The use of the snake as a symbol in ancient art has an incredibly long and rich history. Whilst Judeo-Christian mythology popularised the association of the serpent with the devil, snakes had actually been used to symbolise rebirth, life, and healing for many thousands of years; ideas which may well have been associated with the snake’s ability to shed its skin. The ouroboros (a snake which holds its own tail in its mouth) has been used in Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Norse and Hindu cultures to represent eternity and the natural cycle and order of the universe. Several cultures also have deities who are specifically associated with snakes, including the Egyptian dwarf god Pataikos; the famous Minoan snake goddess depicted in figurines found on Crete; and the Greek god Apollo, whose oracle at Delphi was known as the Pythia after the mythical serpent Python who was slain by Apollo.

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