Dragons, Serpents and Worms

Rainbow Serpent Dowsing Stick

In beginning, long, long ago, in time we call Dreamtime, there was nothing. Biiamee the Creator slept, dreaming of life as it was in past, present and will be in future. The Earth was flat, unbroken by any mountains, rivers or forests. There was no light, no living creatures, not even a blade of grass. The world was empty. Biiamee summoned the great snake from the spirit world and she appeared as a giant rainbow in the sky and then slithered to the earth. Since that day she has been known as the Rainbow Serpent. She looked around, but it was dark, everywhere. There was no light and no colour, so she got very busy and began making huge, big holes in the solid earth. These vast holes became the seas, rivers and lakes. The earth which was dug out became the hills and mountains and the extra soil was thrown into the air to become Bahloo, the Moon. She then opened her mouth and all the living creatures walked out of her belly to make their home on the earth.

She called to the Frog Tribe to wake up from their sleep and scratched their bellies to make them laugh. As they laughed, the water they had stored inside them spilled over the land, filling the rivers and lakes. She asked Biiamee to help her find light and he jumped up high in the sky to become the sun and smiled down on the land. The sky lit up when he smiled and went dark when he slept, giving day and night. Day came after day and the seasons began.’  

– Taken from an Australian Aboriginal brochure explaining the Rainbow Serpent Dreamtime story, 1994.

This story is just one example of the creation myth of Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. The story differs slightly between tribes, but the key is always the Rainbow Serpent, creator of both the physical features of the Earth; and keeper and protector of all the creatures, which live on it. 

The Dragon, the Serpent and the Worm are the connecting thread, which links many of our world spiritual and religious traditions. They were and still are, symbols of the raw energy of Nature and were worshipped and revered all over the world throughout prehistory. The dragon is still a sacred image in the Far East, inextricably linked with divinity, good fortune and vigorous health. In the mystical schools of the east, this vital force is called Kundalini i.e. the power that floods from the Earth, up through the feet, to the base of the spine where traditionally two serpents lie coiled. These serpents can be awakened by various spiritual practices such as Hatha Yoga, Tantric Yoga, or by meditation and creative visualization; practices that enable the serpent energy to rise up the spine, activating the Chakras (or human energy centres) and causing profound changes in consciousness. This process of unfolding is graphically illustrated in the archetypal symbol of the Caduceus, with two serpents entwined around a central staff that represents both the cosmic tree and the human spine. It reflects the paths of spiralling serpent energies working in harmonious balance. The Caduceus can also be traced back to Mercury and Hermes, the Roman and Greek gods of magic and initiation. 

Examples of dragon and serpent symbols are still found in a number of cultures around the world. In Ancient Egypt, the god Thoth carried a serpent-shaped ‘Staff of Life’. Merlin, who is thought to be the Celtic equivalent of this ‘archetypal force’, is often shown in modern depictions as holding a serpent-staff, with entwined red and white dragons as a symbol of power. As quoted in the example at the start of this page, in the Australian Aboriginal ‘Dreamtime’ stories the Rainbow Serpent is the bringer of all life on Earth, an energy which pulses and breathes in the landscape. The Druids called these energies Wouivres, or the currents of the world serpent; a word very close to the modern French word for dragons, or winged beasts. In the Far East, Chinese Feng-Shui, which means wind and water, or ‘the breath of the dragon’, is still employed as a system of harmonious land use, to ensure that the lung-mei, or paths of the dragon, are not obstructed or diverted by inappropriate landscape changes.

Although the legends of dragons and serpents have become distorted over time, it is still possible to find clues to special energy locations, sometimes in something as simple as a place name. For example, the sound ‘K’ or ‘Ka’ in a name is believed to denote serpent (Pinkham, 1997) and examples are found across the world e.g. Kharakorim (also spelt Karakorum), the ancient capital of Mongolia; Kakadu, a sacred home of the Rainbow Serpent in Northern Territory, Australia; Krakow, a medieval city in Poland with its legend of a dragon beneath its ancient castle, on Wawel hill overlooking the winding Vistula River; and many, many more. 

The Worm appears in Norse Mythology as Midgaard’s Orm, the Great Worm that encircles the Earth. The word Orme appears in several Norse/Viking place names, one of the most notable being Great Orme’s Head, a promontory of rock that juts out into the sea on the north Wales Coast. On a map it looks like a serpent head and for centuries was and still is mined for the precious metals, copper and minerals, which are found deep in its rocks. You could say early miners were mining ‘the brains’ of the dragon/serpent/worm energy.

The final distortion of this spiritual energy in Europe occurred after the power struggles of early Christianity in 7th century.. The central belief of the early Celtic Church was that all individuals could (and should) communicate directly with the Divine. Roman Christianity insisted that only a priest or bishop could communicate with the divine and there was extreme hostility to the Celtic ways, including its tolerance of pagan and agricultural rituals. After the fateful Synod of Whitby in 664AD, the Roman view took precedence. During the emergence of Christianity, the dragon was transformed from a potent image of nature worship, into an incarnation of all dark and evil forces, drawn together as a terrifying image. People in Western societies gradually became attuned to seeing the Universe as a hostile environment, characterised by widespread images of Christian saints killing and subduing a great menagerie of dragons. And, so it comes as no surprise that in the Christian world, the dragon and the serpent are portrayed as sources of evil that have to be defeated. Hence the many versions of the story of St. George slaying the dragon and the demonised serpent in the Garden of Eden that persuaded Eve to eat the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Indeed, in many churches and cathedrals across Europe there are carvings and effigies of Bishops with their feet resting on dragons, as if to reinforce their power and control over the Earth and the old spiritual ways.

In more recent times, these channels of dragon energy, or bio-magnetic and spiritual energy have been rediscovered and there is a growing awareness of their significance; an understanding fuelled by the increasing sensitivity of large numbers of individuals who are now able to ‘feel’ these energy currents, either via dowsing or directly within their physical bodies (Hitching, 1978). 

Works Cited

Hitching, F. (1978). The World Atlas of Mysteries. London and Sydney. Pan Books.
Pinkham, M. (1997). The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom. Illinois, USA: Adventures Unlimited Press.

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