Sunday, August 21, 2011

Snake totem

Okay my post today has a bit of relevance because i'm working on a nifty project that involves snakes. I acquired a set of almost identical snake rattles. And before you trip out on me, the meat  was not let to waste. The coyotes and foxes loved it. My grandmother lives in a bit of a secluded area and always lets mother nature to it's own accord except when one of goddesses creatures, especially one of the more dangerous varieties, end up on her front porch right at the door. Apparently it's the week of the snake because this is the third one we've had to eliminate this week. There's also kids here to so another reason that they had to be dealt with. Anyway i'm thinking they will be made into earings since they are almost a matching pair. BTW there was at one point a rumor that used to run rampant around these part about there being a deadly powder in snake rattles. It's completely untrue. Snake rattles are just modified rattles that gain in numbers from shedding. I'm either going to use these in more serious rights, or I might even post them up on etsy. Not sure at this point:P

So I dedicate this post to my project and The snake.

Of all the reptiles and maybe even all animals , the snake has been the subject
of great controversy and paradox. Religious sources argue over whether it is
the symbol of the higher or the lower. Sometimes seen as devii and sometimes as
healer, it is an animal that truly has earned the mythical reputation.
In the Americas, the snake served as a prominent symbol in art and lore. To
the Native Americans, the snake is a symbol of transformation and healing. Snake
ceremonies involved learning to transmute the poisons within the body after
being bitten multiple times. Survival of this would then enable the individual to
transmute all poisons-physical or otherwise. It activated the energy of kill or
cure, ultimately leading to dramatic healings.
In the Meso-American societies, the serpent or snake was depicted as
feathered and flying. It was a symbol of their greatest god and hero, Quetzalcoatl.
Quetzalcoatl's story is the myth of a dying god who would someday
return. In many ways he was the patron god of the Toltecs, and it was said that
the heavens and stars and all the motions of the universe were under his
dominion. "He was the master of the winds and of the clouds and the protecting
genius of his people."2
In creece the snake was also a symbol of alchemy and healing. The god Hermes
carried a staff upon which were entwined two snakes. This caduceus symbol
is the primary symbol of modern medicine and doctors. It is a symbol of wisdom
expressed through healing.
In India the goddess Vinaia was the mother of snakes and a symbol of water
and the underworld. Also in India there were demigods, Nagas and their beautiful
wives, Naginis, who were usually depicted as half cobra and half deity. The
god Vishnu is often depicted sleeping on the serpent of eternity called Ananta.
Shiva wears snakes for bracelets and necklaces, representing sexuality.
The serpent and snake has long been a symbol of the sexual/creative life
force within humans as is taught in Eastern traditions. The kundalini or serpent
fire lies coiled at the base of the spine. As we grow and develop, the primal energy
is released, rising up the spine. This in turn activates energy centers in the
body and the mind, opening new dimensions and levels of awareness, health,
and creativity.
In Chinese astrology one of every twelve years is named for the snake. Those
born within that year are believed to have the qualities of compassion, clairvoyance
and charm. They usually need to learn lessons associated with forgiveness,
superstitiousness and possessiveness as well. A study of Chinese astrology will
help you with this.
In Egypt the snake has also had mystical significance. The uraeus is a head
band in the shape of the snake. The head of the snake rests and sticks out at the brow area. It was believed to represent a state of inner sight and control of the universe.
It was a symbol worn by those who were initiated. Some believe it to be a
variations of the eye of Horus, while others see it as the sacred eye of Ra. It represented
a certain degree of wisdom and understanding.3
Because it sheds its skin, the snake has long been a symbol of death and
rebirth. It sheds its skin as it outgrows the old. This death and rebirth cycle is part
of what snake represents. It has ties and significance to the ancient alchemists and
their symbolic transmutation of lead into gold. This is associated with higher wisdom
that comes with the passing of time. This cycle of death and rebirth is often
symbolized by the ouroborus, the ancient image of a snake swallowing its own
tail. It is the symbol of eternity.
Before the snake begins to shed its skin, its eyes will begin to cloud over. It
gives the snake a trancelike appearance. To many mystics and shamans this indicated
the ability of the snake to move between the realms of the living and the
