What Is the Meaning of a Celtic Snake?

The Celtic snake symbol hails from Ireland.

The Celtic snake is one of many nature-inspired symbols displayed by practitioners of pagan religions. Artwork from Celtic druids often displays their gods with animals as companions, servants or appendages, and snakes are among these animals. Celtic snakes symbolize the notion of rebirth, and are often displayed as part of Celtic knots, according to Celtic Publications of Dublin, Ireland.

1 Symbolism

Celtic symbols generally have multiple meanings. Each individual Celtic tribe attaches its own specific meaning to a symbol. The Celtic snake is no exception to this practice. Since a snake sheds his skin, this can be a symbol of rebirth, an awakening or renewal of oneself. The snake is also said to be a symbol of the search for balance, fertility and transformation.

2 History

The European viper may have served as an inspiration for ancient Celtic people since the snake, also known as an adder, was common in the cool climates of the ancient Celtic people. They enjoyed watching a snake work to shed his skin, then slither away leaving a form of himself behind while he progressed forward with a new fresh version of himself.

3 Positions

When coiled with his tail in his mouth or depicted in the processing of shedding, the Celtic snake represents infinity or the circle of life. Snakes depicted in other positions represent creation, fertility and healing, according to Fantasy-Ireland.

4 Occult Meaning

The Celtic snake has slithered its way into occult symbolism. The careful, sleuth-like ways of the snake are celebrated among occult practitioners who base their practices in Celtic beliefs. Attraction to the Celtic symbol is attributed to a snake's affinity for hiding, thriving and hibernating in safe, dark places.

5 Cultural Symbolism

The Celtic snake symbol taught the people of Ireland to understand cycles of the earth. The Celtic people felt the creatures of the world were teachers that helped explain how to live in harmony with earth's elements, plants and animals. Celtic snakes are seen in Irish art, crafts and books. The coiled Celtic snake, in a position ready to strike, is seen on battle-ready ancient coats-of-arms.

Angela Tague writes marketing content and journalistic pieces for major brands including Bounty, The Nest, Lowe's Home Improvement and Hidden Valley. She also provides feature content to newspapers and writes health and beauty blogs for Daily Glow, Everyday Health and Walgreens. Tague graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications in 1999.