Veneration of animals as symbols of powerful cosmic forces, far predated the advent of organised religion. The worship of serpents seems the most prominent and widespread among these animist beliefs, with evidence to suggest its practice across ancient civilizations ranging from the Hopi Indian tribes and Mayans in the Americas, to those in Egypt, India, China, South East Asia and Japan.
When Eastern – Aryan – religions failed to eradicate these essentially Dravidian practices, they assimilated the myths associated with the serpent and elevated it (the serpent) to a liminal deity symbolising divine power, wisdom and protection. Many centuries later, emerging monotheistic Western and near Eastern faiths succeeded in transforming the serpent into a source of evil, a form of the devil.
The serpent was also associated with fertility and the ‘divine feminine’ across ancient civilizations, and the assimilation/transformation of these pagan beliefs marked the shift to a rigid patriarchal…
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