Serpent – Snake

serpent/snake A Symbol of great power indicating change, renewal, and transformation. The serpent, or snake, is a potent archetype of psychic energy, power, dynamism, instinctual drive, and the entire process of psychic and spiritual transformation. In dreams, the snake may indicate a transformative process already underway, or it calls attention to the need to move to a new level of consciousness. In mythology, snakes are powerful magical and mystical creatures. They are universal symbols of renewal and rebirth because of their unique ability to shed their old skin for new. The OUROBOROS, the snake which forms a circle by biting its own tail, symbolizes the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The snake is a symbol of healing, which is part of the transformation process. In its carnal aspect, the snake represents a phallus and its associations of the life force, sexuality, and sensuality. As a phallic symbol, the snake often is associated with pregnancy in imagery and mythology. In dreams, such pregnancy also may refer to a state of psychic transformation: pregnant with ideas, possibilities, changes, events about to happen. As a creature which crawls along the earth and lives in holes in the ground, the snake has connections to the underworld, the unconscious, and humankind’s instinctual drives. Mythical snakes guard the sleep of both the living and the dead; thus, they are creatures at the gateway to new consciousness. The snake also is a universal companion to goddesses and thus can symbolize the feminine, the anima, the womb, the dark, intuition, emotion, and all the aspects of the Great Mother. The coils of the snake represent the cycles of manifestation: life and death, good and evil, wisdom and blind passion, light and dark, healing and poison, protection and destruction. In Alchemy, the snake is the serpens Mercurii, the MERCURY or quicksilver that represents the constant driving forward of psychic life forces: living, dying, and being reborn. The snake is the Prima Materia, the unformed and dark chaos, from which order and life spring. Alchemical art often shows the snake wearing a gold crown, gem, diadem, or light to depict its expanded spiritual consciousness, which arises from the same energy as sexuality. Snakes also are associated with WATER, the symbol of the unconscious, and TREES, the symbol of wisdom and knowledge. A snake climbing up a tree represents the process of becoming conscious or going through psychic transformation.

The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.