Rainbow Snake

Rainbow Snake : In Australian mythology, name of the gigantic snake whose body arches across the sky as the rainbow. Known as Taipan among the Wikmunkan people, he is associated with the gift of blood to humankind, controlling the circulation of the blood as well as the menstrual cycle of women. Looked on as a great healer, Taipan demands that his sexual laws and customs be followed. His anger at the breaking of any of them is expressed by thunder and lightning. Medicine men and rain makers invoke Taipan by using quartz crystal and seashells in their rituals. Called Julunggul among the people of the eastern Arnhem Land, the Rainbow Snake is believed to swallow young boys and later vomit them up. This is symbolic of their rebirth, or the transition from youth to manhood. Known as Kunmanggur in a myth told by the Murinbata of the northwest of the Northern Territory to W. Stanner, the Rainbow Snake is either bisexual or a woman. Sometimes he is described as a male but is portrayed with female breasts. Other names by which the Rainbow Snake is known in Australia are Galeru, Ungur, Wonungur, Worombi, Wonambi, Wollunqua, Yurlunggur, Langal, Muit, and Yero.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante