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Snake Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)


Snakes, being so close to the ground, represent the earth. Snake symbolism also stands for something evil, negative, and even of caustic words or innuendoes of people around you. Since they shed their skin, they also symbolize transformation and rebirth. Let us study what does a snake symbolize in detail.

Table of contents

Snake symbolism and meaning

Snakes hold a certain fascination for humans. They have the ability to shed their skins and seemingly emerge reborn, so they are identified with the symbol of regeneration and immortality. 

The snake demon or serpent God in mythology represents fertility in many cultures. In many cultures, snake meaning is God and the snake symbol is worshiped.

However, snakes also spew venom, bite people, and can destroy. Hence, their role is that of the creator as well as a destroyer. 

Snake Goddess is associated with fertility and motherhood. In the Bible, the snake is pure evil and as it tempts Adam and Eve, it is called the principle of Evil. 

snake on a leaf

Because it lives close to the ground, the snake is an emblem of the nurturing earth and also the unknown perils of the underworld. Snakes also have different mystical meanings. Entwined snakes meaning is God Mercury’s caduceus, which is the symbol of the medical community. 

When asked what the word snake brings to mind, most people, irrespective of their religion, would answer ‘evil’ or fear. Christians, Muslims, and Jews would inevitably use the word evil to describe the snake’s meaning. 

The scholarly world would use the words sinful, deceptive, or dangerous to describe snake symbolism. In many parts of the world, snakes and serpents are also symbols of sex. (1)

Snake Native American symbolism

In the Southwest, many tribes associated snakes with flashes of lightning and associated snakes with speed and feared their deadly power. 

The Snake Clan of Hopi had the water-snake as their emblem and the images of it are found on many rocks. Many tribes carried out the Ritual of the Snake as it was believed to protect the tribe on their hikes and hunts.

The elders believed the snake was a symbol of life and rebirth. As a result, snakes made their appearance in many sand paintings and healing ceremonies. 


Furthermore, they believed that the snake was linked to secrets, fertility, rain, and healing. The snake also became a symbol of renewal as it embraced life and death. 

The Navajo believed that the white snake stands for dawn or the East, the yellow snake stands for dusk or West, the black snake, which embodies the dark represents the North, and the blue sky embodies the Sky and hence the South. 

What does a serpent symbolize in dreams according to Native American philosophy? The Elders believed that snake dreams meaning is that you have an enemy. So, if you end up killing the snake in your dreams, it means good luck. (2)

Snake Eastern Symbolism

In India, the snakes are worshipped during the holy month of Shravan. Snakes or cobras are also fed milk and it is prohibited to kill the snake in that month. The nagas are the serpent-spirits that inhabit the underworld. 

They have their origin in the ancient snake cults of India, which probably date back to the early Indus valley civilization.  In many songs, myths, and legends both in India and elsewhere, the snake or serpent symbolizes the soul or life essence.

In Japan, there is an emphasis on the life-giving nature of the snake deity (from its symbolic molting) and the Japanese connect the snake with the agrarian worship of rice and the water god. 


The Ainu of Japan worships the ophidian deity, Kinashut Kamui, “the spirit chief of all serpents,” who is propitiated by women who suffer emotional upsets or bodily ailments believed to have been caused by dreams of serpents. 

In China, though, snakes and serpents symbolism means evil, cunning, and sycophancy. The Chinese believe that elves, fairies, and demons often transform themselves into snakes. 

It is considered a bad omen to kill a snake that has made dwelling in your home. To purchase a snake and free it in the wild is a good deed that will not go un-repaid. (3)

Snake Christianity symbolism

Throughout the Bible, the snake or serpent symbol means the Devil or Satan that leads the whole world astray. 

Therefore, when a man or a nation is called a snake, it means that its wicked ways are clear. In Jeremiah (15:34), it says, ‘Like a serpent, he has swallowed us and filled his stomach with our delicacies and then spewed us out.’

When the Hebrews lived in Egypt, they encountered snake charmers there, so Moses worked his God-ordained sorcery to counter theirs. Egyptian art shows snakes in the form of headdresses, statues, on urns, and pottery.


When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they encountered venomous snakes and died of their bites. 

