Before shedding, the eyes of Snake become cloudy, representing a moment of inner reflection before coiling into a new place of power.
There are almost 3,000 different species of Snake on Earth, from the tiny African Thread Snake to the massive Anaconda. Only 10 percent are venomous. Snake evolved from Lizard over ninety million years ago, losing its legs in the process. It is found in many habitats. Snake’s tongue is an important sensory tool that helps it find food and mates. It has an excellent sense of smell and touch, but poor eyesight. As a cold-blooded reptile, Snake must adjust to the external temperature to regulate its internal temperature, so it will seek cool areas on hot days or bask in the warm Sun on cooler days. In the winter, it hibernates.
Snake sheds its skin up to six times per year. Many cultures see this as a sign of immortality as Snake continually emerges as a new being. Ouroboros, the symbol of a snake eating its own tail, has many meanings: the cycle of life and death, infinity, wholeness, creation, and the encircling of the world in unity. The more repressive religions and belief systems have linked snake to evil which stops at a level of ignorance about its rich and full history of symbolism.
The ancient Egyptians saw Snake as possessing healing abilities. Offerings were made to the goddess Wadjet, the patron of Lower Egypt, in the hopes that her good will would be manifested. The pharaoh wore the image of a Cobra head on his diadem—a uraeus—symbolizing that he embodied Cobra’s powers. Nehebkau, a double-headed benevolent Snake god, was linked to the Sun. It was said that he protected souls both in life and in the afterlife.
The ancient Sumerians also saw Snake as a symbol of healing and depicted its importance in the caduceus. An icon of medicine to this day, it shows two Snakes intertwined around a staff with wings. The Snakes represent the nervous system; the staff is symbolic the spinal cord; and the wings denote the two hemispheres of the brain, with the center representing the pineal gland—or third eye. At the Temple of Asclepius in ancient Greece stories were told of Snake crawling across the bodies of sick people during the night and licking them back to life or curing deafness or blindness.
In the traditions of yoga, dating back anywhere from 5,000–10,000 years in India, Snake is emblematic of the nature of the kundalini energy that lies asleep in the human sacrum, near the tailbone. In the process of awakening, this energy rises through the subtle body via the nerve currents of the spine, passing through the chakras until it arrives at the crown producing ecstasy and transformation. The Snake on the left is the ida, a channel for feminine prana (life force) or Shakti energy. The Snake on the right is the pingala, a channel for masculine prana or Shiva energy. The central channel (like the staff of the caduceus) is the sushumna. Full enlightenment, according to some sources, is when Shakti has risen to meet Shiva. Some Indian myths portray their god Shiva, the destroyer or transformer, with a cobra on his head and another on his shoulder, ready to take on any enemies.
In almost all world cultures, Snake is seen as the guardian of the Lower World and a messenger to the Upper World, a figure able to slither through the cracks between cosmic dimensions. African and Australian tribespeople alike revere Rainbow Snake, believing it gave birth to all other animals. Rainbow Snake is also believed to have created all the waterways on the planet. Many tribes believe a race of Snake people who are half-human, half-snake live below the surface of the Earth, and they tell mythical stories of shamans traveling to this underground world. They see Snake as a wisdom keeper, perhaps because Snake takes its time to evaluate if it should strike. To them, Snake is an umbilical cord that connects humanity to Mother Earth.
One of the most important ancient Mesoamerican gods was the feathered serpent the Aztecs called Quetzalcoatl, god of wind, air, and learning. The Mayans called this same deity Kukulkan. According to the legends of their descendants, he once appeared in the form of a human and was known to have brought advanced knowledge to the people. It is said that when he died, he became the star of Venus.
In North America, the Hopi view Snake as a symbol of fertility. Their traditional annual Snake dance is done to celebrate the union of the male Snake sky spirit with the female Snake Earth spirit in the hope of revitalizing and fertilizing plants in the high desert where they live. Live Snakes that are part of the ceremony are then released into the fields to ensure abundant crops.
As a Power Animal, Snake is the companion to our higher consciousness, allowing hidden knowledge to be born. The egg of Snake is a symbol of the union of masculine and feminine energy in the material world. When the egg hatches, you may expect a powerful creative explosion to occur. As we mature emotionally and spiritually, the energy of snake arises and begins to move through our chakra system stimulating the emotional, mental and spiritual centers. This flow of energy is a symbol of good health.
Just as Snake sheds its skin, we must periodically shed our old ideas and allow our minds to experience new perceptions. This is the moment of its alignment with the frequency of the Earth, enabling it to enter the field of manifestation. Snake reminds us of the illusion and limitation of cloaking ourselves in a stifled view of life. To be enlightened we must leave the old self. This can be a monumental task for many as our lives become habits that we often struggle to let go of. Sometimes it means a dramatic spiritual awakening to break through the chains that bind us.
The dark side of snake symbolism can mean a cold blooded and heartless behavior. It can also be deceitful not revealing its true feelings and instead coiling up and then striking out at what may seem a very random time. It can also be the greedy side of your personality that takes over and causes you to be toxic or poisonous towards others in an attempt to get more than you really deserve or are worth. Snake can also be a catalyst for a venomous mindset where you come from your darkest shadows and conjure up hatred and are vindictive, always wanting to seek revenge. So if Snake is coming forward for you in this way, pay attention to where you may be taking on these characteristics and then embrace it for its healing potential.