Many people have heard of the symbolism of the snake. Whether in religious and spiritual traditions, or through emblems like the caduceus or the Ouroboros, the snake is everywhere. In this article, we will answer the question: “What does a snake symbolize ?“. After reading it, you will know all the meanings of this reptile. It will no longer have any secrets for you !
For most people, this legendary creature scares more than it attracts. However, behind this beast lies a deep meaning.
This animal was one of the first to become a real symbol. Mentioned in the Bible as an evil being, the snake has been perceived as such in the West ever since.
But afterwards, each culture has created its own symbolism of the snake. However, some meanings are identical among several populations, even if they are sometimes very distant.
Snake Spiritual Meaning
The snake symbolizes different things from a spiritual point of view, namely:
This animal also represents the cycle of life, notably through the snake’s shedding process which consists in renewing its skin throughout its life.
This meaning is repeated in the Ouroboros, the famous snake that bites its tail. This symbol evokes a circle or the number 0, and symbolizes several elements:
- The spirit
- The primordial thing
- The reconciliation of oppositions (good and evil, beginning and end, death and rebirth, disappearance and regeneration …)
- The eternity
- The creative will
- The cyclical aspect of life and the eternal return
The Ouroboros also symbolizes infinity. This is why the snake can be found in the form of the Lemniscate.
It is therefore closely linked with another well-known symbol in Chinese culture, the Ying Yang.
The fact that this animal crawls on the ground also links it closely with the earth. Its phallic form also embodies the “umbilical cord” that links Man to the Earth (Mother).
Snake Totem Meaning
The snake is intimately linked to the life force and primal energy. Many cultures revere this animal as a powerful totem that symbolizes the source of life.
When the Snake Totem manifests in your life, it indicates that great changes are coming in the near future. So be prepared for a time of transition in your life and an increase in your energy.
Generally speaking, the snake as an animal totem represents :
- Changes in your life, transformation
- Primal energy
The Snake Totem informs you of future changes in your life, whether it be spiritual, emotional or physical.
Snake as a Totem animal, symbol of healing
The snake embodies the life force. As a reptile, this animal is linked to primal instincts and unconscious drives. If the Snake Totem appears in your life, try to analyze how you use your energy.
If the snake represents a power animal or totem for you, you need to be sensitive to the healing abilities you have towards yourself or others. Take the time to cultivate your energy sources, especially as they relate to nature and the earth.
Today, as in ancient cultures, the snake is associated with healing power. Indeed, in Greek mythology, the God of Medicine (Asclepius), is represented with a snake wrapped around his staff, which has become the official emblem of medicine today.
To learn more, please read our article about the medical symbol snake.
The snake totem as a guide
The snake represents spiritual direction. If this totem appears in your life, it means that you are in a phase of transition and personal development.
It can also appear as a totem animal if you are about to explore unfamiliar terrain and need help to move forward. The snake spending most of its time on the ground can also remind you that you need to keep your feet on the ground and strengthen your foundation in order to face the future change that is coming.
Snake Symbolism in Dreams
The meaning of a snake dream can be interpreted by the colors of the animal, its actions in the dream or its nature. There are many meanings related to snakes in a dream.
We have written an article about snake dreams and their interpretations. Do not hesitate to consult it if you wish to have all the information on this subject.
The appearance of a snake in a dream is not something trivial. It usually encourages you to get rid of your habits, your negative emotions to transform yourself into a better person. Its objective is to make you understand that these changes are beneficial for you.
Every snake dream is different and has a hidden meaning. It is important to be able to interpret it in order to understand the message that your unconscious is trying to give you.
To interpret a snake dream, it is best to recognize the species present in it. Here are the different possible meanings:
- Dreaming of a Cobra: Be attentive and prepare yourself to seize unexpected opportunities.
- Dreaming of a Boa: You become too attached to the people you care about, to the point of suffocating them.
- Dreaming of a Python: You are a powerful person, but you need to contain that power so that you can use it at the right time.
- Dreaming of a Viper: This snake is a sign that you should be wary of someone around you whom you trust.
- Dreaming of a Rattlesnake: This snake encourages you to be attentive to the warnings of others.
- Dreaming of an Anaconda: You don’t have control over everything, you have to let things take care of themselves.
Most of the time, the dream does not allow for the identification of the snake. If this is your case, you can interpret it according to its behavior or physical characteristics. Here are some possible situations:
- Dream of a snake biting its tail: Remember that there is life after death, hope after failure.
- Being bitten by a snake in a dream: Your fears and worries are catching up with you.
- Dream of a snake without eyes or head: this dream warns you that danger is near but you are not aware of it.
- Dream of intertwined snakes: this dream is synonymous with confusion within you.
- Dream of a dead or wounded snake: this dream warns you that you must be careful to take the right direction in your life before it is too late.
- Dream of a coiled snake: This dream warns you that you are about to seize an opportunity that will come your way.
