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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sacred snake

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Call of the Horned Serpent

 Wrap your cold coils around the world,

bounding that which Is from what Is Not.


As Lord of Beasts, god of red life, the god of witches—him that we call the Horned—takes many forms. Among the least-examined of these in contemporary Witchdom is that of the Great (or Old, or Crooked) Serpent.

One readily understands why. Ophidophobia runs deep in Western culture. I'm afraid of snakes myself, though they fascinate me as well. (They say that fascinate originally referred to “the ability to induce an erection.” Make of that what you will.) The War between the Thunderer and the Earth Serpent is an old, old story, one of humanity's most widespread. It only becomes a danger when the War becomes morally weighted, as it does, most notably, in the Bible, in which the Serpent frequently embodies capital-E Evil: e.g. the polycephalous (many-headed) and polycerate (many-horned) Dragon of the bad acid-trip book of Revelation.

(Pagans, of course, knew—and know—better. Ba'al's adversary, Livyatán—who became the Leviathan of Hebrew mythology—is called náhash 'aqaltón: the “zigzag serpent.” Interestingly, Bible translators have tended to render this as “the crooked serpent.” Compare the two adjectives. One is morally-charged, the other merely descriptive.)

Here we see another reason for Wicca's aversion to the Horned Serpent. Wicca, for entirely understandable reasons, has tended to eschew anything that bears even the slightest taint of Satanism.

Old Craft is less fearful of Biblical imagery although—as Craft historian Mike Howard has observed—when it embraces it, it tends to do so for its own purposes.

One of the few contemporary Craft voices to speak about the Old Serpent is Tony Steele, who in his 1998 Water Witches writes about a purported Fam Trad, supposedly of Frisian origin, preserved among the canal-boatsmen (and -women) of the English Midlands.

Let me say up front that the credibility of his historical claims is gravely damaged by his decision to anchor them in the Oera Linda Book, a notorious late “19th” century forgery claiming to date back to Bronze Age “Atland” (i.e. Atlantis).

Well, for now let us lay historicity to the side. Steele claims as the god of these water-witches the Great Serpent “World”: in Frisian (supposedly) Wr-alda. (My Frisian-English dictionary doesn't turn up such a word.) Steele's ideas are most moving (and convincing) when he writes in a pagan idiom of the Earth Serpent, Whose power flows through the landscape. (Take a thoughtful look at the Great Serpent Mound to understand what he means.) It is less so when it seeks deep Craft meaning in the hallucinatory visions of the book of Revelations, where the Dragon is said to have seven heads and ten horns. Steele suggests that reflection on the uneven horns-to-heads ratio will impart deep insights into the nature of the god of witches.

Call me a skeptic, but I'm not convinced.

Still, Steele does indeed have his share of insights to offer, and I'd recommend a read to those whose ears the Crooked Serpent has tickled with His forkèd tongue.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Element of Spirit and Reptiles

Nile Crocodile:

One of the most well-known of crocodiles is the Nile crocodile of Africa, who is a fearsome predator of animals and people.  Ancient Egyptians saw the Nile crocodile as their fearsome God Sobek. An aggressive God, Sobek represented the power of the Pharaoh.  However, He was also their God of fertility and protection. A link to the deep past, the Nile crocodile is respected and feared.  As Sobek, the Nile crocodile is a part of the primal strength of nature. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
EGYPTIAN COBRA: Power and Protection

The most venomous of the naja cobras, the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje) is not afraid of people.  She enters their houses and gardens at will.  Hunting at night, the Egyptian cobra looks for a tasty rat or toad for her meal.

One of the largest cobras in Africa, the Egyptian cobra has a wide hood and a full-bodied build. Unlike other cobras, She has neither the distinctive eye spots nor does She spit. Said to be relatively docile, the Egyptian cobra is often the choice of snake charmers and pet owners.

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Snake Spirits: Health and Wealth

"Snake, snake, come swiftly 
Hither come, thou tiny thing,
Thou shalt have thy crumbs of bread,
Thou shalt refresh thyself with milk."

-The Brothers Grimm, “Stories About Snakes: First Story”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Snake Goddess Reborn, Part 2

I am lucky enough to live in Kifissia, a lovely green suburb of Athens, Greece. Not far from my home there's a quiet place with meadows and olive groves. I love taking meditative walks there. Just a couple of days ago, as I was walking, I came across a snakeskin. I felt chills down my spine as I remembered the powerful symbolism of transformation associated with a creature that can literally shed its skin.

This made me think that the forces of change are always with us. They're part of nature as much as they're part of our inner landscape and our social environment. Living in Greece has given me ample opportunity to experience the winds of change time and again these past few years.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Snake Goddess Reborn, Part 1

There's a sense of history in the making in Greece these days. The people are called to vote in a referendum whether they agree with the harshest austerity measures they've ever faced. If they vote no, they're threatened with an exit from the eurozone and the European Union.

Scary? For many people yes. Yet sometimes what we most fear is precisely what we need to face. What may seem as impending doom may in fact be a propelling force towards a much-needed process of renewal. Which brings us to the topic of this blog post: for a very long time, the snake has been a powerful symbol of death and rebirth. Interestingly, it was also sacred to Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, the patron goddess of Athens, which is now the capital of Greece.
I've always felt a special affinity to the snake. As a teenager, I used to draw a serpent coiled around my ring finger. This much maligned animal seems to carry a message: facing your fears can be a path to regeneration and wisdom. Exploring the hidden meanings of the snake has become a source of inspiration for me. Allow me to share with you a part of an article I wrote about Athena as Snake Goddess.

Pallas, only-begotten, venerable offspring of the great Zeus…

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