The Way of the Serpent   8 comments

SnakeThe vision:  a place for Serpent worship and study of the esoteric serpentine mysteries in their many forms.

What follows is a hodgepodge collection of quotations, links, photos, and other resources I have compiled on serpent wisdom, which is an element of the Black Stone Hermitage vision.  This page is also a tribute to my Serpent Muse.

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“The world’s first known mystics are connected to serpents and also to the color black.”

~ Matomah Alesha, The First Book of the Dark Goddess

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“The serpent is the very essence of genius loci [protective spirit of a place].  It is the spirit of the land and the land itself.”

~ Sarah Lawless, The Witch of Forest Grove

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“…the serpent was the most ancient of the heathen gods.”

~ J. B. Deane, Worship of the Serpent

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“…the serpent is possibly humankind’s most ancient object of veneration. […]  Since those earliest snake-worship forms, the serpent has become heavily invested with symbolic meaning, becoming associated not only with wisdom and divinity, but also with medicine, rebirth, vengeance, guardianship and trickery. And this heavy freighting has occurred across all cultures, not just those who could arguably have inherited their traditions from a common source such as the Indo-Europeans.”Python

~ User Vineacity (Synthesis) at newsvine.com

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“Snakes bear symbolic connotations in many cultures, be they beneficent or ominous.  In conjunction with female images…the results are especially powerful, for they combine in disturbing ways the comforting and familiar with the terrifying and repellent.  Linking desire with fear, and attraction with repulsion, such images…exercise a strong hold on the imagination.”

“Because they live in the earth, snakes frequently function as chthonic symbols – symbols of the underworld.  Seen as passing readily from the nether world to the earth’s surface, they are also considered intermediaries between the living and the dead.”

~ Kenneth Lapatin, Mysteries of the Snake Goddess

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“…the archetypical serpent is, according to Jung, ‘…a being of primordial, dark, earthbound, underworld ways.’

Snake power is a radical power, both dangerous and transformative.”

~ Normandi Ellis, Feasts of Light

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“The serpent is an ancient totem of wisdom, embodying profound archaic knowledge of the underworld.  Hidden activities, particularly of the subconscious, are often symbolized by the serpent and its unyielding stare.”

~ Anna-Marie Ferguson, A Keeper of Words

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“There is no animal symbol more widespread and complex than the snake, which appears all over the world in a great range of forms and has inspired more sacred mysteries and cults than any other creature.  Snakes dwell underground and hence symbolize the forces of the earth and the underworld.”

~ David Fontana, The New Secret Language of Symbols

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“Before snake became the dark god of our underworld…it carried a different weight in our human bones; it was a being of holy inner earth…In nearly all ancient cultures the snake was the symbol of healing and wholeness.”

– Linda Hogan, “The Snake People,” from Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World

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“A naga was pictured as having a human face with the tail of a serpent, and the expanded neck of the cobra…They inhabit subaquatic paradises, dwelling at the bottoms of rivers, lakes, and seas, in splendid, jewel-studded palaces ever alive with dancing and song…The protective function of nagas is apparent in temple architecture, where they stand guard at the portals of shrines.”

~ Arthur Cotterell, Dictionary of World Mythology

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Spotted Python“The Stave Churches, peculiar to Norway, abound with serpent imagery; serpents are carved on pillars and portals writhing all over the churches and church roofs are fashioned so as to mimic serpent skin.”

~ Harald Boehlke, The Viking Serpent: Secrets of the Celtic Church in Norway – Their Serpent Worship and Sacred Pentagram Geometry

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“…chthonic can represent both the creative and destructive aspects of nature.”

– Stephen Parker, Snakes in the Psyche

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“Serpent gods do not die.”

~  Joseph CampbellBlack snake

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“Serpent-witches are still a known traditional concept in Sweden.”

Maria Kvilhaug, The Goddess and the Serpent

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“The way of the serpent is the way of gnosis, mysticism and self-transformation…It is the journey inwards to find the true and immortal Self. The work of this path is primarily solitary and meditative, requiring one to step beyond the boundaries of ordinary consciousness and consensus reality.”

~ Web of Qabalah

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Sacred Serpent shrine

The first serpent shrine at the Hermitage

Other resources:

Offerings to a Stone Snake Provide the Earliest Evidence of Religion (Scientific American article)

Vision of the Snakes – art by ayahuasquero Pablo Amaringo, featured in The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby

Snake worship – Naga cult in Tamil Nadu, India

Ophiolatreia – excerpt from a book on Serpent Worship written anonymously by Hargrave Jennings

Serpent Worship and Other Essays (1888) by C. Staniland Wake

Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple of the serpent gods

Serpent Cults, Part 1: Wisdom and Kingship

Serpent Cults, Part 2: Cosmic Symbols and Reptilian Agendas

Serpent in the Mound by Max Dashu (excerpt from her book The Secret History of the Witches)

Žaltys and Gyvate – Lithuanian serpent spirit and goddess

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“Spirit thrives as much in the dust beneath your feet, in the forces that emanate from the bowels of the earth, as it does in the vast skies up above.  But how many of you look down at the ground you walk on when you seek Spirit?  You’ll look up to the ‘heavens in the sky.’  That is your delusion, not mine!”

~ Siddhah the Cobra in Shri Yannam’s Serpent’s Dance

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Posted 2011/09/13 by The Black Stone Hermitage

8 responses to “The Way of the Serpent

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  1. Pingback: I am a Temple Keeper « The Black Stone Hermitage

  2. As a Naga worshipper from way back, i would like to reblog this article and some of the links. thank you. Lee Shawnus

    • It isn’t really an article – it’s just a collection of quotes from various sources, and links that I found to be inspiring. I’m glad you found it worthwhile. Feel free to share. A link back to this page would be appreciated as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Pingback: Reblog – The Way of the Serpent | Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge

  4. Pingback: The Hermit and the Black Stone | The Black Stone Hermitage

  5. Part of the emergent traditions of mysticism in the Ekklesía Antínoou involves something we call the Serpent Path. Fascinating how many people are involved in similar things these days!

    • “Emergent tradition of mysticism”…I like that phrase. This part of the vision is still emerging, and given my insane schedule these days, it could be years before I have an opportunity to delve into this work as deeply as I’d like. But your observation that many people are involved in similar things interests me – it suggests that the potential may be emerging for collaborative work among polytheists at some point, or at the very least, comparing of notes. I will take a closer look at your site and read about the Serpent Path you mention when I have a chance. Thanks for the pointer!

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