The origin of the Serpent Symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of North America, the culture of the Mound Builders. The Mound Builders associated great mystical value to the serpent. Some Indian tribes still retain some elements of the Mississippi culture. Their sacred rites, myths and symbols and are presumed to descend from the Mississippians. The Great Serpent Symbol represented a malevolent creature but similar creatures like those depicted in the Horned Serpent Symbol and the Feathered Serpent Symbol, were generally viewed as a benevolent, although fearful, creatures. For additional information refer to Mythical Creatures.
The Meaning of the Serpent Symbols
The meaning of the Great Serpent symbol is chaos, corruption and darkness. The Great Serpent is seen as a malevolent being or monster who devoured his enemies. The Great Serpents, resided in the Underworld and are described as powerful beings who were in constant conflict with the forces of the Upper World who were represented by the Thunderers who were Birdmen or Falcon beings. The Great serpent took its place in the mythology of the Underworld due to its association with death and in its role as a messenger to and from the world of the dead. The Horned serpent was the feared guardian of life and the forces of life. The horned serpent is associated with rain, thunder and waterways. The zigzag and meandering lines of the serpent or snake are symbolic of water. The horned serpent symbol meaning represented life and the renewal of life, just like water. For additional information refer to the Snake Symbol.
Native American Indians the Serpent Symbols
The worship of snakes or serpents is probably as ancient as the Native American civilization which is not surprising as the rattlesnake is so characteristic of the American continent. The definition of a serpent is a large snake. There are many famous snake mounds in central USA particularly in the Ohio. The serpent mounds are huge sculptured representations of snakes or serpents that have been made by heaping up soil. Many Native American tribes held ceremonies and performed rituals relating to snakes and the serpent, including the Feathered Serpent, Horned Serpent and the Great Serpent. The tribes included the Pueblo, Hopi and Zuni. Both the Iroquois and the Cherokee tribes also performed snake dances. Native Americans carried medicine pouches containing the rattles of rattlesnakes, venom fangs and the skins of snakes which they believed held magical powers. In Inuit mythology, the Tizheruk is the name of a mythical large snake-like creature that is said to inhabit the waters near Key Island, Alaska.