Two Snakes Intertwined Meaning
The representation of two coiled snakes is found in many cultures.
It can symbolize:
- The duality of opposites
- Spiritual communication
- Medicine (with the caduceus)
- Spiritual communication
- The connection between the primary forces
This symbol can also represent the DNA in the form of a double helix. It therefore embodies the connection between body and spirit.
Symbolism of the snake in different cultures
Symbolism of the snake in the Bible
The symbolism of the snake is very closely linked to the Old Testament.
We find the snake in the Book of Genesis, as a tempting animal that leads Adam and Eve to sin, convincing the latter to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (to be differentiated from the Tree of Life).
Some passages in Exodus also speak of a situation where God transforms Moses’ attribute into a snake to show him his power and superiority. In Numbers, it is Moses who attaches a bronze snake to a staff in order to heal wounds, including snake bites.
Whatever the passage, the snake is linked to the supernatural. Genesis has led most people to associate the snake with Satan. However, no ancient text has identified the Devil as a snake or as having possessed a snake. The animal simply likes to play its cunning to trick people into temptation.
Symbol of the Snake in Egypt
In the Egyptian culture, the snake was worshipped as a goddess. The latter was personified in the Uraeus, a female Cobra whose role was to protect the Pharaoh from his enemies. Moreover, the Pharaoh was only recognized thanks to the wearing of the Uraeus which gave him legitimacy.
To obtain the favors of their gods, the Egyptians wore jewels with the effigy of the Snake. Still in use today, these jewels are worn as much for their symbolism as for their beauty.
Snake symbolism in Celtic Civilization
Only a viper could withstand the cold in which the Celts lived, making it the only kind of snake they could meet. For the Celts, the snake symbolized fertilization because they tended to dig deep into the belly of the earth.
We find the snake in Cernunnos. This God who held a snake indicated that he was the master of creation, cosmic balance and fertility. This mystical creature was like the guardian of the beyond.
Snake symbolism in Pre-Columbian Civilization
Among the Maya, the snake was the most venerated animal. For them, the ability of the reptile to swallow their prey entirely was something magical, representing metamorphosis. What for us is food, is perceived as a transformation for them.
Although Ixchel is the Mayan goddess of the jaguar, the snake in her hair represents the transformation of the body, soul and spirit.
Snake symbolism in Buddhism
Among Buddhists, the snake was a dark and mysterious creature. It was the embodiment of the subconscious and the hidden part of the soul.
Nevertheless, in Buddhism there are half-human, half-snake beings called Nagas. These are venerated as protectors of the companions of the god Vishnu and the mother of the snakes.
Moreover, the snake is also a symbol of aversion. Indeed, it is one of the Three Poisons represented in the center of the wheel of existences.
It also symbolizes anger and rejection as it spreads its venom and causes suffering.
Meaning of snake symbol in medicine
The snake is today is an emblematic animal in the medical field. The Caduceus of Hermes and the Rod of Asclepius are two emblems that represent Medicine today, although only the Staff of Asclepius is the official emblem.
To find out more about the history of the Medicine Snake Symbol, we’ve put together a full article on the subject which you can read by clicking here.
The Caduceus (attribute of Hermes), was represented by two snakes intertwined around a stick as if to unite duality in balance. These two opposing cosmic currents wind in the form of a spiral around the axis of the world (or tree of life).
The snakes thus represent positive and negative, good and evil, day and night, earth and sky. These ascend to the spiritual, seeking the path of healing and deliverance.
Today, the Caduceus is the symbol of commerce.
The Rod of Asclepius: Asclepius, son of Appolon, was the God of Medicine in Greek mythology. His name is mentioned today in the Hippocratic Oath.
This emblem can be found under different aspects depending on the profession. We find for example the Bowl of Hygieia, symbol of Pharmacy.
Meaning of the Snake in Psychoanalysis
In psychoanalysis, the symbolism of the snake refers to the functioning of our psyche. It evokes the darkness, the elusive passions, the deep layers of the soul or the invisibility.
In general, the snake is considered positive from a psychoanalytical point of view. They see this reptile as a spiritual animal that comes into your life to make major changes. Its purpose is for you to forget the past, to erase any guilt you may still be holding and to focus on the present moment. If the snake sheds, it is because it is pushing you to give up the perception you have of things and create new ones.
Its purpose is also to make you grow spiritually, so it will watch over the path you take to a better future. He may guide you in your decisions and alert you when you are rushing.
Sigmund Freud, a well-known psychoanalyst, sees the snake as a phallic symbol (male sex), representing sexual desire and impulses.
For Carl Jung, another well-known psychoanalyst, the snake symbolizes the reconciliation of oppositions (as mentioned above).
The snake, an animal still symbolic today
Since the dawn of time, men have always worn snake jewelry for its strong symbolism. Even today, these trendy jewelry pieces with unique styles can be found in many people.