Yesterday I pulled 3 cards that all depicted snakes. Two were tarot cards from The Wildwood Tarot and one was from a self-published oracle deck called Tarot in Thyme.
Two days earlier I pulled one of the same tarot cards and being an aware and perceptive person *snortle* I have picked up on this cunning subtlety and read up on Snake totems or medicine.
Goddess alive, I love snakes.
Snakes have been revered in many cultures across the world including the Native Americans of North & South America, India, Greece, Egypt, Europe and it is one of the 12 animals of the Chinese calendar.
Snakes have a very dualistic nature and often bridge the gap between solar and lunar energies, fire and water. Whilst snakes tend to be closely associated with Goddesses they also have links with Gods. Shiva wore snakes as bracelets and Cernunnos is depicted holding a snake aloft. Snakes are fire animals which link them with solar energies but they are also strongly linked to the underworld which has lunar energies.
Snakes do not blink and this leads to what can be described as a hypnotic stare. This hypnotic aspect along with their perceived ability to enter a trance, especially before they start to shed their skin, ties very much to their aspect of inner knowing and to the Chinese aspect of clairvoyance in snake people. They also have a heightened sense of smell, and this, along with their sight, suggests strong discernment in seeing past the apparent appearance of something or someone to what is actually there or for sniffing out the truth.
The Snake is a very complex totem pulling together traits of wisdom, healing, sexuality, death and rebirth & guardianship. It is symbolic of both male and female, God and Goddess.
Briefly, otherwise this could go on for quite a while…
The snake is seen as a symbol of wisdom in Greece and Egypt. In Egypt, head-dresses were worn depicting snakes that sat out at the third eye area of the forehead, these were called Uraeus. The Uraeus represented inner or extra sight and as worn by initiates indicated wisdom, understanding and knowing. These were also versions of the Eye of Horus or the Eye of Ra. I have mentioned before that I had always associated snakes with Crone energy and this is typified by wisdom. Kundalini, the eastern representation of enlightened energy is depicted as a snake coiled at the base of the spine that rises up as we develop and interacts with our energy centres opening us up to different levels of experience and knowledge.
The most common symbol of healing is the Caduceus or the staff of Hermes. This symbol is 2 snakes entwined around his staff or rod. Healing and medicine were closely married with alchemy and transmutation. For some Native American societies, snake ceremonies involved transmuting poison from bites. This seems a bit extreme but being able to survive the bites and transmute the poison out of the body was seen as an ability to transmute “all poisons” within and without. It basically activated a kill or cure energy that could lead to all sorts of healing.
In Cumbria, there are stone carvings of snakes with eggs in their mouths and this instantly calls to mind sperm and ova. Some of these carvings are centuries old and highlight the sacred and essential role procreation played in society. Snakes are also phallic symbols and tend to be sacred to various Goddesses and they are an essential aspect of creation.
Death and rebirth:
Transformation is maybe one of the most obvious things known about snakes; their ability to shed their old skins and emerge with new ones. Snakes were thought to have strong links to the underworld, the domain of death. It was thought that the underworld was where they went when they vanished into deep dark places. When they return to the world, they shed their old skin and are re-born with the new. This cycle of life and death and rebirth, which began with their sexual, life giving energy is shown in the symbol of the Ouroborus, the snake eating its tail which is a symbol of eternity.
Snakes were sacred to the Celtic goddess Brighid, the goddess of wells, water and fire. Snakes were thought to curl up in the wells and protect them. Snakes also guarded the tree that the Golden Fleece was hung on to keep it from being stolen. Snakes are closely related to their cousins the Dragon in this respect.
Snake people are considered to be wise, philosophical, organized, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive, compassionate, charming and clairvoyant
I hope you found this as interesting as I did and I shall be looking further into snake medicine as well as some of the other symbols mentioned such as the Uraeus and Ouroborus.