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Old 09-16-03, 04:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Reptiles in religion and culture

Religion and culture can be a funny thing when it comes to reptiles especially. Some people will use religion to justify hatred for reptiles (especially snakes because they feel that the snake is evil as the devil took the form of a serpent). Culturally snakes and reptiles have been given a bad rap and this is apparent when you think of phrases like "Cold hearted snake", "Snake in the grass", "cold blooded b**tard". But the more you look into a religion of a culture you will find positive references to snakes and reptiles. Moses had a staff that turned into a snake... was he the first person to keep a snake as a pet then??? lol In Hinduism you have snakes that represent evil but you also have snakes such as "Shesh Nag" which is the associated with the god Vishnu. Shesh Nag is a multi-headed cobra that Vishnu reclines on.

Also in hinduism you have the god Shiva who represents fertility and he is always shown with cobras. As many of you know snakes are considered symbols of fertility in many ancient cultures.

In Sikhism, the founder of the religion Guru Nanak was sleeping in the field one day and a giant cobra spread its hood to shade him from the sun.

In Pakistan there is a place called "Mugger Pir" (Crocodile Saint) in Karachi. This is a hot spring which houses many mugger (marsh) crocodiles and is right next to the shrine of a Muslim Sufi Saint. There are many myths and stories about this place and how the crocodiles got to be their and their relationship with the saint. Every year they have a festival where devotees of the saint come to feed the crocodiles. Actually most of the people in charge of this festival are pakistanis of african origin. There is a small african population in Pakistan which has been there many centuries. You can read about it on this link:

If anyone has any other references to reptiles in different cultures and religions in todays world I would love to hear about it.
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Old 09-16-03, 04:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thats really interesting BAZ, i completly believe that my mom is scared of snakes because of the way the bible portraits them, i've tried everything to try to open her up but she wont give in.

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Old 09-16-03, 05:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quetzacaotl the mythical "plumed serpent" was worshipped as the "Master of Life" by ancient Aztecs of Central America

Some African cultures worshipped rock pythons, and considered the killing of one a serious crime

in Australia, the Aborignes asociated a giant rainbow serpent with the creation of life

in native beliefs the snake means transmutation, rebirth, initiation, wisdom, healing and fertility

the Hopi Indians use snakes as part of a ran dance

in native beliefs the turtle represents Mother Earth, longevity, awakening to opportunities

In native beliefs the alligator and crocodile represent primal energies of birth, motherhood and initiation

in native beliefs lizards represent dreaming, subtlety of perception

in native beliefs the frog represents cleansing, transformation through water and sound

also worth mentioning, Sioux means "snake-like enemy" this was given to them by their rival the Objibwe
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Old 09-16-03, 05:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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any of you ever heard of the "human crocodile" its a tribe i dont remember where they are form but they tatto their backs by doing a lot of small incisions and applying hot ashes on the bruises make their skin look like crocodile skin some actually die of pain during the ritual but when your survive your a true warrior . they think crocodiles are godly . if anyone has more info on those people please post it i wish i knew more
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Old 09-16-03, 06:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Reptiles have been given a strange and interesting reputation about as long as humans or proto-humans have been on the some cultures they are worshiped and others all boils down to lack of understanding on all levels; from the reptiles place in nature and it's interaction with humans..Humans, historically, can't seem to share space with any other creature ,or themselves for that matter....
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Old 09-16-03, 06:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It's amazing to see the perceptual differences between cultures when it comes to animals. I think it's sad that in our Western, mostly secular society that pretends to be so advanced and civilized snakes in particular are still often treated with contempt. In the southern US snake wrangling is still practiced and thousands of snakes die every time one of these things are held. I don't think this has anything to do with the Christian history of this society. Satan takes the form of a snake in the Bible (wonder what species?) but the Bible also tells us that men are "stewards of the earth" meaning it is our planet to use and protect.
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Old 09-16-03, 07:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Satan takes the form of a snake in the Bible (wonder what species?)
From my experience I vote for Corallus hortulanus (Amazon Tree boa).
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Old 09-17-03, 11:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A very interesting and potentially enlightening topic Baz, thanks for starting it.

In Madagascar there is a common belief that chameleons are the embodiment of evil or malicious spirits. Even seeing one is akin to crossing paths with a black cat in !7th century europe.

In south america, there are people that believe the pacman frog (genus Ceratophrys) has lethally poisonous skin. Their urine will burn the hands of anyone trying to handle them, and that horses drinking from "escuerzo" infested waters will be seized by the mouth and never let go.

