“Whatever religion—Judaeo-Christian or otherwise—we might subscribe to, there are certain images that have a particular resonance with what, thanks to C.G. Jung, is now known as the Collective Unconscious.
“The snake or serpent is such a potent image in creation myths that it is found in almost every religious and belief system. …In Celtic myth, the world originated from an egg which came from the mouth of a serpent. … In the mythology of most of the world’s peoples, a serpent or dragon is linked to the origin of the world and to creation—it is the primordial being, the still undivided unity that held sway before the creation of the world.” ~Bernard Simon
Creation of the World
We must understand that when these myths talk about the creation of “the world” by a snake, serpent, or dragon, they are talking about the creation of the physical world or the realm of matter. In other words, they are saying that this serpent was responsible for the Great Fall. When Man, symbolically represented by Adam and Eve, were thrown out of Heaven by Angels, it was not as usually depicted by artists. Angels did not go after them with swords and chase them off. It was an automatic process. A reaction to an action. As we might spit out something foul-tasting, they were rejected from heaven by no longer fitting in there. And this process, initiated by the Serpent, included the creation of the lower realms of matter. Spiritual realms existed long before the Great Fall and will exist long after that error is corrected. The serpent, snake or dragon is generally considered an evil being, and rightly so. It is therefore logical that the worlds or dimensions they created are not good and not what God intended.
In Chinese mythology dragons are symbols of great power, especially power over water, rain, and storms. Vietnamese and Korean dragons are also associated with water and power over it. In European tales, they are usually guarding a treasure, and are often defeated by a hero or saint. Thus they are symbols of sin, evil, and ferocity. While not usually mentioned, their guarding of a treasure indicate they also symbolize greed and materialism.
The dragon is also, in some places, a symbol of good luck and good fortune. This is, however, only on a material level, never spiritual. So again we see the dragon representing the values of materialism and greed.
Snakes and Serpents
Snakes often represent fertility or a creative life force. Christians generally consider the snake or serpent to be a symbol of evil. Other ancient peoples considered it a symbol of Life, change, and longevity. Yet it is also a creature that slithers along on the ground and so such symbolism is related to earth or matter. While it can be argued that serpents were used as symbols of good people like Aesclepius, I have never heard of a person being inspired by the appearance of a snake, or a serpent appearing to announce a message from God. So again we see that the serpent can be a good symbol on the material level, but usually isn’t on the spiritual level.
On a very different level, a serpent or snake can be a symbol of energy. Most forms of energy moves in waves, much like the movement of snakes. In Kundalini Yoga, the energy that lies “coiled” at the base of the spine that need to be released and allowed to flow is often depicted as a snake. And when twin snakes are used on symbols like the the Kaducius, they represent two opposite types of energy that must flow together for good health. The ancient doctors knew that we needed a healthy body to have a healthy spirit, and a healthy spirit to have a healthy body. The two must work together, but the spirit is always the most important. The double-headed serpent is another variation of this. It could represent energy that can flow in two directions. It can flow into us, or out of us. The double-headed snake can also represent the two basic levels of existence, physical and spiritual. So just as in the fall spirit descended into matter, matter can be made to ascend back into spirit. And that is the primary goal of God and his angels.