After they begged Moses to save them, God asked him to put a snake on a pole, so anyone bitten could look at it and live. This healing power became the symbol of medicine- Caduceus – which is a combination of Greek and Hebrew imagery. 

The Bible also asks a man to cast aside the old skin, just like the snake does and cast off the old for Christ. In the Old Testament, the snake is blamed for the fall, tempting Eve to pick the forbidden fruit. (4)

Snake Celtic symbolism

In early Irish literature, there are legends connecting snakes with treasures despite the absence of these reptiles from Ireland. In many ancient Celtic mythologies, the sea serpents are said to have been defeated by the gods on high seas. 

The dragon slain by Perseus was a water beast and in Celtic literature, it is said that St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland but left the “peists’ (pests and general term for serpents) ordering them to remain in the caves. 

Early representation of snakes was seen as zigzag lines and seen in the earliest evidence in Hallstatt Period vessels. 


In Celtic symbolism, snakes are seen not as a type of animal but as a multifaceted symbol that represents the idea of the creation process. Here too, their ability to shed their skin symbolizes rebirth. 

Snakes represent the male reproductive organ and also produce a large number of offspring. As a result, they symbolize fertility. Their poison is deadly and yet it can stand as a symbol of healing just as the saliva and breath of a dog. 

Snakes can impregnate women when she swallows a snake in the form of a worm and is associated with a water cult. The snake represents protection, as seen in Conchobar’s story, where he holds the worms that impregnate his mother. Closely related to this is the snake’s role as a guardian. (5)

Snake Medicine

Snake medicine is an ally to assist you when you are in the process of awakening your awareness of the parts of you that need healing. 

Are you in a transformative state? Are there emotional, spiritual, or physical aspects of you that need healing? Are your layers of consciousness peeling away? Then call upon the snake medicine. 

Snake’s transformative powers will support you as you go below the surface of emotions and perceptions. Just as a snake molts away its skin, you may be presented with an opportunity to peel layers that are worn off or unnecessary aspects of your life.  


When a snake slithers in your life, examine all aspects of your life, whether people or situations and see if you can slough off these pesky individuals or belief systems. Snake medicine makes you sensitive to fragrances and odors and also improves your intuitive abilities. 

The snake symbol is making its presence felt in your life, for it wants you to awaken and realize the parts of your consciousness. Snake medicine is a supportive aid when you are studying kundalini or Tree of Life or Kabbalah. 

Meditate on the Kundalini force, which is a dormant or sleeping serpent within each of us located at the base of the spine. Once you awaken this serpent, there is no looking back and your life will positively transform in all areas. (6)

Snake in dreams

Snake meaning in dreams usually means fear or transformation. Dreaming of a snake is a sign that you are afraid of something in your waking life, or it could be a forewarning of changes to come. 

Whether you dream about a snake in your house or getting bitten by a snake, the meaning behind the dream depends on your real-life personal situation. 

Some common meanings of snakes include fear, transformation, sex, evil, or fertility. Keep in mind, too, that different cultures and religions ascribe different symbolic meanings to snakes. 


Native Americans believe that dreaming of snakes means that you have an enemy, but in the same dream, if you end up killing the snake, it means you will have good luck. 

A snake or serpent symbol occurs when the dreamer is attempting to come to terms with his or her more instinctive self. Inevitably, this has to do with the recognition and harnessing of energies that have been suppressed and thwarted. 

Since sex is the most primeval urge, snakes in dreams represent sexuality. Snake entwined around your body may mean bondage. A snake in grass may be an indication of trickery or evil. Snake with its tail in the mouth means the connection of spiritual and physical self. (7)

Snake encounters and omens

Snake is believed to be the most deadly reptile and perhaps out of fear, it is called ‘ Nagdevta ‘ or the ‘ Snake God. 

The Hindus worship the black cobra because it forms the garland round Lord Shiva’s neck. Snakes, especially King Cobras, are believed to be custodians of treasures. So, encountering snakes in forests may mean that there is treasure nearby. 

Be careful, though; you do not want to get bitten. A snake approaching you on your journey means that an enemy is nearby. When entering a town, you end up seeing a snake on your right side; it means that victory is on your side. 


However, a black snake on your left side is inauspicious. People of Thailand believe that if a snake enters the house, it is a sign that someone in the family will die soon. 