In native american cultures, the horned lizard (genus Phrynosoma) plays a multitude of roles ranging from a sign that spring has arrived to a consumer of evil spirits.

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Old 09-17-03, 11:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I watched a documentary on that alligator tribe. Very interesting stuff. They made hundreds of small inscisions (how the F do you spell that word) and then rubbed alcohol and ashes on it. Then the guys had to lay down for something like 2-3 days to recover from the pain in a deep meditation. I think you pretty well summed it up, not much else to know, mk-ultra.

Wuntu, I read that the locals of Madagascar have a day where they throw a chameleon or two in a fire to get rid of the evil spirits. I should start an 'Evil Chameleon Cremation Service' and they can ship their chams out to me

My friend's grandparents will not even eat apples because of the story in the bible, and they think snakes are the lowest form of life on earth!!!!!!!!!!! Fools.

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Old 09-19-03, 04:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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the Egyptians and Greeks also had snakes in their beleifs. They're now dead relgions and relegated to being told as myths. You also see many similarities between egyptian, greek and christianity as one religion will borrow from another religion (specially as the religion travels)

In Greek mythology, we find the serpent guardian figure from Sumerian or Akkadian times. A great and wise serpent, called Ladon, guards the tree of the golden apples of the Hesperides. This mythic tree is guarded by an immense horned serpent which coils up around the tree, rising from a cave in the earth. (sound familiar?)

Also you have the Hydra, a multiheaded serpent or dragon which is refered to in both the stories about Hercules and Jason (and the argonauts).

And how can we mention the greeks with out Medusa?
The Medusa Gorgon was the Goddess of Righteous Wrath. In some traditions she was a serpent of the Libyan Amazons and represented female wisdom. The Greek Daemons [daemonae] were the invisible divine beings which were assigned by Zeus to every god and every important human being as sort of a guardian angel creature to give good advice and lead them properly. The Daemons (from which, of course we get our word demon) could appear as a handsome young youth or as a wise serpent.

A Goddess associated with the Serpent was the Greek Triple Goddess of the Moon, the Underworld and the
chthonic forces of the Earth Hecate, Her priestess in Greek mythology Medea.

Also connected to Medusa is Athena. She is known as a warrior Goddess as well as the Goddess of Wisdom; her symbol being the Serpent as displayed on her personal shield. (source) Her bird is the owl, also a symbol of wisdom.

"The Perseus myth was invented to explain the appearance of Gorgon Medusa's face, or mask, on Athena's shield and aegis, the image of Athena that was inherited from the pre-Hellenic period. It is not surprising to learn that the earliest images of Athena had a striking resemblance to the revered Cretan serpent-goddess-priestess. Although Athena changes, in art she is consistently associated with snakes as they appear on her shoulders and on her armor, along with Medusa's face as the central image.

The Perseus myth was also an attempt to conceal Athena's roots in the Libyan Amazon Serpent-Goddess-Trinity-Athene, (a deity that was also present in Minoan Crete). In pre-Hellenic myths Athena was said to have come from the uterus of Lake Tritonis, (meaning Three Queens), the same place that Medusa is said to have ruled, hunted and led troops in Athenian myth. The older myths are more specific, they say that Athene was born of the Three Queens of Libya themselves, the Triple Goddess, with Metis-Medusa as her destroyer aspect."

In Egyptian mytholgy we have gods and goddesses associated with snakes, such as Apep, Amon and the goddesses Buto, Meresger and Renenet. It is also very confusing because many of the gods have different names/forms.

Apep aka Horis was the Epyptian god of evil, an immense snake who nightly attempts to devour the sun, only to be defeated at dawn eternally, until the last dawn.

Buto is the chief goddess of the delta. Buto is associated with the snake. Buto is the cobra goddess. She protected the pharaoh by spiting poison on his enemies or burning them with her look. In early times her bite could kill the pharaoh. She is queen of all the goddesses. Buto is a symbol of the pharaoh's total power over the to lands.

Renenet is the goddess of children. She protects every child at birth. In pictures and statues she is a woman with a cobra's head. She is the goddess good fortune and riches.

Meresger is a snake goddess of the mountain peak overlooking the royal tombs of Thebes (modern Luxor). She was generally benevolent and had the power to cure disease, but she could also inflict sickness on sinners.

There's more examples out there and you could spend a life time on the Egyptian religions/cults/sects alone (some people have). It's also interesting to see how bits and pieces of long forgotten religions have ended up in practiced religions of today.
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Old 09-19-03, 08:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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There is a snake temple in Malaysia, where you will find Waglers and other snakes coiled around just about everything...

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