Talk:Serpent (symbolism)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Mythology (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is supported by WikiProject Mythology. This project provides a central approach to Mythology-related subjects on Wikipedia. Please participate by editing the article, and help us assess and improve articles to good and 1.0 standards, or visit the WikiProject page for more details.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.

Snake as a symbol of beauty[edit]

In India, I believe, and seems like several other Asian countries as well, the snake is considered a symbol of beauty. Does anyone enough information/sources on this subject to add this aspect to the article? I know that I've read someplace that comparing a woman to a snake is a even compliment in some places, but if it wasn't in this article, I'm not sure where to find it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lironah (talkcontribs) 23:04, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Cleanup needed[edit]

This page is a mess. The sections do not make sense. The New Testament is just as much Mythology as the other religions mentioned. The "Other Symbolic Uses" are also so connected with Mythology that is hardly makes sense to separate them. Since all serpent symbolism is mythological having a Mythology section is redundant.

The serpent occurs in so many mythologies worldwide and it's meaning has quite some overlap in the various cultures. The examples need some kind of structure (geographically and/or chronological) that would clarify that overlap. Now they are now just thrown in together in a jumble. It would be good to start the page with a section containing a general description of what serpents represent,ass whole bitch hoe a kind of structuralist distillation (a la Joseph Campbell) of the various mythologies.

Overall this article could do with a less Judaeo-Christian POV since the Genesis story is a variation of earlier Serpent myths, most notably Sumerian. --Tchoutoye 14:33, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Ok I've made a beginning with the cleanup. I've shortened the Christian sections slightly. Not because I oppose the content but because there was a lot of redundancy due to doubling of content. --Tchoutoye 20:28, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Guinea worms[edit]

Though we all know about Guinea worms, I don't know where to begin to explain how this connection is impossible among early cultures never exposed to tropical Guinea worms. The misapplication of Hermes' cadeuceus to medicine is an interesting story in itself: see the article's Links:

"The symbols entwining the staff of caduceus are not serpents. they are a type of parasite namely the guinea worm. How these worms and the staff came together is the product of the cure applied by the mesapothemians to these worms.
In order to remove the worm from the body, it is coiled around a staff. More information can be found under this link:

Although (some) ancient people didn't make much of a distinction between snakes and worms it would be nonsense to state that the symbols on the caduceus are not serpents but guinea worms. --Tchoutoye 14:53, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Serpent's information inaccurate?[edit]

I removed these two statements from the Hebrew Bible section: "And every word the Serpent spoke was in fact true. His information may be illicit, but it is not inaccurate." Genesis 3:2-4 says (NIV translation)

'2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."'

According to the text, their eyes were indeed opened after eating; however, the serpent also said "you will not surely die," which was a lie, as they did die after eating it (though their death was not immediate, it was certainly a consequence of eating the fruit). (WikiLad)

Patently a stretch. For God has said "In that day you will surely die." The Serpent knows better, and correctly informs Eve. Let us stick to the text, and be as frank as we are capable: this is not the Biblepedia. --Wetman 04:25, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
The traditional judeo-christian religious interpretation of this passage sees this as a spiritual death that occurs immidiately, according to "God: A biography" by Jack Miles, 1995, p.32 of hardcover edition. To maintain NPOV standards, either remove this statement, or add a note regarding religous interpretation citing a source that is public domain. -Jadorno 06:28, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
Yet the serpent's statement is much broader, failing to narrow it to death in the same day. Notice the context, in that Eve also fails to mention this same-day clause. I don't quite understand your 'Biblepedia' comment: if there's a statement in Wikipedia that's questionable based on the information surrounding a person or character, isn't it logical to search the source to clarify? The statement in question happens to have significant implications regarding the serpent's character. --WikiLad 03:50, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Wetman. God says "In that day you will surely die," yet Adam lives for another 930 years! Wikilad is incorrect when he says "though their death was not immediate, it was certainly a consequence of eating the fruit," because they weren't supposed to eat the fruit from the tree of life, which would have made them immortal like God. So, it isn't as if they were originally immortal and their eventual death is a consequence of eating the forbidden fruit. Eating the fruit from the Tree of Life would have been the only way for them to live forever, and it was prohibited. Winick88
You're probably all dead by now, but according to the Book of Jubilees, 'day' here means a thousand years. From [1] : "Adam died, and all his sons buried him in the land of his creation, and he was the first to be buried in the earth. And he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; for one thousand years are as one day in the testimony of the heavens and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: 'On the day that ye eat thereof ye shall die.'" (talk) 14:31, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

serpent website unappropriate[edit]

the "serpent website" link seems unappropriate here (it refers to a music instrument, not to symbolism) — MFH:Talk 00:49, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

serpent in healing[edit]

I remember being told that the medical symbol of a snake wrapped around a stick actually comes from the piece in the Hebrew bible where a 'snake on a stick' was used to heal people (actually mentioned in the article). Is their any truth in this?

