A lot of myths & legends are associated with snakes through time and many civilizations exist on an idea of a serpent. Human fascination and fear for this animal reaches back to ancient times. Even nowadays people fear and worship snakes all over the world. By reading this article, you will figure out what is so special about this animal and why it does deserve the treatment worth of a God! We found some interesting historical facts and religious beliefs from all over the world!
SACRED SNAKES IN ANCIENT EGYPT
Egypt is the perfect place for snakes to live. It is home to the famous King cobra! No wonder that snake is deeply existing in the mythology and religion of ancient Egyptians.
Even nowadays Egyptians appreciate it and cultivate some special snake training skills.
Did you ever hear about Cleopatra’s VII story? She was a famous Egyptian pharaoh who ruled from 51 BCE to 30 BCE in the time when Rome pretended to occupy Egypt.
When the Roman military troops came to the pharaoh’s land and it became too obvious that Egypt will lose territories, Cleopatra decided to kill herself and not fall into the occupation’s hands. Interestingly, she considered the best way to die is by the serpent bite.
She believed it will lead her straight to the promised afterlife and that the snake is an animal worthy enough to take the life of a half-God pharaoh. This story tells us how symbolic and important the influence of a snake in Egypt was.
The snake symbolism was so essential in ancient times that the figure of the snake was even found on the pharaoh’s crown! It was the synonym for royalty, immortality, and divinity. Associated with the Sun God Ra, we found a snake on the Sun disc symbol on wall art and hieroglyphs.
Well-known and appreciated was Nehebkau, the original primeval snake God in Egyptian religion. Believers link him to the afterlife, protection, and magic. Had the body of a snake and human legs. People worshiped him to protect them from snake bite which was common in Egypt.
Wadjet, the snake Goddess was also important. Her name was the serpent Goddess. Associated with fire and heat, people presented her with the body of the snake, wings, and a sun disc above her head. There is a myth that she was Horus’s nurse and so-called children’s protector.
INDIA, THE HOME OF SERPENTS
India is probably the most famous for its snake worship! Snakes are considered sacred animals. People are connecting them to the life cycle because shedding their skin might remind them of a revival.
In Hinduism snake is associated with rebirth and is the bearer of ancestors’ souls.
It is linked to Shiva and Vishnu Gods. Shiva even wears one around his neck! He has a daughter, Manasa, who is well respected in Hinduism as a snake Goddess.
It is not rare to see a snake charmer on Indian streets these days. Playing with this poisonous animal might be life-threatening and fatal. Indians know what they are doing because it looks like they are very friendly with the snakes!
In India people still use to offer rice or milk to a snake statue, to prevent bad things from happening. It is a part of the tradition.
If you are a yoga practitioner then for sure you heard about Kundalini. In Sanskrit it means “Serpent Power” and it is connected with a life-force energy. Kundalini is the name for a curled sleeping Serpent located on the lower spine of a human, waiting to become awake. Awakening might happen with meditation practice.
CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM ABOUT SNAKES
In Christianity, a snake is a symbol of the Devil. It represents death, evil, and poison. The Bible says that the Devil shapeshifted into the serpent’s form and sneaked into the Garden of Eden to trick Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. From that time God expelled Humans from Heaven to live on Earth.
This is how the snake caused the downfall of humanity and created the world we know!
Islam also connects snakes to bad things. Prophet Mohamed said that snakes are vermin so it is haram (forbidden) to keep a snake pet.
It is interesting how the ancient religions worshiped the serpents while new religions gave it a bad connotation.
MESOAMERICAN VIEWS ABOUT SNAKES
As in other ancient religions, Mesoamericans had a special place in religion reserved for snakes. They had a God related to it, Quetzalcóatl (also known as Kukulcan in Mayan civilization). He was a ruler of death, and inventor of the calendar and books. Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Templo de Quetzalcóatl) is the third of the biggest pyramids in Teotihuacan, Mexico. As the name says it is dedicated to the Quetzalcóatl.
It is a place where they sacrificed hundreds of people in the name of the Gods. Also, they decorated the exterior of the temple with a lot of snake statues. What is interesting is that snake figures on the main stairs with a right lighting angle form large powerful serpents on both sides of the stairs! Shadow snakes are the guardians of the temple.
BEFORE YOU GO
As you can see, there is a lot of awe for this serpent animal all over the world. It is easy to find why it was an inspiration for the origin of myths and legends.
If you have a snake pet, how do you treat it? Do you love it or worship it?
The one is for sure: you can love them or hate them, but you can’t disrespect them!