The Serpent

I grew up Christian, so the serpent was considered the devil’s pet of choice, if not the devil himself.

That notion started to unravel when I learned in what esteem other cultures and religions held the snake. The ancient Aztecs of Central America worshiped it as a life force. The Australian Aborigines associated it with the creation of life. In India, important people were believed to come back as cobras. Greek mythology has given us our medical symbol of two snakes wrapped around a staff. The serpent symbolized feminine wisdom, healing, initiation, and renewal.

It had a pretty good reputation before Genesis.

The subversive nature of Christianity strongly appeals to me. The last will be first; the first will be last. The meek will inherit the earth. God in human form. Love your enemies. Its way of undermining the powers that be. The religion managed to take a despised symbol like the crucifix and transform it into something held dear and sacred. Consider how dramatically subversive it would be to turn the image of a noose or the electric chair into an icon worthy of worship.

I just wish it didn’t do the same inversion on the symbol of the serpent. The writers and editors of Genesis must have been aware of what it signified. Is it possible that they re-cast the serpent as the bad guy to smear the competition?

The Ouroboros ring designed and made by Tina Tang. I love this ring. I asked Tina, why the snake? She said that it was known as the protector of sacred spaces.

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Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting! When can we take Sue Monk Kidd to lunch?

    • The dream lunch date!


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