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serpent

An image of a Serpent-bearing Goddess figure found in the remains of a temple in Knossos, Crete.She is one of several such figurines unearthed.

The name and purpose of the figure has never been deciphered, but she is associated with animals- mainly bees and snakes, and associated with the labyrinth and the labrys symbols.

See also: The Lady and the Serpent

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The Orphic egg is usually represented as an egg surrounded by a coiled serpent. The egg symbolizes the belief in the Greek Orphic religion that the universe originated from within a silver egg. The first emanation from this egg, described in an ancient hymn, was Phanes-dionysus, the personification of light:

“ineffable, hidden, brilliant scion, whose motion is whirring, you scattered the dark mist that lay before your eyes and, flapping your wings, you whirled about, and through this world you brought pure light.”

The image below depicts Phanes’ birth from the egg:

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The poisoned cup is an emblem of the Catholic saint John the Evangelist. The symbols stems from the popular miracle story whereby at John’s blessing, the poison in a cup of wine intended for his consumption is transformed into a serpent.

Interestingly, the image of a serpent rising from a cup is described in a vision of Isis in the Golden Ass of Apuleius:

“In her left hand was a golden cup, from the top of whose slender handle rose an asp, towering with head erect and its throat distended on both sides. ”


The Poisoned Cup


John transforms the poison

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Horned serpent deities figure in the mythology of most Native American and Meso-American peoples. Most of these horned and/or feathered serpents are associated with rain and thunder, or waterways.


Avanyu

Some, like the Cherokee horned serpent Utkena, or the Australian aborigine monster, bunyip, are malevolent beings or monsters who devour their enemies.


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Utkena

Others, like the the Choktaw deity Sint holo, are givers of inspiration, promethian spirits who introduce agriculture, language, and other gifts of knowledge to mankind. The Tewa deity Avanyu is the feathered sky serpent of the Pueblos (Zuni, Kolowisi, and Hopi, Paluluka), a rain and lightning deity who is believed to have given birth to the waterways, and whose voice is thunder.

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Avanyu

Algonquin pictographs commonly depict a horned, feathered serpent known as Mishipizheu. Similar icons are scattered across North america.

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Algonquin


Algonquin


Moundville, Alabama

The best known feathered serpent of the New world is, of course, the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, (Mayan Kukulkan, Incan Urcaguey) who was exiled by the gods for his gifts of knowledge to the Aztec people.

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Quetzalqoatl

The horned serpent is not restricted to the Americas- some version of this creature can be found on every continent. There are literally hundreds of “cosmic serpents” peppered throughout world mythology, whose origin and meaning are never satisfactorily explained. There is the Celtic, ram-horned serpent associated withThe forerunner to the biblical serpent was Ningiszida- in Sumerian texts, this horned serpent guarded the tree of life and the gateway to the underworld. Wadjet, the winged serpent of Egypt, protected the Pharoahs and controlled the waters of the nile.


Ningiszida

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Wadjet

For more on serpent symbolism, see: The Secret language of symbols: The Egg and the serpent

 

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The astrological glyph for the sun, and the alchemical symbol for Gold. This symbol originated in ancient Egypt as a symbol for the sun God Re. The sun represents the pinnacle of spiritual development and human achievement.

For more, see: Point in the circle

 

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The Solar Disk Re
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Coptic CrossAssyrian winged solar disk
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This symbol, a winged staff entwined by twin serpents called a caduceus, has been nearly universal, found in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India, where it is a symbol of harmony and balance.

The symbol may have originally been a symbol of the sovereignty of the Goddess Tanit, and has been used as an emblem of the goddess Ishtar and the Sumerian creator god Enki.

The most recognizable form is the Kerykeion, or herald’s wand, an emblem of authority carried by couriers for safe passage, and most often associated with the Greek Hermes and the Roman Mercurius. It has been mistakenly utilized as a symbol of the medical industry in the place of the wand of Asclepius (Asculapius).

In the Hermetic Tradition, the caduceus is a symbol of spiritual awakening, and has been likened to the twin Kundalini serpents of Hindu mysticism.

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The Goddess Ishtar Hermes
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Crescent moonAsclepius wand
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Chnoubis is an Egyptian Gnostic solar icon, found most often on gnostic gems, and amulets for protection against poison and disease. It is a composite figure with the head of a lion and the body of a serpent, usually with seven rays emanating from the head, sometimes, with the twelve zodiacal signs. Chnoubis is an aspect of the Gnostic Demiurge, Yaldabaoth, and is associated with Abraxas. Images of Chnoubis are most often found inscribed on gnostic gems, small talismans made from semi-precious stone, that date from the first century onward.

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Chnoubis
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The lion’s head represents the solar forces, enlightenment; the serpent, the lower impulses, earth. The rays represent the seven planets, the seven Greek vowels,* and the seven colors of the visible spectrum.

 

*An important part of ritual formulas

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Uraeus
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