I stumbled into the kitchen and this feeling of horror crept over me! What had I done?! Had I really let in the enemy?!
Coffee seemed of little importance as I stared at the shed snakeskin I had cut and laid out on parchment paper the night before… and I cringed. I nearly squealed with delight upon finding the shed snakeskin the day before. My husband had gently lifted the brittle shell to carry it into the house, and from the looks of it, the snake had shed its skin several days prior, maybe even weeks. It was so very fragile and I immediately went to work researching shed snakeskins. That’s when I discovered how to make jewelry pendants from the skins, an idea that caught my fancy, and I went to work hydrating the skin so I could lay it out flat to dry overnight.
But things always seem different after a good night’s sleep and something about the snakeskin seemed eerie in the morning light. I became immediately conflicted about its presence in our home, let alone the idea of wearing it! Several thoughts stampeded my brain.
As a Christian, I was instantly reminded of the verse in Genesis where God cursed the serpent more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field, doomed to go on his belly and eat dust all the days of his life. Floods of other scripture reminded me that the snake is the symbol of evil, the serpent a deceptive trickster particularly adept at promoting all God has forbidden as “good”.
I had to pause and take a breath before sorting through the other thoughts flooding my mind:
While Christians may believe the serpent to be a symbol of evil, snakes serve as different symbols in other cultures:
- In early Egyptian society the snake was the symbol of royalty and deity.
- As a Spiritual Animal, the snake represents healing, transformation and life changes, often providing guidance about life changes and transitions – physical, emotional, and spiritual.
- In Medicine, the snake is a common symbol on pharmaceutical packaging and hospitals, with the two serpents wrapped around the staff of Asclepius, Greek mythological son of Apollo and god of medicine and healing.
- Ancient symbolism (the ouroboros) depicts the serpent or snake eating its own tail, representing the infinite cycle of nature’s endless creation and destruction, life and death.
- In other eras and other cultures, the snake symbolized eternal love, healing, fertility, wisdom, and even immortality.
But the symbolism that resonated with me the most was the role of the snake in the circle of life. In fact, most naturalists will suggest you do nothing to remove snakes from your yard or garden because they play a critical role in the natural ecosystem. Not only do snakes help control the rodent population… snakes also serve as a food source for several bird species, including owls, hawks, falcons, and herons. And you know how much I LOVE birds!
I came “full circle” in my thinking when I remembered Psalm 148 which serves as praise to the Lord from Creation itself, praise from all things – beasts and creeping things (including snakes) – and I could suddenly imagine snakes everywhere praising God for having created them too (image snakes at a Christian rock revival).
I started to breathe easier after my mental wrestling match and decided to celebrate our find. Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth, and further growth is good for our wildlife habitat. Further growth is also all part of God’s design and I decided that finding this particular shed was a gift, one I could wear as homage to the circle of life and all things created by God.
So I ask… is it a terribly weird idea and you’d never let any part of any snake in your house, no way, no how? Or, do you totally love it and want a pendant of your own? Thoughts?