Snake Worship: The Immortal Divine
Ever since that infamous snake tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, snakes have gained a rather nasty reputation. They have become the evil representation of Satan and sin. However, snakes have always had an important role throughout history. To the early Christians, (the Gnostics), the serpent was seen as a redeemer, helping to break Adam and Eve away from  the Demiurges power and control; allowing them to gain Gnosis. In Aztec mythology a half-divine, half human being came down to earth for a while to become the great teacher of mankind. In Egypt, each temple had an area reserved for snakes to be kept.
In Greek religion the snake was frequently considered Divine. Among the Greek Dionysian cults, the snake signified wisdom and fertility. The Greek God most closely associated with the snake was Apollo; the original name of Apollo's temple at Delphi was Pythos, named after the snake Python. In ancient Crete, their were Snake Priestess, who ritually danced with snakes until they fell into a trance and were able to communicate with the Serpent Goddess Ariadne.
In Rome, during the period of the empire, a sacred snake was kept within the city and was attended by vestal virgins. If the snake refused food from the hand of one of the attendants, then it was believed to be an indicator that the attendant  was no longer a virgin and she was promptly put to death! The Goddess Hecate is often depicted with two serpents at Her side representing wisdom.
The ancient Mesopotamians and Semites believed that the snake was immortal because it shed its skin and appeared in a fresh guise. This is a similar belief to the Buddhist, who believed that Buddha  was given the true Buddhism by the "king of the snakes." The Indians, Burmese and Siamese worshiped the snake as a demon who also had good aspects.
Primitive Hindu snake cults were incorporated into the worship of Krishna and eventually into the worship of Vishnu. It is believed that Lord Vishnu spends His nights wrapped in the coils of the King of Nagini (the ancient Snake People of India) Sesha.
As there are not many Belly Dancers in Massachusetts who dance with snakes, I have relied heavily on tips and suggestions from Bahijha, Lynette and Serpentessa. Without their help, I would not have such a wonderful dance partners!!!
Thanks Ladies!!!!!!
Links of Interest:
Bahijha
Snakes Kin Studios
Temple Belly Dance

I also recommend a great book titled, "Goddess in the Grass: Serpentine Mythology & the Great Goddess," by Linda Foubister.
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