Serpent Symbolism

This figure is taken from a Mesopotamian seal of c. 2200 B.C. and shows "the deity in human form, enthroned, with his caduceus emblem behind and a fire altar before."9 The symbol of this Serpent Lord was none other than a double helix. The similarity with the representation of DNA was unmistakable!

I feverishly paged through Campbells books and found twisted serpents in most images representing sacred scenes. Campbell writes about this omnipresent snake symbolism: "Throughout the material in the Primitive, Oriental and Occidental volumes of this work, myths and rites of the serpent frequently appear, and in a remarkably consistent symbolic sense. Wherever nature is revered as self-moving, and so inherently divine, the serpent is revered as symbolic of its divine life."10

In Campbell's work I discovered a stunning number of creator gods represented in the form of a cosmic serpent, not only in Amazonia, Mexico, and Australia, but in Sumer, Egypt, Persia, India, the Pacific, Crete, Greece, and Scandinavia.

To check these facts, I consulted my French-language Dictionary of symbols under "serpent." I read: "It makes light of the sexes, and of the opposition of contraries; it is female and male too, a twin to itself, like so many of the important creator gods who are always, in their first representation, cosmic serpents. . . . Thus, the visible snake appears as merely the brief incarnation of a Great Invisible Serpent, which is causal and timeless, a master of the vital principle and of all the forces of nature. It is a primary old god found at the beginning of all cosmogonies, before monotheism and reason toppled it" (original italics).11

Campbell dwells on two crucial turning points for the cosmic serpent in world mythology. The first occurs "in the context of the patriarchy of the Iron Age Hebrews of the first millennium B.C., [where] the mythology adopted from the earlier neolithic and Bronze Age civilizations . . . became inverted, to render an argument just the opposite to that of its origin." In the Judeo-Christian creation story told in the first book of the Bible, one finds elements which are common to so many of the world's creation myths: the serpent, the tree, and the twin beings; but for the first time, the serpent, "who had been revered in the Levant for at least seven thousand years before the composition of the Book of Genesis," plays the part of the villain. Yahweh, who replaces it in the role of the creator, ends up defeating "the serpent of the cosmic sea, Leviathan."

For Campbell, the second turning point occurs in Greek mythology, where Zeus was initially represented as a serpent; but around 500 B.C., the myths are changed, and Zeus becomes a serpent-killer. He secures the reign of the patriarchal gods of Mount Olympus by defeating Typhon, the enormous serpent-monster who is the child of the earth goddess Gaia and the incarnation of the forces of nature. Typhon "was so large that his head often knocked against the stars and his arms could extend from sunrise to sunset." In order to defeat Typhon, Zeus can count only on the help of Athene, "Reason," because all the other Olympians have fled in terror to Egypt."

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the origins of Knowledge., by Jeremy Narby.

Buy this book at

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up."

John 3:14

The Serpent is the symbol of the Mother Goddess... Mother Nature, evolution. Kundalites often dream of snakes, and it is a positive sign of awakening. Most commonly seen in dreams and meditations are cobras, blue snakes, and black red and white striped coral snakes. Don't be afraid! The snakes are symbols of life, wisdom, and the unified consciousness of DNA.

Natural selection cannot account for all of the evolutionary process. Scientists studying natural selection have found that evolution sometimes makes unexpected leaps, mutations. There are missing links that may never be found, because it seems that sometimes Goddess skips a few steps and goes directly to a more complex form. It is like natural selection is part of the process, but it is ultimately guided by a higher consciousness that creates perfectly interdependent ecosystems. What if the higher consciousness of this planet is a product of the collective wisdom of all DNA on the planet, working together in a unified field?

The Shamans of South America who do the ritual of the vine, say that at the beginning of life on Earth, there were these serpent creatures that were fleeing an enemy. And they came down onto the Earth, and they made all of the forms of life on Earth to have a place to hide themselves, and that was the beginning of creation.

These serpent creatures are your own DNA strands. Packed very tightly into every cell of your body is your DNA, and it is the blueprint that makes YOU. Scientists think that there's a lot of junk DNA along the chain that doesn't have any purpose. What scientists think is your dormant DNA is actually a multiple redundancy system. Encoded into that system is all of your vast potential for miracles. Some DNA is silent, and Kundalini can reawaken that DNA.

Kundalini is the Fire Serpent, you can think of the Fire Serpent as the spirit of DNA. DNA emits light like a telsa coil emits electricity.

Between the DNA of me, and the DNA of a plant, and the DNA of an oyster, there's not a hell of a lot of difference. It is through our DNA, through that piezio-electrical, vibrational exchange going on inside of us, we are unified with all other life on this planet. The collective consciousness of DNA.

