Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Serpent Sanctuary

By Bethany Youngblood

Wikimedia Commons

Cultural similarities are one of the most intriguing aspects of ancient man to study. Common structures such as pyramids, mounds, and stone monuments can be found all over the world; the same goes for artistic talents and technological works of genius. Naturally we find similarities among religions and beliefs as well.

In chapter nine of The Genius of Ancient Man we briefly cover the commonalities in world religions and legends. Remarkably, many religions were monotheistic in their beginnings and we can even find traces of Judeo-Christian beliefs woven throughout ancient practices.[1] This makes sense because after the Flood, Noah and his sons would have passed down the true accounts of God's work. 

However, as mankind continued to rebel against God and reject the truth, pagan counterfeits began to twist truth and proper worship of God. Distorted beliefs mixed with truth were passed down and dispersed with the people across the globe after the Tower of Babel. So just like we find traces of Judeo-Christian beliefs in ancient religion, we also find numerous similar distortions throughout ancient cultures. In this article we will be focusing on the prominence of serpent worship.

Worshiping Snakes? 

In our modern eyes these creatures do not seem like something to be venerated. And in ancient times it wasn't so much the snake itself that was worshiped but rather the symbolism behind the snake.
Serpent in the Garden - Creation Museum, Kentucky
(Flickr. com - nofilmrequired)
From a biblical standpoint, the snake seems tainted because it was the form Satan took when he tempted Eve in the garden. Satan is even known as the “Serpent” or “Dragon”, in the Bible. So then are snakes evil like Satan is evil? No! Snakes are only created creatures whose image is used to symbolize certain ideas.

That being said, there is substantial proof for the existence of an evil cult-like worship of the serpent across the ancient world. This post will briefly describe the trail of this symbolic snake as it slithers through history.

How did Snake Worship Start?

Is this obsession with snakes really a worldwide thing? Consider how one author put it:

"No nations were so geographically remote, or so religiously discordant, but that one--and only one--superstitious characteristic was common to all; that the most civilized and the most barbarous bowed down with the same devotion to the same engrossing deity; and that this deity either was, or was represented by the same sacred serpent.”[2]

But what’s the source? Like everything else we can trace this back to a counterfeit that likely spread out from Babel.

Because Satan always perverts God’s truth, the biblical account of Eve and the serpent was twisted. [3] And the snake became a symbol of the one who brought secret knowledge of good and evil to man. The snake was also associated with sun worship, which seems to have emerged at the same time. The sun was worshiped as the one who brought physical enlightenment, and the snake as the one who brought spiritual light to man.[4] [5]

Therefore serpents in worldwide religions are commonly deities of the sun, fire (representative of the sun), sky, wisdom, civilization, regeneration, and healing. Some ancient cultures described comets as flaming serpents.[6] And because snakes shed their skin they are also associated with the regeneration of men's souls through fire or death.

Serpent Deities Around the World

There are far too many examples of serpent deities to compile a complete list, so we will just take a look at some of the most prominent serpents around the world.

The Rainbow Serpent - (iansand, 2005)
The Rainbow Serpent - This is a deity found in both Australia and Africa, though more prominently in the former. The Rainbow Serpent is known by countless regional names and is credited with the creation of all life on earth. Shamans are ritually 'consumed' by the serpent and then emerge reborn so that they might gain spiritual power.[7]
Apep - This serpent deity originates in Egypt. It dwells in the “celestial Nile”, or the Milky Way. Other Egyptian serpent deities include Wadjet, Aker (an earth dragon), Am-Mut (eater of souls), Atum, and Denwen (another dragon).[8]

Lung - This is the basic name for the Chinese dragon or serpent deity. Chinese mythology claims there were four great dragon kings, and one serpent that had nine sons who did great deeds. Other Chinese serpent deities include: Chien Lung (the Great Serpent), Kung Shih (wisdom), Shen Lung (rain), and Nu Kua (the serpent mother goddess).[9]

Quetzalcoatl - Kulkulcan - Viracocha  - These three names all describe a similar feathered serpent deity from Aztec, Mayan, and Incan religion. This deity was credited with creation, the bringing of wisdom, and the founding of civilization.[10] These three deities, though symbolized as a serpent, also supposedly appeared to the native people as a white, bearded man in long robes from across the sea.[11]

Coatlicue - The Aztec serpent mother. This deity was known to the Inca as Chalchiuhticue and to Brazillians as Iara. Serpent mothers and other mother goddess figures appear all over the world.

Other Mesoamerican snake deities include:
  • Aztec: Huitzilopotchili, Tezcatlipoca, Xiuhtecuhtli (fire serpent), and Mixcoatl.
  • Mayan: Gucumatz, Hunab Ku (sky serpent), Labna, Tlactoc (rain serpent), Xiuhcoatl (fire serpent), and Youalcoatl (storm serpent)[12]

Avanyu - The feathered sky serpent of the Pueblo people was also associated with rain and lightning. Other North American serpent deities include: Uktena (Cherokee), the Horned Serpent (various tribes), and Winged Serpents (various tribes). [13]

Serpents were also venerated in the form of mounds (serpent-shaped mounds [effigies] exist in North America, England, and Scotland)[14] monuments, and innumerable pieces of artwork in the ancient world were also dedicated to the worship of the snake. 


This introduction certainly does not touch on every aspect or implication of serpent worship throughout the world. There are many intriguing connections that can still be explored.
  • How many cultures had a mother goddess?
  • What is the significance of the 'rebirth' rituals practiced by Australian and African Shamans?
  • What about those South American legends of white, bearded men from across the sea?
  • Why were some of the serpent deities called dragons? Maybe they were based on actual living creatures of the time?

Hopefully this introduction has opened doors for you to see more connections between cultures in the ancient world and more counterfeits as well. With serpent worship, or other related cults like sun worship, we're seeing evidence of man twisting created things into gods.

This passage written by the Apostle Paul applies well:

"...although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things....who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1:21-23,25 NKJV)

What are your thoughts on this eerie serpent worship cult? Let us know your questions and opinions in the comments or send us an email!
Interested in more? 

[1] “The Genius of Ancient Man”. Landis, Don. Chapter 9. Pg. 72.
[2] Clark, Hyde. Serpent And Siva Worship and Mythology in Central American, Africa, and Asia. And The Origin of Serpent Worship. Hyde Clarke, M.A.I., and C. Staniland Wake, M.A.I. 1877. Google Books.  pg vi-vii
[3]  “Snake Worship”. William T. Pelletier, Ph.D. 2008. BibleScienceGuy. Web.
[4]  “Nature Worship”. Pg. 287. The New International Encyclopedia, Volume 14. By Daniel Coit Gilman, Harry Thurston Peck, Frank Moore Colby.
[5] “Druids”. In Note, pg. 437. Owen, Davies
[6] “The Mystery of Serpent Worship”. Farra, Leonard. Web Article.
[7] Ibid.
[8] “List of Serpent Gods”. Web Discussion. 
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11]  “The Mystery of Serpent Worship”. Farra, Leonard. Web Article.
[12] Ibid.
[13] “The Reptilian Agenda: Horned Serpent, Feathered Serpent.”. Hidden Mysteries (1998-2005). Web.
[14] Ibid.

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