Likely so. See Numbers 21:8-9:

"8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."

  • healing bronze serpent of Moses (John 3:14).
See also John Bathurst Deane, The Worship of the Serpent, 1833..
Serpents were also used in the Temple of Asclepius in ancient Greece for healing. The Rod of Asclepius (a snake curled around a rod) was so employed.
Today, the Rod of Asclepius is said to be the basis of the symbol you refer to: "Widely recognised uses include the logos of the World Health Organization, the Star of Life, and the American Medical Association." --- (Bob) Wikiklrsc 17:39, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Norse Mythology[edit]

I added a bit about Jörmungandr the World Serpent to the article. JanderVK

Native American[edit]

That one refrence should be checked and the section needs re writing. Contrary to this article's view, the Native Americans didn't share one universal religion or belief system. If re-written, add what specific tribes believed what about serpents.

Xuchilbara 15:54, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Caducea.svg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:Caducea.svg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot 13:33, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Old Snake and New Snake[edit]

It is clear from the article that the Old Snake is Satan. However, the argument that Jesus Christ does not connect Himself with the Serpent, that is a biased argument in favor of traditional (mainstream) theology. It relies on no documentary proof, other than mere exhortation to the reader. The argument is begging the question. As such, it may be considered an ad nauseam if it gets repeated by Christian theologians, in lack of clear Bible quotes which would indicate that this is not the case. As such, it is part and parcel of propaganda for this or that church. What the Bible says is that Christ is the New Snake. In the Bible, the snake is a symbol of Jesus Christ. The lifted up Snake (Nehushtan) symbolizes the Redeemer. I think that in this matters, the letter of the Bible has absolute priority over sectary theology. Tgeorgescu (talk) 11:52, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Our interpretations are often a great bore and never belong. The article should be reporting published interpretations selected to represent the mainstream in the history of ideas. "Right' and "wrong" of course are our own irrelevant feelings.--Wetman (talk) 18:22, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. The Bible offers absolute documentary evidence that the snake is considered by at least some authors of the Bible as a symbol of healing, of saving one's life from imminent death (Numbers 21:6-9). And the Bible offers absolute documentary evidence that saving one's life through looking at the bronze snake is similar (for the authors of the Bible) to the redeeming work of Christ (John 3:14), just as the sacrificial lamb from the Old Testament is seen by the authors of the New Testament as an archetype of Christ. In the Old Testament lives got saved through contemplating the snake, in the New Testament, souls get saved through contemplating Christ. You don't need a theological treatise to show this. It is reading 101: all you need is to read English properly and to have a copy of the Holy Bible. No more, no less. The Bible speaks for itself. The Word of the Bible has absolute priority over all theologies on earth. From a history of ideas standpoint, my point is already proven, beyond reasonable doubt: the documentary evidence for such ideas is already present in the text of the Bible. This is a fact, not an oppinion, mind you. It is a fact that such texts are present in the Bible, and this is enough documentary evidence that such ideas existed since thousands of years ago. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:06, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
In fact, another documentary evidence (2 Kings 18:4) shows that the idea of the redeeming/healing qualities of Nehushtan was at a certain time popular among the Hebrews, motivating them to burn incense to the snake of brass. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:16, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
Eventually, we may reach a compromise solution by mentioning the following accurate factual and thoroughly verifiable information based on print-published works (the Bible): Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:33, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
According to the Gospel of John, 3rd chapter with verse 14, the redeeming work of Christ is symbolized by the serpent lifted up by Mozes in the wilderness. In the Old Testament, the Book of Numbers, chapter 21 with verses 6 till 9, tells the story that Mozes lifted up a serpent of brass in the wilderness, which saved many from imminent death just by looking at it. The Bible tells us that Mozes did this at the express commandement received from God. Tgeorgescu (talk) 19:33, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Okay, if remember the context on the scriptures it help, like the context of a statement. One noted reference says, Like the copper serpent that Moses placed on a pole in the wilderness, the Son of God was impaled or fastened on a stake, thus appearing to many as an evildoer and a sinner, like a snake, being in the position of one cursed. Deuteronomy 21:22, 23; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24. - Genesis 3:1 (Now the serpent proved to be the most cautious). Serpents/snakes have beened associated cautious, according to the Bible see also Matthew 10:16. God created serpents, and Adam had apparently given serpents their name before Satan’s deceptive act. The unreasoning serpent that spoke to Eve was not to blame. It would have been unaware that Satan was manipulating it, and it could not understand the judgment that God rendered against the disobedient parties. Why, then, did God speak of the serpent’s physical abasement? The behavior of a serpent in its natural environment, crawling on its belly and flicking its tongue as if to lick up dust, fittingly symbolized Satan’s debased condition. Having previously enjoyed a lofty position as one of God’s angels, he was consigned to the lowly condition referred to in the Bible as Tartarus.  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:10, 31 July 2008 (UTC)


