Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Serpent is perhaps the most enigmatic Symbol in mythology,
religion and mysticism.
It is worshiped, honored and respected by civilizations and
indigenous cultures, both ancient and modern, throughout the
entire world. And even those of us who detest gazing upon a
Serpent become spell-bound by its hypnotic movements.
Its slithering, wavy movements are identical to the shapes of
Rivers. Therefore, its wavy pattern was used by the Ancient
Egyptians for their hieroglyph for Water. Its wavy pattern, when
used in a dualistic pair, is also the Symbol for the Constellation
of Aquarius, the "Water Bearer".
And as the Serpent was the original ancient archetype assigned
to the Constellation Draco, it is also associated with the "branches"
of the World Tree along with the Great Cosmic Sea of the heavens
as well. In this heavenly aspect it is referred to as the "Cosmic
As the movement of the Serpent is Symbolic of the shape of Rivers,
and the movement of Water through Rivers is Symbolic of the "flow
of Time", the Serpent is also a Symbol for the various Cycles and
Incarnations which permeate the cosmic and earthly realms. We
find this Cyclical Symbolism represented by the ancient Symbol of
the Ouroboros; the Serpent devouring its own tail which reminds us
that as one Cycle comes to its end, or is "swallowed up", the next
Cycle is preparing itself to begin.
The Serpent also sheds its own skin in its annual renewal. This
shedding is a Symbol for transformation, re-Incarnation, Change
and renewal; whereby an old and expired era, Cycle or Incarnation
is shed for a new and rejuvenated one; one stage of life is shed for
another; and one type of existence (physical and material) is shed
for its next higher aspect of existence (spiritual and sublime).
In this respect the shedding of the Serpent's skin is also Symbolic
of an individual's various Rites of Passage in which he or she
engages during their Current Incarnation. And, in a more sublime
aspect, the shedding of the Serpent's skin is also Symbolic of the
Path of the Initiate who sheds his, or her, prior state of being in
their Ladder-like progression through higher and higher realms of
Awareness until Ascension into the realm of Spiritual Illumination
is finally attained.
The twisting shapes of the two Serpents around a central staff,
depicted in the physician's Caduceus, is Symbolic of both the
DNA matrix and the Kundalini energy which entwines itself around
our spinal column.
However, on a much higher Symbolic plane, the dancing and
entwining Serpents Symbolized by the Caduceus represent the
Spiritual DNA which is the the Breath of Life that permeates all
realms of the physical, mental and spiritual cosmos.
It is interesting to note that the Serpents which are Symbolized
and held in high esteem by both the Ancient Egyptians, the native
cultures of the Americas and all other native and indigenous races
are always poisonous. This is Symbolic of both the Initiatory and
physical "deaths" which must be necessarily experienced at the
various stages of an individual's Incarnation so that "birth" into
higher realms and orders can be attained.
This is further Symbolized by the fact that the same poisonous
Serpent's venom which can end a person's life is the same venom
which is used to create a serum which can also save a person's
life; thereby signifying the Initiatory and Spiritual re-birth and
salvation (serum) which a worthy and well-qualified Initiate receives
once their transformative "death" (venom) has been accepted and
The "reared-up" and "ready to strike" pose of both the cobra and
the rattlesnake is also Symbolic of its deadly protective, watchful
and defensive posture which warns all unworthy trespassers who
approach that "thou shalt not pass nor intrude".
We see this protective pose of the cobra displayed in the uraeus
worn by Egyptian pharaohs. The uraeus is a royal protective band
which encircles the pharaoh's head at the level of the pineal gland,
or "third-eye". The rearing cobra extends forth from the uraeus as
if emerging from the "third eye" chakra. The cobra's hood is flaring
out in a ready-to-attack protective posture signifying its readiness
to protect the pharaoh.
The band of the uraeus is the protective coil of the cobra which
warns the curious, the non-Initiated and the un-worthy to keep
However, there is a higher Symbolism attached to the uraeus.
The pharaoh was a Temple Initiate who was Instructed in the
highest Esoteric mysteries of the physical and mystical arts and
sciences. In addition, the pharaoh was entrusted with defending his,
or her, nation and people from all dangers and enemies which may
attack Egypt from either within or without. In this respect the
pharaoh was considered to be, and was worshiped as, the
physical manifestation of Horus. Horus is the Divine Neter who
was identified with defensiveness, protectiveness, higher Wisdom
and direct ascension.
Therefore the uraeus, which is Symbolic of the encircling coils of
the cobra, represented the protective Circle which defended the
pharaoh's higher mind, higher faculties and higher level of
The hooded cobra leaning forth from the uraeus not only
Symbolized the kundalini energy emerging from the "third eye"
chakra of the pharaoh but was also a warning to all who were
not worthy or well qualified to keep their distance from the
higher mind and higher Wisdom which were encircled and
protected within the coils of the uraeus.
Now here is another interesting Symbolism connected with the
Serpent: The Serpent Nailed to the Cross.
Many of us have seen drawings and artwork of either a Serpent
nailed to a cross or a Serpent hung upon a cross and perhaps
have wondered to ourselves what this Symbolism could possibly
The Serpent nailed to a cross is Symbolically similar to The Christ
nailed to the cross.
The cross, having four extensions, is the Symbol for matter and the
materialistic world; four being the number representing matter.
As the Serpent sheds its old skin to take on a renewed skin, it is
therefore the Symbol of re-Incarnation; the shedding of an old,
used-up life for a new existence.
Being nailed to a cross is Symbolic of the Serpent shedding its
final skin (body) and leaving it behind in the world of matter (the
cross). At this point, the physical re-Incarnations of the Serpent
have come to an end.
Likewise, The Christ being nailed to the cross (the realm of matter)
represents the final leaving behind of His physical body in the
realm of matter, never requiring to re-Incarnate in the earthly plain
This Symbolizes the final separation of His soul from His physical
body as He has attained complete Enlightenment, Illumination and
Awareness and has now Ascended into the higher, or even highest,
Spiritual Realms having never again to experience the ongoing and
repetitive Lessons of the mundane, physical realm.
And as a final Thought: The Serpent is a unitary creature. It has no
limbs. When laid out straight it representative of the number "one".
One is the number which represents Divine Unity; The All.
However, when the Serpent sticks out its tongue, its tongue is
forked. The forked-tongue represents the number "two". Two is the
number for duality; which can also be Symbolized by the cloven-
Therefore the Serpent reminds us that from Divine Unity (The All)
emerges the realm of duality. And just as the Serpent creates
duality when it sticks out its tongue, it also returns duality back
into itself when it retracts its tongue.
This is a teaching which is found in many ancient texts: The Divine
One creates the temporary, illusory world of duality and when Time
is up, Divine Unity retracts the temporal realms of duality back into
See also: "Draco: Constellation Of The Cosmic Serpent"
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© copyright Joseph Panek 2012