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Serpents

Snakes hiss; pigs grunt . . . asserting their ego, intent on keeping others away. [Sathya Sai Baba]

A snake deserves no pity. [Yiddish proverb]

Use your enemy's hand to catch a snake. [Persian proverb]

When you read about the Pentecostal snake handlers, what strikes you the most is their commitment. [Lucinda Williams]

Look before you leap, for snakes among sweet flowers creep. [Proverbial]

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake. [W. C. Fields]

A wrong marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel. [Cf. Leonardo da Vinci]

There are many snakes - more than 2,500 species of limbless reptiles. Many cultures have used snakes to indicate something else than snakes, for that is how symbols are used: they are "lifted and adapted" to mean something else, figuratively, than matter-of-fact understanding would have it.

A few examples: The Snake is a long faint constellation in the southern hemisphere: a snake being tamed by the snake-handler Ophiuchus (the "Serpent-bearer"), and Ophiuchus is the thirteenth constellation of the zodiac.

Now, the Snake is the Chinese name of the star sign Virgo in the Zodiak. Such a Snake (Virgo) is thought to be largely careful with friends, has a sense of humor, she too, and if she no longer loves, she still shows excellent manners somehow. Moreover, Snakes are thought to be good-looking and smart as well.

In Tantra Yoga, a figurative snake is said to be coiled up in the bottoms (perineum) area, and called Kundalini. Many are the descriptions of it, and many are the books about Kundalini Yoga. [Kta; Kuo].

The Serpent Constellation

Among Greeks, the name of the Serpent constellation (Serpens) seems to have been identified with the immortalised Aesculapius: he was an expert in the arts of medicine, plants, and the healing powers of different herbs. Aesculapius was the son of Apollo and Coronis and was educated by the centaur Chiron (now the constellation Sagittarius).

Aesculapius was the first doctor of medicine among ancient Greeks. One day he visited a friend, saw a snake in the room and killed it. Then a second snake that was carrying an herb in its mouth, crawled into the room, gave the herb to the first snake, which at once recovered. The herb that Aesculapius took from the revived snake, made him aware of the great powers certain herbs have over life and death, and his career started. He travelled far and wide, and soon his reputation as a saver of lives worried and angered the god of the Underworld, because fewer and fewer souls came there.

The god of the underworld demanded that Zeus on Olympus stop Aesculapius. Zeus agreed with his brother and hurled a thunderbolt at Aesculapius, killing him on the spot. But in recognition of well done work Zeus also raised him among the stars as Ophiuchus, along with the serpent from which he had learned his skills.

Aesculapius, as a provider of Medicine, is always shown with a staff with a serpent wound around it. You may have seen the symbol in pharmacies, hospitals and doctors' offices.

Words

The enthusiasm of a (Virgo) Snake may be like the enthusiasm of a coal miner that finally emerges from the deep, or like the ado that comes when something subconscious tries to get conscious. Then consciousness seems "electric", like an electric eel, and restfulness is refused too. That's enthusiasm for us! -

Collection

Quips, Sayings and Outlooks, Literature  

Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Kuo: Pandit, M. Kundalini Yoga. 5th ed. Madras: Ganesh, 1972.

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