Snake Symbolic Meaning
Symbolism of the Snake
Snake symbolic meaning, overwhelmingly and in various cultures, deals with primordial life force and usually turns our attention to gender supremacy (both male and female).
Coiled within this polarity, we clearly see symbolism of duality and the search for balance. Other snake symbolic meaning includes:
- Occult (hidden) Knowledge
- Male/Female, Yin-Yang, Duality
As a Native American Indian symbol (depending on the nation/tribe) the snake can be a masculine symbol, associated with the phallus of lightning which is considered a medicine staff of tremendous assertive power. Other tribes lean in the direction of feminine attribution for the snake and pair it with mothering (creation), and lunar (moon) symbolism.
Whether raising itself in masculine authority, or encircling the Earth in a motherly fashion the snake symbol of the Native American’s was highly regarded; utilized in ritual to invoke an element of pointed focus and weighty influence.
The ancient Celts were extremely nature-wise too, and approached snake symbolism from the behavior and life cycle of this magnificent creature. From the Celtic perspective, the snake was a symbol of secret knowledge, cunning and transformation.
Further, the snake Celtic symbol comes from observations of the European viper (also known as the adder) which is the only (along with the common grass snake) species able to tolerate the colder climate of the ancient Celts.
In the keen Celtic mind, snake symbolic meaning of transformation came from the shedding of its skin. Physical evidence of leaving its form behind (casting off the old self), and emerging a sleeker, newer version made the snake a powerful symbol of rebirth and renewal.
As far as the occult (hidden) symbolic meaning in Celtic and other cultures, this can be connected to the sleuth-like ways of the snake.
Disappearing in colder months and summoned by the sun marks the snake’s connection to the shadow worlds with its successful ability to live within the dark realms for extended periods of time. Alternatively, the snake softly moves into the embrace of the sun, and so it encapsulates the ancient magician’s creed of moving in perfect rhythm of natural forces.
In Eastern Indian myth the Sanskrit word for snake is naga and these are associated with the element of water. Picking up water’s symbolism of emotion, love and motion, nagas in this light are considered a feminine aspect and embody nurturing, benevolent, wise qualities.
To wit, the practice of nagayuna in Eastern Indian alchemy seeks to achieve loving harmony between the physical and ethereal. Simply put, all of us striving to better ourselves by calmly easing into places of personal balance within the cosmic balance of the whole are practicing this ancient technique.
Snake tattoo symbolism varies according to the bearer of the mark. For example, I have a back piece depicting two serpents (nagas) wrapped around the seven prime chakras down the length of my spine. This (to me) incorporates the kundalini power available to all humans.
Additionally, this entwined snake imagery hearkens to the caduceus, in which the staves of Asclepius are made of two polar (and copulating) serpents which symbolizes balance, equanimity, union and regeneration.
Double snakes are common in almost all cultural symbolic languages. Ultimately the double snake is an icon representing:
- Connection between primal forces
- Integration of opposites
- Advanced communication
- Joining together on a divine level
- Making whole what was once fragmented and doing so in a magical, organic way.
Carrying this dual snake imagery a step further, we could look to the language of science. Observe the formation of DNA and how it forms a perfect, serpentine double helix (shown left). This prompts us to consider how the energetic mind is connectedto the grander whole, and how it so effortlessly makes graceful connections between the basic building blocks of data with the manifestations of the natural world.
There is no doubt, the snake is a unifying force embodying infinite messages to those who are energetically available to perceive them. Alchemists understood this, and thus incorporated the philosophy of snakes in their grimoires, practices, and even their daily life.
As an animal totem, the snake surfaces into our awareness with all the power of the symbolic attributes listed on this page (and more). Those who are drawn to the snake (and vice versa) are gifted at perceiving life through an uncommon lens. Other characteristics of those who are connected to snake energy include:
- A natural ability to balance energies (you’re likely a gifted healer)
- Diplomatic and eloquent in areas of speech and writing
- Dynamically intuitive (often knowing other’s thoughts and emotional states without trying)
- Impulsive, but not without careful consideration. This may sound paradoxical, but those with the snake totem know what I mean here.
I invite you to step into the calming energy of the snake, and see what this noble creature offers you in the form of messages, growth, and enlightenment.
Further, it should be understood this page is but a miniscule sampling of the diverse snake symbolic meaning s available to us. Therefore, I encourage you to slither into your own personal ruminations, research and meditation of the snake.