Mythology in all parts of the world is abundant with stories involving snakes. Many of these refer directly to the kundalini. Here we will merely give a few examples, for we don’t want to become lost in an exposition on mythology.
The ancient Egyptians symbolized the kundalini as a snake rising up through the spine (sushumna). Egyptian mystics also wore a head-dress on which was fixed a snake (uraeus) at the eyebrow centre. This centre is called the rhrwnadhya in yoga and is connected directly to the ajna chakra at the top of the spine. The uraeus therefore symbolizes the ascent of the kundalini. A similar head-dress is worn by various other groups of people throughout the world, including the American Indians.
Many of the prophets of the Old Testament m the Bible, such as Moses, are associated with a snake-shaped staff, representing the sushumna and kundalini.
Most people have heard of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how Eve was tempted by a snake. The snake is kundalini – it represents consciousness. According to Genesis (3.1) the snake was more subtle than any beast in the field, that is, consciousness. Originally Adam and Eve lived in higher transcendental states, heaven on earth, the Garden of Eden. But through worldliness they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because of this, they descended to the level of the mooladhara chakra. It was worldliness that brought about their fall. Incidentally, the tree of life in the Garden of Eden symbolizes the sushumna.
The symbolism of the kundalini stretches back into the depths of time. It is believed by some people that the oldest book in the world is the Bopal Vuh, written many thousands of vears ago by the Mayans of Central America. In the book, there is an image of the deity Ouetzalcoatl, in which a multi-rayed sun is portrayed on the crown of the head. Also included is the symbolic form of the snake. It seems almost certain that this represents the sahasrara (symbolized by one thousand petals in India) and the kundalini.
The snake was venerated by almost all the ancient mystical societies, including the Druids, Orphic mysteries and so forth. The ancients regarded the snake as the symbol of wisdom and salvation. Even Christ urged his disciples to be as wise as serpents. All these attributes are directly connected with the kundalini, not only because the snake lives for many years, but also because it symbolizes kundalini.
The snake has also been associated with energy and power. A snake itself does not suggest these qualities, but that which it symbolizes, the kundalini, does.
The snake has also been associated with evil. This seems contrary to its identification with wisdom, but this is easily explainable. The descent of the kundalini to mooladhara implies lower levels of awareness, general disharmony and limitations, that is, evil. The reascent of the kundalini means knowledge. Thus the attributes assigned to the kundalini (snake) depend on the viewpoint, whether you are looking from mooladhara upwards or from ajna chakra downwards. It is the descent that is associated with evil.
There are also myths which tell of snakes descending to the earth during the creation of the world, which symbolizes the manifestation of all things of name and form, including man, through the descent of the kundalini down the different chakra levels. In man kundalini eventually resides in mooladhara chakra; in other beings and objects, the descent is to even lower levels.