Reptiles in religion, myth and symbolism Picture

It was my intention to make a collage based on the importance and role that reptiles have played in different cultures throughout the world.

In some cultures reptiles were revered and seen as gods such as the crocodile god Sobek in Egypt, the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl in Meso-American civilizations or the snake god Damballah in African and Voodoo religions.

In other places reptiles did not get this divine status but were seen as powerful forces of nature. First example that comes to mind here are those serpentine dragons in Chinese mythology. Some of them had powers over the weather, others were bringers of luck and prosperity etc.

In India serpents were seen as comic powers. Like in kundalini yoga for instance were the energy that flows through the chakras is symbolized as a serpent or two serpents that are intertwined. Pretty similar as the serpents in a caduceus, the icon for medical science.

Reptiles were not always seen in a positive way however. The Bible has the story of Eve who was seduced by a snake in the garden of Eden to break God's command. The introduction of christendom in Europe further diabolized reptiles. Think about the stories of St.-George and St.-Patrick. They were basically allegories of victory where the christian religion triumphed over paganism.

Europe always seemed to have an antagonistic view of reptiles even before christianity came in. In norse mythology the god Thor will fight a battle of live or death with the serpent Jormungandr. In Celtic mythology dragons also played an important role but their arrival usually meant strife and chaos. In Germanic mythology the hero Siegfried defeated the dragon Fafnir and became immune for wounds after he bathed in the dragon's blood.

Greek mythology also has it's share of reptiles such as the hydra or the gorgon Medusa whose head is crawling with snakes. Even outside of religion or myth reptiles played a role of some historic relevance. Think about the famous death of Cleopatra who was bitten by a viper. Nowadays historians have serious doubts however if this event actually took place.

In more contemporary views there is a firm belief in some conspiracy theories that the human race is secretly manipulated by a vile race of reptilian shape shifters. I have no intention to start a debate whether this is all true or not. I simply wanted to reflect on how reptiles have always fascinated the human mind throughout the ages.
Continue Reading: Gorgons