It’s important to understand that different cultures have different ways of looking at animals. The Judeo-Christian culture has a very negative regard towards the snake. The snake, in Native American culture, is very powerful medicine. It symbolizes the primordial energy, it is a very old creature. It moves in a spiral all the time. It has no arms, no legs, it always goes forward, so it is like “one-minded”, and symbolizes the ability to concentrate on one thing, and move towards that with no distraction. It is also associated with the South.
It represents the primordial energy, the sexual energy, the beginning of things; it has very primal and deep-seated energy, it has that fundamental primary energy that is coiled at the base of the spine, and it represents that energy which, when aroused by certain meditation techniques, can flood the other centres with light energy and heat, bringing greater abilities and strength, and also that ability to have that energy circulate through the body, which can allow for healing. People with the snake energy have a lot of healing energy, because they have access to this primal vital energy basic to life.
The snake also represents the straight line and the circle, the zero and the one, so it is really at the beginning of things. Seeing a snake is mostly always a very beneficial sign, indicating that some new energy is coming into our lives, and the power to renew ourselves is thus available. The snake renews itself, it sheds its old skin and comes out with a completely new skin, and this is the ability to transform, transmute that which is old, and make it new again, let go off the old and come into the new.
So, the snake energy and symbolism are very positive in our culture, contrary to other cultures which see it as a personification of evil. Actually there are no animals that personify evil in Native American culture, and there is nothing in nature itself that we associate with evil, because all has been created by Great Spirit for the benefit of life and of humans on this planet, and thus everything is beneficial. What can be evil is what humans chose to do and create, and there are some evil monsters that have been put there by Great Spirit, but they are ways of testing humans, testing the warrior, testing our strength, testing our ability to move beyond obstacles and beyond ourselves; so, even if they can appear evil, they always carry great possibilities for growth and learning.