Since ancient times, man has been intrigued by nature and the things that surround him, mainly when these are “different” or seem “strange” to his eyes; it is probably for this reason that the snake, as we shall see, has been the subject, both for better and for worse, of every kind of legend, becoming part of the cultural heritage of most of the great civilizations of the ancient world, becoming an object of cult, study, and myth.
Graphically the snake is a line. But it is a living line that can take the form of all the environments that surround it, whose flexibility allows the most unexpected attitudes. This explains how the symbolism of the snake is naturally double: it represents the steady and the surprise.
These are the meanings with which it becomes part of the iconographic language of all the world: it expresses the idea of sexuality and enchantment on the one hand and subtlety and cunning on the other. Therefore, we find a double meaning (creative sensuality and diabolical evil) in all cultures, from the most ancient to the most developed ones.
Did you know that there are deities associated with snakes? Let’s learn more about them!
Snakes have held symbolic and spiritual significance in various cultures and mythologies, often associated with both positive and negative attributes. Here are some deities and gods commonly linked to snakes:
- Apep (Egyptian Mythology): Apep, also known as Apophis, is a serpent god representing chaos and destruction in ancient Egyptian mythology. He was believed to oppose the sun god Ra and attempt to devour the sun.
- Quetzalcoatl (Aztec Mythology): Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, is a significant god in Aztec and other Mesoamerican cultures. He symbolizes wisdom, knowledge, and the dual nature of creation and destruction.
- Naga (Hinduism and Buddhism): Nagas are serpentine beings found in Hinduism and Buddhism. They are often considered protectors of water, fertility, and treasures. Some are revered as deities, while others are seen as demons.
- Damballa (Voodoo): Damballa, also known as Damballa Wedo, is a serpent deity in Voodoo and Haitian religion. He represents creation, life, and the interconnectedness of all living things.
- Wadjet (Egyptian Mythology): Wadjet is an ancient Egyptian goddess represented as a cobra. She symbolizes protection and was often depicted on the pharaoh’s crown as a guardian.
- Hygieia (Greek Mythology): Hygieia, the daughter of the god of medicine, Asclepius, is sometimes associated with serpents. She represents good health, cleanliness, and sanitation.
- Rainbow Serpent (Australian Aboriginal Mythology): The Rainbow Serpent is a powerful being in Australian Aboriginal mythology. It is associated with the creation of watercourses, landforms, and life.
- Mucalinda (Buddhism): In Buddhism, Mucalinda is a protective serpent that shielded the Buddha from a storm while he meditated. It symbolizes protection and mindfulness.
These deities and beings associated with snakes reflect the complex and varied symbolism of serpents in different cultures, representing qualities such as wisdom, fertility, protection, creation, and destruction. Snakes often play significant roles in myths, rituals, and spiritual beliefs worldwide.
4 Mighty Deities That are Associated with Snakes
The Cretan Snake Goddess
She was born in the Minoan period and probably represents the culmination of the cult of the Serpent Goddess. She is a richly dressed woman, with her breasts on display, two snakes in her hands and a headdress surmounted by a cat.
The typical clothing of Cretan women was more or less this, except that the breasts were exposed only during religious rituals, while the rest of the time was certainly covered. The exposed breast indicates the woman’s fertility, connected – obviously – to the two different animals that adorn her.
The richness of the dress and the elaborate flounces indicate the greatness of the divinity. The arms are forward (or completely open in other similar statuettes), which reminds us very much of the “position of the Goddess”, or the “Drawing down the Moon”, typical of Tanit and many other deities.
The two snakes are a clear reference to creation-regeneration, as we well know, and refer to all that archaic shamanic culture where the woman was a snake.
The Egyptian Cobra Goddess had different names and different representations and over time acquired more and more complex history and iconography: her first image was simply that of a cobra, then of a winged cobra, or a cobra holding the Wadjet, a solar disk between its coils or in the head.
Later it was represented as a winged snake with a woman’s head and finally with a woman’s entire body. The name also changed along with the representations: at first, she was called Wadjet and later Ua-Zit, but while the first has the meaning of “divine snake”, the second means “she who has the color of papyrus”, or green.