Your DNA is a very complex mechanism. If you took all of your DNA from out of your cells, and unfolded it, unpacked it from its tightly coiled state as a double helix, it would stretch all the way to the sun and back again. Now, if you could think of something like that, a magnetic tape that stretches all the way to the sun and back again, and how much information you could put on that tape, then you're getting some limited idea of exactly how much information is available through your own DNA.

Some of that information is going to unfold as the serpents unfold. Your going to start getting information from your body that may not necessarily be in words, but it will be information. Some people who go through Kundalini actually experience memories of their grandparents, particularly on the female side. Women may get memories of being their great great grandmother. I've had memories of being my grandfather, when he was an officer.

All of this information, the double helix, that makes you the form that you are, and to a certain extent dictates the personality that you are. That is the Fire Serpent. That is the wisdom. The double helix we're unfolding here is a hologram that is reflected in every single cell of your body. That's the power of Kundalini inside of you, awake, and dancing.

An eloquent essay on the meaning of serpent symbolism. By Traveler.

I agree with Ken Wilbur, who lays out a cogent and thorough explanation in his major work, A Brief History of Everything: Our "Gods" have changed throughout time, and reflect the predominant mode of production of food. As hunter/gatherers, where males by necessity brought home most of the food, the male god predominated. As horticulture prevailed (something women did as well as men), and both sexes were equally capable, a female goddess prevailed-- the fertility was emphasized and worshipped. As agriculture came into being, (heavy plows, etc, unsuitable for women) the male god came back. Now in the information age, the female Goddess (who represents more of the connective collaborative talents needed here) is returning.

I have read that the same religions have been in place for ever. We celebrate the change of seasons; the harvest, the equinoxes, etc. Similarly there are archetypes of birth and death, sexuality, fertility, and the like. So the same holidays, the same archetypes, (like a snake) have been around forever. It is merely our interpretation of them that changes. I am sure snakes have been in people's mythology since the beginning of thought. They have been in all the mythologies I have ever seen that emerge from places where snakes live.

Genesis may be a myth that reflects the explanation the male paradigm wanted to promote when it established priority with the coming of the agricultural era. Perhaps earlier, the Garden of Eden was revered as the sacred home of the goddess. People worshipped Eden then as they do heaven today.The male dominant rulers needed to expel the rest of us from Eden so that we would focus on heaven instead.

The male dominator thinking needed to drive out the female, so it introduced the snake, and the concepts of sin and evil related to the snake.

In some religions, the snake was considered benign. It represented knowledge of the unconscious, and was a "feminine" force. So there may have been a re-writing of the archetype. The snake is now bad. DO not go inside anymore. Do not look to yourself for knowledge. Do not value the feminine, or intuition. Listen to your local priest instead, HE has a more direct connection to Mr. God!

They needed to expel us from Eden so that we would focus on heaven instead. Anyway, the point is that the snake has represented many things throughout history. Like double speak, it gets assigned political/religious meaning according to the powers that be. So it has been considered both good and evil.

Beyond this political arena exists our own archetypal response to the snake. And this is what I think is important. What do *I* feel about a snake? Experience is a better word than feel. *I* feel the snake, weaving, the universe, both particle and wave, so very elemental, very represent of both types of knowledge, integrated, a combination of dualities. This I feel is the reason the snake has a powerful effect on ME.

The snake is like the kundalini, it looks like a spine doesn't it? And the spine is the highway up the chakras. These are MY interpretations. The snake waves and weaves, almost looks like a fire flickering, doesn't it? The kundalini fire, weaving and waving up my highway, (no pun intended), carrying poison if not befriended and treated with respect. Continuous, unchanging, moving ahead, instinct, power, sexuality, undulation, duality in one, and more. The snake, so elemental, so graceful, so powerful, so deadly, so mesmerizing.....I can't look at one without being moved, usually frightened, but also fascinated. I have painted the snake many times in my k paintings, the wave attracts me deeply, as might a dancer gracefully waving to eloquent music. I have connected the wave of the snake from earth to heaven and back again, have connected two snakes to form an infinity sign, one that goes on and on, the DNA, the dance of the snake, sin and cosin, together cancelling each other out, or do they achieve oneness, totality itself?

We are blessed to live in a day when our own personal opinions, feelings, interpretations, and responses count. I know some revere the *old* doctrines, still they are ALL by nature political *and* sexist. This is neither necessarily good nor bad, just so. Just reflections of how we get our food, really.

I am open to appreciating them but I also value my own ability to feel what I feel DIRECTLY, without needing anyone else's stamp of approval. Then, in true snake fashion, wave and particle, me and you, I join what I know and experience with the beauty of what others have said too.

Best, traveler.

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This document was last modified: 26th January, 2008 , 16:07