Cirlot on snakes and serpents
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
A Dictionary of Symbols – J E Cirlot
If all symbols are really functions and signs of things imbued with energy, then the serpent or snake is, by analogy, symbolic of energy itself – of force pure and simple; hence its ambivalence and multivalences. Another reason for its great variety of symbolic meanings derives from the consideration that these meanings may relate either to the serpent as a whole or to any of its major characteristics - for example, to its sinuous movements, its common association with the tree and its formal analogy with the roots and branches of the tree, the way it sheds its skin, its threatening tongue, the undulating pattern of its body, its hiss, its resemblance to a ligament, its method of attacking its victims by coiling itself round them, and so on.
Still another explanation lies in its varying habitat; there are snakes which inhabit woods, others which thrive in the desert, aquatic serpents and those that lurk in lakes and ponds, wells and springs. In India, snake cults or cults of the spirit of the snake are connected with the symbolism of the waters of the sea.
The source of the experienceCirlot, J E
Concepts, symbols and science items
Ocean and sea
Tree of life