From the name Ua-Zit came Au-set, later Sothis, and finally Isis, whose meaning is “throne”: in fact, her son Horus sits on her as if it were a throne. This aspect also speaks volumes about the degenerative transformation of Isiac power by virtue of the new male power due to the advance of patriarchy.
And even the story was enriched with different elements: in olden times, not having such ancient sacred texts that recounted its transformation through the centuries, Auset / Isis was believed to be the daughter of Ua Zit, while maintaining the creative powers of the snake. For this reason, Isis carries a snake on her head, at the height of the third eye: it is the kundalini that unfolds and gives the awakening of female power.
Later Ua Zit was transformed from a cobra to a bamboo stiletto to fix the glyphs on the papyrus: that is, he invented writing; in fact, in hieroglyphics, the cobra means “Goddess”.
Several snakes belong to the Greek gods. The best known is probably Hygeia, goddess of healing and health represented as a sinuous young woman held in the coils of the reptile. In this thought-form, the serpent expresses its natural regenerative qualities which by extension become healing power. And not only that: snakes’ venom was already known for some medical qualities, another element supporting the hypothesis.
It should be emphasized that it is precisely from this cult that today’s symbol of the pharmacy comes from: a snake wrapped around a staff or a cup. Hygeia is a healer who gives strength and health to those who invoke her through her intimate kinship. In the temples where her priestesses worked, the initiates went to sleep to have healing dreams. The dream was a method of receiving oracles from the gods. In other words, dreaming was in fact a “birth”.
And speaking of “oracles”, a very important pythoness throughout the ancient world was Pito, the one who from the darkness of the Templar womb of Gaea gave premonitions and visions to the Pythias of Delphi. What is now known as the temple of Apollo in Delphi was actually a full-scale usurpation by the priests of Apollo against the priestesses of Gaea.
In ancient times, the Delphic site was responsible for the maximum worship of the goddess of the Earth and her totemic counterpart: the pythoness Pito.
The Pythias (which in fact take their name from the snake and which they also kept later) were the well-known priestesses who in a trance bestowed cryptic oracles to pilgrims who came there from half of Europe and from all over the Middle East.
It is Pito who huddles around the Omphalos, or the cosmic egg still visible today in the archaeological site of Delphi. She is the guardian of the uterus, of which she is the same totemic manifestation.
The beautiful Hindu Ganga
She is the Hindu deity personification of the River Ganges, the sacred river, the very life of India, and mother of the people. In the various representations the snake surrounds her neck like a collier and rests next to her cheek, like the face, as if to say that the face is the same: she is a woman and a snake.
In some reproductions she is standing on a sea dragon, while in others she is standing or seated on a crocodile, a turtle, or a fish; in all cases, it is a water reptile (remember that in ancient times the fish were associated with reptiles, and in the East, the carp that goes up the sacred river turns into a Dragon at the mouth).
She is often surrounded by mermaids with the Naga Serpent on her head. In some representations, she is upright on a shell, which brings to mind the subsequent cults of the Maenads, of Aphrodite, and of Madonna.
She is holding a saber, a symbol of strength, but in most representations, she holds a lotus and a cup. In others, it even has 4 arms like Kali (Shakti deity of excellence, also linked to snakes). But it is the reptiles that recall her highest qualities: dragon and snake are the double affirmation of her nature as a transformer.
She is the river that feeds the land from which life was born; she is the support for the fields and for the river trade; she welcomes the bodies of the deceased, returning them to the next life and it is here that she fulfills her task of regeneration. Water and blood.
Ganga is the Snake who generates life and takes it back; the one who decides if embankments will burst with water or will suddenly turn dry.
It is a primeval divinity, although over the centuries the Ganges was attributed to Shiva (born from his hair), however, the symbolism recalls a feminine and wild primordiality.
If you feel a connection with snakes, first of all, don’t freak out! As you might have noticed, despite what common culture might think, snakes are also positive animals linked to ancestral energy but also healing and regeneration.
So, connect with one of these deities to let their powers and their guidance show you the right way to live a better life.