Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Weekly Free Association : The serpent

Author: Paulo Coelho

The serpent is a symbolic animal that has an extremely ambiguous, often contradictory, interpretation.
It is such a rich symbol that it would be impossible to trace here all of its meanings.

Yet, to penetrate in the general symbolism of the serpent, it’s important to understand that this animal is often conceived in opposition (either to another animal – which can be the bird) or to itself. The serpent contains then both light and darkness, good and evil, life and death, the masculine and the feminine.

Having this in mind, maybe it’s normal that we first assimilate the serpent to the Ouroboros, the tail-devouring snake: being the beginning (“materia prima”) and the end (the spirit), androgynous as well as unique and multiple.

It was also believed that the Ouroboros would rest at the base of the world – at the conjunction of chaos and cosmos, the unseen and the manifest.

Now you take the floor: what do you associate with the serpent?

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