Bite me – you serpent’s tooth, with your wisdom. Get under my skin.“

Snakebite – Tattoo needle-stick

Snakes and tattoos go great together. Like a tattoo needle into the skin, a snake sticks (bites) its victim in order to instill its poison. Admittedly, when tattooing, the needle creates more beautiful motifs. However ink is not poison. The existential act, however, remains with both: Snakes, like tattoo needles, penetrate the skin of their object and leave a lasting impression.

There are numerous snake motifs on people’s tattoos.

Tattoo by tattooanansi
Tattoo by tattooanansi

Mythologically speaking, there is a lot to be said about snakes.

In ancient Egypt, the serpent was a sign of power that stands by people’s sides against death. The Egyptian snake god Mehen was worshipped, who was also often depicted as a fire-breathing snake being. Mehen was God of the other reality, the hereafter, who protected the deceased king on his journey through the underworld.

In ancient Greece, snakes were revered as sacred. They were thought to be immortal, since they could seemingly get rid of their old skin as often as they wanted, reappering in new, healthy skin. Snakes were said to have certain healing powers which made them a symbol for dotors – the Aesculapian staff is a symbol for doctors and pharmacists today.

In ancient times, the snake was regarded as a symbol of sublimity, almost with divine properties. Good for humans, because of the healing power, bad when it turned against you, as with Laocoon: Here the python strangles the priest Laocoon to death on behalf of the god Apollo, because he gave the Athenians access to Troy. To the anger of Apollo, who was inclined to the Trojans. In any case, the snake is a motif of power. A being for which I have to have respect for.

Is there a snake that does not bite?

The negative view of snakes that spread fear and terror came later with its role in Christianity. The ancient people, who were trained directly with poisonous snakes, elevated them to religious beings- the Christians later stigmatized the snake as a seducer in the fall. The bible tells of the serpent seducing Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. This unauthorized act against God’s commandment leads to Ada and Eve being expelled from paradise. This strenghtens the lifelong enmity between snakes and humans. To get a sense of the drastic language of the Old Testament, here area few original words.

So the Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” (Gen 3:14)

Man should crush your head and you will stab him in the heel.” Gen (3:15)

A friendly relationship between humans and snakes looks different.


Nonetheless, this juxtaposition of antiquity and Christianity makes it clear how different positions the snake can take on humans. So, whether a snake tattoo makes sense or not. Especially since the snake always has a sexual component as a motif. Not only in mythology is the snake considered an animal of unconscious instincts and forces, the snake is also associated with the phallus in Freud’s dream interpretation. But the queue also stands for the woman.