In some cultures, though, encountering a snake means you should prepare for symbolic death and rebirth. It means you need to shed some old aspects of your personality or life situation and exchange it for something that will be more valuable in the future. 

Stand firm and in balance. Visualize and meditate on the snake’s healing and transformative power to tide you through. (8)

Snake mythology and folklore

African snake mythology came to North America through slavery. The myth of the joint snake that could remerge whole after being hacked into pieces became the symbol of strength for African slaves as they endured cruel hardships at the hands of the white slave owners. 

In Hinduism, village serpent gods, often perceived as spirits rather than living serpents, are still worshiped today. 

This worship is directed towards goals of immortality, fertility, the womb, and curing children’s diseases, snake bite, and other infectious diseases. Hindus also fear and revere the snake because Lord Shiva carries a snake wrapped around His neck. 


Snakes play a profound role in witchcraft as familiars, companions, teachers and transmitters of magic, guardians of knowledge, and as witches themselves, transformed or otherwise. A Ukrainian word for “witch” is synonymous with “snake.” 

Snakes feature widely in Japanese mythology. The Japanese believe that snakes are Messengers of Ryujin. Snakes are considered a minor sort of dragon. Shinto priests and devout people avoid harming snakes found in the residences. 

Snakes also figure prominently in several Chinese myths. There is a Chinese myth about the Big Snake that devours elephants and takes 3 years to disgorge their bones. Gentlemen can take a dose of this snake to never suffer from heart disease.

Snake spirit animal

The serpent’s meaning as a spirit animal is that of transformation and change. Few creatures embody the process of spiritual transformation so well as the snake, who must repeatedly shed its skin in order to grow.

A snake is also a powerful healer and a symbol of death and rebirth. Its medicine works through sexuality, reproduction, alchemy, and also through accepting change. 

A snake is a protector, a symbol of femininity, and is intimately associated with the soul’s journey toward self-realization. A snake spirit animal can be your guide, mentor, guardian, and healer. It is a power that unifies, heals, harmonizes, integrates, and transforms. 

If you are wondering what does a serpent means spiritually, then the answer is Kundalini – the hidden or dormant snake energy within each of us. That is why our spines are shaped like snakes. 

When a snake appears as a spirit animal, you may be about to step into the unknown and need guidance. The snake is asking you to move forward with faith and remain grounded as it does. 

It is also asking you to look at important facts and dynamics that are impacting your life. Whether the snake spirit animal in your dreams has left a positive or negative impression, its presence should be considered as an invitation to look at positive changes. 

Snake totem animal

Although the snake is poisonous and has been used in the Christian tradition as a symbol of evil, in the Druid and other traditions, it represents healing and the power of transformation. It is a rare person who gets a snake as his/her totem. 

It means that the individual is already highly developed on all levels. He or she is strong-willed, vibrant, and sensitive to all kinds of energies. A snake totem can come to someone who has had a near-death experience. 

Such an individual might want to learn about the spiritual practices of indigenous groups. They may want to dwell in the metaphysical and might wish to understand ancient knowledge. 


They are able to sense auras and can even see imbalances in others. If a snake has crossed your path, it may be asking you to shed off an old idea, habit, or even a person or relationship. 

It may be indicative of a new cycle in your life. Perhaps you are ill, feel threatened, or need help. The snake is asking you to keep positive thoughts, for a positive thought is the source of every event. 

The rattlesnake totem is a crucial one for the rattlesnake is not only close to the ground as it crawls; it also has an inherent connection to the Sun God. (9)

Snake power animal

Serpent symbolism as a power animal again means transformation, rebirth, rain, healing, and feminine power. 

In Hindu mythology, the powerful Goddess Kali is shown wearing a garland of snakes.nIn Greek mythology, Medusa’s head is full of snakes and any man who looks at her is immediately converted into stone. 

The snake carries with it the power of water and shamans always meditate on the snake power animal to prevent droughts. A good relationship with snakes is essential to keep corn and other plants growing in an arid environment. 


A snake symbolizes death, rebirth, change, and even sexuality. So the use of snake’s medicine is through sexuality as well. A snake power animal is also referred to as the devil when, in reality, it is the symbol of the Goddess. 