Italic textIn many western religions, serpents are connected with deceit, and are used to symbolize deceitfulness. An example is the serpent in the Garden of Eden, who tricks the Adam and Eve into partaking of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

That section is problematic. It clearly refers to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These are not western religions, if anything they are eastern (originating in the near to middle east). I briefly considered editing the article myself. My first instinct was to replace western by biblical. But that would exclude Islam I believe. Then I considered religions of the book (linking to people of the book), but that might be seen as an Islamic terminology. Actually I just found the correct link and will change the article appropriately. Abrahamic religion. Feel free to alter this if you can think of a better term and link. By the way, this article could use some sourcing, this particular section is as yet unsourced.-- (talk) 13:49, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Christian Satan comparison[edit]

The article states that "In Christianity, a connection between the Serpent and Satan is strongly made" this is not true of all Christian religions but rather is a protestant assumption, in Catholicism [which in my mind at least is clearly Christian and quite possibly the only view that should be considered universally Christian.] there is a clear distinction between the two. the Snake is a Snake, while the two both start with the letter S and you wouldn't trust either to look after your kids that doesn't make them one and the same. More Importantly it doesn't make them one and the same in the eyes of Christianity unless all of Christianity subscribes to that conviction. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:18, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

don't think even the most snake-hating Christian literally thinks that snakes are Satan. The identity of the Eden-serpent with Satan is found in all the Western-branch Christian churches, but not in the Eastern branches, nor in Judaism (for Jews, the serpent in Eden is simply a snake that talks - and the Hebrew for serpent sounds like the Hebrew for bronze, which might explain Moses' brazen serpent on a pole.) PiCo (talk) 01:15, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Political Propaganda[edit]

The section seems to be missing something. It mentions anti-Semitic snake symbolism (i.e., Jews as serpents), yet is illustrated with a Jewish self-application of snake imagery, one similar to the American Gadsden Flag -- there's a whole other meaning here: we're dangerous, and therefore you'd be better off leaving us alone than starting a fight you won't win. A.J.A. (talk) 17:04, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Should the serpent of Genesis get its own article?[edit]

Just a thought. It could have a lot of potential, considering the debate on whether or not it was indeed a snake or Satan.Mariomassone (talk) 16:24, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

See Serpent (Bible).PiCo (talk) 07:52, 4 June 2010 (UTC)


Page 52 (and neighboring) of When God Was a Woman has nothing about serpent symbolism at all, much less claims about it being "a primordial symbol of the Matriarchal religion". Other parts of the book discuss snake symbolism in some female-oriented religions, but those claims are distinct from the ones being made in this article. I similarly couldn't find any support for those claims in Newmann (the lack of any page numbers not helping); again while there is most certainly discussion of snake as goddess symbol (as well as a masculine symbol), the specific claims aren't made. At best this is a very sloppy use of sources. Also, why delete the source that can support one of the claims being made? Ergative rlt (talk) 23:33, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