dead, of crossing over from life to death and then back to life again. As the skin
begins to shed, the eyes begin to clear as if they will see the world anew. For this
reason, alchemists often believed that wisdom and new knowledge would lead
to death and rebirth, enabling the individual to see the world from an entirely
new perspective.
The snake has often been depicted, along with its relatives, the serpent and
dragon, as a guardian. It is found in myth and lore guarding treasures, the springs
of life or sacred places. The snake/serpent guarded the tree on which the golden
fleece hung in the Greek tale of Jason and the argonauts.
The snake is sinuous and fast. Although many people think of them as slimy,
their skin is very dry. In fact, humans are slimier than snakes. If a human runs his
or her hand on the floor, it will pick up dirt. A snake's skin will not which is why
it is able to slide and move in the manner it does.
A snake attacks quickly. It raises itself up and strikes quick, hard, and true to
its mark. It is not unusual to find that those with this totem can respond the same
way if need be. It is best not to anger snake people. Although slow to lose their
tempers, once lost, their bite is quick, sharp, and direct. They almost always hit
their mark. They may end up swallowing you whole or just poisoning you in
some way.
Anytime a snake shows up as a totem, you can expect death and rebirth to
occur in some area of your life. This rarely reflects an actual death but rather a
transition. Look for a change in conditions and a movement to new life. examine
what is going on around you. Are you needing to make changes but aren't for
some reason? Are you trying to force change too quickly? Are you striking out at
people and shouldn't? Are you not striking and should? Remember that a snake
not only uses its venom and bite to overcome prey, but also for defense. What is
needing to be healed? What new opportunities are surfacing that you need to
strike out for and take advantage of?
It can also reflect that your own creative forces are awakening. The stimulation
of the kundalini usually has physiological as well as spiritual consequences.
Physiologically it can activate the sexual drive, bring more energy, etc. Spiritually it can stimulate greater perception of how to apply your insight and intuition.
Your own vision and intuition will become more accurate.
To understand the specific role your snake totem will play within your life,
first begin by examining the form it takes. This alone will tell you much. Every
snake has a head, body, and tail, and there are a wide variety of snakes. Some are
poisonous, almost all can bite, and some squeeze and strangle their prey by coiling
around it. Examine your snake's markings, and the patterns of its scales. A
diamond-back rattler is named for its pattern of scales. Examine the significance
of geometric shapes. This will help you to define the role the snake will have in
your life.
The rattlesnake, for example, moves around only during the cool hours of the
night. Extreme heat is deadly to it. You may find for yourself that becoming more
nocturnal would be of benefit. It has a sidewinding motion to its movement. It
also has a special sense organ, a small pit in the head that reacts to heat put out by
other creatures. This is how it senses its prey. On a symbolic level this indicates for
those with this totem an increasing sensitivity to the auras of others. You may start
seeing them soon, but you will definitely start sensing them. Trust what you feel
around others, no matter how strange it may seem.
Always examine some of the qualities and characteristics of the snake in general.


  1. Dh and I always keep a rattle on our alter. We see it as a symbol of healing, transformation, intuition, and feminine power.

    But one question, why not eat the meat yourself? Not that a donation to the coyote is a bad thing.

  2. As a snake caretaker, I have to say that I cringed when I read of three of them being destroyed; however, I am a firm believer that one should protect one's home from invaders of any species, and can appreciate what you had to do. I like the way you compiled the totemic information here as well. Great post!

  3. don't get me wrong I love snakes I used to care for several before the kiddos but my sister is 9 and my grandmother, whose property they were on right by her door when she would step out is 75 so it becomes a problem and as to why not eating them ourselves as a rule we would but my work station for this particular kill was a bit unsanitary for my own consumption so we threw them to the dogs:P Also as a rule if they aren't within the courtyard fence i'll just spray the hose in their direction and they take off. it's just when they are that close is when it becomes a problem:S

  4. Can't say snakes are my fave, but this was a very well researched post. Interesting.

    When you look at the shedding of skin, death is okay, when rebirth follows.

    Thanks for stopping by, and taking time to comment.