The serpent or snake is a powerful spiritual symbol that is revered worldwide. The snake is associated with negative and positive, death and birth; duality.
Other motifs are rebirth, renewal, and transformation. This amazing creature has the ability to shed its old skin as it grows new. The casting off of the old metaphorically, represents the release of old ways of thinking and being that don’t work in our lives. The fresh new skin found underneath is rebirth and new beginnings… purification and transformation.
To many cultures the power of the serpent is in its representation of vital energy. Vital energy is our true essence. It’s our pure light in harmony and balance. This energy is known as prana in Sanskirt, chi in China, ki in Japan, and gal in Galic. To the Maya coyopa, translated to “lightning in the blood,” represents this vital energy.
In the Kundalini Yoga teaching, coiled vital or Kundalini energy (represented by a flowing energetic serpent) is a feminine energy at the base of our spine or sacrum. With serpent coiled and sleeping at our base, the practice of Kundalini Yoga starts to unlock the door and ever so slowly, our personal serpent starts to slither its way up through the Chakras, waking up and igniting them one by one until it reaches the top, the crown Chakra… sourcing deep levels of meditation, relaxation, and healing.
The serpent and its meaning in ancient cultures
The “Great Serpent Mound” in Ohio, USA is one of the largest serpent effigies. The mound is a three foot high, quarter mile long, prehistoric mound thought to be built by the Adena culture. It shows the serpent with a coiled tail and an egg in its mouth. This egg in mouth motif is representative of the potential of actualization through Second Birth or rebirth.
The Hopis worshiped a horned or plumed serpent called Awanyu, which is pictured all over Pueblo art. Awanyu is the guardian of water a precious resource of the Hopi. It is usually rendered as a zigzag that suggests flowing water or lightning… a giver of life and renewal. This serpent strongly resembles the plumed serpent of the Aztec culture called Quetzalcoatl.
In the Hindu regions of Asia, the serpent is considered a nature spirit. It is the protector of springs, wells and rivers. Serpents bring rain and thus fertility. But, they can also bring floods and drought. The Hindus believe that how the naga treats humanity is representative of how we treat the snake and its environment. Serpents also carry the elixir of life and immortality.
Sources: Weaver, Sandra 2012, Spiritual Growth Prophecies | 2016 Wikipedia