As the Snake crawls on its belly, it is very close to Mother Earth. Its whole body is in constant communion with the earth. It slithers like the waves of the ocean and in accordance with the magnetic field of the earth. 

Snakes are healing and regeneration. As we grow old, we must shed off unwanted, unnecessary, old, and dead so that there is a chance for new, young, and fresh.

Snake tattoo meaning

The symbolism of snakes, serpent spiritual meaning, and snake tattoo meaning vary based on different factors. Snake eyes meaning as a tattoo, is usually a gang symbol. 

In tattoo parlance, the White Snake symbolism is that of a femme fatale, while black snake symbolism refers to mistrust and suspicion. It can be a reminder not to let down your guard. Snake tattoos can also mean the guardian of treasures. 

In many cultures, the snake is a symbol of wisdom. So, a snake or cobra tattoo can mean wisdom, ancient knowledge, and even power. In most cases, a snake coiled around another can mean sexuality or even healing. 

Fierce and evil-looking snake tattoos can evoke fear in the mind of the observer. Many young men get snakes tattooed to show their power, rough-and-tough image, and even to denote strength, evil, or transformation. 

Commonly tattooed snakes include cobras, black adders, boa constrictors, vipers, rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths. In Japan, many martial art practitioners get a snake tattoo after getting their black belt. 

The snake is ever-changing, molting, growing, and again transforming and re-growing. Make sure you get an experienced tattoo artist to draw your snake tattoo. Otherwise, instead of a wise-looking snake, you could end up getting a mean one!


As can be seen, snake symbolism and snake meaning change from culture to culture. In most scenarios, though, it means transformation and rebirth. Snake is also a symbol of the Devil or Satan but can also represent healing. 

It can even symbolize feminine power, Mother Earth, and the soul itself. A snake is a wise creature and its presence in your life, whether through dreams, real-encounters, or as tattoos, should usually mean a symbolic, transformative, and healing experience is on the horizon.


5 thoughts on “Snake Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. Avatar

    Hello Garth..this is my first time speaking publicly about this..When I was 7yrs old visiting my Great Grand Mother while I was riding my bike down the hill I began to hear a strange sound and or vibration that had silenced every thing else. And as I got the bottom of the hill about 10/15 feet in front of me a Greyish White Serpent/Snake slowly rose until completely Verticle on it’s tail still making this sound and vibration and then sell I remember is banging on the door to tell my Granny…She and 3 Men ran down the hill to locate and destroy the Serpent but it was no where to be found…No tracks or broken grass or anything…this was not a dream because I ended up getting a spanking for living!!. I know what I saw and felt and My life from that moment has been Highly Compelling… I’m 53yrs now and all I think about is that encounter with the Serpent… And to top it off… When I turned 30yrs old a strange looking birthmark looking figure appeared on the lower rite side of my Back…Its not My Birth Mark… And it looks like a Scorpion😳 Plz help Me figure this ordeal out.

  2. Avatar

    This is absolutely fascinating! Very well researched and explained.

    Have you come across anything talking about what a fear of snakes symbolizes?

  3. Avatar
    Leonarda Duran Buike

    I started a fascination with snakes 🐍.
    It’s the closest symbol to the Divine Feminine,
    Women should wear a snake ring. I already designed one with a good friend of mine. I will say something, It is pure power, wisdom, rebirth, healing, protection, spiritual courage, awakening, it brings you the closest to Mother Earth you will ever feel.

  4. Avatar

    Good morning Garth,
    Days before my husband passed, he was sitting in bed, suddenly he says who’s the snake coming inside the room ( this was in hospital, and the floor below has mather Mary statute with the snake coins around her and one of her foot stood on snake’s head and it’s month open while) I would like to know what it’s meaning in spiritcual .
    Thank you with much appreciation, from Australia 9/1/22

    1. Avatar

      The statue itself means Mary has overcome or defeated the devil, potentially through her holyness. As this is a Christian statue the snake is the devil here.

      As for what your husband saw: I think it might be explainable as an omen of his death. Snakes do represent that sometimes. I hope he’s been calm and comfortable. Another meaning: He just shed his skin of this life to be reborn into the next, he has learned all he needed to from this life.

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