and followed by the Aboriginal people across Australia.
It’s a popular image found in Aboriginal art, and it depicts the shape of a rainbow and a snake. The rainbow serpent is an immortal being and god of creation to the aboriginals.
The Rainbow Serpent is used to represent the cyclical nature of the seasons and the significance of these on the human experience.
In Aboriginal culture, it’s said that a rainbow in the sky signifies the rainbow serpent traveling between waterholes. This is supposed to explain why some waterholes never cease to hold water, even in drought.
Serpent Symbolic Meanings
Now that we’ve explored some of the spiritual, astrological, and dream meanings of the serpent, let’s look closely at its symbolic importance.
In Cambodia, many stone sculptures of hooded, multi-headed nagas can be found at Angkor. They’re used as guardians to protect temples and other sacred spaces.
The Gadsden flag of the American Revolution boasts a rattlesnake positioned in a defense pose, ready to attack its prey. The legend ‘don’t tread on me’ is inscribed underneath the image. The snake was used to represent the colonists and to symbolize their separation from Europe.
Rebirth and Fertility
Serpents have represented fertility for thousands of years because of their ability to shed their skin. Just take a look at the ouroboros, an ancient symbol that depicts a serpent eating its own tail.
This symbol has origins in Ancient Egyptian iconography and Greek magical tradition. It’s often interpreted as a symbol for fertility in some religions due to the tail being a phallic symbol and the mouth being somewhat womb-like in appearance.
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If serpents appear frequently in your dream state or physical world, you’re probably an intuitive or emotionally complex person.
You may be on the brink of a spiritual transformation, and with the divine guidance of the serpent, you can learn how to protect your energy, improve your self-awareness, and stay true to yourself.
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