"I sometimes dream of death as
a huge white python
lying coiled in crisp brown leaves
on the path where nothing comes
save I, in this dream"
--Loren Eiseley, The White Python



One night Hanjanoh had a dream. In the dream his spirit protector, a great water bird, flew down. ``Beware the eyes of false friends," said the spirit protector. Then it was gone.

The next morning Hahjanoh woke before dawn. He went out to the village and hid behind a large stone. Soon he saw a strange sight. From the village came the children who had been acting strangely.

The eyes of the snake glowed with hunger and Hahjanoh, remembering the words of his spirit protector, looked away. When he looked back again he saw that the children who had walked towards the great two headed snake were gone.
--Iroquois story retold by Joesph Bruchac in Parabola

Yet our Lord says: ``Be ye therefore wise as serpents," and the Bible itself stresses the cleverness and cunning of the serpent. But where are these necessary if not altogether praiseworthy qualities developed and given their due? The serpent has become a by-word for everything morally abhorrent, and yet anyone who is not as smart as a snake is liable to land himself in trouble through blind faith.
--C.G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis

When he had carefully locked the door, he lifted up the cover, and saw a white snake lying on the dish. But when he saw it he could not deny himself the pleasure of tasting it, so he cut off a little bit and put it into his mouth. No sooner had it touched his tongue than he heard a strange whispering of little voices outside his window. He went and listened, and then noticed that it was the sparrows who were chattering together, and telling one another of all kinds of things which they had seen in the fields and woods. Eating the snake had given him power of understanding the language of animals. --Brothers Grimm, The White Snake

The attendent serpent is likewise a symbol of the fertilizing phallus. That is why the Great Mother is so often connected with snakes. Not only in Creto-Mycenaean culture and its Greek offshoots, but as far back as Egypt, Phoenicia, and Babylon and similarly in the Bible story of Paradise, the snake is the companion of woman.
--Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ``Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"

And the woman said unto the serpent, ``We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."

And the serpent said unto the woman, ``Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

Serpent Dreams

This animal to which from the earliest times,
importance has attached,
fine as its worshipers have said --
for what was it invented?
To show that when intelligence in its pure form
has embarked on a train of thought
which is unproductive, it
will come back?
--Marianne Moore, from Snakes, mongooses, snake charmers and the like


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