This is an online overview of the book; the word serpent is mentioned many times: [2]. Lorynote (talk) 10:52, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
But you claim that page 52 is the page to look at, and that isn't even in the review which in any case can't be used, you need to use Stone's book itself. And how is anyone supposed to figure out, even if they get past the fact you spelled it wrong, where in Neumann's book they should look? I told you before you must use page numbers, this is getting to be disruptive editing. Dougweller (talk) 11:28, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Well, there is no online version of the book; but references are made all over the book as you can see by the provided link [3]. Why can´t the review be used?
As for the new sources, from, the serpent is cited as a pagan symbol enduring even after the spread of Christianity; source is explicit. Stone´s and Newadvent´s are not good? Lorynote (talk) 13:29, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
You aren't using Stone, you're using a review which isn't from a reliable source, and no one knows why you are saying p.52. Sure, Newadvent says it existed after Christianity, how is that a source for saying it's primordial and the oldest symbolism? Sources have to be reliable and back the claim made. Dougweller (talk) 14:16, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
All WP articles refer books and pages and they don´t have online proof of that. This is a major source for all these issues -paganism, woman, serpent: [4]. And besides the Bible itself refers woman/serpent relation. Newadvent, and the dozens of serpent citations it offers, suffices to end pagan/serpent origins; pagan/woman/serpent symbolism is attested by the article itself, Stone and "Apollon" above. I don´t understand why you see a problem here, this is folk culture, widely known. Lorynote (talk) 14:42, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Here the only reference is to a goddess: Or is there snake god related to patriarchal religion? Lorynote (talk) 14:54, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
You don't need online proof, but you need to show that you've seen the source, and you still aren't telling me where you got page 52 from. You also don't seem to understand the statement that you are trying to source. Once again, if you want to claim 'primordial' and 'oldest', talking about folk culture, the Bible, etc doesn't help. And you wrote "suffices to end pagan/serpent origins" which doesn't make sense in English, which is clearly not your own language. Dougweller (talk) 14:58, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Page 52 referes serpents (for those like me who have the paperback). This article ([5]) refers only goddesses and matriarchal religion itself was written in 2008 referring serpent symbolism and with the same (M. Stone) reference. Lorynote (talk) 15:05, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Hum, is it sufficient to end the debate? Lorynote (talk) 15:11, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
Apart from the WP Snake goddess disambiguation page, there a number of links for a "woman/serpent/paganism": [6]. Lorynote (talk) 15:29, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
What exactly does page 52 say about serpents? None of your sources support the claim ". For pagan civilizations the snake is a primordial symbol of the Matriarchal religion; it is also considered the oldest ritual of humankind" - to say it's the oldest is a redflag claim, you'd need some particularly good sources for that. And links to woman/serpent/paganism tell us nothing about 'primordial' or 'oldest'. Dougweller (talk) 16:14, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

A different sourcing problem--the opening paragraph contains the line "The Great Goddess often had snakes as her familiars—sometimes twining around her sacred staff, as in ancient Crete—and they were worshiped as guardians of her mysteries of birth and regeneration." The source given for this is a book called Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandanavian and Celtic Religions by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davison, Manchester University Press, 1988. However, no page number is given, and after examining the book online here, I have found no references to snakes, serpents, familiars, the term "Great Goddess" or Crete (no surprise, as Crete is neither Scandanavian nor Celtic). Does anyone know of a better source that can either support or refute the sentence I mentioned? Thank you. Gehayi (talk) 22:29, 22 October 2016 (UTC)

"In the Abrahamic religions, the serpent represents sexual desire".[edit]

Really? That's not a claim I've seen before, and the main section on "Serpents in Judeo-Christian Mythology" says nothing about it. The cited source ("The American journal of urology and sexology") isn't readable online, and doesn't look as though it would be a reliable source on the theological/mythological symbolism on serpents. I'm not even sure if the citation is correct - the reference note says it is the 1984 edition, but the link appears to be to the 1918 edition. Iapetus (talk) 12:28, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

The serpent in the Garden of Eden is often claimed to represent sexual desire, since he seduces Eve. The tree of knowledge that he convinces her to partake of can thus be related to carnal knowledge and loss of (sexual) innocence. I agree, however, that a good reference should be found. (talk) 18:20, 29 May 2016 (UTC)

Coat of Arms of Capua?[edit]

Why is there an illustration of the Coat of Arms of Capua? No serpent or snake appears in it, and the caption doesn't indicate how it's relevant, either. Can't it be eliminated? (talk) 18:17, 29 May 2016 (UTC)