Encyclopedia Article


Snakes are limbless reptiles. Some snakes are venomous, meaning they are able to inject their prey with poison, while most snakes are not. Found on almost every continent, snakes are also found as iconic elements in human culture. Mankind's fascination with the snake's ability to shed its skin, its abilities to travel through multiple elements (earth, air, water), its provocative stare, and even its shape have led some cultures to worship the snake, while others maintain a profound aversion if not fear toward it.

In some versions of Navajo mythology, for example, the diving heron brought witchcraft to the Earth’s surface. First Woman gave bits of witchcraft to different beings, and when she gave it to rattlesnake, he had to eat it as he had no hands. This led the rattlesnake to be poisonous, and snakes in general are considered powerful creatures toward which strict taboos are maintained.

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"Mohave Green Rattlesnake" by David~O is licensed under CC BY.

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