Serpents in Mytholgy/Religion
The image of the serpent was tremendously significant in the ancient world. Societies and scriptures of the Near East simultaneously attributed two highly symbolic roles to serpents. One role connected serpents to the heavens by having them represent deity, creative powers, and healing. The other linked them with the underworld and associated them with evil, harm, and destructive influences. We who live in modern times have no difficulty appreciating this double symbol because, in fact, this duality persists in our own day. The symbol of the healing serpent appears on the physician's caduceus, while a person of disreputable actions—especially treachery—is sometimes referred to as "a snake."
one of the forms of the god Atum, believed to be a primeval creator deity, was the snake or serpent that continued to live season after season. In a fascinating dialogue with Osiris, the Egyptian god of the netherworld and of final judgment, Atum predicts the destruction of the world he created and his own reversion back to the form of a serpent or snake.
Another primeval deity mentioned in the Pyramid Texts is Amun, one of whose two primary representations was that of the snake named Kematef (meaning "he who has completed his time"). After the Eleventh Dynasty (the Egyptian Middle Kingdom), Amun appeared as the god of the capital of Thebes and eventually merged with the sun god to be become known as Amun-Re, the supreme state god in the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1090 B.C.). At Karnak it was believed that Amun-Re and his divine consort, the goddess Mut, gave birth to a son named Khonsu. Mut is also symbolized as a snake and is called "Mut the resplendent serpent." Thus the divine triad or family, the preeminent unit of social organization among the gods and humans according to the Egyptian worldview, was linked to the image of the serpent.
When corn was harvested and grapes pressed into wine, an offering was made to the harvest goddess, Thermuthis, who was depicted as either a snake or a woman with a serpent's head. Geb, the god of the earth and "the father of the gods," is referred to as "the father of snakes" that emerge from the earth
Veneration of serpents or snakes in predynastic Egypt and during the Old Kingdom coalesced around the most important serpent-goddess of Lower Egypt: Wadjet. Wadjet (meaning "green one") was the general Egyptian term for cobra, and in that form she became the symbol of royalty and unification.
In opposition to all that was good in ancient Egypt, the most preeminent of all the demons, evil gods, or evil powers was Apophis, who was represented by a snake.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead fairly crawls with other serpent demons as well, sometimes winged or rearing up, occasionally even standing on legs and spitting fire.
The Sumerian god of spring vegetation, Tammuz, was linked to the image of the snake. Both he and his mother bore the title "mother-great-serpent of Heaven," that is, the serpent deity who emanated from the heaven god Anu. The snake was also the sacred symbol of the god Ningizzida, who was called in Sumerian mythology "the companion of Tammuz.
Nidaba, was shown in representations with serpents (springing from her shoulders).
The greatest sovereign the Sumerians ever produced, King Gudea of the city-state Lagash, placed a representation of a serpent deity at the entrance of one of his temples around 2050 B.C., presumably to act as a guardian of the sacred edifice where life is renewed. Fourteen hundred years later, King Nebuchadnezzar II, ruler of the Neo-Babylonian empire (605–562 B.C.), dedicated the monumental Ishtar Gate of Babylon to the god Marduk with the following inscription:
(Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, son of) Nabopolassar (King of Babylon am I). The gate of Nana (Ishtar . . . I built) with (blue) enamelled bricks . . . for Marduk my lord. Lusty bulls of bronze and mighty figures of serpents I placed at their thresholds . . . Marduk, exalted lord . . . eternal life . . . give as a gift.
The forces of chaos are headed by none other than Tiamat, who is herself a female serpent (frequently referred to as a dragon).
Phoenician and Greek Evidence
Like the Greek deity Asclepius, Eshmun was the god of medicine whose symbol was a serpent.
Though Asclepius is also represented as a serpent in Greek portrayals, an actual Sidonian coin shows Eshmun leaning on a staff with a serpent entwined about it.
Sidonian depictions of Eshmun also parallel ancient Syrian representations of their god of healing, Shadrapa, whose image is that of the serpent.
The most important Minoan deity was the mother earth goddess of the city-state Knossos, or Cnossus, the capital of Cretan civilization. She is similar to fertility goddesses worshiped elsewhere in ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures. On Crete she was usually depicted in small statue form as a woman holding a snake in each hand, with a bird perched on top of her head.
The Agathos Daimon was often depicted as a winged serpent and regarded as a good spirit.
Even the most famous example of the winged serpent motif outside of (but related to) the Near East, namely, the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl ("feathered serpent"), is impressive because that god was revered as the founder of priestly wisdom (almost as if the Aztecs were somehow familiar with Jesus' statement to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves" [Matthew 10:16]). Quetzalcoatl's high priests even bore the title "Prince of Serpents."
NINGIZZIDA: A Goddess who can appear in serpent form and does magic and healing.
Ningizzida was a fertility god. Originally depicted as a serpent with a human head, Ningizzida became known as a magical god of healing.
Ningishzida is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining (some say in copulation) around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the staff of Moses by more than a thousand years.
Serpent worship in early Christian art.
A Serpent god
(An old Chinese print)
E.A., the standing serpent wave, offers the secret of the stars to a priest.
Yahweh is the serpent that curls around the prophets. His head is at the lower right at the bottom of his column or pillar.
Quetzalcoatl, the Mayan "lord of life"and King of Tula being `consumed' by a `serpent' (left). Beside him is a statue of the Great Sun Buddha, dating from the 12th century in Cambodia. He is seated in the coils of a snake. The parallel between the two `saviors' is remarkable. Both statues suggest a wormhole connection.