The Significance and Symbolism of Snake Tattoos

Snakes are internationally recognized as one of the deadliest animals in the world, however, they are one of the most elegant creatures in the animal kingdom.

There are so many different species of snake and different colors, so there’s plenty of tattoo designs out there. It’s just about finding the right one to suit you!

Meanings for Snake Tattoos

With so many different species of snake, comes so many different meanings. Across different cultures and throughout history, snakes have often represented a creative life force and fertility.

Like other reptiles, the snake can shed its skin and grow a new layer to replace its old, worn skin. Because of this attribute, many see the snake tattoo as a representation of transformation and new life.

It can symbolize the overcoming of a hard time in an individual’s life, showing a significant period of healing and rebirth.

Residing largely in countries in South America, the rattlesnake is a specific species of snake that represents an unconquerable spirit.

It’s thought that the snake manifests the underdog, as seen coiled on Unionist Flags with the words ‘Don’t Tread on Me’. This piece is seen as defiance in the face of oppression.

Another meaning that some people may think of when they see a snake tattoo, is temptation. The snake can represent a time in someone’s life where they overcame an addiction or another form of temptation.

It can serve as a reminder for the individual of how far they’ve come – another form of rebirth. 

When a snake tattoo is in a form where the body is coiled, it’s usually seen as manifestation and the cycles of life.

The reptile stands for both life and death, light and dark, night and day. Opposites are symbolized in one ink design.

A tattoo of a serpent is such an intricate tattoo for someone to have, much like the animal it’s summarized by.

Snake Meanings in History and Religion

In the Bible, the snake is seen as a sign of evil power and a representation of chaos from the underworld.

In the popular Christian story of Adam and Eve, the couple is persuaded by a snake to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

It’s said that by doing so, Adam and Eve brought about the fall of humanity. The tattoo of a snake can be served as a reminder of how temptation is not always the best course of action.

In ancient Egypt, serpents were often depicted alongside humans, with many being harmless towards the ancient Egyptians. It’s said that they believed snakes were the first offspring of primeval Earth.

Gods like Seth and Apophis were often seen as snakes in stories of their war against Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun god.

The Uraeus snake was worn on the forehead, used by Pharaohs as a sign of sovereignty. Snakes like the King Cobra have a direct link to The Divine and royalty.

Snake Meanings in History and Religion

In other cultures, such as ancient India and Burma, snakes are often depicted with a wicker basket. Snake charming is an old tradition that is seen many times throughout history.

It is said that snake charmers have sacred tattoos engraved with snake venom, most commonly the King Cobra.

The venom is said to act as protection for those handling the snakes, using their reptile’s very weapon against them.

In Greek mythology, snakes are commonly associated with the Underworld and the Gorgon Medusa. She’s described as a winged female creature with snakes for hair.

It’s said that one look from her deathly gaze and she would turn you to stone. Even after being beheaded by the mythical Greek hero Perseus, Medusa and her serpents would turn any onlookers to stone.

A Medusa tattoo can represent protection and wisdom. On top of this, it can also mean feminine independence and female power.

Also in Greek mythology, the herald of the gods, Hermes, is thought to carry a staff called the caduceus.

The staff is commonly depicted with two snakes wrapped around the handle. As a tattoo, it symbolizes commerce, balance, and deliverance.

Whilst also representing negotiation, the staff is directly associated with Hermes, Mercury, and medicine.

Common Forms of Snake Tattoos

When it comes to tattoos of snakes, some are a lot more common than others. For example, the cobra is typically black or brown and can feature yellow patterns on its scales.

Many designs depict the cobra as being green with large fangs, spitting venom. The cobra can symbolize protection, intuitiveness, and unpredictability. 

Another common form of snake tattoo is when accompanied by a flower. The combination of the flower and the serpent symbolizes the highest form of temptation.

The innocence associated with such flowers like roses and the evil and cunning associated with a snake. It further highlights the point made earlier about snakes symbolizing opposites like good and evil.

A snake and dagger tattoo represents bravery and triumph. The themes of power and strength associated with the dagger, along with the snake representing evil can show good triumphing over evil.

When a dagger is stabbing the snake, it’s representative of defeating demons and overcoming bad times in someone’s life. However, if the snake is coiled around the sword, then it stands for the Roman god Mercury. 

A more creative way that a snake can be presented in ink, is with a moon. As a moon goes through phases, so does a person’s life.

The snake can represent the rebirth of a period in someone’s life or getting through a time of hardship. When both are paired together they complement each other, whilst also looking great as a tattoo!

Final Thoughts

Whatever way you look at it, some people are gonna see your tattoo differently from others. What matters is how you feel about your tattoo.

Snakes have been around for thousands of years, so meanings and symbols have changed loads since ancient times. There are those out there who dedicate their lives  

With so many different species of snakes, no snake tattoo is the same. When it comes to coloring, it all falls to personal preference.

Of course, there are more realistic colors associated with snakes, such as brown and black, however, there aren’t any rules that stop you from having a pink or blue snake.

Different colors have different representations and different meanings – so whatever your preference is, your tattoo could make for one killer combination!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a snake tattoo represent?

A snake tattoo is an endless, timeless symbol of power, rebirth, temptation, fertility, and much more. The reptile can be seen coiling around any other objects that you’d like in your tattoo design.

What does a coiled snake tattoo mean?

When a snake tattoo is coiled, it represents the endless cycles of life and manifestation. It symbolizes opposites, such as light and dark, night and day, good and evil.

Snake tattoos can be seen coiling around another object, such as a flower or a dagger. This adds the meaning of that object, on top of the snake’s original representation.

What does a cobra snake tattoo represent?

A common design because of how the cobra looks, the cobra tattoo symbolizes wisdom, strength, protection, and intuitiveness. However, it can also represent evil and temptation.

Max Peters